More than 20 earthquakes have struck seismically active South Carolina since December and another pair struck within the last 48 hours. According to the USGS and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), a 2.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Lugoff on Sunday at 2:27pm. At 4:05 am yesterday, a weak 0.9 magnitude earthquake struck near Dorchester County. That quake is the second to strike the Lowcountry this year; the first happened on January 9, when a 1.4 magnitude event unfolded.
According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), there are approximately 10-15 earthquakes every year in South Carolina, with most not felt by residents; on average, only 3-5 are felt each year. Most of South Carolina’s earthquakes are located in the Middleton Place-Summerville Seismic Zone. The two most significant historical earthquakes to occur in South Carolina were the 1886 Charleston-Summerville earthquake and the 1913 Union County earthquake. The 1886 earthquake in Charleston was the most damaging earthquake to ever occur in the eastern United States; it was also the most destructive earthquake in the U.S. during the 19th century.
No one is sure what’ll become of this steady stream of light earthquakes or whether or not something larger is looming. For now, the SCEMD has been sending out Tweets to the people of South Carolina encouraging them to be prepared for any disaster this year –earthquakes included.
“In an initial response to the assassination of the leader Tayseer al-Jaabari, the Jerusalem Brigades bombarded Tel Aviv and the cities in the centre and around Gaza with more than 100 rockets,” said a statement from the group’s armed wing.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; editing by James Mackenzie
A crucial event for the future of international peace and security – and global sanity – got under way at UN headquarters in New York last week, though, given the lack of political and media attention, you might be forgiven for not noticing.
The review conference of the landmark 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT) involves 191 state party signatories. Few international agreements enjoy such near universal support. Nuclear-armed Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea are shameful hold-outs.
Simply put, the NPT is about preventing nuclearwar by encouraging disarmament, halting proliferation and promoting peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. Up to now, at least, it’s helped stop another nuclear catastrophe.
“Another” is the operative word. The 77th anniversary of the first such catastrophe was commemorated on 6 August at Hiroshima, where an estimated 140,000 civilians died, or were condemned to an agonising death, on one day in 1945. To put that in perspective, roughly 10,000 civilians have died in Ukraine in just under six months.
If recent events puncture that complacency, it won’t be wholly bad. UN secretary-general António Guterres raised the alarm last week when opening the NPT conference.
“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” he warned. “We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict.”
Western public opinion, lulled by the end of the cold war, seems to have lost sight of the immeasurable horror of atomic warfare
Whether bluffing or not, Putin’s nuclear blackmail has undoubtedly deterred direct US and Nato intervention in Ukraine and so prolonged the war. Now there’s concern that China may adopt similar tactics over Taiwan.
Anti-nuclear campaigners say NPT pledges must be honoured and strengthened, and most countries agree. But the treaty is in trouble all the same. In practice, all five recognised nuclear weapons states – the US, Russia, China, France and Britain – are breaking their Article VI treaty commitment to pursue disarmament “in good faith”, thereby setting an execrable example.
“All of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies,” the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its authoritative annual report.
The US and Russia, while claiming to support further nuclear arms reduction, still maintain 3,708 and 4,477 nukes respectively. China has 350, France 290 and Britain 225. Beijing’s arsenal is predicted to more than double in the next decade. And it’s not only about Armageddon. Growing stockpiles of so-called tactical or battlefield weapons and new hypersonic missiles are making “limited” nuclear warfare more likely.
In a joint statement last week, Britain, France and the US described the NPT as “irreplaceable” and “vital”. They said they were making “enduring efforts” to fulfil their Article VI obligations.
Last year, however, Boris Johnson’s government relaxed Britain’s no-first-use doctrine to allow a UK nuclear response to a non-nuclear attack. Ministers also raised the cap on the Trident warhead stockpile and reduced publicly available information. “Both decisions have led many to question the government’s commitment to disarmament,” a House of Commons research paper noted wryly.
Even as it extolled the virtues of collaboration, the joint statement castigated Russia for its “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and reckless attacks endangering nuclear reactors”. It went on: “We condemn those who would use or threaten to use nuclear weapons for military coercion, intimidation, and blackmail.” Quite right. But such criticism sits uneasily alongside strictures by Stephen Lovegrove, UK national security adviser, who has warned that a “rapid escalation to strategic conflict”, meaning nuclear war, could too easily result from the current shouting match between the west and Russia and China.
Why, as appears the case, is the world teetering ever more precariously on the brink of renewed nuclear catastrophe? There are many factors. Increased insecurity, rising nationalism, weak and stupid leaders, vested commercial interests.
Yet as much as anything, the reawakened spectre of nuclear annihilation is the product of a defining 21st-century phenomenon: the increasingly anarchic refusal of states to uphold international law and the UN-underwritten, post-1945 global order.
They just won’t stick to the rules, even as they stick it to each other.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes Friday on Gaza, killing at least 10 people, including a senior militant, according to Palestinian officials. Israel said it targeted the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the recent arrest of another senior militant.
Hours later, Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets as air-raid sirens wailed in Israel and the two sides drew closer to another all-out war. Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired 100 rockets.
Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years at a staggering cost to the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
A blast was heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall building. Video released by Israel’s military showed the strikes blowing up three guard towers with suspected militants in them.
In a nationally televised speech, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country launched the attacks based on “concrete threats.”
He added that “Israel isn’t interested in a broader conflict in Gaza but will not shy away from one either.”
The violence poses an early test for Lapid, who assumed the role of caretaker prime minister ahead of elections in November, when he hopes to keep the position. He has experience in diplomacy, having served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, but his security credentials are thin.
Hamas also faces a dilemma in deciding whether to join a new battle barely a year after the last war caused widespread devastation. There has been almost no reconstruction since then, and the isolated coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering around 50%.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among those killed in Gaza, without differentiating between civilian and militant casualties. The Israeli military said early estimates were that around 15 fighters were killed. Dozens of people were wounded.
An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes were in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles. The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and had been responsible for “multiple attacks” on Israel.
Hundreds marched in a funeral procession for him and others who were killed, with many mourners waving Palestinian and Islamic Jihad flags and calling for revenge.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many rockets were launched, and there was no immediate word on any casualties on the Israeli side.
Israel continued to strike other targets Friday, including weapon-production facilities and Islamic Jihad positions.
The U.N. special envoy to the region, Tor Wennesland, said he was “deeply concerned.”
“The launching of rockets must cease immediately, and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation,” he said.
Following the initial Israeli strikes, a few hundred people gathered outside the morgue at Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital. Some went in to identify loved ones and emerged later in tears.
“May God take revenge against spies,” shouted one, referring to Palestinian informants who cooperate with Israel.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved an order to call up 25,000 reserve soldiers if needed while the military announced a “special situation” on the home front, with schools closed and limits placed on activities in communities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the border.
Israel closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it braced for a revenge attack after Monday’s arrest of Bassam al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad leader, in a military raid in the occupied West Bank. A teenage member of the group was killed in a gunbattle between the Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah, speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV network from Iran, said “fighters of the Palestinian resistance have to stand together to confront this aggression.” He said there would be “no red lines” and blamed the violence on Israel.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, which started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it.”
Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups are opposed to Israel’s existence and have carried out scores of deadly attacks over the years, including the firing of rockets into Israel. It’s unclear how much control Hamas has over Islamic Jihad, and Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade over the territory since the Hamas takeover. Israel says the closure is needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment.
Mohammed Abu Selmia, director of the Shifa hospital, said hospitals faced shortages after Israel imposed a full closure on Gaza earlier this week. He said there were enough supplies and essential drugs to sustain hospitals for five days in normal times, but that with a new round of fighting underway, “they may run out at any moment.”
Earlier Friday, a couple of hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip to demand the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.
The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who along with Oron Shaul was killed in the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas is still holding their remains, as well as two Israeli civilians who strayed into Gaza and are believed to be mentally ill, hoping to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
With the international community’s eyes on Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and a burgeoning crisis between China and Taiwan, Pakistan’s envoy to the United States told Newsweek that high tensions across his country’s disputed border with India risked sparking yet another crisis.
Friday marked the third anniversary of India’s revocation of Articles 370 and 35A, a move that repealed the special, semi-autonomous status of the India-administered stretch of the disputed Kashmir region. New Delhi has argued the step was necessary to improve the situation of the embattled province beset by decades of insurgency, while Islamabad has rejected the move as an illegal change to a long-running feud with an international dimension.
And though the decision continued to stir frictions between two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals, Pakistani Ambassador Masood Khan said there has been a dangerous indifference to the issue on the part of the international community.
“So there’s this continuing spell of inattention, which makes Kashmir a blind spot for the international community. This is perilous because, after all, Kashmir is located in a very sensitive region, and in this neighborhood, there are three nuclear powers, Pakistan, India and China.”
And all three of these powers lay claim to part of the broader Kashmir region, a sprawling swath of Himalayan territory at the heart of several major wars since the end of the United Kingdom’s colonization of the Indian subcontinent three-quarters of a century ago. The fate of Kashmir and its mostly Muslim population led by a Hindu ruler, sparked the first large-scale conflict between India and Pakistan, who would go on to fight three more wars and continued to clash in recent years, with an uneasy, rare ceasefire reached only in February of last year.
China, which has fostered close ties with Pakistan, lays claim to Kashmir’s far east, where another disputed boundary exists between what India calls Ladakh and China calls Aksai Chin. The two powers fought a war over this region 50 years ago and clashes have resurfaced in recent years, most notably in a series of skirmishes that turned deadly in 2020, months after India incorporated Ladakh as a separate Union Territory alongside Kashmir, officially called Jammu and Kashmir.
On the third anniversary of the move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters Friday that “China’s position is clear and consistent” on Kashmir.
“The Kashmir issue is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan,” Hua said. “This is also the shared view of the international community. We stated back then that parties concerned need to exercise restraint and prudence. In particular, parties should avoid taking actions that unilaterally change the status quo or escalate tensions.
“We call on both India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the dispute through dialogue and consultation.”
Friday’s anniversary drew some international attention elsewhere as well. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which includes 56 U.N. members states as well as the U.N. observer State of Palestine, issued a statement condemning India’s “illegal and unilateral actions taken in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which were followed by additional unlawful measures including illegal demographic changes.”
“Such illegal actions can neither alter the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir,” the OIC added, “nor prejudice the legitimate right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people.”
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Shri Arindam Bagchi argued that the statement “reeks of bigotry” and accused the OIC of pursuing statements “at the behest of a serial violator of human rights and notorious promoter of cross-border, regional and international terrorism” in a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan.
“The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is and will remain an integral and inalienable part of India,” Bagchi said. “As a result of long-awaited changes three years ago, it today reaps the benefits of socio-economic growth and development.”
And as a number of those in Pakistan and India-administered Kashmir took to the streets to commemorate “Exploitation Day” in opposition to the Indian government, Indian Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurated the newly renovated Bakshi stadium and announced Friday that August 5 would be known as “Bhrashtachar Mukti Diwas” or “Corruption-Free Day” after a series of initiatives to bring public services online.
But unrest has also continued to brew within Kashmir itself, especially in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir. In addition to demonstrations Friday in which protesters opposed to India’s special status repeal and subsequent crackdown clashed with security forces, insurgents have continued to conduct gun and grenade attacks.
New Delhi has accused Islamabad of sponsoring militant groups in the region, but Pakistan has denied the charge and accused India of committing human rights abuses against Jammu and Kashmir’s 12 million people, most of whom are Muslims.
“It takes two to tango,” Khan said, “and Pakistan has always been willing to engage in India. We have pursued that option very proactively, and we haven’t succeeded so far. So I think that remains a preference for us.”
Beyond the bilateral dynamic, the Kashmir conflict also has multilateral dimensions, especially in the United Nations Security Council resolutions defining the territory as disputed. Khan said he hoped for a U.N. effort to foster discreet conversations on the issue and provide a platform for dialogue among representatives of India, Pakistan are the people of Jammu and Kashmir since “they are the primary stakeholders.”
As for the strained relationship between Islamabad and Washington, whose partnership was forged throughout the Cold War in conflicts such as the mujahideen resistance against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in the 21st century “War on Terror,” Khan said he hoped to bring ties back on track.
“When we talk about a reset, what we would be looking at is understanding the parameters of our relationship post-August 15, 2021,” Khan said, “because we were partners in the war against terror and that defined the relationship between the two countries, but now we need to move to non-security issues as well.”
And Khan, who formerly served as Pakistan’s ambassador to China, said that Pakistan’s close ties with the People’s Republic should not prove an issue, even as tensions between Beijing and Washington soar over what has already been described as the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis.
“We do understand that there is this very, very stiff competition between China and the United States, the Western bloc, and I think that—I hope that—they will be able to work towards a win-win solution to the problems.”
Newsweek has contacted India’s embassy in Washington, D.C. for comment.
In recent months, Iraqi populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has gone from the forefront of efforts to formulate a government in Iraq to leading the country toward what he calls a “revolution.” Sadr’s supporters are now protesting in and occupying Iraq’s parliamentary building and the International (Green) Zone of Baghdad, catapulting Iraq’s government formation process into chaos.
After the success of his Sairoon (“Moving Forward”) alliance bloc in October 2021’s parliamentary elections, Sadr appeared to shake up Iraqi politics by forming a government that excluded his Iranian-backed opponents from power. As the leader of the bloc with the largest number of seats, Sadr rejected the formula for consensus-based power-sharing governments that has been the norm since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.
Instead, Sadr formed a tripartite “Save the Homeland” alliance with the largest Kurdish party, Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), as well as parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi’s Sovereignty Alliance, a Sunni political bloc—thereby cementing a majority in Iraq’s parliament. The alliance was then tasked with forming Iraq’s government.