New York Earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‚dangerous shaking from far away‘

Joshua Nevett

Published 30th April 2018

SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.

Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.

A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.

Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.

The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.

Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.

EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors

But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.

The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.

What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.

The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.


THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City


RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS

“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher

This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.

“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.

Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.

But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.

“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.

In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.

“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.

On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.


FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.

“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.

“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

The Union of the Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)


In the 2018 election, Imran Khan campaigned on a consistently pro-Iranian platform, vowing to improve Pakistan’s relations with its western neighbour, but since taking office, he has seemingly done the opposite, strengthening his country’s alignment with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s nemesis.

Khan’s first overseas trip as prime minister was to Riyadh, and Pakistan welcomed Saudi crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman for a magnificent state visit in February. By contrast, Khan has only just concluded his first trip to Iran (delayed from January for unspecified reasons), while the Iranian president is yet to visit Islamabad.

This should come as no surprise. Pakistan’s relationship with Riyadh is close and goes back decades. Its army helped establish the Saudi military, and, by the end of the Cold War, around 15,000 Pakistani troops were stationed in the kingdom. Defence ties have remained firm, with joint exercises and training, and in 2017 former Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif was appointed to head the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terror Coalition.

Economic links are also strong: Saudi Arabia is Pakistan’s top oil supplier, and there are around 2.5 million Pakistani expatriate workers in the kingdom. As Islamabad grapples with another balance of payments crisis, Riyadh has stepped in to provide support, offering a $6 billion emergency loan last year. In February, the crown prince pledged $20 billion of investments, and Saudi Aramco has reportedly offered liquid natural gas.

However, Pakistan’s ties with Iran are historically much deeper. There were close interactions between the Safavid and Mughal empires, for example, with the latter making Persian its official language. According to the book Pan-Islamic Connections, edited by Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurence Louer, Persia was more critical to the development of Indian Islam than the Gulf, which only became influential in the post-war era when oil wealth enabled Arab states to disseminate their hardline interpretation of Sunni Islam.

 Today linguistic and religious ties persist between Iran and the Subcontinent. There are many Farsi words in Urdu, and the Pakistani national anthem is almost entirely in Persian.

Moreover, while Pakistan is a majority Sunni state and Iran overwhelmingly Shia, the former has a sizeable Shia minority that could be as high as around 20 percent of the population. Prominent Pakistanis such as the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and its first president Iskander Mirza, were Shia Muslims.

As Alex Vatanka explains in his book Iran and Pakistan, the two countries had good relations during the early Cold War. Iran was not only the first nation to recognise Pakistan, but its ruler, the Shah, was also the first head of state to visit, and both countries allied themselves with the US against the Soviet Union.

Although bilateral relations became more complicated after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the two continued to cooperate, for example in Afghanistan where both supported the mujahideen during the anti-Soviet war.

As the Saudi-Iran rivalry intensified in recent years, Pakistan has made a determined effort to remain neutral. Islamabad opposed Saudi-backed plans to attack the Syrian government in 2013 and criticised US airstrikes against the Assad regime in 2018.

In 2015, Pakistan’s parliament voted not to send Pakistani troops to fight in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. When tensions between Riyadh and Tehran escalated following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric in 2016, Pakistani officials conducted shuttle diplomacy to mediate between the two.

Iran-Pakistan relations have certainly warmed. Kashmir now appears in the Iranian supreme leader’s speeches, and Iranian posters commemorated Pakistan’s independence day last year. Imran Khan has long advocated closer ties with Tehran. His PTI party supported the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, opposed deploying Pakistani troops to Yemen, and also opposed the appointment of General Sharif to head the Islamic counter-terrorism coalition because it could affect Pakistan’s relations with Iran.

Since taking office, the exigencies of economic crisis have forced Khan to embrace Saudi support. But he has not yet allowed Riyadh’s growing leverage to derail the Pakistan-Iran relationship.

In April, Islamabad expressed goodwill towards its neighbour by donating aid to the victims of Iran’s floods. And his visit to Iran this week was amicable and productive. Indeed, the fact Khan visited Tehran at all speaks volumes about the resilience of bilateral ties, given how much money his government is receiving from Riyadh.

During the trip, Khan and Iran’s president, Rouhani agreed to set up a joint security force to police the troubled border, which has seen repeated terrorist attacks launched by groups allegedly hiding on either side of the frontier.

In February, militants bombed a bus in Iran, killing 27 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. And, in April, Baloch separatists murdered a busload of Pakistanis. Islamabad also believes that India uses Iranian territory to launch hostile intelligence operations against Pakistan.

Tehran and Islamabad regularly blame one another for harbouring terrorists, but the mood during Khan’s visit was conciliatory. He even went so far as to admit that militants operated from Pakistani Balochistan, prompting outrage back home. And, just as he arrived, the Iranian supreme leader dismissed IRGC chief, General Jafari, a particularly vociferous critic of Pakistan. While Jafari’s dismissal was probably related to other factors, the timing was revealing.

While these sorts of goodwill gestures are primarily symbolic, Pakistan-Iran cooperation is more substantive in the case of Afghanistan. The two have been involved in negotiations to end the war there, jointly participating in the Kabul Process, signing the Tashkent Declaration in 2018, or sitting down with the Taliban in Moscow late last year. And the spy chiefs of Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China held an unprecedented meeting in Islamabad last year to discuss terrorism and Afghanistan.

However, there are clear limits to collaboration. Despite promises to boost bilateral trade to $5 billion, trade volumes are still far below their potential. Plans to introduce a ferry link from the port of Gwadar to Chabahar have not materialised, and railway connectivity between Iran and Pakistan is woefully poor. A gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan has been in the works for decades but remains incomplete.

Iran claims to have constructed its segment, but Pakistan is dragging its feet, apparently due to American and Saudi pressure. And now, with US sanctions on Iran renewed after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal last year, and Pakistan currently in need of American backing to secure another IMF loan, Washington has even more leverage than before. So, progress on trade is hard to imagine at this moment.

Iran has expressed interest in joining CPEC, but potential Saudi investment in an oil refinery at Gwadar may well prevent any Iranian involvement. On the military front, despite occasional exercises and a recent proposal to jointly produce defence equipment, there is nothing to write home about.

The fact remains that, however affectionate Pakistan’s relations with Iran may seem, they are far less concrete than its ties to the Gulf.

But that does not mean Pakistan will get sucked into a Saudi-Iran Cold War. Recent history shows that Islamabad has managed to remain neutral even when its links to Riyadh have been strong.

In the 1980s, for example, when General Zia cultivated an especially close bond with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan stayed neutral in the Iran-Iraq War and even supported the Iranians. Then, in 2015, prime minister Sharif – who lived in exile in the kingdom and has particularly close personal ties to the Gulf – stayed out of the Saudi war in Yemen.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia may be prepared to tolerate a working relationship between Pakistan and Iran, given that it has itself formed closer ties with India in recent years.

As was written in RUSI last year, “Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are interested in an interdependent security relationship, one which does not infringe on either’s relations with other countries.”

While Islamabad may eventually be forced into choosing sides, it is not a foregone conclusion. Pakistan has never been a Saudi puppet.

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Iran Will Leave the Nuclear Treaty

Iran: Leaving Nuclear Treaty One of Many Options


Iran said on Sunday it could quit a treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons after the United States tightens sanctions, while an Iranian general said the U.S. Navy was interacting as before with an elite military unit blacklisted by Washington.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions.

Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and demanded buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May or face sanctions.

“The Islamic Republic’s choices are numerous, and the country’s authorities are considering them… and leaving NPT [nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] is one of them,” state broadcaster IRIB’s website quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying.

Iran has threatened in the past to leave the NPT, as U.S. President Donald Trump moved to scrap the 2015 deal with world powers — the United States, Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France.

Separately, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff said the IRGC — which ensures security in Gulf waters and the Strait of Hormuz for Iran – had not observed any change in the U.S. military’s behavior towards the elite force after the blacklisting.

“U.S. warships are obliged to respond to the IRGC on the passage of the Strait of Hormuz … and until yesterday they have been answering IRGC questions, and we have not seen change in their procedures,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri was quoted as saying on Sunday by the semi-official Fars news agency.

Lieutenant Chloe Morgan, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokeswoman, said on Sunday: “The Strait of Hormuz is an international waterway. Threats to close the strait impact the international community and undermine the free flow of commerce.

“The U.S., along with our allies and partners, is committed to freedom of navigation and remains well positioned and postured to preserve the free flow of commerce, and we are prepared to respond to any acts of aggression,” Morgan said in an emailed statement, without referring to interaction with IRGC forces.

On Wednesday, Zarif called the IRGC blacklisting “absurd,” but suggested Iran did not plan to respond militarily unless the United States changed the rules of engagement guiding how it interacts with Iran’s forces. The U.S. military has not suggested it would alter its behavior after the blacklisting.

“We don’t intend to close the Strait of Hormuz, unless hostilities reach a level where this cannot be avoided,” Fars quoted Baqeri as saying. “If our oil does not pass, the oil of others shall not pass the Strait of Hormuz either.”

President Hassan Rouhani and some senior military commanders have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.

Carrying one third of the world’s seaborne oil every day, the Strait of Hormuz links Middle East crude producers to markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

Iran has also threatened to pull out of the 2015 deal unless European powers enable it to receive economic benefits.

The Europeans have said they would help companies do business with Iran as long as it abides by the deal, but Tehran has criticized what it sees as the slow pace of progress on a promised payment mechanism for Iran-Europe trade.

“The Europeans have had a year but unfortunately they have not taken any practical measures,” Zarif told IRIB.

Completing the Shi’a Crescent (Daniel 7:7)

The Crescent on a Hot Plate

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The scene was strange in Baghdad in early March 2007. A plane had landed in the country controlled by the “Great Satan”, carrying on board a president that comes from the mantle of the spiritual leader.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saw a crowd of American armored vehicles. The head of the accompanying delegation asked Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari about the scene. He responded that the number of US troops reached 170,000. The visitor was not unaware of this reality – perhaps this was the reason for his visit.

The Iraqi authorities asked US soldiers to open the barricades and to facilitate the passage of the Iranian president’s convoy to the Green Zone, where he met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. On the way back, soldiers at a US checkpoint insisted on stopping the president’s convoy and it turned out that the troops wanted to take a souvenir photo with the visitor. Ahmadinejad smiled when Zebari told him so, but the Iraqi authorities requested that the president remain in his car for security reasons.

Ahmadinejad did not hesitate to whisper in the ear of President Jalal Talabani that the Americans were temporary visitors and the land remains after the departure of the migratory birds. The Iranian president was keen on visiting the Shiite holy sites in another message about the Iraqi fabric.

Years before the visit, on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, Tehran witnessed a high-ranking Iran-Syria meeting, in which it was agreed to make every effort to thwart the US offensive. Zebari says Tehran was keen on thwarting the US military presence, which will abutted Iranian territories from Afghanistan; while Damascus was determined to defeat the US occupation and the democratic experiment in Iraq, fearing its spread in its territory.

Also prior to the visit, Tehran and Damascus also implemented a joint decision to prevent the establishment of a pro-Western government in Lebanon, following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, by besieging Fouad Siniora’s government.

Tehran benefitted from two fixations by Barack Obama’s administration: the first is the military withdrawal from Iraq, and the second is an agreement with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. When Iraqi army units collapsed in front of the ISIS wave from Mosul, Tehran quickly sent weapons and ammunition to Baghdad and Erbil. It considered that the army that collapsed was the one trained by the Americans, who spent billions of dollars on it. It then exerted an extraordinary effort to sponsor the Popular Mobilization Forces that transformed into a “parallel army.”

In Lebanon, the situation has stabilized on an equation that gives Hezbollah the first and final say in big decisions. This has kept Lebanon part of the “crescent of opposition.”

Two situations must be highlighted to complete the picture. The pro-Iranian militias alone could not save the Syrian regime. The real rescue came from the Russian military intervention. Russia has become a necessary partner in shaping the Syrian future. The Iranian role in Syria was therefore affected. The Houthis could not include Yemen in the “crescent of opposition”. They were met with Yemeni and Gulf resistance and an international understanding of the decision to go to war there.

The picture changed with the arrival of Donald Trump. He executed his promise. America withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and imposed “unprecedented sanctions” on it. He went even farther and put the Revolutionary Guards on the terrorist list. Given the political, security and economic weight of the Iranian regime’s “guards,” Tehran’s current tension can be understood. Its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, even suggested that abandoning the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was one of his country’s options.

With Trump’s determination to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero and the imminent expiry of the deadline of the exemptions on the imports by some countries, it is clear that the region is heading towards a major crisis that could turn into the “mother of all crises.”

Reports leaked from Iran in recent weeks suggest that US sanctions are undeniably painful. Tehran’s experience with the European alternative to the nuclear deal has proven its insufficiency when the US uses its economic and political weight to force countries and companies to choose between the world’s superpower and Iran.

Understanding the effects of the sanctions on Iraq shows that such a policy cannot bring down a regime. However, there is a difference here that should be noted. Saddam Hussein’s regime did not have commitments in many parts of the region, nor was it funding and arming militias involved in conflicts that have become a major part of Iran’s regional presence. Moreover, the declared American goal is to force the Iranian regime to change its policies, not to cause it to fall.

Questions arise: What is Iran doing? And how can it respond? And where? Past experience showed that Iran is fully aware of the danger of engaging in direct military conflict with the US.

The current climate suggests that proxy wars will not be easy either, with a US president whose moves are hard to predict. Inciting a war with Israel, through Gaza or Lebanon, will not be enough to reshuffle the papers, and may be untenable, under the current US administration.

This does not mean that Iran doesn’t have papers. For months, there has been talk in Baghdad about pushing for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, also through the Iraqi parliament. But Iraqi officials recognize the cost of such a step. Their need for the US role goes beyond its contribution to fighting ISIS.

It is clear that the new crisis is not good news for the Houthis, nor for Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government, whose complete formation is currently stalled due to the Iranian-American tension.

Any Iranian attempt to circumvent sanctions through Baghdad would compound difficulties for the Iraqi government. The same is true of any attempt to use the Lebanese arena, which is being carefully monitored by the US.

“The mother of all crises” is not good news for Syria either. Any talk of reconstruction will be delayed if the confrontation escalates, knowing that Damascus did not decide to choose “Russian Syria” over “Iranian Syria.”

The crisis goes beyond the question of Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. It raises a question about Iran’s ability to bear the sanctions and to keep its commitments in the “Crescent” countries, which feel they are on the way to living on a hot plate waiting for a solution to the “mother of all crises.”

Threats from Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Gazan leadership threatens more terror if Israel does not agree to ceasefire

Gazan leadership threatens more terror if Israel does not agree to ceasefire

The Supreme Committee for the Marches of Return issued an ultimatum, demanding that Israel meet the Hamas terror group’s demands or there will be an attack on Israel this Friday.


Israel has reportedly agreed to an Egyptian-mediated long-term ceasefire with Hamas, which includes the broadening of the fishing zones off the Gaza coast, the entry of goods and the transfer of Qatari funds into the Strip.

The various factions in Gaza are growing impatient and are demanding that Israel proceed immediately with the understandings, and not wait until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu establishes a government.

“If the occupation does not meet the understandings, we will reuse the entire arsenal of resistance,” threatened Talal Abu Zarifa, a committee member, underscoring that terror factions have not laid down their weapons.

Sources in Ramallah report that Israel has arrived at understandings with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror groups, despite the fact that both sides are denying that such understandings exist.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are now threatening to attacks on Israel if it does not finalize the agreement.

Officials in Gaza understand that the political reality in Israel may delay the finalization of the ceasefire.

However, Hamas has warned it will use the Eurovision song contest slated to be held in Tel Aviv next month as leverage after it worked to deescalate the situation in the Strip and scaled back the Hamas prisoners strike. If Israel does not move forward immediately, Hamas says it will not hesitate to attack Israel to defuse internal pressure in the Strip.

The Joint Operations Room, which is comprised of 11 Gazan terror groups, said last week that it is reviewing the possibility of renewing violence on the Gaza border.

UAE expresses ‘concern’ about Antichrist’s statement on Bahrain


UAE expresses ‘concern’ about Iraqi cleric’s statement on Bahrain

Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr reportedly “defamed” Bahrain’s leadership

The UAE is following with “great concern and anxiety” the statements issued by Iraq regarding Bahrain and its leadership, the country’s ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has said.

“The interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain and any contempt or breach of the status of its leadership is objectionable meddling that can never be accepted,” official news agency WAM quoted the ministry as saying.

On Sunday, Bahrain strongly condemned a statement made by Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr in which he reportedly “defamed” Bahrain’s leadership, according to the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

Bahrain said it considered the statement as an “unacceptable insult to the kingdom of Bahrain and its leadership, a blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs, an obvious violation of international law and conventions and an abuse of the nature of relations between Bahrain and Iraq.”

The UAE’s foreign ministry reiterated that “any failure in containing the abuse in relations between sisterly countries will lead to widening the gap and heightening tension in a time we are in a dire need for cooperation and for respecting national sovereignty and adhering to the principle of non-intervention.”

“Within this context, we are urging our brothers in Iraq to commit to the principles of respect for sovereignty and non-intervention in order to strengthen Arab links and contribute to deepening stability in the region,” it added.

Meanwhile a source at Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said the kingdom would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bahrain.

The source said the kingdom was urging for a “strong relationship between Bahrain and Iraq, who contribute to regional security and stability”, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Quakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Roger Bilham

Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.

Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.

Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.

She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.

Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.

Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.

In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.

The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.

“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.

Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.

What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.

Iraq Demands Apology After Bahraini FM Calls the Antichrist a “Dog”

The two government accuse each other of intervening in their respective domestic affairs [Karim Kadim/AP file]

Iraq demands apology after Bahraini FM calls al-Sadr a ‘dog’

Foreign minister’s remarks came after Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for immediate departure of Bahraini monarch.

Iraq’s foreign ministry has demanded that Bahrain issue an official apology after the Gulf kingdom’s top diplomat said the Iranian government “controlled” Baghdad and referred to a top Shia cleric in disparaging terms.

“The words of the Bahraini foreign ministry – representing Bahraini diplomacy – are offensive to Muqtada al-Sadr … [and] are totally unacceptable in diplomatic practice,” the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

“They also harm Iraq, its sovereignty and independence, especially when the Bahraini minister speaks of Iraq being under the control of neighbouring Iran.”

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed called al-Sadr a “dog” in a tweet on Saturday after the latter denounced the wars in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria and demanded their leaders’ immediate departure.

Translation: Muqtada expresses his fear of increased [foreign] intervention in Iraq … and instead of putting his finder on Iraq’s wounds by directing his speech at the Iranian regime that controls his country, he chose the safe route and addressed Bahrain. God save Iraq from his likes.  

In response, Bahrain’s foreign ministry summoned Iraq’s top envoy, Charge d’Affaires Nihad Rajab Askar, to express the kingdom’s dismay.

“The statement is a blatant and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain,” a statement by the Bahrain foreign ministry said.

“It violates the principles of international law and affects the nature of relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Republic of Iraq.”

Last year, Manama summoned Askar after former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with a delegation from the February 14 movement, an opposition group the Bahraini government labelled a terrorist organisation.

Babylon the Great Continues Its Hegemony in Iraq

US presence in Iraq will continue as long as needed, says Central Command

General Kenneth McKenzie, Chief of the US Central Command

US presence in Iraq will continue as long as needed, says Central Command

(IraqiNews) Chief of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie said that the United States presence in Iraq will be for a long term, while pointed out that Washington is carrying out negotiations in this regard. He also added that Washington is very capable to counter any dangerous actions by Tehran.

McKenzie said in an interview with Sky News Arabia Channel that Iran’s support to terrorism in the region and the world is a long-term threat, while indicated that the US Central Command presence in the area will continue for a long time.

“We’re gonna continue to reach out to our partners and friends in the region to ensure that we make common cause against the threat of Iran,” He added. “I believe we’ll have the resources necessary to deter Iran from taking actions that will be dangerous,” he explained.

It is noteworthy that tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the latter withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began to escalate sanctions. Also the United States blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards earlier this month.

Iraq Will Be Caught in US-Iran Conflict

Exclusive – Iraq Fears Getting Caught in US-Iran Conflict

Sunday, 28 April, 2019 – 06:00 –

The chancellery building inside the compound of the US …

Baghdad – Fadhel al-Nashmi

Concerns have been growing in Iraq that it will be dragged into the raging conflict between the United States and Iran that has reached new heights after Washington announced Monday that it will no longer issue exemptions to buyers of Iranian oil.

Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and earlier this week the US embassy in Baghdad further stoked tensions when it accused Iran’s supreme leader of Ali Khamenei of corruption.

“Corruption is rife in all parts of the Iranian regime, starting at the top. The possessions of the current supreme leader Ali Khamenei alone are estimated at $200 billion, while many people languish in poverty because of the dire economic situation in Iran after 40 years of rule by the mullahs,” said a post on the embassy’s Facebook page.

Iraqi factions loyal to Tehran were quick to slam the mission for its statement.

Fateh alliance leader Hadi al-Ameri strongly condemned “the use of diplomatic missions in Iraq to harm any country or religious authorities.” He deemed the statement a violation of diplomatic regulations and norms.

He demanded that the embassy immediately delete the “harmful” post and called on the Foreign Ministry to summon the American charge d’affaires and hand him a formal letter of complaint.

Leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq faction, Qaid al-Khazali deemed the US embassy’s statement as an attempt to stoke strife in Iraq. He denounced the “use of Iraq to meddle in the internal affairs of its neighbors.”

The criticism was not limited to pro-Iran forces, but extended to other figures, reflecting the concerns mounting in Iraq over the escalating conflict between the Washington and Tehran.

Sadrist movement leader, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr expressed his concern over the “interference” in Iraqi affairs by both sides. He also called for shutting the American embassy in Baghdad should Iraq be dragged into the brewing conflict.

Moreover, he called on the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces and other armed groups to withdraw from Syria and return to Iraq. He also demanded that an agreement be signed between Iraq and Iran that calls on each country to respect the sovereignty of the other.

Head of the Reform alliance Ammar al-Hakim warned against exploiting Iraq to launch a “media, trade or political war.” In a brief statement, he underlined Iraq’s “neutrality and non-interference” in regional conflicts out of its keenness on protecting its higher national interest.

Political science professor at the University of Kufa, Eyad al-Anbar, noted that the fiery rhetoric between the US and Iran was becoming even more heated.

It appears that Iraq is an arena for both sides to deliver their messages,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Iraq’s problem lies in its inability to distance itself from Iran. At the same time, it cannot give up American support. The Iraqi government has remained silent over the issue and sufficed with statements that reflect the lack of vision to manage the crisis,” he added.

Head of the Iraq Center for Development of Media, Adnan Sarraj, expressed his concerns that the American-Iranian tensions may boil over into a clash on Iraqi territory.

“Despite the hostile rhetoric, however, the American policy does not lean towards a direct clash with Iran because it believes that its harsh sanctions will eventually bring Tehran to its knees,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said that the US embassy post was primarily a message to Iraq to urge it to counter Iran’s influence in its territory. “This is why the Iraqis responded to the post, not Iran,” he noted.