The Sixth Seal: The Whole World Will Know (Rev 6:12)

The New Madrid Earthquake That Will Divide The United States In Half
Published on Monday, 23 February 2015 20:39
Written by Michael Snyder

Once upon a time, North America almost divided along a very deep subsurface rift. Today, that rift system and the faults associated with it are known New-Madrid-Fault-Earthquake-Zone-300x192as the New Madrid fault zone. This fault zone is six times larger than the San Andreas fault zone in California and it covers portions of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Back in 1811 and 1812, four of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history struck that area of the country. The movement of the ground was so powerful that it changed the course of the Mississippi River and it rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts. So could such an earthquake (or worse) strike today?
Well, last year the U.S. Geological Survey released a report that warned that the New Madrid fault zone has the “potential for larger and more powerful quakes than previously thought“, and the USGS also admits that the number of significant earthquakes in the middle part of the country has more than quintupled in recent years. We also know that the U.S. government and large corporations are so concerned about the potential for a major New Madrid earthquake that they have held major exercises that simulate one.

Scientists tell us that it is just a matter of time until another superquake hits the region, and personally I am one of the millions of Americans that believe that we will eventually see a New Madrid earthquake that will divide the United States in half.

That is one of the reasons why I included a New Madrid earthquake in my novel. But others are skeptical. They point out that we have not seen a truly devastating earthquake in that region for more than 200 years. So why be concerned about one now?

What everyone can agree on is that there is an area of significant geological weakness under the New Madrid fault zone. This area of weakness formed when the continents were breaking up. The rift that formed did not end up splitting the North American continent at that time, but the area of weakness remains. The following comes from Wikipedia…

The faults responsible for the New Madrid Seismic Zone are embedded in a subsurface geological feature known as the Reelfoot Rift that formed during the breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia in the Neoproterozoic Era (about 750 million years ago). The resulting rift system failed to split the continent, but has remained as an aulacogen (a scar or zone of weakness) deep underground, and its ancient faults appear to have made the Earth’s crust in the New Madrid area mechanically weaker than much of the rest of North America.

This relative weakness is important, because it would allow the relatively small east-west compressive forces associated with the continuing continental drift of the North American plate to reactivate old faults around New Madrid, making the area unusually prone to earthquakes in spite of it being far from the nearest tectonic plate boundary.

And indeed, there have been some awesome earthquakes in this region throughout history.
Back in 1811 and 1812, there were four earthquakes along the New Madrid fault zone there were so immensely powerful that they are still talked about today.

Those earthquakes opened deep fissures in the ground, caused the Mississippi River to run backwards, and were reportedly felt more than 1,000 miles away. It is said that the stench of fire and brimstone hung in the air for months afterwards.

The most powerful of this series of quakes was on December 16th, 1811. The following is one description of what happened on that day…

This powerful earthquake was felt widely over the entire eastern United States. People were awakened by the shaking in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Charleston, S.C. Perceptible ground shaking was in the range of one to three minutes depending upon the observer’s location. The ground motions were described as “most alarming and frightening” in places like Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky. Reports also describe houses and other structures being severely shaken, with many chimneys knocked down. In the epicentral area the ground surface was described as being in great convulsion, with sand and water ejected tens of feet into the air — a process called liquefaction.
But there have also been others times throughout history when we have seen a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

For example, according to scientists there is evidence of other superquakes in the distant past…
Geological evidence indicates that two such super-earthquakes happened twice in the past 1,200 years: the first some time between 800 and 1000 A.D., and the second between 1300 and 1600 A.D.
And now earthquake activity in the central portion of the nation is increasing again.

As I noted above, the USGS says that the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern portions of the United States has more than quintupled in recent years. And the USGS has now gone so far as to point out the relationship between human activity and the increase in earthquakes. The following comes from an article done by the U.S. Geological Survey…

The number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years within the central and eastern United States. Nearly 450 earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and larger occurred in the four years from 2010-2013, over 100 per year on average, compared with an average rate of 20 earthquakes per year observed from 1970-2000.

This increase in earthquakes prompts two important questions: Are they natural, or man-made? And what should be done in the future as we address the causes and consequences of these events to reduce associated risks? USGS scientists have been analyzing the changes in the rate of earthquakes as well as the likely causes, and they have some answers.

USGS scientists have found that at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed for this purpose.
So what would happen if a major earthquake did strike the New Madrid fault zone?

This is something that scientists have studied. If a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the region today, thousands would die, hundreds of thousands of buildings would be damaged, and the economic losses would be measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The following comes from Wikipedia…
In October 2009, a team composed of University of Illinois and Virginia Tech researchers headed by Amr S. Elnashai, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), considered a scenario where all three segments of the New Madrid fault ruptured simultaneously with a total earthquake magnitude of 7.7. The report found that there would be significant damage in the eight states studied – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee – with the probability of additional damage in states farther from the NMSZ. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri would be most severely impacted, and the cities of Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri would be severely damaged. The report estimated 86,000 casualties, including 3,500 fatalities; 715,000 damaged buildings; and 7.2 million people displaced, with 2 million of those seeking shelter, primarily due to the lack of utility services. Direct economic losses, according to the report, would be at least $300 billion.

But remember, that study only considered a magnitude 7.7 earthquake.

If we had an earthquake of magnitude 8 or magnitude 9, we could be talking about an earthquake many, many times more powerful.

It is also important to note that there are 15 nuclear reactors along the New Madrid fault zone. In the event of a major New Madrid earthquake, we could be looking at Fukushima times 15.

Of course most Americans are completely oblivious to all of this. In fact, most Americans don’t even know what the New Madrid fault zone is or where it is located.

But there are people in the government that are very aware of this threat. In fact, the federal government considered it important enough to hold a major five day simulation known as “National Level Exercise 11″ just a few years ago…

In May, the federal government simulated an earthquake so massive, it killed 100,000 Midwesterners instantly, and forced more than 7 million people out of their homes. At the time, National Level Exercise 11 went largely unnoticed; the scenario seemed too far-fetched — states like Illinois and Missouri are in the middle of a tectonic plate, not at the edge of one. A major quake happens there once every several generations.

National Level Exercise 11, or NLE 11, was, in essence, a replay of a disaster that happened 200 years earlier. On Dec. 16, 1811, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the New Madrid fault line, which lies on the border region of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. It’s by far the largest earthquake ever to strike the United States east of the Rockies. Up to 129,000 square kilometers [50,000 square miles] were hit with “raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides,” according to the U.S. Geological Service. “Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared.” People as far away as New York City were awakened by the shaking.

More quakes, of a similar size, followed. But the loss of life was minimal: Not too many people lived in the area at the time. Today, there are more than 15 million people living in the quake zone. If a similar quake hit, “7.2 million people could be displaced, with 2 million seeking temporary shelter” in the first three days, FEMA Associate Adminsitrator William Carwile told a Congressional panel in 2010. “Direct economic losses for the eight states could total nearly $300 billion, while indirect losses at least twice that amount.”

And major corporations are also concerned about what could happen.

For example, in a previous article I noted that Wal-Mart had “participated in an exercise” that simulated a major earthquake in the New Madrid fault zone…

Buried in a Wall Street Journal article from about a week ago was a startling piece of information. According to a Wal-Mart executive, Wal-Mart “participated in an exercise to prepare for an earthquake on the New Madrid fault line” earlier this summer.

Nobody knows when it is going to happen.

But this is a real threat.

And if we do see a magnitude 9.0 earthquake or greater, we could be talking about a continent changing event

Nebuchadnezzar Passes Buck To Next Administration

The US is reportedly willing to make another huge nuclear concession to Iran

Kerry Iran Nuclear Deal
They’re this close to a deal — if the US stomachs another big concession.

The outline of a landmark nuclear deal between a US-led group of countries and Iran is coming into focus.

According to the AP, Iran will be able to keep 6,500 uranium enrichment centrifuges under a final agreement. This would allow Iran to achieve one nuclear weapon’s worth of uranium enrichment in between six months and a year (depending on the amount and enrichment level of low-enriched uranium the country’s allowed to have hand), and to keep as many as 5,500 more centrifuges than the minimum needed to run a “demonstration cascade” that would allow Iranian scientists to maintain a basic mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Even before the AP article was published on February 22, the 6,500 number had been reported in Israeli media and partly corroborated by the New York Times. But the AP includes news of a second and equally significant US concession.

The nuclear deal will apparently include a 15-year sunset, with certain restrictions on Iranian uranium enrichment lifted after 10 years and Iran permitted to keep somewhere in the neighbourhood as 10,000 centrifuges at the moment the deal expires. As the AP explains, the US had initially wanted a 20-year deal going into the latest round of talks, which means that the full, as-yet unknown set of restrictions will be in place for anywhere between one quarter one half the amount of time American negotiators were aiming for.

Javad zarif

Why are US negotiators willing to stomach this concession? While a 10-15 year sunset is far from ideal, it at least freezes the amount of uranium Iran can possess and produce for a decade or more. It would keep Iran under a strict inspection regime and give the US and its allies a long lead-time to build support for another round of sanctions if Tehran evinced plans to further develop its nuclear program or otherwise buck the international system.

There’s another reason for accepting a short deal. As David Ignatius explained in a February 19th column in the Washington Post, the Israelis believe that the US is willing to accept a shorter agreement because the administration “wants to tie Iran’s hands for a decade until a new generation takes power there.”
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has been ill recently. The Islamic Republic’s founding generation is dying out, and US negotiators hope that Iran will be a much different place in 10-15 years, with a government willing to draw down the more threatening aspects of its program even after a nuclear deal has expired. It’s probably also hoped that a nuclear agreement and Iran’s resulting reintegration with the international mainstream may even push the country towards this more pragmatic course.
But justifications have one troubling thing in common: They both make huge assumptions about the future nature of Iran’s relationship with the US and the rest of the world.

Iran Nuclear Plant
A security official stands in front of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran, August 21, 2010.

Under a short deal, the international community must re-implement sanctions if Iran decides to pocket its concessions and restart its program once the deal expires — something Tehran will be able to easily do, since the deal the AP describes would allow it to keep significant aspects of its nuclear infrastructure.

But it might be a huge leap to think that in 2030 the world will have any appetite for a second Iranian nuclear standoff, especially after economic and diplomatic ties have been fully restored for a decade or more under the preceding deal.

The current round of sanctions took substantial time and US political capital to implement. The global leaders of the future may wonder whether it’s worth doing it all over again to resolve an issue that they may feel has already been settled.

Ayatollah ali khamenei

A short deal might also transform Iran’s nuclear calculus. When a 15 year deal expires, Tehran would be justified in figuring that it had been able to lift the international sanctions regime while being able to keep as many as 10,000 centrifuges. With sanctions gone and much of the country’s nuclear infrastructure in place, the Iranian leaders of 2030 will have little incentive to negotiate a second deal, should the US consider such a deal necessary.

The sunset clause’s assumptions about the Iranian regime’s future moderation may be wishful as well. The Islamic Republic has vacillated between reform and retrenchment for much of the past two decades. In 1997, the reformist Mohammad Khatami was elected Iran’s president. But ten years ago, the newly-elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made headlines for denying the Holocaust and expounding on the importance of destroying the state of Israel.

A short deal gambles on an opaque and highly compartmentalized regime transforming itself by a specific future date. This is a strange basis for an epochal diplomatic agreement in the Middle East or any other part of the world.

Iran streets American embassy gun
A mural in Tehran

Finally, a short nuclear deal reflects a kind of short-term thinking that’s disconcertingly out of keeping with the actual challenges of nuclear proliferation. This is partly a structural problem. Presidential administrations last between four and eight years. Nuclear weapons, however, may be with humanity for the rest of the species’ existence, and once a country goes nuclear it seldom if ever crosses back over the threshold.

The ephemeral timetable of American political leadership at least makes it comprehensible that US political leaders wouldn’t be approaching the Iranian nuclear issue on a 50-or 100-year scale. But there was a 26-year lag between the inauguration of Pakistan’s nuclear program in 1972 and its first test of a nuclear weapon in 1998. North Korea attempted its first nuclear test in 2006, 12 years after signing the Agreed Framework with the US.

Determined nuclear proliferates understand that even long delays are meaningless so long as a capability is eventually established. The only countries that have lost their nuclear weapons have either destroyed or exported them voluntarily; once you’ve got the bomb, you’ve got it for good. And Iran, which has built illicit plutonium and a uranium programs while laboring under strict international sanctions, has been incredibly determined.

A 10-15 year sunset clause seems oblivious to some of the dangers of approaching the Iranian nuclear issue as a short-term matter that can be solved in a single go — rather than an question that could dog successive US administrations for decades or even centuries to come.

Antichrist Takes His Share Of Iraq (Rev 13)

The carving up of Iraq

Antichrist Calling the Shots in Iraq

Antichrist Calling the Shots in Iraq

Iman Saleh
Monday, 23 February 2015

News from Iraq these days has become less a blow-by-blow account of events on the ground and more of an exercise in discursive mud-slinging and collective identity politics.

Any sense of a political entity called “Iraq” has long since disappeared, reduced to in- and out-group designations drawn down the hazy lines of ethnicity, sect, and regional allegiance. Hence, there is no longer an Iraqi government, but a “Shia-led coalition” (or a “sectarian state”); equally, there is no longer an Iraqi army but a collection of “Iranian-backed Shia militias” pitted against an extremist “Sunni insurgency”. The battle lines have been drawn, both literally and discursively, and every new development is squeezed and manipulated to fit into the narrow confines of the pre-existing narrative.
Part of this is lazy reporting – it is simply easier to rehash old stereotypes and regurgitate well-known mantras than to engage in serious analytical reporting – yet it also, sadly, is reflective of a growing trend within Iraq itself and the wider Arab region; a trend towards the sectarianisation of political and social life. The recent political fallout following the murder of Sunni tribal leader Sheikh Qasim al-Janabi and eight of his entourage, allegedly by Shia militias, is a case in point. Sheikh Qasim, his son, and seven bodyguards were abducted on 13 February at checkpoint and taken to Sadr city (a predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad), where they were shot dead. In retaliation, 73 Sunni MPs announced a boycott of parliament to protest the killings. As a gesture of reconciliation, earlier last week radical Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr announced the indefinite suspension of militia groups associated with him (including the Mehdi Army).

The incident has drawn attention to the growing profile of Shia militias in the country, many of which receive support and funding from Iran, amid rising concerns of the violent tendencies of such groups (in late 2014, Amnesty International published a report documenting atrocities committed by such militias). While not attempting to diminish the often brutal acts perpetrated by armed groups on all sides of the conflict in Iraq, such attempts to rationalise events on the ground on the grounds of posited deep-seated primordial identities – such as sect, tribe, ethnos, etc. – often serve to mask the underlying logic of political violence that has been seeping through Iraqi society for the past 40 years; a logic for which the US-led invasion of 2003 and subsequent parcelling off of political and social resources along identity lines served as the catalyst.

The rise of the Ba’ath Party in the late 20th century in Iraq, and particularly the rule of Saddam Hussein from 1979-2003, saw the institutionalisation of a vast and ethereal network of political power in which resources and privileges were handed out along lines of partisan loyalty. Saddam Hussein succeeded in maintaining his dominance over the Iraqi population by surrounding himself with a close circle of trusted aides and advisors, many of whose loyalty was assumed on the basis of kin or tribal allegiance and secured through the distribution of rewards and assets (not to mention the often brutal punishment of any whose loyalty was called into question). This network of power and privilege lurking behind Iraqi society is what some analysts and scholars have referred to as the “shadow state”, and resulted in a social and political system that favoured a select group of individuals over others – a select group who, more often than not, shared with Saddam the incidental identity categories of being Sunni Arabs, most hailing from the dictator’s hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, therefore, to be a Sunni Arab was a precursor to being considered loyal to the regime, and therefore often a condition for achieving political or material success in the country. In other words, being Sunni Arab was less of a religious identity than a tool for political and social dominance – a structurally political, not ideological, identity category. By extension, Ba’athist Iraq, although structured in a way to benefit those in possession of this political identity category, was not in itself ideologically sectarian, despite being structurally so. Indeed, there is little evidence to suggest that Saddam Hussein’s persecution of the Kurds or the Shi’a was done purely on sectarian or religious grounds, and instead often stemmed from his ethno-nationalist view of the world in which both the Kurds and the Shia (whom he tended to denigrate as ethnically “Persian”) posed a threat to his plans to integrate Iraq into a wider pan-Arab political project.

Thus, when the US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003 and proceeded to dismantle the country’s political and civilian structure, they succeeded merely in cutting off the head of the shadow state network while leaving the roots intact. It is this deep-running and shadowy network that has, in the intervening years, spawned Medusa-like to permeate all aspects of Iraqi society and to set the practical and discursive logic through which that society operates.

The long-standing effects of this shadow state have been reflected in the partisan politics of the successive Shia-led governments of Nouri Al-Maliki and now Haider Al-Abadi (which, in a perverse turning of the tables established a structurally sectarian system that favoured the majority Shia Muslims over their Sunni counterparts and succeeded in alienating many of Iraq’s most influential and experienced generals and politicians who had prospered under the Ba’ath). It is this political logic of reward and punishment that set the backdrop to the insurgency that has gripped the country since 2003, and provided a language and repertoire of political violence that pits one group against another in an all-out sectarian war. More than this, such logics of violence and allegiance have also been reflected in the recent exploitation of tribal and local loyalties by ISIS forces – leading some commentators to dub the Islamic state “a distinctively Iraqi organisation”.

What we have now in Iraq, then, is a direct result of these political logics of violence, punishment, necessity, loyalty and reward that have converged around three main discursive positions – the “Sunni” version of events contrasting sharply with that of the “Shia” or even the “Kurdish” version. Iraq has been carved up, both practically and ideologically, into three different political and social camps who are no longer able or willing to recognise their common histories. The only logical outcome of such political fracturing, sadly, seems to be the final carving up of Iraq into its three constituent provinces.

Thus, while it may be true that the increased sectarianisation of public and private discourse in Iraq and abroad is reflective of an increasing trend towards sectarianism within the country itself, it is worth bearing in mind the role such discourse has to play in shaping people’s perceptions on the ground and the way in which public narratives – especially in the media – are often manipulated by groups to serve their own political purposes. This is why we must be wary of reporting on Iraq as the perennial “sectarian conflict”, because the political reality of sectarianism in Iraq – although it does exist – is only a small part of the repertoire of political violence that is sweeping the country, and which cannot be traced to one unitary cause such as that of primordial identity ties. Rather, the reality of sectarianism in Iraq is the result of a complex combination of factors including the legacy of the Ba’athist shadow state, the impact of the 2003 invasion, the vested interest of local and foreign players (the US, Saudi Arabia, and Iran being just three), and the manipulation of discourse by those who have an interest in carving up the country to serve in their own political power games.

Iranian Hegemony: The Iranian Horn (Daniel 8:3)

The long arm of Iran in the Middle East

Shiite Brothers

Shiite Brothers

Henry Srebrnik
Published on February 22, 2015

Back in 2010, Iranian Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi called for a “Greater Iran” that would assume hegemonic control over much of the Middle East and Central Asia, stretching from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean.

“If I am elected as president, I will return the lands of Tajikistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan, which were separated from Iran” by the Russians, he announced three years later, when planning to run for president.

This was too much, even for the Council of Guardians, Iran’s ideological watchdog, which rejected his candidacy. Iran’s government also disavowed his statement.

Nonetheless, since the ascension to power of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, Iran has been slowly building an empire in the Middle East.

Its Lebanese Shi’ite proxy Hezbollah has taken Lebanon hostage, and is now helping Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime in Syria. The Shi’ite government of Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad is effectively an Iranian puppet.

In chaotic Yemen, the Houthis, also allied to Iran, have taken the capital, Sanaa. The United States has closed its embassy in Yemen following an attack on an American Embassy car on Jan. 19 at a Houthi roadblock.

The militants’ slogan, which is chanted at rallies and painted on walls in Sanaa, includes the phrase “Death to America,” mimicking the one often heard in Tehran.

A man who did run for the presidency of Iran in 2013, Ali Akbar Velayati, last year declared that his hope is for the Houthis to become to Yemen what Hezbollah is to Lebanon, a Shi’a faction in control of an Arab state.

Velayati, who also served as Iran’s foreign minister from 1981 to 1997, is an advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, so his words must be taken seriously. And Kayhan, the Iranian newspaper controlled by Khamenei, has predicted that the Saudi kingdom would not survive the Houthi rebellion in Yemen.

Tehran has also had a hand in trying to destabilize some of the small Sunni-ruled Gulf states, in particular Bahrain, which has a Shi’a majority population. Throughout the Arab world, regimes fear Iranian subterfuge on behalf of their brand of radical Islam.

Of late, Iran has even taken to bragging about this. General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the powerful Quds Force, the foreign wing of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, on Feb. 11 announced that Tehran’s regional influence was growing.

“Today we see signs of the Islamic revolution being exported throughout the region, from Bahrain to Iraq and from Syria to Yemen and North Africa,” he declared.

Partly as a response, Sunni terrorist groups have mounted their own campaigns in the region. The Islamic State (ISIS) controls about 90,000 square kilometres in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Suleimani seemed unfazed by ISIS and al-Qaeda, though, maintaining that the jihadists are “nearing the end of their lives.” After all, the Quds Force was able to keep Baghdad under Iranian control, and Shi’ite militias backed by Iran are increasingly taking the lead in Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State. In Syria Bashar Assad has held on to power thanks to Iran’s support.

As Liel Leibovitz, a senior writer for Tablet magazine, observed recently, American policy has lately swung toward embracing the idea of an unreconstructed Iran as a key U.S. ally in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and beyond.

“Since the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS began last fall, “Iran has achieved all but public U.S. support for its control over the Iraqi military and for the survival of the Assad regime in Syria,” noted columnist Caroline Glick in a Feb. 12 Jerusalem Post article. She asserted that President Barack Obama is clearing the path for a nuclear- armed Iran that controls large swathes of the Arab world through its proxies. Last November, Obama wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khameini, suggesting that U.S.-Iranian cooperation in the Middle East could be possible should an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program be signed.

“But partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests,” write Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, authors of the 2013 book Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

That would be a major mistake. Iran is a devious and powerful state, far more adept at destabilizing the Middle East than are groups like ISIS. They don’t engage in gratuitous acts of barbarism such as the beheadings of hostages, which create outrage around the world.

Tehran doesn’t take on western powers directly, but acts behind the scenes and through proxies — while continuing to work on acquiring nuclear capabilities.

Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island.