‘Big one’ coming? Earthquakes off the West Coast could eventually trigger a global event (Source foxnews.com)
A string of recent earthquakes off the West Coast of the U.S., ranging from 2.8 to 5.6 on the Richter scale, could help trigger the earthquake colloquially known as “the Big One.”
The map provided by the U.S. Geological Survey highlights 11 recent earthquakes, all occurring on the seabed of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, approximately 6 miles below the surface. The plate, which is described as “small” by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN), is fairly active, moving east-northeast at approximately 1.6 inches per year. To date, the USGS has not issued any warnings over this spate of earthquakes, given the fairly common nature of the caliber of quakes, Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center told the Daily Mail. Part of the concern surrounding the plate is that it is not a smooth motion, but rather a motion described as “sticky,” causing strain to build up “until the fault breaks and a few meters of Juan De Fuca slips under North America in a big earthquake.” PNSN noted that it would take a lot of slip (approximately 10s of meters) over a very large area to generate a M9 (magnitude of 9.0) level earthquake that could hit the region, but noted that it does occur approximately every 550 years on average. The cause for concern is what happens when the Juan de Fuca plate eventually submerges under the much larger Pacific plate. For approximately 330 years, the plate has continuously been pushed down, an activity that will eventually lead it to be pushed under the North America plate, causing the region to sink six feet on the minimum and may result in one of the largest earthquakes in human history.
Zuckerberg Loses $16.8 Billion in a Snap as Facebook Plunges (Source Bloomberg)
Mark Zuckerberg is counting the cost of user disenchantment with Facebook Inc.
His fortune tumbled by $16.8 billion in late trading Wednesday, as shares of the social media giant slid 20 percent at 5:37 p.m. in New York on disappointing results. If that holds through Thursday’s close, he will slide to sixth place from third on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. It would also wipe his $13.7 billion of gains for the year, leaving him with just less than $70 billion.
Second-quarter revenue and average daily visitors fell short of analysts’ estimates, according to a statement from the Menlo Park, California-based company. Revenue increased 42 percent to $13.2 billion, missing the $13.3 billion Wall Street consensus. The company is grappling with new data laws in Europe, criticism over its content policies and privacy issues.
Georgia race pits ‘politically incorrect’ Republican against Democrat who would be the first black female governor (Source latimes.com)
It is shaping up to be the ultimate identity-politics contest: A brash, shotgun-wielding, white male conservative who bills himself as “politically incorrect” will compete in Georgia’s gubernatorial race with a liberal Ivy League Democrat who hopes to be the nation’s first black female governor.
Republicans have long ruled this Southern state, and almost two decades have passed since a Democrat was elected governor. But Democrats are pouring millions of dollars into the November race in the hope that a rapidly growing and diversifying population, along with dissatisfaction with President Trump, could make it a swing state.
Trump won Georgia by 5% in 2016, but political observers note that his divisive and erratic governing style has energized the Democratic base and turned off many independents and moderate conservatives in Atlanta’s sprawling suburbs — setting the stage for a gubernatorial race that could be more competitive than usual and more focused on national issues. “It’s going to be a little bit like a laboratory,” said Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, noting that neither of the candidates is a moderate, and therefore they will have to find a way to energize supporters without turning off swing voters. “It’s going to be a battle of the bases.”
Carmakers Surge After Trump Agrees to Put Car Tariffs on Hold (Source Bloomberg)
European carmakers climbed after President Donald Trump backed off his threat to levy tariffs on cars imported to the U.S. during a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, averting for the time being an escalating trade war.
Shares of BMW AG, Volkswagen AG, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Daimler AG jumped on Thursday following a pledge from the two leaders to “hold off on other tariffs” while they negotiate a deal to expand European imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas and soybeans and lower industrial levies. Germany’s VDA auto industry association called the meeting “a big step forward” and “good news for industry and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.”
The two met Wednesday at the White House with Trump warning that he would move forward with 25 percent tariffs on auto imports if the meeting with Juncker didn’t go well, prompting the EU to respond that such a move would bring significant retaliatory measures on U.S. goods. The breakthrough came after about three hours of talks, leading to their impromptu announcement in the Rose Garden.
“We had a big day, very big,” Trump said during a press conference with Juncker. “We are starting the negotiation right now, but we know where it is going.” Trump hailed “a new phase” of trade relations.
Russia just showed off a potentially world-ending nuclear ‘doomsday’ torpedo that the US can’t stop (Source Business Insider)Just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin met with President Donald Trump, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has released a video of one of its most inhumane and fearsome nuclear weapons ever created — and it’s purpose-built to avoid US defenses. The weapon, a high-speed nuclear-powered torpedo, isn’t like other nuclear weapons. While there’s a risk of radioactivity any time an atom is split, nuclear weapons have typically used nuclear detonations to create heat and pressure, with lingering radioactivity emerging only as a dangerous side effect. But the new Russian torpedo uses radioactive waste to deter, scare, and potentially punish enemies for decades.”Nuclear weapons only generate significant amounts of radioactive fallout when they are detonated at, near, or beneath ground level,” Stephen Schwartz, the author of “Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of US Nuclear Weapons Since 1940,” told Business Insider. These types of nuclear explosions “suck up dirt, or water, contaminates it with debris from the bomb, and then lofts it into the atmosphere,” leaving deadly radioactive fallout potentially strewn across thousands of miles, Schwartz said. What’s more, the bomb is rumored to have its nuclear core coated in a metal that would make the fall out last for half a century. “It’s an insane weapon in the sense that it’s probably as indiscriminate and lethal as you can make a nuclear weapon,” Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told Business Insider. Russia hasn’t specified how big the nuclear warhead is, but Kristensen said reports indicated it’s “anything from a normal yield to up to 100 megatons,” making it potentially one of the biggest bombs ever built. Russia has advertised a simple mission for the torpedo: “Going in and blowing up a harbor with the purpose of blanketing a coastal area with radiation to make it uninhabitable” in a “blatant violation on the international laws of war, which require them to avoid collateral damage,” Kristensen said. Russia, which first leaked images of the weapon in 2015, released the video of the torpedo, called “Poseidon,” along with several other updates on new weapons programs. Putin announced all of the weapons in a March 1 speech in which he said they’d been designed to defeat all existing US defenses.
MAJOR ALCOHOL INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR RIGHT TO LEGALIZE CANNABIS (Source wswa.org) Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) announced an official policy position in favor of a state’s right to establish a legal, well-regulated, adult-use cannabis marketplace; it is the first and only beverage alcohol association to do so. In states where cannabis is or will subsequently be legalized, the association calls on the federal government to respect the right of states to legalize cannabis if they adopt cannabis market regulations that meet a framework similar to that governing beverage alcohol. “Eight decades ago, Americans acknowledged that the Prohibition of alcohol was a failed policy. The state-based system of regulation, adopted after Prohibition, created a U.S. beverage alcohol market that is the safest, most competitive and best regulated in the world,” WSWA Acting Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Dawson Hobbs said. The legal cannabis market continues to expand in the United States, generating $7.2 billion in economic activity in 2016.
WSWA believes that, similar to alcohol, the federal government should give states the power to legalize cannabis, but should ensure they meet an appropriate regulatory threshold.
Legalization should include regulations that set age restrictions on buyers, as well as license and regulate the supply chain of cannabis, including growers, distributors, retailers and testing laboratories.
GET READY TO LEGALLY 3D-PRINT A GUN (Source nextgov.com) If you own a 3D printer, soon you’ll be able to print something a little more dangerous than your average trinket. Defense Distributed recently won the right to publish blueprints of firearms online, which would allow anyone with access to a 3D printer to download, print and assemble a gun, according to a press release from the Second Amendment Foundation. This settlement follows a lengthy legal battle that Defense Distributed had with the State Department that began in 2013. Defense Distributed initially had to pull the files from their website DEFCAD, as they violated International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) protections. At that time, blueprints for the Liberator pistol, designed by Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson, had already been downloaded 100,000 times. The organization will relaunch August 1, at which point anyone who is interested can download schematics that will let them print out the parts of the pistol, and then assemble it themselves.
BBQ Becky, Permit Patty and why the Internet is shaming white people who police people ‘simply for being black’ (Source usatoday.com) It’s now a weekly, if not daily, occurrence: A video is posted on Facebook or Twitter showing a white person calling police on black people for minor violations or nothing at all, a new form of social media shaming that’s exposed the everyday racism black Americans face and brought swift repercussions for the perpetrators. Tagged with nicknames like BBQ Becky and Permit Patty, white people who’ve reported black people for sitting in Starbucks, shopping at CVS, mowing lawns, playing golf, staying at an Airbnb or napping on a couch in a college dorm are being publicly named, mocked and, in some cases, fired from their jobs.
White people have been policing black behavior for a long time. If they think someone black seems out of place, they know they can say something to the property manager, a store supervisor or the police, sociologists who study race say. Many black people in these situations don’t bother to complain publicly. They say they’re unlikely to be believed or their concerns will be dismissed. And they don’t want to escalate the situation and end up in jail or worse.
Tale of sex, deception emerges about suspected Russian agent (Source Associated Press)
A 29-year-old gun-rights activist suspected of being a covert Russian agent was likely in contact with Kremlin operatives while living in the United States, prosecutors said Wednesday, accusing her of using sex and deception to forge influential connections.
The woman, Maria Butina, was photographed by the FBI dining privately with a Russian diplomat suspected of being an intelligence operative in the weeks before the envoy’s departure from the U.S. last March, prosecutors said. She also had contact information for people who investigators believe were employees of Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB. The allegations add to the portrait of a Russian woman who the Justice Department says worked covertly to establish back-channel lines of communication to the Kremlin and infiltrate U.S. political organizations, including the National Rifle Association, and gather intelligence for a senior Russian official to whom she reported.
Prosecutors also alleged she had a personal relationship with an American political operative and offered sex to another person in exchange for a position with a special interest organization. Court papers do not name the individuals or the special interest group. Butina awaits trial on charges of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Russia. She pleaded not guilty Wednesday during a hearing in which U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson ordered her held in jail as the case moves forward, saying she was a flight risk. After the hearing, Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, told reporters his client respected but strongly disagreed with the judge’s decision. “She’s been aware of a criminal investigation into her conduct for months and made no attempt to flee,” Driscoll said, saying Butina was not a Russian agent but rather a “young student seeking to make her way in America.” Citing her intelligence ties, the government had argued that Butina’s legal status in the U.S. was based on “deception,” saying her student visa and enrollment at American University were a cover for her covert work. They also argue she posed an “extreme” risk of fleeing the U.S. Butina was arrested over the weekend amid signs that she planned to leave the Washington area and possibly the country, prosecutors said.
Putin warns NATO against closer ties with Ukraine and Georgia (Source Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned NATO against cultivating closer ties with Ukraine and Georgia, saying such a policy was irresponsible and would have unspecified consequences for the alliance.
The issue has been a source of anger for Russia — which shares a border with both countries and does not want to see them join what it regards as a hostile military bloc — since 2008 when NATO leaders promised Ukraine and Georgia they would one day join the alliance. Putin, speaking to Russian diplomats from around the world assembled in Moscow, said on Thursday there was a need to restore trust in Europe and spoke out against what he said was NATO’s attempts to deploy new bases and military infrastructure near Russia’s borders. “We will respond appropriately to such aggressive steps, which pose a direct threat to Russia,” said Putin.
“Our colleagues, who are trying to aggravate the situation, seeking to include, among others, Ukraine and Georgia in the orbit of the alliance, should think about the possible consequences of such an irresponsible policy.”
The Russian leader said he had discussed the matter with U.S. President Donald Trump at a summit in Helsinki on Monday. Trump has called for NATO members to spend more on defense, but has queried whether Montenegro, the alliance’s newest member, should be part of the bloc at all calling its people “aggressive.” Russian forces entered two breakaway Georgian regions in 2008 and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 after which a pro-Russian separatist uprising erupted in eastern Ukraine. Swathes of both countries remain garrisoned by Russian troops, something Moscow says is in keeping with local people’s wishes, but which the West and the governments of the two countries call an illegal occupation. NATO leaders discussed ties with Ukraine and Georgia – both former Soviet republics once ruled from Moscow — at their summit in Brussels earlier this month.
Prominent politicians in both countries are keen to join the Western military alliance, but have seen their chances of joining hampered by Russian territorial incursions.
Under NATO rules, countries with territorial conflicts cannot join NATO.