Antichrist Demands Change in Iraq (Revelation 13)

Protesters chant slogans in support of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as they carry a large national flag during a rally in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. Friday’s protesters were joined for the first time by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical, anti-American Shiite cleric. The protesters have staged weekly rallies since last month to press demands for reforms, better services and an end to corruption. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)



Iraq’s top Shiite cleric says government must show nation it’s seeking genuine change
Aug 28, 2015

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s top Shiite cleric said on Friday the government must show it was seeking genuine change to combat corruption and improve services and not just introduce temporary measures to placate the embattled nation.

In a message delivered by a representative in a Friday sermon, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also cautioned protesters who have staged weekly rallies to press demands for reform that they must guard against groups seeking to hijack their movement to further other interests.

Hours later, tens of thousands of Iraqis rallied in Baghdad and a string of cities south of the capital in support of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s reform drive and to press demands for the dissolution of parliament and an end to corruption. The Baghdad rally, in central Tahrir square, was the largest by far, attracting at least 20,000, many of them waving the national flag. It was held under tight security measures but ended peacefully shortly after nightfall.

Followers of a radical, anti-American Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, joined the Baghdad rally for the first time on Friday. The smaller rallies were held in cities south of Baghdad, including the holy Shiite city of Karbala, the southern port of Basra and Babil.

Al-Sistani’s comments, delivered in Karbala, challenged the government to show that it is “truthfully and seriously” responding to demands for change. “Citizens have experienced past promises that were never realized on the ground,” he cautioned.

“Officials must work differently this time around and win the trust of the citizens,” he said.

The weekly rallies, which began last month, have been pressing for better basic services like power, water and medical care, as well as an end to corruption and sectarian politics. The graft is widely believed to be rampant, involving hundreds of millions of dollars in the 12 years since Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled.

Al-Abadi has responded to the rallies with a package of reforms that reduced the size of his Cabinet, and eliminated the three vice presidencies and the three deputy prime minister posts. He has also ordered a revision of the government’s pay scale and the annulment of financial perks enjoyed by senior officials, lawmakers and consultants.

His actions raised questions about the legality of his reforms and whether they violate the constitution.

“I will not back down,” al-Abadi vowed in televised comments this week. “There is no going back on reforms. Our political system needs popular pressure to reform itself,” said the Shiite prime minister who has said he would seek a popular mandate to amend the constitution, which he described as “incomplete.”

Separately, an explosion on Friday ripped through the parking lot of a police station in southeast Baghdad when a police bomb squad tried to defuse a car bomb while colleagues looked on, killing six and wounding 10, according to security and hospital officials.

The six killed were three bomb squad members and three policemen.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Baghdad has for years seen near daily attacks targeting civilians and security forces by car bombs, suicide attacks and roadside explosions. The attacks are mostly blamed on Sunni militants.

Why South Korea Is One Of The Nuclear Horns (Dan 7:7)

 

South Korea plans ‘decapitation’ strike against North’s leadership if nuclear war is likely


By Julian Ryall, Tokyo
8:28AM BST 28 Aug 2015

Seoul plans pre-emptive attack on Kim Jong-un and senior leaders if Pyongyang makes moves towards nuclear launch

South Korea is drawing up plans to “decapitate” the top leadership in North Korea in the event that a new crisis between the two countries looks like it is descending into nuclear war.

Seoul is re-examining its defence strategies in the wake of the recent tensions across the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two nations, with an army officer attached to the defence ministry outlining revised approaches to dealing with the North.

We will develop asymmetric strategies that give us a comparative advantage over the North, like psychological warfare, decapitation operations, intelligence advantage and precision strike capabilities”, Cho Sang-ho, a brigadier general in the South Korean Army, told a seminar hosted by the Korea Defence and Security Forum in Seoul on Thursday.

Any operation to decapitate the leadership in Pyongyang would necessarily include Kim Jong-un, the North’s supreme leader.

“Decapitation of the command, control and communications abilities of an enemy is a textbook strategy that has long been used by the American military”, Rah Jong-yil, a former head of South Korean intelligence, told The Telegraph.

The aim is not to kill large numbers of the enemy’s soldiers, but to attack those that make the decisions,” he said. “The US used it against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, attempting at the outset of the war there to eliminate him or at least to keep him on the run and disturb his ability to fight back.”
And while destroying a nation’s leadership may be an effective military tactic, Mr Rah believes it was “very rash” of a South Korean military official to explicitly threaten the North’s leadership so soon after the recent tensions on the border.

“It was very rash and provocative to say that,” he said. “And in any case, I’m not sure that such a tactic would be effective against North Korea.

“If large-scale military actions did appear likely to break out, then the first thing the North would do is protect their top man, someone they see as a demigod,” Mr Rah said.

The North is also well prepared to face South Korea and the United States in war, he added, having observed very closely the conflict in Iraq, where they deployed battlefield and intelligence monitors.
“Also, they have some of the world’s best underground command-and-control facilities, while Mr Kim has 30 or more official residences,” he said. “It would be difficult to locate him and he would then be well protected; announcing these intentions is very rash.”

Iranian Hegemony Is Just Beginning (Dan 8:4)

 

Iranians hope to fill vacuum as U.S. lowers its Mideast profile

Now that Iran is backing off its nuclear program, Tehran wants more influence in region
BY ROY GUTMAN
rgutman@mcclatchydc.com

Iran’s agreement to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief by world powers was welcomed at every level of society here, but nowhere more warmly than in the foreign policy community, which foresees a big boost for the Islamic Republic’s regional role, especially as the U.S. lowers its profile.

There is even gloating about what many expect to be the major spinoff from the accord – a U.S. loss of interest in the Middle East and its many conflicts, opening the way for Iran to play a leading role in the region.

“The nuclear deal is a turning point,” said Kayhan Barzegar, chairman of the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran. “The main change is in the regional context, and Iran’s place in it. To be honest, I think Iran has an upper hand on the regional issues.”

He referred to President Barack Obama’s statements that the U.S. will not take the lead role in crises such as Syria’s devastating civil war and will seek regional solutions to regional problems.
“Having no policy is a good policy – good for Iran, no doubt,” Barzegar said.

The logic of regional cooperation is to get rid of the United States, the biggest firepower in the region, the only one that can really harm Iran,” Barzegar said, and “not giving the excuse for foreign actors to come back again into the region.”
But Iranians may be in for a disappointment. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that the U.S. has “extensive plans” to turn up the pressure on Iran’s “unacceptable” behavior.

“There isn’t a challenge in the entire region that we won’t push back against if Iran is involved in it,” he said in testimony July 23 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He referred to Iran’s “other activities,” its support for terrorism and its “contributions to sectarian violence in the Middle East.”
Iran will remain isolated “for its support of terrorism, for its support of weapons trading,” for backing Houthi rebels in Yemen and for supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Kerry told Ashark al Awsat, a London-based Arabic daily. “As long as they continue to support it, there will be push-back,” he declared.

Kerry’s remarks went directly to the question of “regional cooperation,” for Iran cannot play the role it seeks unless the United States opens the way.

Today, the two countries don’t have diplomatic relations or ambassadors in each other’s capital, and it’s not clear how quickly ties can improve in view of the historic baggage both sides bring to the relationship.

For the U.S. it began in November 1979 with the seizure by militants of 52 American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran after the Iranian revolution began, who weren’t released for 444 days. Iranian operatives are alleged to have blown up a barracks housing U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 U.S. servicemen, and the Khobar towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996, killing 19 American servicemen. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran armed and trained Shiite militias that attacked U.S. military positions.

Iran also has deep grievances, dating to the CIA-orchestrated overthrow in 1953 of the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. The U.S. and its Arab allies backed Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war that lasted from 1980 to 1988, with the U.S. even providing intelligence as the Iraqi leader bombed Iranian targets.

In the 1990s, the Clinton administration practiced a policy of “duel containment” against Iraq and Iran, and early in 2002, just months after the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration labeled Iraq part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iraq and North Korea.

Iran’s sectarian responses to the eruption of popular unrest across the Arab world in 2011, known as the Arab Spring, has left it in isolation.

Even as it supported a revolt of the Shiite majority in nearby Bahrain, where a Saudi-backed Sunni regime carried out mass repression, Iran threw its support behind the Alawite minority regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad against the Sunni majority.

It provided oil, enormous financial aid, arms and ammunition to Assad. It also sent hundreds of military advisers and deployed the Hezbollah militia from Lebanon and facilitated the insertion of thousands of Shiite volunteers, first Iraqis and more recently Afghan Hazaras.

“Nowadays we find that our neighbors are ganged up against Iran. They would be very happy for Iran to have a catastrophe,” said Davood Hermidas Bavand, a retired veteran diplomat. “We find loneliness in the crowd.”

Long term, Iran’s star may be on the rise, but it isn’t there yet.

“Iran is being considered a potential good partner for the United States,” said Seyed Jalal Sadatian, a former Iranian ambassador to Britain. “The U.S. is looking for a strong regional ally to become the policeman of the region.”

But the key to such a shift is the acquiescence of America’s key Gulf allies. And that is up to Washington, said think tank director Barzegar.

“The duty and burden is on America to convince the Saudis that Iran is not a threat for them, which it is not. How can you imagine Iran attacking Saudi Arabia? This is ridiculous.” He added: “The U.S. needs to change that picture.”

Veteran diplomat Davood put it more diplomatically. “When we have a good relationship with the United States, our neighbors will try to get closer to Iran,” he said. “But when there is hostility and animosity, they take a different, subjective view of Iran and entertain unfriendly visions.”
But Washington may not be forthcoming so long as Iran backs Hezbollah and the Houthis. If the administration carries out Kerry’s commitment to Congress, it is possible that Washington, not Tehran, will have the upper hand in regional issues.

New York Is Overdue For Major Earthquake (Rev 6:12)

Office workers gather on a sidewalk after their building was evacuated following a 2011 earthquake in New York.



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