Babylon the Great’s Flawed Nukes

As the Pentagon begins the 2017 Nuclear Posture Review a great deal of focus will be placed on how to modernize each leg of the nuclear triad, which on all fronts is aging and must be replaced. Each country that has nuclear weapons in its arsenal has started a nuclear weapons program or modernized their programs and delivery systems with the exception of the United States. The United States is a part of an international community with a dependency on these weapons that is not going away. Therefore, the nation must maintain a safe and reliable nuclear triad to deter against the only existential threat to the nation.

The portion of the nuclear triad many forget when discussing nuclear triad modernization is the nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) systems. These systems are the “glue” that ties the triad together. They allow the U.S. president to communicate with his senior advisors, monitor potential attacks on the nation and—if necessary—order the release of a nuclear weapon. The NC3 system is essential in ensuring nuclear weapons can be safely and reliably released when ordered, regardless of the nature of the crisis or the damage incurred by the nuclear forces.

The majority of the nation’s NC3 systems are maintained and operated by the Air Force. It is made up of a collection of systems and platforms to achieve its goal of allowing for senior-level decision on nuclear-weapons employment. The systems link the fixed National Military Command Center located in the Pentagon and the fixed Global Operation Center at Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska with the mobile command centers located on an airborne E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) or an airborne Boeing E-6B Mercury “Take Charge and Move Out” Air Command Post. These facilities and aircraft also allow senior leaders to monitor world events and act upon them outside of a nuclear crisis.

The NC3 system does have redundant components, but they are primarily designed to ensure the nation’s nuclear arsenal can be employed even if the fixed-command centers are destroyed. For example, the E-6B can control the launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from the air while simultaneously ordering a submarine or bomber to launch a nuclear weapon. Also, an E-4B NAOC aircraft is continuously ready to launch within minutes from randomly selected bases to ensure key national-security leaders survive and can continue to make decisions about how to deploy the U.S. military. Finally, other NC3 systems use a combination of satellites, radars and processing systems to identify launches and missile attacks that could be directed toward North America or one of the U.S. allies around the world. Recently, the functionality of this system is displayed as it is used in monitoring missile launches from North Korea.

The reason the United States has a nuclear triad is to ensure no adversary can eliminate the nation’s entire nuclear arsenal during an attack. The adversary is deterred from attacking the United States because the enemy must realize the United States will always have a means to strike back with the devastating force of nuclear weapons. However, without the NC3 system working properly, the United States does not have a functioning nuclear triad, and that counterstrike ability is lost. The NC3 system functions are vital to ensure the United States maintains its capacity for deterrence.

Like all the legs of the nuclear triad, these systems are old and outdated for the current world they operate in, and must be modernized or replaced. Gen. John Hyten, head of Strategic Command, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on March 8, 2017, and said, “The nation’s NC3 systems are facing obsolescence and component age-out challenges. These systems are not only essential for providing early warning and time-critical information to the National Command Authority for decisionmaking, but also to effectively direct triad forces in response to a strategic crisis. A twenty-first century architecture is needed to address potential adversary’s increasingly complex and capable threats.” During that same hearing, Gen. Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, stated, “Many of our NC3 systems are well past their lifespans. Therefore, we are investing in several programs to support this connective architecture, ranging from communications systems improvements to upgraded digital processing and display improvement.”

The investment General Wilson spoke of involves modernization of the E-4B NAOC aircraft, which began its role in 1980, improving early-warning radar systems, and upgrading the communication systems that link the triad together. Theses modernization efforts will cost the Defense Department approximately $40.5 billion over the next decade. These modernizations to the NC3 systems is small compared to other planned nuclear-modernization efforts for each of the other legs of the nuclear triad.

1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The Coney Island earthquake of 1884

Seismograph of New York Earthquake 1884

Seismograph of New York Earthquake 1884

January 20, 2010

New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.

But on August 10, 1884, a more powerful earthquake hit. Estimated from 4.9 to 5.5 in magnitude, the tremor made houses shake, chimneys fall, and residents wonder what the heck was going on, according to a New York Times article two days later.

The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.

It wasn’t the first moderate quake, and it won’t be the last. In a 2008 Columbia University study, seismologists reported that the city is crisscrossed with several fault lines, one along 125th Street. 

[Headline of The New York Times, August 12, 1884]

With that in mind, New Yorkers should expect a 5.0 or higher earthquake centered here every 100 years, the seismologists say.

Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.

Trump’s Nepotism Backfires

‘This is off the map’: Former intelligence officials say the reported Kushner-Russia plan is unlike anything they’ve ever seen

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner listens during President Donald Trump’s joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 17, 2017.Jim Bourg/Reuters

Former intelligence officials described Jared Kushner’s reported attempt to set up a backchannel line of communication with Russia last December that would bypass the US’ national security and intelligence apparatus as “off the map,” “explosive,” and “extremely dangerous.”

Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said during a press conference on Saturday that, if Kushner did try to set up such a back channel, “I would not be concerned about it.”

“We have back-channel communications with a number of countries,” McMaster said. “So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner.”

Scott Olson, a recently retired FBI agent who ran counterintelligence operations and spent more than 20 years at the bureau, agreed that it is not unusual for low-level staffers to work between governments and bypass bureaucracy to exchange views and build consensus in advance of higher-level negotiations.

But what Kushner appears to have done is “substantially different, in two ways,” he said.

“First, he is not seeking a back-channel for a low-level staff exchange,” Olson said. “He wants high-level direct-contact communication. This is extremely dangerous because it results in verbal (and therefore undocumented and unwitnessed) agreements, which are binding on governments. Free governments do not work this way. They can’t. If they do, they are no longer free.”

He continued:

“Second, he asked to use a foreign government’s communication facilities. This is way beyond a private server. This is doing US government diplomatic business over a foreign government’s communication system. It’s not an off-the-record conversation. It’s a conversation recorded by the opposing party. This shows a staggering lack of understanding of the US and its place in the world. Actually, it shows a staggering lack of common sense. When he negotiates a business deal does he use the other guy’s notes?”

Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser, was willing to go extraordinary lengths to establish a secret line of communication between the Trump administration and Russian government officials, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Kushner met with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December at Trump Tower, where he floated the possibility of setting up a secure line of communication between the Trump transition team and Russia – and having those talks take place in Russian diplomatic facilities in the US. That would essentially conceal their interactions from US government scrutiny, The Post wrote, citing US intelligence officials briefed on the matter.

Jared KushnerWhite House Senior Advisor and son-in-law to the president Jared Kushner (L) joins other cabinet members and senior members of the Trump administration during a news conference. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The New York Times confirmed the Post’s story late Friday night, adding that the planned purpose for the secure channel was to discuss military strategies in Syria.

If true, “this actually is even more disturbing,” said Susan Hennessey, a former attorney for the National Security Agency. “Why in God’s name would they want to conceal plans on Syria strategy from the US military?”

“Even accepting their Syria spin, what Kushner tried to do was blind the US government on incredibly important national security matters,” Hennessey added. “That’s not how it works. That’s not the behavior of someone who recognizes America is still, at its core, a common endeavor.”

Kislyak reportedly passed along Kushner’s request to Moscow. The Post’s Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller reported that the Russian ambassador was “taken aback” by Kushner’s request, because it posed significant risks for both the Trump team and the Kremlin.

“This was probably as off-putting to Kislyak as it is for you and me,” Michael Hayden, who served as the director of the NSA and the CIA, told CNN on Saturday. “This is off the map. I know of no other experience like this in our history, and certainly not within my life experience.”

“What manner of ignorance, hubris, suspicion, and contempt [for the previous administration] would you have to have to think doing this with the Russian ambassador would be a good or appropriate idea?” Hayden added.

Kushner, who did not disclose the meeting on his security clearance form, is now under scrutiny in the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s election interference, and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to undermine Hillary Clinton.

GOOD GRIEF. This is serious,” Robert Deitz, a veteran of the NSA and the CIA who worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations, said in an email of the latest developments.

“This raises a bunch of problematic issues. First, of course, is the Logan Act, which prohibits private individuals conducting negotiations on behalf of the US government with foreign governments. Second, it tends to reinforce the notion that Trump’s various actions about Comey do constitute obstruction.”

“In other words, there is now motive added to conduct,” Deitz said. “This is a big problem for the President.”

‘You are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor’

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey earlier this month as Comey was overseeing the FBI’s investigation. Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt shortly thereafter that “the Russia thing” was on his mind when he fired Comey, leading lawmakers and legal experts to question whether Trump obstructed justice – a criminal and impeachable offense.

Kushner was among those who pressured Trump to fire Comey, according to The New York Times.

“If you are in a position of public trust, and you talk to, meet, or collude with a foreign power” while trying to subvert normal state channels, “you are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor,” said Glenn Carle, a former top counterterrorism official at the CIA for more than two decades. “That is what I spent my life getting foreigners to do with me, for the US government.”

Carle said that if the Kushner-Kislyak meeting and reported discussion were an isolated incident, it could be spun as “normal back-channel communication arrangements among states.”

But Kislyak and the Trump campaign interacted extensively, and Trump associates either kept those interactions secret from US officials or misrepresented them. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign on February 13 amid questions about his communication with Kislyak, also spoke with the Russian ambassador about setting up a secret backchannel during the transition, according to Reuters.

Trump reportedly pressured Comey, in a meeting one day after Flynn resigned, to drop the bureau’s investigation into his foreign contacts and payments.

“We know about the multiple meetings of Trump entourage members with Russian intel-related individuals,” Carle said. “There will be many others that we do not know about.”

‘A huge red flag’

Mark Kramer, the program director of the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, said Saturday that Kushner’s reported backchannel plan is “a huge red flag.”

“If the report accurately recounts what Kislyak transmitted, and if Kislyak’s transmission accurately reflects what Kushner was seeking, then it’s a very damaging piece of evidence,” Kramer said.

He added: “A back channel in itself would not be suspicious, but a back channel relying solely on Russia’s facilities would be egregiously unwise and dangerous. It’s a huge red flag, and it’s not surprising that the FBI investigators would have been taken aback by it.”

Carle said that while this reported back channel is “explosive,” it is worth questioning who tipped off The Post to the story. The Post said it received an anonymous letter in December tipping it off to the Kushner-Kislyak meeting.

Donald Trump Sergey Lavrov Sergey KislyakU.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, next to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP

Additionally, as a longtime diplomat, Kislyak would have known that his communications were being monitored. So the possibility remains, Carle said, that the Russians used the meeting with Kushner to distract the intelligence community and the public from potentially more incriminating relationships between the campaign and Moscow.

Indeed, “FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump,” Reuters reported on Friday, citing a current US law enforcement official.

Kushner met with the CEO of Russia’s state-owned Vnesheconombank, Sergey Gorkov, in December 2016, The New York Times reported in late March. The meeting – which had not previously been disclosed and came on the heels of Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower – caught the eye of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation Russia’s election interference.

Kislyak reportedly orchestrated the meeting between Kushner and Gorkov, who was appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2016 as part of a restructuring of the bank’s management team, Bloomberg reported last year.

The Kremlin and the White House have provided conflicting explanations for why Kushner met with Gorkov.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, in testimony last week before the House Intelligence Committee, said that “the information and intelligence” he saw before leaving office in January “revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.”

“It raised questions in my mind about whether the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of such individuals,” he said.

What Antiballistic System?

As North Korea claims missile progress, Pentagon plans ICBM interceptor test

As North Korea makes headway in developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the US mainland, the Pentagon is preparing to test its missile interceptor – which has a very inconsistent record, APA reports quoting Sputnik.

First developed during the Cold War as part of former US President Ronald Reagan’s multi-billion dollar “Star Wars” effort to counter Soviet ballistic missiles, the US missile interceptor has only had nine successful tests among the 17 conducted since 1999.

After a recent successful missile test, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the US mainland was in “sighting range for a strike,” and claimed that they have missiles capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, though this has not been verified.

Earlier this week, US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart warned a Senate hearing that if Pyongyang’s activities aren’t reined in, “the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” calling such an event “inevitable” if action isn’t taken.

Though the Pentagon has a number of missile defense systems, only one of them, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, is designed to counter a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This system is also the least reliable, according to critics.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has scheduled the test for Tuesday, when a target will be launched from the Kwajalein Atoll test range in the Pacific. The intention is that the missile will be met by an interceptor launched from an underground chamber at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Missile Defense Agency spokesman Christopher Johnson explained that the target will be custom made to resemble an ICBM, meaning it will travel at a quicker pace than test missiles used in the past.

“We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the program matures and advances,” Johnson said on Friday. “Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”

There has been much saber rattling between Washington and Pyongyang, with the two countries trading barbs and shows of force. North Korea refuses to halt its nuclear weapons and missile testing despite international calls for denuclearization and sanctions from the United Nations.

The US has riled Pyongyang by sending a Navy carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson along with the USS Michigan, a Tomahawk missile-armed nuclear powered submarine, near its waters.

The Problem With Trump’s Big Mouth

Has there ever been a more indiscreet world leader than Donald Trump? We knew in the campaign that he had a big mouth when he was caught on tape bragging about assaulting women and getting away with it, but very few people would have predicted that this propensity to discuss private matters in wildly inappropriate contexts would extend to classified intelligence.

After all,  month after month he excoriated Hillary Clinton for allowing some confidential emails to be inadvertently sent over her personal email server when she was secretary of state. He said it disqualified her, in fact, and “she should not have been allowed” to run for president because of it.

Trump told Clinton to her face that if he were president she would be in jail:

Well, Donald Trump is the president now and several different government entities are investigating his campaign and administration. And he’s been shamelessly blurting out highly sensitive intelligence to foreign adversaries, unstable tyrants and even the press without a second thought.

Trump felt the need to meet with the Russian ambassador and the foreign minister at the behest of Vladimir Putin and in the course of their conversation he bragged that he had “great intel” and proceeded to expose a foreign ally’s asset by giving them  highly sensitive “code-word” intelligence without the ally’s permission. As former CIA chief John Brennan explained in testimony  before Congress this week, while it’s true that a president has the authority to declassify information, he is supposed to follow protocols:

The first [protocol] is that this kind of intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors. It’s shared through intelligence channels. The second is that, before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it has to go back to the originating agency to ensure that revealing it won’t compromise sources, methods and future collection capabilities.

There has never been a need for a protocol to guide a proudly ignorant, inexperienced president with a pathological need to brag to everyone he meets, since nobody anticipated such a thing before. Now we know.

And nobody anticipated that this same president would visit the foreign ally he exposed and confirm to reporters from all over the world that it had been the source of that intelligence. But Trump did that too.

And while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on a good face for the cameras, the effect on the relationship has been profound. After the breach was reported, BuzzFeed spoke to two Israeli intelligence officials who said that this was their worst fear confirmed. One explained, “There has to be trust for this sort of arrangement. I cannot speak for Israel’s entire security apparatus, but I would not trust a partner who shared intelligence without coordinating it with us first.”

Foreign Policy reported that the Israeli defense minister admitted that the two countries have since revised their “protocols” and when asked what they were he tartly replied, “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” A certain president shouldn’t talk about such things in closed rooms either, since he is incapable of understanding protocols for anything.

But that wasn’t the only report we had this week of Donald Trump’s loose lips putting national security in danger. The Intercept released a transcript of the Trump’s recent phone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (I wrote about it here.) The actual words were worse than we knew. Not only did the president effusively compliment Duterte on his murderous drug war, he also insulted former President Barack Obama for failing to be equally impressed.

The two leaders  discussed the threat from North Korea, mused about the mental state of Kim Jong-un and batted around the idea that nuclear war might end up being necessary. Trump said he hoped the Chinese would take care of it but promised that if they didn’t the U.S. would. Then he shared some military secrets with a foreign leader widely seen as unbalanced and untrustworthy:

We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but [Kim] could be crazy so we will see what happens.

According to BuzzFeed, the Pentagon was in shock:

“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movements secret is key to their mission.

While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that, in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of force. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.

Trump, Duterte, Kim Jong-un and nuclear weapons. What could go wrong?

There are dozens of reasons why America’s allies and adversaries alike are starting to panic a little bit about Donald Trump serving as the supposed leader of the free world. Until now, despite major misgivings, it was not entirely clear whether Trump might grow into the job or whether American institutions and expertise would be able to guide his behavior. After four months it seems clear that’s not as easy as everyone hoped.

In this context, the fact that U.S. officials apparently leaked the identity of the accused Manchester bomber to the press before U.K. authorities were ready to do so was received with sharp irritation by the British government. If this had happened under any other administration, the misunderstanding between two close allies would likely have been handled quietly. But it’s obvious that the gusher of leaks throughout the government and at high levels of the White House has other countries spooked.

Along with the president’s ongoing inability to understand and respect the seriousness of classified intelligence, this lack of trust in the United States government’s basic competence and predictability is making the world order as we’ve known it for the last 60 years suddenly feel very unstable. It will be interesting to see whether the NATO meeting being held over the next few days can provide any sense of reassurance.

Authorities Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Rev 6:12)

US Raises Threat of Quake but Lowers Risk for Towers

New York Times

Earthquake!

Earthquake!

By SAM ROBERTS

JULY 17, 2014
Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”

The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.

“The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,” the agency said, citing the magnitude 5.8 quake that struck Virginia in 2011.

Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.

“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”

Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”

He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.

The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.

A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.

“Could there be a magnitude 6 in New York?” Mr. Armbruster said. “In Virginia, in a 300 year history, 4.8 was the biggest, and then you have a 5.8. So in New York, I wouldn’t say a 6 is impossible.”

Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.”

Trump Is Already Too Late (Daniel 8:4)

President Trump insisted Monday that Iran must “never, ever” come close to acquiring nuclear weapons, and called on Israel to join the U.S. in resisting a nuclear Iran shortly after his arrival in Jerusalem for his first visit to Israel as president.
“The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, never ever, and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately,” Trump said during a joint appearance with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.”There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran, and it is indeed a threat, there is no question about that,” Trump added.Israel strongly opposed the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran. The finalization of that deal in 2015 dealt a blow to U.S.-Israeli relations.

Trump has already delivered harsh criticism to Iran and its destabilizing activities throughout the region on the first few days of his trip. On Monday, he told Rivlin that Iran’s aggression has caused other countries in the Middle East to gravitate toward Israel.

After his joint appearance with Rivlin, Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, headed to a visit at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a historic church in the Old City of Jerusalem. Trump is also slated on Monday to visit the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site that is also located in the Old City.

Islam Controls Iran (Daniel 8)

Khamenei: It does not matter who will become president, the winner is the regime

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that it is not important who will become president after Iran’s presidential election on Friday. He believed it was only important that Wilayat al-Faqih system should win by raising the level of voter participation in the ballot.

According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, Khamenei stated in a speech on Wednesday, “In the end, a candidate will get a majority of votes and win, but the real winner in this process, regardless of who wins the majority of votes, are the Iranian people – and the main winner is the regime of the Islamic Republic.”

“The Iranian leader criticized the attack of candidates on each other during the debates and how they exposed corruption files, considering that, “some of the things that were said are not appropriate to the Iranian people,” stressing that, “everyone has to observe the law and be disciplined in the electoral process.”

Khamenei warned of unrest during the election, saying, “It is likely that someone will try to violate the law, but we trust in the capacity of our security system. We have to be careful, for the Iranian people have so many enemies.”

The Iranian leader often saw the elections as a renewal of allegiance by the people to Wilayat al-Faqih, even though there is no candidate who comes from the popular groups, that is, outside the system of the regime and its political groups.

In spite of this atmosphere, many officials of the Iranian regime fear the recurrence of the events of 2009, when millions of people protested, initially against what was said to be a falsification of the results of the Iranian elections, but soon turned into a popular uprising against the entire regime. The uprising was brutally suppressed by the Revolutionary Guard, the Basij, and the security and intelligence services.

Authorities Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquake

US Raises Threat of Quake but Lowers Risk for Towers

New York Times
Earthquake!

By SAM ROBERTS

JULY 17, 2014
Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”

The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.

“The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,” the agency said, citing the magnitude 5.8 quake that struck Virginia in 2011.

Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.

“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”

Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”

He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.

The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.

A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.

“Could there be a magnitude 6 in New York?” Mr. Armbruster said. “In Virginia, in a 300 year history, 4.8 was the biggest, and then you have a 5.8. So in New York, I wouldn’t say a 6 is impossible.

Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.

The Korean Horns Will Unify

South Korea’s new president promises to help end nuclear crisis

Clifford Coonan in Seoul
Updated: Wed, May 10, 2017, 15:10

South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in has pledged to do everything in his power to bring peace to the region and, in his first act as commander-in-chief, called the country’s top general for a briefing on the nuclear crisis.

A former commando and human rights lawyer, Mr Moon of the Democratic Party secured 41 per cent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, according to the National Election Committee. Although not quite a landslide, it is a strong mandate for the liberal’s conciliatory approach to North Korea and his pledge to rejuvenate the economy.

His election comes amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme. The country is believed to be preparing a sixth nuclear test.

In his inaugural address, Mr Moon pledged to end the Korean nuclear crisis by establishing a northeast Asia peace regime.

I will solve the security crisis promptly. I will go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula. If necessary, I will fly straight to Washington. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo and under the right circumstances go to Pyongyang as well,” he said.

After a phone call with South Korean general Lee Sun-jin, Mr Moon visited Seoul’s national cemetery to pay his respects to his late predecessors and war heroes, Yonhap news agency reported.

The White House was quick to send a message of congratulation to Mr Moon. His conciliatory attitude to North Korea runs counter to the more robust approach favoured by US president Donald Trump, who favours increasing pressure on North Korea with tougher sanctions.

Informal talks

There were reports from Oslo that North Korean officials began informal talks with a group of American experts, amid speculation that Washington may seek dialogue with Pyongyang.

Mr Moon’s election to the presidential residence, the Blue House, ends months of turmoil in South Korea following the impeachment and detention of conservative former president Park Geun-hye over an influence peddling and corruption scandal. Conservatives have been in power in South Korea for the past decade.

“I sense a heavy responsibility endowed by the people. My heart is full of passion for building a country that we have never had,” he said in his speech.

Mr Moon will need to build coalitions and alliances with the other political parties to get legislation through the single-chamber, 299-seat National Assembly.

He has promised a more open style of government, with direct press briefings on major issues, and also efforts to meet and greet the citizens in the markets and squares.

He was due to meet with the leaders of all five parliamentary parties, starting with the conservative party, Liberal Korea Party, which is now the main opposition party. Later he will attend a scaled-down inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly.

“The conflict between conservatives and liberals should end. I will talk directly with you. Opposition parties are my companions in the administration of state affairs. I will regularly talk and frequently meet with them,” he said.

He has appointed Lee Nak-yon, governor of South Jeolla province, as the new prime minister and Im Jong-seok, his top secretary during his election campaign, as his first chief of staff.