Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

By WILLIAM K. STEVENS
Published: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

The growing Pakistani nuclear horn: Daniel 8

Pakistan is one of eight nations worldwide with stated nuclear weapons capability.

Its eastern neighbour and rival India, with whom it has fought three full-scale wars since both countries gained independence from Britain in 1947, also has nuclear weapons.

The Shaheen III is Pakistan’s longest-range missile system, developed with the intention of being capable of reaching Indian island territories to deny Indian forces the ability to establish a “second strike capability”, according to comments made by retired Lieutenant-General Khalid Kidwai, the former chief of Pakistan’s nuclear plans division in 2015.

“Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee asserted that Pakistan desires peaceful co-existence in the region and its strategic capability is to deter any aggression against the sovereignty of Pakistan,” said the military statement after Wednesday’s test.

Both South Asian countries routinely conduct missile tests, of which they notify the other in advance as per a 2005 bilateral missile test pact.

President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the military and the scientists involved after the successful test.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

Pakistan successfully tests medium-range missile

Pakistan’s military did not say whether the test-fired Shaheen III missile was capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The growing threat of the Chinese nuclear horn: Daniel 7

China to field more nuclear weapons that can target the United States, says report

by Gabriel Dominguez Jan 21, 2021, 09:24 AM

China’s missile force is expanding, with the number of nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) potentially…

China’s missile force is expanding, with the number of nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) potentially increasing to “well over 200” within the next five years, according to a report by the US Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC).

Published on 11 January 2021, NASIC’s ‘2020 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat’ report says that China, which “continues to have the most active and diverse ballistic missile development programme in the world”, has been adding the 11,000+ km-range, single warhead DF-31A (US Department of Defense designation CSS-10 Mod 2) and the 12,000+ km-range DF-5B (CSS-4 Mod 3) to the inventory of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF), with the silo-based DF-5B being China’s first ICBM with multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).

Moreover, NASIC changed its designation for the DF-41 MIRV-capable, road-mobile ICBM from CSS-X-20 to CSS-20, indicating that it considers development of the weapon has been completed. The DF-41 was first displayed at a military parade held at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on 1 October 2019.

NASIC provided no range estimate for the three-stage, solid-fuelled missile but the DF-41 is believed to have a comparable range to the older liquid-fuelled DF-5B ICBM. The DF-41’s mobility, however, makes it less vulnerable to elimination in a first strike than the silo-based DF-5 missile.

NASIC has changed its designation for China’s DF-41 ICBM (seen here during the October 2019 military parade in Beijing) from CSS-X-20 to CSS-20, indicating that it considers development of the weapon has been completed. (Via CGTN video footage)

Biden Makes Peace Offer to Russia: Daniel 7

Biden proposing five-year extension of nuclear weapon treaty with Russia, official says

By MATTHEW LEE The Associated Press,Updated January 21, 2021, 1:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is proposing to Russia a five-year extension of the New START treaty limiting the number of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons, a U.S. official said Thursday.

The proposal was being communicated to Russian officials, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter not yet publicly announced by the administration.

The treaty is set to expire in February and is the last remaining agreement constraining U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons.

Iran Lays Out Another Obama-Biden Deal

Iran lays out “road map” for nuclear talks with Biden

Barak Ravid20 hours ago – World

Iran has been accumulating bargaining chips and laying out its strategy for engagement with Joe Biden, who arrives in office promising to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear deal if Iran returns to compliance.

Why it matters: Recent statements from Iran’s leaders indicate that they’re willing to strike such a deal. But the sides differ over who will have to make the first move, and when.

The big picture: Returning to the deal would require Iran to roll back its recent nuclear acceleration and the U.S. to lift sanctions. Biden views that as the baseline from which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting agreement.

• Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken reiterated that in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, but said the incoming administration was “a long way” from returning to the deal.

• Iran’s presidential elections in June will loom large over any timeline.

What’s happening: Anticipating negotiations, the Iranians have taken or threatened several steps designed to build leverage, most notably by producing 20% enriched uranium in a clear breach of the deal’s terms.

• Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, said this was done “to produce strength in the area of diplomacy.” He added that Europe’s immediate engagement on the issue showed the strategy was working.

• Next, Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency it intended to start producing uranium metal, which can be used to develop nuclear warheads.

• Perhaps most ominously, the Iranians are threatening to limit inspectors’ access to their nuclear facilities at the beginning of February.

Driving the news: In a speech on Jan. 8, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laid out his position, saying Iran doesn’t trust the U.S. and is in no rush.

• But he added that if Biden lives up to America’s commitments, Iran will do the same.

In the ensuing days, a series of very senior Iranian officials — all members of a committee that oversees the nuclear deal — echoed that message in “interviews” published on Khamenei’s official website, in what seemed to be an orchestrated show of unity.

• The officials were: Qalibaf; Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif; Khamenei advisers Ali Larijani and Ali Akbar Velayati; Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi; former Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi; and former national security adviser Saeed Jalili.

What they’re saying: The officials repeatedly referred to a “road map” of steps both sides should take. It begins with the U.S. lifting sanctions.

• The officials said they’d treat an announcement from Biden on returning to the deal as meaningless unless it comes with sanctions relief.

• “If Mr. Biden signs an executive order, we will sign one too. Whenever he puts it into action, we will put ours into action as well,” Zarif said.

• Iran wants sanctions lifted in one comprehensive action and not in a gradual step-by-step process. Larijani, a likely leading presidential candidate, said the U.S. won’t fool Iran with “a piece of candy.”

The highest priorities for Iran are the lifting of sanctions on oil exports and the Iranian banking system, as well as the unfreezing of Iranian assets abroad.

• “We should be able to carry out our economic dealings normally and easily — be that imports or exports,” Qalibaf said in one of the interviews. 

After both sides return to compliance, Iran said it is ready for further negotiations on a nuclear deal 2.0.

• As part of these negotiations, Iran will demand compensation for damages it has suffered as a result of Trump’s withdrawal.

• Another condition for future negotiations is the cancellation of the snapback mechanism that allows the U.S. or other parties to the deal to quickly renew UN sanctions on Iran.

• According to Zarif, Iran will demand that the U.S. take steps to guarantee that a new administration won’t unravel the next deal as Trump did the previous one.

What’s next: Raz Zimmt, an Iran expert at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies, says the Iranians won’t renegotiate the 2015 deal or return to compliance without sanctions relief.

• But, he said, they could agree to an interim deal in which the U.S. lifts most of the sanctions in return for Iran rolling back most of its nuclear advancements since 2019.

• “In any case, Khamenei won’t compromise on the principled positions he laid out because doing that would be like admitting that Trump’s maximum pressure policy worked,” Zimmt said.

Israeli jets target Hamas sites outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli jets target Hamas sites in Gaza

The Israeli military said on Monday that its warplanes struck sites belonging to the Hamas in the Gaza Strip after two

Sentinel Digital Desk

The Israeli military said on Monday that its warplanes struck sites belonging to the Hamas in the Gaza Strip after two rockets were fired from the besieged Palestinian enclave. Aan Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement that the jets struck Hamas military targets, including a tunnels, reports Xinhua news agency. The two rockets fired earlier from the Gaza Strip fell in the sea before reaching Israel, according to the Israeli military. There were no reports of injuries on both sides. It was not immediately clear which group in Gaza fired the rockets but the spokesperson said that Israel considers Hamas “responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it”. (IANS)

No further delays to elections ‘as long as I live’: the Antichrist

No further delays to elections ‘as long as I live’: Sadr

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shiite cleric and leader of the Iraqi parliament’s largest bloc, has said that he will not allow Iraq’s parliamentary elections to be further postponed as long as he lives.

“I will not allow another postponement of the elections as long as I live,” Sadr said a Tuesday tweet. “During this period, it is everyone’s duty to work in a patriotic way toward the success and completion of the elections in the best way and away from quarrels and clashes.”

Sadr also warned against “corruption” and “plots against the election laws and interference in the commission’s job.”

Earlier in the day, Iraq’s Council of Ministers voted to postpone the elections – scheduled for June, a year earlier than originally planned – until October 10.

Early elections were one of the key demands of protests that began in October 2019 across central and southern Iraq.  Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who took office in May last year, asked the  Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in November to take “all necessary measures” to ensure the elections will be held as scheduled, and “continuously work to guarantee a successful election.”

The IHEC said in August it would be ready to hold early elections in June provided the government and parliament meet certain demands, including passing a new electoral law and allocating a budget for the vote.

Iraqi President Barham Salih in November officially signed the electoral reforms into law, dividing provinces into smaller voting constituencies for the elections.

The postponement of elections from June 6 to October 10 “is not a deviation from the principle of an early election, for it will happen in any case, and we have not compromised on early elections for it is popular demand supported by the Marja [Iraq’s highest Shiite authority] and it is part of the government’s program,” Kadhimi said, according to a statement published on the PM office’s Telegram channel.

The IHEC decided on Tuesday to extend the registration period of political alliances after calling for the elections to be moved to October.

The decision was made as a result of low registration numbers, it said.

Sadr said on Monday that he hoped the reason behind the electoral commission’s request to postpone elections is a “professional decision taken purely to complete all election mechanisms and conduct them with acceptable procedure.”

Sadr has been a firm supporter of early elections. In November, Sadr said he intends to run for prime minister if the elections result in a Sadrist majority.

Early elections have wide support among the political parties. All parties in parliament agree that early elections should be held this year, Sabah Talubi, a member of the Sairoon Alliance told state media on January 8.