Don’t Forget About the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Don’t forget about earthquakes, feds tell city

Although New York’s modern skyscrapers are less likely to be damaged in an earthquake than shorter structures, a new study suggests the East Coast is more vulnerable than previously thought. The new findings will help alter building codes.

By Mark Fahey

July 18, 2014 10:03 a.m.

The 2014 maps were created with input from hundreds of experts from across the country and are based on much stronger data than the 2008 maps, said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. The bottom line for the nation’s largest city is that the area is at a slightly lower risk for the types of slow-shaking earthquakes that are especially damaging to tall spires of which New York has more than most places, but the city is still at high risk due to its population density and aging structures, said Mr. Petersen.

“Many of the overall patterns are the same in this map as in previous maps,” said Mr. Petersen. “There are large uncertainties in seismic hazards in the eastern United States. [New York City] has a lot of exposure and some vulnerability, but people forget about earthquakes because you don’t see damage from ground shaking happening very often.”

Just because they’re infrequent doesn’t mean that large and potentially disastrous earthquakes can’t occur in the area. The new maps put the largest expected magnitude at 8, significantly higher than the 2008 peak of 7.7 on a logarithmic scale.The scientific understanding of East Coast earthquakes has expanded in recent years thanks to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia in 2011 that was felt by tens of millions of people across the eastern U.S. New data compiled by the nuclear power industry has also helped experts understand quakes.

Oddly enough, it’s not the modern tall towers that are most at risk. Those buildings become like inverted pendulums in the high frequency shakes that are more common on the East Coast than in the West. But the city’s old eight- and 10-story masonry structures could suffer in a large quake, said Mr. Lerner-Lam. Engineers use maps like those released on Thursday to evaluate the minimum structural requirements at building sites, he said. The risk of an earthquake has to be determined over the building’s life span, not year-to-year.

“If a structure is going to exist for 100 years, frankly, it’s more than likely it’s going to see an earthquake over that time,” said Mr. Lerner-Lam. “You have to design for that event.”

The new USGS maps will feed into the city’s building-code review process, said a spokesman for the New York City Department of Buildings. Design provisions based on the maps are incorporated into a standard by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is then adopted by the International Building Code and local jurisdictions like New York City. New York’s current provisions are based on the 2010 standards, but a new edition based on the just-released 2014 maps is due around 2016, he said.

“The standards for seismic safety in building codes are directly based upon USGS assessments of potential ground shaking from earthquakes, and have been for years,” said Jim Harris, a member and former chair of the Provisions Update Committee of the Building Seismic Safety Council, in a statement.

The seismic hazard model also feeds into risk assessment and insurance policies, according to Nilesh Shome, senior director of Risk Management Solutions, the largest insurance modeler in the industry. The new maps will help the insurance industry as a whole price earthquake insurance and manage catastrophic risk, said Mr. Shome. The industry collects more than $2.5 billion in premiums for earthquake insurance each year and underwrites more than $10 trillion in building risk, he said.

“People forget about history, that earthquakes have occurred in these regions in the past, and that they will occur in the future,” said Mr. Petersen. “They don’t occur very often, but the consequences and the costs can be high.”

A Colossal Risk for the Bowls of Wrath (Revelation 16)

The nuclear-powered submarines K-114 Tula of the Delfin class and K-535 Yuri Dolgoruky of the Borei class have conducted RSM-56 Bulava ballistic missile tests hitting targets on the Kura range in Kamchatka and the Chizha range in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region from the Barents Sea on August 24.

Vladimir Ivashchenko \ TASS via Getty Images

Russia tested an ICBM on a nuclear submarine near Skyfall accident

Ellen Ioanes Nov 1, 2019, 10:56 AM

• Russian state news says the Russian military has successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from its new Borei A-class submarine.

• The missile was launched from a submerged position in the White Sea – the same place a devastating nuclear accident occurred in August.

• The missile, the Bulava, is understood to have a devastating payload capacity – 50 to 60 times as powerful as the bomb the US dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. But just because it’s powerful, that doesn’t mean the Russian Navy is using the missile to menace its adversaries – in fact, it’s a defensive weapon.

• Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Russian military successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from its new Borei A-class submarine, the nuclear-powered Knyaz Vladimir, or Prince Vladimir, according to TASS, Russia’s state-run news agency.

The missile, the RSM-56 Bulava, has a range of 8,000 to 9,000 kilometers, or more than 5,000 miles, can carry six to 10 150-kiloton nuclear warheads, and has a yield of 1,150 kilograms. While its speed is unknown, Michael Duitsman, a research associate specializing in Russian missile technology at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury College, estimates it’s in the range of Mach 16 to Mach 20. The Bulava has been in operational use since 2013, and it was fired for the first time from the nuclear-powered submarine on Tuesday.

The Prince Vladimir is the first of the Borei A-class submarine, which has better noise reduction and improved communication equipment over the Borei class, Duitsman told Insider via email.

According to the Moscow Times, the missile was launched from the Arkhangelsk region and traveled thousands of miles to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East – across the entire country.

On Tuesday, Russia claimed it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile across its entire country.

Once it enters service – it is expected to in December – the Borei A-class strategic submarine will carry up to 16 of the Bulava missiles with four to six nuclear warheads each, according to the Moscow Times.

The missile was launched from a submerged position in the White Sea – the same place a devastating nuclear accident occurred in August. In that instance, Russian engineers were attempting to recover a “Skyfall” missile from the bed of the White Sea when the weapon’s nuclear reactor exploded, causing the deaths of at least seven Russians. Russia’s handling of the incident has been referred to as a cover-up by a senior official at the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance.

The Bulava is understood to have a devastating payload – 50 to 60 times as powerful as the bomb the US dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. But just because it’s powerful, that doesn’t mean the Russian Navy is using the missile to menace its adversaries – in fact, it’s a defensive weapon.

The Bulava “forms part of Russia’s strategic deterrent force; the missiles are not for use in normal combat,” Duitsman told Insider. “Submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and ballistic missile submarines, deter an enemy from attacking you with nuclear weapons, because it is very difficult to find and destroy all of the submarines.”

The US counterparts to the Borei and the Bulava – the Ohio-class submarines and Trident II missiles – are more powerful in combination than the Russian offerings. The Ohio-class can carry 24 Trident II missiles, which have a longer range at 12,000 kilometers, a speed of Mach 24, and a payload of 2,800 kilograms. But, as Duitsman notes, the Ohio-class is 20 years old, and its replacement, the Columbia-class, isn’t scheduled to be in service until 2031.

Iran’s Hegemony in the Middle East

Iran gave $16 billion to militias in Iraq and Syria

Iran has spent $16 billion on “militias” to prop up the Assad regime in Syria and surrounding regions, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV on Thursday.

Hook did not specify the time period Iran spent that $16 billion in the interview, according to The Times of Israel, but one report by the State Department from December 2018 shows that it could have begun in 2012.

Washington will continue imposing sanctions on Tehran, noting that they were a result of “destabilizing behavior in the region,” Hook confirmed in the interview.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a letter in the report that it “is important for the world to know that Iran trained and deployed Shia fighters from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to help Assad crack down on innocent civilians in Syria.”

The report goes on to state that “Iran also provides up to $100 million annually in combined support to Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, PIJ, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. These terrorist groups have been behind a number of deadly attacks originating from Gaza, the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon, including attacks against Israeli civilians, Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, and American citizens.”

Recently, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the construction of state-of-the-art weaponry for the country’s paramilitary fighting force, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

“Today, the IRGC is dignified both inside and outside the country, thanks be to god. The enemies have contributed to creating this dignity,” Khamenei said. “With violent, aggressive, and hostile behavior, the Americans increased the dignity of the IRGC. The enemies of god show hostility to God’s servants, and this hostility makes God’s servants more reputable and estimable.”

“You must have all necessary defense, operational and intelligence equipment. However, these instruments must be manufactured and developed at home and meet all the needs of the country on the ground, in the sky and space as well as at sea and borders. Even the cyberspace is among the necessary instruments,” he also said.

Additionally, Israeli leaders claimed that Iran secretly built a nuclear weapons site, saying “they destroyed the site when they realized we discovered it.”

“Israel has exposed another Iranian violation of their international commitments: the Abadeh Nuclear Weapons Development Site,” Israeli embassy spokesman Elad Strohmayer wrote in a series of tweets. “We have proof that #Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons there.”

Iran is frequently accused of attempting to obtain or develop a nuclear weapon, and officials in Israel, which currently has anywhere from 80 to 400 nuclear weapons, fear the hostile nation is close to doing so.

Iran recently increased its stockpile of heavy water, which is used at its nuclear reactor in Arak, above 130 tonnes, which is above the limit established in a previous nuclear agreement, and increased its reserve of enriched uranium above 300 kilograms, which is also above agreed limits.

No Iran Deal for Trump

No negotiations with U.S., says Khamenei


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday there would be no point to any negotiations with the United States, just days ahead of the 40th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

The hostage-taking, which took place soon after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, set the tone for decades of mistrust and poor ties between Washington and Tehran.

“Even if Iranian officials were naive enough to engage in negotiations with the U.S., they would certainly not achieve anything,” Khamenei said.

The negotiations would not lead to a change in the current U.S. policy of maximum pressure on Tehran, nor the lifting of U.S. sanctions, he said.

As the country’s supreme leader, Khamenei has the final say in all political issues under the Iranian constitution. Iran is planning to mark the takeover of the embassy with a state-organised demonstration.

Students seized the embassy in November 1979 in protest at the decision to allow the toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the United State for medical treatment.

The shah was installed in a coup in 1953 partly orchestrated by British secret services and the CIA in the United States.

The government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has not excluded talks with Washington, but said that they could only take place if the U.S. lifts its sanctions and returns to a 2015 nuclear deal.

President Donald Trump dealt the accord a major blow by pulling the U.S. out of the deal in 2018.    (dpa)

Iran Struggles to Retain Her Hegemony (Daniel 8:3)

Iran clings to sway in Iraq, Lebanon

BAGHDAD: Iran has worked to turn sweeping anti-government protests in Iraq from a threat to its hard-earned influence over its neighbor into an opportunity for political gains, analysts say. In Lebanon too, where similar rallies against corruption and government inefficiency have broken out, Iran’s main ally Hezbollah has managed to maintain its influence.

“Very clearly, Iran in both Lebanon and Iraq wants to protect the system and not allow it to fall apart,” said Renad Mansour, researcher at London-based Chatham House.

In both countries “it considers the demands of protesters potentially destabilizing,” he told AFP.

In Iraq, many demonstrators calling for an overhaul to the political system over the past month have pointed at Tehran as its primary sponsor – a worrying accusation for Iranian officials.

The leaders in Iran “are probably at peak influence and don’t want anything to change, because it’s exactly where they want to be,” said Michael Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute.

For decades, Iran has carefully crafted ties to a vast range of Iraq political and military actors, from Shiite opponents of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein to Kurdish factions in the north and even Sunni tribes in the west.

It therefore can play a crucial mediating role in Iraq’s political crises, and Qasem Soleimani, who heads the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Al-Quds Force, often visits Baghdad during such times.

Tehran also backs many of the factions in Iraq’s Al-Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary force, which was formed in 2014 to fight Daesh (ISIS). And it sells crucial electricity and natural gas to supplement Iraq’s gutted power sector and is Baghdad’s second-biggest source of other imports, from fruit to carpets and cars.


The political and economic sway is perhaps more valuable than ever amid Washington’s efforts to isolate and economically handicap Iran.

The leaders in Tehran “have absolutely everything to lose and will do anything to defend it,” Knights said. “In the course of that, they are exposing their hand and their allies, and building even greater anger towards them.”

Since protests erupted on Oct. 1 in Iraq, many demonstrators have accused Iran of propping up the corrupt, inefficient system they want to overthrow. One in five Iraqis lives below the poverty line and youth unemployment stands at 25 percent, despite the vast oil wealth of OPEC’s second-largest crude producer.

“All our leaders are in the palm of Iran’s hand,” said Azhar, a 21-year-old protester in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

In unprecedented displays of anti-Iran sentiment, demonstrators chanted, “Out, out, Iran! Baghdad will stay free!”

Online footage showed Iraqis hitting pictures of Soleimani with their shoes, a severe insult in the region.

The criticism caught Iran’s attention, and Soleimani has visited Iraq multiple times over the past five weeks to “advise” factions on how to respond, sources told AFP.

“He’s running the show,” a government official said.

“They agreed on a way to deal with protesters that allows the current political leadership to stay,” another source with knowledge of Soleimani’s visits said.

One such meeting blocked a potential deal between paramilitary chief Hadi al-Ameri and populist Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr to oust Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi, sources said.

But parties appear to have closed rank around the embattled premier again, maintaining the status quo.

And amid the chaos of protests, several military commanders seen as close to the United States have been sidelined.

Iran has tightened its grip considerably and become much more bold,” Knights said.


A week before the resumption of Iraq’s anti-government rallies on Oct. 24, Lebanon erupted in anger at systemic corruption.

Its government is dominated by the allies of Shiite armed movement Hezbollah, through which Iran exerts significant influence.

“Hezbollah has never had it this good,” said Amal Saad, a Hezbollah expert and professor at the Lebanese University.

But after rallies unexpectedly reached the party’s strongholds in Lebanon, “Hezbollah and Iran are in a precarious situation,” Saad told AFP.

Criticism of the movement’s chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah even aired on the Hezbollah-run Al-Manar TV, which was previously unimaginable for its propaganda arm.

After initially backing the demonstrations, Nasrallah said that his party would not back the government’s resignation, which he said would lead to a dangerous political vacuum.

Party loyalists have also launched counterdemonstrations, sparking scuffles with protesters and journalists.

Despite the initial threat, analyst Qassem Qassir said, the party is as strong as ever.

“It may have lost some morale or taken a hit in the media, but its strength remains,” Qassir told AFP.

Israel carries out deadly retaliatory strikes outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli carries out deadly retaliatory strikes on Gaza

02/11/2019 – 13:59

Palestinian children at a crater caused by an Israeli rairstrike launched in response to rocket fire, in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Nov. 2, 2019. Said Khatib, AFP

Dozens of pre-dawn strikes targeted bases of Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and allied militant groups, a Gaza security source said.

The Israeli army said the strikes targeted “a wide range of Hamas terror targets”, including a naval base, a military compound and a weapons manufacturing plant.

The Hamas-run health ministry identified the person killed as Ahmed al-Shehri, 27. It did not say whether he was affiliated with any armed group.

The sound of explosions was heard across the tiny but densely populated territory, AFP correspondents said.

After daybreak, curious onlookers gathered around a large crater scooped out of the sandy soil by the force of one of the blasts.

A Hamas source said it had fired at the Israeli aircraft carrying out the raids and the Israeli military confirmed fresh “incoming fire”.

Sworn enemies

The strikes came after at least 10 rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel late Friday causing damage but no casualties.

The Israeli military said eight of the rockets were intercepted by air defences.

Air raid sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the border.

One family house was hit, without causing any casualties, the army said, posting a picture of the damage on Twitter.

It was the second consecutive evening that the army reported rocket fire from Gaza, shattering a calm that had lasted since September 12.

In August, a spate of rocket attacks, retaliatory air strikes and clashes along the border had raised fears of an escalation as a general election approached in Israel.

Those polls — Israel’s second general election this year — took place on September 17, but have yet to yield a new government.

Sworn enemies Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the Palestinian enclave since 2008.

Analysts say a fourth round remains likely.

Crippling blockade

There have been repeated bouts of violence between Hamas and Israel over the past year as the Islamists have sought to improve on the terms of a UN- and Egyptian-brokered truce first hammered out in November last year.

In return for Hamas silencing the rockets, Israel agreed a package of measures to ease the crippling blockade it has imposed on Gaza for more than a decade.

They included allowing in millions of dollars in aid from Hamas ally Qatar to pay for fuel for the territory’s sole power station and cash for salaries and grants to tens of thousands of needy families.

The truce has also seen Israel expand the distance it allows Gaza fishermen out into the Mediterranean — although it reduces it or even cuts it to zero in response to violence from the enclave.

The concessions authorised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been criticised by his opponents, including by his challenger for the premiership, centrist former military chief Benny Gantz.

Gantz called a renewal of the truce agreed by Netanyahu in May “capitulation to blackmail”.

The Palestinians have also pressed on with weekly demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border first launched in March last year.

The protests have frequently drawn live fire from Israel forces stationed along the heavily fortified border fence.

More than 90 Palestinians were wounded in this Friday’s demonstrations, the health ministry said.


China’s Nuclear Triad (Daniel 7)

Meet the Qing-Class: China’s Homegrown Nuclear Missile Submarine

Key point: The exact details of why China has only one Qing submarine, and what is it used for, are a tightly-held secret.

In 2010, China’s first—and only, so far—Qing-class submarine sailed out to sea following nearly six years of construction. Displacing 6,628 tons submerged and measuring exactly the length of a football field at one hundred yards long (ninety-two meters), it is by most accounts the largest diesel submarine ever built.

Unlike the vast majority of diesel submarines, the Type 032 can fire not only long-range cruise missiles, but submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with the capacity to send a nuclear warhead across the ocean.

Beijing prefers to keep its cards close to the chest, leading to speculation about the Type 032—is it purely a missile testing submarine, as is officially claimed, or is it the precursor of a fleet of low-cost ballistic-missile subs? Or was the Type 32 actually built as a prototype vessel for export to Pakistan?

In the past, nuclear submarines enjoyed an enormous advantage in submerged endurance and noise compared to traditional diesel submarines. A diesel submarine could swim quietly for days before having to resurface, but a nuclear-powered submarine can do it for months.

That China would even consider developing such a large diesel submarine is due to the advent of Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems, which encompass a variety of technologies that allow engines and generators onboard a submarine to operate while consuming little or no oxygen. AIP systems can be even quieter than the reactors onboard nuclear submarines, and can efficiently propel the ship electrically for weeks, albeit only at slower speeds.

The first operational AIP powered submarine was the Swedish Gotland, which entered service in 1996. Using a Stirling engine, it could operate submerged for thirty days at a time. The small and nearly silent diesel sub successfully penetrated the antisubmarine defenses of U.S. aircraft carrier task forces in several war games.

Since then, China has built fifteen Yuan-class Type 039A (aka Type 041) diesel submarines using Stirling AIP technology, with another twenty planned. The torpedo-armed Yuan-class subs are intended, like the Swedish Gotland, to serve as stealthy short-range boats for stalking enemy vessels in coastal waters.

The Stirling-powered Qing class, however, marks a dramatic departure from that modus operandi. Situated on the vessel’s elongated sail are two or three Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) tubes used to fire JL-2A Ju Lang (“Big Wave”) ballistic missiles. The JL-2A is believed to have a range approaching five thousand miles and can carry a single one-megaton nuclear warhead, or three or four ninety-kiloton independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs).

The JL-2 was first tested in 2001 and constitutes the main armament of China’s Type 094 Jin-class nuclear submarines. A Type 094 sub embarked on China’s first nuclear deterrence patrol in 2015. Hypothetically, the Type 032 would offer a cheaper, shorter-endurance compliment to the Type-094.

Four or five additional VLS cells on the Qing class’s bow can fire JL-18B Yingji (Eagle Strike) antishipping cruise missiles, which surge to speeds of Mach 2.5 on their terminal approach. The JL-18B is supposedly satellite guided, and is variously credited with a range of 110 to more than three hundred miles. The Type 032 can also launch the slower but longer-range CJ-20A cruise missiles, a derivative of the CJ-10.

Rounding out the Qing class’s armaments is an unconventional pairing of a single standard 533-millimeter torpedo tube with an extra-large 650-millimeter tube. The Type 032 also has facilities to accommodate and deploy up to fifty special-forces personnel—an increasingly common feature in modern submarines.

In other respects, the Type 032 is less impressive. It’s slow—with a maximum speed of sixteen miles per hour submerged, nearly half the speed of a Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine. Its maximum dive depth is reported to be 160 to 200 meters—again, less than half the depth that many modern designs can submerge. The Qing class is understandably not designed for a knife-fight.

In any case, the fact that only a single Type 032 has been built reinforces the claims that it is intended as an affordable testing platform for missile armament. It indeed appears to have replaced the sixties-era Type 031 Golf-class sub used to test the JL-2 ballistic missile. In addition to its crew complement of eighty-eight, it claimed that the Type 032 can carry an additional one hundred “scientists and technicians.” The sub has also reportedly been used to test submarine-launched surface-to-air Missiles and a new underwater escape pods. Some suggest the Type 032 may be applied to deploying undersea drones.

However, a 2011 report claimed that China would sell six Type 032 submarines to Pakistan. The two countries hold a long-time alliance opposing India. China remains wary of the potential future superpower, and sees reinforcing its archrival Pakistan as a strategic hedge. However, the initial claim to a Type 032 deal was either inaccurate or fell through.

More recently, Beijing confirmed in October that it would sell eight Project S-26 and Project S-30 submarines for $4–5 billion—a price roughly equivalent to the cost of two nuclear submarines. Four of each subtype will be constructed in China and Karachi, Pakistan, with first delivery no sooner than 2020 and completion of the contract by 2028.

However, it’s unclear what type of submarines these will turn out to be. Several of official reports appear to state that these are derivatives of the Type 032, but most experts believe they are instead down-scaled version of the ship-hunting Yuan-class submarine. However, some descriptions of the S-30 imply it is based on the Type 032, with an intended armament of four Pakistani-developed Babur nuclear-capable land-attack cruise missiles as well as retaining two SLBM tubes.

Nuclear submarines still possess advantages over AIP-powered diesel submarines. Deterrence patrols tend to be lengthy, so the three-to-four-month endurance of nuclear subs still handily beats the thirty days of a Stirling-powered sub. And even though the ability to remain underwater for months at a time may be less vital for coastal defense subs, nuclear submarines can also sustain higher underwater speeds over long distances.

Still, most navies across the world aren’t like United States, which operates submarines thousands of miles across the length of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Countries like China, Pakistan or, hypothetically, Iran or Saudi Arabia, have naval security interests closer to home and don’t need their submarines to cross vast oceans.

Particularly for countries like Pakistan with access to nuclear arms, a missile-armed diesel submarine could offer an affordable means to threaten nuclear retaliation that would remain very difficult to counter, potentially starting a new worrisome trend in nuclear proliferation.

Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This first appeared in December 2016.

Image: Wikimedia.