East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness


Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”


Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Iran Reopens Its Nuclear Machine

Iran Says It’s Reopening Its Most Controversial Uranium Enrichment Facility

Geoff BrumfielNovember 5, 20195:10 PM ET

Iran is reopening one of its most controversial uranium enrichment facilities. The move increases its ability to generate enriched uranium and puts more pressure on the already strained nuclear deal.


Iran’s president made a big announcement today. The country is ramping up uranium enrichment at a secure underground facility that breaches an important part of the international nuclear deal – the deal that President Trump pulled out of, saying it wasn’t tough enough. Today the State Department called Iran’s announcement nuclear extortion. NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel reports on what it could mean.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani made the announcement on state television.

PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI: (Through interpreter) The steps that we will take as of Wednesday will be at the Fordow nuclear facility. We have some…

BRUMFIEL: The Fordow facility contains over a thousand centrifuges that Iran can use to enrich uranium gas. It is among the most controversial parts of its nuclear program. That program, Iran says, is peaceful, but Fordow looks a lot more like a military installation. It’s very deep underground, and it was kept secret until 2009, when the U.S., France and Britain uncovered it. The U.S. and Europe insisted that Iran stop enriching uranium at Fordow as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. Rouhani says they’re starting again.

ARIANE TABATABAI: This is a major step.

BRUMFIEL: Ariane Tabatabai is an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Iran has been gradually crossing limits in the deal for months, accumulating uranium, restarting research. Tabatabai worries Fordow may be a step too far.

TABATABAI: It does make it politically a lot more difficult for us to go back because Fordow, from a political perspective and from a proliferation perspective, has been such a big deal.

BRUMFIEL: President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal last year and used sanctions to block Iran from getting the economic benefits it was promised. Europe has been trying to find a workaround, says Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in the U.K. Negotiations have intensified in recent months, but so far, she says, it hasn’t come to much.

ANISEH BASSIRI TABRIZI: Short answer – no, there hasn’t been any progress.

BRUMFIEL: European powers aren’t happy about today’s announcement, Tabrizi says, but they haven’t set any red lines for when they would leave the deal.

BASSIRI TABRIZI: They are in a very difficult spot at the moment because they know the likely consequences also of them walking away.

BRUMFIEL: She says Iran might kick out inspectors, further increase enrichment and stop abiding by the deal altogether. If that happens, most experts agree Iran will be within months to weeks of getting the material it needs for a nuclear weapon.

Geoff Brumfiel, NPR News, Washington.

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The Rising Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)


China’s nuclear developments reflect its growing ambition


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Discerning China’s ambition in the international arena is difficult because there are few empirical clues. Publicly available evidence is often alarming – particularly in the nuclear realm, given considerable advances in the Chinese nuclear arsenal. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has made improvements in the capability of its nuclear arsenal and in its growing strategic and intermediate nuclear systems.

Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), has termed the recent growth of China’s nuclear weapons “the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history.” This was echoed by Adm. David Kriete, the deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, who stated, “China is, and has been for the last couple of decades, on a very clear trajectory where they’re increasing the numbers of nuclear weapons that they field, they’re increasing the number and diversity of the delivery systems,” and will be “expanding its nuclear weapons production capabilities.”

The PRC’s modern, strategic force supports a warfighting military posture and could target the entirety of U.S. military capability. This is a stark development, which stands in contrast to the historical role of Chinese nuclear forces primarily for retaliating against an opponent’s cities. The military parade on Oct. 1, 2019 – the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC – debuted the DF-41 solid-fueled, road-mobile ICBM, the DF-100/CJ-100 supersonic cruise missile, and the DF-17 with its hypersonic glide vehicle. Additionally, the PRC is modernizing its bomber force, historically the most neglected aspect of China’s nuclear forces.

Estimates of the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal vary considerably, from fewer than 300 warheads to a significantly larger number, because China refuses to be transparent about its nuclear forces. What we do know is that the arsenal is growing rapidly. According to Rear Adm. Michael Brookes, director of intelligence for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, it has doubled in the past decade – and is on a trajectory to double yet again in the next decade.

This nuclear expansion has allowed China to shift from its minimal-deterrent retaliatory posture toward a first-use capability, which likely entails threatening limited nuclear options in a conflict with its enemies. Additionally, Beijing has articulated in its defense strategy the need to use asymmetric and preemptive attacks during high-intensity warfare, as well as the need to link geographically dispersed military forces in joint operations.

Moreover, China’s renewed interest in developing theater weapons and ballistic missile defense systems has been incorporated into its military posture and has provided it with increasing ability to engage in conflict with its likely foes: India, Japan and the United States. China’s 2019 defense white paper places strong emphasis on political loyalty to the Communist Party and defense of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and recent commentary has emphasized the goal of incorporating Taiwan into its full control, even if by military force.

China’s goal of transforming its military goes beyond regional interests. It focuses on building a world-class force by mid-21st century, while casting China’s military power in a benign light as a “staunch force for world peace, stability and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.” Equally worrisome, China emphasizes the protection of its overseas interests, including in Africa and Asia, which are clashing increasingly with interests of the U.S. and its allies. This is heightened by the PRC’s construction of military bases near critical maritime choke points (Djibouti, for example) through which key international trade must transit.

Taking the 2019 white paper at its word compels two logical conclusions. First, Beijing seeks to acquire credible coercive extended nuclear capabilities to support its interests and allies abroad, and thus will continue to expand both the number and quality of its nuclear and conventional capabilities. Second, the U.S. cannot rule out that the PRC may rapidly increase its nuclear arsenal and delivery systems to make a bid for eventual nuclear superiority.

Unfortunately for international peace and the security of its neighbors, China’s determined and dramatic increase of its strategic capabilities, coupled with the lack of transparency about every aspect of its nuclear forces, underscores that its ambitions are not limited and very likely are expansionistic.

Just as troublesome, China’s rejection of strategic stability and transparency by undertaking the secretive and accelerated growth of its arsenal, while rejecting any participation in arms control agreements, poses direct and deleterious consequences for U.S. security and the security of its allies.

A final lamentable consequence of China’s nuclear modernization effort, as well as its prominent role in advancing nuclear proliferation, may be that it provokes both Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons themselves, further undermining strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific region. A key component of the necessary response is for the U.S. to have the appropriate conventional, space, missile defense and nuclear capabilities in the region to deter the threat from China while simultaneously reassuring U.S. allies.

Peter Huessy is founder and president of Geo-Strategic Analysis of Potomac, Md.

Bradley A. Thayer is professor of political science at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and co-author of “How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics.”

Australia is about to join the nuclear weapons club (Daniel 7)

Should Australia join the nuclear weapons club?

Australia has long been an advocate of nuclear disarmament and has been an active party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But, unlike New Zealand, it has not signed on to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In fact, its attitude has been very negative so far. If we believe it is possible to restore the world to a nuclear-weapon-free state, and that we must work towards this for the sake of generations to come, we must encourage the Australian government to sign on to this treaty and encourage like-minded governments to do the same, and to work together to persuade states with nuclear weapons to join together in renouncing them.

Elizabeth A Evatt AC, Lawyer and jurist: First Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia

The Australian Government is currently being urged to become a member of the nuclear-armed nations. Professor Hugh White is promoting a debate on Australia acquiring its own nuclear arsenal, despite our 45-year commitment to nuclear disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.

White proposed that Australian nuclear weapons “would be aimed at cities, they would be aimed to impose massive damage on an adversary to deter them from using nuclear weapons against us.”  In response, human rights lawyer Diana Sayed drew attention to the devastating humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, noting that such a course of action “would trigger a nuclear arms race in our region… The fact that Australia would be entertaining this thought is unfathomable and unconscionable to me and it goes against everything in international law”.

This debate is a dangerous distraction from the difficult yet crucial task of eliminating nuclear weapons. The next step Australia must take is to reject the flawed notion of nuclear deterrence and join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear weapons are never a legitimate means of defence.

During August the new ICAN report, featuring contributions from international legal experts, faith groups, parliamentarians, unions, poets and lawyers has been launched around Australia,  In Newcastle the report was introduced on Sunday 4th August following the annual  Hiroshima Service of Commemoration, organised by Christians for Peace. Local churches are giving strong support to signing the Treaty.

In the Foreword to the ICAN Report, Gillian Triggs, the former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission writes:

The danger of nuclear war is growing. The more we learn about the catastrophic consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, the worse it looks. Nine nations possess some fourteen thousand nuclear weapons .1 Eighteen hundred of them stand poised and ready to launch within minutes. As long as they exist, nuclear weapons pose the most acute existential threat that human beings have created for ourselves and for all species with whom we share planet Earth.

Humanity has made substantial progress towards eliminating other indiscriminate and inhumane weapons – chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions. Evidence of the indiscriminate and unacceptable consequences of these weapons provided the necessary motivation to outlaw them.

In a statement entitled, Seeking a Just and Peaceful World, which is contained in the Report, the Rev. Rob Floyd, Associate General Secretary of the Uniting Church in Australia, declares:

“The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) has a long commitment to working for a world free from nuclear weapons.  As a proud member of ICAN, we have continued to call upon our political leaders to work towards a ban on nuclear weapons.

The UCA believes that God in Jesus came to make peace. As Christians, we are called by God to love our neighbours and to work for an end to violence and fear in our world.

The destructive power of nuclear weapons threatens all life on this planet. We believe that reliance upon nuclear weapons to attain peace and security is entirely contrary to God’s creative will for the world.

In our recent 2019 statement, Our Vision for a Just Australia,we called on the Australian Government to sign the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty as part of Australia’s contribution to a just and peaceful world.

It is the first Treaty to comprehensively outlaw nuclear weapons and sets out a pathway for their total elimination.  We maintain that reliance on weapons for peace and security can never achieve a just and lasting peace. Rather, we seek to build a world transformed by hope, peace and justice where the sacredness of all life is protected.

In a letter to then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in 2015, the Uniting Church Assembly highlighted the urgency of a ban on nuclear weapons. ‘To ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, they must be eliminated. To eliminate them, they must be banned.’

Rev. Floyd concludes, “We continue to pray that those who seek security in nuclear weapons may discover that genuine security can only be achieved through non-violent means.”

ICAN, founded in Melbourne in 2007. Now an international movement, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work in developing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Report urges the Australian Government to continue the established tradition of our country’s support for similar UN Treaties.  We have been leaders in the banning of biological weapons (1972), chemical weapons (1993), land mines (1997), and cluster munitions (2008). It is time to join over 130 nations which have already given their support to the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Doug Hewitt is a member of Christians for Peace Newcastle

India vs Pakistan: First Nuclear war risk grows (Revelation 8 )

Indian troops on patrol in Kashmir (Image: GETTY)

India vs Pakistan: Nuclear war risk grows, warns defence expert

NUCLEAR war between India and Pakistan is a greater possibility than experts are willing to believe, a defence analyst has warned.


PUBLISHED: 13:50, Thu, Nov 7, 2019

UPDATED: 14:08, Thu, Nov 7, 2019

Kashmir: Civilians mourn losses after cross-border attacks

Civilians in Kashmir mourn their losses after cross-border attacks. The group gather around the bodies of loved ones as they express their loss, after a cross-fire broke out on the Line of Control.

Kyle Mizokami said Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and policies were continually evolving to match perceived threats and the increasingly bitter feud with India over the disputed Kashmir region puts the security of the whole subcontinent at risk.

Pakistan does not have a “no first use” policy and insists it reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.

It has developed nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea.

Imran Khan slammed by protestors as India split Kashmir

A recent report published in Science Advances said the death toll in the event of nuclear warfare in the region could top 125 million.

The report stated: “India and Pakistan may be repeating the unfortunate example set by the United States and Russia during the ‘cold war’ era: that is, building destructive nuclear forces far out of proportion to their role in deterrence.”

Mr Mizokami said: “Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war.

“It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War.

“It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.”

Tensions between the nuclear neighbours are at boiling point because of India allegations that Pakistan is knowingly harbouring terror groups which launch regular cross-border attacks.

Indian Kashmir’s governor Satya Pal Malik said India would send troops into Pakistan to go “inside and destroy” the terrorist camps if the attacks continued.

He said: “Pakistan will have to behave and stop these terror camps. If it does not behave, we will go deep inside and destroy these camps.”

Tensions are running high in strife-torn Kashmir (Image: GETTY)

Defence analysts fear the bitter feud over Kashmir could spark nuclear conflict (Image: GETTY)

The strife-torn region is still reeling from a bloody suicide bomb attack claimed by Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammad in which 44 Indian paramilitary police were killed.

Police said a car filled with explosives had rammed a bus carrying the troops to Srinagar in the deadliest militant attack on Indian forces in Kashmir since the insurgency against Indian rule began in 1989.

India responded by launching cross-border airstrikes on alleged terror training camps in Pakistan and both sides have accused the other of military breaches of a fragile truce ever since.

The situation deteriorated further in August when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Article 370 and other related provisions, passing a new law to end autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Simultaneously, it locked the region down, detaining thousands of people, imposing movement restrictions and enforcing a communications blackout.

Each side blames the other for a series of deadly cross-border skirmishes (Image: GETTY)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan this week called upon the international community to play its role in bringing peace to the region.

He said the entire world should work to facilitate a just and durable solution to the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.

Mr Khan said New Delhi’s decision to revoke the autonomy of the disputed region had a negative impact on regional peace and security.

The Hypocrisy Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

A Palestinian woman seen after after crossing the a fence that had been damaged by demonstrators during the protest near the Gaza-Israel border fence, Gaza Strip, September 28, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Israel killed 222 Gaza protestors since 2018. Only one soldier has been indicted

As Othman Hiles began climbing the Gaza fence, an Israeli soldier opened fire and killed the unarmed 14-year-old. The soldier’s sentence? Community service.

By Eyal Sagiv

Two women and a teenage boy stand close to the fence separating Gaza from Israel, waving Palestinian flags. Four other teenagers approach. One of them, 14-year-old Othman Hiles, is wearing a white shirt and dark pants. He goes up to the fence, touches it, walks along it for a few yards, and touches it again. He puts his foot on the fence and starts to climb. As his second foot reaches the fence, a shot is fired. Hiles is hit in the chest and falls.

A month after Hiles was killed, Israeli Military Advocate General Sharon Afek ordered an investigation into the incident. More than a year later — after Afek had ordered another 10 investigations into the killing of Gazan demonstrators at the hands of Israeli soldiers — the military announced that the soldier responsible for Hiles’ death had been convicted in a plea bargain of “exceeding authority in a manner that endangers human life and health.” The army sentenced him to a month of military labor, a four-month suspended sentence, and demoted him to the rank of private.

We will never know what happened during the MAG Corps meetings the year Afek and his people decided to investigate the deaths of only 11 Palestinian demonstrators, indict only one soldier, agree to an absurd plea bargain and, most importantly, leave the IDF open-fire regulations essentially unchanged.

Not that it really matters. What matters are the facts: Hiles, only 14, was killed more than a year ago on July 13, 2018. What matters is that he was captured being shot on video while climbing the perimeter fence opposite Gaza City during one of the weekly protests held by Gazans almost every weekend since late March 2018. What matters is that since the protests began, Israeli security forces have killed 222 demonstrators and wounded around 8,000 with live fire. What matters is that 45 of those killed were minors, 28 of them under the age of 16, and that most of those killed or wounded were unarmed and were not endangering the soldiers, who were armed and well-protected behind an electronic fence dozens of yards away. There were lookouts, jeeps, crowd control measures, and occasionally, tanks.

Two hundred twenty-two people were killed.

The military has refused to make any essential changes to its open-fire regulations, promising only to investigate “exceptional incidents.” To date, the MAG has identified 11 such cases, according to a military statement. Why eleven? Why these eleven? It’s anyone’s guess.

Some of the incidents were captured on video; others, like the killing of paramedic Razan al-Najjar or teenager Muhammad Ayoub, drew international attention and criticism. Is that why the military chose to investigate these cases? Unlikely. Why not other well-documented and no less shocking incidents, such as the killing of 16-year-old Ahmad Abu Tyour, shot by soldiers after he threw a stone at them while waving at them?

The main purpose of investigating these “exceptional cases” is not to uncover the truth or ensure that no more unarmed, non-dangerous civilians are killed. Quite the opposite: it is to keep up the false show of a functioning justice system and the warped reasoning that killing hundreds of Palestinians and injuring thousands — hardly “exceptions” — is legitimate.

That is why these investigations are devoid of meaning. They always center on the soldiers on the ground — never on the commanders who trained them, or the MAG Corps officials who sanctioned the procedures and open-fire regulations that guide them. Those who bear real responsibility are never brought to trial or even investigated.

The military, meanwhile, tries not to investigate too hard. Suffice it to examine how the Military Police Investigations Unit — closely supervised by the MAG Corps — handles the investigations: stretching them out for months on end without collecting external evidence, while relying almost exclusively on the accounts of the soldiers involved in the incident (and, in some cases, on the accounts of the Palestinian victims). The MAG Corps is quick to close the case — for lack of evidence (with no effort made to collect it) or for “lack of culpability” — after unconditionally accepting the soldiers’ accounts, even when they contradict each other.

Yet even a successful whitewashing system needs a fig leaf to silence criticism. That is why, once in a while, an investigation does result in prosecution and conviction. Why this particular soldier who killed 14-year-old Hiles? It’s anyone’s guess — precisely because the conviction in this case is part of the systemic farce.

That is why the soldier was not charged with “manslaughter” or even “negligent manslaughter,” but with “exceeding authority in a manner that endangers human life and health.” That is why despite footage of a teenage boy standing almost alone by the perimeter fence in a quiet area — with no grounds for claiming that the sniper shots were not directed at him — the military stated in all earnestness that “the investigation did not uncover evidence that meets criminal criteria and substantiates a causal tie between the soldier’s shooting and the injury to the rioter.”

One can only imagine how decisions are made in the Tel Aviv offices of the MAG, which authorizes open-fire regulations, opens and closes investigations about people killed by those very regulations, and which decides to reach plea bargains too absurd to take seriously.

Meanwhile, in blockaded Gaza? Asmahan Hiles, Othman’s mother, envisions a different reality: “Ever since Othman was killed, I’ve watched the footage over and over, asking myself, ‘What did he do that was so terrible?’ I watch the video and cry my heart out. I ask myself, how did he feel when the bullet pierced his body? Did it cause my little boy a lot of pain? How could he bear the pain of the bullet when it hit him?”

Eyal Sagiv is a data coordinator at B’Tselem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Iran’s Khamenei is Correct: Babylon the Great has failed to defend itself

Iran’s Khamenei: US has failed to defend itself

Nov 06, 23:03 GMT

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was on the wires last minutes, via Reuters, making some comments concerning its relationship with the US.

Khamenei said that “we have managed to corner the US in the ring on certain occasions and it has failed to defend itself”.

This comes after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Monday on the core inner circle of advisers to Khamenei and added $20 million to a reward for information about a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran 12 years ago, as cited by the Washington Post (WaPo).

In response to the US sanctions, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mousavi said that the New American sanctions are a sign of US bullying.

Meanwhile, we are seeing a bit of a risk reset in early trades on some positive US-China trade headlines, with a Chinese trade source citing that the US is unlikely to impose the December 15 tariffs on China.

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