Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)


 By WILLIAM K. STEVENSPublished: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

Hamas Is Building a Second Front Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas Is Building a Second Front Against Israel in Lebanon

Lebanese army take cover behind shields as they deploy during a protest after Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Saad al-Hariri abandoned his effort to form a new government, in Beirut, Lebanon July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

In recent days, a senior Iranian military commander boasted that his country has built “six armies outside its borders that work for it.”

What the officer did not say, however, is that one of these terror armies — Hamas — is busy building a second front against Israel in Lebanon, and that it is trampling on Hezbollah’s toes in the process. While Hezbollah monitors Hamas’ activities in Lebanon, this is not always sufficient to control its activities.

Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, director of the research department at the Alma Research and Education Center, which sheds light on security threats to Israel emanating from Syria and Lebanon, is preparing a major investigative report into Hamas’ presence in Lebanon — and his findings are surprising.

The report, which is scheduled to be released later this month, identifies Hamas’ working plans, senior military operatives, and the location of some key Hamas sites on Lebanese territory. It also analyzes the significance of this activity in regard to Sunni Hamas’ relationship to the radical Shiite axis that is led by Iran.

“Hamas’ activities in Lebanon, like those of Hezbollah, can be divided along two central axes,” Beeri, who served for 20 years in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “The first is the political-civilian sphere, and the second is the military-terrorist area.”

The danger posed by Hamas in the West Bank made headlines last week, when the IDF conducted a series of preemptive counter-terrorism raids in multiple locations to disrupt what Israeli officials described as a major Hamas terrorist plot for Jerusalem. Several Palestinian gunmen, including three Hamas members, were killed in exchanges of fire with Israeli forces, and significant quantities of explosives were seized in the raids. It would be safe to bet that Saleh Al-Arouri, the head of the Hamas “West Bank portfolio,” had a hand in the plot, Beeri said.

Al-Arouri resided in Turkey under its sympathetic Islamist government until President Erdogan was compelled to ejecthim in 2015, as part of an unsuccessful US-led attempt to end the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel. Al-Arouri moved to Qatar until Doha also “requested” his departure in 2017, in the midst of a crisis with its Gulf neighbors. After spending a little time in Malaysia, he settled down in Lebanon, and helped set up a significant Lebanese Hamas headquarters, staffed with senior members.

Yet Hamas in Lebanon is not just orchestrating terrorism in the West Bank, Beeri said; it is also shaping an offensive force in Lebanon itself.

Hamas has two Lebanese units that can be activated: The El-Shimali Unit and the Khaled Ali Unit.

“Each one has hundreds of operatives,” he said. “They both deal in recruitment, training, and specialized qualification courses, such as sniping, operating anti-tank missile launchers, drone operators, urban warfare, and tactical intelligence collection.”

Both of these units develop and manufacture weapons in Lebanon, particularly rockets and drones, as well as small unmanned submarines. With Lebanon’s sizeable Palestinian population, the units have “fertile grounds” for recruiting.

In 2018, senior Israeli officials, such as former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, warned that Hamas was trying to build a second front against Israel from southern Lebanon, and that it was building a new terrorist infrastructure for that purpose.

“For around a decade, Hamas has been building a very serious military infrastructure in Lebanon, which will provide them with back-up operational options against Israel in addition to Gaza,” Beeri warned. “The Lebanese front will allow Hamas to manage combat against Israel from two sectors, creating a certain attention problem for Israel.”

Recent months provided clear demonstrations of the role Hamas envisions for its Lebanese operations.

There were five separate rocket attacks out of Lebanon against Israel between May and August. “The likelihood that Hamas was behind all of these attacks is very high,” said Beeri.

Early warning signs of this activity stretch all the way back to 2014, during Israel’s 51-day war with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Hamas operatives fired rockets at Israel from Lebanon too, but the Israeli public was busy with Gazan rocket attacks and did not take much notice.

But Beeri stressed that it is not only Israel that cannot trivialize this development; Hezbollah too cannot afford to turn a blind eye, as the potential repercussions of Hamas’ activities could be severe.

On the surface, Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas display a common interest in fighting Israel, despite sectarian-ideological gaps between them. But despite the cooperation and the rhetoric, Hezbollah has good reason to be disturbed by what Hamas is doing in its backyard. “Hamas’s buildup of force could pose a true threat to Hezbollah and its status — in Lebanon and the wider Arab world,” said Beeri.

This is due to the fact that Hamas could drag Israel into a wider war in Lebanon, with Hezbollah having no control over the escalation, yet having to face Israeli firepower.

Hezbollah is extremely busy dealing with Lebanon’s multiple crises, and taking advantage of them to increase its power. It is not in its interest to enter into a war with Israel at this time — although this is true for now, and could change from one day to the next.

Thus, despite the declarative unity and common goal of “defending Palestine and Jerusalem,” tension is growing between Hamas, which markets itself as the defender of all Palestinians, and Hezbollah, which presents itself as the defender of the Lebanese people, Beeri noted.

In 2012, when Egypt was ruled by the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Hamas felt that it had finally secured its natural state sponsor and ideal “mother ship.” A year later, when Morsi was overthrown together with his Muslim Brotherhood government, Hamas did not rush back into Iran’s hands, staying “neutral” for a considerable period of time, said Beeri.

The fact that Hamas actively supported Palestinian rebels against the Assad regime in the Al Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus during the Syrian civil war only contributed to tensions, he added.

Tensions reached a boiling point in 2013, when Hezbollah ceased all Hamas activity in Lebanon. In that same year, said Beeri, a Hamas operative fired Grad rockets at Hezbollah’s Dahiya south Beirut heartland, due to tensions over the Syrian civil war and Hezbollah’s key role in supporting the Assad regime.

But none of this tension disrupted the flourishing of military-terrorist cooperation that developed over the years between the Iranian axis and Hamas in Gaza, he added.

Hamas and the Assad regime never completed a reconciliation process, but Iran “is still hugging Hamas despite its zigzags,” said Beeri. “This support extends to Hamas in Lebanon. The military force build-up of Hamas in Gaza and Lebanon has not been harmed by these changes in relations. Hamas continues to receive funding, weapons know-how, and battle doctrine assistance from Iran.”

That should come as no consolation to Hezbollah, which now must deal with Hamas as “an independent entity” in its own heartland.

As for Israel, Beeri said, Jerusalem should adopt a new paradigm and begin dealing with Hamas as a single entity, rather than accepting the division between its Gazan and Lebanese components.

Says Beeri, “Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah is unlikely to rush to start a war if Israel hits Hamas sites and assets precisely in Lebanon.”

Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) Senior Fellow Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the military correspondent for JNS. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence. A version of this article was originally published by IPT.

Antichrist’s Men seek to consolidate political power in vote

Hussein Muanis, the leader of a political movement called "Harakat Huqooq," Arabic for Rights Movement, center, salutes his supporters at an election rally before the upcoming parliamentary elections in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Muanis is the leader of Kataeb Hezbollah, one of the most hard-line and powerful militias with close ties to Iran, who once battled U.S. troops. He is the first to be openly affiliated with Kataeb Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades, signaling the militant group’s formal entry into politics. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Iraq’s militias seek to consolidate political power in vote

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA Associated Press OCTOBER 5, 2021 — 12:55PM

BAGHDAD — Among the candidates running in Iraq’s general elections this week is a leader in one of the country’s most hard-line and powerful militias with close ties to Iran who once battled U.S. troops.

Hussein Muanis joins a long list of candidates from among Iran-backed Shiite factions vying for parliament seats. But he is the first to be openly affiliated with Kataib Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, signaling the militant group’s formal entry into politics.

The group is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations and is accused by U.S. officials of targeting American forces in Iraq. Muanis himself was jailed by the Americans for four years from 2008 to 2012 for fighting U.S. troops.

“Our entrance into politics is a religious obligation. I battled the occupiers militarily and now I will battle them politically,” he said, speaking to The Associated Press recently in his office in central Baghdad.

Muanis, 50, says he has given up his militia fatigues in favor of politics. He now heads a political movement called “Harakat Huqooq,” or Rights Movement, which is fielding 32 candidates and an electoral program stressing the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The Kataib Hezbollah group has been struck by U.S. forces near the Iraq-Syria border several times. In December 2019, the U.S. carried out strikes targeting military sites belonging to the group after blaming it for a rocket barrage that killed a U.S. defense contractor at a military compound near Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Around 20 militiamen were killed.

Harakat Huqooq’s campaign advertisements decorate the streets of Shiite dominated areas in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Iraq is holding elections on Oct. 10, the fifth parliamentary vote since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, which shifted the country’s power base from minority Arab Sunnis to majority Shiites. The vote was brought forward by one year in response to mass protests that broke out in late 2019 over endemic corruption, poor services and unemployment.

While a new electoral law has allowed more independents to run, Shiite groups continue to dominate the electoral landscape with a tight race expected between pro-Iran parties and their militias — the largest of which is the Fatah alliance — and the political bloc of Shiite nationalist heavyweight Moqtada al-Sadr, the biggest winner in the 2018 elections.

The Fatah alliance includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units, an umbrella group for mostly pro-Iran state-sanctioned militias, including Kataib Hezbollah. But the group has lost some popularity following the 2019 protests, with activists accusing hard-line armed factions of brutally suppressing protesters by using live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Protesters demanding change and reform were also often railing against Iran’s heavy-handed interferences in Iraqi politics. More than 600 were killed and thousands injured during the months-long protests.

Analysts say the entry of Kataib Hezbollah — the group is separate from the Lebanese group of the same name — might be an attempt by Iran to strengthen its allies inside Iraq’s parliament.

Bassam al-Qazwini, a Baghdad-based political analyst, said after the 2019 protest movement Iran pushed for hard-liners to go into politics.

“Harakat Huqooq opens the door for hard-line factions to enter the realm of politics and the parliament building,” he said, adding that he did not expect them to win a lot of seats.

Muanis, a slender man who sports a light beard, said his reasons for entering politics is the people’s disappointment with the current political situation and politicians’ failure to implement reform.

“So we are participating in order to bring about change,” he said. If he wins, he says he will work from inside parliament on “regaining Iraqi sovereignty by having the occupier leave,” he said of the Americans.

Asked about the proliferation of arms outside state control, he said: “Whenever the occupation is no longer there then we can discuss it. Then there would be no need to bear arms.”

Mounting tensions between U.S., China nuclear horns raise new fears of threat to Taiwan

Two Chinese SU-30 fighter jets take off from an unspecified location to fly a patrol over the South China Sea.
Chinese flights into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone increased from 38 a day on Friday to 52 on Monday. | Jin Danhua/Xinhua via AP

Mounting tensions between U.S., China raise new fears of threat to Taiwan

Chinese military flights near Taiwan are nothing new, yet the size and frequency of the sorties have grown.

“We should think of China’s approach to Taiwan not as a bifurcated decision between war and peace but instead a continuous pressure campaign that can take various lethal and non-lethal forms,” said Eric Sayers, an expert in Asia-Pacific security policy at the American Enterprise Institute.

“Beijing can turn this pressure up or down as it chooses, but it is always occurring in a sustained manner towards the goal of reunification.”

Three years after former President Donald Trump launched his trade war with China, indications are that President Joe Biden’s administration is continuing his confrontational approach to the bilateral relationship, while rallying Western and regional allies around calling out Beijing for its flouting of international norms.

The recent events come on the heels of a historic security pact between the U.S., U.K. and Australia to provide Canberra with the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines, a deal seen as an effort to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

And in September, the leaders of the four nations that make up the informal “Quad” grouping — the U.S., Japan, India and Australia — reiterated their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that is “undaunted by coercion,” a careful statement aimed indirectly at Beijing.

“[T]hings are going badly for Beijing at the political level,” said Elbridge Colby, a former Trump Pentagon official who is now a principal at the think tank the Marathon Initiative. “Instead they might decide to just use their increasing military capability.”

The flights into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone increased from 38 a day on Friday to 52 on Monday.

The four-day barrage of sorties by fighter planes, bombers and surveillance planes could be primarily meant for domestic consumption, as they started on China’s National Day of Oct. 1. Taiwan’s own National Day is on Oct. 10.

“This is absolutely a wonderful opportunity to remind Taiwan of its proper place in the world, in Beijing’s view,” said Dean Cheng, an expert on Chinese military capabilities at the Heritage Foundation. He noted that flying dozens of planes a day near the island forces the much smaller Taiwanese air force to respond.

Over the weekend, Beijing criticized the U.S. for sailing warships in international waters in the region and for selling Taiwan new weapons. But since China “has no previous record of responding to U.S. or allied warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait with incursions of this magnitude, this suggests that something else is going on,” said Adrian Ang, research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Most likely the flights are a “nationalistic show of force or harassment of Taiwan on the occasion of China’s National Day on October 1, or even extending possibly to the ‘golden week’ holiday for propaganda purposes,” he added.

The incursions are nothing new, even if the size and frequency of the sorties have grown. China has already doubled the number of times it has flown its warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone this year over 2020, hitting the 667 mark on Monday. In 2020, there were 380 such flights.

Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, which is unilaterally declared for reasons of military air defense, extends far beyond its national airspace. A handful of countries across the globe have their own self-declared air identification zones.

“This has become the new normal in the Taiwan Strait, this is part of the training for the PLA air force, and the naval air assets as well,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund.

Chinese President Xi Jinping “is emphasizing PLA readiness to fight tonight,” Glaser said. “He is emphasizing training in a way that has not been emphasized previously,” so larger and more ambitious sorties may be a reality that the region will have to deal with.

But officials are concerned that Chinese military action aimed at Taiwan could eventually draw in the U.S., as well as potentially the U.K. and Pacific powers such as Australia and Japan. Washington’s position on whether it would defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion is purposefully ambiguous, but the Biden administration has strongly signaled its support of Taipei with arms sales and high-level meetings.

In a statement late Monday, the Pentagon said the United States is “concerned” by China’s “provocative military activity” around Taiwan, which “is destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability.”

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan,” said spokesperson Lt. Col. Martin Meiners. “The U.S. commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”

The statement reflects what White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday, pledging that the U.S. “will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.”

Military officials have also recently sounded the alarm about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in the next five or six years, as well as Beijing’s growing military capability, including rapidly increasing numbers of navy ships and nuclear weapons.

“Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before [2050],” retired Adm. Phil Davidson, then-commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate in March. “And I think the threat will manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.”

Right now, Beijing is likely trying to wear down Taiwan’s defenses by forcing its air force to repeatedly respond to the provocations, Colby said, while at the same time dulling its alertness to a potential attack.

“They spend a lot of time and money and effort scrambling to meet these provocations, and at some point, people say, ‘Oh this is normal,’” Colby said.

But China’s latest actions toward Taiwan also expose its political weakness, Sayers said, pointing to the deepening unofficial relationship between Taipei and Washington as “a further blow to Beijing’s plans to isolate Taiwan.”

The latest round of Chinese incursions began Friday, when 38 warplanes surged into the air defense identification zone, followed by another 39 aircraft on Saturday, which was until Monday the largest Chinese sortie into the area to date.

Over the weekend, the U.S. and U.K. also did some muscle-flexing in the Philippine Sea near Okinawa, with three aircraft carriers along with their destroyer escorts maneuvering together in a major show of force.

The USS Ronald Reagan, returning to Japan from its deployment to the Middle East, teamed up with the USS Carl Vinson and HMS Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by other warships from Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada.

The Vinson and Queen Elizabeth broke off on Tuesday and pushed into the South China Sea. Both ships carry air wings of F-35 fighters, with U.S. Marine aircraft operating aboard the British ship. The Vinson is the first American carrier to deploy with the fifth-generation fighter.

The U.S. Navy has been averaging a transit of the Taiwan Strait — the narrow waterway between the island and mainland China — once a month under the Biden administration. The nine freedom-of-navigation transits so far in 2021 come after 15 transits in 2020. There were just nine transits in 2019.

In many ways, the radical increase in the size and tempo of Chinese flights near Taiwan could just be the cost of the growing military competition between China and the U.S. and its allies.

“I think it’s destabilizing and it does raise the risk of an accident, but it isn’t illegal,” the German Marshall Fund’s Glaser said.

Russia’s Newest Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Zircon Hypersonic 6 Oct 2021

Russia fires 6,670-mile-per-hour Zircon hypersonic missile from a nuclear submarine in successful launch

Oct. 6, 2021A key use of the missile is attacking enemy ships and reports suggested its maximum range is between 188 and 620 miles, and perhaps out to 1,200 miles.

MOSCOW – The Russian military has test-fired its new Zircon hypersonicmissile from a nuclear submarine for the first time. The Daily Mail reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

6 Oct. 2021 — The 6,670-mile-per-hour weapon hit a target in the Barents Sea, say officials of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, who claim the missile is capable of Mach-9 speeds and able to evade all Western defenses.

The Zircon test-firing comes as part of a new arms race for advanced missiles, which also has seen North Korea and the U.S. test-fire their own hypersonic weapons in the past month.

The Zircon missile is due to go into service next year, and first will be deployed aboard the Russian Navy frigate Admiral Golovko, which carries significant stealth-technology.

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

Statues Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestinian artist Khaled Hussein works on a sculpture resembling an amputated foot in his workshop  to bring attention to the plight of amputees, whose number has increased due to the ongoing conflict with Israel, in Gaza City, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Gaza sculptor exhibits disembodied limbs, inspired by amputees’ loss

October 5, 20213:02 AM MDTLast Updated a day ago

GAZA, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Palestinian artist Khaled Hussein’s sculptures of human limbs are on display in a Gaza exhibition he calls “I Miss You Very Much”, inspired by the loss felt by amputees, including victims of the conflict with Israel.

“There’s a great number of amputees everywhere. It has become a phenomenon, so I wanted to work on this issue and reflect it artistically,” Hussein, 46, told Reuters.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in 2019 there were at least 1,600 amputees among Gaza’s population of two million people.Assalama Charitable Society, which cares for wounded and disabled people, said 532 Gazans had lost limbs in the conflict.

Seven of Hussein’s sculptures of limbs went on display this month in a Gaza art gallery. The life-sized sculptures are made from clay and then cast in other materials such as bronze or concrete, and create a haunting image in the small gallery space.

One shows two legs standing side by side, the big toe of one curled gently over the other foot. Another shows a naked foot poking out from under a rug lain over a calf.

A leg depicted beside a mirror is a reference to a therapy technique that uses vision to treat pain amputees can feel in their missing limbs.

Hussein’s work is intended in part to draw attention to the suffering of those injured in protests in 2018 and 2019 at Gaza’s border with Israel, which imposes tight restrictions on the territory run by the Islamist Hamas militant group.

Palestinian health officials said at least 200 people were killed and thousands wounded by Israeli forces in the demonstrations. U.N. investigators said more than 120 people had a limb amputated. Israel said its troops opened fire to protect the border from incursions and attacks by armed militants.

But the work explores the loss of a limb regardless of the cause. One of his sculptures depicts the left leg that Ahmed Abu Daqen, 21, lost in a car accident as a child.

“I didn’t expect that someone would take what I had lost as an inspiration and turn it into an artwork that documents it to the world,” said Abu Daqen, who plays on an amputees’ soccer team. “I showed the community that I have ambitions and dreams and I can make them happen.”

Writing by Nidal Almughrabi Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Peter Graff

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Numbers Before the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

US reveals nuclear bomb numbers after Trump blackout

10:06AM October 6, 2021

The US State Department published on Tuesday the number of nuclear warheads the country stockpiles for the first time in four years, after former president Donald Trump placed a blackout on the data.

As of September 30, 2020, the US military maintained 3,750 active and inactive nuclear warheads, down by 55 from a year earlier and by 72 from the same date in 2017.

The numbers were released Tuesday amid an effort by the administration of President Joe Biden to restart arms controls talks with Russia after they stalled under Trump.

Trump, who pulled the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, also left another crucial pact, the New Start Treaty on the rocks last year before its scheduled expiration on February 5.

Trump said he wanted a new deal that includes China, which only has a fraction of the warheads that the United States and Russia have.

The deal caps at 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Moscow and Washington.

A US official called the talks “productive,” but both sides said the mere fact of holding the talks was positive.

India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea have together around 460 nuclear warheads, according to the institute.