East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

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WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”

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Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

The Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

Iran attempted to buy nuclear technology illegally 32 times, German agency says

Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are on display for the annual Defense Week, marking the 37th anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, at Baharestan Sq. in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are on display for the annual Defense Week, marking the 37th anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, at Baharestan Sq. in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 (AP)

Iran tried to obtain illicit technology that could be used for military nuclear and ballistic missile programs, raising questions about a possible violation of the 2015 agreement intended to stop Tehran’s drive to become an atomic armed power, according to three German intelligence reports obtained by Fox News.

The new intelligence, detailing reports from September and October and disclosed just ahead of President Trump’s planned announcement Thursday on whether the U.S. will recertify the Iran deal, reveals that Iran’s regime made “32 procurement attempts … that definitely or with high likelihood were undertaken for the benefit of proliferation programs.”

According to the document, the 32 attempts took place in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The report lists Iran as a nation that engages in proliferation, which is defined as “spreading atomic, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction.”

Missile delivery systems are also included in the definition of illicit proliferation activity in the report.

THE CASE FOR A ‘CLEAN WITHDRAWAL’ FROM THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

The North Rhine-Westphalia agency accused Iran of using front companies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China to circumvent international restrictions on its nuclear and missile programs.

The intelligence report, which covered the year 2016 — the Iran deal was implemented on Jan. 16, 2016 — calls further into question Iran’s compliance with the agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The overwhelming majority of Iran’s illegal attempts covering the year 2016 in North Rhine-Westphalia encompassed technology for the clerical regime’s missile programs.

The year before, the agency recorded 141 attempts by Iran to secure illicit goods for proliferation purposes.

AS TRUMP CHALLENGES IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL, THOSE IN TEHRAN WORRY

In a second intelligence report obtained by Fox News, the German state of Hessen said Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Sudan use “guest academics” for illegal activities related to nuclear and other weapons programs. “An example for this type of activity occurred in the sector of electronic technology in connection with the implementation of the enrichment of uranium,” the document reads.

The intelligence officials also cited an example of foreign intelligence services using “research exchanges at universities in the sector of biological and chemical procedures.”

When asked about whether Iran was involved in the academic and research cases, a spokesman for Hessen’s intelligence agency declined to comment.

In April, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News he’s “gravely concerned” about Iran’s role in helping Syria develop its chemical warfare program. Rubio, a Republican, said he was troubled by reports that both Iran and Russia were complicit in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons program.

IRAN ISSUES THREAT OVER US STRIKES IN SYRIA

“Congress and the White House should work together to hold the Assad regime accountable for its war crimes and impose harsh sanctions against its enablers,” Rubio told Fox News.
A third intelligence report, from the state of Saxony-Anhalt, said Iran works “unabated” on its missile program.

“With ballistic missiles and long-range rockets, Iran will be in the position to not only be able to threaten Europe,” it says.

Iranian Arabs who are members of the paramilitary Basij force march in a military parade marking the 37th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has unveiled its latest ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers — about 1,250 miles— capable of reaching much of the Middle East, including Israel. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iranian Arabs who are members of the paramilitary Basij force march in a military parade marking the 37th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (AP)

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2231 notes that “activities with Iran for nuclear and non-nuclear civilian end uses” should be sent to a technical UN working group on procurement.

When asked if Germany reported the illicit exports and the unlawful attempts to the UNSC, German diplomats told Fox News: “We have no indication of Iran violating its JCPOA commitments. Quite on the contrary, the recent 2016 Report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution states that there is no evidence of Iran violating the JCPOA.

“Having said that, we remain worried by Iran’s missile program. The aforementioned report, as well as reports from regional intelligence authorities, shows that Germany is highly vigilant in this regard and will continue to do so. However, this issue is outside the scope of the JCPOA and needs to be dealt with separately.”
David Albright and Andrea Stricker, two experts on Iran’s nuclear program at the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, wrote in April that the UN’s

“Procurement Channel is a potentially valuable transparency and verification condition in the JCPOA, aimed at controlling the export of goods to Iran’s authorized nuclear programs and non-nuclear, civil end uses.”

The experts added, “It seeks to deny Iran opportunities, or at least help expose any efforts, to violate the JCPOA and increase the transparency of Iran’s nuclear programs.”
Sigmar Gabriel, the outgoing Social Democrat foreign minister of Germany, has made several trips to Iran since 2015 to boost trade with Tehran. Gabriel is widely considered one of Europe’s most energetic advocates of the Iran deal.

Iran Threatens Trump and Babylon the Great

Iran promises ‘crushing’ response if U.S. designates Guards a terrorist group
Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran promised on Monday to give a “crushing” response if the United States designated its elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.

The pledge came a week before President Donald Trump announces a final decision on how he wants to contain the Islamic Republic.
He is expected on Oct. 15 to “decertify” a landmark 2015 international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, a step that by itself stops short of pulling out of the agreement but gives Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions.

Trump is also expected to designate Iran’s most powerful security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, as he rolls out a broader, more hawkish U.S. strategy on Iran.

“We are hopeful that the United States does not make this strategic mistake,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.
“If they do, Iran’s reaction would be firm, decisive and crushing and the United States should bear all its consequences,” he told a news conference reported by IRNA. Individuals and entities associated with the IRGC are already on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, but the organization as a whole is not.

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday, “If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”

Jafari also said that additional sanctions would end chances for future dialogue with the United States and that the Americans would have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km (1,250 mile) range of IRGC’s missiles.

WARY EUROPE

U.S. sanctions on the IRGC could affect conflicts in Iraq and Syria, where Tehran and Washington both support warring parties that oppose the Islamic State militant group (IS).

France said on Monday it was worried that classifying the IRGC as a terrorist group could exacerbate tensions in the region.

Germany said it was worried Trump would decide Iran is not respecting the nuclear deal, negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, and fears such a step will worsen insecurity in the Middle East.

A U.S. pullout could unravel an accord seen by supporters as vital to preventing a Middle East arms race and tamping down regional tensions, since it limits Iran’s ability to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel in exchange for the lifting of sanctions that damaged its oil-based economy.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s inspectors have repeatedly declared Iran in compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal.

Trump called Iran “a corrupt dictatorship” during his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly and said the nuclear deal was “the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”.

The other five world powers in the deal were Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
The prospect of the United States reneging on the agreement has worried other partners that helped negotiate it.

The Kremlin said that any U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal would have “negative consequences.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who supports the nuclear pact, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes it, agreed in a phone call on Monday that they need to be “clear-eyed” about the threat Iran poses to the Middle East.

“They agreed that … the international community should continue working together to push back against Iran’s destabilizing regional activity,” May’s spokesman said.

“MALIGN ACTIVITIES”

Despite the nuclear deal, Washington still maintains its own more limited sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program and over accusations Tehran supports terrorism.
Iran says it is developing missiles solely for defensive purposes and denies involvement in terrorism.

The Trump administration aims to put more pressure on the IRGC, especially over recent missile tests and what Washington has called its “malign activities” across the Middle East.
The U.S. government imposed sanctions in July on 18 entities and people for supporting the IRGC in developing drones and military equipment. In August, Congress overwhelmingly approved the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” which imposed new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, as well as sanctions on Russia and North Korea.

In an interview aired on Saturday night, Trump accused Iran of “funding North Korea” and “doing things with North Korea that are totally inappropriate”.

Qasemi, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, said the U.S. accusations were “baseless”. He added, “Israel and some specific countries are raising these accusations to create Iranophobia.”

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin with additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov in Moscow, Andrea Shalal and Michelle Martin in Berlin, William James in London, John Irish in Paris; Editing by Mark Heinrich