Clearing The Way For The Antichrist

After Saddam Was Hanged
 

The author loved Iraq. His rage and despair at the brutality that has seized his country comes through on every page of his novel.
By REUEL MARC GERECHT
March 15, 2016 6:47 p.m. ET
Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, no voice arguing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein had greater moral weight than that of Kanan Makiya. As Dexter Filkins put it in a 2007 New York Times Magazine profile of the Iraqi-American intellectual, he “made the case for invading because it was the right thing to do—to destroy an evil regime and rescue a people from their nightmare of terror and suffering. Not for oil, Makiya argued, and not for some superweapons hidden in the sand, but to satisfy an obligation to our fellow human beings.”
Mr. Makiya, a secular Shiite who came to the United States in the 1960s to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had spent years reflecting on Iraq’s slide into savage sectarianism. All his work beginning with the “Republic of Fear” (1989), his seminal account of Saddam’s Iraq, has had an overarching theme: that the culpability for the Arab world’s barbaric predicament was not primarily the fault of foreigners, though they weren’t guiltless, but that of its ruling elites. It was they who bulldozed civil society, creating ever more ghastly military regimes that have now collapsed into Sunni-versus-Shiite slaughterhouses.
The enormity of the chaos that followed the American invasion paralyzed Mr. Makiya’s pen. He lived in Iraq between 2003 and 2006 and watched things unravel, but wrote little. With “The Rope,” he has broken his silence. The novel is unrelenting in its thinly camouflaged condemnations, particularly of the country’s Shiite leaders. Mr. Makiya loves Iraq—or the idea of what a new Iraq could be—and his rage and despair at the brutality that has seized his country comes through on every page.
The novel’s central character is an unnamed Shiite, who becomes deeply involved in the Mahdi Army, the militant movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, which is at the forefront of fighting both Americans and Sunni Iraqis. We meet him dressed in the “freshly minted” uniforms of the new Iraqi Army, standing on the jury-rigged platform where Saddam Hussein is set to be hanged. He looks down at the mob, “drunk with excitement and thirsty for blood.”
“When the Tyrant dropped through the trapdoor, wildly bucking his bound feet, fighting to the very last millisecond of his life, I saw myself as though for the first time, with my entire being. Something in me had rotted.” No one “could reverse the stench I now emitted.” The young man’s profound unease with the crudeness of the execution starts him on a journey back through time, to his childhood in Najaf, the holiest of Iraq’s cities, the final resting place of the Caliph Ali, the founding father of Shiite Islam.
“There is nothing like a holy city, and pious visitors, to make a city’s normal residents thoroughly unholy and consistently impious,” Mr. Makiya writes of Najaf. The city is the location of the novel’s defining crime: the real-life murder in April 2003 of Abd al-Majid al-Khoei, the son of Iraq’s most influential cleric of the 20th century, Abul Qassim al-Khoei.
Majid—in reality and in the novel—returned to his birthplace from exile in London ahead of the invading American troops. Mr. Makiya suggests that he hoped to help strengthen the moderate forces within the all-critical Shiite clergy. He was savagely knifed to death by unknown assailants, attacked near the threshold of Ali’s shrine. Majid’s killing—how he died, why he was murdered, who lied about his death, who ignored it—foreshadows, in Mr. Makiya’s telling, the deterioration of Iraq after Saddam.
Mr. Makiya‘s young narrator happens to discover Majid’s sliced up body in an alleyway. He doesn’t know who the bloodied man is. His uncle, an important man in Sadr’s organization, insists he is “an American agent” because he was “carrying dollars, lots of them.” But there were no dollars on the mangled body—only 100 stab wounds.
The novel explores the bloody divisions within the prestigious clerical families of the Shiite world and, more fundamentally, between a Shiism of mercy and a Shiism of revenge. The secrets of the young man’s family are slowly revealed and finally bring him face to face with Saddam, sardonic and still commanding, in a jail cell waiting for the rope. The young man learns that he is still living in Saddam’s ruins, “a nation of sick and spite-filled men, of selfish men, of hollow men, of treacherous men who would whisper ill of their fathers and brothers, and sell them to the devil for a pittance.”
Mr. Makiya’s writing is sublime when his subject is the slide from decency to evil. His depiction of the descent into barbarism of Haider, one of the central character’s closest friends, is as good a portrait as we are likely to get of Iraq’s post-Saddam savagery. “Fighting Sunni terror transformed him,” the young man reflects after Haider becomes the most notorious of the Mahdi Army’s killers. “His name popped up whenever a new pile of Sunni corpses was found with holes drilled into their hands and feet, and especially when the coup de grace took the form of a hole drilled all the way through the victim’s skull.”
Despite such darkness, “The Rope” leaves the reader with a sliver of hope that individual acts of dignity matter. “Love, so long as it hides, feels itself in great danger, and is only reassured by exposing itself to risk,” the young man’s father writes to his wife and son, knowing that a hideous death soon awaits him.
“The Rope” is not a perfect novel: Mr. Makiya’s writing is sometimes in tension with a novelist’s imperative to show, not tell. I suspect that he chose to use fiction as a vehicle as it spares his friends—if not himself—from the direct criticism that would have been unavoidable in a work of nonfiction. But the book is an indispensable guide into the “warehouses of cruelty” of the modern Middle East and gives us a better idea of why Iraq failed after being liberated from a tyrant, and why Sunnis and Shiites now so eagerly kill each other.
Mr. Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

New Jersey #1 Disaster State: The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

 Kiplinger News
New York Quake

The Sixth Seal: New York Quake

Disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather — so much so that certain locales earn frightening nicknames, such as Tornado Alley. No matter where you live, make sure you have the right kinds and necessary amounts of insurance coverage to protect your finances.

  • Estimated property damage (2006-2013): $26.4 billion
  • Most frequent disasters: damaging wind, winter storms, floods and flash floods
  • Weather-related fatalities (2006-2013): 87

New Jersey earns the top spot on this list, in large part due to damage wrought by Sandy — which had weakened from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone by the time it the Jersey Shore — in October 2012. The state was among the hardest hit by Sandy, which was the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, after Hurricane Katrina. Many homes and businesses were destroyed along the Jersey Shore, and a portion of the Atlantic City Boardwalk washed away. Shortly after Sandy hit, another storm brought wet snow that caused more power outages and damage.
Homeowners who live along the coast or in areas where there are frequent storms should take steps before hurricane season begins to protect their homes and finances from damage.

India Fires New Nuclear ICBM

India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile
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Ali Zain
March 14, 2016 11:13 am

NEW DELHI (Staff Report) – India on Monday successfully test-fired Agni-I ballistic missile in an experiment conducted at strategic test range off Odisha coast.

According to Defence officials, the missile is capable to carry conventional warhead as well as nuclear material of up to 1,000 kg weight.

Agni-I can be used for ground to ground and ground to air purposes for up to a range of 1,000 kilometres.

The missile will be used by the 334 Missile Group at Secunderabad, under the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army.

The Indian Point Nuclear Error (Revelation 6:12)

The Indian Point Nuclear Plant: Scourge or Savior?
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MARCH 14, 2016
To the Editor:

Re “Indian Point: Past Its Expiration Date” (Op-Ed, March 7):

Paul Gallay and Michael Shank make a strong case for the immediate retirement of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. In addition to the recent major malfunctions the plant has suffered, the continuing ecological effects the plant’s antiquated cooling water intake system has on the Hudson River estuary and the high radiation levels observed in groundwater testing, the aging facility poses a threat to the regional food shed.

That threat comes in the form of land contamination from a large radioactive release, a factor that Victor Gilinsky, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said should be carefully considered during the license renewal proceedings.

Long-term contamination should be a major concern for a state that has a growing local food economy and is among the country’s top agricultural producers for commodities like apples, grapes and dairy. According to the Office of the New York State Comptroller, the Hudson Valley region has about 2,400 farms and 340,000 acres of farmland.

KYLE RABIN
 Director of Programs
Grace Communications Foundation
New York

To the Editor:

While nuclear plant license renewal applications historically take 24 to 30 months for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review, Entergy’s license renewal application for Indian Point 2 and 3 has been under review for nine years, including more than 37,000 hours of inspection and review by the N.R.C. This is due in part to the state’s delay in considering water use permits. As part of this process, the facility produces needed electricity under daily independent oversight by the commission.

The writers ignore the fact that tritium is a naturally occurring radioisotope that, in the words of the Environmental Protection Agency, “is one of the least dangerous radionuclides because it emits very weak radiation and leaves the body relatively quickly.”Tritium is regulated by the federal government, and it is widely recognized that the recent tritium release at Indian Point will not pose a public health concern.

As a former site vice president at Indian Point, I know from experience that the plant’s value as a reliable provider of carbon-free electricity can’t be erased by unmerited criticism.

JOSEPH E. POLLOCK
Vice President, Nuclear Operations
Nuclear Energy Institute
Washington

ISIS Committing Genocide Against Christians (Daniel 8:4)

House declares ISIS committing genocide against Christians, other minorities
CHRISTIANS-SYRIA-1

White House may recognize Christian genocide by ISIS

The House approved a resolution Monday that declares the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East — putting even more pressure on the Obama administration to do the same ahead of a deadline later this week.

The resolution passed the House with a unanimous vote of 383-0.

The resolution came to a vote just days after the release of a graphic new report by the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians on ISIS’ atrocities. The report made the case that the terror campaign against Christians and other minorities in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East is, in fact, genocide.

“When ISIS systematically targets Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities for extermination, this is not only a grave injustice—it is a threat to civilization itself,” Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said in a statement. “We must call the violence by its proper name: genocide.”
The resolution was voted on ahead of a congressionally mandated March 17 deadline for Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House to make a decision on whether to make such a declaration. The measure is an effort to force the administration’s hand on the issue, as the administration has so far declined to take an official position.

There is a similar measure in the Senate that has yet to be voted on.

“Christians, Yezidis, and other beleaguered minority groups can find new hope in this trans-partisan and ecumenical alliance against ISIS’ barbaric onslaught,” Fortenberry, who is co-chairman of the Religious Minorities of the Middle East Caucus and represents America’s largest Yezidi community, said in the statement.

The measure also received the backing of House Republican leadership, with Speaker Paul Ryan calling on the Obama administration to take action in light of recent attacks against Christians.
“Last week, ISIS militants killed 16 people, including four Catholic nuns, at a retirement home in southern Yemen,” Ryan said in a statement Monday. “This is the latest in a string of brutal attacks committed by ISIS against Christian and other minorities. Yet the administration has still not called this what it is: A genocide.”

“We want to label what this is so this never happens and should not happen, and someone has to stand up,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer Monday.
It is rare for Congress to make a genocide determination.

In addition to the genocide resolution, the House also voted on a measure to create an international tribune to try ISIS members accused of atrocities.

The measure passed in a vote of 392 to 3. The no votes came from Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich, Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

At least three presidential candidates — Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz on the Republican side, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side — have called on the administration to designate ISIS atrocities against Christians as genocide.

When asked on March 1 why the administration has yet to make the determination, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the word genocide “involves a very specific legal determination that has, at this point, not been reached.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday he did not expect any resolution voted on in the House to be a factor in the decision.