By Meteorologist Dominic Ramunni Nationwide PUBLISHED 7:13 PM ET Aug. 11, 2020 PUBLISHED 7:13 PM EDT Aug. 11, 2020
People across the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic were shaken, literally, on a Sunday morning as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck in North Carolina on August 9, 2020.
Centered in Sparta, NC, the tremor knocked groceries off shelves and left many wondering just when the next big one could strike.
Compared to the West Coast, there are far fewer fault lines in the East. This is why earthquakes in the East are relatively uncommon and weaker in magnitude.
That said, earthquakes still occur in the East.
According to Spectrum News Meteorologist Matthew East, “Earthquakes have occurred in every eastern U.S. state, and a majority of states have recorded damaging earthquakes. However, they are pretty rare. For instance, the Sparta earthquake Sunday was the strongest in North Carolina in over 100 years.”
For example, across the Tennesse River Valley lies the New Madrid Fault Line. While much smaller in size than those found farther west, the fault has managed to produce several earthquakes over magnitude 7.0 in the last couple hundred years.
In 1886, an estimated magnitude 7.0 struck Charleston, South Carolina along a previously unknown seismic zone. Nearly the entire town had to be rebuilt.
The eastern half of the U.S. has its own set of vulnerabilities from earthquakes.
These older rocks have had much more time to bond together with other rocks under the tremendous pressure of Earth’s crust. This allows seismic energy to transfer between rocks more efficiently during an earthquake, causing the shaking to be felt much further.
This is why, during the latest quake in North Carolina, impacts were felt not just across the state, but reports of shaking came as far as Atlanta, Georgia, nearly 300 miles away.
Reports of shaking from different earthquakes of similar magnitude.
Quakes in the East can also be more damaging to infrastructure than in the West. This is generally due to the older buildings found east. Architects in the early-to-mid 1900s simply were not accounting for earthquakes in their designs for cities along the East Coast.
When a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Virginia in 2011, not only were numerous historical monuments in Washington, D.C. damaged, shaking was reported up and down the East Coast with tremors even reported in Canada.
There is no way to accurately predict when or where an earthquake may strike.
Some quakes will have a smaller earthquake precede the primary one. This is called a foreshock.
The problem is though, it’s difficult to say whether the foreshock is in fact a foreshock and not the primary earthquake. Only time will tell the difference.
The United State Geological Survey (USGS) is experimenting with early warning detection systems in the West Coast.
While this system cannot predict earthquakes before they occur, they can provide warning up to tens of seconds in advance that shaking is imminent. This could provide just enough time to find a secure location before the tremors begin.
Much like hurricanes, tornadoes, or snowstorms, earthquakes are a natural occuring phenomenon that we can prepare for.
The USGS provides an abundance of resources on how to best stay safe when the earth starts to quake.
However, the Russian-installed authority of the area said Ukraine hit the site with a multiple-rocket launcher, damaging administrative buildings and an area nearby.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is Europe’s largest nuclear facility.
The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said he was alarmed by the reports of damage and demanded an IAEA team of experts urgently be allowed to visit the plant to assess and safeguard the site.
Russian forces stepped up their attacks north and northwest of Donetsk city in the Donbas on Sunday, Ukraine’s military said. The Russians attacked Ukrainian positions near the heavily fortified settlements of Piski and Avdiivka, as well as shelling other locations in the Donetsk region, it said.
Kyiv also said Russian forces were strengthening in southern Ukraine to prevent a potential counteroffensive near Kherson.
Ukraine’s chief war crimes prosecutor said almost 26,000 suspected war crimes committed since the invasion were being investigated, with 135 people charged, of whom 15 were in custody. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Satellite images of an old nuclear testing site in Xinjiang and a range of other evidence suggests China wants to resume testing, security analysts have told Nikkei
China appears to be increasing the size of its nuclear test facilities near Lop Nur, a dried up salt lake in Xinjiang’s Xyghur Autonomous Region in the country’s west, as there is evidence of “sixth tunnel” being built for underground testing, plus power lines “and a facility that could be used for storing high-explosives” being installed recently, according to a report by Nikkei, which sought expert analysis of satellite photos it had obtained.
China has not conducted underground nuclear tests at Lop Nur since 1996, but the satellite images and tenders for protective suits and ‘radiation dose alarms’ by a paramilitary group controlled by the Communist Party in the western province suggests the country’s military wants to resume testing, the report said, which quoted a security professor who said President Xi Jinping may want to “discourage US intervention in the Taiwan Strait by threatening to use small nuclear weapons.”
Moscow would probably use a 10-kilotonne warhead set on an Iskander missile, he said, creating a massive fireball incinerating people and buildings within 150 metres of ground zero, while causing third-degree burns within a 1.6-kilometre radius.
A nuclear attack would “break an enormous taboo”, being the first use of the weapons since the US dropped two atom bombs on Japan in 1945, but it was not “inconceivable to Russians if the ends justify it in their eyes”. The Hiroshima blast stemmed from a 15-kilotonne bomb that killed 146,000 people.
The potential for a “catastrophic miscalculation” by Moscow could come as early as spring next year if its forces were being pushed out of Ukraine, said the former head of Britain’s Joint Forces Command.
The retired officer’s warning comes after concerns raised by western officials, who told The National late last month that “Russia had definitively lost the initiative” and faced with defeat had “other tools available which it could choose to employ which would escalate the situation”.
“It comes down to how threatened the Russian state feels,” Sir Richard said. “The more threatened or cornered it becomes, the more likely it will be to reach for essentially the types of tools [nuclear weapons] that you’re talking about.”
Sir Richard wrote that Russian doctrine was to use small nuclear weapons “to impose unacceptable damage on an opponent as a means of coercion”, particularly when “the existence of the state is in question”.
To avoid the nuclear radiation from a ground detonation, it would likely be an air blast from 700 metres that fired over a town such as Kramatorsk would create a fatal radiation dose to anyone within 1km.
A warhead could also be dropped on a Ukrainian brigade of up to 5,000 personnel, causing mass casualties.
While a nuclear strike would “create great sense of peril around the world”, a smaller device would “not physically touch areas beyond the borders of Ukraine”, Sir Richard said.
“These weapons exist for just the sort of circumstances the war in Ukraine may lead to, so nobody should claim total surprise if they are used.”
Were such a devastating assault to materialise, defence alliance Nato might escalate efforts to remove Mr Putin from power.
While it was unlikely to lead to all-out nuclear Armageddon between the great powers, Sir Richard warned it could lead to countries such as India and Pakistan becoming more willing to use nuclear weapons on each other.
A video of kids at an Islamic center in Houston, Texas pledging their allegiance to the supreme leader of Iran is setting off alarm bells among experts, who are warning this has all the signs of the Iranian regime’s global indoctrination efforts to spread its revolutionary ideology and recruit operatives abroad.
At the gathering, a large group of children sang “Salam Farmande,” meaning “Hello Commander,” in both English and Persian. The song is a new and popular Iranian children’s anthem pledging allegiance to al Mahdi, a messianic figure in Shia Islam, the religion of Iran’s theocratic government.
The religious anthem is also a pledge of support to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whom devotees consider the Mahdi’s representative on earth until the messiah returns.
“Seyed Ali is calling on his children, his soldiers, who were born in the 2010s,” the children sang in Houston, using Khamenei’s first name (Ali) and honorific title (Seyed). “In spite of my age, I will be your army’s commander … Don’t look at my young age. May my father and mother be sacrificed for you. I will sacrifice everything for you.”
Wearing headbands, waving flags, and saluting, the children sang: “I make an oath, one day when you need me. I make an oath, to be your martyr, Ali. A very long time has passed, every nation is full of tears, don’t worry about it, oh my Allah, your soldiers are here without fear.”
As the video was circulating online last week, Khamenei suggested on Twitter that the U.S. and Israel were behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and accused them of being behind the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina. U.S. officials and Argentine prosecutors have said Iran and its chief terrorist proxy, Lebanese Hezbollah, were responsible for the attack.
Khamenei also claimed on Twitter that “Zionist merchants” control the U.S. and other Western powers, leading Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism, to denounce Iran’s supreme leader for “continued, egregious antisemitism.”
The scene in Houston should be viewed “how people view a Nazi rally,” said Gabriel Noronha, who served in the Trump administration as a special adviser for Iran at the State Department. “In many respects, the ideology being promoted is just as radical as neo-Nazi ideology. It has the same hatred, especially of Jews.”
He added that if there was a similar gathering of people on U.S. soil pledging allegiance to the late communist dictators Mao Zedong or Josef Stalin, it would get much more attention from the media and government authorities.
“U.S. authorities should be concerned; this is analogous to Nazi or Soviet schools in the United States,” added Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum. “But because this case has a religious dimension, they will pass.”
Some experts noted that the Houston video, which was widely shared by Iranian state media, closely resembled propaganda videos produced inside Iran and could indicate collaboration between Iran and the IEC.
“The production quality is quite similar to what’s come out of Iran,” said Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran. “It’s very familiar packaging of ‘Hello Commander’ and raises questions about potential Iranian propaganda involvement.”
Experts told Just the News there’s nothing evidently illegal about young children gathering to pledge loyalty to Iran’s supreme leader at an Islamic center. However, they added, there could be illegal activity if there’s proven to be certain financial ties to or funding by Iran, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions.
“This is smoke indicating there’s a fire,” said Noronha. “Congress, state, and local lawmakers should be looking into this.”
He and others framed the IEC video as part of a larger effort by the Iranian regime to spread its propaganda and radical ideology in the Western hemisphere, including in the U.S.
“This recent story is troubling but unsurprising,” said Kyle Shideler, director and senior analyst for homeland security and counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy. “Ties between the Iranian regime and certain Shia Islamic Centers abroad is unfortunately not a new phenomenon. The use of such centers is part and parcel of the regime’s strategy to spread the Iranian Islamic revolution.”
In 2009, the Justice Department took legal action to seize four mosques and a New York City skyscraper for being illegally controlled by the Iranian regime.
“From nuclear weapons to children in Houston, the Islamic Republic of Iran uses all means at its disposal to forward its hostility to non-Muslims in general and Americans in particular,” said Pipes. “Forty-three years after the Islamic revolution, the mullahs have built a formidable international infrastructure … a global network of allies to promote its Islamist cause, through means fair and foul.”
Amid this global operation, some experts are lamenting that the U.S. government seems uninterested in addressing it.
“Clearly very little has been done to address the concerning issue of Iranian influence operations inside the U.S.,” said Shideler. “While there is probably not much that can be done about individuals in the video expressing their opinion about the Iranian regime’s leaders, it would certainly seem to justify a deeper investigation by authorities to determine what the nature of this Islamic Center is, how it’s funded and supported, and whether it has any direct ties to Iran that might justify further action. Unfortunately, with the Biden administration’s obsession with getting a nuclear deal with Iran, it’s hard to imagine they will take the kind of aggressive counterintelligence steps that would be justified in a case like this.”
The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story. However, the FBI’s Houston office issued a statement to Just the News.
“We will not comment specifically on the video you’re referring to,” a spokesperson said. “However, it is important to note that the FBI does not initiate or investigate any matter based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment, or the race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation of any individual or organization. The FBI investigates activity which may constitute a federal crime or pose a threat to national security. Our focus is not on membership in particular groups but on criminal activity.”
The IEC has a history of supporting Iran’s Islamist regime.
Just last month, the Houston center hosted a lecture on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s founder and first supreme leader, the late Ruhollah Khomeini, referring to him as “the great reformer.” Khomeini oversaw the taking of 52 American diplomats hostage in 1979.
“The piecemeal approach to the nefarious activities of Iran’s ruling theocracy has allowed the regime, which is detested and faltering at home, to export its fundamentalist ideology as far away as the United States with impunity, this time under the veneer of cultural initiatives,” said Ali Safavi, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
The IEC didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.
Both Brodsky and Noronha noted that, beyond propaganda, Iran also uses mosques and cultural centers to “recruit agents and operatives sympathetic to their goals.”
Last week, a man armed with a loaded AK-47 and more than $1,000 worth of cash on hand was arrested outside the Brooklyn home of journalist Masih Alinejad, a U.S. citizen and an outspoken Iranian dissident. Last July, the Justice Department announced charges against Iranian intelligence agents for plotting to kidnap Alinejad and forcibly return her to Iran. It’s unclear why the man arrested last week was by her home and heavily armed.
“From the George W. Bush administration forward, American leaders have repeatedly worried about Tehran’s hidden assets in the United States and their potential to wreak havoc,” said Pipes. “By now, this must be formidable. They await the word from their masters, as the children’s song implies.”
The fighting began with Israel’s killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group in a wave of strikes Friday that Israel said were meant to prevent an imminent attack.
So far, Hamas, the larger militant group that rules Gaza, appeared to stay on the sidelines of the conflict, keeping its intensity somewhat contained. Israel and Hamas fought a war barely a year ago, one of four major conflicts and several smaller battles over the last 15 years that exacted a staggering toll on the impoverished territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
Whether Hamas continues to stay out of the fight likely depends in part on how much punishment Israel inflicts in Gaza as rocket fire steadily continues.
The Israeli military said an errant rocket fired by Palestinian militants killed civilians late Saturday, including children, in the town of Jabaliya, in northern Gaza. The military said it investigated the incident and concluded “without a doubt” that it was caused by a misfire on the part of Islamic Jihad. There was no official Palestinian comment on the incident.
A Palestinian medical worker, who was not authorized to brief media and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the blast killed at least six people, including three children.
An airstrike in the southern city of Rafah destroyed a home and heavily damaged surrounding buildings. The Health Ministry said at least two people were killed and 32 wounded, including children. A teenage boy was recovered from the rubble, and the other slain individual was identified by his family as Ziad al-Mudalal, the son of an Islamic Jihad official.
The military said it targeted Khaled Mansour, Islamic Jihad’s commander for southern Gaza. Neither Israel nor the militant group said whether he was hit. The Civil Defense said responders were still sifting through the rubble and that a digger was being sent from Gaza City.
Another strike Saturday hit a car, killing a 75-year-old woman and wounding six other people.
In one of the strikes, fighter jets dropped two bombs on the house of an Islamic Jihad member after Israel warned people to evacuate the area. The blast flattened the two-story structure, leaving a large rubble-filled crater, and badly damaged surrounding homes.
Women and children rushed out of the area.
“Warned us? They warned us with rockets and we fled without taking anything,” said Huda Shamalakh, who lived next door. She said 15 people lived in the targeted home.
Among the 24 Palestinians killed were six children and two women, as well as the senior Islamic Jihad commander. The Gaza Health Ministry said more than 200 people have been wounded. It does not differentiate between civilians and fighters. The Israeli military said Friday that early estimates were that around 15 fighters were killed.
Throughout the day, Gaza militants regularly launched rounds of rockets into Israel. The Israeli military said Saturday evening that nearly 450 rockets had been fired, 350 of which made it into Israel, but almost all were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. Two people suffered minor shrapnel wounds.
One rocket barrage was fired toward Tel Aviv, setting off sirens that sent residents to shelters, but the rockets were either intercepted or fell into the sea, the military said.
Sunday could be a critical day in the flare-up, as Jews mark Tisha B’av, a somber day of fasting that commemorates the destruction of the biblical temples. Thousands are expected at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and Israeli media reported that the Israeli leadership was expected to allow lawmakers to visit a key hilltop holy site in the city that is a flashpoint for violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Lapid, a centrist former TV host and author, has experience in diplomacy having served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, but has thin security credentials. A conflict with Gaza could burnish his standing and give him a boost as he faces off against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a security hawk who led the country during three of its four wars with Hamas.
Hamas also faces a dilemma in deciding whether to join a new battle barely a year after the last war caused widespread devastation. There has been almost no reconstruction since then, and the isolated coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering around 50%. Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade over the territory since the Hamas takeover in 2007.
The latest round of Israel-Gaza violence was rooted in the arrest earlier this week of a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank, part of a monthslong Israeli military operation.
Israel then closed roads around Gaza and sent reinforcements to the border, bracing for retaliation. On Friday, it killed Islamic Jihad’s commander for northern Gaza, Taiseer al-Jabari, in a strike on a Gaza City apartment building.
An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes were in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles.
Hamas seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew from the coastal strip. Its most recent war with Israel was in May 2021. Tensions soared again earlier this year following a wave of attacks inside Israel, near-daily military operations in the West Bank and tensions at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.
The only deputy who kept him in Parliament submitted an official request to dissolve him
While the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, continues to besiege his opponents in the Shiite “coordination framework”, and refuses to retreat, taking advantage of the influence of his current in the Iraqi street, the Iraqi parliament member, Burhan Al-Maamouri, submitted an official request to the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Muhammad Al-Halbousi, to dissolve the parliament in accordance with Article 64. of the Iraqi constitution.
Al-Maamouri based the request to dissolve the parliament on a constitutional article, which is now in dispute between the Sadrist movement and the coordination framework, and justified the request that the parliament failed to elect a president of the republic in accordance with Article 76 of the Iraqi constitution and assign the largest bloc’s candidate for prime minister.
In addition, while Al-Sadr continues to move the street card against his opponents in the forces of the coordination framework, the meeting that was expected to bring together Al-Sadr with the leader of the “Al-Fateh Alliance” Hadi Al-Amiri, who is affiliated with the “coordinating framework”, was postponed, according to sources from within the framework, until later. The tenth of Muharram.