Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States

If today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?

At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence.

Why do we know so little about such vital public issues? Because the public has been lulled into believing that seriously damaging quakes are so unlikely in the east that in essence we do not need to consider them. We shall examine the validity of this widely held opinion.

Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low Seismicity, Seismic Hazard, or Seismic Risk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.

Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?

To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates.

From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks.

There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches.

This paper tries to bring into focus some of the seismological factors which are but one set of variables one needs for quantifying the earthquake loss potential in eastern U.S. urban regions. We use local and global analogs for illustrating possible scenario events in terms of risk. We also highlight some of the few local steps that have been undertaken towards mitigating against the eastern earthquake threat; and discuss priorities for future actions.

Israel and the Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

Israel Must Prepare for the Severe Dilemmas Presented by Nuclear Iran

Chuck Freilich11.10.2017 | 01:17

Processes and decisions take many years to play out. Israel should already be conducting its thinking and planning today rather than leaving it for the last minute

Iranian President Hassan Rohani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the port city of Bushehr, January 13, 2015. AP

Israel and the international community, under U.S. leadership, have gone to great lengths in recent decades in the attempt to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold, so far successfully. But little attention has been paid in Israel to the danger of this happening. We must also consider the nightmare scenario in which, in response to Iran’s crossing the threshold, additional states in the region, such as Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, also decide to go nuclear.

For the sake of argument, let us assume a situation in which all preventive efforts have failed and Iran is about to cross the nuclear threshold. In this case, Israel would have a number of options.

The first is a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. This would only be feasible before the threshold is actually crossed, since at that point Iran would gain immunity from attack, much as in the case of North Korea today.

But the danger to Israel of a nuclear Iran is so great — if not, in all likelihood, existential — that Israel would have no choice but to attack in the event Iran approaches the threshold.

At the same time, military action cannot solve the problem. It can only postpone it for a few years, at the most, and at the price of great damage wreaked by Iran on Hezbollah on Israel’s home front. The additional time gained by military action could be utilized to apply a variety of measures against Iran again, including heavy sanctions, but the moment of reckoning, when it threatens to cross the threshold, may return.

Should additional states go nuclear, Israel will probably not be able to implement the so-called Begin Doctrine and take military action, as it did against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and, according to foreign sources, the Syrian reactor in 2007. Israel is at peace with Egypt and Turkey and both, much like Saudi Arabia, are US allies and enjoy American security assurances. Turkey, moreover, is a member of the NATO alliance. A military strike against nuclear sites in these countries would be almost unthinkable.

A second option would be to end the policy of ambiguity regarding Israel’s purported nuclear capabilities and adopt an explicit nuclear posture, designed to further strengthen Israeli deterrence.

An end to ambiguity?

Assuming, however, that Iran is a rational actor, Israeli deterrence should be effective even under the existing policy of ambiguity. Whether international assessments of Israel’s nuclear capabilities are accurate or not, Iran and other nuclear states will in the future have to assume this to be the case and exercise appropriate prudence.

The incremental addition to Israel’s deterrence that an end to ambiguity might arguably create does not appear to warrant the damage to its relations with the United States, the international community and its neighbors.
A third option would be to seek an American security guarantee, possibly in the form of a defense treaty, although there are also less binding possibilities.

As long as we are talking solely about Iran, Israel’s own deterrence should suffice. Moreover, even in the absence of a formal defense treaty, the Iranians have to assume that there is a de facto U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and that it thus enjoys extended American deterrence.

In a multipolar nuclear Middle East, however, the calculus would be different. In a situation in which some of the regional actors do not have diplomatic relations, or even channels of communication, and some deny the right of others to exist, the dangers of a conflagration are so extreme that a stable nuclear balance may not prove feasible.

Even an American security guarantee would not be sufficient to prevent a deterioration in these conditions, but it might certainly be a moderating and stabilizing factor from Israel’s perspective, especially if broadened to additional states and to a broader regional security regime.

There is a further option in this multipolar nuclear scenario, one that admittedly appears to be totally fanciful at this time, in the form of a regional arms control agreement, ultimately leading to disarmament.

A question of trust

The primary danger in this option, for Israel, is that its adversaries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya, have repeatedly violated binding international arms control agreements they had signed and that it cannot trust them to behave differently in the future, at least until they become stable democracies, an unlikely eventuality in the coming decades.

In a multipolar nuclear Middle East, however, a situation which will only materialize, if at all, a few decades hence, the other options may not be better and the impossible may become realistic.
A nuclear Iran will present Israel with severe dilemmas, but they are still a way off and decisions are not yet necessary, at least in regard to all of them. Nevertheless, processes and decisions in the nuclear realm take many years to play out and Israel should already be conducting its thinking and planning today, quietly and without undue pressure, rather than leaving it for the last minute.

It will take years to reach agreement with the United States on a defense treaty, if at all, to devise a means of ending nuclear ambiguity that does not entail severe costs, or to formulate arms control arrangements that serve Israel’s interests.

At the present time, efforts should be focused on ensuring the future of the nuclear deal with Iran, which remains the best way to prevent it from going nuclear.

The next stage would be to try and redress the agreement’s flaws, first and foremost, its expected expiration at the end of its 10-to-15-year lifetime.

The United States and its allies are already trying to reach agreement on a follow-on agreement with Iran, designed to ensure that it cannot go nuclear even after the current deal expires.
A follow-on agreement such as this would be greatly preferable to the abortive efforts to reopen or terminate the existing one.

Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security advisor, is a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center and the author of the forthcoming “Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change” (Oxford, March 2018)

Antichrist’s Men Ready to Protest (Revelation 13)

Iraqi Sadr Movement threatens to storm parliament if electoral commission term extended

Middle East Monitor

Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr [File photo]
October 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

The Central Revolution Committee of the Sadrist movement on Monday threatened to storm the Iraqi parliament building if the electoral commission term is extended.I

“The committee postponed earlier the protests to give the parliament an opportunity to choose a new election commission” committee member, Ikhlas al-Obeidi, said at a press conference in Baghdad.

“But, apparently, this did not work” she added.
“We reject any extension of the current Election Commission term for any reason, and if the commission’s term is extended, the people will withdraw their mandate from the parliament members”.

Shia opposition leader, Moqtada al-Sadr accuses the election commission of being controlled by the ruling parties and holds it responsible for major violations in the 2014 parliamentary elections.

The Iraqi parliament has not been able to choose a new election commission, due to political differences over nominating candidates.
Local and parliamentary elections are due to take place in Iraq in April, 2018.

Meanwhile, the commission says it needs six months as a time-frame to prepare for and hold the elections in the country.

Pakistan Prepares for Nuclear War (Daniel 8:8)

WION Exclusive: Pakistan building underground tunnels for nuclear weapons located 750 km from Delhi

DNA Web Team | Updated: Oct 10, 2017, 09:42 PM IST, DNA 

Pakistan is reported to have built up a stock of 140 nuclear weapons and is now building underground tunnels to store them, according to a report by WION.

The upcoming site is reportedly coming up in Mianwali that is located 350 km from Amritsar and 750 km from India’s capital New Delhi, the report added.

The report adds that the facility comprises three interconnected tunnels, each 10 metres in height and 10 metres in width.

The tunnels are linked by wide roads, broad at the corners to facilitate the movement of transporter erector launchers from where missiles are filed. All the tunnels have separate entry and exit gates. Available intelligence suggests that each tunnel can store anything between 12 and 24 nuclear weapons.

The entire area is heavily fenced, with barricades built to prevent any harm to the facility.

Pakistan is now digging underground #nuke tunnels. And they are hardly 750 kms from #NewDelhi. #WION brings you this exclusive report
— WION (@WIONews) October 10, 2017