New York Quake Overdue (The Sixth Seal) (Rev 6:12)

Won-Young Kim, who runs the seismographic network for the Northeast at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the city is well overdue for a big earthquake.

The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.

Kim said the city is likely to experience a big earthquake every 100 years or so.

“It can happen anytime soon,” Kim said. “We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

New York has never experienced a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake, which are the most dangerous. But magnitude 5 quakes could topple brick buildings and chimneys.

Seismologist John Armbruster said a magnitude 5 quake that happened now would be more devastating than the one that happened in 1884.

The Inevitability of Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

See the source imageInevitable nuclear war – New Jersey Herald

Posted: Feb. 14, 2018 12:01 am

We don’t do enough thinking about catastrophe, so let’s pause to note that everything on our national political stage — tax reform, immigration, health care, the Mueller investigation — and in our private lives, for that matter, occurs against two apocalyptic backdrops: climate change and nuclear war.

That’s too much to think about in 700 words, so let’s allow climate change to simmer on the back burner for a while. Despite already catastrophic effects, we’re doing very little about it, anyway; on the contrary, we’ve elected national leadership that doesn’t take it seriously.

So let’s consider instead the possibility of nuclear war:

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis got our attention, and for a decade or two we lived with the reality that nuclear destruction was as few as 30 minutes away. We built fallout shelters, studied ways to protect ourselves from radiation and held civil defense drills.

Then we got used to the idea and settled into a grim nuclear standoff with other nuclear nations; the notion of nuclear annihilation became as abstract and distant — and as easily ignorable — as climate change.

We even made successful efforts at limiting nuclear proliferation and at reducing standing nuclear arsenals.

But with Iran, North Korea and a U.S. president more inclined toward belligerence than diplomacy, things have changed: nuclear is back.

Current conditions are reminiscent of the world of 1913, just prior to the start of the First World War:

The Great War didn’t have a proximate cause, and historians still puzzle over why it happened at all. How could such a cataclysmic world-wide event be triggered by an isolated assassination in Sarajevo in 1914?

The answer resides in the tensions and rivalries among the great international powers of the day and in their response to them, which was to prepare for war. For example, in 1900 Germany decided to build a fleet to match Britain’s Royal Navy, and by 1906 a full-fledged race for battleship superiority was underway.

Similarly, France extended the terms of service of its conscripts in order to match the size of Germany’s growing army. In short, by 1913 armies and weapons had taken on a life of their own that threatened the power of national leaders and diplomats to control them. Because the European powers were so well prepared for war, war had become almost inevitable. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was merely the incidental trigger that ignited the conflagration.

Further, in 1913 war was a matter of horses and swords and single-shot, bolt-action rifles. Certainly, soldiers got hurt and many died, but Europe didn’t have the collective imagination to envision the devastation of a modern war fought with modern weapons. Few could have predicted 40 million casualties in just four years.

We suffer from both of these conditions today: We’ve never really absorbed the stark lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we’ve failed to extrapolate the devastation of the two comparatively modest nuclear weapons discharged in 1945 to a significant exchange of today’s much more powerful weapons.

Because the aftermath of a real nuclear war is unthinkable, we’ve largely refused to think about it.

Further, the weapons themselves threaten our capacity to control them. Nuclear weapons are precarious, as indicated by the recent panic in Honolulu when a defense drill got out of hand. And while we might hope that the use of nuclear weapons could be constrained by rationality, somehow in our country we’ve allowed the so-called nuclear football to fall into the hands of a man who is characterized by emotion, insecurity, impulse and bluster. And then there’s Kim Jong-un.

One other factor works against us, just as it did in 1913: Next year’s Pentagon budget will be $716 billion, the largest ever. Weapons demand to be used. We’ve never invented a weapon that we’ve declined to use. All of this implies that a nuclear war is inevitable, and the ensuing calamity will be unimaginable.

The only silver lining is that the devastation of climate change will fade into insignificance.

•••

John M. Crisp is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. He be reached at jcrispcolumns@gmail.com.

Who is the Antichrist? (Revelation 13)

who is muqtada al-sadr karadsheh jsten orig_00004724Who is Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

(CNN)Muqtada al-Sadr isn’t an ayatollah.

He’s not a general and he’s not a politician, at least in the conventional sense. But with a single speech he can spark a protest that ends up in with hundreds of Iraqi Shiites storming their parliament. He’s commanded a militia of thousands, some who fought and killed U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. And he’s been on TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people on the planet.

Iraqi protesters overrun green zone
This is how he’s managed to gain such prominence — and retain it.

The Sadr family

Sadr was born in 1973 in the Shiite holy city of Najaf to a prominent family.
The city, which is about 100 miles south of Baghdad, is home to the Imam Ali shrine, where the eponymous cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad is buried. Shiites believe that Ali was the rightful successor to Muhammad.
Sadr’s father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was an important Shiite figure in Iraq who openly spoke out against Saddam Hussein and his ruling Baath party.
The elder Sadr and two of his sons were assassinated in 1999 in Najaf, and many believe that he was killed either by the dictator’s forces or Sunnis loyal to him.
Despite the cult of personality Muqtada al-Sadr has developed in recent years, he is still a relatively private man. He does not appear in public often and his exact age was not known until recently.

The Mehdi Army

Sadr is best known to Western audiences for his role leading the Mehdi Army, which he formed in 2003 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The militia is considered the armed wing of the Sadrist movement, which followed the teachings of Sadr’s father. Its power base was in Najaf and the massive Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, which is home to more than 2 million Shias.
Sadr himself opposed the presence of outside forces in Iraq — be they al Qaeda’s Sunni fighters or U.S. forces — and hoped to establish Islamic rule within the country, clashing with the Iraqi Army, U.S. forces and fellow Shias.
By 2004, forces loyal to Sadr battled the U.S. for control of Najaf. President George W. Bush labeled him an enemy and ordered the U.S. military to take him out.
“We can’t allow one man to change the course of the country,” he said, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.
Within a week, Bush changed course and decided not to go after him.
“That reversal was the turning point in al-Sadr’s rise to power,” Sanchez, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said. “It gave him legitimacy and enhanced his stature within the broader Iraqi community.”
Later that year, Sadr made peace with the most powerful Shia religious figure in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who brokered a truce between U.S. forces and the Mehdi Army. The deal brought together the unquestioned spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia population and the man who could mobilize the Shia “street.”
As part of the agreement, the Iraqi government agreed not to press charges after a judge issued an arrest warrant for Sadr in connection with the killing of another prominent Shia leader, Ayatollah Abdul Majid al-Khoei.
But the Mehdi Army became even more deadly as the war dragged on.
The militia was linked to much of the sectarian violence that reached fever pitch in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. It was accused of running death squads, killing Sunni Arabs and fighting with rival Shiite factions, though Sadr would denounce the violence from time to time.
After more than 200 people were killed in an attack on Sadr City in 2006 — one of the deadliest periods in the Iraq war — Shiite militants responded by burning people to death and attacking Sunni mosques.
By the end of the year, Pentagon leaders assessed that the Mehdi army had replaced al Qaeda as “the most dangerous accelerant” of sectarian violence in Iraq.
But the Mehdi Army also clashed with other Shiite militias. The group often clashed with Badr Brigades for control of parts of Iraq’s Shiite-dominate south. At one point the Badr Brigades partnered with Iraqi security forces to fight the Mehdi Army.
However, the Mehdi Army’s power and influence began to subside by the end of 2007, in part due to the U.S. troop surge.

Kingmaker

Sadr’s capacity to reinvent his role in Iraqi politics, and to tap into a strong vein of Shia protest, has helped him survive and outmaneuver many rivals over the past 13 years. His latest initiative reinforces his place as one of the most influential figures in Iraq.
He and the Iraqi government signed a ceasefire in 2008, and later that year he formally disbanded the Mehdi Army.
The organization is now called Saraya al-Salam, which means the Peace Brigades.
His plan was to transition it into a socio-political populist movement to help Iraq’s poor Shiites through a combination of political and grassroots activities — following a similar model to the structure of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Sadr would move to Iran later that year for religious study. Some believed that he hoped to achieve a higher religious standing, like Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, in order to strengthen his leadership position.
He returned to Iraq permanently in 2011 — more than three years later — without a new title, but with ambitions to become an Iraqi nationalist leader who could make a difference by growing his movement and pushing his followers to the ballot box.
“We have not forgotten the occupier. We remain a resistance,” he said in one of his first speeches back. Sadr did strike a conciliatory tone with fellow Iraqis: “Whatever struggle happened between brothers, let us forget about it and turn the page forever and live united,” he said. “We do not kill an Iraqi.”
Though Sadr rarely makes public appearances, his plan seems to have worked so far.
During Iraq’s 2010 elections, his supporters were key to helping then-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki secure a second term; today they make up the second-largest bloc in Iraq’s Parliament.
But Sadr and Maliki have since had a nasty falling out, and now are considered rivals in Baghdad.
After the 2010 election, Sadr referred to Maliki as a “dictator.”
He often called for the government to better include moderate Sunni elements, a faction that most say was marginalized by the Maliki government, which led to his ouster (and in part contributed to the rise of ISIS).
Long-time U.S. enemy threatens ISIS leader
His support for Iraq’s current Prime Minster, Haider al-Abadi, is lukewarm at best.
Sadr is now focusing his efforts on reshaping Iraq’s government — he wants more technocrats appointed and to go after corrupt politicians.
Sadr’s supporters held massive protests earlier this year to push Abadi to form a new government and enact reforms. The demonstrations were called off after Abadi trimmed the size of his Cabinet and submitted a new list of nonpolitical ministers for approval by parliament.
And it was Sadr’s impassioned speech late April that spurred protesters to occupy the Iraqi Parliament and Baghdad’s Green Zone, a normally off-limits area housing government buildings and foreign embassies.

The Iranian Horn Cannot Be Trusted (Daniel 8:4)

See the source image
Iran FocusLondon, 23 Feb – The Saudi foreign minister has said that the Iran nuclear deal is “unacceptable” because the world could not trust Iran to not produce a nuclear bomb in the future.On Thursday, Adel Al-Jubeir told the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament that the expiration deates on certain restrictions in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) mean that in eight to ten years’ time Iran could manufacture a nuclear bomb “within weeks”.Jubeir said: “We believe the sunset provision is very dangerous. We don’t trust that Iran will not try (to make a nuclear bomb) eight to 10 years from now.”The expiration of restrictions will allow Iran to gradually increase production of centrifuges and uranium enrichment after 2023.

Jubeir said: “By the time they kick out the inspectors and by the time the condemnations end, they’ll have one bomb. By the time they get a resolution in the UN, they’ll have three bombs and by the time the resolution is in place they’ll have a dozen bombs. And we are right next to them.”

He continued: “Our point is enough is enough. They need to start to act as a normal country. The revolution is over. If they want to be respected in the world they need to abide by the rules of the world.”

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi denied that a sunset clause existed and said that Iran is committed to not having nuclear weapons, which raises the questions why Iran is still continuing work on nuclear technology and why Iran’s go-to threat is pulling out of the nuclear deal?

He said: “We have accepted these limitations to our nuclear program to build confidence. When these restrictions are finished it doesn’t mean Iran can go for the bomb.”

Araghchi also defended Iran’s ballistic missile program, arguing that it is not covered in the JCPOA despite a UN resolution, and accused the US of pouring “poison” on Iran by implying that it had not complied with the terms of the nuclear deal, despite evidence that Iran is still working on nuclear weapons with the North Koreans.

He then bizarrely claimed that Donald Trump’s criticism of the deal was a “violation of the letter and the text of the deal, not just the spirit” and accused the West of being responsible for the fact that the economic benefits to Iran of the nuclear deal, have not benefited the ordinary Iranian people.

As usual, this is untrue. The Iranian people are not benefitting because the ruling system has kept all benefits for itself.