Don’t Forget About the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Don’t forget about earthquakes, feds tell city

Although New York’s modern skyscrapers are less likely to be damaged in an earthquake than shorter structures, a new study suggests the East Coast is more vulnerable than previously thought. The new findings will help alter building codes.By Mark FaheyJuly 18, 2014 10:03 a.m.The U.S. Geological Survey had good and bad news for New Yorkers on Thursday. In releasing its latest set of seismic maps the agency said earthquakes are a slightly lower hazard for New York City’s skyscrapers than previously thought, but on the other hand noted that the East Coast may be able to produce larger, more dangerous earthquakes than previous assessments have indicated.The 2014 maps were created with input from hundreds of experts from across the country and are based on much stronger data than the 2008 maps, said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. The bottom line for the nation’s largest city is that the area is at a slightly lower risk for the types of slow-shaking earthquakes that are especially damaging to tall spires of which New York has more than most places, but the city is still at high risk due to its population density and aging structures, said Mr. Petersen.“Many of the overall patterns are the same in this map as in previous maps,” said Mr. Petersen. “There are large uncertainties in seismic hazards in the eastern United States. [New York City] has a lot of exposure and some vulnerability, but people forget about earthquakes because you don’t see damage from ground shaking happening very often.”Just because they’re infrequent doesn’t mean that large and potentially disastrous earthquakes can’t occur in the area. The new maps put the largest expected magnitude at 8, significantly higher than the 2008 peak of 7.7 on a logarithmic scale.The scientific understanding of East Coast earthquakes has expanded in recent years thanks to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia in 2011 that was felt by tens of millions of people across the eastern U.S. New data compiled by the nuclear power industry has also helped experts understand quakes.“The update shows New York at an intermediate level,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “You have to combine that with the exposure of buildings and people and the fragility of buildings and people. In terms of safety and economics, New York has a substantial risk.”Oddly enough, it’s not the modern tall towers that are most at risk. Those buildings become like inverted pendulums in the high frequency shakes that are more common on the East Coast than in the West. But the city’s old eight- and 10-story masonry structures could suffer in a large quake, said Mr. Lerner-Lam. Engineers use maps like those released on Thursday to evaluate the minimum structural requirements at building sites, he said. The risk of an earthquake has to be determined over the building’s life span, not year-to-year.“If a structure is going to exist for 100 years, frankly, it’s more than likely it’s going to see an earthquake over that time,” said Mr. Lerner-Lam. “You have to design for that event.”The new USGS maps will feed into the city’s building-code review process, said a spokesman for the New York City Department of Buildings. Design provisions based on the maps are incorporated into a standard by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is then adopted by the International Building Code and local jurisdictions like New York City. New York’s current provisions are based on the 2010 standards, but a new edition based on the just-released 2014 maps is due around 2016, he said.“The standards for seismic safety in building codes are directly based upon USGS assessments of potential ground shaking from earthquakes, and have been for years,” said Jim Harris, a member and former chair of the Provisions Update Committee of the Building Seismic Safety Council, in a statement.The seismic hazard model also feeds into risk assessment and insurance policies, according to Nilesh Shome, senior director of Risk Management Solutions, the largest insurance modeler in the industry. The new maps will help the insurance industry as a whole price earthquake insurance and manage catastrophic risk, said Mr. Shome. The industry collects more than $2.5 billion in premiums for earthquake insurance each year and underwrites more than $10 trillion in building risk, he said.“People forget about history, that earthquakes have occurred in these regions in the past, and that they will occur in the future,” said Mr. Petersen. “They don’t occur very often, but the consequences and the costs can be high.”

Why Pakistan’s nukes are a global nightmare: Revelation 8

Falling into jihadi hands? Why Pakistan’s nukes are a global headache

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Oct 10, 2021, 21:48 ISTOPEN APP

Pakistan is believed to possess nuclear-capable missiles (Representative image)

NEW DELHI: Many well kept and not-so-well-kept secrets of the Pakistani state and its nuclear programme have been muted forever with the death of AQ Khan. The scientist, hailed as “Father of the Pakistani N-bomb,” died in Islamabad on Sunday. 

Khan successfully manoeuvered and hoodwinked international glare, liaised with “rogue” states and ran a profileration racket to give shape to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, that now faces a threat, not from an adversary nation, but from forces within.

Nuclear weapons falling in possession of terrorist groups is possibly the worst nightmare for the world at large. And the only place where many believe that might be possible is Pakistan.

Security of the country’s nukes has been a concern for the international community ever since Pakistan emerged as a nuclear power in 1998.

In fact, since long before that, Islamabad was never really trusted or taken at face value, even by its erstwhile close ally, the US – borne out by the Pressler Amendment of 1990.

It banned most economic and military assistance to Pakistan unless the US president certified on an annual basis that “Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed United States assistance program will reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess a nuclear explosive device.”

The reasons for concern regarding Pakistan’s nukes are many. It is the only nation that has both nuclear weapons and a mix of terrorist groups, many of which are allowed to operate with impunity. A recent US Congressional report on terrorism says it is home to at least 12 groups designated as ‘foreign terrorist organisations’ (including five India-centric ones).

The groups are believed to have sympaythisers within, and might have even infiltrated Pakistan’s security and military establishments.

At stake is Pakistan’s 165 (approx) nuclear warheads.

The ‘Pak nukes falling in jehadi hands’ concern has reared its head again after the Taliban toppled the Afghan government with relative ease and established control over a vast array of arms and ammunition.

_Israel has not officially acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons The figures for N Korea are estimates of the number of warheads it could potentially build with the amount of fissile material it has prod

A recent article by the American think-tank Brookings Institution delves into the details of the problem.

It describes Pakistan as a state “…governed by a shaky coalition of ineffective politicians and trained military leaders trying desperately to contain the challenge of domestic terrorism.”

American Presidents have never really bought into assurances by Pakistani leaders that they have the terror groups under check, it says. The Brookings article even suggests that the US already has a plan in place in the event of nukes falling into jehadi hands or matters coming close thereof.

To quote the author directly: “…the US has reportedly developed a secret plan to arbitrarily seize control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal if a terrorist group in Pakistan seemed on the edge of capturing some or all of its nuclear warheads. When repeatedly questioned about the plan, US officials have strung together an artful, if unpersuasive, collection of “no comments.”

There have been several audacious attacks on Pakistan’s military installations in the past. Did terrorists ever come close to laying hands on Pakistan’s nukes? There’s nothing to suggest so. However, probes have revealed al-Qaida infiltration into the ranks of Pakistan military. That itself is a huge concern.

In a succour to the fearful possibility of “nukes in jihadi hands,” the author of the Brookings article also says “If history is a reliable guide, Pakistan’s professional military would almost certainly respond, and in time probably succeed,” vis-à-vis thwarting efforts of jihadi groups aspiring to own a nuclear weapon.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Command and Control is composed of two civic-military committees and advises both, the Prime Minister and the President, on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Despite the lingering concerns, many in the US security establishment believe that Pakistan stores its nuclear stockpile in a way that makes it difficult to put the pieces together; that is, components are located in different places.

A 2020 Congressional study, while acknowledging Pakistan’s steps to enhance nuclear security, observes that ‘Instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question

Antichrist who fought US offers himself as saviour in elections

An election poster of Moqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City, northern Baghdad
An election poster of Moqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City, northern BaghdadAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/GETTY

Iraq’s cleric who fought US offers himself as saviour in elections

As the nation votes today, the leader once described as his country’s most dangerous man may be the least bad option

In his office in Baghdad’s Green Zone, the politician Sadiq al-Sulaiti perched on a velvet sofa with crystal-studded cushions and expounded on his favourite subject: how his leader, the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was going to save Iraq from corruption, lawlessness and instability.

When the American-led coalition invaded 18 years ago, Sulaiti was a dedicated supporter of the “resistance”, led by Sadr, which fought against the occupiers and later engaged in sectarian warfare that left thousands dead. Since then Iraqis have experienced periods of stability as well as enduring years of internal conflict, including war against the Islamic State group, which controlled a third of the country at one point.

Now, as the Americans, who dominated the country from the Green Zone, prepare to withdraw

Pakistan wobbles before the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Pakistani troops patrol along Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Big Ben post in Khyber district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province August 3, 2021. Photo: AFP / Aamir Qureshi 

Pakistan wobbles as TTP terror threat mounts

Islamabad’s ceasefire with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan falls apart in days as fears rise about the al Qaeda-linked group’s true agenda

by FM Shakil October 8, 2021

PESHAWAR – A ceasefire between Pakistan’s government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced on October 1 has broken down in a matter of days, ringing the first alarm bells that terror outfits are leveraging the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan to launch cross-border attacks.

In one of the assaults on Pakistani security forces, the TTP targeted a military vehicle in Spinwam, North Waziristan, killing five Frontier Corps soldiers just a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan acknowledged his government was in Afghan Taliban-facilitated talks with TTP representatives in Afghanistan.  

The following day, on October 4, TTP claimed to have killed two Pakistani army soldiers in Ghariom Tehsil in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region in a sniper attack. The attack was a clear violation of the 20-day ceasefire, raising new questions about the TTP’s cohesion, command control and messaging.

TTP, a conglomerate of ethnic Pashtun Islamist militant groups, operates from Pakistan’s northwestern tribal area of North Waziristan and has been fighting the Pakistani state in various forms since 2007.

The group aims to overthrow Pakistan’s government and create an Islamic state ruled by sharia law, similar to the one the Afghan Taliban just established through force of arms in Kabul. It is also believed that TTP aims ultimately to achieve ethnic Pashtun rule in Pakistan, especially in border regions where the ethnic group is in the majority.

The Taliban’s government in Kabul is dominated by Pashtuns, to the exclusion of other ethnic groups like Tajiks and Uzbekis. 

Adding to the volatile mix, TTP is also known to receive ideological guidance from al-Qaeda, though TTP leaders have denied having any direct links with the transnational terror group. TTP is also known to have received funds from Islamic State to conduct “outsource” attacks.A Tehreek-e-Taliban fighter in a file photo. The terror group is ramping up its attacks in Pakistan. Photo: Facebook

It’s clear by now that the Gul Bahadar group (GB) that claimed to represent TTP in recent “peace” talks and agreed to the 20-day ceasefire with Pakistani authorities has no sway over the terror group’s central leadership or on-the-ground fighters.

“Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has never announced a ceasefire. The TTP fighters should continue their attacks wherever they are,” TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khurasani said in a statement on October 2.

TTP was banned soon after its emergence in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2007 for killing hundreds of Pakistani civilians and security forces. The group was also behind the storming of an army public school in Peshawar in 2014, killing 150 people of whom at least 134 were students.

The outfit has long been riven by divisions, with various factions breaking away to form their own militant groups rooted in particular geographies. But in 2020, many of this militants reunited under the leadership of Noor Wali Mehsud, a merger that made TTP more deadly and capable of launching attacks.

The strong resurgence of TTP’s terror activities so soon after the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan is raising new concerns about Pakistan’s overall stability, including the security of its nuclear arsenal.

It has long been a nightmare scenario in Western capitals and elsewhere that Pakistan’s nuclear know-how leaks out to non-state Islamic militant groups. The US has designated TTP as a terror organization and over the years during the war in Afghanistan has killed its top leaders in drone strikes.

“There is already an uptick in terror activities in the country following the Afghan developments,” said Mansur Khan Mahsud, executive director of the Islamabad-based FATA Research Centre (FRC), an independent think tank.

“Several terror outfits including TTP, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e- Mohammadi (TNSM), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), Tehreek-e-Jaferia Pakistan (TJP) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have already been operating in the country and there is a potential danger that the Afghan ‘jihad’ may spill over to Pakistan.” 

Top US generals have claimed that the rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan has increased the risks to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and overall security. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed such proliferation concerns during the Senate Armed Services Committee meeting last week.

“We estimated an accelerated withdrawal would increase risks of regional instability, the security of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenals,” they said. When pressed on how Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are at risk of falling into the hands of terror outfits, they declined to elaborate, saying they would discuss this and other sensitive issues in a closed session with senators.

Pakistani officials are ringing their own alarm bells. At a weekly briefing in early September, the Pakistan foreign office said that the use of Afghan soil by TTP for terrorist activities inside Pakistan would figure high in bilateral talks with the new Taliban government. Taliban supporters gather to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar on September 1, 2021 following the Taliban’s military takeover of the country. Photo: AFP / Javed Tanveer 

Pakistan has since pressed the Taliban to ensure that TTP is not allowed any sanctuary in Afghanistan from which to operate against Pakistan.

Islamabad’s call on the Taliban to uproot through force TTP havens in Afghanistan has so far failed to yield any visible results. The Taliban’s inaction and the coincident surge in TTP terrorist attacks have caused the Pakistan army to order a crackdown on the TTP’s “sleeper cells” in the remote tribal region near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.    

Mansur Khan said the Pakistani government’s attempt to negotiate with the TTP via the Afghan Taliban was doomed to fail because Islamabad will never meet the TTP’s core demands, including independence for border areas.

“They want independent status for the tribal areas where they could enforce strict Islamic laws. Secondly, they would not pledge allegiance to the country’s constitution…The TTP chief Wali Noor Mehsud had resolved [in a CNN interview] to enforce his version of Islam and vowed that his group will continue its war against Pakistan’s security forces,” Mansur added.

“[The talks are] a maiden and strategic gesture from the TTP’s leadership and the call for an independent state in Pakistan’s tribal areas carries an intrinsic threat to the integrity of the country,” he said.

Hamas Sends a Warning to Israel: Revelation 11

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Hamas: Any Israeli attempt to divide al-Aqsa Mosque will have damaging consequences

Saturday, 09 October 2021 5:42 PM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 09 October 2021 6:06 PM ]

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has warned that any Israeli attempt to impose division at the al-Aqsa Mosque will have “damaging consequences” for the occupying regime.

In a statement issued on Friday on the 31st anniversary of the Aqsa massacre, which was committed by Israeli forces, the resistance movement strongly warned the Tel Aviv regime of committing any attempt to change the status quo of the al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam.

“We restate our commitment to protect and defend the al-Aqsa Mosque on the 31st anniversary of the Al-Aqsa massacre perpetrated by the Israeli occupation, motivated by Israeli settler groups who thought the Al-Aqsa compound was an easy prey and that the chance had come up to lay the foundation stone for their alleged temple,” Hamas stated. 

On October 8, 1990, thousands of Israeli settlers marched on the al-Aqsa Mosque to place the foundation stone of their alleged third temple inside the mosque.

The provocative move infuriated Palestinians who were present at the mosque and those who were outside, prompting them to bar settlers from achieving their goal.

During the ensued clashes, Israeli forces opened fire indiscriminately at Muslim worshipers in the mosque, killing 21 people, injuring hundreds of others, while obstructing the movement of ambulances.

Other reports said the fanatic settlers, while receiving full protection from Israeli soldiers, also participated in the massacre with their machine guns and gas bombs, as helicopters provided air cover. The appalling event is known as the Al-Aqsa Massacre or the Black Monday.

Hamas urges for ‘days of anger’ protests to protect al-Aqsa if settlers do aggressive practices

Hamas urges for ‘days of anger’ protests to protect al-Aqsa if settlers do aggressive practicesHamas calls for ‘day of anger’ protests to protect the al-Aqsa Mosque if settlers do aggressive practices against the holy site.

“We call on all Palestinians everywhere to head to the al-Aqsa Mosque and prevent hordes of Israeli settlers from conducting their so-called silent prayer, which intends to prove the religious delusions of the Israeli settlers and the right-wing government that they might have a foothold at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas said.

“Attempts to impose temporal and spatial division at the al-Aqsa compound will have damaging consequences for the Israeli occupation,” the statement further read.

Hardline Israeli legislators and extremist settlers regularly storm the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied city, a provocative move that infuriates Palestinians. Such mass settler break-ins almost always take place at the behest of Tel Aviv-backed temple groups and under the auspices of the Israeli police in al-Quds.

The al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Jewish visitation of al-Aqsa is permitted, but according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government in the wake of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited.

Faced with Palestinian fury, Israel keeps ban on Jewish prayers at al-Aqsa

Faced with Palestinian fury, Israel keeps ban on Jewish prayers at al-AqsaAn Israeli court overturns an earlier decision and a ban on Jewish prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds.

“As Israeli settler organizations are trying to make history repeat itself by desecrating the sanctity of the al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli occupation regime, we reiterate that the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 are ready to defend the al-Aqsa complex and that Israeli measures provoked by a hateful ideology against holy sites will backfire,” Hamas said on Friday. 

In conclusion, the resistance movement urged all “the Arab and Muslim nations to raise their voices in support of the al-Aqsa Mosque and use Friday sermons as a platform for calling for liberating the al-Aqsa and renounce normalization” of relations between Tel Aviv and some Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

“The al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to all Muslims by right; every Muslim has a duty to defend it and protect its sanctity,” Hamas stressed.

Palestinians want the occupied West Bank as part of their future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

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The Iranian Nuclear Horn is Glowing: Revelation 16

Iran says more than 120kg of uranium enriched to 20%

Announcement comes amid signs Tehran may be open to resuming stalled talks on 2015 nuclear deal

Iran has amassed more than 120kg of 20% enriched uranium, well above the level agreed to in the 2015 deal with world powers, the head of the country’s atomic energy agency has told state television.

We have passed 120 kilograms,” said Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation. “We have more than that figure. Our people know well that [western powers] were meant to give us the enriched fuel at 20% to use in the Tehran reactor, but they haven’t done so.

“If our colleagues do not do it, we would naturally have problems with the lack of fuel for the Tehran reactor.”

The Tehran reactor was originally supplied to Iran by the US in the 1960s to produce radioisotopes for use in medical treatments and agriculture, and has since been modified to run on 20% enriched uranium, which the country began producing in 2012.

In September the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had boosted its stocks of uranium that had been enriched above the percentage allowed in the 2015 deal with world powers.

It estimated that Iran had 84.3kg of uranium enriched to 20%, up from 62.8kg when the IAEA last reported in May.

Under the deal, Iran was not meant to enrich uranium above 3.67%, well below the 90% threshold needed for use in nuclear weapons.

Under the 2015 agreement China, France, Germany, the UK and the US had agreed to lift some sanctions against Iran if Tehran cut back its nuclear programme.

But since Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in 2018, Tehran has progressively abandoned its commitments under the agreement, and the US has imposed fresh sanctions in response.

On Friday, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said he was optimistic that talks on reviving the 2015 deal would make progress, provided Washington fully resumed its commitments.

Speaking during a visit to Syria, Amir-Abdollahian reiterated that Iran would “soon” return to the nuclear talks with world powers, which include indirect negotiations with the US, Iranian state media reported.

The talks, which aim to bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear pact, were adjourned in June after the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president.

“Of course, we will soon return to the Vienna talks and we are keeping our eyes on the issue of verification and receiving the necessary guarantees for the implementation of commitments by the western parties,” state media quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying.

Amir-Abdollahian did not give details of the verification and monitoring mechanism Tehran was seeking. But Iran has often voiced concern about the need to verify that US sanctions lifted under the accord are not kept in place by Washington.

Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report