Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

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

NYCEM.org

New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation

New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation

If 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 Seismicity, Seismic Hazard, or Seismic Risk? 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.

This paper tries to bring into focus some of the seismological factors which are but one set of variables one needs for quantifying the earthquake loss potential in eastern U.S. urban regions. We use local and global analogs for illustrating possible scenario events in terms of risk. We also highlight some of the few local steps that have been undertaken towards mitigating against the eastern earthquake threat; and discuss priorities for future actions.

Rapprochement between Riyadh and Baghdad Won’t Last

Rapprochement between Riyadh and Baghdad can only be a good thing

Mina Al Oraibi

August 6, 2017

2017 has been a year of surprising headlines. Perhaps none more so than that of the visit of Moqtada Al Sadr, the Iraqi Shia cleric and leader of the populist Sadrist movement, to Jeddah last week. Greeted by Thamer Al Sabhan, the Saudi minister for Arabian Gulf affairs, who was withdrawn from Riyadh’s embassy in Baghdad last year due to heightened tensions between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Mr Al Sadr went on to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Although no media statements were given at the time, the picture of the two of them together spoke a thousand words. It reflected the possibility of the formulation of a new alliance in the region, with an active Saudi foreign policy in Iraq.

After years of fraught and disjointed ties, Riyadh and Baghdad are finding ways to engage with one another. Ironically, Mr Al Sabhan was withdrawn from Iraq due to his open criticism of the Popular Mobilisation Units last October, and was seen last week greeting Mr Al Sadr, the most outspoken critic of the Iranian-backed, state-mandated armed groups. An emergence of an alliance between those who want to limit Iran’s military influence in Iraq and find a framework to escape the sectarianism that is plaguing the region could be one of the Middle East’s most surprising and stabilising developments.

Mr Al Sadr’s trip comes after historic visits by officials from the two sides – starting with Adel Al Jubeir’s historic visit to Baghdad and culminating in Haider Al Abadi’s visit to Riyadh last May.

It would, of course, be naive to think that these visits alone will be able to heal the deep divides between the two nations. Momentum has now been built and needs to be solidified, before it unravels. Only two years earlier, when Saudi Arabia named its first ambassador to Baghdad in a quarter of a century, similar hopes were raised, only to be quickly dashed. However, this time the outreach is happening at the highest levels of Saudi decision-making.

Mistrust remains between the two countries, in part due to a severing of diplomatic relations after Saddam Hussein’s disastrous invasion of Kuwait 27 years ago. Official diplomatic exchanges were cut and many of Iraq’s then-opposition didn’t maintain the ties they fostered with Saudi officials during their years of exile.

Iranian Hegemony and the Hamas

Iran’s Zarif hosts Hamas officials

By TAMAR PILEGGI
August 7, 2017, 2:20 pm 1

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met on Monday with a delegation of officials from the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which has been struggling with the continued erosion of its foreign backing.

During the meeting, Zarif reiterated Tehran’s support for the Palestinians as “principled and unchangeable,” according to reports in Iranian state media.

The delegation of diaspora-based members of Hamas’s politburo was visiting Iran to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday.

Iran was once Hamas’s key political and financial backer, but ties began to unravel in 2012, largely due to differences over the civil war in Syria.

In May, Iran agreed in principle to renew its funding for Hamas, and senior Palestinian officials were said to be traveling to Tehran to repair relations.

Last week, Palestinian Authority officials claimed Iran provided aid to Palestinian protesters demonstrating against Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount last month. The aid reportedly included boxes of food and drink, which came with a flyer attached depicting the Dome of the Rock and a quote attributed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reading, “With the help of God, Palestine will be freed. Jerusalem is ours.”

A PA intelligence official told an Israeli newspaper at the time it was clear the Iranian regime was behind the aid packages, and estimated the initiative cost several million shekels. The move angered the PA leadership, with the unnamed official telling the Israel Hayom daily it was a mistake to allow Iran to reach into the West Bank with its “tentacles.”

Monday’s meeting in Tehran comes as Qatar, one of the other few foreign backers of Hamas, continues to face massive pressure from its Gulf neighbors to cut ties with the terrorist group. If it does, the result could be disastrous for the Gaza Strip, a territory Hamas has ruled for a decade.

توزیع شیرینی و بسته های غذایی مردم ایران بین جوانان مقاوم فلسطینی در مقابل #مسجد_الاقصی
همراه با جمله رهبری:#فلسطین_سوف_تحریر#القدس_لنا pic.twitter.com/s5UcfRUcxt

— امیر طاها صالحی (@Taha_salehi20) July 29, 2017

Qatar has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in roads, housing and a major hospital in the tiny enclave. Its infrastructure projects are one of the few job-creators in a beleaguered economy.

Gaza already suffers from an Israeli-Egyptian blockade — imposed to prevent the group from importing weaponry — economic misery and chronic electricity shortages. For Hamas, Qatar’s money pumping into the economy is a vital lifeline bolstering its rule.

Closer ties between Hamas and Iran are hardly likely to mollify the Gulf states and Egypt. One of the main factors driving the crisis is Qatar’s close ties to Tehran and fears of expanding Iranian influence further destabilizing the region.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

We Have Already Committed Political Suicide

http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/161206095438-01-hassan-rouhani-donald-trump-split-exlarge-169.jpgIran nuclear deal: Rouhani warns US against ‘political suicide’

Media captionMr Rouhani said Iran would “respond to violations”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned US President Donald Trump he risks political suicide if he scraps the nuclear deal with Tehran.

At his swearing-in ceremony, Mr Rouhani said Iran would continue to abide by the terms of the deal as long as the other signatories do the same.

The White House says Iran is complying with the deal but Mr Trump says Iran is violating its spirit.

Last month the US state department announced new sanctions on the country.

The US says the sanctions relate to Iran’s missile programme and alleged support for terror groups but Tehran says they violate the nuclear deal.

Mr Rouhani – being sworn in for a second term after winning presidential elections in May – said he had nothing to do with “newcomers to the world of politics” and urged “old-timers” to see the nuclear deal as an example of how to manage international relations.

“Those who want to tear apart the JCPOA [nuclear deal] should know that they would also be tearing apart their political life,” he said in a ceremony broadcast live on state TV.

He accused the US of a “lack of commitment” to the deal and said it was an “unreliable partner”.

Meanwhile Iranian officials have been urging Europe not to side with the Trump administration.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Mr Trump was “trying to destroy the nuclear accord at Iran’s expense” and said “Europe should be conscious of this”, private Tasnim news agency said.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asked Europe to “take a more independent policy towards Iran”, state media reported.

Mr Rouhani won 57% of the vote in May’s election after promising to create jobs and build bridges with the outside world.