NYC earthquake risk: the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

NYC earthquake risk: Could Staten Island be heavily impacted?

Updated May 16, 4:31 AM; Posted May 16, 4:00 AM

Rubble litters Main Street after an earthquake struck Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey outlines the differences between the effect of an earthquake in the West vs. one in the East. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – While scientists say it’s impossible to predict when or if an earthquake will occur in New York City, they say that smaller structures — like Staten Island’s bounty of single-family homes — will suffer more than skyscrapers if it does happen.

„Earthquakes in the East tend to cause higher-frequency shaking — faster back-and-forth motion — compared to similar events in the West,“ according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), published on its website recently „Shorter structures are more susceptible to damage during fast shaking, whereas taller structures are more susceptible during slow shaking.“

DIFFERENCES IN INTENSITY

The report, „East vs West Coast Earthquakes,“ explains how USGS scientists are researching factors that influence regional differences in the intensity and effects of earthquakes, and notes that earthquakes in the East are often felt at more than twice the distance of earthquakes in the West.

Predicting when they will occur is more difficult, said Thomas Pratt, a research geophysicist and the central and Eastern U.S. coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Reston, Va.

„One of the problems in the East Coast is that we don’t have a history to study,“ he said. „In order to get an idea, we have to have had several cycles of these things. The way we know about them in California is we dig around in the mud and we see evidence of past earthquakes.“

Yet Pratt wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a high-magnitude event taking place in New York, which sits in the middle the North American Tectonic Plate, considered by experts to be quite stable.

„We never know,“ he said. „One could come tomorrow. On the other hand, it could be another 300 years. We don’t understand why earthquakes happen (here) at all.“

Though the city’s last observable earthquake occurred on Oct. 27, 2001, and caused no real damage, New York has been hit by two Magnitude 5 earthquakes in its history – in 1738 and in 1884 — prompting many to say it is „due“ for another.

While earthquakes generally have to be Magnitude 6 or higher to be considered „large,“ by experts, „a Magnitude 5, directly under New York City, would shake it quite strongly,“ Pratt said.

The reason has to do with the rock beneath our feet, the USGS report says.

OLDER ROCKS

In the East, we have older rocks, some of which formed „hundreds of millions of years before those in the West,“ the report says. Since the faults in the rocks have had so much time to heal, the seismic waves travel more efficiently through them when an earthquake occurs.

„Rocks in the East are like a granite countertop and rocks in the West are much softer,“ Pratt said. „Take a granite countertop and hit it and it’ll transmit energy well. In the West, it’s like a sponge. The energy gets absorbed.“

If a large, Magnitude 7 earthquake does occur, smaller structures, and older structures in Manhattan would be most vulnerable, Pratt said. „In the 1920s, ’30s and late 1800s, they were not built with earthquake resistance,“ he said, noting that newer skyscrapers were built to survive hurricanes, so would be more resistant.

When discussing earthquake prediction and probability, Pratt uses the analogy of a baseball player who averages a home run every 10 times at bat and hasn’t hit one in the past nine games: „When he’s up at bat, will he hit a home run? You just don’t know.“

And though it would probably take a magnitude of 7 to topple buildings in the city, smaller earthquakes are still quite dangerous, he said.

„Bookshelves could fall down and hit you,“ he said. „People could be killed.“ A lot of stone work and heavy objects fell from buildings when a quake of 5.8 magnitude struck central Virginia in 2011, he noted, but, fortunately, no one was injured.

To be safe, Pratt encourages New Yorkers to keep a few days‘ worth of drinking water and other supplies on hand. He, himself, avoids putting heavy things up high.

„It always gets me nervous when I go into a restaurant that has heavy objects high on shelves,“ he said. „It’s unlikely you’ll get an earthquake. But, we just don’t know.“

Pakistan Extends Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan expanding its nuclear capacity: Ministry of Defence

Despite a crippling economy and major internal security issues, Pakistan has been expanding and enhancing its nuclear capabilities, Indian security agencies have said.

The Ministry of Defence in its annual report said, “Pakistan continues to relentlessly expand its military forces, especially nuclear and missile capabilities despite a financial crisis.”

The report further pointed out that Pakistan has been torn by ethnic-regional conflicts, with the zone of conflict expanding from tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to the hinterland.

PULWAMA IS PROOF

“The Pulwama terror attack in February perpetrated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed confirmed yet again that India remains a persistent target of Pakistan’s state-sponsored cross-border terrorism policy,” the MoD report said

Ministry of Defence also stated that religious extremism is on the rise. It also stated that the Pakistan military has avoided to take action against jihadi and internationally-proscribed terror outfits that target Pakistan’s neighbours.

It also states that Pakistan is making efforts to consolidate its position on the country’s defence policies and foreign policies after Imran Khan took over as Prime Minister.

The report states that Pakistan has continued to support terror groups which continued infiltrating into India under the cover of “massive cross-LoC and cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir”.

“The Pulwama terror attack in February perpetrated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed confirmed yet again that India remains a persistent target of Pakistan’s state-sponsored cross-border terrorism policy,” the report added.

Referring to the Balakot air strikes after the Pulwama suicide attack which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, the report stated that India will continue to take robust and decisive steps to ensure its national security.

The Ministry further pointed that state-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan in J&K remains the foremost security challenge for India.

The situation in J&K has remained volatile with ceasefire violations and frequent skirmishes on the LoC between Indian and Pakistani troops and terror-related incidents particularly in South Kashmir in the hinterland.

The report states, “India’s position is that Pakistan must take credible and irreversible steps to stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control launching attacks against India.”

Babylon the Great Downs Iran’s Drone

Trump says US Navy destroys Iranian drone in ‘defensive action,’ escalating tensions in Gulf region

Dan Mangan

Amanda Macias

CNBC.com

President Donald Trump said a U.S. Navy ship destroyed an Iranian drone in a defensive action.

Trump said the drone got too close to the USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday amid already high tensions between Iran and the United States.

• “The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, after it ignored “multiple calls to stand down threatening safety of ship and ship’s crew,” Trump said.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that a U.S. Navy ship had destroyed an Iranian drone in a “defensive action,” escalating already high tensions in the oil-rich Gulf region.

The USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took down the drone in the Strait of Hormuz earlier Thursday, Trump said.

The Boxer is part of a group of Navy ships that was in the strait, located between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, as part of an increased U.S. military presence in the region.

Twenty percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The incident came four weeks after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone flying over international airspace the same area, in what American officials at the time called an “unprovoked attack.”

And it came hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a foreign tanker it accused of smuggling oil.

During an event at the White House, Trump said, “The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew.”

“The drone was immediately destroyed,” Trump said.

The president called the drone’s approach toward the Boxer “the latest of many provocative and hostile actions against vessels operating in international waters.”

He said the United States “reserves [the] right to defend our personnel, our facilities, and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.”

“I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the Strait and to work with us in the future,” Trump said.

A U.S. defense official would not say how the drone was brought down when asked by CNBC.

The USS Boxer is equipped with the Phalanx CIWS — close-in weapon system — for defense against threats including anti-ship missiles and helicopters.

The ship also is armed with short-range anti-ship missiles and non-kinetic systems that could be capable of targeting a drone.

The Pentagon, in a statement issued after the president spoke, said, “At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz.”

“A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew,” the Pentagon said.

MCSN Craig Z Rodarte | Getty Images News | Getty Images

File photo of t he U.S. Navy, the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4).

Earlier this month, several Iranian boats approached a British commercial ship that was passing through the Strait of Hormuz and tried to stop its passage, but were driven off by a British military ship, NBC News has reported, citing a senior defense official and a British government spokesman.

A day after Iran shot down the U.S. drone on June 20, Trump approved military strikes on Iran in retaliation — but then abruptly cancelled them.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General,” Trump wrote in a tweet on June 21. “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not…..proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Days later, Trump signed an executive order imposing what he called “hard-hitting” new sanctions on Iran.

“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities,” including its nuclear ambitions, Trump said on June 24.

The new sanctions denied Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office access to key financial resources. The sanctions also targeted Iranian military leaders who were responsible for shooting down the drone.

Iran’s Nefarious Drones Threaten the Region

Report: From Iraq to Yemen, Drones Raise U.S. Alarm Over Iranian Regime’s Plans

Written by Amir Taghati on 18 July 2019.

The increased use of drones by the Iranian regime and its allies for surveillance and attacks across the Middle East is raising alarms in Washington, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The United States believes that Iran-linked militia in Iraq have recently increased their surveillance of American troops and bases in the country by using off-the-shelf, commercially available drones, U.S. officials told Reuters.

The disclosure comes at a time of heightened tensions with Iran’s regime and underscores the many ways in which Tehran and the forces it backs are increasingly relying on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in places like Yemen, Syria, the Strait of Hormuz and Iraq.

Beyond surveillance, Iranian regime drones can drop munitions and even carry out “a kamikaze flight where they load it up with explosives and fly it into something”, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis have significantly increased their UAV attacks in recent months, bombing airports and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Iran’s regime shot down a U.S. drone with a surface-to-air missile over international waters, a move that nearly triggered retaliatory strikes by U.S. President Donald Trump.

President Trump withdrew from a major 2015 nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions to cut off the Iranian regime’s oil exports and pressure the regime to negotiate over its ballistic missile program and regional policy.

The increased use of drones by Iran’s regime or its regional allies is a strategy aimed at pushing back and defending against pressure from the United States and foes like Saudi Arabia and Israel, current and former security officials and analysts say.

The Iranian regime now flies two or three drones over Gulf waters every day, the first U.S. official estimated, making it a core part of Tehran’s effort to monitor the Strait of Hormuz, through which one fifth of the world’s oil consumption flows.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused the Iranian regime of carrying out attacks against six oil tankers near the Strait in the past two months.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to quantify the extent to which surveillance near U.S. forces has increased in Iraq or to specify which militia were carrying it out.

“We have seen an uptick in drone activity in Iraq near our bases and facilities,” the first official said. “Certainly the drones that we have seen are more of the commercial off-the-shelf variant. So they’re obviously a deniable type UAV-activity in Iraq.”

A second official said the recent increase in surveillance was worrying but acknowledged Iran-linked militia in Iraq had a history of keeping tabs on Americans.

Reuters has previously reported that the United States has indirectly sent warnings to Iran’s regime, saying any attack against U.S. forces by proxy organizations in Iraq will be viewed by Washington as an attack by Tehran itself.

In recent weeks, mortars and rockets have been fired at bases in Iraq where U.S. forces are located but no American troops have been injured. U.S. officials did not link those attacks to the increased surveillance.

Iraqi militia groups linked to the Iranian regime began using drones in 2014 and 2015, according to militia members and Iraqi security officials.

These groups received training on the use of drones from members of the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah, two Iraqi security officials with knowledge of militia activities said.

“Key militia groups have the ability to launch aerial attacks using drones. Will they target American interests? That hasn’t happened yet,” said one Iraqi security official. “They used Katyusha [rockets] and mortars in very restricted attacks against American interests in Iraq to send a message rather than trying to inflict damage. Using explosive-laden drones is very possible once we have a worsening situation between Tehran and Washington.”

In March, the mullahs’ regime boasted about a complex military exercise involving 50 drones. In a slickly edited video aired on Iranian state TV, waves of drones streak across a clear blue sky, bombing buildings on an island in the Gulf.

The show of force was intended to highlight Iran’s locally developed UAV program, which it has been building up for several years.

Iran’s regime has passed on its drones and technical expertise to regional allies, current and former security officials and analysts say.

The IRGC and Hezbollah advise the Houthis on the use of drones and operate video uplinks from Tehran and Beirut to beam in technical expertise when needed, an official from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen told Reuters.

U.N. experts say the Houthis now have drones that can drop bigger bombs further away and more accurately than before. In May, drones hit two oil pumping stations hundreds of kilometers inside Saudi territory.

“Either the drones that attacked the pipelines were launched from inside Saudi territory or the Houthis just significantly upped their capability with satellite technology and were provided with the capability to extend the distance,” said Brett Velicovich, a drone expert and U.S. Army veteran, about the May attack.

A commander of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia closely linked to Iran, using the nickname Abu Abdullah, told Reuters in 2014 that Iran’s regime had provided training for operating drones.

He said at the time that they had also used the drones to carry out surveillance on American military positions in Iraq and in the conflict in Syria, where Kataib Hezbollah fought in support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Iraqi militia groups have now acquired enough expertise to modify drones for attacks, two Iraqi security officials with knowledge of the militia activities said.

A War With Iran Would Benefit Trump’s Reelection

Image result for trump electionNoam Chomsky: Trump Is Trying to Exploit Tension With Iran for 2020

David Barsamian One of America’s most tireless and wide-ranging investigative journalists, David Barsamian has altered the independent media landscape. His weekly radio program “Alternative Radio“ is now in its 34th season. His books with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Richard Wolff, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said sell around the world. His latest book with Noam Chomsky is Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy. He lectures on world affairs, imperialism, capitalism, the media, and the eco-crisis. In 2017 Radical Desi in Vancouver presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. He has collaborated with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet in events in New York, London, Vienna, Boulder and San Francisco. David Barsamian is the winner of the Media Education Award, the ACLU’s Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named him one of its Top Ten Media Heroes. More by this author…

Published July 18, 2019

President Trump talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a cabinet meeting at the White House on July 16, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

“Any concern about Iranian weapons of mass destruction could be alleviated by the single means of heeding Iran’s call to establish a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East,” says legendary public intellectual Noam Chomsky, but that isn’t stopping the Trump administration from concocting stories about Iran threatening to “conquer the world” in order to escalate tensions and thereby strengthen Trump’s hand going into the 2020 election.

In this exclusive transcript of a conversation aired on Alternative Radio, Noam Chomsky — the brilliant MIT professor and linguist who in one index is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Shakespeare and Marx — discusses Iran’s military deterrence strategy and the actions taken by U.S. leaders who cannot countenance what the State Department describes as Iran’s “successful defiance.”

David Barsamian: Let’s talk about Iran, in particular, locating it in post-1945 U.S. foreign policy. Washington laid out its Grand Area Strategy and Iran takes on enormous significance because of its oil wealth.

Noam Chomsky: Oil wealth and strategic position. It was taken for granted in the Grand Area Strategy planning that the U.S. would dominate the Middle East, what Eisenhower called the “strategically most important part of the world,” a material prize without any analogue.

The basic idea of the early stage of the Grand Strategy and the early stages of the war were that the U.S. would take over what they called the Grand Area, of course, the Western Hemisphere, the former British Empire and the Far East. They assumed at that time that Germany would probably win the war, so there would be two major powers, one German-based with a lot of Eurasia and the U.S. with this Grand Area. By the time it was clear that the Russians would defeat Germany, after Stalingrad and then the great tank battle in Kursk, the planning was modified, and the idea was that the Grand Area would include as much of Eurasia as possible, of course, maintaining control of Middle East oil resources.

There was a conflict over Iran right at the end of the Second World War. The Russians supported a separatist movement in the north. The British wanted to maintain control. The Russians were essentially expelled. Iran was a client state under British control. There was, however, a nationalist movement, and the Iranian leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, led a movement to try to nationalize Iranian oil.

The British, obviously, didn’t want that. They tried to stop this development, but they were in their post-war straits and were unable to do it. They called in the U.S., which basically took the prime role in implementing a military coup which deposed the parliamentary regime and installed the Shah, who was a loyal client. Iran remained one of the pillars of control of the Middle East as long as the Shah remained in power. The Shah had very close relations with Israel, the second pillar of control. They were not formal because theoretically, the Islamic states were supposed to be opposed to Israeli occupation, but the relations were extremely close. They were revealed in detail after the Shah fell. The third pillar of U.S. control was Saudi Arabia, so there was kind of a tacit alliance between Iran and Israel and, even more tacit, Israel and Saudi Arabia, under U.S. aegis.

In 1979, the Shah was overthrown. The U.S. at first considered trying to implement a military coup that would restore the Shah’s regime. That didn’t work. Then came the hostage crisis. Iraq, shortly after — under Saddam Hussein — invaded Iran. The U.S. strongly supported the Iraqi invasion, finally even pretty much intervening directly to protect Iraqi shipping in the Gulf. A U.S. missile cruiser shot down a civilian Iranian airliner, killing 290 people in commercial air space. Finally, the U.S. intervention pretty much convinced the Iranians, if not to capitulate, then to accept an arrangement far less than they hoped after the Iraqi aggression. It was a murderous war. Saddam used chemical weapons. The U.S. pretended not to know about it — in fact, tried to blame Iran for it. But there was finally a peace agreement.

The U.S. at once turned to sanctions against Iran and severe threats. This was now the first Bush. His administration also invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in nuclear weapons production, which, of course, was a serious threat to Iran.

It’s kind of ironic that when Iran was a loyal client state under the Shah in the 1970s, the Shah and other high officials made it very clear that they were working to develop nuclear weapons. At that time, Kissinger and Rumsfeld and Cheney were pressuring American universities, primarily MIT — there was a big flap on campus about this — to bring Iranian nuclear engineers to the U.S. for training, though, of course, they knew they were developing nuclear weapons. Actually, Kissinger was asked later why he changed his attitude toward Iranian nuclear weapons development in later years when, of course, it became a big issue, and he said, very simply, they were an ally then.

The sanctions against Iran got harsher, more intense. There were negotiations about dealing with the Iranian nuclear programs. According to U.S. intelligence, after 2003, there was no evidence that Iran had nuclear weapons programs, but probably they were developing what’s called a nuclear capability, which many countries have; that is, the capacity to produce nuclear weapons if the occasion arises. As Iran was rapidly increasing its capacities, more centrifuges and so on, Obama finally agreed to the joint agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, in 2015.

Since then, according to U.S. intelligence, Iran has completely lived up to it. There is no indication of any Iranian violation. The Trump administration pulled out of it and has now sharply escalated the sanctions against Iran. Now there is a new pretext: It’s not nuclear weapons; it’s that Iran is meddling in the region.

Unlike the U.S.

Or every other country. In fact, what they’re saying is Iran is attempting to extend its influence in the region. It has to become what Secretary of State Pompeo called a “normal country,” like us, Israel and others, and never try to expand its influence. Essentially, it’s saying, just capitulate. Pompeo particularly has said that U.S. sanctions are designed to try to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero. The U.S. has extraterritorial influence: It forces other countries to accept U.S. sanctions under threat that they will be excluded from the U.S. market and, in particular, from financial markets, which are dominated by the U.S. So the U.S., as the world’s leading rogue state, enforces its own unilateral decisions on others, thanks to its power. Bolton, of course, as he has said, just wants to bomb them.

My speculation is that a lot of the fist-waving at the moment is probably for two reasons: one, to try to keep Iran off balance and intimidated, and also to intimidate others so that they don’t try to interfere with U.S. sanctions; but I think it’s largely domestic. If the Trump strategists are thinking clearly — and I assume they are — the best way to approach the 2020 election is to concoct major threats all over: immigrants from Central America coming here to commit genocide against white Americans, Iran about to conquer the world, China doing this and that. But we will be saved by our bold leader with the orange hair, the one person who is capable of defending us from all of these terrible threats, not like these women who “won’t know how to do anything,” or “sleepy” Joe or “crazy” Bernie. That’s the best way to move into an election. That means maintaining tensions, but not intending to actually go to war.

Unfortunately, it’s bad enough in itself. We have absolutely zero right to impose any sanctions on Iran. None. It’s taken for granted in all discussion that somehow this is legitimate. There is absolutely no basis for that. But also, tensions can easily blow up. Anything could happen. An American ship in the Gulf could hit a mine, let’s say, and some commander would say, “OK, let’s retaliate against an Iranian installation,” and then an Iranian ship could shoot a missile. Pretty soon, you’re off and running. So, it could blow up.

Meanwhile, there are horrible effects all over the place, the worst in Yemen, where our client, Saudi Arabia, with strong U.S. support — arms, intelligence — along with its brutal UAE ally, is in fact creating what the UN has described as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” It’s pretty clear; it’s not really controversial what’s happening. If there is a confrontation with Iran, the first victim will be Lebanon. As soon as there’s any threat of war, Israel will certainly be unwilling to face the danger of Hezbollah missiles, which are probably scattered all around Lebanon by now. So it’s very likely that the first step prior to direct conflict with Iran would be essentially to wipe out Lebanon or something like it.

And those missiles in Lebanon are from Iran.

They come from Iran, yes.

So, what is Iran’s strategy in the region? You hear this term, the “Shi’a arc,” the Shi’a population in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Syria.

The Shi’a arc is a Jordanian concoction. Of course, Iran, like every other power, is trying to extend its influence. It’s doing it, typically, in the Shi’a areas, naturally. It’s a Shi’ite state. In Lebanon, we don’t have detailed records because they can’t take a census — it would break down the fragile relationship that exists there in the sectarian system — but it’s pretty clear that the Shi’ite population is the largest of the sectarian groups.

They have a political representative, Hezbollah, which is in the parliament. Hezbollah developed as a guerilla force. Israel was occupying southern Lebanon after its 1982 invasion. This was in violation of U.N. orders, but they pretty much stayed there, in part through a proxy army. Hezbollah finally drove Israel out. That turned them into a “terrorist force.” You’re not allowed to drive out the invading army of a client state, obviously.

Since then, Hezbollah serves Iranian interests. It sent fighters to Syria, who are a large part of the support for the Assad government. Technically, that’s quite legal. That was the recognized government. It’s a rotten government, so you can, on moral grounds, say you shouldn’t do it, but you can’t say on legal grounds you shouldn’t. The U.S. was openly trying to overthrow the government. It’s not secret. Finally, it became clear that the Assad government would control Syria. There are a few pockets still left unresolved, the Kurdish areas and others, but it’s pretty much won the war, which means that Russia and Iran have the dominant role in Syria.

In Iraq, there is a Shi’ite majority, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq pretty much handed the country over to Iran. It had been a Sunni dictatorship, but, of course, with the Sunni dictatorship destroyed, the Shi’a population gained a substantial role. So, for example, when ISIS [also known as Daesh] came pretty close to conquering Iraq, it was the Shi’ite militias that drove them back, with Iranian support. The U.S. participated, but secondarily. Now they have a strong role in the government. In the U.S., this is considered more Iranian meddling. But I think Iran’s strategy is pretty straightforward: It’s to expand their influence as they can in the region.

As far as their military posture is concerned, I don’t see any reason to question the analysis of U.S. intelligence. It seems pretty accurate. In their presentations to Congress, they point out that Iran has very low military expenditures by the standards of the region, much less than the other countries — dwarfed by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, of course Israel — and that its military doctrine is essentially defensive, designed to deter an invasion long enough for diplomatic efforts to be initiated. According to U.S. intelligence, if they have a nuclear weapons program — which we have no reason to believe they do, but if they do — it would be part of their deterrent strategy.

That’s the real Iranian threat: It has a deterrent strategy. For the states that want to be free to rampage in the region, deterrence is an existential threat. You don’t want to be deterred; you want to be able to do what you would like. That’s primarily the U.S. and Israel, who want to be free to act forcefully in the region without any deterrent. To be accurate, that’s the real Iranian threat. That’s what the State Department calls “successful defiance.” That’s the term the State Department used to explain back in the early 1960s why we cannot tolerate the Castro regime, because of its “successful defiance” of the U.S. That’s absolutely intolerable if you intend to be able to rule the world, by force, if necessary.

And it seems a component of that is the threat of a good example.

There’s also that, but I don’t think that’s true in the case of Iran. It’s a miserable government. The Iran government is a threat to its own people. I think that’s fair enough to say. And it’s not a real model for anyone. Cuba was quite different. In fact, if you look back in the early 1960s at the internal documents that have been declassified, there was great concern that — as Arthur Schlesinger, Kennedy’s close adviser, particularly on Latin American affairs, said — the problem with Cuba is “the spread of the Castro idea of taking matters into one’s own hands,” which has great appeal to others in the region who are suffering from the same circumstances as Cuba was under the U.S.-backed Batista regime.

That’s dangerous. The idea that people have the right to take things into their own hands and separate themselves from U.S. domination is not going to be acceptable. That’s successful defiance.

Another theme that plays out post-1945 is Washington’s resistance to independent nationalism.

Yes. But that’s automatic for a hegemonic power. The same with Britain, when it was running most of the world; the same with France and its domains. You don’t want independent nationalism. In fact, it’s often made quite explicit. Right after the Second World War, when the U.S. was beginning to try to organize the post-war world, the first concern was to make sure that the Western Hemisphere was totally under control.

In February 1945, the U.S. called a hemispheric conference in Chapultepec, Mexico. The main theme of the conference was precisely what you described: It was to end any kind of “economic nationalism.” That was the phrase that was used. The State Department internally warned that Latin American countries are infected — I’m virtually quoting now — “by the idea of a new nationalism,” which meant that the people of the country should be the first beneficiaries of the country’s resources. Obviously, that’s totally intolerable. The first beneficiaries have to be U.S. investors. That’s the philosophy of the new nationalism, and that has to be crushed. And the Chapultepec conference, in fact, made it explicit that economic nationalism would not be tolerated.

So, for example, to take a case that was discussed, Brazil, a major country, could produce steel, but not the high-quality steel of the kind that the U.S. would specialize in. Incidentally, there is, as always, one unmentioned exception to the rules. The U.S. is permitted to follow policies of economic nationalism. In fact, the U.S. was pouring government resources massively into development of what became the high-tech economy of the future: computers, the internet, and so on. That’s the usual exception. But for the others, they can’t succumb to this idea that the first beneficiaries of a country’s resources should be the people of that country. That’s intolerable. This is framed in all sorts of nice rhetoric about free markets and so on and so forth, but the meaning is quite explicit.

You’ve often quoted George Kennan, the venerated State Department official, in his famous 1948 memo: “We have 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population…. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity.” That was 1948. I was interested to discover that two years later, he made a statement about Latin America to the effect of, “The protection of our raw materials” in the rest of the world, particularly in Latin America, would trump concern over what he called “police repression.”

He said police repression may be necessary to maintain control over “our resources.” Remember that he was at the dovish extreme of the policy spectrum, in fact, so much so that he was kicked out about that time and replaced by a hardliner, Paul Nitze. He was considered “too soft” for this tough world. His estimate of the U.S. having 50 percent of the world’s resources is probably exaggerated now that more careful work has been done. The statistics aren’t great for that period, but there are studies. It was probably less than that. However, it may be true today in a different sense. In the contemporary period of globalization, global supply chains, national accounts, meaning the country’s share of global GDP, is much less relevant than it used to be.

A much more relevant measure of a country’s power is the wealth controlled by domestically based multinational corporations. There, what you find is that U.S. corporations own about 50 percent of world wealth. Now, there are good statistics. There are studies of this by a very good political economist, Sean Kenji Starrs, who has several articles and a new book coming out on it with extensive details. As he points out, this is a degree of control of the international economy that has absolutely no parallel or counterpart in history, in fact. It will be interesting to see what the impact is of Trump’s wrecking ball on all of this, which is breaking the system of global supply chains that have been carefully developed over the years. It may have some impact. We really don’t know. So far, it’s just harming the global economy.

Getting back to Iran, you mentioned in our book Global Discontents that, “Any concern about Iranian weapons of mass destruction could be alleviated by the single means of heeding Iran’s call to establish a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East.” This is almost on the level of samizdat. It’s barely known or reported on.

It’s not a secret. And it’s not just Iran’s call. This proposal for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East and extended to WMD-free zone, that actually comes from the Arab states. Egypt and others initiated that back in the early 1990s. They called for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. There are such zones that have been established in several parts of the world. It’s kind of interesting to look at them. They aren’t fully operative because the U.S. has not accepted them, but they’re theoretically there. The one for the Middle East would be extremely important.

The Arab states pushed for this for a long time. The nonaligned countries, the G-77 — that’s by now about 130 countries — have called for it strongly. Iran strongly called for it while serving as spokesperson for the G-77. Europe pretty much supports it. Probably not England, but others. In fact, there is almost total global support for it, adding to it an inspection regime of a kind which already exists in Iran. That would essentially eliminate any concern over not only nuclear weapons, but weapons of mass destruction.

There’s only one problem: The U.S. won’t allow it. This comes up regularly at the regular review sessions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the most recent in 2015. Obama blocked it. And everybody knows exactly why. Nobody will say, of course. But if you look at the arms-control journals or professional journals, they’re quite open about it, because it’s obvious. If there were such an agreement, Israel’s nuclear weapons would come under international inspection. The U.S. would be compelled to formally acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons. Of course, it knows that it does, everybody does, but you’re not allowed to formally acknowledge it. For a good reason. If you formally acknowledge it, U.S. aid to Israel has to terminate under U.S. law. Of course, you can find ways around it; you can always violate your own laws. But that does become a problem. It would mean that Israel’s weapons would have to be inspected — not just nuclear, but also biological and chemical. That’s intolerable, so we can’t allow that. Therefore, we can’t move toward a WMD-free zone, which would end the problem.

There is another thing that you can only read in samizdat. The U.S. has a special commitment to this, a unique commitment, along with Britain. The reason is that when the U.S. and Britain were planning the invasion of Iraq, they sought desperately to find some legal cover for it so it wouldn’t look like just direct aggression. They appealed to a U.N. Security Council resolution in 1991 which called on Saddam Hussein to end his nuclear weapons programs, which in fact he had done. But the pretext was he hadn’t done it, so he had violated that resolution; therefore, that was supposed to give some legitimacy to the invasion.

If you bother reading that U.N. resolution, when you get down to Article 14, it commits the signers, including the U.S. and Britain, to work for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. So the U.S. and Britain have a unique responsibility to do this. Try to find any discussion of this. And, of course, it could resolve whatever problem one thinks there is. In fact, according to U.S. intelligence, there is essentially none.

The real problem is pretty much what U.S. intelligence describes, the Iranian posture of deterrence. That is a real danger and is constantly regarded as an existential threat to Israel and the U.S., which cannot tolerate deterrence.

There are big paydays for a militaristic foreign policy such as the U.S. has. For example, Lee Fang, writing in The Intercept, reports, “Large weapons manufacturers,” like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, “have told their investors that escalating conflict with Iran could be good for business.”

Of course, it is. That’s a factor. I don’t think it’s the major factor, but it certainly is a factor. It’s what’s called “good for the economy” if you can produce material goods that you can sell to other countries. The U.S. is preeminent in military force. That’s its real comparative advantage — military force. Other countries can produce computers and TVs, but the U.S. is the largest arms exporter. Its military budget overwhelms anything in the rest of the world. In fact, it’s almost as large as the rest of the world combined, much larger than other countries’. The U.S. increase in the military budget under Trump — the increase — is greater than the entire Russian military budget. China is way behind. And, of course, the U.S. is way more technologically advanced in military hardware. So that’s the U.S. comparative advantage. You would naturally want to pursue it. But I think the major thing is just ensuring that the world remains pretty much under control.

Note: This is a lightly edited transcript of an interview that was aired on Alternative Radio.

Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

The Sixth Seal Nuclear Leak at Indian Point (Rev 6:12)

power plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering rolling back some safety standards for nuclear power plants. (Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

 

‘An Insanely Bad Move’: Experts Sound Alarm as Trump’s Nuclear Safety Agency Weighs Rollback of Plant Inspections

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said one member of Congress, “needs to do more—not less—to ensure nuclear reactor safety.”

After months of experts raising alarm over the nuclear power industry pressuring U.S. regulators to roll back safety policies, staffers at the federal agency that monitors reactors sparked concerns Tuesday with official recommendations that include scaling back required inspections to save money.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has spent months reviewing its enforcement policies—and, as part of that process, sought input from industry groups, as Common Dreams detailed in March. In response, the industry representatives requested shifting to more “self-assessments,” limiting public disclosures for “lower-level” problems at plants, and easing the “burden of radiation-protection and emergency-preparedness inspections.”

According to The Associated Press, which first reported on NRC staffers’ suggestions:

The recommendations, made public Tuesday, include reducing the time and scope of some annual inspections at the nation’s 90-plus nuclear power plants. Some other inspections would be cut from every two years to every three years.

Some of the staff’s recommendations would require a vote by the commission, which has a majority of members appointed or reappointed by President Donald Trump, who has urged agencies to reduce regulatory requirements for industries.

The NRC document that outlines the recommendations reportedly acknowledges that staffers disagree about the inspection reductions but claims that cutting back “improves efficiency while still helping to ensure reasonable assurance of adequate protection to the public.”

Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear power expert Edwin Lyman, however, charged that the suggestion to decrease federal oversight of nuclear power plants “completely ignores the cause-and-effect relationship between inspections and good performances.”

Democratic NRC member Jeff Baran also criticized the staff recommendations. He argued that the agency “shouldn’t perform fewer inspections or weaken its safety oversight to save money” and called for a public debate before any changes are made to existing policy.

“It affects every power reactor in the country,” he said. “We should absolutely hear from a broad range of stakeholders before making any far-reaching changes to NRC’s safety oversight program.”

Before the recommendations were released Tuesday, Democrats from the House Appropriations as well as Energy and Commerce committees expressed concerns about potential rollbacks of safety standards in a letter (pdf) to NRC Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki Monday.

The lawmakers wrote:

To ensure nuclear power provides safe, reliable, emissions-free energy, it is imperative for the NRC to uphold strong regulatory standards. That is why we are disturbed by the consideration of these far-reaching changes to the NRC’s regulatory regime without first actively conducting robust public outreach and engagement. It would be a mistake to attempt to make nuclear power more cost competitive by weakening NRC’s vital safety oversight. Cutting corners on such critical safety measures may eventually lead to a disaster that could be detrimental to the future of the domestic nuclear industry.

The AP‘s report on agency staffers’ official recommendations provoked further alarm from lawmakers and the public. Some people on Twitter decried the inspection proposal as “an insanely bad move” and “beyond nuts,” and referenced the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which is considered the world’s worst ever nuclear power plant accident.

Democratic Pennsylvania state Rep. Peter Schweyer tweeted that he would “happily” share his HBO password with the NRC “so they can catch up on” the network’s recently released series about Chernobyl.

U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) wrote in a tweet that considering how many millions of Americans live in close proximity to nuclear power plants, the agency “needs to do more—not less—to ensure nuclear reactor safety.”

Israel Prepares for War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli soldiers wait in position near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip

Israeli soldiers wait in position near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, during a protest on the Gaza side, as seen from the Israeli side March 30, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

IDF troops completed a largescale exercise simulating war in the Gaza Strip despite the relative calm along Israel’s border with the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave. 

The drill focused on tactics and lessons from the last conflict in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, according to Capt. Noam Karavani from the 601st Combat engineering battalion of the 40th armored brigade, with soldiers taking part training inside tunnels as well as in urban and open areas.

According to Karavani, the troops used new technology and new techniques during the drill, many of them geared toward the threat posed by tunnels dug by terror groups in the Strip.

“There were two parts to the drill,” Karavani said. “One near Kibbutz Ofakim, and one in Tze’elim,” with the drill training officers “to deal with the mental challenges of war, of how they think professionally in order to win, and test[ing] how troops will face the challenges of the battlefield.”

The exercise at the Tze’elim base in southern Israel allowed troops to simulate war in an urban environment similar to neighborhoods in the densely populated Strip.

“It really made me proud to see how the soldiers dealt with their challenges, physical and mental,” Karavani told The Jerusalem Post. “They walked all throughout the night with weight on their back through dunes, and the next day continued to work. Without a doubt we are ready to win the next war.

“It’s quiet now, but everything happens underground on the other side that we don’t always see,” the captain said. “We aren’t only training for when it’s loud, but also for when it’s quiet, so that they are never able to surprise us.”

That, he continued with confidence, is not a problem. “They don’t have any more surprises,” said Karavani. “We know everything, even what he is thinking we have an answer…drones, underground. There’s nothing we aren’t ready for.”

While the IDF maintains that these exercises were planned in advance as part of the annual training program, they come as tensions remain high along the border. On Tuesday, a military reconnaissance drone crashed in the central Gaza Strip after it was reportedly shot down by a Palestinian terror group. The IDF confirmed that the Skylark drone crashed but did not say what brought it down, stressing that there was no risk of any intelligence being compromised.

Built by Elbit Systems and operated by the artillery corps, the Skylark is the IDF’s smallest drone at just over two meters. Operating on all fronts for tactical surveillance, it can be put together in under 15 minutes and launched by one or two soldiers, who operate it from rooftops or in armored personnel carriers using a live-video feed once airborne. As relatively cheap and simple platform, there have been several crashes since it was introduced to ground forces in 2010, including a crash in October due to a technical malfunction.

Last week Hamas conducted a surprise military drill across Gaza simulating the capture of IDF special forces operating in the enclave. The drill saw the mobilization of police, intelligence units, troops from the terror group’s Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades as well as reserve personnel. According to a statement released by Hamas, the drill came “due to attempts by enemies to undermine security and public order.”