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

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

NYCEM.org

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.

The Upcoming Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

iran nuclearSaudi Arabia-US nuclear talks might be about Iran

Rosie Perper

Mar. 7, 2018, 6:45 PM

This satellite image from Space Imaging shows a nuclear reactor facility on January 13, 2002 near Bushehr, Iran
Space Imaging Middle East/Getty Images


The US recently opened talks with Saudi Arabia to potentially allow the Gulf country to enrich and process uranium within its borders, a move that could be driven by the growing threat of Iran.

Last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry led a delegation in London to discuss the conditions of the potential nuclear deal, Associated Press reported.

It’s possible the deal, which could allow US firms to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, may waive a US government prerequisite — called a 123 Agreement— that ensures countries agree to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

The talks come as President Donald Trump focuses on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the country’s role as a threat in the Middle East.

Despite the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal, which significantly reduced the country’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, some officials are concerned that Iran’s facilities could still lead to the creation of nuclear weapons.

As the world focuses on Iran, Saudi’s nuclear ambitions continued to expand, leading experts to draw connections in the timeline of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s heightened nuclear ambitions.

Saudi Arabia sees an opportunity to get on par with its nuclear nemesis Iran

Experts say Saudi Arabia’s renewed push towards nuclear power is linked to Iran’s growing threat in the Middle East.

“It is hard not to draw conclusions regarding Saudi Arabia’s interest in nuclear power given how much it views Iran as a regional threat,” Lydia Khalil, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute, told Business Insider.

Khalil points to Saudi Arabia’s desire for a modified 123 Agreement with the US as evidence of the kingdom’s close eye on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Iran’s ability to enrich uranium for energy has impacted Saudi Arabia’s decision in that they argue that they should be treated no differently than other countries,” Khalil said.

In 2011, a Saudi prince expressed concern over Iran’s nuclear capabilities and said the kingdom could consider its own nuclear weapons if both Iran and Israel eventually had nuclear weapons. That stance was reportedly reiterated by officials in 2012.

Khalil explained that if the Saudi-US deal did not include crucial restrictions on uranium enrichment as typically required with American-brokered deals, the nation certainly has the capacity to pursue nuclear weapons “as any determined country would.”

Additionally, without putting clear restrictions on enrichment towards weapons in place, Saudi Arabia could weaken nonproliferation protocols throughout the region, opening up the possibility for a nuclear arms race.

“Given [Crown Prince] Mohammed Bin Salman’s unpredictable foreign policy and domestic policy decisions of late and his current unilateral hold on power — who knows where this can all lead in the future.”

The New Cold Nuclear War (Daniel 7)

By Michael T. KlareTwitter Yesterday 6:00 am

We all can recall some of those defining moments that mark the beginning or the end of major historical epochs: the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945; Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946, heralding the onset of the Cold War; the tearing down of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, signaling the Cold War’s end; and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, precipitating our never-ending “War on Terror.” To these, we now must add a new inflection point: the escalation of the New Cold War this February.

Three interconnected events have given February this distinctive status. First, the release of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, a blueprint for an expanded nuclear arsenal and a more permissive policy regarding nuclear-weapons use. Second, the decision by Chinese officials to eliminate term limits for the country’s president, paving the way for Xi Jinping to remain in office after his next five-year term ends in 2023. And third, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address on March 1, in which he announced the development of a new family of nuclear weapons intended to foil US antimissile systems and strike the heart of America.

Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review is a game changer because it repudiates the logic that had governed nuclear weapons under President Obama—whose stated goal was to limit their use to retaliation for an enemy’s nuclear assault—and instead envisions their use for a wide range of purposes, including to blunt a Russian advance on NATO forces or to retaliate against a cyber assault on critical US infrastructure. China’s decision on term limits is equally significant because it will enable Xi to proceed with his plans to restore China to its historical role as the dominant power in Asia—a drive that is bound to provoke stiff resistance from Washington, which is reluctant to surrender the United States’ own hegemonic role in the region. Putin’s speech completed the trifecta of pivotal events by signaling Russia’s determination to counter US nuclear advances with equally terrifying measures of its own. Asserting that the United States seeks to incapacitate Russia’s retaliatory capacity by installing advanced antimissile systems, Putin announced plans to deploy nuclear-powered cruise missiles and unmanned submarines designed to overcome any such capabilities.

Taken together, these three events have done much to create an international environment of suspicion, hostility, and bellicosity, not unlike the nightmarish climate of the early Cold War. As was true back then, assertions by one side regarding weapons development by the other are being used to justify yet more new weapons, inevitably sparking reciprocal action in a perpetual arms race. As in that era, moreover, military measures are being accompanied by a slide toward authoritarianism and suppression of dissident views. But this era is different because there are three, rather than two, major powers involved, increasing the space for miscalculation, and because the world contains more potential flash points than ever before, including some involving other nuclear-armed states, such as India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.

To preserve peace in this new era, it will be necessary to revive many of the disarmament initiatives of the original Cold War era, while also reinvigorating them with the organizational and communications advances of more recent years. During that earlier era, peace advocates operated on two levels: mounting massive campaigns to put public pressure on political figures (think, for example, of the nuclear-freeze campaign); and working with the scientific community to devise arms-control measures aimed at reducing the risk of a nuclear Armageddon. Today’s activists must pursue a similar strategy, seeking to mobilize greater public involvement on nuclear issues while simultaneously lobbying for specific measures that might halt the slide to disaster.

Working to reverse—and then, finally, to end—a revived arms race must be the overriding goal of these efforts, with all nuclear states admonished to refrain from pursuing new weapons systems that will invite equally threatening acquisitions by rivals. In the short term, however, the priority must be prevention of war (very possibly involving the use of nukes) with North Korea. Only a few weeks remain before the United States is scheduled to conduct another round of aggressive military exercises in the region, a move that is likely to spark more missile tests by Pyongyang and scuttle South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s peace initiative. War would be the likely outcome—perhaps within a matter of months, or even weeks. The recent breakthrough by South Korean negotiators in winning North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un’s agreement to hold talks with the United States on the North’s denuclearization could help avert war, but only if Washington responds in a conciliatory fashion. Readers can help forestall precipitous action by urging their members of Congress to support the No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act. We can survive this New Cold War, but only through the same sort of activism that helped to end the first one.

Babylon the Great Intent on Destroying Iran

By Brian Cloughley

On February 18 the leader of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared that Iran “is trying to establish this continuous empire surrounding the Middle East from the south in Yemen but also trying to create a land bridge from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. This is a very dangerous development for our region.” Netanyahu’s presentation was dismissed by the Iranian foreign minister as “a cartoonish circus,” but it was nonetheless a reflection of the policy of the United States, which is Israel’s mentor and unconditional ally.

Last November Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested to President Vladimir Putin that Tehran and Moscow should cooperate more fully to try to dissuade the US from further disruptive dabbling throughout the Middle East. His opinion was that “Our cooperation can isolate America. The failure of US-backed terrorists in Syria cannot be denied but Americans continue their plots,” which is certainly the case, because although the so-called “moderate rebels” who were recruited to overthrow President Assad, with massive amounts of assistance from the Pentagon and the CIA, collapsed in ignominious failure, the US fandangos continue. Washington is not going to give up, and the Trump administration seems to relish being isolated by almost everyone.

During his time in the White House, President Obama tried to get US-Iran relations on an even keel, and managed to temporarily overcome the Washington warmongers to some extent and push forward the tension-reducing, trade-improving, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) concerning Iran’s nuclear programme, which the BBC described as “the signature foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency.” It was settled two years ago by China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US in a most welcome example of international solidarity and downright common sense, and removed sanctions on Iran in exchange for Teheran’s agreement to limit its nuclear research and development.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign affairs representative wrote last year that the arrangement was achieving its main purpose of “ensuring the purely peaceful, civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency – the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog – has issued four reports on the matter and has regularly verified that Iran is complying with its nuclear-related obligations. This means that the Iranian nuclear programme has been significantly reformatted and downsized and is now subject to intense monitoring by the IAEA. The joint commission – which I coordinate – oversees constantly the implementation of the agreement, meeting regularly, which allows us to detect even minor possible deviations and to take necessary corrective measures if the need arises.

The deal is also working for Iran. Major companies are investing in the country: the oil sector, the automotive industry, commercial aircraft, just to give a few examples, are areas where significant contracts have been concluded.”

The JCPOA was indeed a marked diplomatic success on the part of Obama as well as being a victory for pragmatic common sense. So naturally the egregious Donald Trump has been trying to destroy it. On February 3 Trump enforced and it’s been downhill all the way since then. The sanctions that had been imposed and then withdrawn had been aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear programme and the EU quite rightly wanted to confine them to nuclear-related agencies — the individuals and organisations directly associated with nuclear matters — but the United States, even in the Obama-guided era, wouldn’t confine itself to the main aspect of the agreement. It introduced sanctions of its own, intended to make it difficult for other nations to trade with Iran, which is consistent with its longtime spiteful attitude to Tehran’s government.

The United States is determined to destroy Iran. For almost forty years, since the overthrow of the corrupt CIA-backed monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Washington has been on the warpath against the mullahs in Tehran. There wasn’t much to choose, comfort-wise between the Shah and his successor, the intensely religious Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but morally there was a chasm.

The Shah was deeply unpopular and in the late 1970s there were mass demonstrations against him and the country dissolved into chaos. He had to go, and the only possible replacement was the Ayatollah who was living in exile in France, having escaped from the persecution of the Shah’s dreaded secret police, the Savak, in the 1960s. Two weeks after the Shah fled from Iran, the Ayatollah returned to Iran on 1 February 1979 in triumph and to a level of acclaim not shared by all its citizens.

During the Shah’s dictatorship Iran was a good place to live for many people. There was no freedom of speech, but there was a lot of freedom to make money, especially in the US. There was sixty per cent illiteracy, but women were allowed to wear what clothes they wished and to move freely in society — except in the countryside, of course, where they were kept in their place as second-class citizens exactly as they are in present-day Muslim states such as US allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

What really vexes the extremists in Washington is the memory of humiliation when the US embassy in Tehran was attacked by mobs of students in November 1979, only ten months after Khomeini took over. There is little doubt that the attackers were students, but there is equally little doubt that they had the Ayatollah’s blessing (as it were) to storm the embassy and take the staff hostage. They demanded the return of the Shah to stand trial in Tehran — a ridiculous condition for cessation of their demented antics — but 52 US citizens were held hostage in Iran from November 1979 to January 1981, which was not just an awkwardness for Washington: it was an ineradicable embarrassment, an international degradation of colossal proportions that could never be forgiven.

It was convenient to forget the hideous savagery of the Shah’s regime when, for example,

“American-trained counterinsurgency troops of the Iranian Army and Savak [the Iranian CIA] killed more than 6,000 people on June 5, 1963.”

The Ayatollah had taken over and was forever to be condemned for his audacity. His successors in the political sphere could never right the wrongs that had been done to the global image of the United States. As put by Martin Ennals, secretary general of Amnesty International,

“The Shah of Iran retains his benevolent image despite the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief.”

In 2002 the appalling President George W Bush, the man who took his country into its disastrous wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, conjured up the phrase the axis of evil, and put the world on notice that America would overcome any country that opposed it. His speech was dramatic and he declared that “North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens” which was true. And still is true, after 15 years in which the US has managed to do exactly nothing to discourage North Korea from arming itself against invasion. Then he said that “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade” and a few months later he invaded Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, which of course didn’t exist.

Then Bush announced that “Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom” which was formal warning to Iran that it was definitely on the target list, because “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”

Since the era of the Bush wars, the world has certainly known no peace. Washington’s Military Industrial Complex has flourished while its soldiers died for nothing but profit.

The present US campaign against Iran is aimed at destroying the country economically and thus encouraging a violent revolution. And many western observers consider there’s a lot to be said for rising up against the ayatollahs, because they’re a bumptious arrogant unforgiving bunch of bigots who repress women and democracy. So why doesn’t the US have the same thoughts about Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, whose unelected princely rulers repress women and do not tolerate democracy? What a horde of humbugs.

Iran is fighting for its life and the Trump administration is following George W Bush in his determination to destroy it. In January Trump tweeted that “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

Washington is intent on destroying Iran, and the contents of that tweet could hardly be better reason for supporting Tehran in its struggle against the growing menace from the Trump-supported military-industrial complex. The world is watching.

*

Brian Cloughley is a British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan.

Featured image is from the author.


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

Antichrist plans for Iraq’s future

img_1517Hipsters, Sadrists, Shi’ites plan for Iraq’s future

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Iraqi cities will take years to recover from ISIS. In Mosul, a member of Iraq’s elite Emergency Response Division was killed by an IED recently. It is one of thousands that Islamic State left behind. ISIS is still active in Hawija, south of Mosul, with almost daily clashes with the security forces and the paramilitary Shi’ite militias that operate alongside them. But in southern Iraq, mostly untouched by years of war against the extremists, things are different.

America, which helped liberate the Shi’ites from Saddam Hussein’s iron grasp, is not popular today. Anastasio says that whereas in northern Iraq among Kurds there is a lot of friendliness to Americans and foreigners, people are more suspicious in the south. “They are against US culture and government for obvious reasons. People are conspiratorial and they believe in various theories that they regurgitate from watching TV. So a lot think there are secret elites running the world or that the US invasion was a CIA and Zionist plot to destabilize the Middle East.”

Because of this they oppose Western influence and outsiders. “They don’t want non-Muslims or non-Shia in the holy cities.”

THE RELATIONSHIP with Iran and its hegemonic pretensions is complex. While many are influenced by Iran’s power, they are also critical of it. “But a lot less critical than of the US or Israel.”

There is little thanks for the US role in 2003. They are still influenced by Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi army militia opposed the Americans after the invasion. “They read a lot of pro-Iran propaganda.”

While they may like Iran as a cultural influencer, some reject Iran’s theocratic form of government and oppose Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he says.

Security in the south has improved in recent years. ISIS has not been able to penetrate this area south of Baghdad. Where once Sunni jihadists targeted Shia mosques and holy sites, there has been quiet.

Surprisingly for the American visitor, there were Christmas trees on display in Muslim areas over the holiday. He says that there is interest among young people in Western holidays such as Valentine’s Day.

“The older people are traditional and conservative and oppose Western culture or values being imposed on them, but there is a new Millennial generation that is more liberal and international. Although he says he never saw a woman not wearing a hijab, or alcohol for sale, he was surprised to find wanna-be hipsters. Trendy cafes are opening. It’s not nearly as trendy or wealthy as the Kurdish cities of Sulaimaniya or Erbil in the north, but he was surprised to see people seeking a new quality of life.

With elections coming up in Iraq and ISIS seemingly defeated, he characterizes the population as partly optimistic. “Many are also pessimistic about the future under current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the corruption among the business class.”

Abadi came to power during the war against ISIS and he is seen by the US and the West as a kind of hope for Iraq. However, opposition parties in the Kurdish region and Shi’ite leader such as Sadr plan to oppose his rule in the election. The small Communist Party is also seeking out allies against the administration.

“Corruption and politicians stealing money and getting favors from business class is discussed a lot, and people oppose the Islamist parties in government. Most people would like to see him [Abadi] out of power and lose the election, but they expect him to win. I’m not sure who they think should replace him.”

SINCE THE independence referendum in the Kurdish region in September 2017 there has been a lot of populist anger against the Kurdish autonomous region in the north. Whereas the Shi’ites and Kurds cooperated against Saddam, now that the Shi’ite parties are in power they see he Kurds as competitors. During clashes in Kirkuk province last October, Shia militias burned Kurdish shops in the city of Tuz Khurmatu. The burned Kurdish shops were still visible two months ago, he says.

“A lot of the anti-Kurdish sentiment stems from jealousy,” says the American. “You also hear conspiracy theories regarding the Kurds from the Arabs. They say Kurds are not from the Middle East or they are European interlopers or Gypsies,” he says. They also resent that the Kurds are pro-American and that their region prospered after 2003 while the rest of Iraq was damaged by insurgency.

The Kurdish region is relatively liberal as well, and people feel it has progressed socially compared to the south. “They have nicer highways and buildings and the Kurdish region is cleaner and has better government, that’s the perception.”

He says the presence of trash in the south is particularly egregious. “I rarely saw a street cleaner in my time in Karbala.” The hospitals were also lacking staff. “You call the local version of 911 and no one is there. Here are no ambulances.”

According to the visitor, who spent months in the south of Iraq, the presence of armed Shi’ite militias is ubiquitous. The Popular Mobilization Units were called up in 2014 by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to defend Baghdad from ISIS. Now the militia genie can’t be put back in the bottle and they have been incorporated into the official Interior Ministry forces with federal pay. “You see armed men all over the place. There are checkpoints on all roads leading into the cities. Some are controlled by the Iraqi police or army and others by the Popular Mobilization Units. “The central government isn’t strong enough to control the entire land area so they outsource the security to the militias.”

And the militias have political hopes as well. They are connected to influential individuals and groups such as the Badr Organization that are both political and military, like Hezbollah in Lebanon. Anastasio says that locals support these armed men and see them and Iran as a protector against “Western imperialism and Zionist incursions.” They won’t be going away any time soon.