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.”

New hypersonic nuclear race: Revelation 16

China’s hypersonic glider weapons test threatens to drive new arms race

Analysis: China recently tested a nuclear-capable manoeuvrable missile and Russia and the US have their own programmes

A new focus on hypersonic glider weapons, after a reportedly successful Chinese test, is helping drive an arms race that is eclipsing hopes of a return to disarmament by the world’s major powers.

The Chinese test on 27 July, first reported by the Financial Times, involved putting into orbit a nuclear-capable glider, travelling at five times the speed of sound, which then re-entered the atmosphere and performed some turns on its way to a target.

The test suggested that China was further ahead with the technology than was previously known, and despite Chinese denials that it had tested such a weapon, the Biden administration has said it is concerned with the development.

Russia, which has already deployed its version of a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle, the Avantgard, announced it had conducted exercises in recent days to defend against hypersonic weapons.

The US has stepped up spending on its own hypersonic programme which, unlike its Chinese and Russian counterparts, is designed for conventional warheads only and is still in its testing phase. The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the latest test was called off after the failure of the rocket booster used to accelerate the weapon to hypersonic speeds.

The cluster of news stories about hypersonic gliders has added to the impression that the world is facing a totally new type of weapon with new capabilities. But all intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) travel at multiples of the speed of sound, and so the capability is almost as old as nuclear weapons themselves.

What makes hypersonic glide vehicles distinctive is that they are more manoeuvrable than the warheads on an ICBM, and therefore potentially more likely to defeat ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems. Some ballistic missile warheads have fins and can manoeuvre to a limited extent, but a glider can perform more pronounced turns, banking against the atmosphere. Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, likens gliders to an unmanned space shuttle with a nuclear bomb on board and no landing gear.

Lewis pointed out that making such turns also slows the glider down, making it considerably slower as it approaches its target than an ICBM.

“[The US] looked at gliding re-entry vehicles for our nuclear weapons and decided it wasn’t worth it because they slow down and we thought they’d be easier to shoot down,” he said.

What was most remarkable about the reported Chinese test was that it put a glider into orbit before bringing it down through the atmosphere. Such a weapon could in theory be used to attack the US from an unexpected and unpredictable direction, from over the South Pole for example, evading American BMD interceptors facing north.

It is thought likely that China is working on this technology to ensure that the US military never reaches the position of thinking it could launch a nuclear attack on China and then destroy all the missiles China fired back in response before they landed.

“In the last couple years China woke up and realized the risk of a conventional war with the US was higher than it’s probably been since the 1950s or 60s, and the US had a massive nuclear advantage it can use to prevent China from conventionally escalating a conflict,” said Vipin Narang, a professor of political science and expert on proliferation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“China realised it needed to compete with the US in order to stalemate us at the strategic nuclear level, to have a capability that could give the US pause before the US used nuclear weapons first in a conventional conflict.”

China has also built a lot more silos for ICBMs with the same goal in mind. While hypersonic gliders are receiving a lot of the attention recently, because of their relative novelty, many nuclear weapons experts argue that ICBMs equipped with multiple warheads in their own re-entry vehicles are a more effective way of countering missile defence.

“People tend to freak out about these weapons, but in certain ways these kind of gliders are not necessarily much more difficult to intercept than regular ballistic missile warheads,” Pavel Podvig, a senior research fellow at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research.

“If your goal is to defeat missile defence, then building these kind of gliders is not necessarily the way to do that. You could be better off, or at least not worse off, just by putting more warheads and decoys on your missile.”

Proliferation experts say there is pressure from the military establishment of all the major powers to hype the threat from adversaries and spend more on all the new weapons systems available. The US leaked reports about the Chinese test have come while the Biden administration is preparing its nuclear posture review and there is pressure building from the Pentagon to maintain the ambitious modernisation programmes started by the Obama and Trump administrations.

“It empowers those who are looking for continuity and/or expansion of missile defence or nuclear forces,” Narang said. “It’s hard to make the argument, when Russiaand China are expanding, that the US should roll anything back.”

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The Obama Iran deal is almost dead: Daniel 8

‘On life support’: Fears grow that Iran nuclear deal is on verge of collapse

Iran, in little hurry to return to talks, continues to expand its nuclear programme

6 hours ago

The deal to scale back and rein in Iran’s nuclear programme is in danger of collapse in the face of intransigence by the United States on sanctions relief and ambivalence by a hardline administration in Tehran about the benefits of an agreement it may consider more trouble than it’s worth.

For now, the diplomatic envoys of nations party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are scrambling to come up with a formula to resume talks that halted earlier this year. Officials tasked to work on reviving the deal are awaiting any positive signals or moves by Iran, which has been steadily ramping its programme well beyond the limits of the nuclear deal and complicating access for inspectors seeking clarity on its programme.

“The deal is not totally dead, but it’s on life support,” said an official of a government involved in the talks. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Experts caution that the status quo is unsustainable, and that a collapse of the deal could lead to armed escalation. The United States has accused Iran of dragging its feet, and on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters “this is not an exercise that can go on indefinitely.” Israel’s finance minister Avigdor Liberman warned this week that “a confrontation with Iran is only a matter of time, and not a lot of time.”

The JCPOA, the result of more than a dozen years of diplomacy, was working largely as intended until former US president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the agreement in 2018, initiating a campaign of draconian sanctions meant to force Iran back to the negotiating table to hammer out a deal more favourable to Washington and its regional partners.

The scheme, hatched by a narrow clique of Washington political operatives, failed. Iran upped its nuclear programme, refused to engage with Washington, and began stabilising its economy. President Joe Biden vowed to return to the deal upon taking office in January but waited months before addressing Iran. Talks resumed in Vienna, but were waylaid by an Iranian election that brought to power the hardline administration of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Mr Raisi’s team, now in office since early August, says it needs time to settle in, echoing the talking points the Biden administration used to excuse its three-month delay in beginning talks earlier this year. But western officials suspect Iran is dragging its feet to build up leverage by increasing the purity and quantity of its nuclear fuel stockpile.

“If they’re just playing for time while expanding their programme, we’ll have to recalibrate our approach,” said the official involved in Iran talks.

But in large part, Iran’s calculations remain a mystery. Unlike the hardline administration of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who governed from 2005 to 2013, Mr Raisi is relatively quiet, making few waves internationally and offering few signals about his intentions.

“They are struggling to build a strategy and build consensus,” said Sanam Vakil, an Iran expert at Chatham House. “Their foot-dragging can be seen as a leverage-building exercise, but it’s also a reflection of internal paralysis.”

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant earlier this month

(via Reuters)

Indeed, just as Trump abandoned the JCPOA in part to distinguish itself from his predecessor, Barack Obama, who forged it, the Raisi team needs to find a formula to make the nuclear deal its own, and avoid anything that would salvage the legacy of its predecessor, the moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani. The results of a telephone poll conducted by Gallup this week suggests Raisi has widespread support for his policies so far, with more than 70 per cent giving him positive marks.

Experts say Iran may be nervous about Washington’s talk about following up on a return to the JCPOA with negotiations over Iran’s missile programme and support for armed groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The JCPOA, which placed limits on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief, has been criticised by Israel, Saudi Arabia and Washington hawks for failing to address Iran’s other actions. If the US opts for using nuclear talks to build pressure for follow-on talks, Iran may calculate that its nuclear advances will give it leverage.

“The sense in Tehran is that they will re-enter talks but that they will drive a harder bargain,” said Ali Ahmadi, a political scientist at Tehran University.

“Iranian nuclear technology advancement puts the US, at least to a small extent, in the same place as Iran in terms of not getting what it bargained for back in 2015,” he said. “That might set up a more-for-more deal possibility later on, or at least level the playing field to some extent when the re-entry agreement is wrapped up.”

Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to more than 10 times the limit imposed by the JCPOA and begun enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity, far more than the reactor grade five per cent or less permitted by the deal. It has also begun operating advanced centrifuges that produce more nuclear material at a faster rate, while complicating the efforts of inspectors seeking to maintain an eye on the programme under Tehran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA. 

Meanwhile, Trump administration sanctions remain largely in place. Talks in Vienna earlier this year logjammed over Iranian demands that once the sanctions are removed they won’t be resumed, and requests that White House won’t rescind certain sanctions only for Congress to reimpose them.

“What the Iranians want is a written guarantee,” said the official close to the talks. “They want guarantees that changes in the administration won’t bring sanctions back. But that’s not possible in any democratic system.”

Iran says it is ready to resume talks. But in a television interview this week, Mr Raisi said he questioned whether the US was serious about reviving the JCPOA. “A readiness to lift sanctions can be a sign of their seriousness,” he said.

But international officials in recent months have begun to contemplate what it would mean for the JCPOA to collapse altogether. Many wonder whether the US has already sanctioned Iran so much that it lacks any non-military tools. International businesses already largely stay away from Iran. 

The sense in Tehran is that they will re-enter talks but that they will drive a harder bargain

Ali Ahmadi, Tehran University

Yet Iran’s currency has steadied, and China is believed to be propping up its economy with oil purchases. Iran’s security forces have suppressed several waves of protests over economic troubles.

“It’s hard to imagine European [sanctions] or even snapback of UN sanctions having much of an effect,” said Mr Ahmadi. “The US is trying to get China to stop doing business with Iran but that’s unlikely considering the escalating levels of tension in Sino-American relations. The military threats are there but they’ve been for 20 years.”

As for the threat of an Israeli military attack, that could happen whether or not the JCPOA is resurrected. “Reaching a deal would probably not make such an episode less likely in a meaningful way,” said Mr Ahmadi.

Still, Mr Raisi has promised to reduce inflation and right the economy, and there may be trouble for him on the horizon if he fails. A leaked August 2021 report by Iran’s ​​Planning and Budget Organisation warned the country’s economy could collapse by 2027 if the country does not draw down its debt.

Iran’s high inflation and economic crisis follows tensions over its dispute nuclear programme

“Their thinking is they can survive whatever is to come because they have survived everything thus far,” said Ms Vakil. “But it’s a dangerous calculation. They’re always strategically on the razor’s edge. The outcome domestically could be dangerous in the long run. Yes, they have the monopoly of violence. Yes, the economy is bandaged, but the poverty level is increasing. Debt is increasing.”

European Union officials, including foreign policy chief Josep Borell and his deputy Enrique Mora, have been actively engaging with Iran in part in an effort to make sure the diplomatic atmosphere does not become so toxic that it would preclude a resumption of talks. International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi plans a trip to Tehran in the coming days to convince Iran to give access back to inspectors.

But the mistrust on both sides is building. Iranians are beginning to doubt whether the Biden administration, beset by multiple challenges in Washington and the scars of the traumatic pullout from Afghanistan, is any position to make a deal with Iran that would have questionable political benefits. Western nations are growing suspicious and frustrated over Tehran’s moves.

“If the Iranians really wanted to take their time, why continue to escalate their non-compliance?” said the official involved in talks. “Why not freeze their non-compliance? If they walk away, the options aren’t good. It would be a miscalculation to think everyone would just shrug their shoulders.”

The Antichrist scores above Iran-backed militias in the recent elections in Iraq

Polarising Nature, Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq, Iran-backed, Mahdi army, American troops, Sadr, ISIS, Popular Mobilisation Forces, PMF,

Firebrand cleric scores above Iran-backed militias in the recent elections in Iraq

21 October 2021

Iraq witnessed a new political force stepping into power as Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc emerged victorious in the recent elections

A firebrand Shiite cleric and America’s old foe, Muqtada al-Sadr, has emerged as the strongest political leader in Iraq after his bloc garnered the highest number of seats in the general elections last week. He backed the Sairoon list of candidates who scored a total of 75 seats—20 more than the last elections in 2018.

Muqtada al-Sadr, 47, is the son of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was a stalwart opposition figure in Iraqi politics during Saddam Hussein’s time and was allegedly assassinated on Hussein’s orders.

Soon after America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, Muqtada capitalised on the family name and formed a militia called Mahdi army to challenge the American troops. The same militia was also accused of massacring Sunnis at one point in a sectarian conflict.

Soon after America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, Muqtada capitalised on the family name and formed a militia called Mahdi army to challenge the American troops. The same militia was also accused of massacring Sunnis at one point in a sectarian conflict.

Over the last several years, since he disbanded the militia and formed what he called ‘peace brigades,’ the cleric has brandished himself as a nationalist—opposed to both American presence and Iran’s influence exerted by militias and political groups that it backs. Sadr has also gained support amongst communists and Sunnis in the country by promising jobs and an end to corruption.

Soon after the results were announced, Sadr addressed the concerns of the masses regarding economic deterioration of the war-ravaged country, whilst the political elite squabbled over personal gains and split them on sectarian bases.

“It is the day of the victory of reform over corruption. The day of the people’s victory over occupation, normalisation, militias, poverty, injustice, and enslavement,” he said. “It is a day when sectarianism, ethnicity, and partisanship were defeated. It is the day of Iraq and we are the servants of the Iraqi people.”

While Sadr’s candidates increased the tally, Iran-backed Fatah Alliance faced a drubbing in the elections. It saw its parliament seats reduced from 48 in 2018 to between 12–14 this time.

Fatah Alliance, also referred to as the Conquest Alliance, is a coalition of Iran-backed militias called Hashd al-Shaabi or the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) which fought the terrorist organisation, ISIS, and later became a part of Iraq’s army. In 2018, Fatah was formed to fight elections with the idea of converting gains in the battlefield into success in the political arena. It is led by Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr organisation, the most powerful militia backed by Iran.

Experts said that the verdict revealed a shift in the Shiite majority country, where—albeit most people seem to still trust a Shiite cleric—they prefer a nationalist and someone who is no longer a polarising figure.

Tehran’s man, however, refused to accept the results and alluded that the militias might resort to violence. “We will not accept these fabricated results, whatever the price, and we will defend the votes of our candidates and voters with full force,” he reportedly told Al-Sumaria TV—a local TV station.

Iraq was engulfed in protests in 2019, in which hundreds of protestors were shot dead. Iraqis demanded to replace the old sect-based power sharing system with a technocratic government that ushers in reforms and improves the quality of life of people.

An election law was passed that increased constituencies from 18 to 83, to enable more independent candidates to contest. Despite major issues—including threat to life—at least 10 independent candidates won in Baghdad and Shiite-dominated southern provinces of Iraq.

But a government can only be formed through consensus in Iraq and any political party or alliance must have a majority of the 329 seats in parliament to choose a prime minister and form a government.

Experts said negotiations could go on for months before Sadr can pull together at least 165 MPs and that it is nearly impossible for him to achieve that number without including candidates supportive of Iran.

Experts said negotiations could go on for months before Sadr can pull together at least 165 MPs and that it is nearly impossible for him to achieve that number without including candidates supportive of Iran.

They added that Iran has more friends than the Fatah Alliance to bank on, including parties that have been traditionally close to Iran. Few doubt that Tehran will force them with all its might to drive a hard bargain to ensure it has its allies in important positions.

The United States and Gulf Arab states are hoping that Sadr can be persuaded to accept the return of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi as a consensus candidate. Mr Kadhimi recently facilitated talks between arch-rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad and is seen as someone who can balance their influence in Iraq while also keeping the West and the Gulf at ease. But the people of Iraq who were desperate for a complete change and a  new start, will have to wait longer.The views expressed above belong to the author(s).

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Who is the Antichrist Iraq’s most influential religious-political figure?

Who is Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s most influential religious-political figure?

Sulaiman LkaderiPublished date: 21 October 2021 17:38 UTC| Last update: 10 hours 40 mins ago 111Shares

Muqtada al-Sadr emerged as the frontrunner in Iraq’s 2021 elections. The Shia cleric, militia leader and political kingmaker has played a crucial role in shaping Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. Here’s what you need to know about him.

Protests Outside the Temple Walls Turns Deadly: Revelation 11

Palestinian protests turn deadly as Israel considers the future of a new settlement

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This next story takes us to the Middle East. A new Jewish settlement on the Israeli-occupied West Bank has become a focus of constant protest.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

INSKEEP: Night after night, Palestinians have lit up the night sky with lasers and bonfires, and they’ve shouted. The protest has turned deadly, as Israel’s new government considers whether to let this settlement remain. Even in a constantly tense place, this particular campaign stands out. NPR’s Daniel Estrin begins his report from the West Bank village of Beita.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: The Palestinians in Beita call this the night confusion. Every single night for the last six months, starting at around 8 p.m., they come to the edge of this hilltop and scream. They scream across the valley to the soldiers protecting the new settlement on the next mountain.

Jihad Jaghoub, a car importer, comes here every few nights.

What do we see?

JIHAD JAGHOUB: Smokes, lasers…

ESTRIN: Palestinians are shining this long green laser on…

JAGHOUB: Yes, yes. Shining that – soldiers.

ESTRIN: No other West Bank protest matches the intensity of this one. Soldiers have killed eight Palestinians here. One night, Palestinians burned a Star of David and a Nazi swastika, enraging Israel’s military command.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

ESTRIN: So now the soldiers have lit a flare in the sky. Suddenly, the night sky is lit up.

All this began last spring, when a group of settlers made their home on the hilltop Palestinians call Jabal Sabih, as the rest of the world was watching the Gaza-Israel war.

DANIELLA WEISS: As long as that lasted, we could continue with our building work. And we did it big time.

ESTRIN: Daniella Weiss, a veteran settler leader, tells me they paved a road, set up trailer homes, and within two weeks, 53 families had established a new settlement named Evyatar. In the past, big groups of soldiers have been dispatched to drag settlers off hilltops they’ve squatted on illegally – not this time, with Hamas missiles falling across Israel.

WEISS: Well, when the leaders of the country are preoccupied with a war, just try to imagine the immensity of the clash.

ESTRIN: Instead, she and her group were able to push ahead with their most daring settlement project in years – a big presence deep in the West Bank, right next to Palestinian villages on a hilltop Palestinian landowners say is theirs. Palestinians began protesting from the nearby hilltop, shining their lasers at the settlement.

WEISS: The laser touched me. I mean, I went through it.

ESTRIN: Weeks later, Israel installed a new prime minister, Naftali Bennett. One of his first challenges? What to do about Evyatar. His left-wing partners in government opposed it. The Biden administration also opposes settlement expansion. But part of Bennett’s base are right-wing pro-settlement voters enraged he had deposed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

WEISS: So there Bennett had an unexpected chance to prove to his hesitant constituency that here I am better than Netanyahu in my attitude towards settlers and towards the Land of Israel.

ESTRIN: Bennett offered the settlers a deal. For now, they leave the hilltop. The government checks Palestinian ownership claims. Any land deemed up for grabs will be turned over to a Jewish religious school and settler homes, and the government will declare Evyatar legal.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND AMBIENCE)

ESTRIN: Until there’s a decision, troops guard the empty trailer homes. An Israeli couple drive up the hill with their baby to deliver a care package to the soldiers, while below a Palestinian farmer is forbidden to harvest his olives.

DROR ETKES: So they got what they wanted because the settlement is not – it’s not dismantled. It’s there.

ESTRIN: Dror Etkes is an Israeli activist who maps and opposes settler takeovers of West Bank land.

ETKES: I would say they have a good chance, you know, to eventually make sure that there will be some type of an Israeli entity there. Even if it won’t be a settlement, it will be a military base instead. The goal is to make sure the Palestinians won’t come there.

ESTRIN: Palestinians say in a half a year of protests, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed eight Palestinian protesters climbing up the hill toward the settlement. The army says they were throwing stones and firebombs. Villagers say they were too far away from soldiers to do them any harm. The youngest killed was 16-year-old Mohammed Hamayel.

(SOUNDBITE OF WALKING ON GRAVEL)

ESTRIN: We find his father Said approaching a lookout near where his son was killed. He walks with an oak cane and a bushy beard.

SAID: (Speaking Arabic).

ESTRIN: He hasn’t shaved since his son was killed. He says he goes to bed hoping he doesn’t wake up. He comes here to feel his son’s presence.

SAID: (Speaking Arabic).

ESTRIN: The boy dreamed of studying international law, but now his father says, “we are convinced that this land won’t be liberated without blood.”

Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Beita, in the West Bank.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROHNE’S “PAST LIGHT”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Iran commander rejoices at Babylon the Great’s defeats

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami.

Iran commander rejoices at US ‘defeats

ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty ImagesOctober 20, 2021

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said the United States has “fled” Afghanistan and is currently counting its “last months” in Iraq as well. Underlining Washington’s regional “defeats,” Hossein Salami added that US “plots” in Lebanon and Syria have also failed.

The Iranian general, known for his ferocious anti-West rhetoric, was speaking at a “martyrs’ graveyard” in the southeastern city of Kerman, where his former colleague, slain commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani,i s also buried. Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike in January 2020 outside Baghdad’s international airport. The attack almost brought Tehran and Washington to the brink of a full-scale war. Iran retaliated for the general’s killing with over a dozen missiles that landed on a US air base in neighboring Iraq. American officials have denied Iranian reports that the strike left a number of US soldiers dead.

In his speech, Salami also highlighted what he called the American defeat in its “economic siege” on Iran, one of the various terms Iranian officials have used in reference to US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

To get those sanctions lifted, Tehran has been seeking to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, engaging in multiple stages of negotiations with world powers. The United States, which withdrew from the deal under former President Donald Trump in 2018, is now seeking re-entry. In exchange for any sanctions removal, the United States demands Tehran keep its nuclear program under the caps set by the accord. The Islamic Republic, however, is pursuing its uranium enrichment at a 60% level, which to the Western side is a sign that a weapons program could be just around the corner.

Israel, Iran’s No. 1 enemy, has persistently opposed negotiations for a restored deal with Tehran, arguing that Iran is buying time to make the bomb. While attempting to persuade world powers not to offer concessions to Tehran, Israel wants other options on the table as well to protect the security of its citizens.

In this vein, Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the government in Jerusalem is about to ratify a $1.5 billion budget for a “potential strike”on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The fund, according to the report, is meant for aircraft, intelligence-gathering drones and “unique armaments.”

For over a decade now, Israel is believed to have been targeting Iran’s nuclear program, including the heavily guarded and sensitive Natanz enrichment facility. The extent of the damage from those attacks has not been officially announced by the Iranian side, but estimates by unnamed Israeli officials have spoken of “crippling” and “dramatic disruption.”

Israel’s intelligence authorities have also been constantly updating a hit list of Iranian scientists. The last such target was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known to Israeli officials as Iran’s top nuclear and missile expert. He was killed in a sophisticated operation outside Tehran last December.

Iranian officials have pledged to retaliate against all of those “sabotage plots” and “assassinations” when “the time is ripe.”