COLUMBIA, S.C. — Another earthquake shook up the South Carolina Midlands Thursday morning.
The earthquake hit at around 7 a.m. about 20 miles outside of Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey. The 2.5 magnitude had it’s epicenters near Elgin.
This is the sixth earthquake since Dec. 27 when a 3.3 magnitude quake was reported. People reported feeling shaking and hearing a loud boom during some of the other quakes. All the seismic activity has been centered near Elgin or neighboring Lugoff. The other four earthquakes have been 2.5 magnitude or lower.
An earthquake of 2.5 magnitude is considered minor, according to seismologists. For the most part quakes that register 2.5 magnitude or less go unnoticed and are only recorded by a seismograph. Any quake less than 5.5 magnitude is not likely to cause significant damage.
Earthquakes can happen in clusters, seismologist say.
Some 25 years ago, during my first years in Washington DC as a foreign correspondent, I would hear relentless commentary about how the edgy dynamic between India and Pakistan was a “nuclear flashpoint.” The term became even more potent after the two countries went overtly nuclear with tests in 1998. No India-Pakistan story from the western media went without the mandatory mention of “two nuclear-armed nations,” with religion thrown in, particularly when it referred to the Kashmir issue.
Sometime after the nuclear tests, particularly after incidents such as Pakistan’s terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, and later after its terror strike in Mumbai on 26/11, American commentators began to go ballistic about prospects of a nuclear war between the two countries. It was as if they were willing it. The slightest movement of troops — usually after a Pakistani terror strike — would fuel alarm in the west.
Their fear was amplified by vivid analyses and tropes from think-tanks and journals like the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which diligently kept track of the number of nuclear weapons both sides had (usually around a 100). This was mostly guess work no one could or would authenticate. And then there was the Doomsday Clock.
Conceived and maintained since 1947 by members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe — most prominently a nuclear war, and more recently climate change and global warming. Set at seven minutes to midnight (midnight being the hour of Armageddon), the clock has moved 24 times since then, depending on members’ perception of an annihilating event.
Through all this, then and after, one heard little discussion about the potential for nuclear war or armageddon between the United States and its NATO allies on one side, and their adversaries, rising China and soon to be resurgent Russia, on the other. At the turn of the 90s when the US and USSR signed arms REDUCTION treaties, the Doomsday Clock was set back by a whopping ten minutes, even though both sides retained THOUSANDS of nuclear weapons.
But the worst-case nuclear war scenarios were meant only for India-Pakistan (not even India-China). Or it would be unleashed by some rogue actors like Saddam Hussain, Kim Some-One, or one of the crazy mullahs in Iran. US, UK, France, or even Russia unfurling their nuclear weapons? Never!
You get the picture…or the color? The underlying assumption was — and remains — western “civilisation” and Caucasian Christian people could be trusted to behave rationally and handle nuclear weapons responsibly. But all bets are off with people of other race, religion, and color. Never mind that the white folks (to put it plainly and bluntly) had thousands of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert, had escaped nuclear catastrophe by accident several times, and starkly provided the only instance of use of nuclear weapons by humankind. It was the non-white folk who were the biggest threat.
According to the Putin narrative, NATO countries could find themselves drawn into a conflict with Russia against their will, because they will be obliged to fulfill Article 5 of the NATO charter “in a heartbeat, even before you know it.” Article 5 enjoins a collective defense for NATO, saying any attack on a member is an attack on all members. “Do you realize that if Ukraine joins NATO and decides to take Crimea back through military means, the European countries will automatically get drawn into a military conflict with Russia?” Putin asked rhetorically. “Of course, NATO’s united potential and that of Russia are incomparable.” he continued drily, before unleashing a verbal nuclear missile. Russia, he warned, “is one of the world’s leading nuclear powers and is superior to many of those countries in terms of the number of modern nuclear force components.”
It was a chilling statement, met by an equally heated response by President Biden on Tuesday, when he pushed back against Putin, saying, “the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power.” The full force of American power. No need to read between the lines there.
But don’t expect the Doomsday Clock to jump forward much. The last time the US and Russia tore up a nuclear arms reduction treaty and began upgrading their nukes, the clock ticked forward by a grand 30 seconds. When Donald Trump threatened to eviscerate Kim and NoKo, another 30 seconds. Sabre-rattling by Pakistan and India? Five minutes!
All this is not to say for a moment that the threat of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan or India and China is any less. Human idiocy, irrationality, and their ability to embark down slippery slopes, knows no race or color; there is no evidence that one country or alliance is more or less rational than the other. At the end of the day, the buck stops at one man or woman who has to make the call (even when there are pledges of collective decision making).
But given the enormous arsenal US and Russia have at this time (even after divesting themselves of thousands), I would say they remain not just the world’s biggest nuclear threats.
Topping the list are the United States and Russia, which owns 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, and both are signatories to the New START Treaty in April 2010, the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reduction and Reduction Measures (New START) signed in 201, but did not specify the total stockpiles of nuclear warheads. what is the point It is the limitation of resources in strategic offensive weapons. A clear step for global security.
United State: 5550; 1,800 deployed warheads and warheads on missiles or on bases with active forces; and 3,750 warheads that are stocked or in reserve and are decommissioned pending decommissioning.
Russia: 6255; Publishing 1625 and 4630 have been withdrawn or stored.
United kingdom: The British government announced in 2010 that its stockpile of nuclear weapons would not exceed 225 warheads. In 2021, the data was updated to 260 warheads. 120 are published, 105 are stored or retired.
France: 290 warheads. 280 have been posted and 10 are stocked or withdrawn.
North Korea: The figures for North Korea are unconfirmed, there are media outlets claiming that it has up to 30 nuclear warheads. The Stockholm Authority believes the number will be a maximum of 50. There is no public evidence available that North Korea has produced an operational nuclear warhead to be delivered by an ICBM, but it may have a few ballistic warheads for its intermediate range. During 2020, it conducted no nuclear or long-range ballistic missile tests, and continued to produce fissile material and develop short and long-range ballistic missiles.
Israel: 80 to 90 nuclear warheads.
India: 156 nuclear warheads. It is investing in military technology.
Pakistan: 165 nuclear warheads. It is expanding its nuclear arsenal.
China350 nuclear warheads. Its nuclear arsenal appears to have been strengthened and signs of expansion are emerging.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Shiite cleric and head of the parliament’s largest bloc Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday called on the Iraqi parliament to activate its auditory role and prevent political and politically fueled judicial influence, two days after Iraq’s judiciary ruled against Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) nominee for the country’s presidency, to which Sadr’s party shares an alliance with.
“First, to activate the parliament’s reformative role and investigate and summon all those who are suspected of corruption or negligence through hastening the formation of the parliamentary committees, and without consideration for one’s ethnic affiliation, sect, or their positions in previous governments,” Sadr said.
Sadr also called on the parliament to activate its auditory role and “prevent political intervention or politicized judiciary,” requesting that the legislature speeds up in forming a reformist new government that is a national majority government.
Zebari on Sunday afternoon said the court’s decision was “unjust and politically motivated,” while reiterating his respect for the Federal Supreme Court’s call.
Sadr’s bloc is in an alliance with the KDP and the Sunnis to form a “national majority government”, however the idea is opposed by many Iran-backed Shiite parties who prefer the idea of a consensus government, which would include them.
Iraq has for years had a national consensus government in which most parties were included and government members would be responsible for their leaders first, and then for the prime minister. This form of governance has allowed Iran to outsize its influence in Iraq and, according to many, encouraged corruption and hindered development in the country.
(JTA) — Violent clashes broke out over the weekend in Sheikh Jarrah, the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood where violent protests over property ownership helped set off the May 2021 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The mostly Palestinian area has become a focus in recent years of Israeli settler groups, who are trying to have Palestinian residents evicted. The ensuing legal battle has turned the neighborhood into a tinderbox.
After the alleged firebomb incident, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far right-wing member of the Israeli Knesset, vowed Saturday to reopen an office in the neighborhood, a step he had taken in May 2021 to support the settlers. At the time, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Ben-Gvir to close the makeshift office to reduce tensions in the area.
Ben-Gvir is the head of the Otzmah Yehudit party, the far-right party that is the descendent of Kach, the party formed by the Jewish terrorist Meir Kahane. In a statement Sunday, Ben-Gvir said Jewish Israelis are “the landlords” and claimed the appropriate response to terror was more terror.
In a tweet, Ben-Gvir called on Israeli citizens to gather in the area Sunday afternoon to “strengthen the Jewish residents. We are not afraid of Hamas threats!”
More violence followed Ben-Gvir’s announcement Saturday. In the late hours on Saturday or early hours of Sunday morning, at least two people were wounded and six people arrested. At least one Jewish man was injured and one Arab driver arrested, according to the Times of Israel. Video from the area showed fighting between Jews and Palestinians on the streets.
Also known in Hebrew as Shimon HaTzaddik, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was home to Jewish families before Jordan captured it in the 1948 war that resulted in Israel’s independence. Jordan gave the Jewish families’ homes to Palestinians who were displaced from Israel and prohibited from returning. In recent years, an Israeli group that obtained the original Jewish families’ ownership rights has been trying to evict the Palestinian families from the homes.
US President Joe Biden is treating a “rogue” Russia as a peer competitor, when he should be focused on the challenge from America’s actual peer, China. Not only is China more powerful than Russia; it also genuinely seeks to supplant the US as the preeminent global power.
This may explain why US President Joe Biden is treating a “rogue” Russia as a peer competitor, when he should be focused on the challenge from America’s actual peer, China. In comparison to Russia, China’s population is about ten times bigger, its economy is almost ten times larger, and its military expenditure is around four times greater. Not only is China more powerful; it genuinely seeks to supplant the US as the preeminent global power. By contrast, with its military buildup on Ukraine’s borders, Russia is seeking to mitigate a perceived security threat in its neighborhood.
Hastening the decline of US global leadership is hardly the preserve of Democrats. A bipartisan parade of US leaders has failed to recognize that the post-Cold War unipolar world order, characterized by unchallenged US economic and military predominance, is long gone. The US squandered its “unipolar moment,” especially by waging an expensive and amorphous “Global War on Terrorism,” including several military interventions, and through its treatment of Russia.
After its Cold War victory, the US essentially took an extended victory lap, pursuing strategic maneuvers that flaunted its dominance. Notably, it sought to expand NATO to Russia’s backyard, but made little effort to bring Russia into the Western fold, as it had done with Germany and Japan after World War II. The souring of relations with the Kremlin contributed to Russia’s eventual remilitarization.
So, while the US remains the world’s foremost military power, it has been stretched thin by the decisions and commitments it has made, in Europe and elsewhere, since 1991. This goes a long way toward explaining why the US has ruled out deploying its own troops to defend Ukraine today. What the US is offering Ukraine – weapons and ammunition – cannot protect the country from Russia, which has an overwhelming military advantage.
But US leaders made another fatal mistake since the Cold War: by aiding China’s rise, they helped to create the greatest rival their country has ever faced. Unfortunately, they have yet to learn from this. Instead, the US continues to dedicate insufficient attention and resources to an excessively wide array of global issues, from Russian revanchism and Chinese aggression to lesser threats in the Middle East and Africa and on the Korean Peninsula. And it continues inadvertently to bolster China’s global influence, not least through its overuse of sanctions.
The heavy financial penalties the US has planned – including the “nuclear option” of disconnecting Russian banks from the international SWIFT payments system – would turn China into Russia’s banker, enabling it to reap vast profits and expand the international use of its currency, the renminbi. If Biden fulfilled his pledge to block the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is set to deliver Russian supplies directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea, China would gain greater access to Russian energy.
In fact, by securing a commitment from Putin this month to a nearly tenfold increase in Russian natural gas exports, China is building a safety net that could – in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan – withstand Western energy sanctions and even a blockade. China could also benefit militarily by demanding greater access to Russian military technology in exchange for its support.Sign up for our weekly newsletter, PS on Sunday
For the US, a strengthened Russia-China axis is the worst possible outcome of the Ukraine crisis. The best outcome would be a compromise with Russia to ensure that it does not invade and possibly annex Ukraine. By enabling the US to avoid further entanglement in Europe, this would permit a more realistic balancing of key objectives – especially checking Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific – with available resources and capabilities.
The future of the US-led international order will be decided in Asia, and China is currently doing everything in its power to ensure that order’s demise. Already, China is powerful enough that it can host the Winter Olympics even as it carries out a genocide against Muslims in the Xinjiang region, with limited pushback. If the Biden administration does not recognize the true scale of the threat China poses, and adopt an appropriately targeted strategy soon, whatever window of opportunity for preserving US preeminence remains may well close.
In early 2019, more than 90% of the world’s 13,865 nuclear weapons were owned by Russia and the United States.
How Dangerous Are Nuclear Weapons?
Nuclear weapons produce enormous explosive energy. Their significance may best be appreciated by the coining of the words kiloton (1,000 tons) and megaton (1,000,000 tons) to describe their blast energy in equivalent weights of the conventional chemical explosive TNT.
Nuclear weapons are designed to release energy in an explosive manner as a result of nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, or a combination of the two processes. Fission weapons are commonly referred to as atomic bombs. Fusion weapons are also referred to as thermonuclear bombs or, more commonly, hydrogen bombs; they are usually defined as nuclear weapons in which at least a portion of the energy is released by nuclear fusion.
Russia is now developing the heavy SS-29, or Sarmat (RS-28), replacing the SS-18 (RS-20 V) at Uzhur in 2021 or 2022.
As of early 2021, Russia has a stockpile of nearly 4,500 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces. Of the stockpiled warheads, approximately 1,600 strategic warheads are deployed: just over 800 on land-based ballistic missiles, about 624 on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and 200 at heavy bomber bases. Another 985 strategic warheads are in storage, along with about 1,912 nonstrategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number – approximately 1,760 – of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement, for a total inventory of approximately 6,257 warheads.
In June 2020, President Putin approved an update to the “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence,” which notes that “The Russian Federation considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a means of deterrence.” The policy lays out four conditions under which Russia could launch nuclear weapons:
The “arrival of reliable data on a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and/or its allies;
The use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction by an adversary against the Russian Federation and/or its allies;
The attack by adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation, disruption of which would undermine nuclear forces response actions;
In Russia, there are three key persons as nuclear response code-holders: The President, Minister of Defence, and the Chief of the Staff, transmitting an Emergency Action Message (EAM) to the nuclear triad units to execute specific Major Attack Options or Limited Attack Options .
“Dead hand”, or “Perimeter”, is an alternative system for all units armed with nuclear weapons. It is a backup communication system, in case the key components of the “Kazbek” command system and the link to the Strategic Missile Forces are destroyed by a first-strike in accordance with the concept developed in the US called “Limited nuclear war”.
In order to ensure its functionality, the system was originally designed as fully automatic, and with the ability to decide on the adequate retaliatory strike on its own with no (or minimal) human involvement in the event of an all-out attack.
According to a developer of the system, it is a buffer against hasty decisions based on unverified information by the country’s leadership. Upon receiving warnings about a nuclear attack, the leader could activate the system, and then wait for further developments, assured by the fact that even the destruction of all key personnel with the authority to command the response to the attack could still not prevent a retaliatory strike, resulting in Mutual assured destruction or mutually assured destruction (MAD).
Thus, this eliminates the possibility of a false-alarm-triggered retaliation. A similar system existed in the U.S. known as the AN/DRC-8 Emergency Rocket Communications System (ERCS).
Could Biden Launch Nuclear Weapons On His Own?
In the US, the authority to launch a nuclear strike lies with the president alone.
The only obstacle could be no access to a briefcase, known as the nuclear football (the atomic football, the President’s emergency satchel, the Presidential Emergency Satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football), while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room.
The world needs smarter nuclear policy systems, by removing the role of nuclear weapons in the national security strategy and elevating the role of intelligent algorithms in order to prevent human casualties.
The current US nuclear modernization program departs in several major ways from longstanding US nuclear policy: It elevates the role of nuclear weapons in US national security strategy, including plans for developing several new nuclear weapon capabilities, and resurrecting former nuclear capabilities that previous US presidents had wisely eliminated.
Several world leaders are demanding an end to nuclear weapon modernisation and a redirection of resources by relying on technology to save lives and protect the environment. The threat of a nuclear war is plausible. While the world may have fewer nuclear weapons today than it did 30 years ago, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing a complete end any time soon.