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Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”
That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.
His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

China Helps the Pakistani Nuclear Horn

The nuclear plants in Karachi are part of Pakistan’s plans to tap nuclear power (Image: GETTY – @rajfortyseven)

REVEALED: Photos show China HELPING with Pakistan nuclear programme amid WW3 concern

CHINA is extending its influence into Pakistan as it rushes to help the nation’s nuclear programme by building two power stations, satellite images have revealed.

By Matt Drake 14:08, Sat, Oct 20, 2018 | UPDATED: 15:05, Sat, Oct 20, 2018

The nuclear plants in Karachi are part of Pakistan’s plans to tap nuclear power to address its energy crisis.

Its energy crisis has made headlines for years with power cuts a common phenomenon in the country.

Its close ally China stepped in five years ago in 2013 just as President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) began.

The project is often described as a 21st-century silk road, made up of a “belt” of overland corridors and a “road” of shipping lanes.

Beijing offered Islamabad two power reactors named Hualong-1, a Chinese pressurised water nuclear reactor developed by the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGNPG).

Pakistan is planning on building another Hualong-1 reactor for the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-5.

Under the deal, 86 percent of the construction cost was borne by the vendor, but options to recover this loan amount to nearly $10billion, The Print reports.

According to satellite images of the plant, the construction appears to extend into the ground which suggests the possibility almost the entire facility may go underground after construction.

Beijing offered Islamabad two power reactors named Hualong-1 (Image: @rajfortyseven)

Pakistan is planning on building another Hualong-1 reactor (Image: @rajfortyseven)

The idea to build underground nuclear plants is to limit the damage in the event of disasters.

But the plants have been set up in an area that is extremely prone to seismic shifts as Karachi is on the cusp of three tectonic plates – the Arabia plate, the Eurasia plate and the India plate.

During an earthquake or tsunami, buried structures bear the brunt of tremors and such a disaster could put the safety of the entire city and surrounding areas at risk.

The project has also been called a Chinese Marshall Plan, a state-backed campaign for global dominance.

The plants have been set up in an area that is extremely prone to seismic shifts (Image: @rajfortyseven)

People fear China is pursuing a form of economic imperialism which gives it too much leverage over other, poorer countries.

Associate professor at Australian National University, Jane Golley, said: “They’ve presented this very grand initiative which has frightened people.

“Rather than using their economic power to make friends, they’ve drummed up more fear that it will be about influence.”

Over the five years since President Xi announced the Chinese Marshall Plan to connect Asia, Africa and Europe, the initiative has been used to describe almost all aspects of Chinese engagement abroad.

Chinese companies have secured more than $340billion in construction contracts.

But China’s dominance comes at the expense of local contractors in partner countries.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

The Pakistani Nuclear Threat (Revelation 8)

Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal more worrisome than North Korea’s

@theindpanoramaOct 19, 2018 – 8:06 pm EDT

Pakistan is more dangerous than North Korea as it does not have a centralized control on its nuclear weapons, making them vulnerable to theft and sale.

By Ven Parmeswaran

9/11 happened because Pakistan supported the Taliban and the Al Qaeda.  We discovered that Pakistan was the epicenter of global terrorism.  Almost all terrorists emanated from Pakistan and committed terrorism in the U.S.A. and Europe.  President George W Bush sent his Secretary of State, Gen. Collin Powell to Pakistan, with whom the USA had a Mutual Security Pact from 1954.  Powell met Gen. Musharraf of Pakistan and made a deal. Pakistan agreed to cooperate fully with the USA and provide all help in finding Osama bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda.”     

President Obama had intelligence that Pakistan was hiding and protecting Osama Bin Laden in one of military cantonments.  In 2011, that is 10 years after 9/11, the U.S. secretly got rid of Osama Bin Laden. The Pakistani doctor who confirmed the identity of Osama Bin Laden has been held in jail by Pakistan.  Thus, Pakistan betrayed its ally, the U.S.A.  For ten years, Pakistan was trying to use Osama bin Laden’s leadership to stage terrorism in India.  The mutual trust between the USA and Pakistan was broken.  However, President Obama chose not to punish Pakistan.

WAKE UP CALL BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

President Trump is the first U.S. President to challenge Pakistan.  He wrote in his tweet: “The U.S. has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies, deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.”   President Trump withdrew military aid and gave an ultimatum to Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and to dismantle all terror organizations and terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan.

PAKISTAN’S ECONOMY IN SHAMBLES WITH NO FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Mr. Imran Khan, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan has been elected with the tacit support and help of Pakistan’s military.  For his survival his first loyalty is to the military.   Pakistan is negotiating with the I.M.F. for a $12 billion loan.  The U.S. has leverage in the IMF being the largest investor.  The IMF cannot approve the loan without consent from the USA.    Pakistan has been devoting its scarce resources to keep on producing nuclear bombs.

PAKISTAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE VULNERABLE TO THEFT AND SALE

Pakistan is more dangerous than North Korea as it does not have a centralized control on its nuclear weapons, making them vulnerable to theft and sale, former Senator Larry Pressler warned, describing both the nations as rogue states.    He feared that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might be used against the US, warning of the possibility of someone buying these nuclear weapons from generals.    “The weapons could be transported to the US fairly simply.  Just as 9/11 was a very simple operation run by 20 or 30 people,” he said.  “The Pakistani nuclear bombs are not controlled.  They are subject to sale or stealing and they could be easily gotten out of Pakistan to just about anywhere in the world,” he said speaking at an event sponsored by The Hudson Institute, a top American think-tank.    The former top American Senator, however, said he does not think that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are going to be used against India. I do not agree.   The Senator said “I think what North Korea needs is just a lot of attention and hand-holding.  Pakistan Is a different thing because you don’t really have one person in-charge.  I think Pakistan is more dangerous to the US,” he reiterated in response to a question.

“We should declare Pakistan a terrorist state.  We should put certain sanctions on Pakistan,” he said.

PAKISTAN’S GROWING ARSENAL WITHOUT CENTRAL CIVILIAN CONTROL IS THREAT TO GLOBAL SECURITY

Why does Pakistan need to keep on increasing the number of bombs?  There are thousands of nuclear weapons in the world today.  According to the latest count from the Federation of American Scientists, the 5 original nuclear powers have a combined 15,465 nuclear weapons between them, most of which are divided amongst the US and Russia. Yet, the fastest growing arsenal in the world is not included in this number.  While Pakistan has a range of 100-120 nuclear weapons in its possession—a figure that pales in comparison to the US or Russia—Islamabad has devoted a tremendous amount of its military budget to growing its arsenal and producing the associated delivery systems that are needed to launch them.

More alarming than Pakistan’s current stockpile is the projected growth of its arsenal over the next decade.  In a wide ranging report for the Council on Foreign Relations, professor Gregory D Koblentz of George Mason University assessed that Pakistan had enough highly enriched uranium to increase its stockpile to 200 nuclear weapons by 2020 if fully utilized.  Percentage wise, this would mean that Pakistan could have as many nuclear weapons as the U.K. by 2020.  Moreover, Pakistan falls outside the purview of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

To guarantee the ability to rapidly expand their stockpile, the Pakistani military is investing in reprocessing plutonium in addition to enriching uranium.  In January 2015, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that the Pakistanis opened up their fourth plutonium facility at Khushab, which provides Islamabad with an additional channel to construct nuclear bomb material in a relatively short period of time.  “Its expansion appears to be part of an effort to increase the production of weapons-grade plutonium,” the ISIS report (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) reads:  “Allowing Pakistan to build a larger number of miniaturized plutonium-based nuclear weapons that can complement its existing highly enriched uranium nuclear weapons.”

PAKISTANI NUKES A MAJOR U.S. INTELLIGENCE PRIORITY

To say that the U.S. Intelligence community is closely monitoring the development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program would be an understatement.  The U.S. government is doing more than just monitoring:  they are actively preparing for a terrible catastrophe and engaging Pakistani officials in the hopes that they will stop pouring resources into the expansion of their program.  The last thing Washington wants or needs is a nuclear crisis flashpoint in a dangerous and unpredictable region filled with an alphabet soup of Islamist terrorist groups.  The US government under both George W Bush and Barack Obama has been trying to prevent such a crisis scenario from occurring.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Despite all the attempts from the nuclear nonproliferation community, Pakistan will continue to develop and strengthen its nuclear deterrent as long as the high brass in the Pakistani military continues to have an India-centric mindset in its defense policy. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, and in each case, the Pakistanis were either the losers or forced into a stalemate before acceding to a ceasefire (1971 breakaway of East Pakistan was an especially embarrassing defeat for the Pakistanis).  Islamabad has not forgotten these cases ever since.  And for the Pakistanis, the lessons of these past conflicts are all the same: we cannot repeat history.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S NEW WORLD ORDER: INDIA AND THE USA HAVE SIGNED A DEAL THAT MAKES THEM CLOSEST ALLIES ON A PAR WITH THE NATO MEMBERS

The US and the IMF have told Pakistan that it cannot use IMF loan to repay China or divert the resources to increasing its nuclear arsenal.  President Trump, unlike George W Bush or Obama, is challenging Pakistan to behave.  In effect, Trump is saying that he will not tolerate Pakistan to betray again.  Trump is also anxious to withdraw from Afghanistan and he knows Pakistan is the bottleneck.  Based on his tough negotiations and policies towards his close allies, be it Canada or Western Europe, Trump means business.  Therefore, it is to be hoped that the U.S. will not allow Pakistan to mess up with international security.   I think President Trump is giving clear messages to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister and its military/ISIS leaders.

(Scarsdale, New York based Ven Parameswaran is Chairman, Asian American Republican Committee founded in 1988)

Trump Promotes the Nuclear Disaster of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

GETTY IMAGES

BY TIM JUDSON, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

The Trump administration has been plotting for many months to seize power over the electrical generation sector by executive order, and despite widespread opposition and infighting that set the effort back this week, analysts say President Trump is personally invested in the idea, and that he and Energy Secretary Perry remain committed to ordering a bailout of failing coal and nuclear plants.

It wouldn’t exactly nationalize the industry or impose martial law. But the administration has invoked false national security claims and inappropriate “emergency” powers to claim the right to upend the market and force ratepayers and taxpayers to subsidize nuclear and coal plants against their will.  It would commandeer their money to prop up aging, unsafe, uncompetitive plants that should, and otherwise would, shut down.

Throughout the summer the administration signaled that soon, likely before the midterm election, Trump would issue a Section 202(c) emergency order imposing a two-year moratorium on nuclear and coal plant closures, ostensibly for the Department of Energy to study the ramifications of letting them close.

Meanwhile, grid operators would be required to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants, creating the equivalent of tariffs guaranteeing large profits for nuclear and coal plants. Grid managers would be forced to buy power from them, even though it’s more expensive than other sources of electricity, including renewables and efficiency.

The Electricity Consumers Resource Council has argued against the plan. Ratepayers are a captive market, so utilities are supposed to shop around for cheaper electricity on their behalf. A Trump executive order would prevent that, on the specious theory letting uncompetitive nuclear plants close threatens electrical grid reliability and national security, so consumers should get a big rate hike to keep them open.

While in effect over the next two years, such an order could preempt closure of uncompetitive nuclear plants, including those already scheduled to close. It might also delay or derail nuclear plant closures scheduled more than two years out, including New York’s Indian Point.

The Heritage Foundation opposes the Trump plan and points out there is no evidence that subsidizing aging nuclear plants helps grid reliability or national security. Keeping them open actually increases risks of radiological accidents and cyberattacks. But there’s plenty of evidence subsidies help nuclear plant owners.

Over the last year, owners ramped up spending on lobbying and pushed through billion-dollar state subsidies to guarantee large profits at public expense, first in New York ($7.6 billion) and Illinois ($2.4 billion), then in New Jersey ($3.6 billion) and Connecticut (estimated up to $3 billion).  They are now aiming at Pennsylvania and other states. They argue they deserve subsidies for fighting climate change, by supplying “clean energy” with “zero emissions.”

In fact, these aging plants are dirty and dangerous. Propping them up worsens climate change by undermining growth of renewables and efficiency measures. Owners got their subsidies anyway, after threatening state politicians with the fallout from closing their plants early.

By my calculation, most of the windfall is going to the largest US nuclear operator, Exelon. New York and Illinois subsidies accounted for about 60 percent of its profit growth this year. New Jersey and other state subsidies will swell it further. A Trump executive order would transfer yet more wealth from ratepayers to Exelon and other nuclear owners.

Is all this even legal? We’re about to find out. There are a slew of lawsuits waiting to challenge Trump’s executive order from consumer advocates and non-nuclear/non-coal generators. Many grounds for challenging it exist.

Since there is no energy or national security emergency, invoking them in a Section 202(c) order misapplies the Federal Powers Act and the Defense Production Act.  Trump’s order would be unprecedented, anti-competitive, government interference in power markets. It’s a federal mandate forcing individuals and businesses to pay for uneconomical power they don’t want. Those in New York and other states already coughing up billions for state nuclear subsidies will be subject to double jeopardy from this new federal surcharge, even if they object to subsidizing nuclear power and try to opt out through renewables-only purchasing programs.

There’s a fundamental question of whether nuclear subsidies serve the public interest, or whether they violate due process and the public trust.

In New York and other states, subsidies were rammed through with only perfunctory public input. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers filed complaints after they were passed. A lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court (Matter of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater v. NYS Public Service Commission, Albany County, 7242-16) is the first to challenge state subsidies on such fundamental, public interest grounds.

The organization I lead is a plaintiff in that case, which is also the last remaining legal challenge to state nuclear subsidies still standing, since federal suits asking the more technical question of whether state subsidies interfere with federal regulation of wholesale electricity markets were struck down. The NYS Supreme Court case survived motions to dismiss, and will soon go into evidentiary hearings. That means the question of whether New York’s nuclear subsidies are unfair, illegal or improper will finally get adjudicated in court.

The suit can’t reverse nuclear subsidies already established in Illinois and other states, but it could end them in New York and deter new states from adopting them.

It may also provide a glimpse of how lawsuits against a Trump executive order could get traction. Nuclear subsidies via government fiat contradict the public will, severely distort markets, and misapply the law. Executive overreach extended so far is ripe for remedy in court.

Tim Judson is the Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), one of the plaintiffs in the New York lawsuit.

Hamas Continues to Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Disable Palestinian tries to remove Israeli wire during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence in Gaza.. (photo credit:” MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

Egyptian officials also demanded that the protesters stay at least 500 meters away from the border.

Hamas has rejected an Egyptian request to halt the weekly demonstrations along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Palestinian sources said on Saturday.

The sources said the Egyptian intelligence officials who met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City last Thursday also demanded that the protesters stay at least 500 meters away from the border. However, Hamas also rejected this demand, the sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

But it did appear to have called for restrained action at Friday’s weekly demonstration, which left the IDF and Hamas in a tense standoff, but failed to ignite a major escalation.

The weekend events were expected to have a significant impact on whether Israel would launch a military operation in Gaza. But the low level of activity kept the situation’s status quo.

On Friday, 10,000 Palestinians again demonstrated near the border, burning tires and hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF troops. There were three attempted infiltrations, in which Palestinians crossed into Israel and then went back to Gaza, the IDF said.

Sources in the Gaza Strip said approximately 130 Palestinians were injured by gunfire and tear-gas inhalation.

On Saturday evening, an IDF aircraft struck a cell of Palestinians that had launched incendiary aerial devices from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel that morning, which had ignited fires in the Be’eri and Shokeda forests near the border. The IAF on Friday afternoon also attacked a terrorist squad that launched incendiary devices into Israel.

Several Palestinians who were at the demonstration commented that the number of demonstrators was smaller than in previous weeks, which had seen 30,000 protesters at the Friday event.

They also pointed out that the protesters dispersed earlier than usual, raising speculation about a possible secret deal between Hamas and Egypt.

“The Egyptians made it clear to Hamas that Israel was this time more serious than ever and would use unprecedented force if the violence continues along the border,” said a Palestinian political analyst in the Gaza Strip. “Apparently, Hamas issued instructions to its supporters to keep a low profile.”

The IDF also said it noticed that in several places Hamas forces restrained protesters and distanced them from the security fence.

Shortly before the protests began, the organizers of the “Great March of Return” (the name Palestinians use to call the protests that began March 30) urged Palestinians to “maintain the peaceful and popular” nature of the demonstrations.

Taher a-Nunu, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said the weekly demonstrations will continue, but only in a “peaceful and popular” manner. He denied that Egypt had asked Hamas to stop the protests.

Early Friday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov called on all sides to refrain from violence.

“In light of today’s planned Gaza march, I urge all to exercise restraint, to proceed in a peaceful manner, and to avoid escalation. The UN is working with Egypt and its partners to avoid violence, address all humanitarian issues and support reconciliation,” he said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had said that if Friday passed without any violence he would consider reopening two land crossings into Gaza: the pedestrian one at Erez and the commercial one at Kerem Shalom.

Israel closed those crossings, which are two of the three main arteries into Gaza, on Wednesday in response Gaza violence. As of Saturday night, the two crossings remained closed.

Meanwhile, a source close to Hamas said that Gen. Abbas Kamel, head of Egypt’s Mukhabarat (General Intelligence Service), may visit the Gaza Strip and Ramallah next week as part of Cairo’s ongoing effort to achieve a truce between Gaza-based terrorist groups and Israel. Kamel is also hoping to persuade Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction to resolve their dispute, and agree to the formation of a national unity government, the source added.

Kamel’s scheduled visit to Ramallah and the Gaza Strip last week was canceled after two Grad rockets were launched at Israel on Wednesday. One of the rockets fell near a house in Beersheba, while the second fell into the Mediterranean Sea south of Tel Aviv.

The Egyptian intelligence officials who did meet with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip last Thursday later traveled to Ramallah, where they held talks with senior Fatah officials.

After the talks in Ramallah, Fatah officials launched a scathing attack on Hamas and accused it of holding the residents of the Gaza Strip hostage. They also accused Hamas of thwarting Egypt’s effort to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.

Fatah spokesman Atef Abu Seif said Hamas was seeking a truce deal with Israel instead of ending the power struggle with Fatah. Abu Seif accused Hamas of “paving the way for the US administration and Israel to pass” US President Donald Trump’s unseen plan for peace in the Middle East, which the US administration has called the “deal of the century.”

The Fatah spokesman claimed that Hamas has hijacked the weekly demonstrations along the border with the Gaza Strip in order to serve its own interests and conduct negotiations with Israel about a truce.

Majed Fityani, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said Hamas had become a “front for a demonic alliance led by the US administration and Israel, whose goal is to undermine the Palestinian national project and preserve the occupation.”

Fityani told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station that Hamas was seeking to further separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. Hamas and Israel, he charged, have a common interest in maintaining the status quo in Gaza.

Responding to the Fatah charges, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the attacks reflected Fatah’s concern over Hamas’s success in “restoring the momentum to the Palestinian cause.” Fatah, he said, has lost its credibility because of its adherence to security coordination with Israel in the West Bank.

A Nuclear Disaster Awaits Indian Point Plant at the Sixth Seal

PIPELINEAIM gas pipeline opponents lose legal challenge, may appeal

Thomas C. Zambito, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon spoke to students about their proximity to the Algonquin natural gas pipeline. She then shared her thoughts. Seth Harrison, sharriso@lohud.com

Opponents of the AIM pipeline expansion say they may refocus their legal challenges on the next phase of the project

While a federal appeals court has rejected a pivotal challenge to the expansion of a natural gas pipeline near the Indian Point nuclear power plant, opponents say they’re not done trying to get the courts to block the project.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a July 27 decision, sided with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in turning back a legal challenge to the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline expansion.

The Hudson Valley environmental group Riverkeeper claimed the installation of 2,159 feet of natural gas pipeline across from Indian Point posed a serious threat to public safety, particularly if the pipeline ruptured.

Riverkeeper spokesman Cliff Weathers said a decision to appeal has not been made yet.

But Courtney Williams, who heads the grassroots group SAPE (Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion), said the opposition may focus its future legal challenges on the next phase of the expansion, known as the Atlantic Bridge Project.

“We’re still in discussions with Riverkeeper to determine whether we will appeal this portion of the decision,” Williams said. “But the legal challenge to Atlantic Bridge is already underway.”

Another challenge coming

SAPE joined Riverkeeper, the City of Boston and others in challenging FERC’s decision-making process.

Opponents argued that FERC should have considered the environmental impacts of all three phases of the expansion, including the Atlantic Bridge Project, as one. But the appeals court sided with FERC. “We find no basis to set aside the Commission’s order on those grounds,” the appeals court wrote.

The Atlantic Bridge Project is an extension of the Algonquin pipeline that runs through Yorktown and Somers in northern Westchester before heading into Putnam County and Connecticut.

It is part of a $972 million expansion that will make it possible for the pipeline’s current owner, Enbridge Energy Partners, to deliver natural gas to New England from Pennsylvania, by way of a pipeline that cuts through New Jersey and New York.

The project has impacted several Hudson Valley towns in Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties and touched off a number of public demonstrations. In 2016, several protesters were arrested after locking themselves inside a section of pipeline in Verplanck while it was being readied to be installed under the Hudson River.

SAPE has staged protests outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New Castle home, urging the governor to shut down the pipeline. And last month at a rally in Peekskill, Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo’s opponent in the September Democratic primary, accused the governor of moving too slowly to address the opposition’s concerns.

In June, state officials sent a letter to FERC, urging the commission to re-evaluate its decision allowing the pipeline near Indian Point.

NRC signs off on plan

The appeals court ruling said FERC’s decision allowing the pipeline near Indian Point was supported by an analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which the commission found “persuasive.”

NRC’s review determined that Indian Point’s two reactors could safely operate or temporarily shut down if a gas line ruptured near the plant.

FERC’s 2015 ruling credited NRC’s expertise in assessing safety threats to nuclear facilities.

“We see no basis to reject the Commission’s to do so,” the appeals court wrote.

The NRC said it could re-evaluate its decision after Indian Point’s owner, Louisiana-based Entergy, submits a plan for how the plant will be dismantled. Entergy has plans to shut down the Buchanan plant by 2021.

Read or Share this story: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/investigations/2018/08/14/algonquin-gas-pipeline/978104002/

From The USA TODAY NETWORK

Nuclear Buildup Before the Great War (Revelation 15)

US to leave Russian nuclear treaty

The US will withdraw from a landmark nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump has confirmed.

Mr Trump said Russia had “violated” the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which banned ground-launched medium-range missiles, with a range of 500 to 5500km.

The US would not let Russia “go out and do weapons [while] we’re not allowed to”, Mr Trump said.

“I don’t know why President [Barack] Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out,” the president said after a campaign rally in Nevada. “They’ve been violating it for many years.”

In 2014, President Obama accused Russia of breaching the INF after it allegedly tested a ground-launched cruise missile. He reportedly chose not to withdraw from the treaty under pressure from European leaders, who said such a move could restart an arms race.

A Russian foreign ministry source said the US move was motivated by a “dream of a unipolar world” where it is the only global superpower, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The US insists the Russians have, in breach of the deal, developed a new medium-range missile called the the Novator 9M729 – known to NATO as the SSC-8.

It would enable Russia to launch a nuclear strike at NATO countries at very short notice.

Russia has said little about its new missile other than to deny that it is in breach of the agreement.

Analysts said Russia saw such weapons as a cheaper alternative to conventional forces.

The New York Times reported on Friday the US was considering withdrawing from the treaty in a bid to counter China’s expanding military presence in the western Pacific.

The country was not a signatory of the deal, allowing it to develop medium-range missiles without restraint.

American national security adviser John Bolton is expected to tell the Russians of the withdrawal during talks in Moscow later this week.

What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty?

• Signed by the US and the USSR in 1987, the arms control deal banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges, except sea-launched weapons.

• The US had been concerned by the Soviet deployment of the SS-20 missile system and responded by placing Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe – sparking widespread protests.

• By 1991, nearly 2,700 missiles had been destroyed. Both countries were allowed to inspect the others installations

• In 2007, Russian president Vladimir Putin declared the treaty no longer served Russia’s interests. The move came after the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.

The last time the US withdrew from a major arms treaty was in 2002, when President George W. Bush pulled the US out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned weapons designed to counter ballistic nuclear missiles.

His administration’s moves to set up a missile shield in Europe alarmed the Kremlin, and was scrapped by the Obama administration in 2009 to be replaced by a modified defence system in 2016.

– BBC

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago

It happened before, and it could happen again.

By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg

Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM

On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.

According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.

The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.

A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:

“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”

The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.

The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.

The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.

“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”

The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.

“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.

The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.

There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.

According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.

“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,

that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,

the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;

O turn to God; lest by his Rod,

he cast thee down to Hell.”

Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”

There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.

Well, sort of.

In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”

It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.

In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”

If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

130 Shot Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israeli forces wound 130 Palestinians at Gaza border protest | Reuters

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers shot and wounded 130 Palestinians during protests near the Gaza Strip border on Friday, the enclave’s Health Ministry said.

A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during a protest calling for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza and demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border fence in the southern Gaza Strip October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

An Israeli military spokeswoman said about 10,000 demonstrators massed at the border and that some threw burning tires, grenades and explosive devices at the troops across the fence.

But the protest was relatively small – some of the previous gatherings included about 30,000 people, a sign that tensions that have built up in the past few days may be easing.

On Thursday Israel had ramped up armored forces along the Gaza border, a day after a rocket fired from the enclave destroyed a home in southern Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed “very strong action” if attacks continued.

A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Egyptian security officials had held separate meetings in the past few days with Israeli counterparts and with leaders of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group that rules Gaza in an effort to prevent an escalation in violence.

Palestinians have been protesting along the border since March 30, demanding an end to Israel’s blockade of the territory and the right to return to lands that Palestinians fled or were driven from upon Israel’s founding in 1948.

About 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops since the protests started, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures, and an Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Palestinians have also launched incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza into Israel and on occasion breached the Israeli frontier fence.

More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave. Israel pulled troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the past decade.

Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Iran Turns Against the European Nuclear Horns (Daniel)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has elaborated on his disappointment with Europe during an October 17 meeting with a group his website has described as Iran’s “academic elites and prominent scholars.”

“We should look East, not West. Pinning our hope on the West or Europe would belittle us as we would beg them for favor and they would do nothing,” Khamenei told the group which included Iranian academics returning from various Western countries.

Instead, Khamenei said that Iran should look East, “where countries are taking quick steps on their roads to growth,” The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

Khamenei had suggested earlier to President Hassan Rouhani that his government should abandon hope in Europe’s initiatives to save the nuclear deal with the West or help Iran’s failing economy to improve.

European states promised to save the nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after the United States withdrew from the agreement in May.

EU officials have also promised to introduce a financial arrangement to protect European companies from the impact of US sanctions. Major European companies have already left Iran fearing US sanctions can damage their interests in other markets.

After the U.S. withdrawal from JCPOA, Khameni had expressed his disappointment with initial European reactions, but had reluctantly agreed that Iran should remain in the nuclear deal as Europe tried to save it.

While allowing talks to continue with European countries, Khamenei reiterated that he was “suspicious” about Europe’s promises. This is in line with the aging leader’s consistent anti-Western posture and policies.

Khamenei repeated his suspicion of Europe on Wednesday while President Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as some other Iranian officials have sounded upbeat about Europe’s measure, although few details have been released.

Zarif said in a recent interview with the BBC that what Europe has offered “was possibly better than what we originally expected.” However, U.S. officials have repeatedly voiced doubts if any EU measures can dissipate the concerns companies might have about violating sanctions. The bottom line is, they insist, whether companies prefer to do business with the U.S. or with Iran, with a much smaller market.

While stressing on the futility of interaction with the West, Khamenei did not mention who in the East Iran should turn to. One can surmise that mentioning quick economic growth, could have been an allusion to India, South Korea and China and perhaps Indonesia and Malaysia to a lesser extent. This comes while South Korea has already stopped importing oil from Iran several weeks ahead of the second round of US sanctions that target Iran’s oil exports and international banking operations and the only prospect for trade with India and China is an outdated form of barter trade.

At the same time, a sharp devaluation of Iranian currency, the rial, has increased the rate of exchange for US dollar from 35,000 rials to over 190,000 rials during the past seven months, and unemployment, mismanagement, corruption and discrimination have paralyzed the economy. But Khamenei is still in denial of the country’s worst economic crisis ever, and said on Wednesday that reports about the economic crisis were merely disparaging images Iran’s “enemies” draw.

Khamenei said that “in spite of fluctuations in the foreign exchange market and problems in people’s life, the real image of the country is diagonally different from what foreigners portray.” However, he did not explain what led him to believe there was nothing wrong with the state of the economy.

Just three days before his latest remarks, Khamenei revealed his vision for the year 2065, saying Iran would be one of the world’s top ten economies.