A 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, on Sunday morning, officials said — startling residents across the Northeast who expressed shock about the rare tremors.
The quake struck the area about five miles southwest of the community in Buzzards Bay just after 9 a.m. — marking the strongest one in the area since a magnitude 3.5 temblor in March 1976, the US Geological Survey said.
With a depth of 9.3 miles, the impact was felt across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.
“This is the strongest earthquake that we’ve recorded in that area — Southern New England,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Providence Journal.
But the quake was still considered “light” on the magnitude scale, meaning that it was felt but didn’t cause significant damage.
The quake, however, was unusual for the region — which has only experienced 26 larger than a magnitude 2.5 since 1973, Caruso said.
Around 14,000 people went onto the USGS site to report the shaking — with some logging tremors as far as Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, both about 100 miles away.
“It’s common for them to be felt very far away because the rock here is old and continuous and transmits the energy a long way,” Caruso said.
Journalist Katie Couric was among those on Long Island to be roused by the Sunday-morning rumblings.
“Did anyone on the east coast experience an earthquake of sorts?” Couric wrote on Twitter.
“We are on Long Island and the attic and walls rattled.”
Closer to the epicenter, residents estimated they felt the impact for 10 to 15 seconds.
“In that moment, it feels like it’s going on forever,” said Ali Kenner Brodsky, who lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Popular support for Muqtada al-Sadr, progeny of the famous Sadr political dynasty, is on the ascendant in Iraq. Leader of the main opposition Shia faction, Sadr is also no stranger to the corridors of power within the country. A man of many facets, dogmatic and pragmatic by turns. By John Davison & Ahmed Rasheed
On a tense February night, thousands of militiamen loyal to Shia Muslim clericMuqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, parading in gun-laden pick-up trucks while state security forces stood by.
It was the biggest show of force by the populist cleric since the mid-2000s, when his followers battled the U.S. occupation and inflicted thousands of American casualties.
Two days later, Sadr made a rare appearance in front of news cameras from his base in the Shia holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq. He said his Peace Brigades deployed because of a terrorist threat against Shia holy sites. Iraq was not secure without his paramilitaries, he added. “The security forces are in a state of collapse.”
For Sadr’s opponents and allies alike, the cleric’s message was clear: after years on the fringes, Sadr is back. On the streets and in the corridors of power.
Over the past two years, Sadr’s political organisation, the Sadrist Movement, has quietly come to dominate the apparatus of the Iraqi state. Its members have taken senior jobs within the interior, defence and communications ministries. They have had their picks appointed to state oil, electricity and transport bodies, to state-owned banks and even to Iraq’s central bank, according to more than a dozen government officials and lawmakers.
These new positions have brought the Sadrists financial power. Ministries where Sadrists or their allies have recently taken senior posts account for between a third and a half of Iraq’s $90 billion draft budget for 2021, according to a Reuters analysis. Iraq’s government didn’t comment.
The Sadrists are poised to be the biggest winners in a general election set for October. This growing influence could pose problems for the United States and Iran, both of whom Sadr accuses of meddling in Iraq. He has called for the departure of America’s remaining 2,500 troops and he has told Tehran he will “not leave Iraq in its grip”.
Yet some Western diplomats say privately they would rather deal with an Iraq dominated by Sadr than by his Iran-backed Shia rivals. Sadr is a more nationalist Shia figure.
Since the defeat of the Sunni extremist Islamic State in 2017, the United States and the Iran-backed militias that fought the group have turned their guns on one another with rocket attacks and drone strikes. With his Shia rivals distracted, Sadr quietly set to work in politics.
“We found Sadr one of the principal brakes on expansion of Iranian and very sectarian Shia political influence in Iraq after the 2018 elections,” said Doug Silliman, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and President of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
Reuters interviewed more than two dozen people with direct knowledge of Sadr’s activities – including his allies and opponents – and reviewed legal documents to chart how his supporters have taken command of key positions in ministries and state bodies that control wealth and patronage networks – what Iraqis call the “deep state”.
Senior government officials and Shia politicians say the Sadrists have learned some of their political tactics from Hezbollah, the Lebanese armed and populist Shia group with which the Sadrist Movement maintains close contact. These methods include ways to avoid splitting the Sadrist vote and so to maximise electoral gains.
Nassar al-Rubaie, a top political representative of Sadr, summed up the Sadrists’ revival. “Today, we have Sadrists in positions in every state institution,” he said. “This is a blessing from God!”
Cleric Hazem al-Aaraji, a close aide of Sadr, told Reuters the Sadrist Movement is stronger than at any point since 2003. Sadr, he said, is “the most powerful man in Iraq.”
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has previously denied that the Sadrist Movement controls senior posts in his administration and insists he is in charge. His government didn’t respond to detailed questions for this article.
A U.S. official declined to comment on internal Iraqi affairs. Iranian officials didn’t respond.
Beirut (AP) — A facility housing U.S. troops in eastern Syria came under attack late Sunday when rockets were fired from nearby areas, an opposition war monitor, state media and a spokesman for U.S.-backed fighters said, though the U.S. military denied there was any attack.
“There is no truth to the reports that U.S. forces in Syria were attacked by rockets today,” tweeted coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto.
Earlier Sunday, Siyamend Ali, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said two rockets were fired at al-Omar field in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour without inflicting any casualties. He added that it was not immediately clear where the rockets were fired from.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets were fired from areas controlled by Iran-backed fighters in the area of Mayadeen, also in Deir el-Zour.
Syria’s state news agency, SANA, also reported that al-Omar facility was hit with two rockets.
Later Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces denied reports that another base housing U.S. troops was hit, saying the sounds of explosions at the facility, known as Conoco, were from training with live ammunition.
The alleged rocket attack on al-Omar came six days after U.S. troops in eastern Syria came under a similar attack. Last week’s attack came a day after U.S. Air Force planes carried out airstrikes near the Iraq-Syria border against what the Pentagon said were facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups to support drone strikes inside Iraq.
Thousands of Iran-backed militiamen from around the Middle East are deployed in different parts of Syria, many of them in areas along the border with Iraq.
Over a year after Chinese forces clashed with the Indian Army in Eastern Ladakh, a new report hints at Beijing’s quiet push toward bolstering its nuclear arsenal. China has reportedly begun the construction of over 100 silos to hold Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) in a desert near the northwestern city of Yumen.
The construction signals a major expansion in the nuclear capabilities of Beijing, which already has a stockpile of 250 to 350 nuclear weapons.
The construction was captured in new commercial satellite images of remote areas west and southwest of Yumen on the edge of the Gobi Desert. The images, released by The Washington Post, show excavations, long trenches and surface structure among other features similar to those seen at existing nuclear launch facilities. Researchers compared images taken during the past four months with new images from past weeks to establish the sudden development.
Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on China’s nuclear program, told The New York Times that it was a recognisable design and it is hard to imagine it’s anything else. The new buildup could spark concerns across the board from Delhi to Washington, which has been pushing against the expansionary policies of Beijing under President Xi Jinping.
“We encourage Beijing to engage with us on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilizing tensions. This buildup — it is concerning, the Washington Post quoted US State Department’s spokesman, Ned Price as saying. The Pentagon has been raising alarms against China’s plans to push its nuclear arsenal.
The location of the construction site is along the once strategic Silk Road in an area that houses 1,70,000 people. The Washington Post reported that each site is separated from its neighbour by about two miles, and many of the sites are concealed by a large, dome-like covering. While at sites that are not under a dome-like covering, workers can be seen excavating a characteristic circular-shaped pit in the desert floor.
Lewis pointed out that silos are probably being constructed to house a Chinese ICBM known as the DF-41, which can carry multiple warheads to a distance as far as nearly 15,000 kilometres. The distances put countries like India, Taiwan and even the US mainland within its reach.
The new images come on the heels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrating its 100th anniversary with Xi saying that the Chinese people will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate us. “Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
Satellite imagery has long been used to identify such spots that could be prominent to geopolitical development. Similar imagery had exposed China’s buildup in eastern Ladakh showing military tanks, bunkers and soldiers patrolling in the region.
“It was India that approached us. They (New Delhi) said they wanted to talk on all disputed issues, including on Kashmir,” he said without specifying the time period and location of the contact.
“We clearly conveyed them our demand i.e., reversal of the August 2019 move, for resumption of talks,” he went on to say.
On Aug. 5, 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the country’s only Muslim-majority state with its autonomy. It was also split into two federally administered territories. Simultaneously, it locked the region down, detained thousands of people, imposed movement restrictions and enforced a communications blackout, according to Amnesty International.
Islamabad, in turn, suspended trade ties and downgraded diplomatic relations with New Delhi.
“Since they (the Indian government) haven’t done anything (favorable) in this regard, so it’s over now,” he said, foreseeing “no change” in India’s stance on the August 2019 move.
“India is trapped in Kashmir after taking this step. It’s in their own interest to reverse it,” he further argued.
“They (politicians])too openly demanded the revocation of the August 2019 step and asked Prime Minister Modi to talk to Pakistan (over the Kashmir issue),” he contended.
The top intelligence officials of the two nuclear-armed neighbors reportedly met in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January in an attempt to stem heightened tensions between the two sides. In April, UAE’s Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba confirmed that Abu Dhabi was mediating between New Delhi and Islamabad to help reach a “healthy and functional” relationship.
Addressing a virtual session with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Otaiba said his country had a role in the recent cease-fire at the Line of Control (LoC), the de-facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, which could get relations back to a “healthy level.”
TEHRAN – A senior Iranian general has said that the United States seeks to disintegrate a number of countries in the region but the Iranian Leader’s directions have prevented it from achieving its goal.
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh warned that the U.S. is pursuing plans to break up Syria, Iraq and Iran.
U.S. troops are present in Syria and Iraq and face growing calls from local resistance groups to leave these countries.
Addressing a ceremony in Qom on Friday night, the General said, “Enemies are trying every day to take control of the region and gain access to the resources of the countries. Today, the Americans are based in Syria and seek to disintegrate Iraq, Syria and Iran. But they have not succeeded thanks to the Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei)’s guidance, and the important thing is the vigilance and insight of the people of the region and Iran.”
He added that the regional nations and the IRGC will not allow the Americans to implement their plots, stressing that martyrdom of General Qasem Soleimani will not be forgotten and it has further awakened the nations, according to Fars News.
Earlier this week, Deputy IRGC Commander for Political Affairs Brigadier General Yadollah Javani called on the U.S. to leave the region immediately.
“The IRGC advises the United States to leave the region right now,” Brigadier General Javani said last Monday.
He reiterated that the enemy’s threats are not new and are repetitions of the previous threats, and said that the enemy knows that the IRGC is ready for any confrontation.
Iran has long called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from the region and doubled down on this policy after the assassination of General Soleimani earlier last year.
In May, Speaker of the Iranian parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf noted that the presence of foreign military troops in the region would only cause insecurity in the region, not peace.
Ever since General Soleimani was assassinated on January 3, 2020, in Baghdad along with his comrade Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy chief of Iraq’ Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Iranian officials have placed the goal of expelling the U.S. from the region high on their foreign policy agenda and they still insist that the U.S. must leave the region.
Nearly a week after the U.S. targeted the top Iranian general, Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said the real revenge for the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani will be the expulsion of the United States troops from the region.
The real revenge for the United States’ criminal and illegal actions, at the top of which is the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, will be their expulsion from the region,” he said during a meeting with then-Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis in Tehran.
Jahangiri said that interferences by certain Western countries, especially the U.S., have caused instability and insecurity in the West Asia region.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei also underlined the need to expel the U.S. forces from the region in the aftermath of Soleimani’s assassination.
“Of course, revenge will be taken on those who ordered it and the murderers,” said the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with a group of officials who were responsible for commemorating the first anniversary of the assassination of the general.
The Leader said Iran has slapped the U.S. in the face by launching a missile strike on the U.S. airbase of Ain al-Assad in western Iraq earlier this year.
But the tougher slap, the Leader pointed out, would be expelling the U.S. troops from the West Asia region.