Antichrist calls for evacuation of US troops

US Marines seen during a training excercise with the Royal Army of Oman (not seen) at Senoor Beach, Oman, on February 15, 2017 [Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr. / US Marine Corps]

Iraq parliament calls for evacuation of US troops

December 29, 2018 at 10:53 am

Iraqi MPs have condemned the surprise visit of US President Donald Trump to American troops stationed in the country, calling for them to leave.

MPs from the two largest parliamentarian blocs condemned Trump’s visit, which was not arranged with the Iraqi government, considering it a “violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”. They also set a date to discuss the evacuation of US troops from Iraq, Arab48 reported yesterday.

Saleh Al-Saadi, head of one of these blocs, said that “Trump has to know his limits. The American occupation of Iraq has ended,” adding: “Trump infiltrated Iraq as if it is one of the American states.”

During his visit on Wednesday, Trump spent three hours inside a US military base without speaking to any Iraqi officials, talking only with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi on the phone. Trump stressed that he did not have any plans to withdraw the 5,200 US troops stationed in the country.

This topic has been hotly debated since May, when supporters of Shia leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won the largest number of seats in the Iraqi parliament. Al-Sadr has called for the withdrawal of US troops from the country, as well as for limiting Iran’s role in Iraq’s internal affairs. Other Iraqi politicians also began calling for the evacuation of US troops after the defeat of Daesh.

American forces invaded Iraq in 2003, toppling its President Saddam Hussein and since supporting the Shia sect in the country. Though US forces left in 2011, they returned in 2014 at the request of the country’s then pro-US government in order to fight Daesh.

Antichrist Lashes Out at Iraqi Government over Trump Visit

President Donald Trump speaks at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq…

Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa

Sadr Lashes Out at Iraqi Government over Trump Visit

Saturday, 29 December, 2018 – 07:45 –

Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr launched a scathing attack on the Iraqi government Friday after US President Donald Trump kept his visit to al-Asad Air Base in Anbar province secret.

In a statement, the cleric regretted that the Iraqi government and its politicians have yielded to such practices.

Sadr’s statement was a clear sign of differences between Iraqi blocs and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Several members of the Fatah bloc described the Prime Minister’s position as “courageous” for refusing to meet Trump at al-Asad Base and insisting that the two men should sit together in Baghdad.

However, Sadr described the behavior of the Iraqi government and politicians as “subservience” to US policies.

An informed Iraqi politician said Trump’s visit to Iraq does not express a unified national position.

“Some politicians are trying to settle scores with the US, others just decided to ride the wave, while the rest try to please foreign parties by taking hostile positions from Washington,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The political source said “Sunnis believe they still need the US, although some of them have joined blocs with close ties to Iran.”

While Iraqi Shiite parties had a unified position regarding Trump’s visit to Iraq, Kurdish and Sunni forces kept silence.

Trump and First Lady Melania surprised troops at al-Asad base for his first trip to a war zone as president. However, he did not visit Baghdad and did not meet with any Iraqi official.

Following Trump’s visit, some politicians from Iraq’s Parliament called for a vote to expel US troops and promised to schedule an extraordinary session to debate the matter.

Political science professor at Baghdad University Khaled Abdelilah told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sunnis and Kurds have no tense relations with the US.

“There are old demands that call on Parliament to decide on the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country. This proves that Iraqi politics is still fragile, and that the country lacks a unified foreign policy,” Abdelilah said.

A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

By Bob Hennelly

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Islamic Ideology More Important Than Nuclear Security

Safeguarding country’s ideology more important than security of nuclear bomb: Siraj

December 28, 2018

Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Pakistan, Senator Sirajul Haq has said that safeguarding the ideology of country is more important for national security than the security of the nuclear bomb. Addressing various delegations which called on him at Mansoora on Thursday, Sirajul Haq said that if the rulers had not betrayed the Pakistan ideology, the debacle of East Pakistan would not have taken place.

He said that the US and NATO forces had been defeated in Afghanistan not by arms and ammunition but by the power of faith of the Afghans. The JI chief said that abolition of corruption and abuse of power would remain a dream without a ruthless system of accountability. He said that the silence of the NAB and the Supreme Court in regard to the 436 other persons named in the Panama leaks was surprising.

Sirajul Haq said that after the Quaid-e-Azam and Liaqat Ali Khan, Pakistan did not get an ideological leadership and a small group continued to rule the country for the last 71 years and sucked the blood of the people. The ruling elite had enslaved the coming generations of the nation with the IMF and the World Bank, he added. He said that had the government, the courts and the NAB been doing their duty, Pakistan would not have been under the debt of 96 billion dollars today. He said that corruption could be wiped out only by deciding the cases in the light of the Islamic teachings.

The JI chief said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government could fulfill its promise of building Pakistan a Madina like state, only by adopting the Islamic economic system which was free from interest.—INP

More Violence Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israeli security forces fire tear gas at rioters near the Gaza border with Israel in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip

It’s Friday: More Hamas Violence at Gaza Border with Israel

Hana Levi Julian

21 Tevet 5779 – December 28, 2018

Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90

Another Friday, Another Round of Violence at Gaza Border

Thousands of Gazans led by Hamas terrorists again attacked Israel’s security fence and military forces Friday as they defended the border on Friday.

During the clashes at least one rioter was killed and five more were injured, according to Arab media and the Gaza Health Ministry.

Also on Friday an incendiary balloon was found in the Sdot Negev Regional Council district near a kindergarten. It was the first such incident to occur in weeks.

A police sapper was summoned to the site to defuse the homemade bomb that was attached to the balloon.

Furious Antichrist demands US troop withdrawal

Furious Iraqi lawmakers demand US troop withdrawal

PHILIP ISSA Dec 27, 2018 Updated 19 min ago

BAGHDAD (AP) — President Donald Trump’s surprise trip to Iraq may have quieted criticism at home that he had yet to visit troops in a combat zone, but it has infuriated Iraqi politicians who on Thursday demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Arrogant” and “a violation of national sovereignty” were but a few examples of the disapproval emanating from Baghdad following Trump’s meeting Wednesday with U.S. servicemen and women at the al-Asad Airbase.

Trips by U.S. presidents to conflict zones are typically shrouded in secrecy and subject to strict security measures, and Trump’s was no exception. Few in Iraq or elsewhere knew the U.S. president was in the country until minutes before he left.

But this trip came as curbing foreign influence in Iraqi affairs has become a hot-button political issue in Baghdad, and Trump’s perceived presidential faux-pas was failing to meet with the prime minister in a break with diplomatic custom for any visiting head of state.

On the ground for only about three hours, the American president told the men and women with the U.S. military that Islamic State forces have been vanquished, and he defended his decision against all advice to withdraw U.S. troops from neighboring Syria, He said the U.S. was once again respected as a nation, and declared: “We’re no longer the suckers, folks.”

The abruptness of his visit left lawmakers in Baghdad smarting and drawing unfavorable comparisons to the occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

“Trump needs to know his limits. The American occupation of Iraq is over,” said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of one of two main blocs in Iraq’s parliament.

Trump, he said, had slipped into Iraq, “as though Iraq is a state of the United States.”

While Trump didn’t meet with any officials, he spoke with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi by phone. A planned meeting between the two leaders was canceled over a “difference in points of view” over arrangements, according to the prime minister’s office.

The visit could have unintended consequences for American policy, with officials from both sides of Iraq’s political divide calling for a vote in Parliament to expel U.S. forces from the country.

The president, who kept to the U.S. air base approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad, said he had no plans to withdraw the 5,200 troops in the country. He said Ain al-Asad could be used for U.S. air strikes inside Syria.

The suggestion ran counter to the current sentiment of Iraqi politics, which favors claiming sovereignty over foreign and domestic policy and staying above the fray in regional conflicts.

“Iraq should not be a platform for the Americans to settle their accounts with either the Russians or the Iranians in the region,” said Hakim al-Zamili, a senior lawmaker in al-Saidi’s Islah bloc in Parliament.

U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State group. American forces withdrew in 2011 after invading in 2003 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the Iraqi government to help fight the jihadist group. Trump’s visit was the first by a U.S. president since Barack Obama met with then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at a U.S. base outside Baghdad in 2009.

After defeating IS militants in their last urban bastions last year, Iraqi politicians and militia leaders are speaking out against the continued presence of U.S. forces on Iraqi soil.

Supporters of the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won big in national elections in May, campaigning on a platform to curb U.S. and rival Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs. Al-Sadr’s lawmakers now form the core of the Islah bloc, which is headed by al-Saidi in Parliament.

The rival Binaa bloc, commanded by politicians and militia leaders close to Iran, also does not favor the U.S.

Qais Khazali, the head of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia that fought key battles against IS in northern Iraq, promised on Twitter that Parliament would vote to expel U.S. forces from Iraq, or the militias would force them out by “other means.”

Khazali was jailed by British and U.S. forces from 2007 to 2010 for managing sections of the Shia insurgency against the occupation during those years.

Trump’s visit would be a “great moral boost to the political parties, armed factions, and others who oppose the American presence in Iraq,” Iraqi political analyst Ziad al-Arar said.

Still, the U.S. and Iraq developed considerable military and intelligence ties in the war against IS, and they continue to pay off in operations against militants gone into hiding.

Earlier in the month, Iraqi forces called in an airstrike by U.S.-coalition forces to destroy a tunnel used by IS militants in the Atshanah mountains in north Iraq. Four militants were killed, according to the coalition.

A hasty departure of U.S. forces would jeopardize such arrangements, said Iraqi analyst Hamza Mustafa.

Relations between the U.S. and Iraq also extend beyond military ties. U.S. companies have considerable interests in Iraq’s petrochemical industry, and American diplomats are often brokers between Iraq’s fractious political elite.

Iraq’s Sunni politicians have been largely quiet about the presidential visit, reflecting the ties they have cultivated with the U.S. to counterbalance the might of the country’s Iran-backed and predominantly-Shiite militias.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Abdul-Mahdi accepted Trump’s invitation to the White House during their call, though the prime minister’s office has so far refused to confirm that.

___

Associated Press reporters Ahmed Sami and Ali Jabar contributed.

Antichrist Upset Trump Didn’t Tell Them He Was Coming For ‘Security Reasons’

Muqtada Al-Sadr Of Sadr City Is Upset Trump Didn’t Tell Them He Was Coming For ‘Security Reasons’

12:12 PM 12/28/2018 | World

Iraqi politicians including a Shia Muslim cleric whose followers have fought against the U.S. Army criticized President Donald Trump for keeping his Tuesday visit to Iraq a secret for security reasons.

Trump’s Christmas Day visit to the Assad Air Base demonstrated “U.S. disregard for other nations’ sovereignty,” a spokesman for cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s said, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trump and first lady Melania Trump surprised troops at the base for his first trip to a war zone as president.

Several Iraqi politicians pushed for Iraq to expel U.S. forces because of the president, even though the U.S. has been fighting against the Islamic State alongside many Iraqi fighters.

“Iraq’s response will be with a parliamentary decision to expel [Trump’s] military forces,” Iraqi politician Qais Khazali, an Iran-backed militia leader, tweeted Wednesday, according to the LA Times.

Al-Sadr became an indelible part of the American consciousness after he compared Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to a “little serpent” and the U.S. to a “great serpent” during a 2003 “60 Minutes” interview.

Al-Sadr has no elected position, but he is the leader of the party with the most members in the Iraqi parliament. Cutting off U.S. influence in Iraq was a major platform for his party, according to the LA Times.

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr (left) speaks to the press after a meeting with Salim al-Jabouri (second from right), the Parliament’s speaker, alongside other parliament Sunni members on April 5, 2015 in the holy city of Najaf. (HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Al-Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, had numerous clashes with U.S. and coalition forces in Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad named after one of Al-Sadr’s relatives. One of those clashes was an April 2004 ambush that left seven U.S. troops dead, reported CNN.

Trump did not meet with any Iraqi officials while he was in the country Wednesday, but he did hold a phone call with Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to discuss “developments after the U.S. president’s decision to withdraw from Syria,” according to the LA Times.

Approximately 5,000 U.S. troops have been stationed in Iraq since 2014 to fight ISIS, according to the LA Times.

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Iran Horn Demands U.S. Leave Middle East

Iran Says U.S. Must Leave Middle East, ‘This Region Belongs to Us’

By Tom O’Connor On 12/27/18 at 10:32 AM

A leading Iranian general has called on President Donald Trump to withdraw his forces from the entire Middle East, arguing that the United States has wasted resources there as rival nations such as Russia and China rose.

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior adviser to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told a ceremony for the premiere of a new computer game at the Art University of Tabriz in northwestern Iran that the “U.S. is facing a big economic challenge” made worse by the ongoing war on terror launched with the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. Citing strategists, Safavi said that “the U.S. focused on Iraq and Afghanistan and wasted its costs, whereas the main rivals of the U.S. were China and Russia, which the U.S. ignored,” according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

“In the east of the world, China, India, Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran will be the new powers of the new century,” he added, as cited by the semiofficial Tasnim News Agency. “A dramatic shift of the global center of power is taking place now from the West to the East.”

Echoing prior calls by Khamenei for the U.S. to withdraw from the Middle East and abandon its attempts to curb Iran’s own influence in the region, Safavi said that “the U.S. must leave West Asia, this region belongs to us.”

Syrians wave their national flag, along with those of Iran and Russia, as they ride in a vehicle carrying the flag of the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Amal Movement, as citizens gather to condemn the strikes carried out by the U.S., Britain and France against the Syrian government, in Damascus, Syria, on April 14. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The U.S. and Iran have feuded since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted a West-backed monarchy reinstalled by the CIA in 1953, and a subsequent hostage crisis at Washington’s embassy in Tehran. A brief diplomatic detente surrounded a 2015 nuclear agreement signed by the two nations, alongside China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, but Trump quit the deal in May over Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and its support for revolutionary Shiite Muslim groups across the Middle East.

Safavi said Thursday that the country was investing in “information technology” as well as “digital art,” and that Iran’s “influence today has reached the Mediterranean,” where the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group and other Iran-backed forces have grown powerful, especially as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and other Sunni Muslim groups were defeated in Syria. Earlier this year, Hezbollah released a video game titled “Holy Defense” allowing players to join the group in its fight against ISIS in Syria.

Iran has also backed such groups battling ISIS in Iraq, where Trump made his first visit Wednesday. The U.S. first invaded Iraq in 2003 and has been involved in neighboring Syria since sponsoring insurgents after a 2011 rebel and jihadi uprising against the government. The U.S. formed an international coalition to fight ISIS after the jihadis took half of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Though both the U.S. and Iran were opposed to ISIS, the two countries have accused one another of destabilizing the region.

Trump’s visit to the Al Asad Air Base came a week after he announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, where they were allied with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, but the president said during his trip that he had “no plans at all” to pull troops out of Iraq. The Syrian government, an ally of Russia and Iran, has viewed the U.S. as an occupying power, but the Iraqi government, which also received extensive Iranian assistance, has grown split over U.S. presence there.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet members of the U.S. military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base, in Iraq, December 26. The visit came one week after Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Although the Pentagon’s mission in Syria was officially limited to defeating ISIS, which has been largely eradicated, Trump’s decision to exit the country has been met with controversy by a number of U.S. officials who sought to extend the U.S. military goals there to include ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and expelling forces said to be under Iranian command. Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned a day after Trump made the announcement, saying he had “the right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned” with his.

Safavi said Thursday that the many resignations of high-ranking officials in the Trump administration were a sign of weakness.

Asked Friday by NPR what he would say to officials in China, Russia, North Korea and Iran who felt that recent political turmoil in the White House and Washington suggested that they should outwait the Trump administration, as it was in a vulnerable position, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—who himself was appointed after his predecessor was ousted by Trump in March—responded: “I don’t talk about politics. I’m hoping I get to be the Secretary of State for six more years.”

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

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness

By By BEN NUCKOLS

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

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!”

___

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.

Antichrist denounces Trump visit

Iraqi leaders denounce Trump visit to US troops

Political and militia leaders condemn President Trump’s unannounced visit to US troops as a blow to Iraq’s sovereignty.

26 Dec 2018

The airbase visit by President Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, lasted for about three hours [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Iraqi political and militia leaders have condemned US President Donald Trump‘s unannounced trip to Iraq as a violation of their country’s sovereignty.

In a surprise visit to US troops, Trump on Wednesday landed at an airbase west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where he thanked the soldiers for their service.

Sabah al-Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of the Iraqi parliament “to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The US occupation of Iraq is over”.

Islah is headed by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has long opposed the US presence in Iraq since a Washington-led invasion toppled the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003 over weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda that both proved non-existent.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died in the conflict, which many analysts call one of the major US foreign policy debacles in recent history and one of the most destructive invasions in modern history.

The Bina bloc, Islah’s rival in parliament and led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, also objected to Trump’s trip to Iraq.

“Trump’s visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,” said a statement from Bina.

Trump did not meet any Iraqi officials during his three-hour-long stay. A scheduled meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was scrapped and the two leaders talked instead by telephone.

Mahdi’s office said in a statement that US authorities had informed Iraq’s leadership of the president’s visit in advance. The statement said the Iraqi prime minister and the US president held a telephonic conversation due to a “disagreement over how to conduct the meeting”.

Iraqi legislators told Reuters news agency that the two leaders had disagreed over where their planned meeting should take place: Trump had asked to meet at the Ain al-Asad military base, an offer Mahdi declined.

Syria withdrawal

Trump’s visit to Iraq came a week after his decision to withdraw all US troops from neighbouring Syria despite strong objections from domestic and foreign allies. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis and the US envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group quit shortly after Trump’s announcement.

At the Ain al-Asad Airbase, Trump defended his decision to pull US soldiers out of Syria while insisting he has no similar plans for Iraq.

Falih Khazali, a former militia leader turned politician allied with Bina, accused the US of wanting to increase its presence in Iraq.

“The American leadership was defeated in Iraq and wants to return again under any pretext, and this is what we will never allow,” he said.

Bina said Trump’s visit “places many question marks on the nature of the US military presence and its real objectives, and what these objectives could pose to the security of Iraq”.

Douglas Ollivant, a senior fellow at the New America think-tank and former US national security council director for Iraq, said the US troops were in Iraq “at the invitation of the Iraqi government”.

“Like all coalition governments, there are factions that say all kinds of things,” he told Al Jazeera. “But the fact is that the executive – the last prime minister [Haider al-Abadi] and the new one hasn’t done anything to change that – has invited the US troops to be there. So, the legitimate authorities in Iraq have invited US troops.”

‘US only given us destruction and devastation’

While there has been no full-scale violence in Iraq since ISIL suffered a series of defeats last year, some 5,200 US troops train and advise Iraqi forces still waging a campaign against the group.

Iraq’s Shia militias, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), many of which are supported by Iran, oppose the presence of US troops in the region. The PMF was made formally part of the security forces this year after helping the military defeat the ISIL in Iraq in 2017.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the powerful Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, said on Twitter: “Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces. And if they do not leave, we have the experience and the ability to remove them by other means that your forces are familiar with.”

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said there is a sense of “confusion” in Iraq in regards to the US’s policy in the region.

“They are very concerned in Iraq about the 2,000 troops pulled out of Syria,” he said. “Baghdad is much more safe than it has been for a very long time and the Iraqis are very confident that they can deal with ISIL within their own borders – but what really concerns them is Syria and that’s where they are less confident.”

In Baghdad’s streets, meanwhile, Iraqis denounced the US presence in the country.

“We won’t get anything from America,” resident Mohammad Abdullah told Reuters.

“They’ve been in Iraq for 16 years, and they haven’t given anything to the country except destruction and devastation.”

Last month, a study said that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed due to the so-called “war on terror” launched by the US in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The report by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs stated that between 182,272 and 204,575 civilians have been killed in Iraq.