Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”
That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.
His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

Iran Is Ready to Go Nuclear (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought

If Tehran pulls out of the 2015 deal, it could have a weapon in a matter of months.

Michael Hirsh  November 13, 2018, 6:02 PM

A secret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.

Experts say the revelation that Iran had more advanced capabilities to make nuclear weapons themselves—as opposed to its ability to produce weapons-grade fuel, the main focus of the nuclear pact—is a surprising and troubling finding in the new intelligence.

“The archive is littered with new stuff about the Iranian nuclear weapons program,” Albright told Foreign Policy. “It’s unbelievable how much is in there.” One of his key conclusions from studying the documents was that the Iranians “were further along than Western intelligence agencies realized.”

The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.

“The U.S. was issuing statements that it would take a year at least, perhaps two years, to build a deliverable weapon. The information in the archive makes it clear they could have done it a lot quicker,” said Albright. He added that the French government, which was then saying Iran could achieve a weapon in three months, was much closer in its estimates.

Analysts were still sifting through the archive, said Albright, who is also known for tracking North Korea’s nuclear program and for investigating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs going back to the 1990s. “I don’t think even the Israelis have gone through it all,” he said. “Every day when they go through it they see something new.”

Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, called Netanyahu’s presentation “a prearranged show with the aim of impacting Trump’s decision, or perhaps it is a coordinated plan by him and Trump in order to destroy the JCPOA.”

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Trump announced the United States was withdrawing several days later.

In the period described in the Iranian archive, current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani—who later signed off on the JCPOA—was national security advisor. According to a draft of the first report by the Institute for Science and International Security, which was obtained by FP:

“Rouhani was a central, ongoing figure in the nuclear weapons program in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is difficult to find evidence that his support for nuclear weapons ever ended.”

While Netanyahu’s presentation highlighted Iran’s deceptiveness, the institute’s analysis focuses on how Iran managed to “put in place by the end of 2003 the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear weapons program” intended to initially produce five nuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 10 kilotons, according to the draft.

The analysis was done by Albright, Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director-general for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Andrea Stricker, a senior policy analyst at the institute. The three concluded that by the late 1990s, Iran had already developed “a full range of technical competences and capabilities, not just some, as characterized by the IAEA in late 2015.”

The authors also indicate that much is still unknown about what remains of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. “The program’s remains, and likely some activities, have continued up to today. The question of where all this equipment and material is now located is more urgent to answer.”

Albright, who has gone to Tel Aviv several times to comb through the archive—most recently two weeks ago—says he is certain the information, which has also been verified by the U.S. government, is authentic. It is consistent with “the thrust of what the IAEA had collected,” he said, but more detailed.

The archive casts no light, however, on whether Iran was observing the 2015 deal, and most experts say Tehran was cooperating at the time that Trump withdrew.

Alexandra Bell, a former Obama administration official who worked on compliance reports for the JCPOA, said that even if the intelligence from the archive is accurate and Tehran lied in the past, its behavior should be judged by whether it is complying with the deal now. “There shouldn’t be oversight through media reports,” Bell said. “As with any agreement, issues come up and they should be dealt with in the proper channels. They should be addressed by the JCPOA parties.”

She noted that before it withdrew from the deal, the Trump administration twice declared Iran in compliance, and the IAEA has done so 15 times. “The JCPOA is working,” Bell said.

Even so, the existence of the archive under the authority of a mysterious Iranian organization has raised concerns among some governments and the IAEA over whether Iran is preserving its ability to build nuclear weapons in the future. Under the JCPOA, Iran must mainly relinquish its ability to enrich and reprocess weapons-grade fuel, subject to rigorous IAEA inspection.

Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a former Bush administration official who worked on Iran, said the revelation that Iran “never came clean on all this, where they were on the weapons back then, that’s a biggie. The question is where they were at the time of the JCPOA. That’s why some people in the intelligence community were so keen on getting a deal—Iran had so much breakout ability at the time of the deal.”

As to what happens now, with Tehran still nominally observing the nuclear pact, “the likelihood that Iran does anything very publicly is very small,” Levitt said. “The question is how far do they go in a clandestine fashion, given that they know what we know.”

Antichrist’s Iraq as Corrupt as the US

In his appearance before a parliamentary panel Ali al-Alaq, the Governor of Iraq’s Central Bank, had to answer several questions about a five-year-old incident at a branch of the Iraq’s Central Bank, the Rafidain Bank. It seems that at the end of 2013, the annual flooding had crept into the vaults of the Rafidain Bank and “destroyed” mountains of dinar bank notes worth seven billion dinars (about six million dollars).

The Parliament wanted to know a little more about this incident as the bank notes are designed to be waterproof and able to withstand flooding (as any Iraqi who has washed his clothes with money in the pocket can tell you).

The Governor assured the Parliamentary Committee that there was no real loss of money as the notes were destroyed and simply replaced by the Central Bank at a cost of only a few cents per note.

Somehow the legislators were a little curious about how the notes were “destroyed.” That they might have been damaged and replaced makes some sense, but utterly destroyed by rainwater while in a vault is another matter entirely. Ali al-Alaq was not the Governor of the Central Bank at that time and had little more to offer publicly.

It is lucky that Chicago is not its own country. There is no doubt that my home would be ranked even lower than Iraq. Chicago has a huge public debt to pension funds and other debtors

Michael Flanagan

Iraq is ranked as the twelfth most corrupt government in the world by Transparency International, which makes such rankings for the UN. This is actually an improvement over having been ranked dead last just a couple of years ago.

Highly sensitive to this ranking and anxious to improve their international rating to help Iraq, the legislators were inordinately interested in something, which was at best was an ordinary accident and remediation and at worst was official corruption of an almost petty nature. Considering the billions annually looted in Iraq in official corruption – an amount which is estimated to have climbed to over two-hundred billion dollars since the fall of Saddam – “petty” is a word one could aptly apply to merely six million dollars’ worth of theft.

Corruption was a major issue in the late elections and all candidates for executive and legislative offices focused on ending public theft in Iraq. It is a hard problem but Iraq is not alone.

Corruption in Chicago

It is lucky that Chicago is not its own country. There is no doubt that my home would be ranked even lower than Iraq. Chicago has a huge public debt to pension funds and other debtors. The State of Illinois (in which Chicago is located) has the highest amount of structural debt per capita in the United States. The structural debt for just Chicagoans is sixty-seven thousand dollars per household plus an additional forty-one thousand dollars per household for the Illinois portion as the state tries to service its public debt as well. Unlike the public debt of the federal government, this money must be repaid soon.

This debt was largely created by corrupt deals by politicians in Chicago with unions and other organizations representing pensioners in Illinois promising to give away exorbitant sums of future public money for high pensions to buy votes. Because public officials in Illinois can have outside “employment” in addition to their legislative salaries and often mysteriously end their public careers as millionaires; keeping that public job is clearly lucrative and any amount of public money that needs to be promised away to keep that job is worth it.

As Mary Frances Berry wrote for Salon a couple of years ago, “In addition, four consecutive corrupt governors and nearly one-third of Chicago’s one hundred alderpersons since 1973 have been convicted of corruption, mostly involving bribes to influence government decisions or for personal financial benefit.”

This has been going on in Chicago for decades. In fact, there is a very famous case of election fraud in Chicago. There are many such stories but this one is apt to this article about Iraq’s flooding.

In the 1920s, a flatbed truck holding four wards of Northside votes was heading downtown to deliver those votes to City Hall to be counted. A sudden gust of wind and rain hit the truck as it crossed the Chicago River. Amazingly, all of the boxes of votes blew off of the truck, onto the road, over the guard rails and into the river. These pieces of paper were too “destroyed.”

The court eventually ruled that the voters whose votes were destroyed were simply disenfranchised and those votes would just not be counted at all as there was no way to exactly replicate them. This was a controversial ruling to be sure. Oh, did I mention that in Chicago they elect judges?

I hope that the Iraqis get to the bottom of the great flood but if they never do, I hope that they keep up their anti-corruption efforts. They need to do better than Chicago has – and can.

Michael Patrick Flanagan represented the 5th District of Illinois in the historic 104th Congress. He sat on the Committees on the Judiciary, Government Reform and Oversight, and Veterans’ Affairs. Prior to his Congressional Service, Michael was commissioned in the United States Army Field Artillery. After leaving Congress, Michael and his firm, Flanagan Consulting LLC, have represented both large and small corporations, organizations, and associations. In 2009, Michael took a sabbatical from his lobbying business and entered public service again with the United States Department of State in Iraq as the Senior Rule of Law Advisor on the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maysan, Iraq. For his work, Michael was awarded the Man of the Year by the Iraqi Courts, the Civilian Service Medal by the US Army and was also given the Individual Distinguished Honor Award. Michael is currently a consultant in Washington, D.C. His email ID is CommentsForMike@flanaganconsulting.com.

Return of Violent Protests Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)



A demonstrator hurls back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during clashes at a Gaza border protest , April 27, 2018. (photo credit:” REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)

Hamas invites Gazans to commemorate militants killed in IDF commando raid.

Israel is bracing for the possible return of violent border protests on Friday, just days after the latest escalation with Gaza raised fears of yet another war.

The IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon warned Gazans on Thursday through an Arabic-language video posted to his Facebook page that Israel will respond severely to those who take part in the violent border protests.

According to Rokon, Israel is “well aware that these actions are not spontaneous” and that the protests are “masterminded, managed and led” by Hamas.

Rokon warned that the IDF “will not show restraint” against anyone who approaches within 100 meters of the security fence, anyone who tries or succeeds to damage it, anyone who tries to infiltrate into Israel, anyone who throws improvised explosive devices or Molotov cocktails toward troops, or anyone who launches explosive balloons into southern Israel.

Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Islamist groups at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that while Hamas is “preoccupied by Liberman’s resignation which is a major success for them… you cannot overrule the possibility that Gazans will come to the fence.”

Israel has demanded an end to the weekly confrontations, as well as the frequent launches of incendiary balloons into Israeli territory. Hamas, on the other hand, has repeatedly stated that the protests would continue until Israel lifts the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

While there have been no indications on social media about planned protests, it is likely that thousands of Palestinians will gather at the Gaza security fence

“If the protests are too small, then Israel might think they won by canceling the demonstrations,” Kedar said. “They [Hamas] don’t want to give Israel that achievement.”

According to Kedar, an invitation by Hamas to come to the area of the Ismail Abu Shanab mosque – where the botched IDF commando raid took place to commemorate the terrorists killed by Israel – might see a large protest by Gazans near the fence afterwards.

“This event in Khan Yunis might become a demonstration against Israel,” he said, adding that the mosque “is not so far from the Israeli border, a 15 minute walk-after the event they can all walk to the fence.”

Hamas “might be willing to cause a clash between Israel and demonstrators in order to say that ‘we keep the peace while Israel keeps shooting at us.’” Kedar said, warning that Hamas wants to “check Israeli patience” and “drag Israel into a trap.”

The violent riots along the Gaza security fence, which began in March, have led to some 221 Palestinians being killed, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures. It has also led to fears of another military operation against Hamas to restore the quiet seen in the four years since the end of Operation Protective Edge.

Before the latest outbreak of violence, Israel and Hamas were reportedly close to signing a long-term ceasefire agreement – and Israel allowed the transfer of $15 million in cash to Hamas to pay the salaries of civil servants. The money, which was paid for by Qatar and the first installment out of $90 million, was transferred in three suitcases in a heavily guarded vehicle in the blockaded coastal enclave.

According to Arabic media reports, the ceasefire would have also included a partial lifting of restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza, as well as a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip, which would be monitored by international forces under Israeli security supervision.

But over the course of 25 hours beginning on Monday, close to 500 mortars and rockets were launched into southern Israel from the Hamas-run enclave. The violence ended after a ceasefire was signed that had been mediated by Egypt, the United Nations, Norway and Switzerland.

Meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, President Reuven Rivlin said that the “unending” rocket fire against Israeli civilians is unacceptable and that Israel would not “stand by” in the face of Hamas attacks.

“Hamas again and again escalates the situation by cynically exploiting the people of Gaza,” he said, adding that “Israel does not want escalation or to hurt innocent civilians, but will not stand by while Hamas undermines stability and our civilians are harmed.”

WW3: Why the European Nuclear Horns Will Rise

World War 3 ALERT: Fears Russia armed with ILLEGAL NUCLEAR missiles that can reach Europe

Lithuanian Minister fears Moscow has the ability to fire illegal nuclear missiles as far as Europe (Image: Getty)

RUSSIA has violated key commitments of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), giving Moscow the ability to fire illegal nuclear missiles as far as Europe, the foreign minister of Lithuania has claimed.


PUBLISHED: 04:10, Thu, Nov 15, 2018

UPDATED: 08:11, Thu, Nov 15, 2018

Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that he will target any nations that host US missiles, including Europe.

The INF Treaty was established in 1987 between the leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan at the height of the Cold War. Linas Linkevicius told Deutsche Welle that Moscow has been violating the terms of the agreement for years. Under the INF Treaty, Russia promised not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500km to 5,500km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.

According to a 2016 State Department report, the Russian Novator 9M729 is thought to have a range that falls between 500km and 5,500km, and is therefore illegal under the terms of the accord.

Mr Linkevicius explained: “We all understand that all these arms control agreements are very important.

“But a very important condition is that all parties must comply.

“So if not, something should be done in order to force them to.

Linkevicius told Deutsche Welle that Moscow has been violating the terms of the agreement for years (Image: Getty)

“So far, all the calls and the criticism have had no effect.”

The foreign minister added Lithuanians are extremely concerned about the Kremlin.

He noted: “When Russians are talking about balance, about adequate responses, it’s by no means adequate because we do not have defence capabilities.

“And we’re not going to be aggressive.

And we’re not going to be aggressive.

“But this is really not a move for confidence building.

“And by the way, these missiles can reach not just Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius, but also Berlin.

“And they’re nuclear-capable. So I believe it’s really an escalation measure.”

Donald Trump announced less than a month ago he wants to pull out of the INF treaty (Image: Getty)

Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that he will target any nations that host US missiles, including Europe.

Mr Linkevicius’ remarks echoed the words of US President Donald Trump who announced less than a month ago he wants to pull out of the INF treaty.

Speaking at a rally in Nevada at the end of October, he said: “Russia has not, unfortunately, honoured the agreement so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out.

“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the treaty has drawn sharp criticism from Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader, who warned it increased the risk of nuclear conflict and a new arms race.

A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

By Bob Hennelly

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Escalation Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Why the latest Israel-Gaza conflict is escalating

By Eric Stober

National Online Journalist, Breaking News  Global News

Missile hits Israeli bus traveling near Gaza border

An unusually timed and likely undesired killing of a Hamas commander has caused an Israel-Gaza conflict that is escalating to levels not seen since 2014 because of the political need to save face, experts say.

On Sunday, Israel killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip during a botched undercover operation, causing an escalation of rocket fire from both Gaza and Israel. Six other Palestinian militants and an Israeli colonel were also killed in Israel’s operation.

Hamas has since fired at least 300 rockets into Israel, one of which hit a bus, while Israel has responded with its own fire, striking Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station and killing three Palestinian gunmen.

The timing of the conflict is unusual, given ceasefire talks between Gaza and Israel were reportedly progressing, leaving experts to conclude that Israel botched the operation and the conflict was unintentional.

“This operation was more meant for intelligence gathering, locating people who might be held in the Gaza Strip, not to assassinate, especially given the recent efforts to reach a ceasefire,” said Costanza Musu, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, citing international analysis for her reasoning.

The Hamas commander that was killed had a “mid-range” level of command, and the Israeli military has denied it was an assassination attempt. Musu says it is unlikely there would be authorization to assassinate him, given his level of command.

Israel and Gaza were reportedly making progress in their ceasefire talks in recent weeks, but Musu says the ceasefire was being negotiated for “pragmatic” reasons, and the two sides still have fundamentally different objectives that make lasting peace difficult. This is why the rapid escalation in the midst of these talks is somewhat understandable, although it is a “big setback” for the ceasefire, Musu said.

Rex Brynen, a political science professor at McGill University, says it is “farcical” that Israel would be engaged in such a high-risk activity while the country was working toward a ceasefire with Gaza.

“It was very strange timing. You would have thought (Israel) would have calmed down risky actions like that when it seems the ceasefire is coming along,” Brynen said.

But Musu explains that a lot of these types of intelligence operations happen, the only difference is that they’re not botched and they’re not reported so the public doesn’t know when they occur.

Now that the public does know about this operation — and it led to a death that, by all accounts, wasn’t intentional — both sides are trying to save face, and the operation has been politicized.

“Hamas wants to make a point: ‘You can’t do this, we’ll fire back.’ And Israel wants to make the point: ‘You can’t fire rockets at us,’” Brynen said. “At the moment, both sides are trying to cow the other to back down.”

Brynen says there is currently a political climate in Israel that causes politicians to talk tough, as public opinion is geared against Hamas — and the same in Gaza towards Israel — meaning politicians will have to “ride it out for a little.”

Although the domestic politics will push toward escalation, strategic calculations will push towards de-escalation, he said.

That is because a large effort to go into Gaza is very strongly opposed by the military, Musu said, due to the risk of high civilian casualties in the high-density area. Musu also points out that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently gave a talk in Paris where he said he opposed invading Gaza.

Brynen says things could go either way with the escalation, especially if the rockets hit civilians. So far he has been “impressed” with the amount of firepower Hamas has shown, which he says is greater than in the past.

The Weakening of Babylon the Great

U.S. military edge has eroded to ‘a dangerous degree,’ study for Congress finds

Shane Harris

November 14 at 12:01 AM

The United States has lost its military edge to a dangerous degree and could potentially lose a war against China or Russia, according to a report released Wednesday by a bipartisan commission that Congress created to evaluate the Trump administration’s defense strategy.

The National Defense Strategy Commission, comprised of former top Republican and Democratic officials selected by Congress, evaluated the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which ordered a vast reshaping of the U.S. military to compete with Beijing and Moscow in an era of renewed great-power competition.

While endorsing the strategy’s aims, the commission warned that Washington isn’t moving fast enough or investing sufficiently to put the vision into practice, risking a further erosion of American military dominance that could become a national security emergency.

At the same time, according to the commission, China and Russia are seeking dominance in their regions and the ability to project military power globally, as their authoritarian governments pursue defense buildups aimed squarely at the United States.

“There is a strong fear of complacency, that people have become so used to the United States achieving what it wants in the world, to include militarily, that it isn’t heeding the warning signs,” said Kathleen H. Hicks, a former top Pentagon official during the Obama administration and one of the commissioners. “It’s the flashing red that we are trying to relay.”

The picture of the national security landscape that the 12-person commission sketched is a bleak one, in which an American military that has enjoyed undisputed dominance for decades is failing to receive the resources, innovation and prioritization its leaders need to outmuscle China and Russia in a race for military might reminiscent of the Cold War.

The military balance has shifted adversely for the United States in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, undermining the confidence of American allies and increasing the likelihood of military conflict, the commission found, after reviewing classified documents, receiving Pentagon briefings and interviewing top defense officials.

The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the report said. “The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.”

In its list of 32 recommendations, the commission urged the Pentagon to explain more clearly how it intends to defeat major-power rivals in competition and war. It assailed the strategy for relying at times on “questionable assumptions and weak analysis” and leaving “unanswered critical questions.”

Eric Edelman, a top Pentagon official during the Bush administration, who co-chaired the commission along with retired admiral Gary Roughead, said the report wrestled with the consequences of years of ignored warnings about the erosion of American military might.

Russia and China have “learned from what we’ve done. They’ve learned from our success. And while we’ve been off doing a different kind of warfare, they’ve been prepared for a kind of warfare at the high end that we really haven’t engaged in for a very long time,” Edelman told Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA and a fellow member of the commission, during an episode of Morell’s podcast, “Intelligence Matters.”

Edelman said people had lost sight of how complicated the international security environment had become for the United States, and argued that for a lot of reasons the American public and Congress haven’t been as attentive to the urgency of the situation as they should be.

The commission argued that despite a $716 billion American defense budget this year, which is four times the size of China’s and more than 10 times that of Russia, the effort to reshape the U.S. defense establishment to counter current threats is under-resourced. It recommended that Congress lift budget caps on defense spending in the next two years that in the past have hobbled the military’s ability to plan for the long term.

“It is beyond the scope of our work to identify the exact dollar amount required to fully fund the military’s needs,” the report concluded. “Yet available resources are clearly insufficient to fulfill the strategy’s ambitious goals, including that of ensuring that (the Defense Department) can defeat a major-power adversary while deterring other enemies simultaneously.”

The call for even more robust defense spending comes as the Democrats take over the House and seek rollbacks of key Pentagon programs. It also comes after the White House instructed the Pentagon to pare back its planned budget for the coming year by some 4.5 percent, or about $33 billion, after the federal deficit increased sharply following last year’s tax cut.

White House national security adviser John Bolton recently said he expected the defense budget to remain relatively flat in the coming years, as the administration seeks to cut discretionary spending, and suggested the Pentagon would need to reshape the military with funds derived from cuts to other areas.

Money saved from planned Pentagon reforms will prove insufficient to make the kind of investment the military needs to execute the new national defense strategy, the commission found. It also said Congress should look at the entire federal budget, including entitlement spending and tax revenue, to put the nation on more stable financial footing, rather than slash defense spending.

To counter Russia and China, the commission said the Navy should expand its submarine fleet and sealift forces; the Air Force should introduce more reconnaissance platforms and stealth long-range fighters and bombers; and the Army should pursue more armor, long-range precision missiles and air-defense and logistical forces.

In its recommendations, the report advocated seeing through the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and putting a top Pentagon official in charge of developing additional air and missile defenses.

Another area of focus for the commission was innovation.

It described current Pentagon acquisition programs as too risk-averse, and urged the Defense Department and Congress to create a new category of pilot programs aimed at “leap-ahead” technologies that could serve as breakthroughs to help retain American military dominance.

The report also resurfaced questions about the civilian-military divide that arose after retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis took over as defense secretary, thanks to a vote in Congress that waived a requirement for military officers to be out of uniform for 10 years before serving in that role.

In his nearly two years as secretary, Mattis has relied more on current and former military officers for expertise than his recent predecessors have.

Without singling out Mattis, the commission warned that “responsibility on key strategic and policy issues has increasingly migrated to the military,” and urged Congress to exercise oversight to “reverse the unhealthy trend in which decision-making is drifting increasingly toward the military on issues of national importance.”

Violence Erupts Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israel carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Monday after dozens of rockets were fired from the Palestinian territory into Israel. Clashes which erupted during an Israeli special forces operation in Gaza late Sunday had threatened to derail efforts to restore calm to the Palestinian enclave after months of unrest.

At least two Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Monday. Seven were killed in the overnight clashes, one of whom was a local commander for Hamas’s armed wing. One Israeli army officer was also killed. At least six Israelis were injured later on Monday when dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris to commemorate the end of World War I to rush home as tensions rose.

Israeli operation goes wrong

Israel stressed its Sunday operation was an intelligence-gathering mission and “not an assassination or abduction.”

The statement from Israeli military spokesman Ronen Manelis signalled that the mission did not go as planned and resulted in the clash, which Palestinian security sources said included Israeli air strikes.

An Israeli ground operation to kill or abduct militants inside the Gaza Strip would be rare.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded enclave, and its armed wing, spoke of a “cowardly Israeli attack” and an “assassination”, vowing revenge.

Hamas’s armed wing said an Israeli special forces team had infiltrated near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip in a civilian car. Israeli air strikes followed when the operation failed, it said in a statement.

Israel’s military had not confirmed those details.

Gaza’s health ministry said seven Palestinians were killed.

Palestinians sit at the remains of a building that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

The dead included a local commander for Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the brigades said in a statement. He was identified as Nour Baraka.

Five others were also Al-Qassam members, while the seventh was a member of a separate militant alliance known as the Popular Resistance Committees, according to Gazan security sources.

Israel’s army confirmed one of its officers was killed and another was injured.

“During an (Israeli) special forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved,” the army said in a statement.

“At this incident, an IDF officer was killed and an additional officer was moderately injured,” it added, referring to the Israel Defense Forces and identifying the officer only by his rank, lieutenant colonel, and the first letter of his name, M.

Nascent cease-fire threatened

Netanyahu, who had been attending World War I commemorations in Paris, arrived back home on Monday and was to convene a meeting of security chiefs.

The clash comes after months of deadly unrest along the Gaza-Israel border, which had appeared to be calming.

Recent weeks have seen Israel allow Qatar to provide the Gaza Strip with millions of dollars in aid for salaries as well as fuel to help ease an electricity crisis.

Netanyahu had earlier defended his decision to allow Qatar to transfer the cash to Gaza despite criticism from within his own government over the move, saying he wanted to avoid a war if it wasn’t necessary.

Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s education minister and right-wing rival, compared the cash flow to “protection money” paid to criminals.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he had opposed transferring the money to Hamas.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008, and recent months of unrest have raised fears of a fourth.

Deadly clashes have accompanied major protests along the Gaza-Israel border that began on March 30.

At least 227 Palestinians have since been killed by Israeli fire, the majority shot during protests and clashes, while others died in tank fire or air strikes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed in that time.

Egyptian and UN officials have been mediating between Israel and Hamas in efforts to reach a long-term truce deal.

On Friday, Palestinian civil servants began receiving payments after months of sporadic salary disbursements in cash-strapped Gaza, with $15 million delivered into the enclave through Israel in suitcases by Qatar.

A total of $90 million is to be distributed in six monthly installments, Gaza authorities said, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas.

Qatar has also said it would hand out $100 to each of 50,000 poor families, as well as larger sums to Palestinians wounded in clashes along the Gaza-Israel border.

The Gulf emirate has also started buying additional fuel for Gaza’s sole power station, allowing outages to be reduced to their lowest level in years.

Russia Now Threatens the German Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

A Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system drives through Red Square in Moscow, on May 7, 2015, during Victory Day parade rehearsals. The Kremlin’s development of the short- to medium-range Novator 9M729 missile threatens the Cold War-era INF Treaty. Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Russia Has Deployed Nuclear Missiles That Can Reach Germany, Claims Lithuania Foreign Minister

On Wednesday, November 14, 2018 – 10:54

Russia has been violating an international arms control agreement for years, the foreign minister of Lithuania has claimed, giving Moscow the ability to fire banned nuclear weapons at targets as far away as Berlin.

Linas Linkevicius told Deutsche Welle the Kremlin has been ignoring the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty for some time, leaving all of central and eastern Europe at threat from Russian missiles.

The treaty was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, banning ground-launch nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges from 500 kilometers (310 miles) to 5,500 kilometers (3,417 miles). This forced the superpower foes to remove roughly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles from the front lines, eliminating a dangerous element from the Cold War equation.

But in recent years, Vladimir Putin is believed to have overseen an expansion of short- and medium-range weaponry, likely even deploying missiles to Russia’s western frontiers and Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

The medium-range nuclear-capable Novator 9M729 missile—known to NATO as the SSC-8—is the catalyst for the impending treaty collapse. Little information about the weapon has been released by the U.S., but a 2016 State Department report alleged that its range fell within the bracket banned by the INF Treaty.

Linkevicius explained to Deutsche Welle: “We all understand that all these arms control agreements are very important. But a very important condition is that all parties must comply. So if not, something should be done in order to force them to. So far, all the calls and the criticism have had no effect.”

The minister said Lithuanians were seriously concerned about missile proliferation in Russia. “When Russians are talking about balance, about adequate responses, it’s by no means adequate because we do not have defense capabilities. And we’re not going to be aggressive. But this is really not a move for confidence building.”

“And by the way, these missiles can reach not just Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius, but also Berlin,” Linkevicius added. “And they’re nuclear-capable. So I believe it’s really an escalation measure.”

Last month, President Donald Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. from the INF Treaty, citing consistent Russian non-compliance. “Russia has violated the agreement,” the president told reporters after a rally in Nevada. “They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President [Barack] Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out.”

“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” he added. “We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement so we’re going to terminate the agreement, we’re going to pull out.”