America Overdue For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Study: America Overdue For Major Earthquake … In States You Didn’t Suspect

Written by: Daniel Jennings Current Events

The survey’s new National Seismic Hazard Map show that the risk of earthquakes in parts of the country — such as the Midwest, Oregon and the Rocky Mountains — is far higher than previously thought. All total, Americans in one-third of the country saw their risk for an earthquake increase.

“I worry that we will wake up one morning and see earthquake damage in our country that is as bad as that has occurred in some developing nations that have experienced large earthquakes,” Carl Hedde, a risk management expert at insurer Munich Reinsurance America, said of the map in The Wall Street Journal. “Beyond building collapse, a large amount of our infrastructure could be immediately damaged. Our roads, bridges and energy transmission systems can be severely impacted.”

Among the findings:

  • The earthquake danger in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and South Carolina is as high as that in Los Angeles.
  • 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years.
  • Parts of 16 states have the highest risk of a quake: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina

“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes,” USGS scientist William Ellsworth told The Journal. “We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this.”

Frightening Results From New Study

The USGS used new computer modeling technology and data collected from recent quakes such as the one that struck Washington, D.C. in 2011 to produce the new maps. The maps show that many Americans who thought they were safe from earthquakes are not.

New Relocation Manual Helps Average Americans Get Out Of Harms Way Before The Coming Crisis

Some of the survey’s other disturbing findings include:

    • The earthquake danger in Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, New York and parts of New England is higher than previously thought.
    • Some major metropolitan areas, including Memphis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, St. Louis and Charleston, have a higher risk of earthquakes than previously thought. One of the nation’s most dangerous faults, the New Madrid fault, runs right through St. Louis and Missouri. It is the nation’s second most active fault. On Dec. 16, 1811, the New Madrid Fault was the site of the most powerful series of earthquakes in American history.

“Obviously the building codes throughout the central U.S. do not generally take earthquake risk or the risk of a large earthquake into account,” USGS Seismologist Elizabeth Cochran told The Journal. Her take: Earthquake damage in the central US could be far greater than in places like California, because structures in some locations are not built to withstand quakes.

Others agree.

“Earthquakes are quite rare in many places but when they happen they cause very intense damage because people have not prepared,” Mark Petersen, the project chief for the USGS’s National Seismic Hazard Map, told The Journal.

This new map should be a wakeup call for Americans.

The Warring Continues Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Illustrative: Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, November 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)


Gaza mortar shell strikes south, prompting IDF strikes on Hamas targets

Projectile hits open field, causing no injuries or damage; resulting sirens send hundreds scrambling for cover, after IDF announces plans to send reinforcements to Gaza border

Palestinian terrorists fired at least one mortar shell at southern Israel on Wednesday night, striking an open field and causing no injuries or damage, the military said.

In response Israeli aircraft attacked several sites in the Gaza Strip. The army said it hit “Hamas targets including a weapons manufacturing site and underground infrastructure.”

There were no immediate reports of Palestinian casualties.

The mortar attack triggered sirens in the community of Kibbutz Kissufim in the Eshkol region.

An Eshkol spokesperson said an explosion was heard following the sirens and that an impact site was found in an open field outside the community.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The attack came a day after US President Donald Trump released his plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which drew staunch denunciations from Palestinian leaders, including the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, the Hamas terror group.

Throughout Wednesday, a number of balloon clusters carrying suspected explosive devices that had been launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel, continuing a trend of these airborne attacks from the enclave over the past few weeks. Police sappers disarmed and removed the objects.

Earlier on Wednesday evening, the military announced it was deploying additional troops to the Gaza border and West Bank amid concerns that Palestinians may respond violently to the peace plan, which was widely seen as being tilted in favor of Israel.

“In accordance with the constant situational assessments being conducted by the IDF, it was decided to reinforce the number of combat troops in the Judea and Samaria Division and Gaza Division,” the military said, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

Palestinians held protests throughout the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, though turnout was relatively limited.

In the West Bank, small demonstrations with dozens to hundreds of participants were held in and around the Jordan Valley, Bethlehem, Hebron, Qalqiliya, Tulkarem, Abu Dis, al-Bireh and Ramallah, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Wafa news site.

At least two Palestinians were reportedly injured by live fire during the riots, with several others wounded by rubber bullets and tear gas, according to Wafa.

The military would not specify the exact number of reinforcements being sent. The additional troops being sent to the West Bank would come from the elite Maglan and Egoz commando units, while the Gaza Division would be reinforced with troops from the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion, it said.

The decision came after the military sent an additional infantry battalion to the Jordan Valley on Tuesday, ahead of the release of the Trump plan.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett instructed the IDF to remain on high alert ahead of the plan’s release and prepare for the possibility of violence, as well as for the threats by the PA to not restrain or disperse rioters in the West Bank.

“The minister instructed the troops to be prepared for the scenario of an immediate escalation [of violence] in light of the presentation of the plan and the agitation of the street, without the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority,” his office said.

According to unconfirmed reports in Hebrew media, PA President Mahmoud Abbas instructed Palestinian security not to stop protesters from confronting Israeli forces in the West Bank as the US releases the plan.

According to the Ynet news site, Abbas said: “We need to enlist all the young people. Stay out on the streets. We’re going to be on emergency footing in the coming days… Ahead of us are difficult days and we will need to bear the consequences of refusing the agreement.”

The Antichrist, Iraq’s Most Volatile Cleric, Stakes His Claim to Power

Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s most volatile cleric, stakes his claim to power

But plenty of obstacles lie in his path

Feb 1st 2020

THE HENCHMEN of Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s most capricious—and perhaps most powerful—cleric, not only participated in the anti-government protests that have rocked Baghdad and other cities for months, they defended them.Others who joined the demonstrations stood a good chance of being frisked by Mr Sadr’s men, who looked out for troublemakers. Together with the mainly Shia crowds they demanded a new political system, one not dominated by a small elite, and a fairer distribution of the country’s oil wealth.

But on January 25th Mr Sadr ordered his followers to withdraw, blaming the hostile behaviour of the protesters towards his men. A crackdown on the protesters who remained appeared imminent. Over 600 people have been killed since the unrest began in October. As expected, the police cleared the streets in some cities. The protesters, though, have not gone home. There are more now.

With Mr Sadr throwing his weight behind the establishment, Iraq’s battle lines are clearly defined. The politicians and clerics who champion Shia political Islam, and who are backed by Iran, face protesters calling for a secular, non-sectarian government free of Iranian influence. The result is stalemate and stagnation. Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the prime minister, resigned last year, but he carries on as a caretaker (unconstitutionally, say some). The ruling parties have mulled many possible successors. Each name elicits guffaws from the crowds in the street.

Mr Sadr hopes to fill the post with a loyalist. Ever since America toppled the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the cleric has sought power. He styles himself a local hero who endured American sanctions and Saddam, while other elites lived the high life abroad. That has given him clout on the street, which he occasionally cashes in for a seat at the table. In 2016 he led a large rabble that occupied parliament. Last year the political bloc that he leads, called Sairoun, won the most seats in parliamentary elections.

Mr Sadr is also eyeing two other important positions. The commander of the Popular Mobilisation Force (PMF), Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, was killed in the American drone strike on Qassem Suleimani, Iran’s top commander, on January 3rd. The PMF co-ordinates Iraq’s powerful Shia armed groups; Mr Sadr would like to control it. He has been meeting PMF commanders. Last month he made a show of his strength by recalling his Mahdi Army.

But the post he most covets is head of Iraq’s clergy.Currently Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a respected 89-year-old, sits atop the clerical establishment. Mr Sadr, half his age, has had a go at him before. The Mahdi Army seized the holy city of Najaf, the seat of Mr Sistani, in 2004—until America’s army forced it out. Today followers of Mr Sadr predict he could mount a theological challenge. Though just a hujjat al-islam, or junior cleric, he has spent over a decade in the cloisters of Qom, Iran’s clerical capital, improving his scholastic credentials and ties with Iran’s rulers.

Mr Sadr may hope to become Iraq’s version of a supreme leader. But it will be a bumpy ride to the top. Some in his ranks seethe at his betrayal of the protesters. Sheikh Asaad al-Nasari, a close associate, declared he would remain on the street. The protesters, for their part, detect disarray in the governing ranks. They sound emboldened. “Without Suleimani the militias are sheep without a shepherd,” says Faiq al-Sheikh Ali, a liberal parliamentarian who claims to be the protesters’ choice for prime minister. He wants American forces to stay in Iraq to keep Iran out.

Both sides hope to exhaust the other, but they might end up exhausting ordinary Iraqis. Business is grinding to a halt. With oil prices low, the budget deficit is widening. Fears are mounting about the government’s ability to pay salaries. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump threatens to seize Iraq’s foreign assets and impose sanctions if the government persists with its request for American troops to leave. He has allowed Iraq to bypass American sanctions on Iran and buy its gas and electricity. The waiver expires in mid-February. It might not be renewed, particularly if militias continue to lob rockets at America’s embassy in Baghdad, as they did on January 26th. Iraq is desperate for some calm. But continued unrest is more likely. ■

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s most volatile cleric, stakes his claim to power”

Iran’s Nuclear Revenge on the US (Revelation 16)

Iran’s revenge might be to go nuclear

By posting the words, “No thanks” on Twitter, US President Donald Trump replied to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s latest overture. In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel last week, Zarif said that Iran was ready to resume talks with the US if the latter lifted its sanctions on Tehran. He added that it was the US that had left the negotiating table, not Iran. However, Zarif’s approach is a bit strange. This was also the previous proposal of Iran, and the US rejected it. Was it expecting a change in the position of the US or was it just a distraction?

One should put the different elements into context. Following the targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani, Iran has been keeping a low profile. It toned down its belligerent discourse, except for the instance where Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei insulted Trump, describing him as a “clown.” This calm is unusual for Iran, whose operatives have caused havoc throughout the region since the beginning of the Arab uprisings. A rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday resulted in no serious injuries. It is as if they don’t want to provoke the US. Have they been contained? Was Soleimani indispensable and his role irreplaceable, and hence this is the end? Will we see a gradual retrenchment of Iran’s role in the region? That is the wishful thinking of many, but it might not be the case. Iran might be preparing for revenge. It might be preparing for a new “era,” as Hassan Nasrallah said in his eulogy to the slain Soleimani.

It is important to note that Iran has said it is enriching more uranium today than it was before the 2015 nuclear deal. At the beginning of November, Iran had already announced that it had increased its enrichment of uranium tenfold, but the killing of Soleimani hastened its departure from the deal’s terms.

The relative calm on the Iranian side should not be understood as an admission of defeat. The US appears more adamant than ever about its policy of maximum economic pressure on Iran and it feels emboldened now that the main architect of Tehran’s regional operations is gone. However, one should keep a close eye on Iran. Chances are, Iran is preparing — but for what? Nasrallah has vowed to drive American forces out of the region. Are the Iranians sending these signals through their foreign minister, showing willingness to negotiate, while they are preparing for a stronger response? It was widely reported that when Iran bombed two military bases in response to Soleimani’s assassination, it passed advance details of the strikes to the Iraqis, who then passed the information to the Americans. Iran did not want to inflict any casualties that might drive the US to retaliate. It was described as a staged response — a farce — but it also might have been a distraction. While Zarif announced at the time that the retaliation was complete, Iran might just be preparing for the real retribution.

One possibility is that Iran is planning to go nuclear in order to garner a better negotiating position with the US. North Korea is a good example. The US was not able to get any tangible concessions from Pyongyang because it already has the bomb and, hence, is untouchable. Today, bombing nuclear Iran is different to Israel’s attack on Osirak in Iraq in the 1980s. Also, the trend in Iran’s behavior is that, as it makes a concession on one front, it compensates on another. It does that in order to avoid looking like it is relinquishing any of its principles or is in a weak position.

The relative calm on the Iranian side should not be understood as an admission of defeat.

Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib

Now that the architect of Iran’s regional operations is gone and his replacement, Esmail Qaani, is not of the same caliber, Iran might use its nuclear program to prop up its position. Qaani does not have the experience or the connections of Soleimani. He reportedly does not speak Arabic and his involvement has previously only been in Afghanistan — he has no experience in other territories. Qaani’s task is becoming increasingly difficult. The people of Iraq and Lebanon are protesting against their governments, which are allies of Iran. The pro-Iran Cabinet just formed in Beirut is facing widespread rejection from the people, while the international community is reluctant to deal with it. It is judged to be dead on arrival.

As Iran’s power through its proxies and allies seems shaky, going nuclear might offer it adequate compensation. This might be the best way to pressure the US, or it might even allow Iran to conduct its revenge for the death of Soleimani while remaining untouchable.

  • Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib is a specialist in US-Arab relations with a focus on lobbying. She holds a PhD in politics from the University of Exeter and is an affiliated scholar with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

Khamenei Vows Vengeance on Babylon the Great

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gestures as he delivers a Friday prayer sermon in Tehran on January 17
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei slammed the Trump administration’s peace plan as “satanic” and evil on Wednesday. “It will never bear fruit” he wrote, claiming that Jerusalem must not be “in the hands of the Jews.” Khamenei’s comments went out as his advisors scrambled to work on a  full-court press against Israel and the plan, leveraging regional anger over it to Iran’s benefit. Iran may now work with Palestinian groups and seek to thwart the plan through political and military means, hoping to use the plan as a way to jump-start Iran’s stalled influence peddling operations in the Middle East.

Towards that end Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Iran will work throughout “West Asia” to confront the Deal of the Century. “It threatens the Islamic community,” he said. Iran refers to the Middle East as “West Asia.” While Iran’s Foreign Minister bashed the plan as a “so-called vision for peace” and a “nightmare for the region,” the foreign ministry in Tehran said  that it would work with other countries in the region “at all levels to unite the Muslim world to confront the great conspiracy.”

Iran wants to make this an “Islamic” issue by emphasizing Jerusalem. A survey of Iranian media and political reactions, as well as reactions of Iran’s IRGC, illustrate this. An article at Iran’s IRNA media noted that while Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and even Qatar may be considering normalization with Israel, that Tehran will be working with other countries to undermine the deal. Qatar is usually considered close to Iran, and the linking of Qatar and other Gulf states represents a new trend in Tehran.

A deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps told Tasnim News in Iran that this deal marks a “new chapter in the struggle of the Palestinian people.” Yadollah Javani, a Brig. Gen. and member of the political bureau of the IRGC, said the plan was one-sided and that it was the “betrayal of the century.” He argued that the Palestinians were not included and that such a plan would fail. “This great treachery of Trump has been unveiled, but when we look at the history of the plans given for Palestine we see that the past plans by the Zionists and reactionary Arab governments in the region are supported by Zionists against Palestinian groups.” He hoped the Palestinians would unify in the face of the plan. Iran backs Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas and now wants to bring them to Ramallah to work more closely with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Painful and embarrassing,” was how a professor described the plan to ISNA media in Iran. The report slammed Bahrain, the UAE and Oman for appearing to endorse the plan and noted that even France and Germany had not supported it. “These countries are in a sensitive area in the Gulf and the plan will increase hostility to the US and the region will experience anew level of insecurity.” The article asserted that the Gulf states that support the US plan could be undermined by popular or regional anger against it. Iran launched a drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi Arabia in September and the article appears to insinuate that Iran could stir  up trouble in Bahrain or neighboring states to punish them. “Those who choose Israel will be left with damaging consequences.” ISNA media was more careful with Qatar, noting that Qatar had released a statement arguing the plan must be in an international framework to be legitimate.

Mehr News highlighted a speech by Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi, interim imam and Friday prayer leader of Tehran who has argued against the US and the deal. “Palestine is on the way to returning  to its Islamic identity. The US president unveiling his plan for the Palestinians has caused support for Al-Aqsa.” He argued that today pro-Iranian forces were working more closely together and referenced the Hashd al-Shaabi in Iran,  Hassan Nasrallah’s Hezbollah in Lebanon and their opposition to the “mercenary governments like the United States.” This was the “fruit” of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979 finally growing and Iran must fulfill its potential now, apparently a plea to leverage the new US policy to gather pro-Iranian forces against the US and Israel. The Hashd al-Shaabi  are pro-Iranian militias in Iraq that are part of the security forces, such as the Badr Organization. They work with the IRGC and have  been suppressing protesters and oppose the  US presence in Iraq. The US targeted one of their leaders on January 3 alongside IRGC general Qasem Soleimani.

Iran is clearly preparing a larger push against Israel and the US in the context of Trump’s push for a “Deal of the Century” and also because Iran wants “hard revenge” for the killing of Soleimani. The speeches on Wednesday reveal that Iran will use its proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, and among the Palestinians. It will work to undermine Gulf states that appeared to support the plan. It will also push a religious crusade that will seek to argue that Trump’s plan is “anti-Islamic.” Through its various organs, from the Foreign Ministry to Friday prayers and the IRGC, Iran will oppose the plan. This is in line with Iran’s usual rhetoric against Israel and the US. But Tehran wants to seize this opportunity to make itself seem more relevant.

Palestinians Fire Mortars From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Image result for Palestinians in Gaza fire mortar at southern Israel

Palestinians in Gaza fire mortar at southern Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinians in Gaza fired a mortar at southern Israel, setting off Code Red sirens.

The mortar exploded in an open field near Kibbutz Kissufim, a Gaza border community, on Wednesday evening. It caused no injuries or damage, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Two other explosives were launched from Gaza at the same time but did not clear the Gaza border, Ynet reported, citing the IDF.

Also Wednesday, several balloons carrying incendiary devices were launched from Gaza into southern Israel. The explosive devices were disarmed by police sappers. One of the homemade bombs was in a box with shiny wrapping paper.

The mortar was fired a day after President Donald Trump released the details of his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The IDF hours later responded to the attacks with air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, including a weapons manufacturing site and underground infrastructure, the IDF said.

Not long before the rocket fire, the IDF said it was increasing security presence in the West Bank and on the Gaza border.

“Following situation assessments, it has been decided to reinforce divisions stationed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with additional combat troops,” the IDF said.

No group claimed responsibility for the mortar or the incendiary balloons.

The Russian Nuclear Horn Upgrades Their Nukes (Daniel 7)

Summary:  Russia is replacing older nuclear technology with more modern, more functional options. What are the implications for the United States, Europe, and the future of arms control?


In the big strategic game, the Russians and Americans have the same reason for modernizing their nuclear forces: they want to maintain parity. If the two sides have the same number of nuclear warheads deployed, then they will not be tempted to shoot at each other. They also have a reason to avoid an arms race that would entail constantly seeking more nuclear weapons to try to achieve superiority—however temporary. As expensive as nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles are, parity has kept the costs down by holding the arms race in check.

In the past few years, President Vladimir Putin does seem to be after nuclear weapons for another reason—to show that Russia is still a great power to be reckoned with. He has been trumpeting new and exotic systems that are unique, like the nuclear weapon delivery system known as the Burevestnik nuclear-propelled cruise missile.

These exotic systems have more of a political function than a strategic or security one. Their role is to signal Russia’s continuing scientific and military prowess at a time when the country does not otherwise have much on offer. Devilishly expensive and sometimes dangerous to operate, they are unlikely to be deployed in big numbers, as a 2019 fatal testing accident of the Burevestnik shows. If U.S.-Russian arms control remains in place, such systems definitely will not be deployed in big numbers, because they would displace proven and highly reliable intercontinental ballistic missiles in the Russian force structure. These ballistic missiles are the backbone of nuclear deterrence for Russia. The exotics don’t add to that deterrent. They have some show-off value, but they will do no more than make the rubble bounce.


The Europeans, most prominently the NATO allies, are very concerned about Russia’s nuclear modernization programs. Their concerns revolve more around new nuclear missiles to be deployed on European soil than the intercontinental systems that threaten the United States. Poland and Lithuania, for example, are NATO countries bordering Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave in the heart of NATO territory. Russia has put increasingly capable missiles there, including the Iskander, a highly accurate modern missile that is capable of launching either nuclear or conventional warheads.

Likewise, the Europeans are of one mind about the threat posed by a missile known as the 9M729 (SSC-8 in NATO parlance), which is an intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile that the Russians developed and deployed in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The allies all agree that this missile poses a threat to NATO. Although it has not been deployed forward in Kaliningrad, its range is sufficient to threaten all of NATO Europe when deployed in European Russia. It too is said to support both nuclear and conventional weapons.

Since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, the Russians have begun to build up basing sites for their advanced systems there too, including the Iskanders. If Russia brings nuclear weapons into Crimea, it will spark complex political, legal, and moral problems. The world community has largely held firm in condemning Russia’s seizure of Crimea and considers Crimea to be Ukrainian territory. Should Russia bring nuclear weapons to Crimea, it will be violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in a fundamental manner, for Ukraine is a non-nuclear weapon state under the NPT. Russia in this case would be behaving in a manner no better than North Korea.


The most basic role of arms control regimes is to create mutual predictability, ensuring that no country participating is uncertain about its security both now and into the future. In this way, arms control helps to keep defense spending in check, but it also allows countries to build up mutual confidence and stability, which can translate into broader security and economic ties. This assumes, of course, that the deal is properly implemented by all parties, which is why former U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s old adage “trust but verify” is so important. If participants are allowed to cheat on an arms control regime, then it becomes hollowed out, detrimental to the security of all.

The fundamental benefits of arms control, however, can be helpful in times of trouble. I like to think that all the work Russia, the United States, and Europe did together in the 1990s was enabled by the then thirty-year legacy of arms control cooperation. We worked together to protect nuclear weapons and materials from the former Soviet arsenal from being stolen or misused. The same goes for the safety of nuclear power plants. When Ukraine, Russia, the European Union, and the United States began to work together in the early 1990s to mitigate the effects of the 1987 Chernobyl disaster, existing relationships in the nuclear realm helped the cleanup project run smoother. Nuclear energy is clearly a different world from the nuclear weapons establishment, but the scientific underpinnings and the scientists and engineers working the issues are the same.

Nowadays, I think that we must contemplate what it will mean if no nuclear arms control regimes remain in force. For the generation that worked these issues in Russia, the United States, and Europe, enough of a residual relationship exists that experts can grasp at opportunities for cooperation when they present themselves. Some mechanisms such as scientist-to-scientist dialogues are likely to remain, such as the Pugwash and Dartmouth dialogues and the National Academy of Sciences exchanges with the Russian Academy of Sciences. These were the first places where Soviet and Western scientists gathered together to confront the problems of nuclear war and to look together for solutions.

We should be concerned, however, that they may revert to the talk shops of the Cold War, with few opportunities to work together on practical projects. Meanwhile, pragmatic and persistent tools, such as the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers (NRRCs) that operate in the U.S. Department of State and the Russian Ministry of Defense, may find their missions sharply curtailed as they cease to serve any treaty purpose. The United States, Russia, and Europe may thus be heading to a time when their means of communications in a nuclear crisis is no better than they had during the Cold War.

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.

Millennials Are Correct: A Nuclear War Will Occur in the Next Decade

54 Percent of Millennials Believe a Nuclear War Will Occur in the Next Decade

January 29, 2020 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Nuclear WarMilitaryTechnology

The International Committee of the Red Cross surveyed 16,000 millennials between the ages of 20 and 35 in 16 countries.

by David Axe

A majority of the world’s millennials believe it’s more likely than not that a nuclear attack will occur in the next 10 years.

They’re not alone in their fear. The non-profit Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently moved its infamous Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, signalling experts’ growing concern over Earth’s future.

The International Committee of the Red Cross surveyed 16,000 millennials between the ages of 20 and 35 in 16 countries.

“More than half of millennials — 54 percent — believe it is likely that a nuclear attack will occur in the next decade,” the Red Cross reported.

“The fear of a nuclear attack seems to be a trend,” Alex Ward noted at Vox. “The worldwide shudder is understandable. The chance of a nuclear conflict between the U.S. and North Korea isn’t entirely gone. India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed enemies, could rekindle their decades-long squabble at any time. And the U.S. and Russia — the world’s foremost nuclear powers — have had warheads pointed at each other since the earliest days of the Cold War.”

Plus there’s the increasing likelihood thatIran soon will develop its first atomic weapon. Iran in Jan. 5, 2020 announced it would no longer honor international restrictions on its enrichment of uranium, a key process in the production of nuclear weapons.

The announcement came three days after U.S. president Donald Trump ordered the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps militia and one of the country’s top military leaders.

Iran’s announcement regarding uranium enrichment “essentially sounded the death knell” of the 2015 nuclear agreement that then-U.S. president Barack Obama negotiated in order to keep Tehran from obtaining its first nuclear weapon, according to The New York Times.

Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal, weakening it without totally destroying it. Iran, Russia. China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union remained parties to the accord.

Lifting limits on enrichment leaves very little of the nuclear deal in effect. “And it largely re-creates conditions that led Israel and the United States to consider destroying Iran’s facilities a decade ago, again bringing them closer to the potential of open conflict with Tehran that was avoided by the accord,” the Times noted.

Prior to Iran lifting limits on enrichment, experts estimated it would take the country a year to produce enough material for an atomic warhead. If Iran takes the next logical step and builds up its stockpile of enriched uranium, the timeline for producing a nuke could shrink from a year to mere months. At that point, war with Iran could escalate into a nuclear war.

Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean former secretary-general of the United Nations, stressed the need for better relations between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia. “Their relationship is not a good one,” Ban told Ploughshares Fund, an arms-control advocacy group in Washington, D.C. . “They are not talking to each other about how to deal with a lack of nuclear-disarmament architecture.”

“Their relationship has been shrouded in mistrust, denial and counter-argument,” Ban continued. “I’m very concerned about a situation where nuclear wars and conflict can happen.”

Trump, who is running for reelection in 2020, has loosened the rules governing America’s use of atomic weapons and unilaterally has withdrawn the United States from several nuclear treaties.

Trump’s administration currently is negotiating with the Russian government over the fate of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

New START, which caps the American and Russian nuclear arsenals each at 1,550 deployed atomic warheads, expires in February 2021.

Some experts worry that Trump intends to abandon New START, thus potentially walking away from parity as a guiding principle. Trump has called for the United States to greatly grow its atomic arsenal.

“We are in a stage of total denial,” Mary Robinson, the president of Ireland, told Ploughshares. “The [Doomsday] Clock has moved nearer than ever — nearer than at the height of the Cold War.”

Robinson mentioned nuclear war and climate change as the top risks. “We have two existential threats — threats to our very existence,” she said. “And we have a very fragile multilateral system that has become weaker because of a lack of leadership.”

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War Fix, War Is Boring and Machete Squad.

Babylon the Great Challenges the Iraqi Horn

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US Announces Three New Bases in Iraq After Iraqis Demand Full Withdrawal

The three sites chosen for the news bases, Erbin, Sulimania and Halabja are all extremely close to Iran, with Halabja just eight miles from its border.

January 29th, 2020 By Alan Macleod

Less than a week after millions of Iraqis took to the streets demanding the U.S. military leave for good, the United States announced that is planning to build three new military bases in Iraq, according to military news service Breaking Defense. The three sites chosen – Erbin, Sulimania and Halabja – are all extremely close to Iran, with Halabja (the site of the 1988 chemical weapons attack) just eight miles from the border.

The news will come as a shock to the Iraqi parliament, who earlier this month voted overwhelmingly (with some abstentions) to expel American forces from the country. But the U.S. government has flatly refused to leave. “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, adding, “We strongly urge Iraqi leaders to reconsider the importance of the ongoing economic and security relationship between the two countries… We believe it is in the shared interests of the United States and Iraq to continue fighting ISIS together.” Earlier this month the U.S. decided to send an extra 3,000 troops to the region.

President Trump responded by threatening sweeping mass punishments against the Iraqi people. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it…If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever,” he said. U.S.-led sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s are thought to have killed over one million people, including over half a million young children. Successive U.N. diplomats in charge of Iraq during the sanctions denounced them as genocide against its people. Trump said his sanctions would make the ones on Iran look tame by comparison.

“If there’s any hostility,” he said, “we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions.” Trump also threatened to commit genocide against the people of Iran, destroying their cultural heritage sites in a move condemned by many and compared to the Taliban’s destruction of the world-renowned Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan.

Despite the president’s threats, enormous numbers of Iraqis heeded Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s call for a “million man march” in Baghdad last week. While Time magazine claimed there were only “hundreds” in attendance, drone footage told a very different story. Some estimates put the total at over 2.5 million. And despite Bloomberg Quick Take originally claiming that they were “anti-government demonstrations,” the huge banner on the main stage reading “GET OUT AMERICA”in uppercase English letters suggested otherwise.

Hostilities between the United States and Iran threatened to spiral out of control after the January 3 assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani had been invited to Baghdad by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi for regional peace talks. Abdul-Mahdi asked Trump for permission for Soleimani to enter Iraq. Trump accepted, then used the opportunity to kill the general with a drone strike, something the Iraqi parliament declared a violation of their national sovereignty. In retaliation, the Iranians fired ballistic missiles at U.S.-occupied bases in Iraq, causing pinpoint damage, but no fatalities, as the U.S. was warned of the impending response. The Pentagon has said that dozens of troops have suffered brain injuries as a result, but the president disagrees, claiming they amount to little more than headaches.

The plan to build new bases will be seen in Iran as an attempt to tighten the noose around it more tightly.There are already over 65,000 American military personnel in neighboring countries. The U.S. continues to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan since the invasions launched in the wake of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

Since 2003, an estimated 2.4 million people have been killed in the U.S. war on Iraq. One of the consequences of the wars in the Middle East was the rise of the Islamic State, which itself has led to further conflict. The U.S. military also operates from a network of bases in Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and many other states in the region.

The move to establish three new U.S. military bases on Iran’s borders will not be a welcome move to those who wish to deescalate tensions, least of all by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, who moved their Doomsday Clock to just 100 seconds to midnight, citing a possible regional nuclear catastrophe as a factor.

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of