The Antichrist launches anti-LGBTQ campaign

Supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sign a pledge to stand against homosexuality or LGBTQ, outside a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

Influential Iraqi cleric launches anti-LGBTQ campaign

Supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sign a pledge to stand against homosexuality or LGBTQ, outside a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
Supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr pray during Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
Supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr pray during Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
A supporter of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr signs a pledge to stand against homosexuality or LGBTQ, outside a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
Supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr pray during Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
People hold up pictures of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr during Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

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Supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sign a pledge to stand against homosexuality or LGBTQ, outside a mosque in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Al-Sadr who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

An influential Iraqi cleric who announced his withdrawal from politics four months ago has broken a period of relative silence to launch an anti-LGBTQ campaign.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr posted a statement on Twitter Wednesday calling for “believing men and women (to) unite all over the world to combat (the LGBTQ community).”

He added that this should be done “not with violence, killing or threats, but with education and awareness, with logic and ethical methods.”

The religious leader’s call has stoked fears in the LGBTQ community, particularly given that al-Sadr’s followers have a history of violence. After the cleric announced his resignation from politics in August amid an impasse over government formation, hundreds of his angry loyalists stormed government buildings in the capital and set off clashes that left at least 30 dead.

On Friday, following the afternoon prayer session, thousands of al-Sadr’s followers lined up outside of mosques around the country to sign a pledge to “stand against (homosexuality) or (LGBTQ) by ethical, peaceful and religious means” and to demand “abolition of the homosexuality law.”

It was not clear what law the pledge was referring to. Iraq does not have a law that explicitly criminalizes homosexuality, although it has one that outlaws “immodest acts,” which Human Rights Watch has described as a “a vague provision that could be used to target sexual and gender minorities.”

Al-Sadr’s proclamation comes amid a World Cup in Qatar that has drawn international scrutiny to LGBTQ rights there and in the region more generally. Qatar, where gay sex is illegal, faced intense international scrutiny and criticism around the games, including questions over whether LGBTQ visitors would feel safe and welcome. Some fans were barred from bringing items with rainbow colors, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, into stadiums.

The Gulf nation has said all are welcome, including LGBTQ fans, but that visitors should respect the nation’s culture.

Some of those who heeded al-Sadr’s call on Friday alluded to the World Cup culture wars.

In Kufa — a town in al-Sadr’s home province of Najaf province — hundreds lined up to sign the pledge on Friday. Kazem al-Husseini, imam of a local mosque, denied that the campaign was prompted by the World Cup, noting that al-Sadr had made similar statements previously. But he added that “at the World Cup there were attempts to promote this issue by Westerners who came to the (games).”

“There is a fear that the West is putting pressure on the Arab and Islamic regimes to legitimize same-sex marriage in the constitutions and laws so that they try to normalize this perversion,” he said.

In Baghdad’s Sadr City, Ibrahim al-Jabri, who also signed the pledge, said he is standing against the “corruptions that came to us from Europe and elsewhere, what they call freedoms. We also have the freedom to reject falsehood, to reject corruption.”

Despite the campaign’s nominal commitment to non-violence, LGBTQ people in Iraq fear that it will lead to more harassment and abuse in a country where their identity already puts them in danger.

A Human Rights Watch report released earlier this year accused armed groups in Iraq of abducting, raping, torturing, and killing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people with impunity. The Iraqi government, it says, has failed to hold perpetrators accountable.

The report released by the New York-based organization in collaboration with Iraqi rights group IraQueer also accused Iraqi police and security forces of being often complicit in compounding anti-LGBTQ violence and of arresting individuals “due to non-conforming appearance.”

“Attacks against LGBT people in Iraq have long been a political tactic,” said Rasha Younes, an LGBTQ rights researcher with the group said in an emailed statement. Public speeches like al-Sadr’s “have served to undermine LGBT rights and fuel violence against LGBT Iraqis, who already face killings, abductions, torture, and sexual violence by armed groups with impunity,” she added.

A university student in Najaf who identifies as queer and who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety, said that despite not being openly LGBTQ, they have been frequently harassed in the street for wearing clothes in colors and styles that do not fit local conservative norms.

Al-Sadr’s recent “hate speech” makes them more fearful, given the past acts of violence by his followers, the student said.

“I was thinking that I would wait until I graduated from the university and then go to Europe with a study visa, but now … I am thinking of taking precautions in case of any emergency event so I flee to the nearest safe place,” they said.

Russia Will Build Up Her Nuclear Horn: Revelation 16

Russia to bolster its nuclear weapons ‘infrastucture’

Wed, November 30, 2022 at 5:42 AM

STORY: Shoigu said in televised comments that the Russia would also work to improve the combat capabilities of its missile forces and that facilities were being built to accommodate new missile systems.

President Vladimir Putin has placed territory seized by Russia in Ukraine under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella, warning that he is ready to defend Russia’s “territorial integrity” by all available means. The United States says it has warned Russia over the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

Russia and the United States were due to hold talks in Cairo this week on their existing New START treaty, which limits the number of warheads each can deploy.

But Moscow pulled out on the eve of the meeting, accusing the United States of toxic anti-Russian behavior and trying to manipulate the treaty to its advantage.

US, Russia & France Are ‘Pushing’ Germany Towards Becoming a Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

US, Russia & France Are ‘Pushing’ Germany Towards Nukes; Berlin Drafting Its 1st Ever National Security Strategy

ByEurAsian Times Desk

November 21, 2022

Among its other fallouts, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has energized the Atlantic Alliance (Europe on one side of the Ocean and the US on the other) like never before in the post–Cold War era. Some pundits say that the alliance under the United States’ leadership may have reached its peak.

But at the same time, the two foremost powers of Europe – France and Germany – seem very particular about the importance of “strategic autonomy” and lessening Europe’s dependence on the US for its security by building the prowess of their militaries.

And here, the significant trend is the growing recognition of the need to develop and strengthen “European Nuclear Weapons.”

The capture of the US House of Representatives by the Republicans and the announcement of former President Donald Trump for the Presidency in 2024 have further strengthened this trend of ‘autonomy’ in both Germany and France.

They are mindful of the Trump Presidency’s repeated admonishment to European countries for not sharing enough for their security at the cost of American taxpayers.

As Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, apprehends, the Republicans will again ask why Americans should pay more than Ukraine’s neighbors.

All told, while the US has already spent billions of dollars and is committed to more than $40 billion in military aid for Ukraine, Europe has pledged only half that.

French President Macron’s Stance For The Nation’s Future

Against this backdrop, one may see the timing of French President Emmanuel Macron’s unveiling on November 9 of France’s “national strategic review,” meant to define how the country’s defense will look in 2030.

Macron said France wants to be an “independent, respected, agile power at the heart of European strategic autonomy” with strong links to the Atlantic alliance.

He added that France wanted to focus on boosting the European Union’s defense capacity building, lessening the dependence of the bloc of 27 nations’ security dependence on the US and NATO.

Of course, Macron has consistently argued the above theme of Europe building its strength. After interviewing him, the Economist magazine wrote, “Europe has become dependent on others for too much—from its ability to innovate to military heft and even food.

In a world led by unreliable folk like Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, that set his nerves jangling. Europe, in Mr. Macron’s jargon, needs strategic autonomy. That pitch for greater sovereignty encompasses everything from more defense spending to Europe coming up with its tech giants and much else besides.”

Importantly, in his “national strategic review,” the French President has insisted that a “credible, modern” nuclear deterrence is the key. After BREXIT, France became the only EU country with nuclear weapons. “Our nuclear forces contribute through their existence to the security of France and Europe,” he said.

But, and it is exceptionally significant, Macron also made it clear that “a potential nuclear ballistic attack from Russia in the region would not bring any nuclear response from Paris.” He said that France’s doctrine “is based on what we call the fundamental interests of the nation. They would not at all be at stake” in such a situation.

In other words, Macron says that the French nuclear weapons are for France only. And this, in turn, seems to have revived a debate in Germany about developing a nuclear deterrent of its own.

This is an issue that few in Germany wanted to discuss until recently, given its history and aversion to all things nuclear. All the more so after the 2021 general elections that ended a 16-year-long streak of conservative governments under Angela Merkel.

The country today has a government of a broad coalition of three parties from the left and the right – the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens. Both the SPD and the Left Greens, particularly the latter, are big-time votaries of nuclear disarmament and the closure of even civilian nuclear plants.

The last time it was in the government (1988), the Greens party had argued strongly to replace NATO with a European peace order. Even during election campaigns last year, the Greens had proposed a Germany free of nuclear weapons.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed all that. The German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), has not only pledged to spend at least two percent of a country’s gross domestic product for defense purposes but also supported the sharing of NATO’s nuclear weaponry on German soil.

Germany Leans Toward Nuclear Weapons

Reportedly, the German government is now drafting a first-ever national security strategy, which is expected to be made public early next year, and will talk of retaining a credible nuclear deterrence through Germany’s NATO membership.

The public debate at present in Germany also shows that as the international security environment deteriorates, military options and new nuclear armaments are becoming more attractive among political leaders.

Even otherwise, in a June 2022 poll, most interviewees supported hosting US nuclear weapons in Germany. This starkly contrasted with previous years when many Germans in polls favored removing these weapons from the country.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Of course, under the previous German government of Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), there were calls for a “Euro-deterrent” (independent of US nuclear weapons through NATO).

The leading defense expert of the Christian Democrats in the Bundestag, Roderich Kiesewetter, made this case. And Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with then Germany’s ruling party, had elaborated this line of thinking.

This “Euro deterrent” by its advocates did not necessarily mean that Germany would make nuclear weapons in violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT). It meant supporting and financing those European countries that already had nuclear weapons – France and the United Kingdom.

“My idea is to build on the existing weapons in Great Britain and France,” Kiesewetter argued while acknowledging that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could preclude its participation.

Kiesewetter’s thesis had four ingredients: “a French pledge to commit its weapons to a common European defense, German financing to demonstrate the program’s collective nature, a joint command, and a plan to place French warheads in other European countries.”

This thesis of a “Euro-deterrent,” provided by the French strategic forces, is being reasserted today by Friedrich Merz, the leader of the CDU. His party colleague and head of the conservative European People’s Party in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, has even proposed that Germany fund the French “force de frappe.”

However, the problem with the German idea of a “Euro-deterrent” has met a significant setback, and that is the irony, with the latest French national strategic review and President Macron’s announcement that the French deterrent is there to protect and defend French territory, and does not extend to its European partners.

And this, in turn, may lead to the revival of the public demand that the country should have its nuclear weapons. Germany had a discussion in the late 1960s about whether it should have a nuclear force, something that then Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss had strongly advocated.

As Stephen F Szabo, Adjunct Professor at the BMW Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University, and author of “Germany, Russia and the Rise of Geo-economics,” writes, “A nuclear North Korea, a nuclear-curious Iran, and the prospect of Japan and South Korea becoming nuclear powers begs the question: Why should Germany stay behind given its power and centrality to European security?”

A pertinent question, indeed!

  • Author and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda has been commenting on politics, foreign policy on strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.

Iraq Pushes Back the Iranian Horn: Daniel 8

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran Nov. 29, 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran Nov. 29, 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout)

New Iraqi Prime Minister Tells Iran’s Supreme Leader that Baghdad Will Stop Attacks Against It

November 30, 2022 10:14 PM

Iraq’s new prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, met Iran’s top leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during his first important trip abroad since being named to head the government by the Iraqi parliament.

Sudani told journalists in Tehran after meeting Khamenei, that Iraq would not allow any attacks on its neighbor from inside its territory and that its security forces are being deployed along the two countries’ common border.

He said that his government is committed to enforcing the Iraqi constitution and preventing any groups or parties from damaging Iran’s security and that Iraq’s national security advisor will meet with his Iranian counterpart to coordinate operations on the ground.

Sudani added that Iraq considers dialogue and mutual comprehension to be the best policy to solve problems on the ground.


Iran Bolsters Border Security to Prevent ‘Infiltration’

Hussein Allawi, a top adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV that Sudani’s top priorities in his meetings with Iran’s leaders are to have detailed and sincere talks that will not drag out for a long period of time that cover the issues of Iran cutting off the flow of water to Iraq and Iran’s recent bombardment of Iraqi territory.

The prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan visited Baghdad recently to meet with Sudani and coordinate the deployment of Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along Iran’s border to prevent any infiltration or attacks on Iran and any further Iranian military response to such attacks.

Iraqi media reported that Sudani also discussed Iran’s supplying of gas and electricity to Iraq, in addition to trade issues and joint oil and gas exploration along the two country’s border.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA that relations between Iraq and Iran are in total disequilibrium and that Prime Minister Sudani is a political ally of Iran who is going to Tehran to give an account of his government’s actions.

He said that Iran worked to have Sudani named prime minister even though allies of the Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won parliamentary elections. He said they allegedly threatened Sadr and his family, which lives in Iran, to desist from choosing a prime minister, so that Iran could have influence over the government in Baghdad. Sudani, he argued, is visiting Iran like a favorite son returning home.

Abou Diab stressed that Iraq has absolutely no leverage in its dealings with Iran and will have to accept whatever Iran decides, due to the totally unbalanced relations between the two countries, both economically and politically.

Iranian media reported that Vice President Mohammad Mokhber told Sudani that countries in the region must solve their security problems among themselves, rather than resorting to outside parties. Iranian officials have made similar statements in the past.

The Cost of 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.

Iraq’s Political Crisis, the Antichrist and a Divided Shia House

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    Iraq’s Political Crisis, Moqtada al-Sadr and a Divided Shia House

    This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Iraq expert Lahib Higel about the crisis in Iraq, with parties unable to form a government almost a year after elections and the deadliest clashes the Iraqi capital has seen in years erupting in late August.

    Almost a year since Iraq’s parliamentary elections in October 2021, the country’s political parties have struggled to form a new government. Despite doing well in the vote, the Sadrist Movement, led by powerful Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, has been thwarted in its attempts to build a governing coalition, thanks to a decision by Iraq’s Supreme Court. The court required a two-thirds quorum to convene parliament to select a president, who in turn would nominate the prime minister. In protest, al-Sadr threatened to quit politics and withdrew his deputies from parliament. Days later, his supporters, who had occupied parliament and entered the presidential palace, clashed with paramilitary groups loyal to al-Sadr’s Shia rivals. The fighting was the worst the capital Baghdad had seen in years. Violence has abated for now, but it is far from clear whether Sadr and his rivals can reach agreement on a way forward.

    In our first episode of Season 3 of Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood is joined by Crisis Group’s Senior Iraq Analyst Lahib Higel to make sense of the political turmoil engulfing the country. They talk about how the crisis came about and why Sadr’s attempts to form a government have failed. They discuss the opposition he faces from his main political rivals, the coalition of Shia parties known as the “Coordination Framework”, which is backed by Iran, and look at Tehran’s hand in the crisis and Washington’s influence on Iraqi politics more broadly. They talk about the prospects for rapprochement between al-Sadr and his Shia rivals, as negotiations on a new government look set to resume amid calls for early elections. They also assess risks of another bout of fighting. 

    The Indian Point Plant Will Be Our Fukushima At The 6th Seal

    © Toru Hanai

    Nuclear threats in US worse than previously known — study

    Published time: 25 May, 2016 01:21

    © Toru Hanai / Reuters

    Conflicting with a prior industry study, a new analysis claims 96 nuclear facilities in the US are less safe than reported, citing risks such as terrorism and sabotage. The study says there remain lessons to be learned from the Fukushima disaster.

    Neglect of the risks posed by used reactor fuel, or spent nuclear fuel, contained in 96 aboveground, aquamarine pools could cost the US economy $700 billion, cause cancer in tens of thousands of people as well as compel the relocation of some 3.5 million people from an area larger than New Jersey, a study released May 20 finds.

    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s study, ‘Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of US Nuclear Plants,’ is the second installment of a two-part study ordered by Congress on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. It not only cites, but also outright challenges a 2014 study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US industry’s regulator and enforcer of safety standards.

    The spent fuel, The Academies’ study recommends, is safer in dry casks rather than pools, because of the risk of leaks, drawing water away from the irradiated nuclear rods. An accident, terrorist attack or malicious employee all pose greater dangers to the pools, the study says.

    Aside from calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to offer a better evaluation of the health risks posed, The Academies study conducted by 17 engineers, nuclear physicists and other scientists demands the commission fulfill a 10-year-old promise to put together an impartial review of the surveillance and security policies on spent nuclear fuel.

    “Even with the recommendations that the Academies’ board has put together,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Scott Burnell responded, “we continue to conclude that spent fuel is being stored safely and securely in the US.”

    “Nothing in the report causes immediate concern,” Burnell added, although the commission is planning a more formal follow-up later this year, according to The Center for Public Integrity.
    Congress felt compelled to fund the study on Japan’s natural-turned-nuclear disaster to help prevent a similar accident from occurring in the US. On March 11, 2011, the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima was thrashed by an earthquake and tsunami, leaving three reactors without power or coolants, which resulted in their radioactive cores melting down.

    Pure luck kept the disaster from becoming even worse, The Acadamies found. Instead of Daiichi’s highly radioactive rods being exposed to oxygen, which would have sent over 13 million people packing from as far as 177 miles south in Tokyo, a leak happened to be situated between a fuel rod pool and a reactor core, which sent just enough coolant to keep the vulnerable rods from rising above the water. In the end, 470,000 people were evacuated and the still ongoing cleanup is estimated to cost about $93 billion.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 2014 study put the highest odds of an earthquake happening near spent fuel storage at one in 10 million years, boasting that “spent fuel pools are likely to withstand severe earthquakes without leaking,” while the odds of a terrorist attack or internal subversion were deemed incalculable and left out of any risk assessment.

    Calling that cost-benefit analysis “deeply flawed,” The Academies panel member Frank von Hippel, also an emeritus professor and senior research physicist at Princeton University, complained that the commission’s study also left out the impact on property contamination in a 50-mile radius of an accident, tourism rates and the economy, The Center for Public Integrity reported.

    The new analysis also calls for new officially designated risk assessments of safety and financial impacts at the federal level as well as what improvements aboveground dry casks may bring compared to pools. The latter is estimated to cost upwards of $4 billion by the industry.

    Chinese Horn Spreads Her Nuclear Horn Westward: Daniel 7

    To assure second-strike capability, China’s nuclear strategy remains grounded in the use of SSBNs, as well as other and more diverse delivery platforms. This doctrine’s cornerstones remain no-first-use, minimum nuclear deterrence, counter-nuclear coercion, and limited nuclear deterrence. Without adequate force modernization and delivery mechanisms, China may face pressure to change its second-strike strategy to one of first-use. The deployment of SSBNs equipped with sophisticated JL-3 missiles demonstrates the importance of correctly balancing with the goal of maintaining peace.

    Chinese JL-3 nuclear missiles in the South China Sea (and why that matters)
    by Scott N. Romaniuk and Tobias Burgers
    Sydney, Australia (SPX) Nov 27, 2022

    Experimental Chinese military hardware from all branches of the armed forces was on display during the 2022 air show in Zhuhai. As part of its effort to modernise its regular military forces, China is developing several major nuclear weapons. One of these is the new Ju Lang-3 (Giant Wave-3 or JL-3) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which was recently sent to the South China Sea.

    China’s deployment of the JL-3 to the South China Sea has exacerbated the region’s instability and relations between China and the United States. Six of the PLAN’s Type 094 Jin-class SSBNs were outfitted with JL-3 missiles, according to the US Navy. If China has deployed its nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) into the South China Sea, its ballistic missiles will be substantially closer to the mainland United States, but it will also place numerous critical US bases and areas of interest under direct nuclear attack threat.

    Analysts and members of the security sector have long recognised that China’s increasingly sophisticated missiles and weapons would soon be able to reach the continental United States. The “killer” JL-3 can destroy targets from 10,000 kilometres. Some sources claim that the missiles’ range is even greater. Despite the missile’s enhanced range, it cannot strike any US mainland target unless an SSBN transports it to a suitable delivery location. However, the missile would encompass Australia, India, and American bases in the Indo-Pacific.

    Deploying missiles at distant or at least distant regions from the home country assures not just better strike reach, but also the country’s second-strike capabilities in the event of a nuclear attack. This ensures that even if American missiles hypothetically destroyed Chinese cities and missile silos, the Chinese could launch missiles from alternative locations and destroy American cities in retaliation. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) discourages a country from initiating a nuclear attack for the simple reason that it would not be able to avoid a nuclear response of equal or greater intensity.

    The JL-3 offers significant enhancements over its predecessor, the JL-2. Importantly, its enhanced range provides additional strike choices, including Honolulu as a potential target for missiles launched from Chinese SSBNs anywhere in the Western Pacific Ocean, just off China’s coast, or even from the safety of the Yellow Sea. China might potentially attack West Coast American cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. The US intelligence community is unknown as to how many Jin-class submarines are currently in service with the PLAN, but estimates there are approximately four. Each SSBN can transport twelve JL-3 SLBMs.

    Missiles for peace?
    According to some observers, this tactical deployment activity implies an intent to attack the United States. China’s deployment of missiles might be seen as both a deterrence and an attempt to offset the United States’ nuclear advantage over China. Due to America’s ballistic missile submarine presence in the Indo-Pacific and the region’s nuclear alliances and security arrangements, Chinese cities are already at risk of nuclear attack. This poses a major security problem for several reasons. Despite possessing fewer nuclear missiles than Russia, the United States’ arsenal is 10 times larger than China’s. To maintain a balance of power and security, China would need the same nuclear attack capability against all American cities.

    China is unlikely to seek to engage in an arms race with the United States or reduce its cities to ash; rather, the deployment of JL-3 SLBMs demonstrates China’s pursuit of security. China’s military strategy is based on the concept of “active defence,” yet its force modernization for what it believes a necessary force to protect China’s national security is insufficient. The development, building, and deployment of SSBNs and SLBMs in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Western Pacific Ocean, as well as further afield, reflect China’s defensive posture rather than efforts to increase its offensive capabilities.

    Despite official assertions to the contrary, China has the most active and diverse ballistic missile research and development programme of any state. Along with a whole new fleet of SSBNs, China is modernising its missiles, delivery systems, and platforms. However, one must recognise China’s geopolitical position as well as the reality that the US has fundamentally similar security objectives to China.

    To assure second-strike capability, China’s nuclear strategy remains grounded in the use of SSBNs, as well as other and more diverse delivery platforms. This doctrine’s cornerstones remain no-first-use, minimum nuclear deterrence, counter-nuclear coercion, and limited nuclear deterrence. Without adequate force modernization and delivery mechanisms, China may face pressure to change its second-strike strategy to one of first-use. The deployment of SSBNs equipped with sophisticated JL-3 missiles demonstrates the importance of correctly balancing with the goal of maintaining peace.

    Dr. Scott N. Romaniuk is a visiting fellow at the International Centre for Policing and Security, University of South Wales, U.K., and a non-resident expert at the Taiwan Center for Security Studies.

    Tobias Burgers is an assistant professor in the faculty of Social Studies at Fulbright University, Vietnam, and a CCRC fellow at the Cyber Civilization Research Center at Keio University.

    History Says Expect The Sixth Seal In New York (Revelation 6:12)


    History Says New York Is Earthquake Prone

    If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

    Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.

    According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

    A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

    Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

    There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

    There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

    “The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

    He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

    “Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

    Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

    “I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

    The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)