Quakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Roger Bilham

Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.

Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.

Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.

She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.

Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.

Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.

In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.

The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.

“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.

Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.

What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.

Trump’s Business Sense Betrays Him

Trump Says He Would Meet With Iranian Leader, but Iran Rules It Out

By The New York Times0 : 44

“I’m Ready to Meet,” Trump Tells Iran

President Trump signaled his willingness to talk a week after threatening Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, on Twitter.


By Michael D. Shear and Rick Gladstone

July 30, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump, who walked away from a nuclear deal with Iran despite that country’s documented compliance, said Monday that he would meet with President Hassan Rouhani with “no preconditions” as soon as the Iranian leader agreed to do so.

But hours before Mr. Trump spoke, Iran said that talks with the United States would be impossible under what it called the Trump administration’s hostile policies, seeming to close the door on any chance of a dialogue.

Mr. Trump said at a White House news conference with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy that he was open to meeting with Iran.

“I’ll meet with anybody,” Mr. Trump said. “If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want.”

Mr. Trump compared the possibility of a face-to-face summit meeting with the Iranian leader to meetings he has held with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“You meet,” Mr. Trump said. “There’s nothing wrong with meeting.”

But a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Rouhani anytime soon is exceedingly unlikely, especially given the anger among Iranian leaders over Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from the nuclear deal that Iran negotiated over the course of several years with the Obama administration and five other nations. Bahram Qassemi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, made that clear on Monday during a news conference in Tehran.

“With current America and these policies, there will definitely not be the possibility of dialogue and engagement, and the United States has shown that it is totally unreliable,” Mr. Qassemi said at the news conference, which was carried by Iran’s state news media.

Given the American repudiation of the nuclear agreement and the restored sanctions, Mr. Qassemi said, “I think there are no conditions for such a discussion at all.”

Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear agreement with Iran and reimpose economic sanctions has been pummeling the value of Iran’s currency and raising the sense of economic crisis in the nation of 80 million. The currency, the rial, has lost half of its value in the past few months.

The Iranians remain a part of the nuclear deal with the other nations — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — giving them little reason to think that a meeting with Mr. Trump would be to its advantage. Last week on Twitter, Mr. Trump said threats from Iran would be met by “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

Mr. Trump followed up his tweet to Mr. Rouhani with an offer to engage Iran’s leaders in negotiations for new nuclear agreement that he described as a “real deal.”

The nuclear agreement, reached in 2015 by Iran, the United States and other major powers, eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities and Iran’s verifiable promises to never attain atomic weapons.

Mr. Trump has called the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a disaster that would not stop Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state. Iran has repeatedly denied that it will seek nuclear weapons.

The other parties to the agreement, including American allies in Europe, have said they want it to succeed. But few see such an outcome without the United States’ participation.

Even if the Iranian leadership was receptive to a meeting with Mr. Trump, the president’s national security team appears to be roundly opposed to the idea. In fact, advisers to the president have recently sounded more interested in hastening the end of the Iranian government.

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech in which he sided with the Iranian people against what he called the “hypocritical holy men” leading their country.

It was also unclear what Mr. Trump believes he could accomplish by meeting with Mr. Rouhani. He has railed against the government’s support of terrorism and has vowed — as have previous American presidents — to not allow Iran to ever fully develop a nuclear weapon.

At Monday’s news conference, Mr. Trump said that “the brutal regime in Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon — never.”

But in saying that he would meet with his counterpart in Iran “anytime,” the president vaguely added that he would do so only if “we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was.”

He did not elaborate on what that might be.

After Mr. Trump’s comments, Mr. Pompeo said that he supports the president’s desire to have a meeting with Mr. Rouhani and that Mr. Trump was focused on doing whatever was necessary “to solve problems.”

But unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Pompeo listed a series of preconditions that the Iranian leader would have to meet before such a meeting. Mr. Pompeo said that Mr. Rouhani would have to “demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation.”

If the Iranians could agree to those terms, Mr. Pompeo said, a meeting with Mr. Trump could be productive.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have intensified since Mr. Trump formally renounced the agreement in May. He has also warned other countries that under the restored sanctions, they must stop buying Iranian oil, the country’s most important export.

Iranian leaders have hinted that they might block international oil shipments from the Persian Gulf in retaliation.

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Rick Gladstone from New York.

Is the Donald Preparing to Bomb Iran?

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaks to the media at a press conference on the second day of the 2018 NATO Summit on July 12, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Trump Ready to Bomb Iran Within One Month: Australian Govt Sources

New reporting from Australia’s ABC news comes amid warning that “Trump’s reckless threats” should not be ignored

byAndrea Germanos, staff

Friday, July 27, 2018

Trump’s White House is ready to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, unnamed “senior figures” within the Australian government said to ABC news.

According to the new reporting from the Australian news service, the strike could happen as early as next month, and Australia and the U.K.—both part of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance— could lend a hand in identifying targets, the reporting adds.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, for his part, dismissed the report, saying, “It’s speculation, it is citing anonymous sources.”

News of the alleged bombing preparation caps off a week President Donald Trump began with an all-caps tweet to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” he tweeted, following Rouhani’s warning for the U.S. not to “play with the lion’s tail” and saying, “Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who played a key role in the 2015 nuclear deal Trump “recklessly” pulled out of, shot back with his own tweet, saying in part, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED.”

Trump did, however, tone down the rhetoric on Tuesday, saying, “We’ll see what happens, but we’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster.”

Still, argues Trita Parsi, author of Losing an Enemy—Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy and the president of the National Iranian American Council, “Trump’s reckless threats” should not be ignored.

“Going forward, the moderate voices inside the Trump White House will essentially be absent, while new advisers will likely egg on Trump to escalate tensions further—even though the Trump administration continues to claim that its goal is not regime change,” he wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday at CNN.

“All of this amounts to a sobering reality,” Parsi continued. “Trump is embarking on a path of escalation without having the exit ramps he had with North Korea. The danger now is not to overestimate the risk of war, but to underestimate it.”

Antichrist Continues to Form New Iraqi Government


Iraq coalition talks still under way amid election recount


Meanwhile, demonstrators in eight Iraqi provinces are demanding better access to water, electricity, and jobs.


Negotiations are still under way to form a governing coalition in Iraq.

No party won a majority during May’s national election, and the result is not yet confirmed, because a manual recount was called over allegations of vote rigging. The parties trying to lead Iraq have major differences in their attitudes towards the United States and Iran.

But the big winner in Iraq’s contested election is expected to be Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who confidently expects his party to lead the next government once the revised result has been confirmed by the country’s Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, protests, which began in the oil-rich southern city of Basra in early July, have spread to eight Iraqi provinces, leading al-Sadr to call on all the winning lists of Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary election to suspend government formation talks until the demands of protesters are met.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Baghdad.

The Indian Nuclear Horn (Revelation 8)


According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India has a stockpile of more than a 100 warheads. Its desire to match the nuclear warhead capabilities of China and Pakistan has prompted Indian planners to invest in a top secret project of establishing a nuclear city at Chellakere, Karnataka.

It had been exposed in 2012 that apart from many facilities, India has built the ‘secret nuclear city’. It was confirmed by independent researchers and Indian media that two secretive agencies were behind this project which is believed to be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic research laboratories, weapons and aircraft testing facilities.

New Delhi has generally kept all information pertaining to its nuclear capabilities under wraps. Whatever information on the Indian nuclear city of Chellakere is available, has been gleaned from international and Indian media reports.

As a military facility, it is not open to international inspection. Since 2009, organs of Indian government managed to discreetly acquire more than 10,000 acres of land in Chellakere. News leaked out, when the residents of the area, poor shepherds were deprived of grazing grounds for their cattle, filed a report in the court for the deprivation of their livelihood. Chellakeretaluk has been home to Amrit Mahal Kavals or grazing grounds, on which more than 250,000 goats, cows, bulls and sheep found food. About 300,000 people depended on these grounds for their source of revenue.

According to Raksha Kumar’s Op-Ed of May 18, 2018 in The News Minute, Srikumar Banerjee, the then chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission in 2011, spoke about the project obliquely. He stated that the facility would be used to produce nuclear fuel to boost India’s nuclear energy sources.

When the shepherds were barred from taking their cattle to the grazing grounds, the villagers filed a lawsuit at the Karnataka High Court demanding a complete accounting of the pasture land. To their dismay, they were informed by the state land registry that of the 10,000 acres, Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) had been allotted 4,290 acres, Indian Institute of Science (IIS) was given 1500 acres, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre had received 1810 acres while Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was given 575 acres and some sundry lands were diverted to Karnataka Small Scale Industries Development Corporation.

According to news published in a US journal; the secret city being operated by DRDO is called the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR). It is being said that the nuclear scientists are secretly working here day and night. The American journal published the report about the construction of the secret nuclear city by India on the basis of the image captured by the American Space Agency “NASA”. The spokesperson of the NASA said that the captured satellite image is more similar to a nuclear plant. Quoting retired Indian government officials and independent experts sitting in London and Washington; the US journal claims that the prime motive of India behind this secret city is to give itself an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in new hydrogen bombs, also known as thermonuclear weapons.

It had been exposed in 2012 that apart from many facilities, India has built the ‘secret nuclear city’. It was confirmed by independent researchers and Indian media that two secretive agencies were behind this project which is believed to be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic research laboratories, weapons and aircraft testing facilities


The expansion of India’s thermonuclear program would position the country alongside the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Israel which already have significant stockpiles of such weapons. Despite the fact that the Indian government has denied the existence of any such secret nuclear facility being under construction, Indian media and retired Indian military analysts and scientists have confirmed its existence. The project aims: to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for India’s nuclear reactors, and to help power the country’s fleet of new nuclear submarines.

According to Indian media reports, the nuclear city close to Chellakere is ringed by a security perimeter of thousands of military and paramilitary guards. The existence of India’s secret nuclear city highlights India’s ambitions to become a world power. Its excuse of matching the nuclear arsenal of China and Pakistan does not cut ice, since numbers matter little in achieving a credible nuclear weapons capability. Nuclear warheads and reliable delivery systems with adequate ranges are enough to serve as deterrence; one does not have to match missile for missile, warhead for warhead, and trigger mechanism for trigger mechanism.

India is welcome to its ambitions; every country has its dreams of grandeur but these should not be at the cost of peace in the region and depriving its populace of their livelihood. Its military doctrine is definitely offensive but India should be mindful of accelerating an arms race in the region and further provoking both China and Pakistan, with whom its relations are strained. India had to draw down its forces from Doklam earlier while facing Chinese troops. With Pakistan, India is constantly indulging in cross border shelling causing casualties.

The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on China

Published in Daily Times, July 29th 2018.