East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 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.

Planning the Next Attack Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Next Gaza conflict will see IDF deal terror groups crushing blow’

IDF’s Gaza war scenario reportedly includes plans for massive counterterrorism operations the could see it eliminate hundreds of terrorists per day of fighting.

Israel’s defense establishment does not project an armed conflict with the Gaza Strip-based terrorist groups in the near future, but the Israeli military is gearing up for a potential flare-up that could potentially spiral out of control and plans to deal a crushing blow to Hamas in case war does erupt.

According to a report by Maariv, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi has set a goal for the fighting forces to eliminate 300 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists per day of fighting, with aim of severely disrupting enemy operations, thereby significantly decreasing the duration of combat.

The IDF has recently begun drilling various war scenarios concerning the Gaza Strip, under these objectives.

According to the report, the extreme-case-scenario options of seizing control of the enclave and toppling Hamas rule are off the table, the IDF is working under the assumption that it could achieve a clear victory against the Islamist organization.

In recent days, there have been reports of a breakthrough in negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a potential prisoner swap. But Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Tuesday that Hamas has rejected Israel’s offer to release hundreds of security prisoners in exchange for two Israeli captives and a pair of fallen IDF soldiers held in Gaza.

The terrorist group told intermediary Egypt the proposal fell short of its demands and that it is ready to continue talks.

Babylon the Great’s nukes are hacked by Russia

U.S. nuclear weapons agency hacked by suspected Russians

The Energy Department and its National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains America’s nuclear stockpile, were targeted as part of a larger attack by suspected Russian hackers.

BY WILLIAM TURTON , MICHAEL RILEY , JENNIFER JACOBS , AND  BLOOMBERG

December 17, 2020 5:30 PM EST

The U.S. nuclear weapons agency and at least three states were hacked as part of a suspected Russian cyber-attack that struck several federal government agencies.

The Energy Department and its National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains America’s nuclear stockpile, were targeted as part of a larger attack by suspected Russian hackers, according to a person familiar with the matter. The hack affected unclassified systems, the person added. The hack of the nuclear agency was first reported by Politico.

In addition, two people familiar with the ongoing investigation said three states were breached in the attack, though they wouldn’t identify the states. A third person familiar with the probe confirmed that states were hacked but didn’t provide a number.

In an advisory Thursday that signaled the widening alarm over the the breach, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the hackers posed a “grave risk” to federal, state and local governments, as well as critical infrastructure and the private sector. The agency said the attackers demonstrated “sophistication and complex tradecraft.”

While President Donald Trump has yet to publicly address the hack, President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday on “what appears to be a massive cybersecurity breach affecting potentially thousands of victims, including U.S. companies and federal government entities.”

Biden statement

“I want to be clear: My administration will make cybersecurity a top priority at every level of government — and we will make dealing with this breach a top priority from the moment we take office,” Biden said, pledging to impose “substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks.”

Russia has denied any involvement in the hack.

Although many details are still unclear, the hackers are believed to have gained access to networks by installing malicious code in a widely used software program from SolarWinds, whose customers include government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, according to the company and cybersecurity experts. The departments of Homeland Security, Treasury, Commerce and State were breached, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“This is a patient, well-resourced, and focused adversary that has sustained long duration activity on victim networks,” CISA said in its bulletin.

Khamenei Backs Efforts for Iran to Nuke Up: Daniel 8

Khamenei Backs Efforts to Revive Iran Nuclear Deal With U.S.

Golnar Motevalli

December 16, 2020, 5:36 AM MST

Follow us @middleeast for more news on the region.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threw his support behind efforts to forge a diplomatic breakthrough with the incoming Biden administration and restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

His statement sends a clear signal to Iranian hardliners not to stand in the way of talks with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office next month having pledged to rejoin the accord abandoned by Donald Trump.

“If sanctions can be removed, we shouldn’t delay, not even for an hour,” Khamenei said Wednesday in comments almost identical to ones made this week by President Hassan Rouhani. “I support the country’s officials as long as they are committed to the nation’s goals.”

He also told authorities to remain deeply skeptical of the U.S. and “not to trust the enemy,” regardless of who is in the White House.

The top cleric was meeting the family of General Qassem Soleimani, killed by the U.S. in January, and the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to his official website. Photographs showed Rouhani and the head of parliament, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, were also present.

Trump imposed a crippling sanctions regime on Iran in 2018 after walking away from the multilateral nuclear accord, severely weakening the country’s economy and its ability to manage the Middle East’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

Biden has said he’s willing to rejoin the deal if Iran returns to the full compliance it abandoned after Trump quit. Officials in Tehran likely muted their reaction to recent provocations — including the assassination of a top nuclear scientist in an attack Iran blamed on Israel and the U.S. — hoping to allow a breakthrough once talks begin.

Still, Iran’s parliament and Guardian Council, both dominated by hardline conservatives, have approved a law that orders Rouhani to end intrusive United Nations nuclear inspections unless the U.S. lift key sanctions on oil exports and banking within two months. The legislation also calls for the government to immediately ramp-up atomic activity.

Khamenei told officials that while he approved of a swift end to sanctions, they should focus on “neutralizing” their impact and making the economy more resilient to external shocks.

(Updates with comments on trust and the U.S.)

How Iran has brought the 10 horns of Daniel 7 together

How Iran Has Brought Israel and Arab States Together

Marc Champion

December 15, 2020, 10:01 PM MST

For more than half a century, conflict between Israel and the Arab nations that surround it has been a defining feature of the Middle East, producing periodic wars, lost opportunities for trade and uncountable hours of fruitless diplomacy. The rift is far from resolved. Yet there’s been a shift. Israel has made peace deals with four Arab countries late this year, underscoring that it’s now Iran — rather than Israel — that’s the common enemy uniting many Arab rulers.

1. Why were the new accords a big deal?

Egypt and Jordan normalized relations with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively, but other Arab nations said for years that they would withhold recognition of the Jewish state pending the formation of an independent country for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories Israel conquered in a 1967 war. Some Arab states developed covert relationships with Israel, but it was still extraordinary when one of them, the United Arab Emirates, agreed to formalize ties in August. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco followed, and Israeli officials predicted Oman and Saudi Arabia would be next. The agreements telegraphed that Arab relations with Israel are no longer tied to the Palestinian cause. And they clarified the growing focus of Arab leaders belonging to the Sunni branch of Islam on countering the rise of Persian Iran, whose people are mostly Shiite Muslims.

2. Why is Iran so mistrusted?

Iran’s influence in the Middle East has grown significantly since 2003, when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq removed its primary foe, the Sunni-dominated regime of President Saddam Hussein. Iranian leaders have since used their control of militias drawn from Iraq’s majority Shiite population to shape governments in Baghdad. In Syria, Iran called on the same Iraqi militias as well as Hezbollah, the militant Shiite Lebanese group, to help preserve its only state ally, President Bashar al-Assad, from defeat in a civil war that began as a popular uprising in 2011. In Yemen, Iran backed Shiite rebels in their fight against forces supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in a war that broke out in 2015. The International Institute for Strategic Studies calls Iran’s influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen today “a new normal,” a concept once unthinkable even for leaders in Tehran.

3. What’s the role of the U.S.?

Starting in 2016, the U.S. under President Donald Trump adopted a more aggressive approach to Iran, withdrawing from the nuclear deal world powers had struck with it in 2015. That agreement had released Iran from punishing economic sanctions in exchange for rolling back its nuclear program. Under Trump, the U.S. also dropped its stance of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem — claimed as a capital by both sides but controlled by Israel — and downplaying the goal of a two-state solution, under which Israel and the Palestinians were to end their conflict by delineating a new Palestinian state.

4. Do Iran and its foes fight directly?

Since Iran and Iraq battled each other to a standstill at devastating human and economic costs in the 1980s, Iran’s theocratic leaders have avoided direct conflict with the U.S. and its allies in the region, a contest in which they would be spectacularly outgunned. Instead, the Islamic regime has become expert at hybrid warfare. Over time that has included the use of terrorist tactics and proxy militias. The U.S. accused Iran of being behind recent attacks on vessels in the Persian Gulf, U.S. forces in Iraq and targets in Saudi Arabia, including a huge oil-processing facility. The U.S. struck back in January 2020, killing Qassem Soleimani, the general in charge of Iran’s foreign operations. Israel, for its part, has flown numerous bombing missions against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria. In cases where Iran does not deny involvement, it says it is protecting fellow Shiites and allies from U.S., Israeli or Gulf state aggression.

Allied With Iran

Militant groups in the Middle East connected with Iran

5. Apart from Syria and Iraq, are all Arab governments united against Iran?

No. Oman and Kuwait remain friendly with Iran, as does Qatar, with which it shares a gas field. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport links to Qatar in 2017, in part because they said it was too close to Tehran.

6. Where does this leave Palestinians?

With diminished leverage and poor prospects. Palestinian leaders criticized the accords with Israel for giving the country the benefits of peace without requiring it to relinquish its grip over the lands it seized in 1967. The UAE says it helped the Palestinians as part of its agreement by securing Israel’s promise to freeze a plan to annex part of the West Bank, but for how long is unclear.

Killing in Kashmir before the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Pakistan says two soldiers killed by Indian shelling in Kashmir

Pakistan’s military says incident took place in the Bagsar region of Pakistan-administered Kashmir late on Tuesday.

Asad Hashim16 Dec 2020

This year, Pakistan says India has violated the ceasefire at least 2,970 times, killing 29 people and wounding at least 249 civilians [File: Money Sharma/AFP]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Two Pakistani soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire with Indian troops at the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed mountainous territory of Kashmir, Pakistan’s military said.

“During [an] intense exchange of fire two soldiers, Naik Shahjahan, age 35 years and Sepoy Hameed, age 21 years, while fighting valiantly embraced [martyrdom],” said a Pakistan military statement issued late on Tuesday, adding that the incident took place in the Bagsar region of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

It added that Pakistani forces inflicted “heavy losses to Indian troops in men and material”, but did not mention specifics.

India’s military did not issue an official statement on the exchange of fire.

The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from the British in 1947.

Both countries claim the territory in full but administer parts divided by the LoC.

A ceasefire has technically been in effect at the LoC since 2003, but it is frequently violated by both sides, with almost daily reports of shelling in the last two years.

This year, Pakistan says India has violated the ceasefire at least 2,970 times, killing 29 people and wounding at least 249 civilians.

India does not routinely issue data on the number of casualties from such altercations, but last week Indian vice army chief Lt-Gen Satinder Kumar Saini said that Pakistan had “increased” the number of ceasefire violations.

“The ceasefire violations across the LoC have increased this year if you compare the figures with last year or the year before that,” he told media at a military function in the Indian town of Dehradun on Saturday.

“We have also seen that there has been caliber escalation in terms of artillery being used from across the LoC to target innocent civilians,” local media quoted Saini as saying.

“These acts are abhorrent and although casualties have taken place on our side on the innocent civilians, we have been retaliating in a calibrated manner. We are prepared for all contingencies which arise on the LoC.”

Transitioning Iraq over to the Antichrist

Iraq in Transition: Competing Actors and Complicated Politics

The Republic of Iraq has faced considerable challenges after the American-led invasion in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein, ranging from insurgency to endemic corruption and poor government services. Baghdad has emerged as the epicenter of a broader geopolitical struggle between the United States and Islamic Republic of Iran, two hostile adversaries at odds since the Islamic Revolution toppled the American-friendly Shah in 1979. Amidst these broader challenges, Iraq faced an existential security threat in 2014, after the Islamic State gained strength in Syria, augmented its ranks with foreign fighters, and took control over eastern Syria and parts of western Iraq, including the Iraqi city of Mosul, the country’s second largest city. The war to defeat this group was brutal and fraught, with the Iraqi military bearing the brunt of the casualties fighting for control over densely populated urban areas and vast expanses of desert terrain. The fighting consumed Iraqi affairs for years, blunted the sharp tensions that underpin U.S.-Iran relations, and focused military efforts on the defeat of a common enemy.

In the year since the defeat of the Islamic State, the American role in Iraq has become less clear. The United States has undertaken an aggressive policy, dubbed “Maximum Pressure,” to economically coerce the Iranian government to make a series of concessions, including limits on the development of ballistic missiles and foreign policy changes. This effort included the American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the multi-national agreement that placed considerable limits on Iran’s nuclear program and instituted an expansive inspection regime to verify the terms of the deal in exchange for Iran receiving American and European sanctions relief. The Trump administration’s decision to reimpose sanctions severely complicated the arrangement, depriving Iran of the reward for its compliance and setting in motion a series of Iranian steps to try to coerce Europe to continue to uphold trade with the Islamic Republic. The United States, however, has threatened to sanction European entities should they not comply with American policy.

The tensions over sanctions have had a deleterious effect on stability in Iraq and the Middle East, more broadly. The Iranian government has gradually increased its efforts to impose a cost on the United States for using sanctions to end its export of oil, beginning with a series of attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, escalating to include missile strikes on important oil centers in Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais, and then a shooting down an American surveillance drone. In response to rocket attacks inside Iraq, the United States has struck Iraqi militia’s linked to Iran and, in January 2020, assassinated Major General Qasem Soleimani, the now-deceased leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iranian-linked actor that oversaw Iraqi militias sympathetic to the Islamic Republic. In retaliation, the Iranian military fired a salvo of ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq, striking targets with precision, but luckily resulting in no American deaths. The strikes still resulted in over one hundred cases of traumatic brain injury in the soldiers at the targeted bases. The tit-for-tat underscores Iran’s appetite for risk, particularly at time when its economy is under siege from U.S. actions.

Inside Iraq, the government has sought to remain neutral, balancing its vital relationship with Washington against its equally important relationship with Tehran. The Iraqi government is also facing a series of internal challenges: incessant protests about corruption as well as post-conflict challenges following the war against the Islamic State. To analyze the future of Iraqi politics, the Foreign Policy Research Institute has gathered five authors to analyze competing political actors and the issues affecting different constituencies and regions. Each chapter includes a series of policy recommendations for governments to consider as they try to assess Iraq’s political landscape. The first chapter, co-authored by Benedict Robin-D’Cruz and Renad Mansour, evaluates Iraq’s Sadrist movement and why, despite Shi’i cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s prominence in Iraqi politics, the group remains one of the most complex and frequently misunderstood movements in Iraq. The second chapter, by Pishko Shamsi, focuses on the Kurdistan Regional Government, the competing political actors, and how a failed independence referendum after the defeat of the Islamic State upended the region and prompted a re-evaluation of relations with Baghdad. The third chapter, by Inna Rudolf, assesses the Popular Mobilization Forces, with a focus on Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the militia leader killed alongside Qasem Soleimani in January 2020 in an American drone strike outside of the Baghdad airport. The fourth chapter, by Ramzy Mardini, examines Iraq’s Sunni population and how they are coping with the tragedies faced during the illegitimate reign of the Islamic State and the challenges that they now face after the group’s defeat. And the final chapter, by Kirk Sowell, explores Iraqi domestic politics, particularly how key political actors interact with the government in Baghdad and how sectarianism influences politics, and what that may portend in the near future.

This edited volume is intended to look beyond the U.S.-Iran competition in the country and explore the drivers of Iraqi politics to provide needed context for policymakers and practitioners studying the country. It was made possible by support from GPD Charitable Trust, an organization working to build partnerships that lead to a more peaceful, prosperous, and stable world, and in collaboration with the DT Institute.

Aaron Stein is the Director of Research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). He is also the Director of the Middle East Program and Acting Director of the National Security Program at FPRI.