Preparing for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States

The Sixth Seal: NY City DestroyedIf today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?

At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence.

Why do we know so little about such vital public issues? Because the public has been lulled into believing that seriously damaging quakes are so unlikely in the east that in essence we do not need to consider them. We shall examine the validity of this widely held opinion.

Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low SeismicitySeismicHazard, or SeismicRisk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.

Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?

To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates.

From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks.

There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches.

The current efforts in the eastern U.S., including New York City, to start the enforcement of seismic building codes for new constructions are important first steps in the right direction. Similarly, the emerging efforts to include seismic rehabilitation strategies in the generally needed overhaul of the cities’ aged infrastructures such as bridges, water, sewer, power and transportation is commendable and needs to be pursued with diligence and persistence. But at the current pace of new construction replacing older buildings and lifelines, it will take many decades or a century before a major fraction of the stock of built assets will become seismically more resilient than the current inventory is. For some time, this leaves society exposed to very high seismic risks. The only consolation is that seismicity on average is low, and, hence with some luck, the earthquakes will not outpace any ongoing efforts to make eastern cities more earthquake resilient gradually. Nevertheless, M = 5 to M = 6 earthquakes at distances of tens of km must be considered a credible risk at almost any time for cities like Boston, New York or Philadelphia. M = 7 events, while possible, are much less likely; and in many respects, even if building codes will have affected the resilience of a future improved building stock, M = 7 events would cause virtually unmanageable situations. Given these bleak prospects, it will be necessary to focus on crucial elements such as maintaining access to cities by strengthening critical bridges, improving the structural and nonstructural performance of hospitals, and having a nationally supported plan how to assist a devastated region in case of a truly severe earthquake. No realistic and coordinated planning of this sort exists at this time for most eastern cities.

The current efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) via the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to provide a standard methodology (RMS, 1994) and planning tools for making systematic, computerized loss estimates for annualized probabilistic calculations as well as for individual scenario events, is commendable. But these new tools provide only a shell with little regional data content. What is needed are the detailed data bases on inventory of buildings and lifelines with their locally specific seismic fragility properties.Similar data are needed for hospitals, shelters, firehouses, police stations and other emergency service providers. Moreover, the soil and rock conditions which control the shaking and soil liquefaction properties for any given event, need to be systematically compiled into Geographical Information System (GIS) data bases so they can be combined with the inventory of built assets for quantitative loss and impact estimates. Even under the best of conceivable funding conditions, it will take years before such data bases can be established so they will be sufficiently reliable and detailed to perform realistic and credible loss scenarios. Without such planning tools, society will remain in the dark as to what it may encounter from a future major eastern earthquake. Given these uncertainties, and despite them, both the public and private sector must develop at least some basic concepts for contingency plans. For instance, the New York City financial service industry, from banks to the stock and bond markets and beyond, ought to consider operational contingency planning, first in terms of strengthening their operational facilities, but also for temporary backup operations until operations in the designated facilities can return to some measure of normalcy. The Federal Reserve in its oversight function for this industry needs to take a hard look at this situation.

A society, whose economy depends increasingly so crucially on rapid exchange of vast quantities of information must become concerned with strengthening its communication facilities together with the facilities into which the information is channeled. In principle, the availability of satellite communication (especially if self-powered) with direct up and down links, provides here an opportunity that is potentially a great advantage over distributed buried networks. Distributed networks for transportation, power, gas, water, sewer and cabled communication will be expensive to harden (or restore after an event).

In all future instances of major capital spending on buildings and urban infrastructures, the incorporation of seismically resilient design principles at all stages of realization will be the most effective way to reduce society’s exposure to high seismic risks. To achieve this, all levels of government need to utilize legislative and regulatory options; insurance industries need to build economic incentives for seismic safety features into their insurance policy offerings; and the private sector, through trade and professional organizations’ planning efforts, needs to develop a healthy self-protective stand. Also, the insurance industry needs to invest more aggressively into broadly based research activities with the objective to quantify the seismic hazards, the exposed assets and their seismic fragilities much more accurately than currently possible. Only together these combined measures may first help to quantify and then reduce our currently untenably large seismic risk exposures in the virtually unprepared eastern cities. Given the low-probability/high-impact situation in this part of the country, seismic safety planning needs to be woven into both the regular capital spending and daily operational procedures. Without it we must be prepared to see little progress. Unless we succeed to build seismic safety considerations into everyday decision making as a normal procedure of doing business, society will lose the race against the unstoppable forces of nature. While we never can entirely win this race, we can succeed in converting unmitigated catastrophes into manageable disasters, or better, tolerable natural events.

Followers of the Antichrist are seen in the parliament building after they stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone

FILE PHOTO: Followers of Iraq’s Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are seen in the parliament building after they stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government

  • Mar 8, 2023 Updated Mar 8, 2023
  • Comments
FILE PHOTO: Followers of Iraq’s Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are seen in the parliament building after they stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government, in Iraq, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad/File PhotoAHMED SAAD

Pakistani Horn’s Nukes are in Trouble: Daniel 8

Pakistan's nuclear assets are under pressure, hints senior PPP leader
Credit: © Reuters.

Pakistan’s nuclear assets are under pressure, hints senior PPP leader

  • IANS
  • World News
  • 2023-03-06 16:15

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Former Pakistan Senate chairman and senior PPP leader Senator Raza Rabbani said on Monday that the people of Pakistan have a right to know if the country’s nuclear assets are under pressure, media reports said.

Senator Rabbani added that the country also needs to know “if our strategic relationship with China is under threat or we are being called up to play role in the region which will facilitate the military presence of an imperialist power,” The Express Tribune reported.

“These and other questions require a policy statement by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the floor of a joint sitting in the parliament,” he added.

While talking about the desperately-needed deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the senator furthered that the parliament needs to be taken into confidence on the issue as well as the matter of reluctance of friendly countries, except China, to help Pakistan sans the global lender.

“The dragging of the feet by the IMF on signing the agreement and reluctance of friendly countries, except China, to help sans the IMF, Parliament needs to be taken into confidence.”

“It appears Pakistan is being softened up to play a role which is against its national and strategic interests,” he added, Express Tribune reported.

The senator further pointed out that the government has failed to discuss the issues pertaining to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the increase in terrorism.

“It seems be it the PTI or present governments want azadi [freedom] from Parliament and the Constitution, 1973, the senator added.



Rising Violence Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Rising violence, growing political crisis in Israel strain U.S. support

Protests in Israel disrupt Defense Secretary Austin’s visit

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Tel Aviv to protest the Israeli government’s proposals to overhaul the legal system. The demonstrations came as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Austin stressed the importance of an “independent judiciary” during his visit.

For years, as Israeli politics marched steadily to the right, the growing backlash among its traditional supporters fueled concerns and warnings that the U.S. government may ultimately be forced to reconsider its role as Israel’s most important — and often most unflinching — ally.

Until now, they have remained just that: concerns and warnings. But, with Israel’s new government stocked with ultranationalists and stoking profound questions about the nation’s democratic future, there is a sense that this time may be different.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to weaken the Supreme Court has triggered nationwide protests and a growing constitutional crisis. An eruption of violence in the occupied West Bank — including near-daily Israeli raids, a rampage by Jewish settlers and attacks by Palestinian militants — has led the CIA director to warn that a third intifada could be imminent.

And the international community is aghast over the rise of some far-right figures, including one senior minister who recently called for Israel to “wipe out” a Palestinian village.

Israelis protest against the government's controversial judicial reform bill, in front of the residence of Justice Minister Yariv Levin, in Modiin (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP - Getty Images)
Israelis protest against the government’s controversial judicial reform bill, in front of the residence of Justice Minister Yariv Levin, in Modiin (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP – Getty Images)

For the Biden administration, which has echoed many of those concerns, the urgent question is whether they necessitate any change in policy toward a nation heavily reliant on assistance, military cooperation and international political support from Washington.

“The United States should back up our concerns with actions,” said Daniel Kurtzer, who was U.S. ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush. In an interview, he said the U.S. should consider curbing bilateral programs — but not security aid — and supporting U.N. Security Council resolutions criticizing Israel that the U.S. has historically blocked.

“Maybe it’s time to send that kind of signal,” he said.

Last week Kurtzer, now at Princeton, joined nearly 150 other current and former ambassadors, rabbis and Jewish organization leaders who signed a letter opposing a planned U.S. visit this week by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has referred to himself as a “proud homophobe” and a “fascist.” Others have called on the Biden administration to deny Smotrich a visa.

The State Department has called Smotrich’s comments about erasing the Palestinian village of Hawara “disgusting and repugnant.” Although the U.S. hasn’t addressed his status, citing confidentiality, a spokesperson for Smotrich told Israeli media on Thursday that he had been granted a diplomatic visa to enter the country.

However, the Biden administration appears to be boycotting the visit; a National Security Council official told NBC News that no U.S. government officials planned to meet with him.

Already, the rise of the Israeli far-right has shifted the political dynamics in the U.S., with criticism of Israel that was once limited to the most left-leaning Democrats and human rights groups now increasingly common among moderate Democrats and mainstream American Jewish organizations.

In Congress this week, more than 90 Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, sent President Joe Biden a letter urging him to use “all diplomatic tools available to prevent Israel’s current government from further damaging the nation’s democratic institutions and undermining the potential for two states for two peoples.”

And late last year, a group of more than 300 rabbis published an open letter declaring that members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition were not welcome to speak at their synagogues.

“It’s a different moment, in terms of the potential damage that would be done should the policies that key figures in this new coalition have called for be implemented,” Rabbi David Saperstein, former U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said in an interview. “Those changes would significantly damage the democratic character of Israel.”

Especially problematic for the Biden administration is the Israeli government’s retreat from even rhetorical support for a two-state solution and eventual Palestinian statehood, which for decades has allowed the U.S. to defend Israel and to overlook its occupation of the West Bank by regarding it as temporary and best resolved through negotiations.

In a stark example of how Israel’s multiple crises are already creating headaches for the U.S., Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week was forced to cut his Israel trip short and relocate meetings as mass protests against the judicial reforms threatened to obstruct his safe passage into Tel Aviv.

When he did meet with his Israeli counterpart, at a site near the airport, Austin made a passing reference to the importance of an “independent judiciary” and “the need to de-escalate” West Bank violence, but made clear the U.S. government had no intention of reducing its commitment to Israel’s security.

“It will not change. It is not negotiable,” Austin said.

Image: (Ohad Zwigenberg / AP)
Image: (Ohad Zwigenberg / AP)

So far, there are no indications the Biden administration intends any substantive shift in its relationship with Israel’s government, beyond more frequent public calls for de-escalation in the West Bank and gentle reminders about the importance of democratic institutions.

Even if the U.S. did opt for a change in policy, it’s unclear whether it could force Israel to change course.

A former senior Israeli government official said the emergence of a major threat to the country’s democracy was a “big dilemma” for its closest ally. But the official said any U.S. efforts to condition elements of the relationship would likely be fruitless because Netanyahu, under the delicate coalition he formed with far-right parties to secure a return to power, is now beholden to them.

“It’s quite pointless at this moment,” the former official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to criticize the current prime minister. “His own members of his coalition are escalating the situation. He’s not managing to control the members of the coalition.”

Any U.S. move to reduce or leverage support for Israel would undoubtedly trigger fierce blowback from nearly all Republicans and many Democrats, not to mention Orthodox Jewish and evangelical groups in the U.S. that have been more supportive of Netanyahu’s approach.

The U.S. could seek to impose conditions on the billions of dollars of annual assistance to Israel, most of it military. Yet conditioning aid to Israel has generally been considered a third rail in U.S. foreign policy, and even many lawmakers now speaking out against Israel’s rightward shift oppose that step.

U.S. support for — or at least refusal to block — resolutions calling out Israel on the world stage could be one option to signal a shift in policy, as Kurtzer suggested.

For Israel’s government, perhaps the most alarming shift so far in response to the proposed judicial reforms has been economic, potentially jeopardizing its status as a Mideast economic powerhouse that punches above its weight.

Last week former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a self-avowed Israel supporter, said some businesspeople were already pulling their money out of the country or reconsidering whether to invest.

“As the owner of a global company, I don’t blame them,” Bloomberg wrote in a New York Times op-ed under the headline “Israel Is Courting Disaster.”

Those concerns have already sent the shekel plummeting to the lowest level in years. U.S. financial services firm JPMorgan, in an internal research memo first disclosed by Israeli media and obtained by NBC News, warned the increased risk stemming from the judicial plan could negatively affect Israel’s credit rating.

Another potentially explosive flashpoint is looming over opposition to the judicial plan from elite members of Israel’s military, including more than three dozen reservist fighter pilots who’ve announce they’d boycott a planned training, voicing concern about serving a “dictatorial regime.”

Some reservists have raised concerns that, if Israel undermines its democratic institutions, troops could be vulnerable to war crimes or other allegations in global venues like the International Criminal Court. The fact that Israel has an independent court system to appropriately handle such allegations has been a key Israeli defense in the past.

Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel in the Obama administration and now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, said there could be further challenges for U.S. security cooperation if the situation devolves into a full-blown constitutional crisis, with Israel’s parliament and Supreme Court both claiming to have overruled the other.

“If that happens, those in uniform will have to decide whose order to follow. They may not all decide the same way,” Shapiro said. “In that scenario, U.S. officers may not know who to coordinate with.”

Any dramatic shift from the U.S. remains unlikely under Biden, said the former senior Israeli official, pointing to the 80-year-old president’s close friendship with Israel forged over decades as U.S. senator and then vice president. But younger Democratic lawmakers have been much quicker to say U.S. cooperation with Israel isn’t guaranteed.

“Few of these kinds of friends of Israel exists anymore,” the former official said. “The biggest cause of concern should be the next generation of leaders.”

This article was originally published on

The Obama-Iran nuclear deal is dead. And it is a good thing

The Iran nuclear deal is dead. And it is a good thing, writes Jeff Jacoby

Russia has been trying to use the nuclear talks to dilute sanctions against it

By Jeff Jacoby Issue Date: April 10, 2022 Updated: April 03, 2022 10:58 IST

Former US president Barack Obama never submitted his 2015 Iran nuclear deal to the senate for ratification as a treaty. Had he done so, it would have been rejected. A majority of senators opposed the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The public frowned on it, too. A Pew poll that fall found that only one in five of those surveyed backed the treaty.

Almost from the outset, Iran had violated several of the restrictions imposed by the deal. It hid information from international inspectors. It test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile and declared it would accept no limitations on its missile development. Obama had pitched the deal as one that would encourage Iran to “get right with the world”, but that never came close to happening. The Islamic Republic intervened in Syria’s civil war in support of the murderous Bashar al-Assad, armed Houthi rebels in Yemen, seized two US navy vessels and humiliated their sailors, called repeatedly for the extermination of Israel, and continued to subsidise terrorist groups.

Despite that record, Joe Biden ran for president on a pledge to revive Obama’s nuclear agreement, from which the US withdrew when Donald Trump was in the White House. For months, the Biden administration has been negotiating in Vienna to strike a deal with Iran, and latest reports suggested that a return to the JCPOA was imminent.

The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that Russia, which has been a key player in the Vienna talks, was conditioning its support for a new nuclear deal on the creation of a loophole in the economic sanctions imposed by the west. Russia is demanding a written guarantee that its trade with Iran will be exempted from sanctions if the JCPOA is resurrected. But that would undermine the international financial squeeze being applied to Russia. That is a concession the Biden administration refuses to make, even to clinch an Iran deal. Meanwhile, Iran has issued a fresh reminder that it remains committed to spreading terrorism and violence across the Middle East.

On March 13, Iran fired a barrage of missiles into northern Iraq, striking near the US consulate site in Erbil. This was a deliberate violation of Iraqi sovereignty and an act of aggression against the US. Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Seth J. Frantzman observed that the consulate is not in the centre of the city, which meant that the consulate had to be specifically targeted. Tehran readily took credit for that attack. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it was meant as a message to Israel.

All this comes as participants in the Vienna negotiations have been warning that the new deal in the works would amount to a capitulation by the US. According to former state department official Gabriel Noronha, the Biden administration agreed “to lift sanctions on some of the regime’s worst terrorists and torturers”. Unable to condone such concessions, Noronha wrote on Twitter, three members of the US team chose to leave.

The response on Capitol Hill to these developments has been a rising tide of opposition to a new Iran deal. A bipartisan group of representatives wrote to the White House with a long list of concerns and questions about the proposed new agreement. Their bottom line was polite but blunt: “It is hard to envision supporting an agreement along the lines being publicly discussed.”

If Russia’s attempted extortion was not enough to put the Iran deal on the ropes, Iran’s recent missile attack should certainly have done so. If those do not do it, the rising tide of congressional opposition ought to. The first Iran deal was a disaster and the second was shaping up to be another. The JCPOA has been dead since 2018. It is in the world’s best interest that it stay that way.

The author is a politically conservative American journalist.

Russian Horn Prepared for Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Nuclear Attack Warning Broadcasted Across Russia, Tells Citizens To Take Anti-Radiation Pills & Rush To Bunkers

An emergency nuclear attack warning was broadcasted across Russia this week warning its citizens to immediately seek shelter, has learned. 

The chilling broadcast reportedly swept across Russia on Thursday and came as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to ramp up his ongoing war against Ukraine

But according to the county’s Ministry of Russian Emergencies, the broadcast was a “false alarm” hoax committed by a group of unidentified hackers. 

The hoax was the third such incident to take place in Russia over the past weeks, according to Daily Star

“Urgent message,” the warning, which interrupted both TV and radio broadcasts across Russia, said. “There has been a strike. Urgently go to a shelter.” 

“Seal the premises. Use gas masks of all types,” the warning continued alongside a visual of Russia slowly being covered in a wave of red. “In the absence of gas masks, use cotton-gauze bandages. Take potassium iodide pills.” 

“Keep calm,” the warning concluded before repeating. “Should you feel worse, go to the nearest medical facility.” 

Shortly after the warning ended, the Russian ministry announced the nuclear attack warning was a false alarm perpetrated by a group of hackers.

“A false air raid alert was broadcast in Moscow after servers of radio stations and TV channels were hacked,” the government said. 

Thursday’s incident came just days after a similar warning was broadcasted across Russia on February 22 – although the false alarm warning in February was blamed on Ukraine.

Even more shocking are reports that some Russian insiders believe Thursday’s hoax was actually a “ploy” perpetrated by the Kremlin to ready the nation and its citizens for a potential nuclear attack launched by Putin. 

As previously reported, the 70-year-old Russian leader is expected to soon become “even more reliant” on nuclear weapons as his forces continue to suffer devastating defeats in Ukraine. 

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“[Putin] will become even more reliant on asymmetric options such as nuclear, cyber, space capabilities, and on China,” U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines recently revealed. 

“We do think that could be the case in the event that he perceives that he is losing the war in Ukraine,” she explained. “And that NATO in effect is either intervening or about to intervene in that context.” 

“Which would obviously contribute to a perception that he is about to lose the war in Ukraine.”

Alarm at the Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

The interior of the Fordow uranium conversion facility in Qom, Iran (file photo)
The interior of the Fordow uranium conversion facility in Qom, Iran (file photo)

U.S., European Powers Express Alarm At Iran Enriching Uranium To 84 Percent

The United States and Europe’s top powers on March 8 expressed alarm at Iran having produced a small amount of uranium enriched to 84 percent purity — close to weapons grade — and said Iran must explain how it happened. The UN nuclear watchdog found uranium particles enriched to up to 83.7 percent at Fordow, a site dug into a mountain and the second place where it is continuously enriching uranium to up to 60 percent. Weapons grade is around 90 percent. The so-called spike is large, but it remains unclear whether it was accidental. To read the original story by Reuters, click he

March 10, 2023

The charter was published following months of antiestablishment protests.
The charter was published following months of antiestablishment protests.

Six exiled opposition figures, including the former crown prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi have published a charter for the establishment of a democratic Iran. In a statement published on March 10, the signatories of the Charter Of Solidarity And Alliance For Freedom called for more international pressure on the Islamic republic to halt all death sentences and release all political prisoners. They also appealed to democratic countries to expel Iranian ambassadors. The charter was published following months of antiestablishment protests triggered by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini. To read the original story by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, click here.

March 10, 2023

The Iranian blogger who was arrested has been identified as Reza Purjafar, an artist and actor living in Urmia.
The Iranian blogger who was arrested has been identified as Reza Purjafar, an artist and actor living in Urmia.

A blogger in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia has been arrested for publishing content on his Instagram account about a wave of suspected poisonings across the country that has hospitalized scores of students, mainly schoolgirls.

The Hamshahri newspaper, affiliated with the Tehran municipality, reported on March 9 that a blogger was arrested by order of the judiciary and the Ministry of Information.

Hamshahri did not publish the name of the blogger, but Iranian social-media users have identified him as Reza Purjafar, an artist and actor living in Urmia.

Purjafar recently wrote in a story on his Instagram page that “our children have not seen war, but they have tasted chemicals.”

The reference is to a wave of suspected poisonings that has affected more than 5,000 pupils, mainly girls, in the past four months.

Hundreds have been hospitalized after complaining of symptoms that included nausea, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties, heart palpitations, and numbness and hand or leg pain.

It remains unclear what might be causing the illnesses, though some of those affected have said they smelled chlorine or cleaning agents, while others said they thought they smelled tangerines in the air.

No one has claimed responsibility for the wave of illnesses that some officials — including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — have characterized as “poisonings.”

An unspecified number of arrests had been made in five provinces in connection with the incidents, but few details have been made public.

Earlier this week the Tehran prosecutor announced that he had filed a case against the editorial directors of the HamMihan, Roydad24, and Sharq newspapers, as well as against political activists Azar Mansouri, prominent actor Reza Kianian, and university professor Sadegh Zibakalam for their statements on the situation.

Journalist Ali Purtabatabaei, who covered the poisonings for the Qom News website as well as on social media and was critical of the response to the crisis by authorities in the holy city of Qom, was also arrested on March 5.

Iran has been roiled by unrest since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing a hijab, or head scarf, improperly.

Universities and schools have become leading venues for clashes between protesters and the authorities, prompting
security forces to launched a series of raids on schools across the country, violently arresting students, especially female students, who have defiantly taken off their hijabs in protest.

The government’s slow response to the crisis over the illnesses has fueled speculation that the poisonings are intentional and a scare tactic being used to intimidate females who have protested over Amini’s death.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda