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.

The South Korean Horn’s Choice to Go Nuclear: Daniel 7

Should South Korea go nuclear? That’s a decision for Seoul, not Washington.

By Max BootColumnist|Follow

April 24, 2023 at 6:45 a.m. EDT

In early January, President Yoon Suk Yeol made news by suggesting that, with the North Korean nuclear threat rising, South Korea might want to build its own nuclear arsenal. After a domestic and foreign backlash, Yoon, who arrives in Washington this week, walked back that suggestion. But in March, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon — a prominent member of Yoon’s own party who is seen as a leading presidential candidate in 2027 — also raised the possibility of South Korea going nuclear. That option was backed, in a recent poll, by 77 percent of South Koreans.

Popular support for a South Korean nuclear deterrent, while strongly opposed by the Biden administration, is hardly surprising given the rapid expansion of the North Korean nuclear program. Any hopes that Pyongyang might give up or even freeze its nuclear stockpile were dashed by the failure of President Donald Trump’s talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018 and 2019. Since then, the North has raced ahead with capabilities ranging from intercontinental ballistic missiles that can hit the United States to tactical nuclear weapons that can saturate South Korea.

Every week seems to bring bloodcurdling new threats from Kim — the latest being the unveiling of an underwater drone supposedly capable of carrying a nuclear weapon and unleashing a “radioactive tsunami.” Kim has not only declared that he will never give up his nuclear weapons, but also claimed the right to use them preemptively if his regime feels threatened.

South Koreans are understandably worried and wonder if they can still count on the United States to defend them if, by doing so, it would put U.S. cities at risk of nuclear annihilation. Koreans are concerned that their country could meet the same fate as Ukraine — another nonnuclear state attacked by a nuclear-armed neighbor.

South Korean leaders have been discussing ways to strengthen “extended deterrence,” such as redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea (they were withdrawn in 1991); replicating the nuclear-sharing agreement the United States has with NATO allies (European aircraft can deliver U.S. nuclear warheads in wartime); or even developing a domestic nuclear weapons capability.

The U.S. position is that having nuclear weapons permanently stationed in South Korea — whether American or, potentially, South Korean — is dangerous and unnecessary, because the United States could always destroy North Korea with nuclear weapons fired by distant submarines, bombers and missiles. The administration has been trying to assuage Seoul’s concerns by promising greater consultation about the use of nuclear weapons and more frequent visits by U.S. nuclear-capable bombers and warships. This will undoubtedly be near the top of the agenda when Yoon comes to the White House for a summit on Wednesday.

A senior administration official told me that it “is very profoundly troubling for us” to hear South Koreans discuss the possibility of building their own nuclear weapons. “We stand by the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” this official told me. “We don’t want to see the spread of nuclear weapons. If they spread, they won’t just spread to countries in which we have confidence.”

The U.S. position is perfectly understandable. But it’s also easy to see why many Koreans are not reassured by U.S. security guarantees, given that Trump flirted with pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea if Seoul didn’t dramatically increase the amount of money it paid to subsidize them.

What if Trump or a Trump mini-me wins the presidency in 2024? Could South Korea count on an America First president to risk nuclear conflagration on behalf of a distant ally? The senior administration official told me that “our fundamental view is that U.S. extended deterrence commitments to the Republic of Korea are rock solid,” but, of course, the current administration cannot bind a successor.

We need to think carefully about whether our anti-proliferation assumptions still hold in a world where nuclear threats are growing, U.S. military dominance is fading and domestic support for U.S. global leadership is declining. The best guide I have seen to the arguments for and against South Korean nuclear weapons is a forthcoming article in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Occasional Papers series by Brookings Institution senior fellow Robert Einhorn, who served as the State Department’s senior adviser on non-proliferation during the Obama administration. (Einhorn provided me with an advance copy and walked me through his arguments.)

The article lists 10 reasons it could make sense for South Korea to go nuclear. These include the prospect that “it would strengthen deterrence against North Korea,” “force North Korea to deal with the Seoul government more seriously,” enhance South Korea’s “image as a strong, independent, successful player on the world stage” and reduce the risk of a North Korean nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland.

While some of these contentions are arguable, there is little disputing Einhorn’s assumption that “South Korea would be a responsible nuclear-armed state.” Moreover, South Korea has a right to withdraw from the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty. Article X allows any signatory to leave if “extraordinary events … have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country.” The North Korean nuclear program certainly qualifies.

Having presented the “pro” case, Einhorn then goes on to list nine compelling arguments against South Korea building its own nukes. He argues that, with 28,500 U.S. military personnel based in South Korea and the two nations bound by a defense treaty, South Korea can trust the “extended deterrence” provided by “U.S. strategic assets” that are “off-shore and mostly out of sight.”

Other arguments against South Korea going nuclear include the possibility that doing so could weaken the U.S. alliance, with American politicians wondering: Why do we need to risk our own troops to defend a nuclear-armed ally? It could damage the global non-proliferation regime. And it could limit South Korea’s access to the imported uranium it needs to run its nuclear power industry, which generates 27 percent of the country’s electricity.

Einhorn’s conclusion: “Acquiring an indigenous nuclear weapons capability is not the answer to South Korean security concerns.” But some other U.S. experts have reached a different conclusion. “It’s a real dilemma for responsible South Koreans,” Einhorn told me. “President Yoon and his advisers are clearly weighing all their options.”

For the moment, Yoon has made clear that he isn’t pursuing nuclear weapons capability and would prefer enhanced U.S. deterrence. But if, in the future, South Korea does decide to go nuclear, it should not be a game changer for the United States. The United States has long tolerated nuclear weapons owned by friendly states such as France, Britain, Israel, Pakistan and India, while opposing their acquisition by rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea. Having South Korea join the nuclear club wouldn’t change that.

Ultimately, it should be South Korea’s call. We should refrain from applying heavy-handed pressure and respect whatever decision our democratic ally makes. As Yoon and President Biden will affirm this week, both Washington and Seoul want the same thing: a secure and prosperous South Korea aligned with the West.

On 5th Year Of JCPOA Withdrawal, Calls To End Another Obama Iran Deal: Daniel 8

Officials announcing Iran nuclear agreement in Vienna in July 2015. (From left to right) Foreign ministers/secretaries of state Wang Yi (China), Laurent Fabius (France), Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany), Federica Mogherini (EU), Mohammad Javad Zarif (Iran), Philip Hammond (UK), John Kerry (USA)

Officials announcing Iran nuclear agreement in Vienna in July 2015. (From left to right) Foreign ministers/secretaries of state Wang Yi (China), Laurent Fabius (France), Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany), Federica Mogherini (EU), Mohammad Javad Zarif (Iran), Philip Hammond (UK), John Kerry (USA)

On 5th Year Of JCPOA Withdrawal, Calls To End Overtures To Iran

Tuesday, 05/09/20233 minutes

Author: Iran International Newsroom

Five years since the collapse of the JCPOA nuclear talks, dozens of ex-US diplomats have called to end diplomatic overtures to Tehran. 

In a letter to President Joe Biden, the former diplomats claim the President’s softly-softly approach urging good behavior in return for a revival of the nuclear deal signed under former President Barack Obama, have only served the interests of Iran. 

The group of over two dozen urged for a tougher approach, which had led former President Donald Trump to abandon the nuclear deal in 2018. 

“Today, we write to urge you and your team to stop all diplomatic overtures toward the Islamic Republic of Iran and instead reimpose the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign – the only effective policy to protect the American people, the Iranian people, and others in the region and around the world from the Islamic Republic’s threats,” the group wrote. 

In addition to former diplomats and ambassadors, the signatories include former members of Congress who urged the Biden administration to change course. Though Biden has sought to re-enter the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal since gaining office, negotiations have gone nowhere, Iran’s military activities against the US only worsening. 

While Trump pulled out of the deal to force Tehran to agree to a tougher agreement, change its regional policies and limit military expansion, Iran retaliated with more uranium enrichment, especially after Joe Biden assumed office and began indirect talks to revive the JCPOA.

In February UN inspectors revealed their discovery of uranium particles of 83.7% purity at an Iran nuclear facility built deep underground to protect it from air strikes.

The regime has also grown increasingly outspoken about its hatred of the US, among its arch enemies and tensions have continued to soar including rising numbers of attacks from Iran on US facilities in Syria and the seizure of oil tankers in Persian Gulf waters. 

“The United States should never preemptively set the negotiating table with concessions, not least with an adversary with four decades of rhetoric and actions targeting the United States and the American people”, the group said. 

“The approach of preemptively offering sanctions relief and that trust in the regime is entirely misplaced and reckless given the regime’s record of lying about its nuclear program.”

Americans jailed in Iran Siamak Namazi (left), Emad Shargi (center) and Morad Tahbaz

Americans jailed in Iran Siamak Namazi (left), Emad Shargi (center) and Morad Tahbaz

Last week, the Biden administration announced new sanctions against the intelligence wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps over its role in the detention of Americans Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz, who have been held for years on what the US State Department calls “bogus” espionage charges.

A bipartisan congressional group last week also introduced a bill that would permanently allow American presidents to apply economic sanctions on Iran.

Ali Bagheri Keni, Iran’s political deputy minister of foreign affairs and chief negotiator, on Tuesday called the withdrawal “illegal” and demanded compensation including the lifting of sanctions. 

In a denial of Iran’s continued nuclear activity, he wrote: “While Iran’s legitimate compensatory measures in the nuclear field continue, the resumption of the full implementation of the agreement, the essential element of which should be the effective and sustainable lifting of sanctions, should the violating party (and the European Union/Troika) have a valid political will to finalize the negotiations.”

Russia, China Back a Nuclear Iranian Horn: Daniel 8

George Soros
George Soros has donated $734,000 into electing liberal public defender Matt Dugan as Allegheny County’s district attorney over incumbent Steve Zappala, according to a report.AFP via Getty Images

Russia, China back a nuclear Iran, Soros aims to tap Pittsburgh DA and other commentary

Post Editorial Board

May 9, 2023 6:15pm 

Foreign desk: Russia, China Back a Nuclear Iran

“Iran has secured great-power patronage for the first time in four decades,” warn Reuel Marc Gerecht & Ray Takeyh at The Wall Street Journal.

Russia, China and Iran “all want to diminish American power” and “recognize that they need to help each other militarily and economically to achieve common goals.”

So now, thanks to Tehran’s “developing alliances with Russia and China,” it “likely has no significant technical hurdle left to clear on its way to a nuclear weapon.”

Meanwhile, “a growing conventional wisdom in Washington counsels a shift of focus” away from the Middle East and toward Asia.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “made a sensible calculation with his recent Chinese-brokered compact with Tehran.”

“Without the US, the Middle East is sorting itself out.”

Pakistan on edge as ex-PM Imran Khan charged with corruption: Daniel 8

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters clash with police during a protest against the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan in Peshawar on May 10, 2023.

Pakistan on edge as ex-PM Imran Khan charged with corruption

By Sophia SaifiRhea Mogul and Azaz Syed, CNN

Updated 2:22 PM EDT, Wed May 10, 2023

CNN on the ground as high-tech Russian missile lands nearby

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has appeared in court to answer corruption charges, a day after he was dramatically arrested by paramilitary troops, sparking nationwide clashes.

The charge relates to the sale of gifts sent to him by foreign leaders while in office. His lawyer told CNN Khan rejects the indictment.

Khan has alleged he was “tortured and beaten all night” while in detention, his lawyer told CNN, adding that the former leader had “bruises on his head” when he met him at the court hearing.

Khan was arrested on Tuesday in another corruption case, where he is accused of the illegal acquisition of land and construction for a university.

His lawyer told CNN that Khan has been placed on “physical remand” for eight days following the court hearing, for the charge brought on Tuesday.

His arrest has turbocharged an already tense showdown between the country’s powerful military and his supporters, who hit the streets and sparked unprecedented scenes as angry crowds broke into and vandalized the homes of army personnel.

Pakistan’s military described the protests that followed Khan’s arrest a “dark chapter” in the country’s history, warning that any further attacks “on the army, including all law enforcement agencies, military and state installations and properties, will be severely retaliated against,” in a statement Wednesday.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters clash with police during a protest against the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan in Peshawar on May 10, 2023.Abdul Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

Three of Khan’s supporters died in clashes in the city of Peshawar and nearly 30 others were injured, a hospital spokesperson said. Clashes continued Wednesday with hundreds of Khan’s supporters storming the headquarters of the national broadcaster Radio Pakistan in Peshawar, according to a CNN journalist at the scene.

Photos from Peshawar’s streets showed security forces firing teargas at crowds, some of whom used slingshots.

Police said nearly 1,000 Khan supporters had been arrested in Punjab province after 25 police vehicles and more than 14 government buildings were set on fire, Reuters reported.

Authorities in three of Pakistan’s four provinces have also imposed an emergency order banning all gatherings, Reuters added.

Motorists ride past burnt vehicles in front of Zaman Park in Lahore on May 10, 2023.

Motorists ride past burnt vehicles in front of Zaman Park in Lahore on May 10, 2023.Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s minister for planning and development, told reporters on Wednesday that Khan had “chosen a path of spreading anarchy, chaos and destruction” to “protect himself from accountability.”

“I want to assure there is no political vendetta,” he added.

Wednesday’s hearing took place in the police station rather than a court to “keep him away from the public”, police said.

Video before Khan’s arrest on Tuesday showed paramilitary forces breaking a window to get to the politician as he watched impassively at the unfolding chaos. Khan was then led into a vehicle surrounded by dozens of security officers and escorted away.

In a pre-recorded statement released on YouTube by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party after his arrest, the former prime minister said he was “detained on incorrect charges” and told his supporters “the time has come for all of you to come and struggle for your rights.”

“I have always followed the law. I am being apprehended so that I can’t follow my political path for this country’s fundamental rights and for me to obey this corrupt government of crooks which has been hoisted on us,” he said in the video.

Violent protests broke out in several cities that afternoon.

Imran Khan's supporters burn tires to block roads  in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023.

Imran Khan’s supporters burn tires to block roads in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023.Hussain Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Khan supporters armed with sticks broke into the military’s headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi, just outside the capital, chanting in support of the former leader.

Protesters also blocked one of the main thoroughfares into Islamabad, throwing stones and pulling down street signs. A police vehicle was set ablaze, resulting in police retaliating with tear gas.

Meanwhile, in the southwestern city of Quetta, a Khan supporter was shot and killed by police at a protest, according to a CNN journalist at the scene.

Authorities blocked mobile internet services shortly after in a bid to quell the chaos, disrupting access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in the nation of 270 million. Private schools across the country were ordered shut on Wednesday, according to the Private Schools Association.

At least 43 protesters were arrested in Islamabad Tuesday, the city’s police said on Twitter.

Syed Baqir Sajjad, a Pakistan Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, said that although previous Pakistani leaders had faced arrest, and politicians had in the past challenged the military’s dominance, Khan’s significant public support made this situation “unique.”

“The risks faced by Pakistan in this situation are numerous,” he said. “The military’s image as a unifying force and the guardian of the state has been seriously challenged, which has led to a loss of public trust in the institution. This, in turn, could lead to instability and social unrest.”

Protesters burn tires to block roads in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023 following Imran Khan's dramatic arrest.

Protesters burn tires to block roads in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023 following Imran Khan’s dramatic arrest.Muhammed Semih Ugurlu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Khan was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote last year and has since led a popular campaign against the current government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, accusing it of colluding with the military to remove him from office.

The former star cricketer turned populist politician denies the charges leveled against him, instead accusing Sharif and the military of playing a political game. The military and Sharif – who was recently in the United Kingdom after attending the coronation of the British monarch – deny Khan’s accusations.

A demonstrator is seen as Pakistani police use tear gas  against supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan during a protest in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023.

A demonstrator is seen as Pakistani police use tear gas against supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan during a protest in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023.Hussain Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The tensions have brought Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country of some 220 million people that has for decades grappled with political instability, into unknown territory and have often boiled over into violence.

Last November, Khan survived a shooting at a political rally, in what his party called an assassination attempt.

And in March, chaos erupted outside Khan’s Lahore home after hundreds of his supporters challenged police and paramilitary troops who had arrived to escort him away. Officers were forced to suspend the operation after protests turned violent – one of multiple unsuccessful attempts by police to arrest Khan.

Khan’s claims have struck a chord with a young population in a country where anti-establishment feelings are common, and are being fueled by a rising cost of living crisis as soaring inflation makes ordinary goods increasingly unaffordable.

“This has put increased pressure on the military establishment, which is feeling the heat more this time,” said Sajjad. “The intensity and consistency of Imran Khan’s attacks on the military, especially after being ousted from office last year, are unprecedented.”

Amid the crisis, the government has so far failed to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to restart a $6.5 billion loan program that has stalled since November, in an effort to keep the economy afloat.

The political upheaval appears to have bolstered Khan’s popularity. Last year, his PTI party won local elections in the country’s most populous Punjab province, seen as a litmus test for national elections.

The political polarization and economic crisis had placed Pakistan at “a critical juncture,” and the situation had the “potential to become a permanent crisis,” Sajjad said.

Pakistan’s future trajectory “will largely depend on how its leaders navigate the ongoing crises and whether they can find a way to address the people’s grievances and restore stability,” he added.

Hamas mourns two Palestinians executed outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas mourns two Palestinians executed by Israeli occupation forces in occupied Jenin

May 10, 2023

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas mourns two Palestinian freedom fighters Ahmed Asaf, 19, and Rani Qatanat, 24, who were executed by Israeli occupation forces in a violent raid into the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

While offering its sincere condolences to the martyrs’ families and loved ones, Hamas reiterates that the martyrs’ blood will not be in vain and that the Palestinian people are prepared to confront the Israeli occupation’s aggression and defend the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the 1948 occupied territories.

Hamas Movement

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Putin is Losing Before Zhaporizhia Occurs: Revelation 16

A man in profile speaking at a podium.
Russian President Vladimir PutinCredit…Pool photo by Gavriil Grigorov

Putin Is Fighting, and Losing, His Last War

May 9, 2023

By Timothy Snyder

Dr. Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University and the author of many books on fascism, totalitarianism and European history.

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In the Brezhnev era of Vladimir Putin’s youth, May 9 was an occasion for Soviet militarism, a celebration of weapons and might. It could be forgotten, at least for a moment, that Leonid Brezhnev’s war of choice would be fought and lost in Afghanistan less than two decades after he began the May 9 celebrations, much as what is likely Mr. Putin’s last war is today being fought and lost in Ukraine.

During both conflicts, people in the West worried, understandably, about nuclear war.

Today’s Russia issues an unending stream of nuclear threats. In the West today, unlike during the Cold War, these are discussed in psychological rather than strategic terms. How does Mr. Putin feel? How do we feel?

Americans’ fear of escalation delayed the supply of weapons that could have allowed Ukraine to win last year. One after the other, the weapons systems deemed escalatory have now been delivered, with no negative consequences. But the cost of delay can be observed in the Ukrainian territories that Russia still controls: the death pits, the torture chambers and the empty homes of kidnapped children. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides have unnecessarily died.

In nearly 15 months of war, despite Russian nuclear propaganda and Western anxiety, there has been no use of nuclear weapons. This is an absence worthy of an explanation. Those who predicted escalation if Ukrainians resisted, if the West supplied weapons or if Russia suffered defeat have thus far been wrong. Strategic thinkers point to deterrence and note that nuclear use would not in fact bring a Russian victory. It would ensure a dramatic Western response and make Russian leaders pariahs. But there is a deeper explanation: Russia’s nuclear talk is itself the weapon.

It rests on false assumptions. Russian nuclear propaganda assumes that the bully always wins. But the bully does not always win. Russian propagandists want us to think that nuclear powers can never lose wars, on the logic that they could always deploy nuclear weapons to win. This is an ahistorical fantasy. Nuclear weapons did not bring the French victory in Algeria, nor did they preserve the British Empire. The Soviet Union lost its war in Afghanistan. America lost in Vietnam and in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Israel failed to win in Lebanon. Nuclear powers lose wars with some regularity.

Some Americans have proposed a nuclear scenario in which Russians will have to use nuclear weapons to head off defeat. But Russia has been defeated in Ukraine, on its own terms, again and again. What it has proved is its ability to change those terms after each defeat. Russia failed to achieve the explicit aim of the “special military operation” to overthrow Ukraine’s democratic government. There will be no greater humiliation than that. The defeat at Kyiv was followed by further defeats at Kharkiv and Kherson. Each loss led to cover stories from Russia’s state propagandists and their believers, to talk of good-will gestures, strategic withdrawals and so on. The escalation has been in the propagandists’ workload.

Russia can lose without being cornered. It has 11 time zones of space for retreating soldiers and plenty of practice in propaganda refashionings. Indeed, Russian leaders have already indicated what they will do if they believe that they are losing: change the terms of reference and change the subject in Russian media. Mr. Putin’s kleptocratic state as a whole and its dependencies such as the Wagner mercenary army are public relations projects with a military arm. The assumption in Russian politics is that rhetoric overcomes reality. And the rhetorical preparations for defeat have been made.

Beneath Mr. Putin’s vague bellicosity is the idea that Russia wins if it avoids (in his words) “strategic defeat” imposed by NATO. Almost no matter what happens, it will be easy for him to define the war in Ukraine as a strategic victory. Since the Kremlin claims that it is fighting NATO, all Mr. Putin has to say is that Russia stopped NATO from crossing into Russia. The commander of Wagner wrote recently, in this spirit, that Russia can end the “special military operation” at any time and just claim that its goals have been achieved, so long as Russia does not retreat from any more occupied Ukrainian territory.

By taking nuclear blackmail seriously, we have actually increased the overall unpredictability of nuclear war. If nuclear blackmail enables a Russian victory, the consequences will be incalculably awful. If any country with nuclear weapons can do whatever it likes, then law means nothing, no international order is possible and catastrophe beckons at every turn. Countries without nuclear weapons will have to build them, on the logic that they will need nuclear deterrence in the future. Nuclear proliferation would make nuclear war much more likely in the future.

When we understand that nuclear talk is itself the weapon, we can act to make the situation less risky. The way forward to strategic thinking is to free ourselves from our own anxieties and consider the Russian ones. The Russians talk about nuclear weapons not because they mean to use them but because they believe a large nuclear arsenal makes them a superpower. Nuclear talk makes them feel powerful. They see nuclear bullying as their prerogative and believe that others should automatically yield at the first mention of their weapons. The Ukrainians have not allowed this to affect their tactics.

If Russia detonated a weapon, it would lose that jealously guarded treasure of superpower status. Such an act would constitute an admission that its army has been beaten — a tremendous loss of face. Worse still, neighbors would build (or build up) their own nuclear arsenals. That would deprive Russia of superpower status in the minds of the Russians themselves. That is, for the Russian leadership, the one intolerable outcome of this war. In my view, the greatest risk of a Russian nuclear action would therefore be one that Moscow would blame on Ukraine, such as the deliberate destruction of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

War is unpredictable. Military history is full of surprises. Mr. Putin has undertaken a war of atrocity, and further atrocities are certain as long as the war continues. Russia created not only needless suffering but also needless risk when it invaded Ukraine. We have to work within that world of risk and horror and evaluate it calmly. No option is without hazards; our responsibility is to reduce them. When Russians talk about nuclear war, the safest response is to ensure their very conventional defeat.

Timothy Snyder, the Levin professor of history at Yale, studied nuclear arms control before shifting to Eastern European history. He is the author, among other books, of “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.

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