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Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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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.

The Iranian Horn Attacks Israel:Daniel 8:4

Israel’s Mossad in Iraq attacked, a number of Israelis killed, wounded: Sources

Tuesday, 13 April 2021 11:07 PM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 14 April 2021 10:10 AM ]

Israel’s Mossad spy agency has come under attack in Iraq, security sources say, with a number of Israeli forces killed or wounded in what was described as a “heavy blow” on the Zionist regime.

Iraq’s Sabereen News, citing security sources, reported late on Tuesday that a facility affiliated with Israel’s Mossad spy agency had been attacked by “unknown resistance forces” in the north of the country.

The Iraqi media said the attack resulted in the death and injury of a “number of Israeli forces,” dealing a “heavy blow” to the regime and its spy agency.

The sources fell short of providing details on the location of the attack and the extent of damage, however, Sabereen said, “Tomorrow, we’ll share some pictures of the operation.”

Reacting to the incident, a high-ranking Iraqi military commander said in an interview with Russian TV network RT that they had not so far received any news about the attack.

Media outlets in northern Iraq have yet to comment on the attack.

The incident came hours after an Israeli ship was attacked in the Emirati port of Fujairah, causing damage but no casualties.

Israeli ship comes under attack off UAE coast: Media reports

Media reports say an Israeli ship called the Hyperion affiliated with the regime’s PCC company has come under attack off the Emirati coast.

Israel’s Channel 12 quoted unnamed regime officials as blaming Iran for the ship attack.

The vessel, called the Hyperion and sailing under the Bahamas flag, was associated with the Israeli Ray Shipping company, the same company that owns a vessel hit by an explosion in the Sea of Oman in February.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hastily accused at the time Iran of attacking the ship, with Iran categorically rejecting the charge.

Israeli media said the Tuesday’s attack on Hyperion was likely carried out with either a missile or a drone.

The attack followed an act of sabotage that targeted the electricity distribution network of Iran’s Shahid Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan nuclear facility in Natanz, which is a uranium enrichment center located in the city of the same name in Iran’s central province of Isfahan.

‘Natanz incident bold act of nuclear terrorism on Iranian soil’

Iran says the Sunday incident in Natanz which saw a nuclear facility lose electricity was “a bold act of nuclear terrorism on the Iranian soil”.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Monday that, “The appalling incident that took place in Natanz was the work of the Zionist regime (Israel), given what it was repeatedly saying before and what is still being heard from various sources these days.”

Iran said earlier this month that one of its merchant vessels has been targeted by an explosion of unknown origin in the strategic Red Sea, in the second such incident in less than a month.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters the Saviz ship was struck by the blast on April 5 near the coast of Djibouti, and sustained minor damage.

In a similar incident last month, an Iranian cargo ship was damaged after it was targeted by a terrorist attack en route to Europe in the Mediterranean Sea.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

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

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault LineMonday, March 14, 2011By 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.

Another attack on Babylon the Great

Drone Attacks Iraq Airport Housing U.S. Troops

One building damaged, no casualties reported in attack on Erbil airport

By Ghassan Adnan and

Updated April 14, 2021 5:56 pm ET

Erbil airport in northern Iraq as seen in 2014.

Photo: joel saget/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

BAGHDAD—A drone carrying explosives attacked a U.S. air base in northern Iraq on Wednesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

No casualties were reported in the attack on the airport in Erbil, which doubles as a base for U.S. troops, according to the interior ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq.

The attack on the military section of the airport was carried out by a drone carrying explosives, according to a statement from the interior ministry. The drone landed on a storage hangar at the air base, causing a fire that was later extinguished, according to the U.S.-led coalition.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Sabreen, a news agency that supports Iranian-backed paramilitary groups, shared news of the attack.

It follows months of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, whose allied militias in Iraq have launched a series of attacks on U.S. bases in the country.

An attack on the Erbil airport in February killed a contractor working for U.S. forces.

A pro-Iranian militia group claimed responsibility. In retaliation for that attack, the U.S. launched airstrikes on Iran-allied militant groups in Syria.

“It seems the same #militia who targeted the airport two months ago are at it again. This is a clear & dangerous escalation,” tweeted Iraq’s former foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari.

A separate rocket attack on a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Wednesday killed a Turkish service member, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attacks come as the Biden administration is attempting to re-engage Iran, sending officials to another round of indirect talks in Vienna this week aimed at reviving the 2015 agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

But an apparent attack on Iran’s main nuclear facility has threatened to derail those talks. Iran accused Israel of carrying out an act of sabotage at the Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday. Israeli media reported that the attack was carried out by the nation’s Mossad intelligence agency, though Israeli officials declined to comment.

Following the attack on the nuclear facility, Iran said it would begin enriching uranium to 60% for the first time.

Write to Jared Malsin at jared.malsin@wsj.com

Warning of Impending Nuclear War with Russia: Revelation 16

Nuclear war alert: Russia ‘moving weapons’ to seized territory – urgent warning issued

By CIARAN MCGRATH

PUBLISHED: 10:03, Thu, Apr 15, 2021

UPDATED: 15:45, Thu, Apr 15, 2021

He told the European Parliament’s sub-committee on defence: “Crimea’s infrastructure is being prepared for potentially storing nuclear weapons.

“The very presence of nuclear munitions in the peninsula may spark a whole array of complex political, legal and moral problems.”

Mr Taran was able to offer no evidence to back up his allegations, but, citing the latest Ukrainian intelligence, said Russia was massing 110,000 troops on Ukraine’s border in 56 battalion-sized tactical groups.

Included within this figure were 42,000 military personnel stationed in Crimea, as well as naval and air capabilities, he claimed.

He described Russia’s movements as “potentially offensive military exercises” which could be used to “conduct unpredictable, escalating actions” from Crimea.

Speaking today, Mr Taran said the “red line” would be the point at which Russian forces crossed into Ukraine territory, stressing at that point Russia would have to “bear the consequences”.

Russia has countered by insisting NATO, not Moscow, is undertaking out threatening military action in Europe.

Nevertheless, any Russian decision to move nuclear weapons to Crimea would significantly worsen already strained tensions between Moscow and the West.

It would also put pressure on a newly-extended arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, imposing limits on land- and submarine-based missiles which are used to carry nuclear warheads.

Fighting has increased in recent weeks in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have battled Russian-backed separatists in a seven-year conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.

NATO says the number of Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders is at its highest level since 2014.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in Brussels to discuss strategy with allies, referred to a “massive military buildup” of Russian troops.

He further insisted NATO would “address Russia’s aggressive actions in and around Ukraine”, without going into details.

Russia’s military strength in numbers (Image: GETTY)

Full-blown conflict would impoverish Ukraine and lead to more Western sanctions on Russia, diplomats and analysts have warned.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German public TV channel ARD that Russia was wrong not to have forewarned NATO about its war games, saying that Putin was “waiting for a move (by Kyiv) towards NATO to have an excuse to continue his actions”.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters on Wednesday to discuss Ukraine ahead of the meeting of all 30 allies by video

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday tweeted: “The G7 are deeply concerned by the large, ongoing, build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders & illegally-annexed Crimea.

“We call on Russia to end provocations &de-escalate tensions.”

Ukraine was a part of the USSR until its collapse in 1990, and staged its first Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 1991.

Since then, relations with Russia have often been strained, especially in relation to Crimea, the annexation of which prompted Western sanctions which remain in force.

India-Pakistan crises likely to escalate: Revelation 8

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan.(Reuters)

India-Pakistan crises likely to intensify, China tensions still high: US intel

The US has followed the border conflict closely and condemned China’s aggression in strong terms. It has also expedited certain military supplies requisitioned by India.

The US has followed the border conflict closely and condemned China’s aggression in strong terms. It has also expedited certain military supplies requisitioned by India.

India-China border tensions “remain high” despite pullbacks of forces and although a war between India and Pakistan is “unlikely”, crises between them will become “more intense, risking an escalatory cycle”, the US intelligence community said on Tuesday in its annual assessment of threats around the world.

It added that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India was “more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations, and heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints”.

For the US, the intelligence community saw China as “a near-peer competitor, challenging the US in multiple arenas”; Russia as “pushing back against Washington where it can globally, employing techniques up to and including the use of force”; Iran was described as a “regional menace” with broader malign influence activities; and North Korea as a “disruptive player on the regional and world stages”.

The report — released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — said China was seeking to use “coordinated, whole-of-government tools to demonstrate its growing strength and compel regional neighbours to acquiesce to Beijing’s preferences”, including its claims over disputed territory and assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan. India-China border “tensions remain high, despite some force pullbacks this year”, the report said, adding: “China’s occupation since May 2020 of contested border areas is the most serious escalation in decades and led to the first lethal border clash between the two countries since 1975.”

As of mid-February, “after multiple rounds of talks, both sides were pulling back forces and equipment from some sites along the disputed border”, the report added on the India-China conflict.

The US has followed the border conflict closely and condemned China’s aggression in strong terms. It has also expedited certain military supplies requisitioned by India.

About others in India’s neighbourhood, the report said that the Myanmar military’s February seizure of power, detention of state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and declaration of a one-year state of emergency “marked a break in that country’s democratic transition and ushered in new societal instability and widespread popular protests”.

For Afghanistan, which has become America’s longest war, the report said: “We assess that prospects for a peace deal will remain low during the next year. The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support”.

Saudi Arabia concerned about the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Saudi Arabia says it is concerned about Iran uranium enrichment

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it was concerned about Iran’s intention to start enriching uranium to 60% purity and said such a move could not be considered part of a peaceful nuclear programme.

A foreign ministry statement called on Iran to avoid escalation and engage seriously in talks with global powers about a 2015 nuclear pact. The statement also urged the international community to reach an agreement “with stronger parameters of a longer duration”.

Iran’s announcement about its plan to enrich to 60%, bringing the fissile material closer to the 90% level suitable for a nuclear bomb, came after Tehran accused Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear installation and ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, who are also worried about Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional network of proxies, had supported former U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to quit the accord in 2018 and re-impose harsh sanctions on Iran.

Iran responded by breaching several nuclear restrictions.

The Saudi foreign ministry statement on state media said any deal should “also take into consideration the deep concern of regional states over escalatory steps by Iran to destabilise regional security and stability, including its nuclear programme”.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been locked in several proxy wars in the region, including in Yemen where the Iran-aligned Houthi movement has launched cross-border missile and drone attacks at the kingdom.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; writing by Ghaida Ghantous; editing by Jason Neely, William Maclean

European Nuclear Horns Fruitlessly Warn the Iranian Nuclear Horn

U.S., European powers warn Iran over ‘dangerous’ uranium enrichment move

PARIS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and the European countries party to the Iran nuclear deal pushed back on Wednesday against Tehran’s decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity, with the top U.S. diplomat calling the move “provocative” and questioning Iran’s seriousness about talks.

FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, before the beginning of a board of governors meeting, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

Iran has said it will enrich uranium to 60% – a big step closer to the 90% that is weapons-grade material – in response to what it says was an act of sabotage by Israel against its key nuclear facility last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tehran’s intent raised questions about its seriousness over the talks in Vienna between Iran and the world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear accord.

“We take very seriously its provocative announcement of an intent to begin enriching uranium at 60 percent,” Blinken told a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “I have to tell you the step calls into question Iran’s seriousness with regard the nuclear talks,” he said.

The nuclear deal has unravelled as Iran has breached its limits on uranium enrichment in a graduated response to the U.S. withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and Washington’s reinstatement of harsh economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Last week, Iran and fellow signatories held what they described as “constructive” talks to restore the deal ditched by the Trump administration – which saw the terms as too lenient on Tehran.

The explosion at Iran’s uranium enrichment site came on Sunday ahead of a second week of talks. Israel, which supported former U.S. President Donald Trump’s hard line against Iran, has not formally commented on the incident at Iran’s Natanz site, which appeared to be the latest twist in a long-running covert war.

Britain, France and Germany also said Tehran’s new decision to enrich at 60 %, from the 20% it has reached so far, and activate 1,000 advanced centrifuge machines at its Natanz plant was at odds with the talks. They said they rejected “all escalatory measures by any actor”, in an apparent signal to Israel.

“Iran’s announcements are particularly regrettable given they come at a time when all JCPoA participants and the United States have started substantive discussions, with the objective of finding a rapid diplomatic solution to revitalise and restore the JCPoA,” the three countries said in a statement, referring to the 2015 deal.

“Iran’s dangerous recent communication is contrary to the constructive spirit and good faith of these discussions,” it said of the talks, which resume between Iran and global powers in Vienna on Thursday, aimed at salvaging the accord.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the events of the past week had not necessarily made things easier. “But I am not going to speculate as to whether it means that we can’t reach a deal … We wouldn’t be going if we thought that it was over, but I am not going to say that we expect a breakthrough.”

STAND OFF

In an apparent rebuff later on Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States was trying to impose its terms for rescuing the deal and European powers were doing Washington’s bidding.

“The nuclear talks in Vienna must not become talks of attrition…This is harmful for our country,” Khamenei, who has the last word on Iranian matters of state, was quoted as saying by state television.

Biden took office in January with a commitment to rejoin the deal if Tehran returns to full compliance with its restrictions on enrichment. Tehran has repeatedly said that all sanctions must be rescinded first.

“We have already declared Iran’s policy. Sanctions must be removed first. Once we are certain that has been done, we will carry out our commitments,” Khamenei said, according to semi-official Tasnim news agency.

“The offers they provide are usually arrogant and humiliating and are not worth looking at.”

Iran has “almost completed preparations” to launch 60% enrichment and has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that it will activate 1,024 more IR-1 centrifuges, its older first generation of the machines at Natanz, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said later on Wednesday.

Iran’s leading Gulf foe Saudi Arabia also weighed in on Wednesday, saying it believed any revival of the nuclear deal should be a starting point for further talks that include regional states to expand the accord.

Rayd Krimly, head of policy planning at the Saudi foreign ministry, told Reuters any deal that fails to effectively address the security concerns of countries in the region would not work, and Riyadh was consulting with the global powers.

“We want to make sure at a minimum that any financial resources made available to Iran via the nuclear deal are not used…to destabilise the region,” he said.

Iran’s deal with the six powers caps the fissile purity to which it can refine uranium at 3.67%. That is well under the 20% achieved before the agreement, and far below the 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon.

Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Parisa Hafezi and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, Francois Murphy in Vienna, Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alistair Bell

Great March of Return Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

After ‘Great March of Return,’ Gaza still under threat

By Ted Kelly posted on April 14, 2021

Philadelphia

Gaza is located on the western side of occupied Palestine and has been under Israeli military control since 1967. With a population of 2 million, it is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. It is frequently referred to as an “open-air prison,” as the Israeli occupation forces have effectively blockaded it on all sides, including its shores on the Mediterranean Sea. To the south, the government of Egypt also polices a border that keeps Palestinians from fleeing the increasingly desperate conditions imposed upon them. Of the Palestinians in Gaza, 70% are officially listed as “refugees” in their own country. (Al-Jazeera, March 30, 2019)

The COVID pandemic has been weaponized by the Israeli occupiers against the people of Palestine. As Mahmoud Abu Saaman, a worker at the Palestinian Ministry of Communication, commented to Al-Jazeera, “People in Gaza had enough in their lives, moving from a crisis to another without a break. . . . This is a blockade within a blockade. It’s not the coronavirus, but the ongoing blockade that has destroyed our lives.” (tinyurl.com/49wf8tsk)

As of March 15, 50% of Israel’s population had been fully vaccinated, and 60% had received their first dose. (tinyurl.com/3m34zmvw) But Israel is refusing to share vaccines with Palestinians and has blocked delivery of Russian vaccines designated for prisoners in Gaza. Israel’s denial of lifesaving vaccines will result in countless deaths. Yet Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires Israel, as the occupying power in the Palestinian territories, to provide medical supplies, including preventative measures, to stop the spread of contagious epidemics. The Zionist state is violating this protocol. (Workers World, March 10)

Before the pandemic

Palestinian nurse Razan al-Najjar murdered by Israeli snipers, June 1, 2018.

Three years ago, Palestinians met the ongoing blockade with a series of prolonged protests known as the “Great March of Return.” These first began in Gaza March 30, 2018. Palestinians demonstrated along the boundary area between Gaza and the rest of Zionist-occupied Palestine for 18 months.

In part because the state of Israel refuses to declare its borders under international law, occupation forces regularly murder Palestinians on both sides of this boundary zone. Electronic Intifada reports that 29,000 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli occupation forces during 2018, and nearly 300 were killed. (Dec. 27, 2018)

At least 48 of those killed by the Israeli military during this period were children. Nine of the slain protesters were people with disabilities, including 29-year-old Saber al-Ashqar, who had used a wheelchair since losing both his legs to an Israeli bombing in 2008. (Buzzfeed, May 15, 2018)

The majority of these murders were committed by military snipers targeting protesters at a distance. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 2018 was the most violent year of Israeli aggression against Palestinians since the agency began collecting data in 2005. (Electronic Intifada, July 28, 2020)

Protesting the blockade of Palestine

Throughout the spring of 2018, simultaneous with the Great March of Return, protesters in the U.S. and Europe picketed concerts put on by the Philadelphia Orchestra, which toured occupied Palestine at the invitation of the Israeli government, while it was murdering protesters. Demonstrators participating in the “Philly Don’t Orchestrate Apartheid” campaign interrupted the orchestra’s performances in Philadelphia, Belgium, France and Germany, before they landed in occupied Palestine to give Israeli soldiers music lessons. (Workers World, April 24, 2018)

International solidarity with Palestine continues unabated in 2021. An ongoing campaign, “Shut Elbit Down,” targets an Israeli-owned weapons manufacturer. Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest privately-owned arms company, making obscene profits from Israel’s attacks on Palestinian people. Elbit’s biggest single customer is the Israeli Ministry of Defense. (Palestineaction.org)

The international campaign particularly focuses on Elbit’s ten sites within Britain including four arms factories, according to Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network. In February, activists blocked the entrance to an Elbit arms factory near Manchester, covered the building with red paint, chained themselves to the gates and temporarily shut down the factory.

The Impending Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

An illustration of a seismogram

Massachusetts struck by 4.0 magnitude earthquake felt as far as Long Island

By Jackie Salo

November 8, 2020 

A 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, on Sunday morning, officials said — startling residents across the Northeast who expressed shock about the rare tremors.

The quake struck the area about five miles southwest of the community in Buzzards Bay just after 9 a.m. — marking the strongest one in the area since a magnitude 3.5 temblor in March 1976, the US Geological Survey said.

With a depth of 9.3 miles, the impact was felt across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.

“This is the strongest earthquake that we’ve recorded in that area — Southern New England,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Providence Journal.

But the quake was still considered “light” on the magnitude scale, meaning that it was felt but didn’t cause significant damage.

The quake, however, was unusual for the region — which has only experienced 26 larger than a magnitude 2.5 since 1973, Caruso said.

Around 14,000 people went onto the USGS site to report the shaking — with some logging tremors as far as Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, both about 100 miles away.

“It’s common for them to be felt very far away because the rock here is old and continuous and transmits the energy a long way,” Caruso said.

Journalist Katie Couric was among those on Long Island to be roused by the Sunday-morning rumblings.

“Did anyone on the east coast experience an earthquake of sorts?” Couric wrote on Twitter.

“We are on Long Island and the attic and walls rattled.”

Closer to the epicenter, residents estimated they felt the impact for 10 to 15 seconds.

“In that moment, it feels like it’s going on forever,” said Ali Kenner Brodsky, who lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Things not entirely peaceful with the Antichrist

Things not entirely peaceful in Baghdad

— New Eastern Outlook

IN MARCH, prime minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi convened a conference that he said would give people hope in the ‘turbulent’ political system that emerged following the 2003 US invasion and overthrow of former president Saddam Hussein. ‘We call on all political forces and parties to defend the interests of the country, avoid discussions of violence, and stop political defamation in order to pave the way for early and successful elections’, he said. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi expressed hope that the conference would bring together both representatives of existing political parties and members of the opposition. He did not divulge any specific agenda for the conference, apparently because he did not know what it was himself, but said he expects it to put an end to the confrontation with Kurdistan and ‘preserve the territorial unity of Iraq.’

A similar proposal was made at a time when Iraq is still plagued by many different crises, ranging from political and religious unrest to popular protests to deteriorating security and the coronavirus pandemic. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi came to power himself after demonstrations that swept across many parts of the country in early October 2019, forcing his predecessor, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, to resign. He has pledged to reform the dysfunctional Iraqi government and restructure the security forces, reining in not only his opponents, but above all those who take up weapons to disrupt the foundations of society. The prime minister also called for early elections with free and fair voting, a key demand by anti-establishment protesters who accuse ruling political factions of rigging Iraq’s last elections in 2018 to secure a majority of parliamentary seats.

The Baghdad-based special representative of the secretary general for the United Nations assistance mission for Iraq, Jeanine Antoinette Hennis-Plasschaert, who believes the country is at a crossroads and needs to address its problems, also supported a national dialogue to bring Iraqis together to draft a roadmap towards a more inclusive, stable, and prosperous Iraq. ‘Full access to all information, facts and figures will be key. Window dressing and demagoguery only fuels anger and outrage’, she told the UN Security Council.

Representatives for M Al-Kadhimi, who launched a media campaign to test his proposal, said the team in his office was developing a plan to call the meeting together, and draw up an agenda and a list of participants. One of the main ideas promoted by officials and functionaries is a ‘new sociopolitical agreement’, which must be adopted by the participants and lead the country out of its political deadlock. In this regard, it is doubtful that officials are the ones who will determine the makeup of the participants, and the agenda of the future Iraqi-wide meeting. But in this situation it is naturally necessary for someone to take the initiative and begin a dialogue.

Many of Iraq’s main factions have expressed initial support for M Al-Kadhimi’s proposal, and some have suggested holding negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia populist cleric whose political bloc holds the majority of Shia parliamentary seats, believes that engaging in dialogue should mean excluding former members of Saddam’s Ba’ath Party. For their part, pro-Iranian paramilitary groups, which have political factions in parliament where they often oppose the government, have so far remained silent about plans for a national dialogue. Critics, however, believe that there is something ‘unrealistic’ in Al-Kadhimi’s desire to bring together competing actors with such disparate interests, and many intricate sources of discontent, at the negotiating table.

It is true that for now the Prime Minister’s statements lack details and clear goals that could lead to meaningful changes. They expressed serious doubts that entrenched ruling factions would be willing to make concessions to promote national concord.

It is worth remembering that since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, there have been several attempts at conciliation between rival political groups that represent the different sectarian and ethnic communities in Iraq, but none have succeeded in achieving any lasting peace or stability. Over the years, some international NGOs that have acted as coordinating organizations, but lacking accurate local information they have tried to achieve reconciliation in Iraq for their own purposes, proposing broadening the scope of dialogue at the grass-roots and national levels. These groups also provided experience and training in conflict management, resolving local problem challenges, promoting public debate, and religious peace-building. However, the entire national conciliation effort, including two meetings hosted by the League of Arab States, quickly turned into disarray, exposing not only deep political divisions but also the conflicting views on Iraq held by these ‘foreign teachers’.

From the beginning, national reconciliation in Iraq meant different things for different groups. For Shiites, this meant an end to the killings and other forms of violence practiced by disaffected Sunni groups, while for Sunnis it meant a fair deal to divide up national power and wealth. Kurds and other ethnic minorities have sought to balance their desire for greater autonomy with the benefits inherent in living in a unified Iraq. Most Iraqis have gravitated toward a democratic government in which political power would not be something that is absolute.

The unsuccessful endings for all previous dialogues have underscored the complexity of this objective given the mutual distrust, and the high level of criteria set by competing parties to enter into a deal geared toward national conciliation. The failure of a sustained effort to reach a lasting political agreement among Iraqis on the future for their country has contributed to the continued state of chaos and stalemate. In this atmosphere of confusion and anxiety, the picture formed by the many conflicts occurring in Iraq is more complex, and there is good cause to believe that the sources of mistrust between communities run even deeper than ten years ago.

Apparently, for national dialogue to be capped off with success, the participants involved must resolve the main issues that underpin public discontent, and the new challenges that have been cropping up over the years. Today, any intra-Iraqi dialogue needs to touch upon such key issues as sectarianism, corruption, the role of non-state actors, relations between the central government and Kurdistan, Iran’s influence on domestic political life, and relations with Arab countries on the Persian Gulf. Sectarianism in Iraq’s political system after the 2003 US invasion has become the dominant social force, surpassing power and wealth as an aspect of identity politics and becoming a source of disunity and violence. Epidemic corruption, according to the Iraqis themselves, has hit the country hard, and successive governments have failed to end this manifestation, which has negatively affected how the government functions, and exacerbated problems with the economy and security. Billions of dollars in public money have been withdrawn from circulation by various political leaders due to a drastic degradation of the living conditions for Iraqis and deteriorating deliveries of public services.

Until now, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has not kept his promise for the state to take control of all the militia forces and their members. Understandably, no dialogue will be effective until the militias are disarmed and neutralized. Despite the repression, including assassinations and kidnappings, Sunni protesters that object to the government’s lack of effectiveness, the role played by Shiite militias, and Iran’s growing influence remain vigorous, crystallizing into various political parties and seeking to reinforce the role they have in the country’s future.

Through dialogue, the Iraqi political system should send a clear signal of hope to these protesters, demonstrating that there is a place for them in the nation’s life. The government has to act now to convince young, anti-establishment activists that they can strike a fair deal in Iraq by using the political process. While the participants in this dialogue must tackle all of these problems, they must also revise the Iraqi constitution, which has demonstrated enormous flaws. Many provisions in the document, which was developed primarily by Shiite and Kurdish leaders, and approved and ratified in 2005, were either rejected or contravened. Previous intra-Iraqi dialogues have been largely monologues, and for a new dialogue to succeed participants must immerse themselves in a new spirit of openness, and try to overcome the struggles and divisions of the past 18 years, whose main cause has been unprovoked aggression on the part of the United States.

New Eastern Outlook, April 13. Viktor Mikhin is corresponding member of  the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.