The “Zone” of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

North Jersey region among ‘most active’ earthquake zones
Matt Fagan, Staff writer, @fagan_nj
Northern New Jersey, which straddles a significant ancient crack in the Earth’s crust known as the Ramapo Fault, recorded 16 earthquakes last year, an unusually high number for the area.
It had been relatively quiet this year, until geologists recorded a 1.3 magnitude quake last weekend in Morris Plains, and then a 1.0 magnitude quake Saturday in Morristown.
Last weekend’s tremor was reported by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory to the Morris Plains Police Department, which issued an advisory to residents on Monday morning.
Lamont-Doherty spokesman Kevin Krajick said the quake was pinpointed to a shallow depth of 6 kilometers just north of Grannis Avenue, between Mountain and Sun Valley ways, about 500 feet southeast of Mountain way School.
Rutgers Newark geology professor talks about earthquakes in northern New Jersey. Matt Fagan/
“It was a very small earthquake at a very shallow depth,” Krajick said. “Most people would not feel an earthquake that small unless they were absolutely right under it, if that.”
“To date (there) were no reported injuries or damage related to the earthquake and no Morris Plains residents reported any activity to this agency,” according to Morris Plains police Chief Jason Kohn
On the other hand, Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said his department received “a bunch of calls about it, between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.”
Saturday’s earthquake was so minor that Morristown police said they received no calls from residents
Earthquakes are generally less frequent and less intense in the Northeast compared to the U.S. Pacific Coast, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. But due to geological differences between the regions, earthquakes of similar magnitude affect an area 10 times larger in the Northeast compared to the West Coast.
The 16 tremors recorded in 2016 were minor, generally 1 or 2 magnitude, often misinterpreted as explosions, said Alexander Gates, geology professor at Rutgers University Newark campus.
“A lot of people in Butler felt them over the course of the last year, but a lot of them didn’t know it was an earthquake,” Gates said.
Butler is the borough, but also the name of the fault that sits at the end of aseries of others belonging to the Ramapo Fault, Gates said.
The Ramapo fault, Gates said, is the longest in the Northeast and runs from Pennnsylvania through New Jersey, snaking northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before coming to an end in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant.
The small area, Gates said, is considered the most seismically active region east of the Mississippi based on data gathered since 1974, when seismographs were installed.
“I’d be willing to bet that you’d have to go all the way to Canada and all the way to South Carolina before you’d get one that active,” Gates said of the area which runs from the New York state line in the Ringwood and Mahwah area down to Butler and central Passaic County, Gates said.
Of last year’s 16 earthquakes, 12 were directly associated with the faults around Butler, Gates said.
Butler Councilman Ray Verdonik said area residents are well aware of the frequency of earthquakes and agrees they are often difficult to discern.
During one earthquake, the councilman said he and his neighbors rushed from their homes.
“We thought it was from Picatinny Arsenal or a sonic boom.” he said.
Won-Young Kim, director of the  Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, which  monitors earthquakes in the Northeast, said often very shallow, the low magnitude quakes’ waves cause much ground motion. He said even though the waves don’t travel very far, they can seem more intense than the magnitude suggests.
They may not topple chimneys, he said but can crack foundations and frighten residents.
To put earthquake magnitudes in perspective, experts said each year there are about 900,000 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude or less recorded annually by seismograph. These mild tremors are usually not felt.
There are 30,000 that measure between 2.5 and 5.4, and these are often felt, but cause minor damage.
About 500 quakes worldwide are recorded between 5.5 and 6 magnitude per year and cause slight damage to buildings and structures.
The 100 that fall within 6.1 and 6.9 may cause lots of damage in populated areas.
The 20 or so which fall within the 7 and 7.9 magnitude per year are considered major and cause serious damage.
Those that measure at 8 or greater can totally destroy communities near the epicenter and average one every five to 10 years.
The earthquake recorded in Mexico last week measured 7.1 magnitude.
Gates said he has identified most of the region’s numerous faults, but has yet to name them all. Among the unnamed include the faults responsible for last year’s quakes in the region.
Earthquakes in this region are intraplate ones, Gates said, meaning they occur within the plates. Earthquakes of this type account for more than 90 percent of the total seismic energy released around the world.
Plates are the masses of the earth’s crust that slowly move, maybe as little as a few centimeters a year to as much 18 centimeters, around the globe. Faults such as the San Andreas are interplate and occur near where two plates meet.
The plate North America rides upon runs from the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Pacific Coast. The theory is that as plates interact with one another, they create stress within the plate. Faults occur where the crust is weak, Gates said. Earthquakes relieve the built up pressure.
Boston College Geophysics Professor John Ebel said he and a Virginia Tech colleague, believe the seismically active areas in New York and South Carolina are where some 200 million years ago, the plates tried to break off but failed. This led to a weakening of the earth’s crust which makes them susceptible to quakes.
While not predictable, the data collected seem to suggest earthquakes occur somewhat periodically, 40 active years followed by 40 less active, Gates said.
“We are over due for a 3 or 4” magnitude, Gates said. “A 4 you’d feel. It would shake the area. Everybody would be upset.”
Ebel does not fully agree. He said saying “overdue” might be somewhat misleading.  Earthquakes happen through a slow process of rising stress, “like dropping individual grains of sand on the table.”
You never know which grain will cause the table to break, he said.
Still all three experts say statistically it is only a matter time before a magnitude 5 quake is recorded in the northern New Jersey area.
The scientists said quakes in the Northeastern part of the United States tend to come 100 years apart and the last one was recorded in 1884 believed to be centered south of Brooklyn. It toppled chimneys and moved houses from their foundations across the city and as far as Rahway.
Washington D.C. experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake in 2011, which was felt in the Northeast, Gates said. That quake cracked the Washington Monument.
A similar quake was recorded in 1737 in Weehawken, Gates noted.
“Imagine putting a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Weehawken, New Jersey next to the Bridge, next to the tunnel,” Gates said. “Boy that would be a dangerous one.”
In 2008 Columbia University’s The Earth Institute posted an article titled: “Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study.”
“Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” the article’s co-author John Armbruster wrote. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling.”
The threat though, is not tangible to many, Armbruster wrote.
“There is no one now alive to remember that last one, so people tend to forget. And having only a partial 300-year history, we may not have seen everything we could see. There could be surprises — things bigger than we have ever seen,” Armbruster wrote.
The Earth Institute’s article did note New York City added earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.
New Jersey also began to require earthquake-resistant standards in the 1990s. The state, following the 2011 Virginia quake, now requires lake communities to make dams able to withstand a magnitude 5 earthquake.
The issue, Gates said, is that many of the buildings were built before these codes went into effect. A “sizable” earthquake could cause much damage.
Then there’s the prediction that every 3,400 years this area can expect a quake at 7 magnitude.
According to the Earth Institute article, a  2001 analysis for Bergen County estimates a magnitude 7 quake would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone.  Likewise, in New York City the damage could easily hit hundreds of billions of dollars.
Ebel noted that depending on the depth and power of a severe quake, damage could be also be wide ranging. In 2011, Washington D.C., 90 miles away from the epicenter, which was located in central Virginia, suffered significant damage.  Cities like Philadelphia fall within that radius.
“The big one could happen tomorrow or 100 years from now. That’s the problem,” Gates said. It geological terms 100 years is just a spit in the ocean, he noted.
Then again North Jersey is more likely to be hit by hurricane in the next three years, Gates added.
Staff Writer William Westhoven contributed to this report. 
New Jersey’s top earthquakes
• Dec. 19, 1737 — Weehawken, believed to be a 5-plus magnitude quake, could be very serious if occurred in same spot today.
• Nov. 29, 1783 — Western New Jersey. Geologists are not exactly sure where it happened because area was sparsely populated. Estimated magnitude varies from 4.8 to 5.3. Felt from Pennsylvania to New England.
• Aug. 10, 1884 — A 5.2 earthquake occurred somewhere near Jamaica Bay near Brooklyn. The quake toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far Rahway.
• The biggest earthquake in the last 45 years of data available form USGS was a 3.8 quake centered in Carneys Point in Salem County on the morning of Feb.28, 1973
• New Jersey has never recorded a fatality due to an earthquake, according to the DEP.
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Hamas predicts confrontation with Israel outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Members of the Izz ad-Din al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas, parade on Hamas' 35th anniversary in Gaza City, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians thronged the rally in downtown Gaza to mark the founding of the militant group, as leaders predicted a year of "open confrontation" with the hardline Israeli government expected to take office in the coming days. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Hamas marks anniversary, predicts confrontation with Israel

Members of the Izz ad-Din al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas, parade on Hamas’ 35th anniversary in Gaza City, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians thronged the rally in downtown Gaza to mark the founding of the militant group, as leaders predicted a year of “open confrontation” with the hardline Israeli government expected to take office in the coming days. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on Wednesday thronged a rally in downtown Gaza to mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Hamas militant group, as leaders predicted a year of “open confrontation” with the hardline Israeli government expected to take office in the coming days.

Hamas, an armed Islamic group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, worked hard to mobilize the large turnout at the city’s Katiba park, viewing it as a show of strength at a time when it appears to be struggling for popularity.

Hamas seized control of the impoverished enclave from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose administration has been confined to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas takeover, tightly controlling the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory in what Israel says is a security measure. Gaza’s economy has gone into a tailspin, and the territory has fought four wars and numerous skirmishes with Israel since Hamas took power.

During the rally, Hamas leaders predicted an “open confrontation” with Israel in 2023 as the most right-wing government ever is expected to be sworn in later this month.


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“We have to give the chance to ignite the resistance in the West Bank,” said Yehiyeh Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza.

More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, making it the deadliest year since 2006. Israel says most of those killed were militants, though stone-throwing youths and people uninvolved in fighting have also been killed.

Sinwar slammed Abbas, calling for an end to the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, which he said hurt mounting resistance to Israeli raids in the West Bank. The Israeli military maintains quiet coordination with Abbas’ forces in a shared struggle against Islamic militants.

Hamas also displayed what it said was the assault rifle of Hadar Goldin, an Israeli soldier who along with Oron Shaul was killed in a 2014 war inside Gaza.

Sinwar said Israel has “a limited amount of time” to swap Palestinian prisoners it is holding for the remains of Goldin and Shaul “or we close this file for good.”

While Hamas leaders directed fiery rhetoric at Israel and Abbas, they overlooked the increasing suffering of the 2.3 million residents of Gaza under its rule.

While the blockade has stifled Gaza’s economy, critics note that the groups has continuously upgraded its arsenal, including digging attack tunnels into Israel and improving rocket capabilities.

Critics say the group diverts money towards its administration and military wing, while the international community and the PA pay for most of health, education, social and other services for Gaza’ population.

Hamas’ heavy-handed rule allows no room for opposition, and the group has banned protests against it and jailed critics.

Many of the group’s top leaders also have left Gaza for more comfortable locations in places like Turkey and Qatar.

A poll conducted this month by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, a respected think tank based in the West Bank, found that Hamas remains more popular than Abbas’ Fatah party in the Gaza Strip. It said 43% of respondents would vote for Hamas in a parliamentary election, compared to 34% for Fatah. Still, the poll found that just 6% of Gazans think the situation in the territory is positive, and 69% believe that Hamas-run institutions suffer from corruption.

The poll interviewed some 1,200 people and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

U.S. Iran policy: Now what? BOOM Daniel 8

U.S. Iran policy: Now what?

TEHRAN – The end of the months-long unrest in Iran has once again brought to the surface the Biden administration’s dithering on Iran, particularly regarding the stalled talks in Vienna over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

After two months of continued unrest, calm and order have been restored in Iran. What French President Emanuel Macron called a “revolution” turned out to be a little more than a hitch.  The Europeans and their American allies threw their full weight behind the fleeting wave of unrest that erupted in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini in September. 

The West’s support for the unrest has escalated tensions between Iran on the one hand and the U.S. and its European allies on the other. Iran and some European countries summoned each other’s ambassadors several times in protest. The talks over the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), fell victim in the process. The Europeans and Americans heaped human rights sanctions on Iran instead of engaging in the nuclear talks that were meant to lift the very U.S. sanctions on Iran. 

The latest Western batch of sanctions against Iran was expected to be levied on Monday. Iran beat them to the punch and slapped new sanctions on a number of British and European Union individuals and entities. 

In the last two months, Biden officials have slowly moved from blaming the hiatus in the Vienna talks over the nuclear deal on Iran to openly saying that the pact is no longer on their agenda. And most recently, Biden officials have resorted to military threats against Iran to revive a deal they say is no longer on their agenda. Secretary of State Tony Blinken has hinted that the U.S. is ready to use the military option against Iran. Addressing the J Street National Conference, Blinken went over the history of U.S. non-compliance with the JCPOA.

However, he threatened Iran for the current state of play between Tehran and Washington. “We continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  But should the Iranian regime reject that path, its leaders should make no mistake that all options are on the table to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said.

This highly charged atmosphere appeared to have been created in the wake of unrest in Iran, which now has gone. 

The JCPOA issue, however, remains unresolved. Pundits believe that the West might have miscalculated the situation in Iran on the unrest and, accordingly, destroyed the prospects for a deal, believing that Iran will either succumb to unrest or come willing to give away the store.

But none has happened. 

Iran has said that it will not make concessions under threat. After a recent phone conversation with the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Twitter, “Talked to @JosepBorrellF following his call. I said, if the US & the E3 think, via pressure, they generate leverage in the negotiations, they are wrong! We respond to sanctions & interference. Concurrently, we are on the way to the final stage of a good, strong & durable agreement.”

Draft law to ban LGBTQ+ publishing as Antichrist tweets more homophobia

Iraq: Draft law to ban LGBTQ+ publishing as Sadr tweets more homophobia

Activists say proposed law is another example of deteriorating conditions facing LGBTQ+ communities

LGBTQ+ Iraqis have reacted with alarm to a draft law that would ban any publishing on queer issues in Iraq, which legislation activists say would increase hate speech and violence against the community in an already worsening atmosphere of homophobic hostility.

On 3 December, 25 MPs, mostly belonging to Shia group Coordination Framework, which opposes influential cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who is also Shia, signed a bill proposing the criminalisation of all publishing on LGBTQ+topics in Iraq.

The proposed law would “punish” anyone who “promotes homosexuality for any reason, whether in state’s media, institutions, schools, universities, and social media platforms, books, cinemas, theatres, publications, and in public”.

Individual citizens could be fined one million Iraqi dinars ($685), while government bodies and companies could be fined millions more.

‘I do not know how Sadr wants to fight homosexuality peacefully. What kind of peace is he talking about?’

– Mohammed Qasim, human rights activist

A vote on the law has not yet been scheduled, and it may not pass.

Parliament speaker Mohammed Halbousi said in an interview last week: “We do not need a law to criminalise homosexuality, we have the law of heaven, of religion, that rejects such fornication.”

But activists say the proposed law is another example of deteriorating conditions facing LGBTQ+ communities.

The bill came just days after the country’s most prominent Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, calledon his millions of followers to unite to combat “the LGBTQ community, not with violence, nor with murder and threats, but with education, awareness, logic and high moral standards”.

Sadr controlled the largest bloc in parliament until June, when his MPs quit their seats after failing to form a government.

In another recent statement, he wrote: “Our goal is to acquaint, guide, and prevent them from being drawn into forbidden desires and lustful and chaotic freedom.”

Iraq: Activists condemn proposed law banning LGBTQ+ advocacy in Kurdish region

This is not the first time Sadr has demonised LGBTQ+ people. In May 2022, he blamed them for the spread of the monkeypox virus. He did the same with Covid when the pandemic struck.

For Mohammed Gailan, an Iraqi human rights activist, Sadr is being opportunistic. “I think that through these trendy topics, he’s just trying to fit in both politically and ideologically,” he told Middle East Eye.

“It is a strategy to mobilise the factions that are left of his followers. The new generation in Iraq is not looking up to Muqtada and religious leaders like him anymore.”

Homosexuality is not officially illegal in Iraq, but being publicly queer is not socially accepted, which constantly puts the community at risk of threats and abuse.

Human Rights Watch has said that LGBTQ+ communities in Iraq live under the constant threat of abduction, rape, torture and murder at the hands of armed groups and the police.

In February 2022, trans woman Doski Azad was reportedly shot dead by her brother in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Duhok.

‘He should be tweeting about corruption’

“Living as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the Middle East is risky to our lives,” Hayden, a 21-year-old college student using a pseudonym to protect himself, told MEE over the phone. “By spreading hate speech, Sadr, someone followed by millions of Iraqis, will only increase that risk.”

Hayden faces regular threats for posting his support for fellow LGBTQ+ people on social media. He also posts about his daily struggles: “That clearly escalates the risk to my life, but I cannot stay silent.”

“I am considering… fleeing home for another country,” he added.

Mohammed Qasim, a 27-year-old Basra-based writer and human rights activist, agreed that Sadr’s statement carries a clear threat against the LGBTQ+ community in Iraq.

“I do not know how Sadr wants to fight homosexuality peacefully. What kind of peace is he talking about?

“Recently, hate speech has increased due to publishing against the community in the media by political and religious figures, or even by ordinary people who have religious conservative backgrounds. That caused threats not only for LGBTQ+ people but also against human rights defenders, and anyone showing sympathy to the community’s rights.

“Sadr’s political failure led him to talk about such topics. He should be tweeting about corruption and the failure of the political class to run the country… Instead, Sadr wants to stir up the sentiment of anti-LGBTQ Iraqis.”

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You ThinkBy Simon WorrallPUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.Earthquakes 101Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.You Might Also LikeDifferent states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.This interview was edited for length and clarity.

China Horn’s plan to be the next nuclear superpower

China’s plan to be the next nuclear superpower10

Bree Linville; Lintao Zhang/ Getty Images

China’s plan to be the next nuclear superpower

Beijing’s nuclear strategy has long been surprisingly modest. So why did it just double its nuclear arsenal?

Joshua Keating

Global Security Reporter

December 13, 2022

There are currently nine nuclear powers in the world, but arguably only two nuclear superpowers. The United States and Russia account for around 90 percent of the global nuclear arsenal, with around 4,000 warheads each in their military stockpiles.

There may soon be a third.

A Pentagon report on Chinese military power released at the end of November estimated that China’s nuclear arsenal has now exceeded 400 operational warheads, double the estimate from just two years ago. At current rates of construction, the report suggested, the Chinese nuclear stockpile could reach 1,500 warheads by 2035.

This doesn’t mean China will definitely build these weapons. “No one actually knows that answer,” said Tong Zhao, a nuclear analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “China is taking a step-by-step approach in response to the strategic environment.”

What is clear is that as China seeks to boost its influence and stature on the global stage, it is now pouring resources into its nuclear program and thinking about a new nuclear strategy. And Washington won’t be the only world capital raising alarm about the implications.

A nuclear late bloomer

China joined the nuclear club in 1964, when it tested an atomic bomb at Lop Nur, a dried lake in Xinjiang, in western China. At the time, the prospect of such a destructive weapon in the hands of Mao Zedong’s communist regime prompted a level of American alarm comparable to the response to North Korea’s nuclear program in recent years. Several years before the Lop Nur test, President John F. Kennedy had suggested that the Chinese would be less likely than Russians or Americans to avoid a nuclear war because of the “lower value they attach to human life.”

But if anything, China’s nuclear ambitions since then have been more cautious and restrained than its rivals. While the U.S. and Soviet Union grew their nuclear arsenals at a breakneck pace during the Cold War, China maintained a small, “lean and effective” force, which tended to grow more slowly than the estimates of Western experts. It was only about two years ago that China’s nuclear arsenal overtook France’s to become the world’s third largest.

China was also much slower than other nuclear powers to build intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). And it remains the only nuclear power that publicly maintains an unconditional “no first use” policy” regarding nuclear weapons.

Lately, however, along with an overall military expansion and modernization, China has been stepping up its nuclear ambitions. In 2016, China elevated what is now known as the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF), which controls China’s land-based missile arsenal, to the status of fourth service branch, alongside the army, navy and air force — a signal of the growing prioritization of the country’s nuclear deterrent.


In 2021, satellite imagery revealed what experts believed to be more than 100 new silos for ICBMs in the desert near the northwestern city of Yumen. It’s widely thought that some of these may be decoys — a revival of America’s Cold War-era “shell game” strategy, in which a large number of silos were left empty in order to confuse and sap the resources of an adversary in the event of an exchange of nuclear missiles.

Also last year, China tested a new hypersonic missile that circled the world before cruising toward its target, and featured a design meant to confound missile defense systems. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the test as very close to a breakthrough “sputnik moment” for China.

The recent Pentagon report also notes that China is “investing in and expanding the number of its land-, sea- and air-based nuclear delivery platforms.” This includes a bomber capable of firing a nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missile and a new class of operational submarine-launched ballistic missiles that “represent the PRC’s first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.”

The strategy

So what exactly would 1,500 nuclear warheads do for China that its current arsenal can’t? The answer may have to do with what nuclear strategists call a “survivable second strike.”

“They went from 200 to 400 warheads in the last year or so, but we have 10 times that,” said Raymon Kuo, an expert on Chinese strategy at the Rand Corporation. “So, if there were a U.S. nuclear first strike, there’s a possibility that we could just wipe out all of their nuclear weapons at one go.” A larger, more dispersed arsenal gives China a greater chance of surviving a U.S. first strike with the ability to fire back. Kuo said China’s thinking is informed by its reading of American strategic doctrine in the Indo-Pacific which, at least in Beijing’s view, merges conventional capabilities, new capabilities like cyberwarfare, and nuclear weapons in a way that makes it more likely that a conventional conflict would go nuclear.

Meanwhile, even if nuclear war never comes, these weapons also serve a political purpose for Xi Jinping’s government.

“First and foremost, the thing that’s motivating China’s buildup is its changing domestic situation,” Jeffrey Lewis, a professor and nuclear analyst at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told Grid. “It’s not that China’s security situation got a lot worse. China’s richer and stronger than it’s ever been in the past. You have a Chinese government that has a different view of things. They are coming to talk about nuclear weapons in much the way that we and the Russians do.”

In other words, China sees itself as a global superpower now. And while in the past China viewed a relatively minimal nuclear deterrent as sufficient for its defense, now it sees nuclear weapons as a tool to help accomplish its global ambitions. Several experts suggested China may also be taking lessons from how Russia has used the implied threat of nuclear weapons use to limit the type and amount of military assistance that Western countries have provided to Ukraine.

“You don’t even have to threaten nuclear use,” said Zhao. “You can do things like hold nuclear exercises or make reference to your capabilities. Those things can create concern in China’s enemies about the risk of escalation and that could deliver some core benefits.”

Lewis suggested that this type of intimidation is only possible with a large arsenal. “If you have 1,500 instead of 300 [warheads], you can engage in the kind of signaling that Vladimir Putin has engaged in Ukraine,” he said.

Path to the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Paths to doom

Dr Niaz Murtaza Published December 13, 2022  Updated about 17 hours ago


AFTER years of slow decay, states that are nearing doom see a tipping point and a point of no return when their descent into the abyss hastens and is hard to stop. It then often takes an external effort to extricate them from the pits of doom. We may well be the only large state facing all recent security and economic pathways to doom, with the exception of Liberia with its warlord politics. How far are we from each tipping point and can we change course before the point of no return?

The gravest security pathway is the scenario of nuclear conflict. Escalatory steps may come from Islamist militancy in India, which pins the blame on us and retaliates through an air or even land attack. Another sub-path is an attack by India on Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, as threatened by BJP hawks recently. This could escalate to a level where tactical nuclear arms are deployed in response. No two nuclear states have fought yet but there is always a first time to new mania. Extremist sway by the BJP and hawkish elements in the security establishment here may increase risks reduced by recent FATF action on us. But civilian sway will cut the risks for us and secular sway for India.

Another grim security pathway is internal extremist conflict, which ruined Somalia and Syria with large areas falling to the extremists. The TTP too seized former Fata and Swat in 2007 and were 100 kilometres from leafy Islamabad, sending panic waves among its cocky elites. Army action cut the risk, but the Afghan Taliban’s Kabul win has upped it again. It may increase slowly over the years as our numbers cross 300 million and huge climate change impact and a slow economy lead to more dislocation, crises and extremism by 2050, a century after independence. Giving the youth a modern education and jobs will cut this risk. It may still be many years away but is our scariest internal risk.

Extremists aim to capture whole states; ethnic groups aim to secede with a part, as with Sudan, Yugoslavia and us too in 1971. We have already tread two security doom pathways and partly even the third one with non-nuclear combat with our easterly nemesis. Our ethnic Achilles heel is now Balochistan. Baloch rebels lack the capacity to secede soon or even hold much area but have made some areas no-go and can now stage big attacks beyond home. Apathy towards justified Baloch complaints will only up the risk.

Can we change course and avoid the point of no return?

Economically, one path is the Soviet one: the Soviet Union fell after decades of de-growth due to misrule and military outlays. We, too, have both. We haven’t yet seen long de-growth except once under the tabdeeli brigade due to Covid-19, but may in the long run as its two causes persist.

Another economic path is hyperinflation, as in Zimbabwe. I saw the country in 2009 in the grips of million per cent inflation, with prices doubling every day and a US dollar fetching 50 trillion local ones in Harare streets. Loose monetary and fiscal policy creating wage-price vicious circles caused it. Our usually cheery central bank glumly told us recently those circles are emerging.

A last economic pathway is currency collapse, as in East Asia in 1998 due to external deficits. The private sector took short-term foreign loans for long-term work that gave no dollar earning. A scare in one state made foreign lenders pull loans regionally, causing currency collapses. We have had external deficits for decades but now take bigger foreign loans for works with no dollar earnings, though mainly less panicky state-to-state ones. But any souring ties with big lenders may mean default.

Among the six, the nuclear war risk may be low, but that of the last two interlinked economic pathways is high. We may only be a couple of years from the tipping point as new economic risks like wage-price spirals and foreign loans for local works increase. Economic doom doesn’t cause the gory violence of security doom. Yet it causes silent, covert violence that hurts the poor badly via local disease, crime and abuse. The ways to avoid all six are very well known for long and need no repetition. But how to get our uncaring and insular twin-cities elites to adopt them is a puzzle stumping even the wisest in this stricken land.

There is another puzzle too. Why do we alone apparently face so many pathways to doom? Oddly, the indications are that the starting points of all the paths converge in the garrison city of Pindi. Living a stone’s throwaway from them, I keep blithely ignoring the sane advice of sages that people living in weak glass houses must not throw (verbal) stones, as only change in the establishment’s views will shut our scary pathways to doom. May we all stay safe from its retaliatory wrath.

The writer is a political economist with a PhD from UC Berkeley.

Twitter: @NiazMurtaza2

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2022