Antichrist Demands Blood and Oil (Rev 13:18)

Protesters display a huge Iraqi flag during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad in early August 2015. Reuters/Ahmed Saad


Iraq Protest Tensions Escalate As Crude Oil Prices Drop Following China’s ‘Black Monday’

By Erin Banco @ErinBanco e.banco@ibtimes.com
on August 25 2015 4:03 PM EDT

In Iraq’s southern city of Najaf, people in local restaurants, sitting in 120-degree heat, switched on their televisions. They’d heard there was going to be another call to protest in the streets this week, except this time the message came from Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr. The man who rallied Shiite fighters against American forces during the Iraq War called on the people to rally in the capital Friday to demand basic services, marking the first time a major political leader has spurred locals to join the protests that have swept the country recently.

We announce to all people and to the Sadrists in particular the need to participate in protests this Friday in Baghdad,” Sadr said through a televised speech by spokesman Salah al-Obeidi in the holy city of Najaf. “The Sadrist participants should merge with the other protesters in a single, national Iraqi crucible.”

Multiple protests have taken place in Baghdad in the past few weeks over corruption in the central government, ongoing electricity cuts and lack of other basic resources like water. Since then, Prime Minister Hader al-Abadi has implemented corruption reforms, including sacking key members of his cabinet as well as other top officials, but so far none of his reforms have targeted economic issues. The Iraqi economy, which receives almost 90 percent of its revenue from oil, is vulnerable following Monday’s Chinese stock market drop, which sent oil prices down to $42 a barrel, 6 percent less than last week and less than half what it was last year.

The dropping oil prices and major cutbacks in exports have only increased the cost-saving electricity outages in the country, not to mention tensions among locals. The annual growth rate for electricity demand is anywhere from 4 percent to 8 percent across the Middle East and North Africa, according to World Bank estimates, but it stands at about 25 percent in parts of Iraq amid the ongoing shortages.
In July, Iraq exported 96.2 million barrels of crude, breaking previous records and generating revenues of $5.31 billion in oil, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil. But this month, Iraq’s oil exports have fallen by 250,000 barrels per day, according to estimates from the Iraqi Energy Network, a research and policy institute in Baghdad. Low oil prices and a drop in exports lead to a decline in monthly revenues.

Analysts say the falling oil prices — partly from the U.S. fracking boom — and the consequences of the drop, could have been predicted by the Iraqi government, but existing policies prevented Baghdad from implementing mechanisms to protect its currency and its deficit from growing.

“From 2010 until now, the shale industry has boomed significantly in America. This has basically made the U.S. less dependent on crude in Iraq,” said Luay al-Khatteeb, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institute, a think tank in Doha, and expert on Iraqi oil, adding that the American shale industry has cut revenues for Iraq significantly in the past year. “But there was a bad policy implemented by the Saddam regime where public spending would continue to increase under the assumption that oil prices would continue to rise and would stay around 100 dollars a barrel.”

The introduction of the Islamic State group in lands that hold large oil reserves has further complicated matters for the oil sector in Iraq. Oil consumers living in areas dominated by, or even loosely controlled by, the Islamic State group are having to pay almost double the normal amount for a gallon of gas (usually sold by merchants on the side of the road in rural areas) because the Sunni militant group has siphoned off millions of barrels of oil from the national grid.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish government has been struggling to limit the damage and theft from the Ceyhan pipeline in Southeast Turkey as bombardments targeting the Kurdish militant group known as the Kurdistan Worker’s Party continue in northern Iraq. The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline stopped production in March because of the uptick in ISIS attacks on it, with the halt costing Iraq about $1.5 billion a month. An explosion in July also cost the pipeline $250 million. In total, the Kurdish government has suffered $501 million in losses over the past seven weeks, the Iraqi Energy Network said in a recent report.

Now, because of the economic hurdles, the Iraqi government’s $102.5 billion 2015 budget is running at a deficit of about $21.4 billion, and the continued threat from ISIS will put more pressure on the budget.

In January Iraq’s parliament passed a budget of $105 billion, which constituted a 16 percent cut in spending, according to a report by The Economist. The budget also attempts to raise revenue by introducing a sales tax on mobile and Internet top-up cards, airline tickets, vehicles, alcohol and cigarettes. Despite these maneuvers, the budget still projects a large deficit.

As a result of low funds, Baghdad is having a difficult time paying oil companies such as Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Lukeoil that operate in the country’s southern oil fields. The oil companies are paid a fixed dollar fee for production, so with the drop in oil prices, the amount of crude needed to pay the companies has roughly doubled, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.

Although Abadi has yet to introduce any reforms to fix the electricity issue in the country, the Iraqi parliament on Tuesday threatened the electricity minister with a vote of no confidence if he does not appear within four days to be questioned over the persistent power crisis.

Sadr’s call to Iraqis has already gained momentum, especially on social media, where people in the southern part of the country say they are ready to attend the protests Friday. Thousands of people protested when Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for demonstrators earlier this month. The same number of people, if not more, are expected to show up in Baghdad Friday.

Iran And The Destruction Of Israel (Dan 8:3)


Iranian Officials Ratchet Up Genocidal Anti-Israel Rhetoric After Nuclear Deal

WEDNESDAY, 26 AUGUST 2015 05:50 BY: STEVEN EMERSON

A video shows the Revolutionary Guard Corps massing on a hill overlooking Jerusalem.
A conference of religious scholars features speaker after speaker calling Israel’s annihilation inevitable and promising that a “new phase” in that effort is about to begin.

While some in the United States and among its Western allies may hope that a nuclear weapons deal with Iran might steer the Islamic Republic in a new, more responsible direction, hardliners draw new lines and issue new threats.

On Monday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei took to social media to attack the United States and Israel. “We spare no opportunity to support anyone #FightingTheZionists,” wrote the ayatollah, whose regime supplies Hizballah and Hamas with rockets and other weapons of terror.

Perhaps more chilling is an animated video from the Islamic Revolution Design House, a media outfit associated with Iranian hardliners. It shows a soldier preparing for battle. He puts on a Revolutionary Guard patch, and then a Qassam Brigades headband, followed by a ski mask and a Palestinian scarf around his neck, while arming himself with a machine gun and a pistol. As he puts on a helmet, we see him looking over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, home of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque. The image pulls back, showing the soldier amid a sea of conquering troops.

A concluding message invokes Ayatollah Khomeini’s threat that Israel must be wiped off the map and promises that day is coming soon.

A conference held in Beirut late last month reinforced that message over and over again. The General Assembly of Islamic Resistance Ulema (Scholars) held its first gathering under the banner “Unity for Palestine.” The weekend meeting included fiery rhetoric from an Iranian ayatollah and Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah.

“Annihilation of the Zionist regime is a sure thing and Quranic pledge,” Ayatollah Mohsen Araki told the assembly. Araki is secretary general of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, emphasizing the importance of unifying “Muslims in countering the regime of Zionism and the arrogant World.”

Many of the speeches were uploaded to YouTube and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Nasrallah called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and said “It is only a matter of time” before it is defeated.
We believe with certainty that Israel, this cancerous tumor, is headed for extinction, and that Palestine and Jerusalem will be returned to their people. It is only a matter of time and [this outcome] is linked to the will, action, jihad, and sacrifices of the Ummah, according to the principle: If you achieve victory for Allah, Allah will lead you to achieve victory.” Nasrallah said it was Allah’s will for Muslims to achieve “final victory over the Zionist scheme” and urged the assembly not to waste the opportunity.

“The day in which we will all pray in Jerusalem, Inshallah (God willing) is inevitably coming Inshallah. All of these calamities, conspiracies, and crises are merely trials to strengthen and make fit all those who believe in this project and in this path to enable them to be worthy of the coming victory. Some people may gain victory but then waste it.

Allah Almighty wants our Ummah (nation) in its final victory over the Zionist project and in restoring Palestine and Jerusalem to be worthy of this huge historic victory and to be worthy of preserving this victory and not to lose it as many victories have been lost.”

Muhammad Hasan Zamani, a former Iranian cultural counselor in Egypt who runs the Department of International Islamic Madrasas for the General Assembly of Islamic Resistance Ulema, maintained the theme, insisting there is no peaceful resolution that would end in Iran’s acceptance of a Jewish state.

Israel must be erased from the map of the world. These are the golden words Imam Khomeini (may God have mercy on him) uttered. Why do we assert the obligation of erasing Israel from the world, and not speak of erasing America and other unjust countries from the world? We in Iran say slogans in marches, Death to Israel, Death to America, Death to the English, and so forth and so on.”

Iran considers America the “greater Satan,” Zamani went on to say, but the Islamic Republic respects other governments which were chosen by their people. By contrast, he claimed Israel is not legitimate: “I say that the example of the rule of the Zionists is the example of thieves who attack a house and occupy the house and the people of the house defend their house.”

Sheikh Abdel Halim Qadhi, a professor at Zahidan University, explained that the conflict is inherently about religion. “[T]he Holy Quran makes it know that Jews are the enemies of Islam and the Muslims, and their holy places and rites,” he said.

Jihad is the most powerful and only way to liberate Palestine and defend Jerusalem,” he added, saying “God loves those who fight in his way.”

In a final statement from conference attendees, the group emphasized “the first and most important obligation is to unite the Umma to liberate the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem, reported Al-Manar, a Lebanese news outlet considered close to Iran’s proxy Hizballah. The group also said “resistance” was the way “to achieve victory in Lebanon and Palestine, despite the unlimited support received by the Zionist enemy and continuing inaction of the countries in the region.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, published a 416-page book earlier this month outlining the destruction of Israel, referring to the Jewish state as an ally of “The American Great Satan.”

The book features a long-term strategy that entails terrorizing Israel in a war of attrition that would lead to Jews leaving Israel for other countries.

Supporters of the nuclear deal say it’s a fantasy to expect a better outcome should Congress override President Obama’s expected veto of a vote to defeat the agreement. The combined statements of Iran and its supporting clerics makes clear, however, that the true fantasy is any expectation Iran will turn away from terror as a result of its engagement with world powers.

The Sixth Seal Is Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

  
Is New Jersey overdue for major earthquake?
Devin Loring, @DevinLoring
17 hours ago

One of the most noticeable earthquakes in New Jersey measured a 5.30 on the Richter scale — a moderate quake – and was felt throughout Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

But that was in 1783, before colossal bridges connected New Jersey and New York, and cities were pre-skyscraper and modern infrastructure.

What would happen if New Jersey was rocked by a strong, or even moderate, earthquake today?
New Jersey may well soon find out. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said 10 years ago that we’re due for at least a moderate earthquake.

The region is not really well prepared for any level of shaking,” said Vadim Levin, an associate professor in the earth and planetary sciences department at Rutgers University. “The population density is so extremely high. … Look at earthquake-related disasters. They don’t link to the large size of earthquakes, but the confluence of how close they are to people.”

There are earthquakes in Jersey?

It has been over 200 years since New Jersey experienced that historic quake in 1783, and almost 100 years since Asbury Park experienced a quake – in 1927 – that toppled chimneys and knocked items off shelves

That means New Jersey is overdue for an earthquake, at least according to a brochure published by the NJDEP, in 2005.

The agency’s data indicates that intense quakes are likely to happen in New Jersey every 100 years or less.

“Long overdue for how long, that’s the question,” said Levin. “Once in ten generations is very difficult to study. That’s the biggest challenge (because) we live inside a stable plate.”

A “stable plate,” describes New Jersey’s tectonics. Here, the Earth’s crust “fits together and doesn’t deform very much,” Levin said.

Despite the stability of New Jersey’s crust, earthquakes are felt throughout New Jersey frequently.
In fact, earlier this month, a light earthquake was very noticeable to residents in and around Morristown. It was felt as far south as Jackson, and as far north as Suffern, New York.

The big one

Researchers don’t really understand why earthquakes happen on the East Coast, especially because in New Jersey, small earthquakes happen over a diffuse area and do not form an easily identifiable zone of action, Levin said.

“What makes us slightly more nervous these days is the recent Virginia earthquake,” Levin said. “That event was rather large, there was serious damage, and of course, no prior history of such events recorded.”

In 2011, the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia was felt from Georgia to Maine, in Michigan and Illinois, and in Canada according to the United States Geological Survey.

“That (2011 earthquake) damaged a nuclear power plant — not severely, only to the extent that it had to shut down operations,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

It points out the issue of fragility on our infrastructure,” Lerner-Lam said. “The resiliency or vulnerability of our bridges, tunnels, power lines, pipelines, is a very important feature of the overall vulnerability of the metropolitan region.”

What makes East Coast quakes all the more unpredictable is that quakes here differ from those on the West Coast, where they are more frequent. Because the earth on the East Coast has different properties than the west, shakes from quakes are transmitted farther here than they are in California, Levin said.

Getting protection

Standard homeowner, renter, and business insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Only 7 percent of homeowners that responded to an Institute survey in 2014 said they had earthquake insurance.

Only about 2 percent of homeowners in the Northeast have earthquake coverage, the survey revealed.
Levin said he declines to have earthquake coverage, saying hurricanes and flooding are a much greater risk in New Jersey.

“If an event is extremely unlikely, how much money is worth investing in safeguarding from it?” Levin said.

Although there is no reliable way to predict a major earthquake, let’s just say experts don’t think whole cities will crumble or be consumed by the ocean, as depicted by Hollywood.

“I’m planning to take my class to see ‘San Andreas.’ Oh my God, that’s such overkill,” Levin said.
Devin Loring; 732-463-4053; dloring@gannettnj.co