What Will Happen At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

What If The Earthquake Had Hit Manhattan?

Today’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake was felt throughout the mid-Atlantic, but its epicentre — a small town in Virginia — took the brunt of its wrath. What if it had started in NYC instead? We may find out sooner than you think.

The Risk Is Real

New York isn’t very high on the list of places you think of when you think earthquake. But that’s more a lucky accident of the times we live in than a promise of future calm. In the 400 years that we’ve inhabited that small, skinny island off the coast of New Jersey, the city’s been hit at least three times by moderate-to-major earthquakes. A 1737 quake just outside the city limits shook chimneys to the ground. Another struck in 1783. And in 1884, a 5.5-magnitude event cracked the walls of buildings in Jamaica and was felt as far away as Maine. Historically speaking, we’re overdue.

Scientifically speaking, too. A 2008 report in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (PDF) showed that those three were just the perceptible earthquakes suffered by the region; a total of 383 tremors and shakes have occurred in the 39,000sqkm area around NYC since 1677. New York and its environs sit atop a vast networks of several small, active faults and a handful of lines capable of producing 6 and 7 magnitude events that have lain dormant. For now.

Best Case Scenario

The most likely occurrence — a 5ish magnitude quake in or near Manhattan — would be terrifically bad. Not end-of-the-world bad. Not cataclysmic. But horribly traumatic, according to a 2005 study by the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation. The committee, a group of civil engineers, academics, and government officials, spent four years determining the fallout of a significant NYC quake. Let’s hope we never find out if they were right.

I spoke with Dan O’Brian, a Program Manager for the NYS Office of Emergency Management and one of the co-authors of that report. He said that while it was published in 2005, the findings largely hold true six years later. And that the biggest risk isn’t the city’s the towering skyscrapers; it’s the brownstones:

The [structures]that are of a particular concern are unreinforced masonry. The brownstones, six-story, turn of the century. Those are the buildings that don’t have much ability to withstand lateral forces, and they tend to crumble.

So what kind of damage are we talking about? According to the NYCEM report, an event of equal strength to what hit Virginia today would cost approximately $US45 billion (inflation adjusted) in building damage and lost income, with over 2500 buildings damaged and nearly 200,000 people left homeless. Forty tons of debris would cascade the streets, 25 times the amount caused by 9/11. The casualties: 1200 dead, 200,000 wounded.

“You’ve got so much there, if you were to have an epicentre of even a moderate sized earthquake, if it’s epicentered in the immediate NY area you’re likely to see a good bit of damage,” explains O’Brien. Most of that is due to the general building stock.”

The destruction wouldn’t be evenly distributed. Softer soil leads to stronger vibrations; that geological truth, combined with where most of that unreinforced masonry stock is located, make the Upper East Side and Chinatown most vulnerable to a quake. The city’s skyscrapers will hold (to a point), the bridges will survive as well today as they did in 1884. There would be nearly a thousand fires, but the NYFD would have the resources to handle them–assuming the water lines aren’t cut in the quake.

So yes, bad, right. But not doomsday. Although that’s an option, too.

Worst Case Scenario

Did you know that New York City sits less than 40km away from an active nuclear power plant? And that that same power plant sits just a mile south of an active seismic zone that’s considered capable of causing a 6.0-magnitude earthquake? That’s when things get apocalyptic.

The Indian Point nuclear plant, located just north of Manhattan, has provided power to Westchester County and the city itself for decades without incident. But while its operators have claimed that the structures can survive up to a magnitude 6 quake, seismologist Lynn Sykes told the Gotham Gazette recently that he isn’t so sure:

The plants are designed to withstand an event on the intensity scale of VII, which equals a magnitude of 5 or slightly higher in the region. (Intensity measures the effects on people and structures.) A magnitude 6 quake, in Sykes opinion, would indeed cause damage to the plant.

The two reactors provide 10 per cent of the state’s electricity and 30 per cent of NYC’s, meaning that in addition to the destruction outlined in our best case scenario, massive power outages could be expected. If the quake were strong enough to create fractures in Indian Point’s bedrock, radioactive materials could flow freely into the Hudson River. After the events of Fukushima earlier this year, that’s no longer an unthinkable occurrence.

So where does that leave us? We’re in no better or worse shape today than we were yesterday or last month. And the only part of this equation that might change in the next several years is Indian Point, which has been facing political pressure of late and whose contract may not be renewed. But really, the only thing that’s different now is the awareness that it’s not an if, it’s a when. That we’re just running out the clock. And that’s should have us shaking in our boots.

Tillerson Chastises Pakistani Terrorism (Daniel 8)

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Tillerson says ‚too many terrorist organizations‘ find refuge in PakistanTillerson says ‚too many terrorist organizations‘ find refuge in Pakistan

By ANNIE GOWEN | The Washington Post | Published: October 25, 2017

NEW DELHI — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that „too many terrorist organizations“ find refuge in Pakistan and reiterated his call for the country to do more to address a rising problem of terrorism within its borders that, he said, threatens to destabilize Pakistan itself.

There are too many terrorist organizations that find a safe place in Pakistan from which to conduct their operations and attacks against other countries,“ Tillerson said, speaking in India’s capital on a final stop of a tour through the Middle East and Asia. The terrorist groups‘ growing strength and capability „can lead to a threat to Pakistan’s own stability,“ Tillerson said.

At a news conference at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Tillerson told reporters that during a meeting with Pakistan’s interim prime minister, its army chief and other leaders on Tuesday in Islamabad, he had outlined „certain expectations“ of „mechanisms of cooperation“ that Pakistan must fulfill to address the problem or face U.S. reprisals. Pakistan’s government has long denied the existence of safe havens for terrorist groups.

Pakistan has been mired in political turmoil since its prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was ousted by the country’s Supreme Court in a financial scandal in July. His close ally, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is serving as interim prime minister.

Tillerson’s arrival in India – his first trip to the country as secretary of state – comes at a time when the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is increasingly under strain and the Trump administration seeks a closer relationship with its „natural ally“ India, the world’s most populous democracy and one of its biggest arms buyers.

Tillerson’s warm welcome in India – where he toured a memorial to revered freedom leader Mohandas Gandhi – was a contrast to the chilly reception he had received in Pakistan’s capital the day before. There, one prominent politician said Tillerson was „acting like a viceroy,“ a reference to leaders of the British Raj.

India’s Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, echoed Tillerson’s criticism of Pakistan. Recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan „are proof that safe havens and supporters of terrorism are active,“ she said. „Pakistan needs to act on this.“

Swaraj also said she and Tillerson discussed India’s relationship with North Korea. India maintains an embassy in Pyongyang but has moved to put new limits on trade. Swaraj said she told Tillerson the embassy should remain „so that some channels of communication are kept open“ with friendly countries.

As the Trump administration maps out a long-term strategy in South Asia that includes increasing U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan to 13,500, Washington is urging India to boost its support to the war-torn country. India already has large-scale development projects there and provides $3 billion in assistance.

Earlier this month, in a major policy speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Tillerson spoke of India and the United States as „bookends of stability on either side of the globe“ amid the global terrorist threat, North Korea’s nuclear posturing and Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.

„This is a signal to India that despite Trump’s penchant to jettison or discard Obama policies, there will be a certain amount of continuity in the relationship,“ said C. Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies in New Delhi.

Pakistan is a concern, Bhaskar said. „But the big ticket is China, and what kind of Asia is in the best interests of both India and the U.S. in the long term. He spoke of 100 years.“

Clinton Before Trump’s Own Watergate

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Trump says uranium deal with Russia on par with Watergate

Associated PressWed 3:25 PM, Oct 25, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump is claiming that an Obama era uranium deal with Russia is a scandal on par with Watergate.

And he’s promising that the Republican donor who funded the compiling of a dossier on him will be revealed.

The uranium deal involves the purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company in 2010.

Mr. Trump says that sale, reached while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, was „so underhanded“ and that it’s „Watergate modern age.“

Some investors in the company had relationships with former President Bill Clinton and donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Mr. Trump’s comments follow the revelation that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the creation of a political dossier on Trump.

A Republican donor who opposed Trump reportedly paid for the dossier in the beginning of the campaign, but the research firm behind the dossier has refused to reveal that person’s identity.

Mr. Trump thinks the name „probably be revealed“ eventually.

He posted a quote on Twitter that he attributes to Fox News.

His tweet says: „Clinton campaign & DNC paid for research that led to the anti-Trump Fake News Dossier. The victim here is the President.“ FoxNews“

The president has derided the dossier as „phony stuff,“ bit the FBI has worked to corroborate the document

Islamic State’s fall in Iraq reshapes region

27 Oct 2017 at 03:50 657 viewed
NEWSPAPER SECTION: NEWS | WRITER: MAYSAM BEHRAVESH

Islamic State has been routed in Iraq. On Oct 5, the militant group lost the northern town of Hawija — its last urban stronghold after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul and Tal Afar earlier this year. The brutal battles for these cities have been well documented. Less noticed, however, has been how the near-total defeat of IS is reshaping political and sectarian alliances in the region.

The rise and fall of IS has had a sobering and unifying effect on relationships between Sunnis and Shia. In Iraq, where thousands died in the vicious sectarian war that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein, residents of the mainly-Sunni cities of Mosul and Hawija nonetheless jubilantly welcomed the mostly-Shia Iraqi forces who freed cities from the Sunni extremists of IS. „They helped liberate us,“ one Hawija Sunni leader told TheNew York Times of the fighters. Nor does a Shia backlash against Sunnis seem imminent given Shia recognition of Sunni suffering in the IS-occupied cities.

The IS experience has affected Iranian politics too. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seemed to show a softer attitude toward Sunnis in a rare pronouncement — seen as carrying the weight of a fatwa — publicly prohibiting any discrimination against minorities. Sunnis have fewer rights than Shia in Iran, and Mr Khamenei’s August comment was made in response to an inquiry by Molavi Abdul Hamid, a prominent Sunni cleric from Iran’s impoverished Sunni-dominated Sistan-Baluchistan province on the Pakistan border. In Syria too, IS’s faster-than-expected battlefield defeats suggest that the group does not enjoy much local support among the Sunni tribes and populations it has been ruling for the past couple of years.

The biggest changes can be seen in Iraq, where Shia leaders‘ attempts to develop a post-IS foreign policy are driven in part by fear of Iran’s growing influence and in part by the IS-inflicted suffering in Iraq. Many observers believe the pursuit of sectarian policies at the expense of Iraqi Sunnis — as systematically practised under the former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki — expedited the rise of IS.

The result of the new dynamic is that Iraq’s main Shia leaders are distancing themselves from Iran as they make once-unthinkable overtures to the region’s Sunni Arab bloc. In one of the latest signs of that shift, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi declined Tehran’s official invitation to take part in President Hassan Rouhani’s second-term inauguration ceremony on Aug 5. Such a refusal would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

Similarly, prominent Shia leaders such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr snubbed Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the newly-appointed chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council — a governing body set up to mediate disputes between Parliament and the Council of Guardians over whether planned legislation conforms with Islamic law — during an official visit to Iraq as the envoy of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Underscoring the point, Baghdad slammed a deal made by Hezbollah, Iran’s chief proxy in the region, to evacuate a group of IS fighters from Lebanon to eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border. The Tehran-backed agreement was „unacceptable“ and „an insult to the Iraqi people,“ Prime Minister Abadi said in August.

Iranian influence on Iraq’s domestic politics is shrinking too. Ammar al-Hakim resigned as head of the Tehran-backed Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq — the country’s largest Shia party — a month after a June meeting with Khalid al-Faisal, the governor of Mecca and an informal adviser to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. Hakim promptly went on to form the National Wisdom Movement, a political party to „embrace“ all Iraqis. At the same time, Iran-funded, Shia-dominated militias known as Popular Mobilisation Forces are divided over whether they should be integrated into the regular Iraqi army — a measure that would loosen Iran’s foothold in Iraq’s security apparatus — or whether they should remain independent of the Iraqi government. Groups loyal to Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani have started taking steps to register with the army; those led by Hadi al-Amiri of the Badr Organisation and Qais al-Khazali of Asaib Ahl al-Haq remain in the pro-Iran camp.

Against this backdrop, Iraq is trying to improve its ties with Saudi Arabia. In addition to several recent diplomatic visits between the two countries, including one by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Riyadh, Moqtada al-Sadr — an influential Shia cleric with a large following among Iraq’s urban poor — made rare and well-received visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. After meeting with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr Sadr said he was „very pleased with what we found to be a positive breakthrough in the Saudi-Iraqi relations,“ and that he hoped it was „the beginning of the retreat of sectarian strife in the Arab-Islamic region.“

Mr Sadr’s Aug 13 meeting with Emirati crown prince Zayed al-Nahayan appeared equally successful. „Experience has taught us to always call for what brings Arabs and Muslims together, and to reject the advocates of division,“ Mr Nahyan told Mr Sadr, in a veiled reference to Iran as one of the dividers.

It is clearly in Iraq’s strategic interests to diversify its relationships beyond reflexive sectarian or ideological lines. Improved ties with Riyadh pave the way for Baghdad to receive much-needed financial aid from Saudi Arabia and establish an economic relationship that could help counter the political and military influence established when Iran cultivated Shia proxies to fight US-backed forces in Iraq. The outreach can also signal to Iraq’s Sunni minority that the Baghdad government is not an Iranian stooge.

Iraq’s post-IS foreign policy could have broader regional benefits too. For Riyadh, closer ties with Baghdad can help the Saudi leadership feel less threatened by Iran’s rising influence and the perception that Riyadh’s share of regional power has diminished as a result. That in turn may lead to a thaw in Iranian-Saudi ties and a broader contribution to regional security.

While this balancing act could help mitigate the Shia-Sunni tensions in the Middle East, it would be naïve to assume that deeply-rooted ideological and religious schisms will disappear any time soon.

The recent Kurdish referendum, for example, already seems to have made Baghdad more willing to invoke Iran’s military and economic leverage to dissuade Iraqi Kurds from declaring independence.

Nor will Iraqi Shia quickly forget their anger over actions like Riyadh’s unequivocal support for the Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 — 1988, or Saudi Arabia’s harsh treatment of its Shia minority.

Nonetheless, the fact is that neither Riyadh nor Tehran can achieve sustainable hegemony in the region at the expense of the other.

It’s ironic that it may be the routing of extremist IS that serves as the catalyst to ease the bitter sectarian rifts that have divided them for so long. REUTERS

Maysam Behravesh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science and a researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University, Sweden.

The Importance of Korean and Iranian Collusion

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The Real Importance of North Korean and Iranian Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons

Jonathan Adelman
Professor Jonathan Adelman

All of the extensive talks and negotiations in the last decade and two over North Korea and Iran getting nuclear weapons have missed an important point. The discussions have shown that the Western policy, led by the United States, of negotiation with these two would be (In the case of Iran) or already has been (in the case of North Korea) a serious mistake. It has shown that allowing these countries to have (North Korea) or soon gain nuclear weapons (Iran) poses a major threat to the Middle East and East Asia respectively.

But, a point that is frequently missed, is to ask how the success of the Iranians and North Koreans in moving over decades towards nuclear weapons will now encourage other Third World states to acquire such weapons. We begin by examining those countries that have nuclear weapons already. Most of them (United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, China and India and Israel) are or have been historically First World powers either militarily or politically. Only Pakistan would be neither a major political or military power but is a significant middle ranging power in long term conflict with nuclear India. So too is Israel in conflict with Iran and its Middle East allies.

Their nuclear arsenals have developed over decades. The United States and Russia, emerging from victories in World War II as superpowers, both developed approximately 7,000 nuclear powers in the later 1940s. Significant middle range powers Great Britain, which developed over 200 nuclear weapons in the 1950s, and France obtained 300 nuclear weapons by 1960. Rising Third World countries China (270 nuclear weapons) in 1964 and India (115 nuclear weapons) in 1974 developed nuclear weapons. India’s move led its enemy Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons in 1985. Israel, possibly with foreign help, developed its nuclear arsenal of 80-200 nuclear weapons in the 1960s.

Let’s look at more than a dozen other countries that began to work on nuclear weapons but then took a different path. They fall into four categories.

First, over half of these countries—Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil, Algeria and Argentina—started down the nuclear path and then gave up. All seven (save for Algeria) were essentially pro-Western countries. Their acquiring nuclear weapons would have had local significance but did not threaten the international political order. Also, their decisions caused them to leave behind the nuclear path in the 1960s (Sweden), 1970s (Taiwan, Brazil, South Korea ), 1980s (Argentina, Algeria) and 1990s (South Africa). In South Africa’s case they already had a few nuclear weapons but gave up their pursuit for local political reasons.

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Second, three of these countries had significant nuclear power from the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 —Belarus (81 nuclear weapons), Kazakhstan (1,400 nuclear weapons) and Ukraine (5,000 nuclear weapons).All three in the mid 1990s gave up their nuclear weapons under strong Russia pressure and lesser opposition from other major powers.

Third two nuclear powers—Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007)—had their programs abruptly stopped because of Israel bombing of their nuclear facilities. The Israelis felt the need to do this from some unusual factors. They felt extremely vulnerable from the tiny size of Israel (8,000 square miles), the width from Tel Aviv to Haifa of as little as nine miles and the concentration of most Israelis in only three metro areas (Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem). Also, it worked in stopping the two countries near to Israel from developing nuclear weapons.

Fourth, and finally, Iran is moving close to having nuclear weapons while North Korea already has them. Both are highly authoritarian anti-American countries which the United States has tried to propitiate over a number of years. Thus, they don’t fall into the usual categories and their success will encourage other authoritarian anti-American countries to gain nuclear weapons. They could also be encouraged by a simple fact that this could allow dictatorships to survive despite the great differences between them and the West. They are very aware that the overthrow of Middle East dictators Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and Muammar Qadaffi (Libya) came in countries that lacked the ultimate deterrence of having nuclear weapons.

In short, success by authoritarian Iran and North Korea could also leave to a number of other such countries emulating them by going down the nuclear path to preserve their anti-West status.