The Cost of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


The Sixth Seal: NY City Destroyed The Sixth Seal: NY City DestroyedIf today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?

At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence.
Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low SeismicitySeismic Hazard, or Seismic Risk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.
Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?
To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates.
From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks.
There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches.
The current efforts in the eastern U.S., including New York City, to start the enforcement of seismic building codes for new constructions are important first steps in the right direction. Similarly, the emerging efforts to include seismic rehabilitation strategies in the generally needed overhaul of the cities’ aged infrastructures such as bridges, water, sewer, power and transportation is commendable and needs to be pursued with diligence and persistence. But at the current pace of new construction replacing older buildings and lifelines, it will take many decades or a century before a major fraction of the stock of built assets will become seismically more resilient than the current inventory is. For some time, this leaves society exposed to very high seismic risks. The only consolation is that seismicity on average is low, and, hence with some luck, the earthquakes will not outpace any ongoing efforts to make eastern cities more earthquake resilient gradually. Nevertheless, M = 5 to M = 6 earthquakes at distances of tens of km must be considered a credible risk at almost any time for cities like Boston, New York or Philadelphia. M = 7 events, while possible, are much less likely; and in many respects, even if building codes will have affected the resilience of a future improved building stock, M = 7 events would cause virtually unmanageable situations. Given these bleak prospects, it will be necessary to focus on crucial elements such as maintaining access to cities by strengthening critical bridges, improving the structural and nonstructural performance of hospitals, and having a nationally supported plan how to assist a devastated region in case of a truly severe earthquake. No realistic and coordinated planning of this sort exists at this time for most eastern cities.
The current efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) via the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to provide a standard methodology (RMS, 1994) and planning tools for making systematic, computerized loss estimates for annualized probabilistic calculations as well as for individual scenario events, is commendable. But these new tools provide only a shell with little regional data content. What is needed are the detailed data bases on inventory of buildings and lifelines with their locally specific seismic fragility properties. Similar data are needed for hospitals, shelters, firehouses, police stations and other emergency service providers. Moreover, the soil and rock conditions which control the shaking and soil liquefaction properties for any given event, need to be systematically compiled into Geographical Information System (GIS) data bases so they can be combined with the inventory of built assets for quantitative loss and impact estimates. Even under the best of conceivable funding conditions, it will take years before such data bases can be established so they will be sufficiently reliable and detailed to perform realistic and credible loss scenarios. Without such planning tools, society will remain in the dark as to what it may encounter from a future major eastern earthquake. Given these uncertainties, and despite them, both the public and private sector must develop at least some basic concepts for contingency plans. For instance, the New York City financial service industry, from banks to the stock and bond markets and beyond, ought to consider operational contingency planning, first in terms of strengthening their operational facilities, but also for temporary backup operations until operations in the designated facilities can return to some measure of normalcy. The Federal Reserve in its oversight function for this industry needs to take a hard look at this situation.
A society, whose economy depends increasingly so crucially on rapid exchange of vast quantities of information must become concerned with strengthening its communication facilities together with the facilities into which the information is channeled. In principle, the availability of satellite communication (especially if self-powered) with direct up and down links, provides here an opportunity that is potentially a great advantage over distributed buried networks. Distributed networks for transportation, power, gas, water, sewer and cabled communication will be expensive to harden (or restore after an event).
In all future instances of major capital spending on buildings and urban infrastructures, the incorporation of seismically resilient design principles at all stages of realization will be the most effective way to reduce society’s exposure to high seismic risks. To achieve this, all levels of government need to utilize legislative and regulatory options; insurance industries need to build economic incentives for seismic safety features into their insurance policy offerings; and the private sector, through trade and professional organizations’ planning efforts, needs to develop a healthy self-protective stand. Also, the insurance industry needs to invest more aggressively into broadly based research activities with the objective to quantify the seismic hazards, the exposed assets and their seismic fragilities much more accurately than currently possible. Only together these combined measures may first help to quantify and then reduce our currently untenably large seismic risk exposures in the virtually unprepared eastern cities. Given the low-probability/high-impact situation in this part of the country, seismic safety planning needs to be woven into both the regular capital spending and daily operational procedures. Without it we must be prepared to see little progress. Unless we succeed to build seismic safety considerations into everyday decision making as a normal procedure of doing business, society will lose the race against the unstoppable forces of nature. While we never can entirely win this race, we can succeed in converting unmitigated catastrophes into manageable disasters, or better, tolerable natural events.

India prepares for nuclear war

Times of India
BEIJING: China apprehends that India will deploy the 36 nuclear-capable Rafale fighter jets to be acquired from France in the border regions of China and Pakistan to enhance its deterrence capability, a media report here said.
India will deploy the new French-made fighters in the disputed areas bordering Pakistan and China, state-run Global Times reported quoting Shenzhen Television.
A recent report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said India is the largest arms importer in the world, the newspaper said.
Increased arms imports into the Asian region are primarily due to the unstable security environment in the Middle East and concerns from China’s neighbours over its rise.
The Rafale fighters in flyaway condition carry tactical nuclear warheads, and this means India’s nuclear deterrence capability will be greatly improved, Shenzhen Television reported.
“India also wants to purchase the Rafale technology from Dassault but France refused, meaning France has no intention to help India promote its military industrial system,” Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said.
While India is rapidly expanding its military capabilities spending an estimated $100 billion on new defence systems, many other countries with an advanced military industry are also competing for India’s market, such as Russia, the US and Israel, the daily quoted SIPRI report as saying.
Zhao said before this deal with France, India was also considering the US-made F-16s.
“India picked French-made jet fighters because they are cheaper and have a nuclear deterrence capability,” he said.
SIPRI’s list of the top 10 arms importers for 2011-2015 has nine Asian or Asia-Pacific countries.
Many of China’s neighbours are also on the list of top 10 importers, such as Vietnam, South Korea and India, he said.
“Due to the South China Sea dispute and the increasing power of the Chinese navy, countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are very concerned, but the US is not helping China solve the problem peacefully,” said Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert.
“The US government and media are hyping the ‘China Threat Theory,’ trying to convince countries in Asia that China is on the offensive,” he said.

Return of the Antichrist to Iraqi National Alliance

Hamza Mustafa
Baghdad – Ammar Al-Hakim, head of the Iraqi National Alliance, seemed happy as he announced the return of the Sadrist movement to the Iraqi National Alliance.
The announcement was made during a press conference at the house of Hakim with the presence of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and representatives of Sadrist movement, while Nouri al-Maliki was absent.
Maliki didn’t attend any of the meetings of the leadership of the National Alliance despite the fact that the deal happened under his patronage, but he achieved what was planned for, and that is the return of Moqtada al-Sadr, head of Sadrisit movement, to the alliance.
Yet, the unity of the alliance seemed to prominent Iraqi Shi’ite politicians, Ezzat al-Shabandar and Nadim al-Jabiri, as a tribute to the big brother, in reference to Iran.
Chairman of the Sadrist movement committee to the Iraqi National Alliance, Jaafar al-Moussawi said that the movement presented a letter of reforms including 14 points.
He added that the meeting held by the political committee reached a consensus about the return of the Ahrar Bloc to the meetings.
Moussawi stated that the content of the Sadrist Movement’s letter will be announced by the official spokesman of the Iraqi National Alliance. The movement valued the efforts made by Hakim.
For his part, and despite direct and indirect disputes between Maliki and Sadr, Prime Minister Abadi considered the return of Sadrists to the meetings of the Iraqi National Alliance an important step for political stability.
Abadi praised the effort made by the president of the Iraqi National Alliance for unifying of the stance of Iraqis.
Former MP and prominent Iraqi politician Ezzat al-Shabandar, speaking to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, wondered if there was anything indicating that this bloc would support the national project that Sadr has always called for.
Shabandar added that everything remained the same even when they speak of a technocratic government, as they choose their candidates from the same old blocs.
The former MP expressed his content with the schisms within the Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Kurds because he believes it sets the ground for a new national map.
Haidar al-Gharabi, Professor at the Hawza, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the request of Religious Authority Sisatni for Sadr to return to the alliance proves once again that Sistani is the father of everyone, even those who follow Khamenei.
Gharabi added that Sadr is applying his father’s saying to refer to the Religious Authority since it unites all, especially that Sistani has always called for a united Iraq.
He pointed out that since they consulted with Sistani, figures have to comply with what he says to avoid disputes on posts and positions.
Prominent politician and former Sec-Gen of Virtue Party Nadim al-Jabiri told Asharq al-Awsat that members of the alliance refer to the Religious Authority only when it falls in line with their benefits, while they deny his opinions when it contradicts with their aspirations.
Jabiri believes that the return of Sadr to the alliance is a return to square one and can’t be described as a positive outcome since it delivers the wrong message and deepens sectarian divisions.
Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat- The spokesman for the Sadrist movement, Saleh al Obeidi, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Moqtada al-Sadr remains in Syria after arriving in Damascus a few says ago as part of a tour of Arab countries. He also revealed that prior to this, al-Sadr met with Abdulaziz al-Hakim,…

Earthquake Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

The temblor registered a preliminary magnitude of 2.7 and struck about 148 miles southeast of Mastic, N.Y. It had a depth of 4.5 miles, according to USGS.
Multiple responses to the USGS’ online “Did You Feel It?” tool suggested the shaking was felt throughout the area, including Port Jefferson Station, West Babylon and Elmira, N.Y.

The Risk Of Nuclear Terrorism

‘); min-height: 95px; min-width: 60px; outline: transparent solid 0px; position: absolute; top: 50%; width: 384px; z-index: 100;”>EditPakistan-Nuclear-TerrorismNuclear Weapons and Terrorism: A Dangerous Mix
By Jean-Bernard Latortue
Contributing Writer
Setember 30th, 2016
When video footage of a Belgian nuclear official was discovered in the apartment of a terrorist behind the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, it heightened the concerns of national security experts in the United States and abroad about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups. As strange as it may sound, though, catastrophe is opportunity. The United States and the other nuclear powers must seize this opportunity to work together to broaden their nuclear security policy to mitigate the growing threat of a nuclear-armed terrorist group. Stronger physical protection of nuclear facilities, tigher border controls around nuclear power states, and increased transparency among civilian and military nuclear programs will undeniably lower the risk of this threat.
Since an improvised nuclear bomb can be made from highly enriched uranium or plutonium, a terrorist group would not need to take over a nuclear-armed state to posses such a weapon. A thriving black market exists for just the materials a terrorist would need to create a bomb on his or her own. As of December 2015, the Internal Atomic Energy Agency Incident and Trafficking Database system has recorded a total of 2889 incidents involving thefts, losses, and attempts to illegally sell or traffic fissile materials across international borders. Therefore, a terrorist attack involving an improvised nuclear device is not inconceivable nor impossible, although it may be improbable.
Currently, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) does not inspect every nuclear facility globally, thus some countries may not be in accordance with the agency’s safeguards and nuclear security measures. Even more striking is that states sometimes fail to account for the totality of the nuclear material at their various facilities. For instance, in Pakistan, missing weapons-usable materials are rarely reported by the facility and subsequently turn up on the black market. Another shortcoming of the status quo is that some states with nuclear programs do not have the proper resources to require all employees undergo an extensive security clearance process before being hired. Without a thorough background check, employees at nuclear facilities could act as double agents, working for the facility while simutaneously passing information to terrorist groups.
Much of U.S.’ nuclear security and non-proliferation endeavors over the past half-century have been rightly focused on arms control treaties and agreements such as the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, which deters states from acquiring nuclear capabilities. However, nuclear security today requires a more proactive approach that must work towards or achieve:
• Safer nuclear facilities. Collaborating with countries like Pakistan, where terrorists are more likely to train. Physically strengthening the security of research reactors and other affiliated facilities would reduce the likelihood of non-state actors reaching those facilities;
• Tighter border controls. Reduce the smuggling of nuclear materials and make it extremely difficult for non-state actors to get the necessary components needed to build nuclear devices. This would entail border police and other law enforcement bodies playing a greater role in the prevention of trafficking of radioactive materials; and
• Better understanding of the threat. Greater transparency among states would develop a common understanding of the threat and help establish broad political agreements on more effective ways to secure nuclear sites.
The aforementioned efforts require abundant resources and strong domestic political support. While these policy steps may not completely eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of radical groups, they would certainly demonstrate a commitment from the international community to confront threats from terrorist groups and signal a step in the right direction.
The United States has shown extraordinary and effective leadership in the past in its non-proliferation policy aiming to avoid the acquisition of nuclear weapons among state actors. The United States surely can rise to the occasion again to ensure global peace and security.
Jean-Bernard is a second-year graduate student in the International Affairs master’s program at the Elliott School of International Affairs. He received a B.A. in History and Political Science from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida in 2013. Before enrolling in the MA program, he interned on Capitol Hill and worked for a lobby group in Washington, DC. Jean-Bernard can be reached at