Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

         By WILLIAM K. STEVENS

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

Tenuous Stability Leading to the First Nuclear War

Pakistani, foreground, and Indian border guards mimc each other's movements during their daily ceremonial face off, at the Wagah-Attari border crossing, Sept. 28, 2019. (Mustafa Hussain/The New York Times)
Pakistani, foreground, and Indian border guards mimc each other’s movements during their daily ceremonial face off, at the Wagah-Attari border crossing, Sept. 28, 2019. (Mustafa Hussain/The New York Times)

China, India and Pakistan: Tenuous Stability Risks Nuclear War

Senior Study Group explores the trends threatening stability in Southern Asia and offers recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022/ BY: Daniel Markey, Ph.D.;  Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.;  Vikram J. Singh

PUBLICATION TYPE: Analysis and Commentary

Editor’s Note: The following is an adapted excerpt from USIP’s Senior Study Group Final Report, “Enhancing Strategic Stability in Southern Asia.” The report reviews the challenges posed by changing strategic circumstances in Southern Asia, assesses a range of U.S. policy options and presents a set of priority recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

Over the past decade, long-standing disputes between the nuclear-armed states of Southern Asia have repeatedly veered into deeper hostility and violence. These regional developments reflect and reinforce new and significant geopolitical shifts, starting with the global strategic competition between China and the United States. In Southern Asia, relations between the United States and Pakistan have frayed even as U.S.-India and China-Pakistan ties have strengthened. The region now faces deepening and more multifaceted polarization. Global competition adds fuel to regional conflict and reduces options for crisis mediation.

To help keep the peace in Southern Asia, the United States should undertake efforts in three domains: core regional disputes, strategic regional stability and potential crises involving nuclear-armed actors in the region.

Core Disputes

Consistent with long-standing U.S. policy, Washington should encourage diplomacy between the governments of India and Pakistan to resolve their bilateral disputes nonviolently. In addition, recognizing that regional circumstances have changed, especially in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and that the February 2021 cease-fire holds, if tenuously, the United States should also seek senior-level discussions with New Delhi to consider prospects for new India-Pakistan diplomatic initiatives. This would include encouraging diplomatically, and when possible supporting with technical assistance or advice, even minor opportunities to reduce India-Pakistan tensions. Examples include demilitarizing the Siachen Glacier, reenforcing water sharing agreements, and enhancing channels for communication between India and Pakistan, even if core bilateral disputes continue to prove intractable. Washington should also pursue bilateral consultations with New Delhi on India’s border dispute with China to discuss strategies for returning to nonviolent management of differences without territorial concessions.

U.S. diplomats should clarify to Beijing that the primary consequence of its provocative actions in disputed territories is stronger U.S-India strategic cooperation. In U.S. negotiations with the Taliban-led regime in Afghanistan, Washington should explicitly name anti-Indian terrorist organizations among the groups of serious, if not topmost, concern to the United States. This would be a first step to gauging prospects for cooperation with the Taliban in limiting Afghanistan’s role as a base for anti-Indian training and operations. Relatedly, as Washington attempts to build over-the-horizon counterterror capabilities inside Afghanistan, it should consider anti-Indian terrorist organizations as high priority targets, just below terrorists with global or chemical, radiological, biological and nuclear ambitions.

The United States should develop, in partnership with the widest possible coalition of allies and partners (starting with Quad members Australia, India and Japan), new economic and financial tools intended to deter Chinese territorial aggression against India and elsewhere, along with coordinated implementation strategies. That coordinated effort should begin by identifying a range of economic and financial measures (including targeted market or supply cutoffs) and by anticipating likely Chinese policy responses to minimize the potential costs of retaliation.

The United States should also increase economic and financial costs to Pakistan for continuing or expanding support to anti-Indian and other terrorist organizations, including by working with allies and partners to maintain the conditions-based financial instrument of the Financial Action Task Force. Other policy tools merit serious consideration as well, such as closing market access or denying visas to Pakistani officials to Europe and the United States. 

Washington should support regional economic development projects through the World Bank and other partners specifically intended to improve interstate commerce, especially between India and Pakistan, and to build material incentives and more vocal constituencies favoring peace. Last, Washington should support creative track 1.5 and track 2.0 initiatives to promote interaction, new ideas and dissemination of previous lessons among current and future policymakers in the United States and Southern Asia.

Strategic Stability

To enhance prospects for strategic stability in Southern Asia, Washington should devote renewed attention to nuclear risk reduction measures in the region. Specifically, it should offer U.S. diplomatic, technical and analytical support to improve the region’s capacity for nuclear information-sharing and communication in future crises. This would start with establishing a dedicated, secure and redundant India-Pakistan nuclear hotline with supporting bilateral agreements and practices, followed by the establishment of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers that would facilitate information collection and sharing as they have in the U.S.-Russia context.

The United States should also encourage India and Pakistan to consider unilateral or bilateral steps, such as renouncing specific technologies like nuclear depth charges and adding cruise missiles to the 2005 missile test pre-notification agreement. Such moves would both help reduce the use of especially destabilizing technologies and build confidence for more significant arms control discussions.

Washington should urge New Delhi to open a bilateral strategic stability dialogue with Beijing, backed by quiet U.S.-India information-sharing about Chinese nuclear developments to support Indian dialogue participants. Equally, US diplomats should urge China, perhaps in the context of proposed US-China strategic stability talks, both to be a voice for restraint in Pakistan and to pursue a bilateral strategic stability dialogue with India as a tangible demonstration of responsible leadership. 

The United States should discuss with partners and allies the concept of a new transregional forum on regional and global strategic stability that would convene an N-7 group (China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) in discussions to increase mutual understanding, strengthen stabilizing nuclear norms (such as new declaratory policies and practices intended to distinguish nuclear from conventional weapons and thereby address the discrimination challenge), and over time encourage restraint.

Washington should raise the N-7 concept with Beijing in the context of bilateral dialogues, appealing to Beijing’s desire to play a greater role in international leadership and citing the need for China to assume greater responsibility on issues of global peace and security. U.S. policymakers should lay the groundwork for their official diplomatic initiatives by providing support to track-2 N-7 discussions to encourage participation by other member states, seek workarounds to likely objections and obstacles, and identify topics and ideas that could eventually be fed into official channels.

Relatedly, the United States should deepen defense cooperation with India in ways that contribute to India’s capacity for territorial defense and a stabilizing conventional and nuclear deterrent. At the same time, Washington should be careful to avoid exacerbating the regional arms race or increasing the likelihood of nuclear crises. Accordingly, U.S. efforts should prioritize defense cooperation and sales in areas that contribute to the resilience of India’s civilian and military communications infrastructure in future crises, such as cyberattacks, and otherwise enhance prospects for crisis stability.

When U.S.-India defense cooperation and sales are not possible, and especially in areas that have been central to India-Russia defense cooperation, Washington should encourage New Delhi to consider purchases from U.S. allies and partners, such as France and Israel, as smart and reliable alternatives. It should pair these defense initiatives with an enhanced strategic stability dialogue with New Delhi, specifically to discuss ways in which newly acquired systems could be deployed to enhance rather than diminish prospects for regional peace and security.

Last, the United States should restart a regular dialogue with Pakistan on strategic stability. Washington should also conduct a systematic review of lessons learned from past U.S. initiatives to help Pakistan improve the security and safety of its nuclear assets, then should consider whether related lessons could be applied to future cooperative activities with India or Pakistan.

Crises Between Nuclear-Armed States

To better manage crises between nuclear-armed regional states, the United States should take concrete steps to prepare its policymakers for complex nuclear crisis diplomacy in Southern Asia. U.S. preparations should include conducting gaming exercises within the intelligence community; developing a generalized policy playbook for India-China, India-Pakistan, and overlapping India-China-Pakistan crises; and routinely sharing insights from these planning documents with all incoming senior officials in relevant U.S. government agencies, embassies, and bases.

Although any new crisis will be unique, Washington should use these briefing sessions to consider policy challenges that run through many crisis scenarios in Southern Asia, such as the need to balance two potentially competing U.S. aims: supporting India as a strategic partner and simultaneously avoiding actions that could inadvertently escalate crises with nuclear-armed adversaries in China or Pakistan. The United States should also consider whether and how public messaging, including sharing U.S. information, should be used to debunk disinformation propagated by regional actors to prevent crises and avoid escalation.

Other measures Washington should undertake to manage crises include improving U.S. indicators and warning for regional crises and preparing capabilities for sharing information publicly and with regional actors. In addition, the United States should improve its technical channels for real-time intelligence sharing with India, especially related to indications and warning of increased threats posed by China along the China-India border and at sea. Relatedly, the United States should offer technical assistance to India to enhance the resilience of its information and communications systems in a regional crisis. Washington should also establish, maintain, and test routinely multiple secure and reliable channels for information-sharing with China, Pakistan, and Russia, even if official bilateral relations with or among these countries continue to deteriorate.

U.S. preparation for crisis diplomacy should include working with trusted third parties, such as the United Arab Emirates, to serve as intermediaries and honest brokers in future crises. Part of such preparation would be to preestablish points of contact and secure communication protocols to avoid confusion in crisis. Similarly, the United States should work with close allies such as France and the United Kingdom to prepare a menu of diplomatic initiatives intended to introduce delays and offer off ramps from possible nuclear escalation.

Trump Administration Provokes the Iranian Horn

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives an address. (Photo credit: ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pompeo’s Visit With Iranian Resistance Will Rattle Regime

 By Ken Blackwell | May 17, 2022 | 10:45am EDT

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives an address. (Photo credit: ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s presence at the headquarters of the largest Iranian opposition movement Monday marked a significant moment in U.S.-Iran policy. Its impact on the strategic U.S. outlook toward Iran may be indirect or momentarily hazy, but its historic connotation will be neither short-lived nor inconsequential. It has the potential to persuade a shift in focus to an American policy orientation that has been dangerously discounted for far too long.

In November 2019, Iran was shocked by the most unprecedented nationwide protests in its history. In January 2020, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, delivered a major public speech, in which he blamed the main opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) for organizing the protests. This is a critical point that Western policymakers ignore.

Incidentally, several days before the uprising, former U.S. national security advisor to President Obama, General James Jones, had paid a visit to Ashraf-3, the MEK’s home in Albania. Khamenei publicly pointed to that visit in his speech, saying, “Several days before the riots, in a small and sinister European country [Albania], an American [General Jones] joined some Iranians [MEK] and planned the crisis.”

Khamenei remains deathly afraid of the MEK. Ironically, however, his ministry of intelligence has painted the movement in its official propaganda as a marginalized “cult” that does not enjoy public backing. Some American journalists uncritically relay the same narrative.

On Monday, the most senior American official to date, a Secretary of State in the previous administration, visited Ashraf-3 and met with Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in which the MEK is the main component.

The visit is meaningful for several reasons. Every time the movement attracts growing international recognition, the regime reacts with a mix of fury and fear. Over the past two decades, the MEK and the NCRI have been recognized by international luminaries, lawmakers, human rights defenders, policy experts, top officials, and thousands of parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic for their genuine struggle for democracy and freedom in Iran.

Horrified, the regime tried to bomb the NCRI’s international gathering in Paris in June 2018. Recently, a Belgian court found an Iranian regime diplomat and three accomplices guilty of conspiring to bomb the Free Iran rally in 2018.

For the past few years, the regime has become even more sensitive to the MEK as an existential threat and the only alternative to its decaying rule. First, the MEK’s Resistance Units have expanded the scope and depth of their activities, leading anti-regime activities in hundreds of cities and organizing nationwide protests. Second, the MEK has led an elaborate international movement to bring the major culprits of the regime to account for their crimes against humanity and genocide in 1988.

In that year, at least 30,000 political prisoners, 90% of whom were MEK members and supporters, were brutally massacred for their political and religious beliefs on the orders of former Supreme Leader and regime founder Khomeini. Their bodies were dumped in secret mass graves located across the country. Amnesty International has called it a crime against humanity while United Nations officials and rapporteurs have demanded an independent international inquiry into the killings. Notably, the regime’s current president, Ebrahim Raisi, was involved as a key executioner.

Dozens of MEK witnesses have testified in Sweden against a former Iranian regime official involved in the 1988 massacre. A ruling is expected this year, which will have a lasting consequence for the regime internationally and domestically.

In these circumstances, Pompeo’s visit lends further credence to the argument that the Iranian opposition led by the MEK is gaining ground while the regime is clearly on the brink. It points to the MEK’s startling staying power against all odds. It shows that the organization is here to stay, and that major policy experts consider it as a serious alternative to the regime. A former U.S. Secretary of State does not play dice on such a critical issue that generates the regime’s permanent wrath. This is especially noteworthy as U.S. authorities are actively protecting Pompeo after receiving credible threats by the regime against his life.

Pompeo’s visit to Ashraf-3 also serves as a guideline for the most pragmatic and appropriate policy toward Iran. This policy should reject appeasing the regime while siding with the Iranian people. The Ukrainian example should serve as a model. Appeasing dictators produces potent dangers to international peace and security. A resilient people and opposition have a chance against dictators. Ukraine has shown that regardless of size, a determined opposition can be a serious and formidable opponent against some of the world’s largest powers.

The MEK’s message and history gives a similar flavor. The Iranian people have a chance to win against the ruling theocracy. The Iranian people have not resigned to a future dominated by dictatorship. They want freedom and democracy and they are paying the requisite price for it. Pompeo’s visit shows that the international community should support the MEK in its plight. The policy orientation is as clear as it is noble: Instead of appeasing the regime, stand with the Iranian people and their organized opposition in their quest for a free, secular, democratic, and non-nuclear Iran.

Ken Blackwell was the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Antichrist Announces Shift to ‘National Opposition’

Iraq’s Sadr Announces Shift to ‘National Opposition’

Monday, 16 May, 2022 – 07:00

Moqtada al-Sadr, center, leaves a news conference in Najaf, Iraq, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (AP)

Baghdad – Asharq Al-Awsat

Head of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced on Sunday his shift to the “national opposition” for a period of no less than 30 days after attempts to form a new government failed.

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In a series of tweets, he said he was “honored” to have succeeded in forming the largest bloc in parliament, away from disputes over shares and quotas.

“I was honored to have relied on myself and to not be beholden to foreign sides,” he added.

“I was honored that I was not forced to resort to the judiciary to facilitate the needs of the people and the formation of the government,” he continued.

However, Sadr said obstacles thrown by internal and external forces thwarted his efforts to form a national majority government.

“We now how have one choice that we must try, shifting to a national opposition for a period of no less than 30 days,” he revealed.

“If the parliamentary blocs, including those who we were honored in allying ourselves with, succeed in forming a government and easing the suffering of the people, then we will bless it,” he continued.

“We will have our say” if they don’t, he warned.

Antichrist rules out striking a deal with other Shiite blocs

Sadr rules out striking a deal with other Shiite blocs

Julian Bechocha@JBechocha

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Top Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ruled out the possibility of striking a deal with rival Shiite blocs in a televised address on Monday, lashing out at the “obstructing third” for preventing the Iraqi people from having a government.

Sadr blamed Iraq’s politicians for having “become an example of corruption and vice, except for a few,” and stated that he has no intention of conducting a deal with other Shiite blocs after the rival Coordination Framework prevented his alliance from forming the country’s next government through repeated boycotts of parliamentary sessions.

The Sadrist Movement leader, visibly frustrated, once again expressed complete rejection of a consensus government and warned his foes that they will “not be safe from the roaring of the oppressed.”

The speech comes a day after the cleric announced that his bloc will transition to the national opposition “for a period of no less than 30 days” after his efforts to form a national majority government were rendered futile.

He stated that his bloc will have another decision to announce should the other political parties, “including those whom we had the honor of allying with,” prove unsuccessful in forming a government.

During his address, the cleric repeatedly called on Iraq to steer away from corruption, asking “how long will corruption and consensus remain the master of the situation while the people suffer and there is no helper.”

Iraq’s political climate continues to be mired in instability with the country’s next government having yet to be formed seven months after early elections were held in October.

The inability to form a permanent government hinders the current caretaker cabinet from carrying out proper, long-term decisions to stabilize various sectors of the country, including its economy, following a clarification from Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court on Sunday addressing the capabilities of the current caretaker government.

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Three earthquakes before the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

Three earthquakes were reported within a day offshore from Rhode Island, the US Geological Survey reports.
Three earthquakes were reported within a day offshore from Rhode Island, the US Geological Survey reports.US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Three earthquakes reported off southeast coast of Rhode Island

No damage was reported, though one quake was strong enough to be felt in northwest Providence

By Carlos R. Muñoz Globe Staff,Updated May 15, 2022, 4:11 p.m.

PROVIDENCE — Three earthquakes struck off the southeast coast of Rhode Island over the weekend, including one that could be felt in northwest Providence.

The first magnitude 2.2 quake was reported at 4:42 a.m. Saturday, approximately 18 miles south-southeast of Narragansett Pier in the Atlantic Ocean. At 10:15 p.m., there was a 2.5 aftershock in the same area, according to the US Geological Survey, followed by a 2.2 aftershock near New Shoreham at 2:40 a.m. Sunday. The second temblor had a weak intensity rating of III, but was felt in northwest Providence, the USGS reports.

There were a total of 20 responses and no damage reports.

The boy who lost everything outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Omar Abu al-Ouf at home in Gaza
‘The only hobby I have since the incident is crying’: Omar Abu al-Ouf at home in Gaza. Photograph: Bethan McKernan/The Guardian

‘My only hobby is crying’: the boy who lost his family to an Israeli airstrike

Omar Abu al-Ouf’s father, mother, brother and sister were all killed in the attack on their apartment building last May

Bethan McKernan and Hazem Balousha in Gaza CityMon 16 May 2022 00.30 EDT

“It’s like he goes somewhere else,” said his grandmother, Manar, in the living room of the boy’s uncle’s house, where he now lives. “His whole family is gone, for nothing.”

Ouf spent 12 hours under the collapsed building, his arm around the body of his 12-year-old sister, Tala. His brother Tawfik, 17, remained alive for several hours; they talked to each other in the darkness, choking on rubble dust. Tawfik told him that their mother, Reem, was dead; before rescue teams could reach them, Tawfik too died from his injuries. Their father, Ayman, an internal medicine specialist at Gaza’s main hospital, was also killed in the attack.

The 11-day conflict last May between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, left Ouf totally alone. A year on, the teenager still suffers from nerve problems in his right arm and leg. He is trying to rebuild his life, he said, but still can’t make sense of what happened.

“Ramadan and Eid this year were very hard. I miss them every day. I didn’t think my life would be like this,” he said. “I don’t go out much. Sometimes my friends come see me here, but we have all got to study now. The only hobby I have since the incident is crying.”

Ouf is now living with his uncle’s family, not far from his old home on al-Wehda Street, a busy thoroughfare filled with apartment blocks, shops and cafes where 44 people were killed in the Israeli strike on 16 May last year. The attack was the single deadliest incident in the conflict, which left 256 Palestinians in Gaza and 14 people in Israel dead.

The Israel Defence Forces said the civilian deaths on Wedha Street were “unintended”, caused by the collapse of the underground foundations of a targeted Hamas military structure which brought down the housing blocks on the street above. Rights groups such as Amnesty International have said that the incident may constitute a war crime.

Destroyed building
The site where the Abu al-Ouf building stood on al-Wehda street that was struck by an Israeli airstrike, killing three families. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty

A year later, just 5% of the 1,000 housing units, roads and other infrastructure destroyed by the bombardment of the Gaza Strip have been rebuilt, according to the Hamas housing ministry.

Much UN and other funding from external donors is often held up in lengthy diplomatic talks or impeded by the Israeli and Egyptian authorities, which have blockaded the area since the Islamist group seized control in 2007. The de facto siege has led to a collapsed https://andrewtheprophet.comhealthcare system, poisoned Gaza’s water, and leaves the small area’s two million inhabitants struggling to cope with rolling power cuts.

The rubble from the last round of fighting may have been cleared, but gaping holes and sandy lots strewn with rubbish remain, a daily reminder of the lives and homes lost. On a poster hanging opposite Ouf’s destroyed home, the faces of three children killed in the last round of hostilities, in 2014, also peer down on passers-by.

Tensions between Hamas and Israel are on the rise again. The militant group’s leaders have praised a recent spate of terrorist attacks targeting Israelis that have left 19 people dead, and urged Palestinian citizens of Israel and those living in the occupied West Bank to carry out more attacks. Hamas has also threatened another all-out war if recent clashes at Jerusalem’s Aqsa mosque compound continue.

In response, Israeli officials have reportedly relayed a warning to Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ top leader inside Gaza, that his latest speeches inciting terrorism give Israel the freedom to respond militarily.

Israel closed the only frontier crossing to most of the 12,000 Palestinians in Gaza with permission to work outside for two weeks, and Israeli media have reported that the government is considering restricting their numbers in future.

The loss of income has added to the daily misery in a place where a whole generation has now grown up trapped in the overcrowded, polluted coastal enclave: unemployment in Gaza is running at about 50%, and workers commuting to Israel are worried that they will no longer be able to bring home $1.5m in collective earnings each day.

Ouf, who has already lost everything, says he doesn’t care if there is another war. He hopes to leave Gaza one day – maybe to study abroad – but the future is too overwhelming to think about.

“It’s hard to express all the things I feel,” he said. “I was going to work hard, celebrate my exam results, go to university … I wanted to make my father proud of me. But instead, I am alone.”