If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)
In this Jan. 18, 2019 photo, a house that once belonged to a Christian family lies in ruins, destroyed during fighting with the Islamic State, in Bartella, Iraq. (Fay Abuelgasim/AP via Crux)
One of Iraq’s top Church officials has praised the recent return of several confiscated properties belonging to Christians and other minorities, saying the move could hasten the return of families who left the country due to injustice and persecution.
The properties were restored as part of an initiative launched earlier this year by Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr, head of the Sadist political group, whose party currently enjoys strong representation in Iraq’s parliament. In January, al-Sadr ordered the creation of an ad hoc committee tasked with collecting and verifying complaints of the illegal expropriation of property owned by Christians and other regional minorities.
Calling al-Sadr’s move a celebration of “patriotism and humanity,” Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, Iraq’s Chaldean patriarch, said such initiatives “will continue to encourage Christians to return to their country and recover their property.”
So far, the committee has returned at least 50 houses and other properties to their rightful owners.
At the time the committee’s establishment was announced in early January, al-Sadr said his goal was to restore justice and to end the violation of property rights against his “Christian brothers,” including those committed by Shiites.
Christians and members of other minority communities who have left Iraq have also been invited to issue a complaint if their property had been expropriated in a bid to get them to return.
The theft of Christian-owned property and houses has been a major issue since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, when militia groups emerged seeking to fill the vacuum left by Hussein’s absence.
Since then, the so-called “legalized theft” of property has been a key factor in why so many Christians and other minorities have left Iraq in recent years, complaining that corrupt officials made arrangements either with individuals or criminal groups to confiscate the properties.
On January 3, al-Sadr sent a delegation to visit Sako, bringing with them Christmas well-wishes and a copy of the document formally establishing the committee in charge of evaluating complaints and returning the properties.
Sako on that occasion thanked al-Sadr for the initiative, stressing the importance of working to protect the common good of the nation and to place this above any private or sectarian interest.
Some observers have hailed the quick return of 50 properties as a fruit of Pope Francis’s March 5-8 visit to the country. Since the pope’s visit was announced late last year, several steps have been taken favoring minorities, which also have been credited as a direct impact of the papal trip.
In December the Iraqi Parliament voted unanimously to declare Christmas an annual national holiday, and on March 8, the day of Pope Francis’s departure, President Barham Salih ratified a law benefitting Yazidi survivors of the 2014-2017 ISIS genocide.
After years of delay, so-called “Yazidi survivor law” was passed by Iraq’s parliament March 1, and ratified by Salih March 8, which marks the celebration of International Women’s Day.
Many, including Sako and Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, have praised these and other steps, voicing hope that the fruits of the pope’s visit will both multiply and be long-lasting.
Speaking to Vatican News, Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who survived ISIS captivity and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, said she believes the papal visit helped shed a light on the challenges that minorities in Iraq often face, and believes it could help their situation to improve.
“The pope’s visit highlighted the potential of peace and of religious freedom,” she said, recalling how Pope Francis during his trip repeatedly insisted that “all Iraqis, regardless of their faith, equally deserve dignity and human rights.”
“His Holiness also sent a clear message that the healing of the interreligious fabric of Iraqi society must begin with the support and care of minorities, like the Yazidis, who have been subjected to violence and marginalization,” she said.
Recalling her brief meeting with Pope Francis in 2018, and his comments on his return flight from Iraq to Rome in which he said her recent book The Last Girl was an inspiration for making the trip, Murad said she was happy that her story impacted the pope, and that “he felt called to bring his message to Iraq.”
“His defense of the cause of the Yazidis is an example for all other religious leaders in the region to amplify the message of tolerance toward religious minorities such as the Yazidis,” she said, noting that some 2,800 Yazidi women and children are still missing nearly sever years after ISIS’s initial insurrection in 2014.
This fact shows that there is a “lack of political will to protect the fundamental human rights of women and their safety. It shows that sexual violence and slavery are not taken seriously by the international community,” she said, and called for a multilateral taskforce to be established with the aim of rescuing these women and children.
Murad said that if she could send a message to the women still in captivity, it would be that “it’s not your fault. Global patriarchal systems were meant to subjugate us, take advantage of our oppression and wage war on our bodies.”
“Surviving and fighting for the recognition of these injustices is an act of resistance,” she said, assuring these women that they are not alone.
“More than a third of women around the world are subjected to sexual violence. This does not mean that we have to accept it,” Murad said, adding, “There are women in every community who survive, oppose, and denounce. When we unite to fight for our rights, change becomes unstoppable.
After about three weeks of relative calm, the Israeli Air Force allegedly conducted a big airstrike on two reported Iranian weapons warehouses located just outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based organization that monitors the ongoing Syrian civil war.
The official Syrian news service SANA, reported, quoting an unnamed military official, that “Our air defenses intercepted the attack and shot down most of [the missiles.]” Such claims are frequently made but are discounted by most analysts.
According to the Syrian Capital Voice, the Israeli airstrikes targeted an Iranian weapons shipment that had arrived at the Damascus International Airport earlier on Tuesday. Secondary explosions were reported after the airstrikes; these were likely caused by ammunition hit when the incoming missiles exploded.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not comment on the most recent airstrikes, in accordance with its policy to neither confirm nor deny its operations in Syria.
Nevertheless, IDF has admitted on occasion to have conducted numerous airstrikes against Iranian troop concentrations, weapons shipments, and warehouses. Israel’s stated policy is that it will never allow an Iranian presence on its borders. The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011.
These latest airstrikes were the eighth since the beginning of January as regional tensions are rising between Israel, Iran, and the United States. Iran is ramping up the pressure on the Biden administration, which has made it clear that it is seeking a return to negotiations on the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Israelis feel this is a mistake and worry that it would put nuclear weapons in the hands of its archenemy who is bent on its destruction. Israeli Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi recently stated that he had ordered operational plans to strike Iran’s nuclear program to be ready if necessary.
Just last month, alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted once again the area of Damascus International Airport, through which Iran had reportedly been flying advanced munitions, as well as the long-time Iranian military bases around the Damascus suburb of el-Kisweh. These airstrikes came days after drones reportedly bombed a shipment of advanced weapons being transported through Iraq into eastern Syria by Iranian proxy militias.
According to an independent flight tracking site, a number of Iranian and Syrian flights from Qeshm Air, Mahan Air, and the Syrian Air Force, which have all reportedly been used to smuggle Iranian weapons to Syria and Lebanon, have been traveling between Damascus and Tehran.
The relationship between the U.S. and Iran, which has never been good since the 1979 hostage crisis, has taken an even worse turn since the war in Iraq. With the Iranian Quds Force having been behind the deaths of hundreds of American troops, the threat of war is real.
Israel and Iran have been bitter enemies since the creation of the Islamic Republic in 1980.
After the U.S. largely withdrew from Iraq in 2011, the resultant power vacuum created an opportunity for the Islamic State to carve out a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria and also allowed Iran to increase its presence and influence throughout the region.
Iran has sponsored militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and has been supporting terrorism against American and Western interests.
With an aging, outdated air force, Iran can’t afford a conventional war against the U.S., Israel, or even Saudi Arabia. Therefore, it has invested heavily in ballistic missiles and rockets and is flooding its proxies, especially Hezbollah in Lebanon, with as many as it can.
Through its Houthi proxies in Yemen, Iran has attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities with “drone swarms” and cruise missiles. While the Houthis acknowledged the attack, Iran ridiculously denied having anything to do it.
Israel is worried about similar attacks against it coming from Lebanon, Syria, or Iraq. Thus the Israelis aren’t going to wait for Iranian proxies to acquire an array of missiles, drones, or cruise missiles.
This is why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced publicly that Iran and Syria will be responsible for any proxy militia that acts within their territory or answers to their orders.
With the Iranians increasingly violating the already lax terms of the JCPOA and the Biden administration clearly wanting to negotiate a return to the pact, Israel is in a quandary.
Israel has made it clear that the 20 percent threshold of Iranian uranium enrichment is its red-line. If Tehran, which has already reached that level in spite of the JCPOA forbidding that, surpasses the 20 percent enrichment, then Israel will act and the threat of open warfare, which no one wants, will grow exponentially.
BY DAVID BRENNAN ON 3/22/21 AT 8:01 AM EDT
Americans of all political persuasions consider cyber attacks the greatest national security threat, according to a new Gallup poll, though there remain deep partisan divisions on a host of other existential threats to the U.S.
Gallup polled 1,021 nationally-representative adults between February 3 and 18 via telephone interviews, with a 4 percent sampling error.
It found that cyber attacks topped a list of 11 national security concerns, with 82 percent of respondents citing it as a “critical threat” to American interests. The poll results come as President Joe Biden’s administration mulls its response to Russia’s large-scale cyber attack last year, which compromised a host of federal agencies and U.S. companies.
The majority of both Republicans (81 percent) and Democrats (82 percent) fear the potential impact of future cyber attacks. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are all sources of concern for national defense officials, and all have shown ability and willingness to attack U.S. targets.
Other top “critical threats” according to respondents are North Korean nuclear weapons (77 percent), potential Iranian nuclear weapons (75 percent), international terrorism (72 percent), and the global spread of infectious diseases (72 percent).
Less, but still significantly, worrying threats among the majority of respondents were the economic power of China (63 percent consider it a “critical threat) and climate change (58 percent).
Gallup said the results were fairly similar to those of past years, though noted concern rising about China’s economic power (up 17 points from 46 percent in 2019) and the spread of infectious diseases (up nine points from 63 percent in 2016).
But as with recent foreign policy polls, the latest Gallup research showed striking partisan disagreement on some of the key threats facing the U.S.
Remnants of former President Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions are still visible in Republican sentiment. Gallup found that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to be worried about Iran’s nuclear program (83 percent versus 68 percent), China’s economic power (78 percent versus 52 percent), and illegal immigration (75 percent versus 20 percent).
On the other hand, Democrats are more concerned than their right-wing compatriots about future pandemics (82 percent versus 61 percent) and climate change (86 percent versus 27 percent).
The two sides are closely aligned on their concerns over North Korean nuclear weapons (77 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats), international terrorism (72 percent for both sides), and cyber terrorism (81 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran does not trust U.S. promises on lifting sanctions and will only return to its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal once Washington fully removes the measures, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is exploring ways to restore the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with major world powers, but which was abandoned in 2018 by President Donald Trump, who reimposed sanctions. Iran retaliated by breaching the terms of the accord in a step-by-step response.
The United States and the other Western powers that signed up to the 2015 deal appear to be at odds with Tehran over which side should return to the accord first, making it unlikely that U.S. sanctions which have crippled Iran’s economy can be quickly removed.
“We trusted America at the time of (former U.S. President Barack) Obama and fulfilled our commitments. But they didn’t. The Americans said on paper that sanctions will be lifted, but they didn’t lift sanctions in practice,” Khamenei said in a speech on state TV. “Their promises have no credibility for us.”
“On paper they said the sanctions were lifted but they told any company that wanted to sign a contract with us that this was dangerous and risky. They scared away investors,” Khamenei said.
“The Americans must lift all sanctions. We will verify it and if sanctions are … really cancelled, we will return to our obligations without any problems,” Khamenei said. “We have a lot of patience and we are not in a hurry.”
Khamenei, who has the final say in matters of state, said Iranian planners should act on a worst-case scenario that sanctions would not be lifted soon.
“You should assume that sanctions will remain in place and plan the country’s economy based on sanctions,” Khamenei said, addressing current officials and those who might take over after the country’s presidential election in June.
Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Catherine Evans and Giles Elgood
The IDF arrested three suspects who infiltrated from Lebanon into Israel near Kiryat Shmona.
Infiltrations were reported along Israel’s borders with the Gaza Strip and with Lebanon on Sunday, with suspects arrested in both locations.
On Sunday evening, the IDF arrested three suspects who infiltrated from Lebanon into Israel near Kiryat Shmona. The suspects, who later turned out to be Sudanese migrants seeking work, were returned to Lebanon later on Sunday, Israeli media reported.
Earlier in the day, two Palestinians were arrested by the IDF after they crossed the border from the south of the Gaza Strip into Israel armed with knives, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported.
Ynet reporter Matan Tzuri reported on Sunday as well that incendiary kites and balloons were found in southern Israel near the border of the Gaza Strip over the weekend.
The devices were the first incendiary devices reported in the past few months, after a lull in the launch of incendiary and explosive devices from the Strip.
Except for sporadic balloon launches in the fall of last year, the launches had largely stopped since a ceasefire was reached between Hamas and Israel at the end of August after weeks of daily explosive and incendiary balloon launches and rocket fire.
In response to the balloon launches in August, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister and Benny Gantz, warned that such launches would be met with “forceful” responses.
The incidents come after a series of incidents in which a number of Palestinians were killed and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group threatened to respond.
On Friday, Sheikh Atef Yousef Hanaisheh, was shot in the head and taken to a hospital near the West Bank city of Nablus where he later died, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Hanaisheh, who is in his forties, was involved in a weekly protest against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan, near Nablus.
A group of Palestinians threw stones towards two IDF soldiers posted there, and the soldiers then opened fire, said the Reuters witness, a photographer.
“The Palestinian people will not submit under the impact of terrorism and aggression, but will respond to them with anger, revolution and the massive uprising that will uproot the Zionist presence from our country,” said the terrorist group in response to the death of Hanaisheh.
Earlier this month, the Gazan Interior Ministry claimed that an Israeli quadcopter carrying explosives was responsible for an incident which resulted in the death of three Palestinian fishermen.
At the time, the Hamas-run ministry stated that it holds Israel “fully responsible for the killing of the three fishermen.”
The Al-Quds Brigade, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, warned that Israel “will receive a sure response from the Palestinian resistance” to the alleged incident at the time.
“The rules of engagement established with the occupation will not be allowed to be changed,” said the terrorist group.
Reuters, Jerusalem Post staff and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
March 21, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Joining an elite club of nations with access to nuclear missile tracking vessels, the Indian Navy secretly commissioned the highly secretive Ocean Surveillance Ship, bestowing it with the code name VC-1118.
Reports suggest that this move will boost India’s ballistic missile defence system as well as systematically improve ways of increasing its electronic warfare capabilities. The vessel has been under construction since 2014 and was commissioned in October 2019 without any public ceremony, according to The Economic Times.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic delayed the commissioning process by a few months, but the vessel passed all its trials before being put into service.
To realise the strategic importance of the move, one has to understand that India is only the fifth country in the world – after the US, France, China, and Russia – to operate such a vessel, which will prove to be a great tool for monitoring the developmental trial of its domestic missile programme.
But its main use will be to act as an ‘early warning’ ship for incoming missile launches on the country, increasing the effectiveness of the ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield already in possession with the Indian army. Such a tool will prove to be handy in the long run, since both of India’s immediate neighbours – Pakistan and China – are armed to the teeth with nuclear warheads.
Hindustan Shipyard Limited, where the construction of the vessel took place, was founded in 1941, by Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. Recognising its strategic importance, the shipyard was transferred from the Ministry of Shipping to the Ministry of Defence in February 2010.