Don’t Forget About the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Don’t forget about earthquakes, feds tell city

Although New York’s modern skyscrapers are less likely to be damaged in an earthquake than shorter structures, a new study suggests the East Coast is more vulnerable than previously thought. The new findings will help alter building codes.By Mark FaheyJuly 18, 2014 10:03 a.m.The U.S. Geological Survey had good and bad news for New Yorkers on Thursday. In releasing its latest set of seismic maps the agency said earthquakes are a slightly lower hazard for New York City’s skyscrapers than previously thought, but on the other hand noted that the East Coast may be able to produce larger, more dangerous earthquakes than previous assessments have indicated.The 2014 maps were created with input from hundreds of experts from across the country and are based on much stronger data than the 2008 maps, said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. The bottom line for the nation’s largest city is that the area is at a slightly lower risk for the types of slow-shaking earthquakes that are especially damaging to tall spires of which New York has more than most places, but the city is still at high risk due to its population density and aging structures, said Mr. Petersen.“Many of the overall patterns are the same in this map as in previous maps,” said Mr. Petersen. “There are large uncertainties in seismic hazards in the eastern United States. [New York City] has a lot of exposure and some vulnerability, but people forget about earthquakes because you don’t see damage from ground shaking happening very often.”Just because they’re infrequent doesn’t mean that large and potentially disastrous earthquakes can’t occur in the area. The new maps put the largest expected magnitude at 8, significantly higher than the 2008 peak of 7.7 on a logarithmic scale.The scientific understanding of East Coast earthquakes has expanded in recent years thanks to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia in 2011 that was felt by tens of millions of people across the eastern U.S. New data compiled by the nuclear power industry has also helped experts understand quakes.“The update shows New York at an intermediate level,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “You have to combine that with the exposure of buildings and people and the fragility of buildings and people. In terms of safety and economics, New York has a substantial risk.”Oddly enough, it’s not the modern tall towers that are most at risk. Those buildings become like inverted pendulums in the high frequency shakes that are more common on the East Coast than in the West. But the city’s old eight- and 10-story masonry structures could suffer in a large quake, said Mr. Lerner-Lam. Engineers use maps like those released on Thursday to evaluate the minimum structural requirements at building sites, he said. The risk of an earthquake has to be determined over the building’s life span, not year-to-year.“If a structure is going to exist for 100 years, frankly, it’s more than likely it’s going to see an earthquake over that time,” said Mr. Lerner-Lam. “You have to design for that event.”The new USGS maps will feed into the city’s building-code review process, said a spokesman for the New York City Department of Buildings. Design provisions based on the maps are incorporated into a standard by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is then adopted by the International Building Code and local jurisdictions like New York City. New York’s current provisions are based on the 2010 standards, but a new edition based on the just-released 2014 maps is due around 2016, he said.“The standards for seismic safety in building codes are directly based upon USGS assessments of potential ground shaking from earthquakes, and have been for years,” said Jim Harris, a member and former chair of the Provisions Update Committee of the Building Seismic Safety Council, in a statement.The seismic hazard model also feeds into risk assessment and insurance policies, according to Nilesh Shome, senior director of Risk Management Solutions, the largest insurance modeler in the industry. The new maps will help the insurance industry as a whole price earthquake insurance and manage catastrophic risk, said Mr. Shome. The industry collects more than $2.5 billion in premiums for earthquake insurance each year and underwrites more than $10 trillion in building risk, he said.“People forget about history, that earthquakes have occurred in these regions in the past, and that they will occur in the future,” said Mr. Petersen. “They don’t occur very often, but the consequences and the costs can be high.”

Antichrist’s Men Guarantee Another Obama-Iran Deal Won’t Happen

Keeping up attacks, some Iraq militias challenge patron Iran

BAGHDAD — Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force commander brought one main directive for Iraqi militia faction leaders long beholden to Tehran, when he gathered with them in Baghdad last month: Maintain calm, until after nuclear talks between Iran and the United States.

But he was met with defiance. One of the six faction leaders spoke up in their meeting: They could not stay quiet while the death of his predecessor Qassim Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a U.S. drone strike went unavenged.

Militia attacks have only been increasing against the U.S. in military bases in both Iraq and Syria. Three missile attacks in the last week alone resulted in minor injuries, stoking fears of escalation.

The details from Esmail Ghaani’s visit, confirmed to The Associated Press by three Shiite political officials and two senior militia officials, demonstrate how Iranian-aligned Iraqi militia groups are asserting a degree of independence, sometimes even flouting orders from Tehran. Iran now relies on Lebanon’s Hezbollah for support in reining them in, and there is potential that Iran’s new president could play a role in doing the same.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meetings.

Iran’s influence, sustained by ideological ties and military support, has frayed because of the U.S. killing of Soleimani and al-Muhandis last year, because of differing interests and because of financial strains in Tehran. With nuclear talks restarting following U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration this year, these differences have come to the fore.

“Iran isn’t the way it used to be, with 100% control over the militia commanders,” said one Shiite political leader.

Increasing rocket and drone attacks targeting American troops in Iraq and Syria have alarmed Western and coalition officials. There have been at least eight drone attacks targeting the U.S. presence since Biden took office in January, as well as 17 rocket attacks, according to coalition officials.

The attacks are blamed on the Iranian-backed militias that make up the bulk of Iraq’s state-supported Popular Mobilization Forces. The Biden administration has responded by twice targeting Iraqi militia groups operating inside Syria, including close to the Iraqi border.

“What is taking place now is when Ghaani asks for calm, the brigade leaders agree with him. But as soon as he leaves the meeting, they disregard his recommendations,” said another Shiite political leader.

The loudest of the defiant militia voices has been Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq faction, which also maintains a political party. On June 17, only days after Ghaani’s meetings with the militias, he said in a televised address that they would continue to target the U.S. “occupier” and that they will not take into consideration nuclear talks.

“And that decision is an Iraqi one,” he said.

The coalition has formally ended combat operations and reduced troop levels significantly in the last year. Only 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Iraq and discussions are ongoing with NATO to transfer to an advisory mission. Iraq still needs coalition support in surveillance and intelligence gathering and airstrikes against Islamic State group targets.

Some argue the ongoing attacks benefit Iran by maintaining pressure on the U.S.

During talks with Shiite political officials during his visit, Ghani said Iran doesn’t interfere in their political work, but that military matters were different. “These must be approved by the Revolutionary Guard,” one political leader recounted him saying.

Still, Ghaani did not reprimand the militia groups during the meeting. Instead, he told them he understood their concerns.

Iran has struggled to fill in the gap left in the absence of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, who were commanding figures able to push factions into line and resolve disputes among them.

“Ghaani has a different style and capabilities,” said Michael Knights, a fellow at The Washington Institute. He has a looser framework, establishing broad red lines on some matters, while “other things are ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,” he said.

Along with asking for less, cash-strapped Iran has been giving less as well. Assistance to the groups has been significantly downgraded since U.S. sanctions began crippling Iran’s economy last year.

Divisions among factions have deepened, with growing competition among militias and Shiite politicians.

Ghaani came to meet the militia leaders to mend tensions that were sparked weeks earlier when Iraqi authorities arrested a paramilitary commander, Qassim Musleh, prompting a standoff between PMF fighters and security forces. Ghaani brought a letter from Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, criticizing the PMF for its reaction, saying it weakened their position.

To apply pressure on the factions, Iran has come to rely on Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah in Lebanon, a figure the militias highly respect. Almost weekly, various factional leaders hold face-to-face meetings with him in Lebanon, said Shiite political leaders.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, elected in June, also may be a unifying figure for the militias, which hold him in high esteem, political and militia officials said. When Raisi visited Baghdad in February, he met with PMF commanders and told them, in fluent Arabic, “Our flesh is your flesh, and our blood is your blood.” Ghaani communicates with brigade leaders through an interpreter.

“The resistance will grow in power and will see its best of times due to the election victory of Raisi,” said Abu Alaa al-Walae, commander of Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, in a recent interview.

Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed from Beirut.

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021.  Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021.  Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States.  (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021.  Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States.   (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021.  Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States.  (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iran-backed militia fighters march in central Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Iraqi Shiite militias are showing a degree of defiance of their patron Iran by escalating rocket and drone attacks on the U.S. presence in the country, militia and Shiite political leaders say. Iran has been pushing the factions to keep calm in Iraq while it holds nuclear negotiations with the United States. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Print Headline: Keeping up attacks, some Iraq militias challenge patron Iran

China Researches and Prepares for Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Satellite image of Lop Nur air base in Xinjiang, China. China's very own "Area 51"? Photo / Supplied
Satellite image of Lop Nur air base in Xinjiang, China. China’s very own “Area 51”? Photo / Supplied

China builds its own Area 51 in outback as arms race continues

10 Jul, 2021 08:17 PM

It’s big. It’s remote. It’s mysterious. It’s an enormous radioactive desert in “outback” China. And Beijing is building its equivalent to Area 51 there. Two of them.

The arms race between East and West is once again heating up.

Stealth is old news. As are cruise missiles and high-flying spy planes.

The “black” projects of the 2020s are all about drones, artificial intelligence and sixth-generation combat aircraft.

The United States has had its “Area 51” lost among the dunes of Nevada since the end of World War II. Though it never officially existed before 2013. It’s been called Dreamland. Watertown. The Nevada Training Range. Paradise Ranch. Groom Lake.

But, mostly, it’s known as Area 51.

Area 51 in Nevada, US is secretive and heavily protected. Photo / Twitter

Area 51 in Nevada, US is secretive and heavily protected. Photo / Twitter

Aircraft such as the ultra-fast, ultra-high flying SR-71 Blackbird was born there. Secret breakthroughs such as the F117 Nighthawk stealth fighter were based there. Many other weird and wonderful design concepts were tested there.

Now China’s in the arms race business. So it’s building its own.

It appears to have chosen a former nuclear test range in a dry corner of Xinjiang province as its secret testing facility. With the local Uighur population imprisoned or intimidated into submission, its remoteness makes it easy to spot strangers. And if its scorching heat and parched sands don’t discourage ‘accidental’ intrusions, the radioactivity probably will.

But, in the era of commercial satellite surveillance, hiding what’s happening at its expanding airfields is proving to be problematic.

Malan Air Base, Xinjiang

The Malan military air facility is close to Xinjiang’s Bostun lake amid some of the region’s handful of Uighur and Mongol communities. It’s also on the northwestern edge of the Lop Nur nuclear test facility.

Established with the help of the Soviet Union in 1959, some 45 nuclear tests were conducted in this desert wasteland before it ceased operations in 1996. Aircraft dropped atomic bombs. Experimental devices were exploded on towers. Missiles delivered warheads. And large-scale weapons were detonated underground.

Satellite photos reveal this airbase to be at the heart of Beijing’s drone development programme.

The Warzone’s Tyler Rogoway analysed fresh images from Planet Labs. He spotted an exotic line-up of People’s Liberation’s Army Air Force drone prototypes, with a manned J-16 Flanker fighter alongside them.

“At first glance, we thought this could be an unmanned or optionally manned Flanker derivative that is undergoing testing, or something to do with aerial teaming of manned and unmanned aircraft,” he wrote.

It’s something Australia has been actively pursuing with its Loyal Wingman drone project. The large artificial-intelligence-controlled multi-role drones are intended to fly under the watchful eye of an F-35 Stealth Fighter, each helping the other reach and destroy its target.

The United States is working on a similar “Skyborg” project. Other nations, such as the UK and Russia, are also on the bandwagon.

Beijing is believed to call its project “Intelligence Victory”.

Lop Nur Air Base, Xinjiang

Malan airbase isn’t the most mysterious feature of Lop Nur. About 200km southeast is an even more unusual facility.

It’s enormous.

It’s in the middle of nowhere.

It’s hardly been used.

But it’s undergoing some heavy expansion work.

The first signs of construction were noticed in 2016.

What it’s for remains largely unknown.

Google Earth image of Lop Nur in Xinjiang, China. Photo / Supplied

Google Earth image of Lop Nur in Xinjiang, China. Photo / Supplied

It’s believed to have been the landing site of China’s first uncrewed spaceplane flight in September last year. But its landing and transfer to sheltered facilities went unobserved. And Beijing hasn’t released any footage of the winged craft, which probably serves a similar role to the secretive Boeing X-37B.

Each of its three runways – arrayed in a triangular formation – are an enormous 5km long.

And construction work continues.

Satellite photos from Maxar reveal a dramatic expansion of its hangar and service facilities is underway. According to NPR, work has begun in recent months on a dozen large buildings attached to a service strip leading from its primary, paved runway.

What purpose could these serve?

It could facilitate permanent activity at the secret site.

Hiding and Finding

China is developing its own strategic stealth bomber, the H-20. Like the 1990s vintage B-2 Spirit and its B-21 Raider replacement, this large aircraft is intended to range far across the planet – delivering nuclear or conventional warheads without being observed.

It’s also developing new fighter aircraft for its rapidly expanding aircraft carrier fleet. And then there’s a probable replacement project for the J-20 stealth fighter.

This is before its enormous array of experimental drone designs are taken into consideration.

Keeping such projects secret has become incredibly difficult.

“An important component of security competition over the next decade will be the challenge of ‘hiding and finding,’ especially the struggle to identify the locations and activities of adversaries such as China and Russia,” a recent Center for Strategic & International Studies report states.

“This challenge entails identifying the locations and activities of adversaries, including the movement of their armies, navies, air forces, and intelligence operatives.”

The ever-present threat of “eyes in the sky” saw Islamic State develop some simplistic tactics to hide their activities. Streets were covered with awnings. Vehicles were disguised. Dummies caused distractions. Actual equipment was carefully hidden.

The world’s great powers have taken note.

The US has expanded the size of the hangars at its Area 51 testing facility to keep its projects out of sight. Putting them on the runway is restricted to the increasingly narrow windows between photographic satellites passing overhead.

But much more may be needed.

Such is the quantity and quality of commercial satellite imagery that a whole new realm of open source intelligence (OSINT) has been harassing international powers. And new means of deception – or interference – are likely to appear soon.”

Russia’s New Nuclear Policy: Daniel 7

Russia’s National Security Strategy: A Manifesto for a New Era

ByDmitri TreninJuly 11, 2021

The central feature of the new strategy is its focus on Russia itself. The Russian leadership has every reason right now to turn homeward to address the glaring weaknesses, imbalances, and inequalities of the country’s internal situation.

Russia’s new, forty-four-page National Security Strategy signed by President Vladimir Putin on July 2 is a remarkable document. It is much more than an update of the previous paper, adopted in 2015. Back then, relations with the West had already sharply deteriorated as a result of the Ukraine crisis, but were still considered salvageable; much of the liberal phraseology inherited from the 1990s was still in use; and the world still looked more or less unified. The current version of arguably the most important Kremlin strategy statement—covering not only national security issues, but a whole range of others, from the economy to the environment, and values to defense—is a manifesto for a different era: one defined by the increasingly intense confrontation with the United States and its allies; a return to traditional Russian values; and the critical importance for Russia’s future of such issues as technology and climate.

The strategy lays out a view of a world undergoing transformation and turmoil. The hegemony of the West, it concludes, is on the way out, but that is leading to more conflicts, and more serious ones at that. This combination of historical optimism (the imminent end of Western hegemony) and deep concern (as it is losing, the West will fight back with even more ferocity) is vaguely reminiscent of Stalin’s famous dictum of the sharpening of the class struggle along the road to socialism. Economically, Russia faces unfair competition in the form of various restrictions designed to damage it and hold it back; in terms of security, the use of force is a growing threat; in the realm of ethics, Russia’s traditional values and historical legacy are under attack; in domestic politics, Russia has to deal with foreign machinations aimed at provoking long-term instability in the country. This external environment fraught with mounting threats and insecurities is regarded as an epoch, rather than an episode.

Against this sobering background, the central feature of the strategy is its focus on Russia itself: its demographics, its political stability and sovereignty, national accord and harmony, economic development on the basis of new technologies, protection of the environment and adaptation to climate change, and—last but not least—the nation’s spiritual and moral climate. This inward focus is informed by history. Exactly thirty years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed just as its military power was at its peak, and not as a result of a foreign invasion. Having recently regained the country’s great power status and successfully reformed and rearmed its military, the Russian leadership has every reason now to turn homeward to address the glaring weaknesses, imbalances, and inequalities of the country’s internal situation.

The paper outlines a lengthy series of measures for dealing with a host of domestic issues, from rising poverty and continued critical dependence on imported technology to the advent of green energy and the loss of the Soviet-era technological and educational edge. This certainly makes sense. Indeed, the recent Kremlin discovery of climate change as a top-tier issue is a hopeful sign that Russia is overcoming its former denial of the problem, along with inordinately exuberant expectations of the promise of global warming for a predominantly cold country. After all, the Kremlin’s earlier embrace of digitalization has given a major push to the spread of digital services across Russia.

The strategy does not ignore the moral and ethical aspects of national security. It provides a list of traditional Russian values and discusses them at length. It sees these values as being under attack through Westernization, which threatens to rob the Russians of their cultural sovereignty, and through attempts to vilify Russia by rewriting history. In sum, the paper marks an important milestone in Russia’s official abandonment of the liberal phraseology of the 1990s and its replacement with a moral code rooted in the country’s own traditions. Yet here, the strategy misses a key point at the root of Russia’s many economic and social problems: the widespread absence of any values, other than purely materialistic ones, among much of the country’s ruling elite. The paper mentions in passing the need to root out corruption, but the real issue is bigger by an order of magnitude. As each of President Putin’s annual phone-in sessions with the Russian people demonstrates—including the most recent one on June 30—Russia is governed by a class of people who are, for the most part, self-serving, and do not care at all for ordinary people or the country, instead focusing single-mindedly on making themselves rich on the job. Money—or rather Big Money—has become that group’s top value, and the most corrosive element in today’s Russia. Therein lies perhaps the biggest vulnerability of modern Russia.

On foreign policy, the strategy is fairly elliptic, but it gives a hint of what the upcoming Foreign Policy Concept might include. The United States and some of its NATO allies are now officially branded unfriendly states. Relations with the West are de-prioritized and those countries ranked last in terms of closeness, behind former Soviet countries; the strategic partners China and India; non-Western institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, and the Russia-India-China trio; and other Asian, Latin American, and African countries. In addition to U.S. military deployments and its system of alliances, U.S.-based internet giants with their virtual monopoly in the information sphere, and the U.S. dollar that dominates global finances are also seen as instruments of containing Russia.

Overall, the 2021 Russian National Security Strategy seeks to adapt the country to a still interconnected world of fragmentation and sharpening divisions, in which the main battle lines are drawn not only—and not even mostly—between countries, but within them. Victories will be won and defeats suffered largely on domestic turf. Accordingly, it is the Home Front that presents the greatest and challenges, and it is there that the main thrust of government policies must be directed.

From our partner RIAC

Iranian Officials Defend Their Rights to a Nuclear Bomb: Daniel 8

Iranian Officials Defend Production of Enriched Uranium Metal

The spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, has dismissed concerns by the western countries about Tehran’s decision to produce enriched uranium metal.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s decision to produce silicide fuel plates using 20% enriched uranium is for peaceful purposes, and it will only be used in the Tehran Research Reactor,” Khatibzadeh said as part of a press conference on July 7. 

Last week, foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, collectively known as the E3, said in a joint statement that they had “grave concerns” about Iran’s move. They further insisted that Tehran had “no credible civilian need” to produce uranium metal and that it serves as “a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.”

Khatibzadeh said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been informed about Iran’s decision under the procedures and added that this decision was “not in violation” of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the IAEA’s safeguards.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price also expressed his worries, saying that the move was “another unfortunate step backward for Iran.” He then added that Tehran “chooses to escalate its non-performance of its commitments, especially with experiments that have value for nuclear weapons research.” 

However, the Iranian spokesman called Price’s position on this issue “unacceptable,” saying that “the current situation concerning the JCPOA is due to Washington’s illegal and unilateral actions and approaches.” Khatibzadeh added that the U.S. has continued to implement Donald Trump’s “failed maximum pressure policy on the Iranian people during the Biden administration as well.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions that had been lifted previously. Iran retaliated by accelerating its nuclear program. 

Since April, Iran and the West have been engaged in talks in Vienna to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), mainly known as the Iranian nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, also defended his country’s decision to produce 20 percent-enriched uranium metal. He said that “annually, more than 800,000 patients need radiopharmaceuticals produced by the AEOI [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran] at TRR [Tehran Research Reactor].”

Situation outside the Temple Walls serious due to tightening Israeli blockade: Revelation 11

Shootings from the Palestinian territory light-up the night sky in Gaza city, on July 3, 2021, in response to the bombing of Israeli planes on Gaza military targets.[Photo/Agencies] 

Situation in Gaza serious due to tightening Israeli blockade: UN official

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-07-11 08:25

GAZA — A United Nations (UN) official warned on Saturday that the situation in the Gaza Strip is serious, and increasing Israeli blockade will lead to a new round of violence.

Adnan Abu Hasna, the media advisor of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told reporters that tightening the blockade will renew tension between Israel and Gaza militant groups.

“Since the end of the wave of violence in the Gaza Strip on May 21, the situation in Gaza is extremely dangerous and deteriorating at all levels,” Abu Hasna said.

He said that the situation in the Gaza Strip “cannot continue in this way,” adding that UNRWA and its staff have noticed a rise in the “destructive negative energy” among the population.

Abu Hasna called on the international community and the donor countries “to find a quick mechanism to implement the aid in Gaza and move forward in order to create opportunity and hope for the residents of the enclave.”

The Palestinian factions complained that although Egypt had brokered a cease-fire, Israel has tightened the blockade instead of easing it.

The factions, including the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) which rules the Gaza Strip, demand that Israel abide by the cease-fire understandings.

The understandings include expanding the fishing area, implementing infrastructure projects, and lifting restrictions on importing and exporting goods.

The factions also call for allowing the entry of the financial grant of Qatar for humanitarian support and the entry of building materials to start the reconstruction process

Kashmir a tragedy before the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Kashmir Saga by Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain: Not so much a saga as a tragedy

Sheikh Mohsin1:55 am July 11, 2021

What’s in a name?” Well, if Shakespeare were living in our times, he might reconsider his words. In our period there are some particular names that hold rare and strange connotations. Some excite thoughts of luxury, progress and prosperity, while some trigger anger, abomination, carnage and such like in the mind. The latter classification includes the word “Kashmir”, a densely militarised zone amid a chain of mighty Himalayas. It has been an abode of civilisation for centuries, ruled by various dynasties and autocrats. No one has missed a chance of adoring and praising it but everyone has fallen short of giving it the honour it deserves. For the last seven decades the valley has endured endless tribulations, with its inhabitants the worst sufferers. This situation is a direct outcome of resistance between the rulers and the ruled.
Jammu and Kashmir is recognised as a disputed territory in international forums. Nevertheless, confusingly, the nature of this dispute remains shrouded in obscurantism – known to few, with not much documentation available. The book, “Kashmir Saga”, is an attempt to throw some light on it. The book is divided into four parts and begins with a geographical description of Jammu and Kashmir, along with a brief mention of its disputed nature: a bone of contention between two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, while a large chunk of its territory rests under Chinese occupation. Then follows a short historical background which is mostly based on Kalhana’s Rajtarangini. The book casts light on the despotic and oppressive ways of different dynasties, especially since the decline of the Varmans till Dogra rule. The author believes “decline of Varmans landed Kashmir into political instability.” This was the time when chaos and confusion was the order of the day.
In the second part, which can be termed as the crux of the monograph, the writer touches on a sensitive issue. After decolonisation, people in the sub-continent belonging to different ethnicities and religions grew apprehensive about their future. Muslims , the largest minority, resisted compulsive assimilation that finally resulted in the division of the sub-continent into the two dominions of India and Pakistan. Proclamation of Independence Act of 1947 led to withdrawal of British paramountcy over princely states, with the exception of three: Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir. The first two territories were annexed by India through force under the justification that a Muslim ruler can’t decide the fate of a Hindu-majority population. But the same justification was missing in respect of J&K. Here, a Hindu maharaja’s accession to India was deemed legal, although Muslims constituting the overwhelming majority in the state.
The author has given examples of minorities who have been bound to respect the verdict of the majority. He has given a number of instances where minorities have not been allowed to become an impediment to exercising the right to self determination, like East Timor, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia. “In case of Quebec province of Canada, decision for status quo was taken with a margin of just one percent votes,” the author informs.
To our misfortune, Kashmir has received nothing more than lip service from world powers. Civil society, too, has turned out to be a fiasco. The writer says, “(Indian) civil society has failed to fill up the vacuum, resulting in legitimization of oppression and tyranny perpetuated by the Indian state.”
To legitimise its stranglehold, the author says, India has tried to hoodwink the world by portraying elections as an alternative to Kashmiri aspirations. The book reveals the fakery of Indian democracy vividly: “Kashmiris altogether have a different experience of democracy. For them democracy has been off the people, far from the people, and buy the people for legitimising a relation to which they were not a party.”
The third part is based on UN resolutions on Kashmir and bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan. In the fourth section, a chronology of events has been listed. The book, written in a simple and lucid manner, is a good read for beginners. It is also a catalyst for budding writers to come up with more solid and evidence-based content to address the long-festering Kashmir issue.

The writer is studying for a master’s in public administration. tmrmohsin321@gmail.com