GETTY THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City
USGS 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.
USGS 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.”
TEHRAN- In yet another military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli forces were met with fierce clashes by Palestinian resistance, forcing them to withdraw, but not before murdering a 15-year-old teenage girl.
The occupation’s vast military power stormed the city of Jenin and managed to arrest three young men using special forces. Video clips from surveillance cameras installed in Jenin show how the Israeli forces entered the camp with the vast backing of military reinforcements.
Military incursions in Jenin have become a regular occurrence this year. The regime has been storming the city in pre-dawn raids on an almost daily basis now. The latest invasion comes just days after Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in a separate raid on the refugee camp.
On this occasion, heavily armed clashes broke out between the Jenin Battalion of the Palestinian resistance and Israeli forces.
The Jenin Battalion announced that “Its members discovered a private Israeli force in the vicinity of the camp, and they are engaged in violent clashes and are targeting a force of the Israeli occupation army with heavy shells of bullets and explosive devices.” It noted that “large quantities” of bullets had been used.
The Jenin Battalion further announced that it had targeted a gathering of Israeli military vehicles with a large number of high explosive devices, achieving direct hits “in response to the cowardly assassination.”
The clashes led to Israeli forces withdrawing from the camp, with the national and Islamic forces in Jenin announcing a day of mourning for the slain child.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the death of the kid, Zakarneh, in the Jenin governmental hospital, saying she was shot directly in the head while she was standing on the roof of her family’s house in the Bayader neighborhood of Jenin.
Three Palestinian civilians sustained injuries during the heavy exchange of fire between the two sides. The Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed that three people were wounded by live fire on the outskirts of Jenin, and said that they arrived at the Ibn Sina specialist hospital in Jenin to receive medical treatment.
Reports say a Palestinian was arrested in the eastern neighborhood of the city with local sources saying “a special Israeli force arrested a young man from the outskirts of the camp, after charging at him from several entrances.”
In a press statement, Hamas stressed that the “blessed resistance rising throughout the West Bank and al-Quds (Jerusalem) is capable, God willing, of avenging the blood of the martyrs, curbing the occupation’s aggression, and achieving victory for Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The movement has also “saluted the heroes of Jenin, who repelled the occupation forces’ storming of the city and engaged in violent clashes with it,” calling on the residents of Jenin to continue to mobilize and monitor the enemy and target its sites, soldiers and settlers illegally squatting on Palestinian land.
This while an Israeli military correspondent for the Israeli “Kan” channel, said that the Palestinians have obtained and published pictures of sensitive maps that fell from the Israeli occupation soldiers during the raid on the Jenin camp.
The channel said, “the incident is under investigation by the Israeli army.”
He pointed out that the map, which the Israeli channel “Kan” described as “sensitive”, contained secret names linked to the various routes the regime’s forces use to enter Jenin.
Palestinian youth in Jenin have reportedly been seen in possession of pictures containing information about sensitive military data.
Meanwhile, the Gaza-based Hamas political bureau chief, Ismail Haniyeh, has said that since its inception and until this day, and until it achieves “alongside our people our aspirations for freedom and the return of independence”, will remain the movement’s sole aim.
During a speech at an event marking the founding of the movement’s 35th anniversary, Haniyeh said “we commemorate a glorious and great anniversary, the anniversary of the launch of Hamas, which marked an important shift, and ushered in a new era in the course of the struggle with the Zionist enemy.”
He added that the occupied “West Bank has been subject to a great conspiracy in an attempt to extend Zionist influence over (al-Quds) Jerusalem and the West Bank, change landmarks, and build settlements and the (apartheid) wall.”
And he stated that despite all the conspiracies, the West Bank is today witnessing an escalating resistance and an influential presence highlighting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.
Further touching on the Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank, he said al-Qassam (Hamas’s military wing) in the West Bank, the newly formed Lion’s Den in Nablus, the Jenin battalion, and the perpetrators of individual operations shows that “we are facing a new phase of confrontation with the enemy.”
He pointed out that at this stage in time, the West Bank will witness “more steadfastness and resistance, and our people in the West Bank will not accept the enemy’s policies. We and our people are the ones who build equations in the West Bank with steadfastness and resistance.”
“If the next Zionist government believes that it is able to implement its plans in al-Quds and the West Bank, then it is delusional, the West Bank will turn into a firestorm in the face of the occupier.”
He highlighted that “one of the challenges we face on the anniversary of the launch of Hamas is protecting al-Quds, in particular the al-Aqsa Mosque, liberating Palestinian prisoners, breaking the siege on Gaza, and preserving the right of return.”
And he emphasized “I salute all the sons of our Palestinian people and our righteous martyrs, led by the founding sheikh, Imam Ahmed Yassin, and a great group of leaders of the movement who watered this pure land with their blood. I salute our prisoners in the prisons of the Zionist occupation who are waiting for the shackles to be broken and the hour of freedom,”
Haniyeh reiterated that Hamas will spare no effort to release them in a new prisoner swap agreement at any cost.
The top Hamas official extended his affection “to our wounded brothers along the path of resistance and on the battlefield of this blessed homeland.”
“Hamas has long been committed to the unity of the Palestinian people at home and abroad in the face of the Israeli occupation and its schemes,” Haniyeh also pointed out.
Vladimir Putin said Russia may shift its nuclear policy to a first strike strategy rather than a defensive one as his war in Ukraine drags on and the West’s concerns about Russia’s ties with Iran grow.
The Russian president made the comment during a summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Friday, where he said he was considering a preemptive strike policy — a strategy he credited to the U.S..
“Speaking about a disarming strike, maybe it’s worth thinking about adopting the ideas developed by our U.S. counterparts, their ideas of ensuring their security,” the Russian strongman said.
Hypersonic missiles are capable of traveling at 3,800 mph — over five times faster than the speed of sound — and can travel on complex trajectories, making them difficult to defend against.
“If the potential adversary believes that it can use the theory of a preemptive strike and we don’t, it makes us think about the threats posed by such ideas in other countries’ defensive posture,” Putin said.
Western intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Russia could tap into Iran’s arsenal of hypersonic and ballistic missiles amid a deepening alliance, as it depletes its own stores in Ukraine. “Iran’s support to the Russian military is likely to grow in the coming months: Russia is attempting to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles,” the UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily update Saturday.
“As for the idea that Russia wouldn’t use such weapons first under any circumstances, then it means we wouldn’t be able to be the second to use them either — because the possibility to do so in case of an attack on our territory would be very limited,” Putin said.
Russia’s doctrine currently says that the country can use nuclear weapons if it is targeted by a nuclear strike or an attack by any other weapon that threatens “the very existence” of the country.
However, Putin has repeatedly said that he is prepared to use “all available means” to protect Russian territory since sending troops to Ukraine in February.
The latest comments came while Russian missiles continued to bombard a string of towns and cities in Eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, which make up a region called the Donbas that Putin has claimed as part of Russia.55
Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskey said the situation “remains very difficult” in several of the frontline cities.
“Bakhmut, Soledar, Maryinka, Kreminna. For a long time, there is no living place left on the land of these areas that have not been damaged by shells and fire,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address posted on social media. “The occupiers actually destroyed Bakhmut, another Donbas city that the Russian army turned into burnt ruins.”
Published date: 12 December 2022 15:51 UTC | Last update: 4 hours 57 mins ago
LGBTQ+ Iraqis have reacted with alarm to a draft law that would ban any publishing on queer issues in Iraq, which legislation activists say would increase hate speech and violence against the community in an already worsening atmosphere of homophobic hostility.
On 3 December, 25 MPs, mostly belonging to Shia group Coordination Framework, which opposes influential cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who is also Shia, signed a bill proposing the criminalisation of all publishing on LGBTQ+ topics in Iraq.
The proposed law would “punish” anyone who “promotes homosexuality for any reason, whether in state’s media, institutions, schools, universities, and social media platforms, books, cinemas, theatres, publications, and in public”.
‘I do not know how Sadr wants to fight homosexuality peacefully. What kind of peace is he talking about?’
– Mohammed Qasim, human rights activist
A vote on the law has not yet been scheduled, and it may not pass.
Parliament speaker Mohammed Halbousi said in an interview last week: “We do not need a law to criminalise homosexuality, we have the law of heaven, of religion, that rejects such fornication.”
But activists say the proposed law is another example of deteriorating conditions facing LGBTQ+ communities.
The bill came just days after the country’s most prominent Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, called on his millions of followers to unite to combat “the LGBTQ community, not with violence, nor with murder and threats, but with education, awareness, logic and high moral standards”.
Sadr controlled the largest bloc in parliament until June, when his MPs quit their seats after failing to form a government.
In another recent statement, he wrote: “Our goal is to acquaint, guide, and prevent them from being drawn into forbidden desires and lustful and chaotic freedom.”
This is not the first time Sadr has demonised LGBTQ+ people. In May 2022, he blamed them for the spread of the monkeypox virus. He did the same with Covid when the pandemic struck.
For Mohammed Gailan, an Iraqi human rights activist, Sadr is being opportunistic. “I think that through these trendy topics, he’s just trying to fit in both politically and ideologically,” he told Middle East Eye.
“It is a strategy to mobilise the factions that are left of his followers. The new generation in Iraq is not looking up to Muqtada and religious leaders like him anymore.”
Human Rights Watch has said that LGBTQ+ communities in Iraq live under the constant threat of abduction, rape, torture and murder at the hands of armed groups and the police.
In February 2022, trans woman Doski Azad was reportedly shot dead by her brother in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Duhok.
‘He should be tweeting about corruption’
“Living as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the Middle East is risky to our lives,” Hayden, a 21-year-old college student using a pseudonym to protect himself, told MEE over the phone. “By spreading hate speech, Sadr, someone followed by millions of Iraqis, will only increase that risk.”
Hayden faces regular threats for posting his support for fellow LGBTQ+ people on social media. He also posts about his daily struggles: “That clearly escalates the risk to my life, but I cannot stay silent.”
“I am considering… fleeing home for another country,” he added.
Mohammed Qasim, a 27-year-old Basra-based writer and human rights activist, agreed that Sadr’s statement carries a clear threat against the LGBTQ+ community in Iraq.
“I do not know how Sadr wants to fight homosexuality peacefully. What kind of peace is he talking about?
“Recently, hate speech has increased due to publishing against the community in the media by political and religious figures, or even by ordinary people who have religious conservative backgrounds. That caused threats not only for LGBTQ+ people but also against human rights defenders, and anyone showing sympathy to the community’s rights.
Targeting minors is a heinous crime that Israeli authorities must be held accountable for, the Gaza-based movement stated.
It also hailed the Palestinian resistance fighters who managed to withstand the Israeli military operation in Jenin.
Hamas underlined that the Palestinian resistance front is ready to confront the Israeli regime’s ongoing acts of aggression and liberate the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of al-Qus.
According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Israeli military forces stormed the Eastern neighborhood of Jenin city onboard several armored vehicles late on Sunday.
Jana’s family said the soldiers fatally shot her while standing on the rooftop of their home.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said two people were also injured during the raid.
Local sources said Israeli soldiers also broke into a number of houses and violently ransacked them, before taking away Hasan Ahmad Mer’ey, 30, along with 40-year-old Tha’er Jihad Hanthawi, and his brother Mohammad, 33, to an unknown location.
A general strike was declared in Jenin after the news of Jana’s death broke, and hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the ongoing Israeli aggression against the city and the daily killing of young Palestinians.
Israeli forces have recently been conducting overnight raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where new groups of Palestinian resistance fighters have been formed.
Since the start of 2022, Israeli troops have killed more than 210 Palestinians, including more than 50 children, in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.
According to the United Nations, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank this year is the highest in 16 years.
By Joshua Askew with Reuters/AFP/AP • Updated: 12/12/2022 – 08:46
Ukrainian children play at an abandoned checkpoint in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. – Copyright Credit: AP
1. Russia boosting production of ‘powerful’ weapons, says Medvedev
Russia is producing more destructive weapons to counter western countries that support Kyiv, said Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday.
“Our enemy is entrenched … in Europe, North America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a whole number of other places that have sworn allegiance to today’s Nazis,” the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council wrote on Telegram.
“That is why we are boosting the production of the most powerful means of destruction, including those based on new principles,” he said.
Medvedev said the weapons would be based on “new physical principles”, without detailing exactly what these were.
AFP reported that this could be in reference to a new generation of hypersonic weapons that Moscow has been developing in recent years.
Such weapons fly at exceptionally high speeds, making them extremely difficult for defensive systems to intercept.
Serving as the President of Russia between 2008 and 2012, Medvedev has become one of the most vocal critics of the West within the Russian government, slamming western sanctions and alleged Russophobia.
The spectre of nuclear war has returned since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with Russian president Vladimir Putin discussing how Russia would use nuclear weapons as a “means of defence”.
Russian setbacks on the battlefield in recent months have raised fears that Moscow is considering using such weapons to reverse its fortunes.
The US State Department condemned Putin’s comments, saying “any discussion, however vague, of nuclear weapons is absolutely irresponsible”.
2. Freed Russian arms dealer heaps praise on Putin and Ukraine war
Viktor Bout, an infamous arms dealer dubbed the “Merchant of Death”, has praised Putin, backed Moscow’s assault on Ukraine and given a damning assessment of the West, during his first public interview since being released from prison.
Speaking to the Kremlin-backed RT channel, Bout said he kept a portrait of Putin in his prison cell in the United States.
“I am proud that I am a Russian person, and our president is Putin,” he said. “I know that we will win.”
His chequered past was the inspiration for the Nicolas Cage film Lord of War, which depicts the life of an unscrupulous weapons seller.
Since being released, Bout said he had been enjoying the snow and “air of freedom”.
Bout was interviewed by Maria Butina, who herself served a short prison stint in the US for illegally acting as a foreign agent for Russia.
Bout, 55, said he “fully” supported Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine and would have volunteered to go to the front if he had the “opportunity and necessary skills”.
“Why did we not do it earlier?” he said, referring to Putin’s decision to launch the invasion.
Bout, who was accused of arming rebels in some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts, was arrested in Thailand in a US sting operation in 2008. He was extradited to the country and sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in a maximum security prison.
He complained about the quality of food while incarcerated in the US, saying he missed the taste of garlic and strawberries.
“What is happening in the West is simply the suicide of civilisation. And, if this suicide is not prevented, at least within the non-Western world, within the world that is not controlled by the Anglo-Saxons, then the whole planet will commit suicide. And it may be happening in all areas, with drugs and LGBT+ among them,” he said.
3. Ukraine hunts for Russian ‘collaborators’ in Kherson
Ukrainian authorities are rooting out Russian “collaborators” in the southern city of Kherson, AFP reports.
Kherson, which was liberated from Russian forces in November, has been placed under tight police control, with continued patrols by security personnel and tight checkpoints at the entrances and exits of the city.
“These people stayed here for more than eight months”, Kherson region governor Yaroslav Yanushevich told AFP. “They worked for the Russian regime and now we have information and documents about each of them.”
“Our police know everything about them and each of them will be punished,” he added.
Kherson, a strategic port city on the Black Sea, was one of the first major cities seized by Russian troops when they rolled across the border. It had a pre-war population of nearly 300,000, though a large number of people fled to seek safety elsewhere.
Checks are made at industrial and port areas, alongside the train station, which some Kherson inhabitants still use to evacuate from the city on a daily train.
On certain roads in the city, large propaganda posters which praised Russia have been torn down and replaced with others that glorify the liberation of Kherson.
Other posters have appeared inviting residents to denounce people who they think collaborated with the Russians.
“Provide information on traitors here”, reads one of the posters, displaying a QR code linking to a website where reports can be made and a telephone number.
“It helps us to identify them, to know if they are on the territory that we control”, said the Kherson governor.
“Most of the information is received from the local population during simple conversations … We also analyse the accounts on social networks and continue to monitor the Internet”, said Andriï Kovanyi, Head of Public Relations at Kherson’s region police.
Ukrainian security services (SBU) take over the investigations, after the police.
Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for Odesa’s regional administration, said electricity for the city’s population will be restored “in the coming days,” while complete restoration of the networks may take two to three months.
Bratchuk said an earlier Facebook post by the region’s administration, advising some people to consider evacuating, was being investigated by Ukraine’s security services as “an element of the hybrid war” by Russia.
That post has since been deleted.
“Not a single representative of the authorities in the region made any calls for the evacuation of the inhabitants of Odesa and the region,” Bratchuk said.
Odesa had more than 1 million residents before 24 February.
5. 10,000 Russian troops have died in Ukraine: BBC investigation
Russia’s military has suffered over 10,000 confirmed deaths during its grinding invasion of Ukraine, according to research conducted by the BBC and independent Russian news outlet Mediazona.
Released on Friday, it found that 10,002 servicemen had been killed.
But the true figure is likely to be much higher than that verified by the research, the BBC added.
Scores of these casualties were elite servicemen from airborne units, plus more than 100 pilots and 430 recruits drafted by the Kremlin in October, following Russia’s push to bolster troop numbers in Ukraine.
Russia has been accused of sending newly recruited troops to the frontlines with just days of training, helping fuel a casualty figure that is already far higher than that recorded during Russia’s past wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
Some of Russia’s poorest regions have contributed a disproportionately high number of recruits to the war in Ukraine.
While soldiers from the Moscow region account for just 54 verifiable deaths in the research, the figure for the Siberian republic of Buryatia is six times higher at 356.
This far-eastern area has one-seventh of the population of the Moscow region.
Approximately 15% of Russia’s dead in the conflict are officers, including four generals and 49 colonels, the investigation found.
One factor behind this is believed to be the breakdowns in communication between the Russian ranks, which forced commanding officers to travel directly to the frontlines.
In December, a senior official put Ukraine’s casualty figure at 13,000.
“We are open in talking about the number of dead,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian president, adding that Zelenskyy would make the official data public “when the time was right”.