Netanyahu States the Obvious About a Nuclear Iran

Netanyahu claims Iran lied about its nuclear ambitions

Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented documents and files during a primetime speech in Israel that he says shows Iran has “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons,” despite Iran’s claims it has no ambitions to pursue nuclear weapons development.

Between the lines: The urgency behind the nuclear deal came from the belief Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon, so this won’t come as a surprise to any of the parties to the deal. Axios contributor Barak Ravid tweets the “information is not new and especially interesting. …It won’t change the position of the European powers.”

Much of Netanyahu’s presentation was in English, which indicates the target audience may have been the U.S. As Axios’ Jonathan Swan notes, the speech may help build the public case for Trump to blow up the Iran deal on May 12 by reimposing sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and central bank. Netanyahu concluded the presentation by saying of Trump, “I’m sure he’ll do the right thing.”

From the presentation: One key Powerpoint slide in the presentation simply read, “IRAN LIED.” The files Netanyhu had on stage behind him: “Incriminating documents…charts…presentations…blueprints…photos…videos…and more.” Netanyahu said the “U.S. can vouch for its authenticity.”

Trump said in a press conference shortly after Netanyahu spoke that he “got to see some” of the speech and said of Iran’s activity, “that is just not an acceptable situation.”

New York earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‘dangerous shaking from far away’

Joshua Nevett

Published 30th April 2018

SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.

Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.

A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.

Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.

The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.

Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.

EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors

But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.

The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.

What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.

The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.

GETTY

THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City

USGS

RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS

“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher

This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.

“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.

Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.

But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.

“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.

In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.

“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.

On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.

USGS

FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.

“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.

“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

Palestinians Continue to Riot Outside City Walls (Revelation 11:2)

A Palestinian protester flings rocks toward the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel and Gaza on Friday. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

They were the first significant demonstrations in the enclave since Israeli forces shot and killed 59 people and injured hundreds more during protests Monday coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation and the formal opening of a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

The United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Raad Hussein, delivered a sharp rebuke against Israel on Friday, saying, “There is little evidence of any attempt to minimize casualties on Monday.”

Addressing a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, he said “the stark contrast in casualties on both sides” was “suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response.”

More than 110 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began March 30. An Israeli soldier was injured by a stone Monday, Hussein said, but there have been no deaths on the Israeli side.

The council voted 29 to 2 to set up a commission of inquiry to look into the deadly crackdown, a move decried by Israel and the United States. Charging bias against Israel, the two countries’ representatives noted that Friday’s resolution made no mention of Hamas, the armed Islamist movement that controls Gaza and which they regard as a terrorist group.

Most of those killed this week were members of the group, a senior Hamas official said Wednesday.

“If in the last round, 62 were martyred, 50 of them were from Hamas, and 12 were other people’s sons,” Salah Bardawil, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said in an interview with the local Baladna Channel, a Palestinian news outlet that broadcasts via Facebook. “This is an official figure I’m giving you. And before that, you can say that 50% at least of the martyrs were from Hamas.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh rallies protesters Friday at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh rallies protesters Friday at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Bardawil did not specify whether these were fighters or civilian supporters of Hamas.

But Israeli officials — who have accused Hamas of using the protests as cover to try to wage attacks against its soldiers and civilians — seized on the comments as evidence that the protests are not the peaceful gatherings that organizers portray.

“It was clear to Israel and now it is clear to the whole world that there was no popular protest,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Wednesday. “This was an organized mob of terrorists organized by Hamas.”

But after Monday’s bloodshed, the focus shifted Tuesday to burying the dead, and the crowds at the border were much smaller. On Friday, prayer leaders across the densely populated enclave urged Gazans to return to the border fence.

At a mosque in Gaza City, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that for all the “painful farewells,” good things had come from the protests, including a refocusing of international attention on the plight of Palestinians and “real steps” to ease a crippling blockade that has sharply curtailed the movement of goods and people to and from the strip since Hamas took over in 2007.

He cited a decision by Egypt to keep the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip open throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the longest period since 2013. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi said in a tweet posted on his official account late Thursday that the move would “alleviate the burdens of the brothers in the Gaza Strip.”

Several injured Gaza residents with Jordanian citizenship were also allowed to cross into Israel on Friday with their relatives to be taken to Jordan for medical treatment, the Israeli military said. The military said it had transferred large quantities of equipment to Gaza earlier in the week, but all of it was returned by Hamas.

Later in the afternoon Friday, buses departed from mosques loaded with men, women and children who wanted to break their Ramadan fast at the main protest camp east of Gaza City. Most kept a safe distance from the Israeli soldiers on the other side of security barriers. But several hundred surged forward, swinging slingshots and burning tires to create a thick, black smokescreen.

Israeli forces responded with volleys of tear gas and the occasional gunshot. But casualties were much lower than on Monday: 56 people were treated for gas inhalation, according to Gaza health officials.

Hazem Naizi, who brought his 7-year-old son to the protests, planted a pair of plastic stools in the sand so they could watch the spectacle.

“I brought him here so he can know his land,” Naizi said, pointing in the direction of agricultural fields on the other side of the security barrier.

He shrugged off the danger: “If he doesn’t die from a bullet at the border, he will die from the siege,” Naizi said.

Mohammed Abu Marasa, 20, was shot in the ankle Monday but returned to the protest camp Friday leaning on a cane with a bandaged leg.

“I want to take [a bullet] in the head for the sake of Jerusalem,” he said. “It is better than this life.”

Conditions for most Gazans are desperate: Unemployment is close to 50%, the tap water is undrinkable, homes and businesses receive only a few hours of electricity a day, and hospitals are running out of supplies.

On the Israeli side, fire crews struggled to keep up as kites carrying flaming rags floated over from Gaza during an unseasonable heat wave. There were “too many fires to count,” a soldier stationed amid the fields of Nahal Oz kibbutz said. While the green jojoba fields resisted the flames, dry wheat sheaves almost ready for harvest acted like kindling.

Police later said they were looking into the possibility that some of the fires were the result of an arson attack, rather than incendiary kites from Gaza.

In the rest of Israel and the West Bank, the first Friday of Ramadan passed quietly. Some 100,000 people prayed at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, including 40,000 Palestinians who were issued special permits to enter the city, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

About 7,000 others in the West Bank prayed at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, a site known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs, where a Sabbath service was held late Friday on the other side of the same ancient building.

Special correspondent Tarnopolsky reported from the Nahal Oz kibbutz in Israel. Special correspondent Hana Salah in Gaza City contributed to this report.

4:15 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with staff reporting.

This article was originally published at 2:25 p.m.

Alexandra Zavis

Alexandra Zavis is a writer and editor on the Los Angeles Times’ Foreign Desk who has reported from more than 40 countries. She spent a decade with the Associated Press, covering Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, among other war-torn places. Since joining The Times in 2006, she has served as a Baghdad correspondent and as a California reporter covering poverty and veterans issues. She is a recipient of the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Award for distinguished reporting on foreign affairs and was part of teams of reporters awarded the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for foreign correspondence and APME’s International Perspective Award. She is a graduate of Oxford University and City University in London.

Antichrist Officially Wins Iraq Elections (Daniel 8:3)

  • Sitting PM in third place with pro-Iran figure in second
  • Protracted negotiations to form government expected

A political bloc led by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the US who also opposes Iranian influence in Iraq, has been confirmed as the winner of the country’s parliamentary election, the electoral commission said on Saturday.

Sadr himself cannot become prime minister as he did not run in the election, though his bloc’s victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations. His Sairoon electoral list captured 54 parliamentary seats.

The Al-Fatih bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri, who has close ties with Iran and heads an umbrella group of paramilitaries that played a key role in defeating Islamic State, came in second with 47 seats.

Iraq’s shock election result may be turning point for Iran

The Victory Alliance, headed by incumbent prime minister Haider al-Abadi, took third place with 42.

The victory was a surprising change of fortunes. The cleric, who made his name leading two violent uprisings against US occupation troops, was sidelined for years by Iranian-backed rivals.

His bloc’s performance represented a rebuke to a political elite that some voters blame for widespread corruption and dysfunctional governance.

Sadr’s unlikely alliance with communists and secular Iraqis says it fiercely opposes any foreign interference in Iraq, which is strongly backed by both Tehran and Washington.

It has promised to help the poor and build schools and hospitals in Iraq, which was battered in the war to defeat Isis and has suffered from low oil prices.

Before the election, Iran publicly stated it would not allow Sadr’s bloc to govern.

In a tweet shortly after results were announced, Sadr said: “Reform is victorious and corruption is diminishing.”

Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister. The other winning blocs would have to agree on the nomination.

In a 2010 election, vice president Ayad Allawi’s group won the largest number of seats, albeit with a narrow margin, but he was blocked from becoming premier, which he blamed on Tehran.

The election dealt a blow to Abadi, but he could still emerge as a compromise candidate palatable to all sides because he has skillfully managed the competing interests of the US and Iran – unwitting allies in the war against Isis – during his term in office.

Amiri is regarded as one of the most powerful figures in Iraq. He spent two decades fighting Saddam Hussein from Iran.

The Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, commander of foreign operations for the elite Revolutionary Guards and a highly influential figure in Iraq, has been holding talks with politicians in Baghdad to promote the formation of a new cabinet which would have Iran’s approval.

The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results.

China Extends Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

China’s air force has landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region, it said in a statement.

Several bombers of various types – including the long-range, nuclear strike-capable H-6K – carried out landing and take off drills at an unidentified island airfield after carrying out simulated strike training on targets at sea, the Chinese airforce said.

“A division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organised multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions’,” it said.

The statement said the pilot of the H-6K bomber conducted assault training on a designated sea target and then carried out take-offs and landings at an airport in the area, describing the exercise as preparation for “the west Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.

The notice, published on the PLAAF’s Weibo microblogging account, did not provide the precise location of the exercise.

The US has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s extensive sovereignty claims in the territory, which is also subject to claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia. The waters are vital global shipping routes and contain what are believed to be significant oil and natural gas deposits.

“The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Christopher Logan said.

“We have seen these same reports and China’s continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region.”

Wang Mingliang, a defence expert cited in the Chinese statement, said the takeoff and landing exercises will help the air force “strengthen its combat capability to deal with maritime security threats”.

The move comes weeks after US network CNBC reported that China had installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on outposts in the Spratly Islands that are also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, citing sources close to US intelligence.

Washington warned Beijing would face unspecified “consequences” over its militarisation of the South China Sea, and said it had raised the issue with China.

In an analysis published on its website, CSIS said the location of the runway was believed to be Woody Island, China’s largest base in the Paracel Islands, which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

China has engaged in years of land-reclamation efforts on reefs it controls in the region and built both civilian and military facilities in the contested area.

Chinese military facilities include air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report