Antichrist Only Works for Personal Gain

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Recently-declassified reports on the interrogation of Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali reveal further insight on the deterioration in relations with he and Muqtada al-Sadr — who leads the top list in Iraq’s parliamentary election.

The reports were authorized for release by US Central Command months ago, but haven’t officially been made public, although The Wall Street Journal wrote on Thursday it has reviewed copies. He was captured by the United States in 2007 and handed over to Iraqi authorities in 2009.

In a January 2008 interrogation report, Khazali complained that his former comrade Sadr “has no principles and only works for personal gain.”

Khazali’s group has never been listed as a „terrorist“ organization by the United States, despite his alleged 2005 attack that killed five US soldiers and the recently revealed depth of training in explosives he received from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran.

In Iran, the native of Baghdad was trained on explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs), also called shape charges, which were responsible for thousands of coalition and Iraqi casualties during the US invasion and the resurgence.

“Detainee said that anyone can receive EFP training and Iran does not care who gets it,” a report said. “This is because of the availability and low cost of EFPs.”

Khazali said in a report that the Iranians did not specify targets in Iraq, but urged Iraq’s Shiite militias to first target British forces „to force a withdrawal,“ thus increasing pressure on the United States to leave.

“There are Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah conducting the training at these bases,” the report said, based on interrogation. “The Iranians are experts in full scale warfare while the Lebanese are experts in urban or guerrilla warfare.“

Khazali said during the interrogations that many Iraqi officials were sympathetic or influenced by Iran, including late PUK leader Jalal Talabani.

In Iraq’s parliamentary election on May 12, Khazali is supporting Hadi al-Amiri’s Fatih, which won 47 seats — second most. They are aligned with former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition.

Sadr’s Sayirun, Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr, Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma, Ayad Allawi’s Wataniya are partnered with the New Generation.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) will go to Baghdad on Saturday. They want all Kurdistani parties on board because it would give them as many seats as Sadr won — 54.

Khazali called for all US forces to immediately leave Iraq in October 2017 because ISIS was beaten.

He has recently joined in other calls by Shiite politicians to have a majoritarianism form of government because it would end corruption. Khazali also encouraged discussion of a presidential form of government.

„We have to search for another system such as presidential or semi-presidential,“ the sheikh said during an Eid al-Adha sermon on August 22.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

China and Russia Prepare for Nuclear War

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

  • Russia and China, the two foremost threats to the US named in official Pentagon reports, will carry out their biggest-ever military drill to reportedly include simulations for nuclear warfare.
  • Russia, the world’s largest nuclear power, and China, another long-established nuclear power, have often clashed in the past and still hold many contradictory goals, but have become main targets of the US.
  • But Russia and China have deep differences in nuclear philosophy, so it’s unclear how the pair will work together. 

Russia and China, the two key threats to the US named in official Pentagon documents, will carry out their biggest-ever military drill to reportedly include simulations for nuclear warfare.

US defense officials told the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz that the drills, the largest in Russia since 1981 and the largest joint Russian-Chinese drill ever, will include training for nuclear war.

Russia, the world’s largest nuclear power, and China, another long-established nuclear power, have often clashed in the past and still hold many contradictory policy goals, but have become main targets of the US.

Under President Donald Trump, the US has redefined its national security and defense postures, and in both documents pointed towards China and Russia, rather than terrorism or climate change, as the biggest threat to the US.

It’s unclear how China and Russia may coordinate nuclear war, as they have very different models of nuclear strategy. Russia holds the most nuclear warheads in the world, and has employed them on a growing number of dangerous and devastating platforms. Russia hopes to soon field an underwater doomsday device that could cripple life on earth for decades. Also, US intelligence reports indicate Russia is struggling with a new nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile.

China, on the other hand, has taken the opposite approach to nuclear weapons by opting for minimum deterrence.

Where Russia and the US have established nuclear parity and a doctrine of mutually assured destruction where any nuclear attack on one country would result in a devastating nuclear attack on the other. Russia and the US achieve this with a nuclear triad, of nuclear-armed submarines, airplanes, and ground-launched missiles so spread out and secretive that a single attack could never totally remove the other country’s power to launch a counter strike.

But China, with just around 200 nuclear weapons, has its force structured to simply survive a nuclear attack and then offer one back weeks, or even months later. Nonetheless, the Pentagon’s annual report on China said that Beijing trains for strikes on the US using nuclear-capable bombers.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said this week that about 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft will participate, using all of the training ranges in the country’s central and eastern military districts.

Beijing has said it will send about 3,200 troops, 30 helicopters, and more than 900 other pieces of military hardware.

Iranian Islamic Cells Within the US

Islamist Group in Arizona Hosts Supporter of Iran Regime, Hezbollah Terrorists

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February 22, 200: Hezbollah militants make their way into a huge hall as thousands of mainly Shiite Muslims gather to watch a televised speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shiite Muslim Lebanese Hezbollah militant group, in Beirut’s southern suburb, ten days after the assassination of top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughnieh in a bomb attack in Damascus. (Photo: Mazen All / AFP / Getty Images)

By Ryan Mauro, Justen Charters & Alex VanNess

A Shiite Islamist group in Arizona hosts a supporter of the Iran Regime and Hezbollah terrorists. Coming out of Mesa, Arizona, the group turned its back on Iranians protesting the theocracy earlier this month by hosting a sheikh who supports the Iranian regime and the Hezbollah terrorist group it sponsors. Online advertisements posted by the Islamic Education Foundation of Arizona shows that the group selected Sheikh Usama Abdulghani to preach to its congregation on September 8 and 9.

Abdulghani’s website hosts a shocking lecture of his titled “How to Remain on the Right Path.” In it, he teaches that Muslims should follow the Iranian Supreme Leader and Hezbollah chief into battle.

He fondly recalls learning from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah when he was a student in Qom, Iran.

He then compares the celebration of Nasrallah’s arrival to an Islamic holiday. He says, “Normally for the students, that’s like Eid,” referring to the day that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.

Abdulghani continues to refer to Nasrallah’s speech, saying:

“This was years before the victory in Lebanon. He said brothers I’m going to tell you right now I’ll be frank with you–I’m paraphrasing.

He said ‘brothers if all of the ulama [body of Islamic religious scholars] go into a valley and Sayyid Ali Khamenei goes into a valley, brothers you go into that valley that Sayyid Ali Khamenei goes in.’”

Abdulghani then reiterates that Muslims should handle any confusion they have by following the teachings of Nasrallah and Supreme Leader Khamenei:

“So, brothers and sisters when times are tough—when you see that you don’t know where truth is, everybody’s talking—just remember the words of the man who was more old school than any of us. Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, may Allah protect and preserve him…and all our leaders, especially the leader, Sayyid Ali Khamenei.”

Another unsettling feature of the sermon is its apocalyptic theme. He tells the audience that the 12th Imam will soon appear.

He says:

“Right now, brothers and sisters we are getting closer and closer to the time of the Imam. The return of the Imam is imminent brothers and sisters. It is very, very close. We don’t want to get lost now.”

According to Islamic End Times prophecies that the Iranian regime frequently references, the 12th Imam will appear during a cataclysmic war. The 12th Imam delivers a final victory for the true Muslims, ushering in global Sharia-based rule.

In another video from 2017, Abdulghani provided a voiceover describing ISIS as a plot of Israel and the West. It referred to Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei as “the Leader.

Abdulghani was born in Washington D.C. and moved to Qom, Iran when he was 20 years old, according to his bio. He studied at the Islamic Seminary there for another 20 years before moving back to the U.S.

He currently lives in Dearborn, Michigan. His teachings reflect the extremist education he received under the terrorism-sponsoring Iranian regime.

In July, the Clarion Project reported on three mosques in Michigan that promoted the Iranian regime’s ideology. One of them, the Zainabia Center of Michigan, had hosted Abdulghani as a guest lecturer.

The mosque posts messages from the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, treating him as a respected religious authority who Muslims should listen to.

The hosting of a pro-Khamenei, pro-Hezbollah sheikh is a strong indication that the Islamic Education Foundation of Arizona is promoting Shiite extremism.

Another strong indication is what the organization is not doing: It is not siding with the Iranian people over the theocratic regime.

Surely, if the Arizona organization sided with the oppressed Iranians, it could find a speaker to discuss the regime’s human rights violations. It could give a platform to Shiites that oppose the Iranian regime’s Islamism. It could help mobilize Shiites on the side of the Iranian protestors or at least bring some attention to their cause.

Yet, it doesn’t. Instead, the person it brings in as a religious authority sides with the terrorism-sponsoring regime and terrorist group Hezbollah.

What does that say about the ideology of the Islamic Education Foundation of Arizona?

Ryan Mauro

Iran Prepares to Nuke Up (Daniel 8:4)

Khamenei's remarks came as Tehran tried to cope with the return of US sanctions [Supreme Leader Press Office/Anadolu]

Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran ready to abandon nuclear deal

Ayatollah Khamenei tells Iran’s president and cabinet they cannot count on European support for landmark agreement.

Khamenei’s remarks came as Tehran tried to cope with the return of US sanctions [Supreme Leader Press Office/Anadolu]
 

Iran’s supreme leader warned the country might abandon its nuclear deal with world powers, casting doubt on the ability of European states to save the accord following the US withdrawal.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet on Wednesday they „should give up hope on [Europe] over economic issues or the nuclear deal“, according to his website.

„The nuclear deal is a means, not the goal, and if we come to this conclusion that it does not serve our national interests, we can abandon it,“ he was quoted as saying.

Iran would never negotiate with „indecent and confrontational“ US officials on a new agreement, Khamenei said.

Following US President Donald Trump’s exit from the important international accord to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, European powers have scrambled to ensure Tehran continues to receive economic benefits needed to keep it in compliance.

Khamenei set out a series of conditions in May for European powers if they wanted to keep Iran in the deal. They included steps by European banks to safeguard trade with Tehran and guarantee Iranian oil sales.

Political tumult

Khamenei’s remarks came as Iran tries to cope with the return of US sanctions, which triggered mounting economic problems that in turn are causing political tumult.

Rouhani has been battered by the return of US sanctions that saw a rapid departure of foreign firms and ended his hopes of attracting large-scale investment.

Conservative opponents of Rouhani, who have long opposed his outreach to the West, are smelling blood.

Rouhani was criticised over his handling of the economy and parliament attacked his key ministers. On Tuesday, he was grilled in parliament over economy for the first time in five years as president.

Legislators also sacked the minister of economy and finance as well as the labour minister.

„The nuclear deal is a means, not the goal, and if we come to this conclusion that it does not serve our national interests, we can abandon it.“

Iran\’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran’s official unemployment rate is 12 percent, with youth unemployment as high as 25 percent in a country where 60 percent of the 80 million population is under 30. The riyal has lost more than two-thirds of its value in a year.

The worst may yet lie ahead as senior US officials say they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero after the new round of sanctions in November.

Iran has said if it cannot sell its oil because of US pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz – the strategic artery linking Gulf crude producers to the world.

A senior Iranian military official warned on Wednesday if foreign forces in the Gulf do not follow international laws, they would face the Revolutionary Guards‘ firm response.

Iran Hegemony Continues in Iraq

1Iran accused of coercing Iraqi politicians into Shiite alliance

Iraqi and Kurdish officials on Thursday accused Iran of exerting pressure on lawmakers to align with Tehran loyalists.

Political jockeying is at its height in Iraq as the country works towards forming a new government, following the victory of populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s Sairoon coalition in the May elections.

Today Mr Al Sadr is leading a quartet of major parties looking to form the next government if they can secure just 28 more seats to meet the required majority in Parliament.

But while Mr Al Sadr has made a point of distancing himself from Tehran, Hadi Al Amiri, whose coalition came in second, is a staunch supporter of the neighbouring regime.

Tensions have been mounting since Mr Al Amiri and former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki – also favoured by Iran – joined forces against Mr Al Sadr’s quartet bloc.

Meanwhile, Tehran watches closely as the power struggle unravels.

“Iran has held a gun to the head of political parties and politicians across the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to form a majority among [Nouri Al Maliki’s] State of Law and [Hadi Al Amiri’s] Al Fatah, some Sunni Lists and Kurdish political parties for the formation of the government,” an official in Kurdistan told The National on condition of anonymity.

“Iran sees this issue and the rivalry with the US as a matter of survival,” the official said, adding that Tehran is seeking to exclude both Mr Al Sadr and incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi from forming a ruling coalition.

Both blocs have also been competing to strike a deal with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) as well as Sunni blocs to establish the biggest ruling alliance in parliament.

former senior official in Gorran, the Kurdish political bloc, said that Iran is pressuring her party and the PUK to postpone the upcoming Kurdish parliamentary elections.

“They are pressing us to postpone elections in order to focus our full attention on joining the Maliki-Amiri bloc,” Ms Abdel Wahid said in a press statement.

But Kurdish parties have set out conditions for allying with the major blocs, an official in the KDP told The National, asking to remain anonymous.

“The next few days will see meetings between the Kurdish delegation and officials in Baghdad. Our decision will be made in the interest of the Kurdish people and with respect to the Iraqi constitution,“ he said.

„The decisions of Kurdish parties will not be influenced by either Tehran or Washington,” he said, confirming that Kurdistan’s authorities have received officials from Iran, Turkey and the US in recent weeks.

Next Monday Iraq’s parliament is expected to convene its first session where MPs will elect a new speaker and two deputies. They will later elect a new president and task the leader of the largest bloc with selecting the next prime minister.

The next elected premier will inherit the mammoth task of balancing Iraq’s interests with those of the US and Iran, whose intensifying rivalry complicates matters further.

But political wrangling over who is appointed prime minister is likely to delay the process for weeks or even months.

Russia Sends Nuclear Warning to the US


Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump.
AP


At some point during the Trump administration, Russia told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that it could use nuclear weapons in the event of a war in Europe — a warning that led Mattis to regard Moscow as major threat to the US.

According to „Fear,“ Bob Woodward’s recently released book about turmoil in the White House, Moscow’s warning was in regard to a potential conflict in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

The Baltics were part of the Soviet Union and have deep ties to Russia, which has sought to reassert influence there since the end of the Cold War. Those countries have tried to move closer to the West, including NATO membership.

According to Woodward’s account, the warning from Russia came some time during or before summer 2017, when the Trump administration was haggling over the future of the Iran nuclear deal.

At the time, President Donald Trump wanted to withdraw from the deal, claiming Iran had violated the terms.

Others, including then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pushed back, citing a lack of evidence of any violation. (Trump refused to recertify the deal in October 2017 and withdrew from it in May.)

Mike Pompeo, then the director of the CIA, and Mattis didn’t disagree with Tillerson, Woodward writes, but they responded to the president’s assertions more tactfully.

Mattis, long regarded as a hawk on Iran, had mellowed, according to Woodward, preferring other actions — „Push them back, screw with them, drive a wedge between the Russians and Iranians“ — to war.

Russia, Woodward then notes,“had privately warned Mattis that if there was a war in the Baltics, Russia would not hesitate to use tactical nuclear weapons against NATO.“

„Mattis, with agreement from Dunford, began saying that Russia was an existential threat to the United States,“ Woodward adds, referring to Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Woodward offers no additional context for the warning, nor is it totally clear why that detail is included where it is in the book.

Most nuclear-armed countries have policies that would allow their first-use in a conflict.

The Baltic states have warned about what they perceive as increasing Russia activity against them, and there is evidence that Moscow is working on military facilities in the region.

Imagery released earlier this year indicated ongoing renovations at what appeared to be an active nuclear-weapons storage site in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, south of Lithuania.

„Features of the site suggest it could potentially serve Russian Air Force or Navy dual-capable forces,“ a Federation of American Scientists report on the imagery said. „But it could also be a joint site, potentially servicing nuclear warheads for both Air Force, Navy, Army, air-defense, and coastal defense forces in the region.“

‚Tactical nuclear weapons as a leveler‘

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during Navy Day celebrations in Baltiysk, in Kaliningrad, July 26, 2015.
Reuters

Tactical nuclear weapons typically have smaller yields and are generally meant for limited uses on the battlefield. Strategic nuclear weapons usually have higher yields and are used over longer ranges.

Some experts prefer the term „non-strategic nuclear weapons,“ as the use of nuclear weapons would have both tactical and strategic implications. Mattis himself has said there is no such thing as a „tactical“ nuclear weapon, as „any nuclear weapon used at any time is a strategic game-changer.“

Russia and the US have more than 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads, though Russia’s arsenal is slightly larger. Pentagon officials have said Russia wants to add to that arsenal, violating current arms-control treaties.

During the Cold War, the Soviets expected Western countries to use nuclear weapons first and had plans to use nuclear weapons against NATO targets in the event of war, using larger-yield devices against targets like cities and smaller-yield ones — „tactical“ nukes — against NATO command posts, military facilities, and weapons sites.

The US had a similar plan.

The size of Russia’s current stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons is not known, though it’s believed to be much smaller than that of the Soviet Union.

It’s not totally clear how Russia would use „tactical“ nuclear weapons — the Congressional Research Service has said Russia appears to view them as defense in nature — but they are seen as compensating for Russia’s conventional military shortcomings. (US interest in „low-yield“ nuclear weapons as a deterrent has also grown, though critics say they would raise the chance of US first-use.)

Russia has fewer „strategic“ nuclear weapons than the US, and „tactical“ nuclear weapons may be more handy for Moscow’s shorter-range, regional focus, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told The National Interest in late 2017.

„Russia’s conventional forces are incapable of defending Russian territory in a long war,“ Kristensen said. „It would lose, and as a result of that, they have placed more emphasis on more usage of tactical nuclear weapons as a leveler.“

The Rise of the Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7/8)

The Arc of History Bends Toward Nuclear-Armed Countries

Who is more secure today, North Korea and Iran or Libya and Ukraine?

The latest news from North Korea is disappointing. That is, in the nearly three months since President Donald Trump’s Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, prospects for the de-nuclearization of that country seem to be decreasing, not increasing.

On August 24, Trump tweeted that he had directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to travel to North Korea for more talks. On August 26, the North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun, mouthpiece for the Pyongyang regime, declared that the U.S. and South Korea were preparing an invasion. And on August 27, a CNBC headline blared, “The US is now ‘worse off’ on North Korea than it was before the Trump-Kim summit, expert says.” Needless to say, the American media are always looking for opportunities to slap Trump around.

It’s hard, in fact, to argue that we’re worse off than we were a year ago, or five years ago. After all, North Korea is no longer setting off nuclear explosions, nor is it firing test missiles into the Pacific, nor is it releasing propaganda videos showing Washington, D.C., in flames, as it did in 20132016, and 2017. Indeed, just last month, North Korea kept a promise made in Singapore and returned the remains of U.S. soldiers who died in the Korean War. It could even be the case that the Trump-Kim meeting had some positive effect on the relationship between the two mercurial leaders. As Trump said in Singapore, the two men now have a “special bond,” and such personal chemistry could well keep a lid on tensions.

What does not seem likely, of course, is that North Korea will actually give up its nuclear weapons. After all, from the North Korean regime’s point of view, that would be stupid. North Korea lives in a rough neighborhood, shadowed by three nuclear superpowers: China, Russia, and the U.S. Then there’s South Korea, which is a sincere friend to the North Korean people, but is no more than a frenemy to the North Korean regime. And 40 miles away, there’s Japan, an historic enemy of all Koreans.

The point here is not to plead North Korea’s case: the Pyongyang regime is, arguably, the worst in the world. Yet at the same time, it’s wise to understand why the North Koreans act as they do. As the experience of the Korean War taught us, when it comes to North Korean intentions, ignorance is not bliss.

The general rubric for this sort of foreign policy thinking—common here at TAC—is “realism.” By such hard-nosed reckoning, it’s simply unrealistic to think that Kim is going to do something that he doesn’t think is in his interest. And for a couple of decades, the Kim dynasty has understood the value of nuclear weapons. At least until such time as there’s a robust and foolproof missile defense shield, nukes are the great power equalizer.

From Pyongyang’s point of view, the need for such power equalization became all the more urgent after George W. Bush’s 2002 “axis of evil” speech. In that address, the 43rd president singled out North Korea, along with, of course, Iraq and Iran. At that point, all three regimes knew that they were in the crosshairs, and so two of them, North Korea and Iran, got serious about developing a nuclear program. From their point of view, upping their armaments made prefect sense; they needed a plan for defending themselves, and nukes do the trick.

Perversely, the only one of those countries that didn’t make a move towards nuclear weapons was Iraq. Saddam Hussein was anything but innocent; he surely would have developed nukes if he could have—yet he couldn’t. And as we know, he was easily removed from power in 2003. (The non-easy fighting came later, post-“liberation.”)

Thus we can see that nukes are the best friend of a designated “rogue regime.” Indeed, that lesson was underscored by the experience of another rogue nation, Libya. In the wake of regime change in Iraq, Libya voluntarily gave up the rudiments of its nuclear program. Finally, after decades of murderous roguery, Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi seemed to be doing his best to work within with the international order. And yet Gaddafi’s late conversion did him no good: in 2011, the U.S. and other Western nations aided rebels, and he and his government were ignominiously destroyed.

We can point to other cautionary tales about denuclearization. For instance, after the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the newly independent country of Ukraine found that it had inherited some 1,700 nukes from the evil empire.

At the time, a few wise voices said that the Ukrainians would be foolish to give up those weapons. One such voice was realist thinker John J. Mearsheimer who, in 1993, published a piece in Foreign Affairs bluntly entitled, “The Case for a Ukrainian Nuclear Deterrent.”

Mearsheimer argued that the key to Ukraine’s defense “means ensuring that the Russians, who have a history of bad relations with Ukraine, do not move to reconquer it.” He warned, “Ukraine cannot defend itself against a nuclear-armed Russia with conventional weapons.” In particular, Mearsheimer said that Ukraine would be foolish to rely on promises, no matter how comprehensive or high-minded: “No state, including the United States, is going to extend to it a meaningful security guarantee.”

Yet in 1994, urged on by the Clinton administration waving many pieces of paper, Ukraine chose to give up its nukes. It was less than 20 years later when the Russians did exactly what Mearsheimer had predicted—they attacked.

In 2014, after the Russians seized Crimea and were gnawing on Ukraine’s east, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lamented that his country had fallen into the “trap” of “pacifist illusions” two decades earlier. He added, speaking of his naive predecessors, that they had been lulled into “believing the world had all turned vegetarian.”

Thus we can see: any national leader facing a serious foreign threat—whether democratically elected or a dictatorial tinpot—is better off if he or she can wield a nuclear arsenal.

Now we can see more clearly the choices before North Korea’s Kim. He might be a thoroughly rotten person, and yet he’s well-fortified: the world can’t remove him without enormous cost, so it has to deal with him. Yes, it’s nice to explore whether he might yet be willing to reduce or eliminate his arsenal; he could, after all, have some sudden Damascene conversion. And miracles do happen, although they don’t happen very often. Moreover, it’s entirely possible that if Kim suddenly went peacenik, the non-peaceniks around him would step in to protect their regime, which is to say, get rid of him.

We might pause now to consider that other member of the old axis of evil: Iran.

The Iranians may or may not be abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal, but it’s naive to think that they don’t still want nuclear weapons. And given that Iran is a country of 80 million people surrounded by dangerous neighbors, it’s hard to see how anything short of national annihilation will stop them from getting nukes eventually. What they do with them, of course, is an unknown; this is where diplomacy, deterrence, and, yes, missile defense could yet make the difference.

To be sure, many will deem this assessment to be depressing. As we know, there’s an enormous arms control apparatus in the U.S. and around the world, buoyantly dedicated to disarmament, non-proliferation, and generally beating swords into plowshares. (And there are more than a few regime changers still lurking about—they all have optimistic plans, too.)

Mere facts on the ground, no matter how stubborn, are unlikely to dissuade any of these folks from their ongoing efforts to save the world. Yet as we have seen, the logic of nuclear proliferation is strong. Pakistan, to cite another nuclear-armed country, is a respected international player because of its arsenal, and wouldn’t be without it.

In the meantime, the American national interest requires a rethinking of how countries defend themselves. More specifically, the U.S. can’t expect to be able to continue defending every country against every other country. This faulty status quo is perhaps most glaring on the Korean peninsula. South Korea, which we are pledged to defend, has twice the population of North Korea, and their GDP is almost 100 times higher. Why, then, is it our task to defend Seoul—especially when we run a trade deficit of some $20 billion a year? As this author wrote in June, “It’s simply not normal that one country should do all this defending, and oftentimes pay for the privilege of doing it.”

For his part, Trump might not succeed in denuclearizing North Korea, but he might succeed in energizing the self-defense efforts of South Korea, Japan, and other countries. And yes, such upgraded efforts might include nuclear weapons.

That’s not a particularly optimistic thought; it’s merely a realistic one. And as we have seen, after all the preachy illusions of Left and Right are flitted and frittered away, the world is left with something hard and lasting: reality.

James P. Pinkerton is an author and contributing editor at The American Conservative. He served as a White House policy aide to both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Earthquake Assessment For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquake Risk in New Jersey

by Daniel R. Dombroski, Jr.

A 10–fold increase in amplitude represents about a 32–fold increase in energy released for the same duration of shaking. The best known magnitude scale is one designed by C.F. Richter in 1935 for west coast earthquakes.

In New Jersey, earthquakes are measured with seismographs operated by the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the Delaware Geological Survey.

An earthquake’s intensity is determined by observing its effects at a particular place on the Earth’s surface. Intensity depends on the earthquake’s magnitude, the distance from the epicenter, and local geology. These scales are based on reports of people awakening, felt movements, sounds, and visible effects on structures and landscapes. The most commonly used scale in the United States is the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, and its values are usually reported in Roman numerals to distinguish them from magnitudes.

Past damage in New Jersey

New Jersey doesn’t get many earthquakes, but it does get some. Fortunately most are small. A few New Jersey earthquakes, as well as a few originating outside the state, have produced enough damage to warrant the concern of planners and emergency managers.

Damage in New Jersey from earthquakes has been minor: items knocked off shelves, cracked plaster and masonry, and fallen chimneys. Perhaps because no one was standing under a chimney when it fell, there are no recorded earthquake–related deaths in New Jersey. We will probably not be so fortunate in the future.

Area Affected by Eastern Earthquakes

Although the United States east of the Rocky Mountains has fewer and generally smaller earthquakes than the West, at least two factors  increase the earthquake risk in New Jersey and the East. Due to geologic differences, eastern earthquakes effect areas ten times larger than western ones of the same magnitude. Also, the eastern United States is more densely populated, and New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation.

Geologic Faults and Earthquakes in New Jersey

Although there are many faults in New Jersey, the Ramapo Fault, which separates the Piedmont and Highlands Physiographic Provinces, is the best known. In 1884 it was blamed for a damaging New York City earthquake simply because it was the only large fault mapped at the time. Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault.

However, numerous minor earthquakes have been recorded in the Ramapo Fault Zone, a 10 to 20 mile wide area lying adjacent to, and west of, the actual fault.

More recently, in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to the Indian Point, New York, Nuclear Power Generating Station. East of the Rocky Mountains (including New Jersey), earthquakes do not break the ground surface. Their focuses lie at least a few miles below the Earth’s surface, and their locations are determined by interpreting seismographic records. Geologic fault lines seen on the surface today are evidence of ancient events. The presence or absence of mapped faults (fault lines) does not denote either a seismic hazard or the lack of one, and earthquakes can occur anywhere in New Jersey.

Frequency of Damaging Earthquakes in New Jersey

Records for the New York City area, which have been kept for 300 years, provide good information

for estimating the frequency of earthquakes in New Jersey.

Earthquakes with a maximum intensity of VII (see table DamagingEarthquakes Felt in New Jersey )have occurred in the New York City area in 1737, 1783, and 1884. One intensity VI, four intensity V’s, and at least three intensity III shocks have also occurred in the New York area over the last 300 years.

The time–spans between the intensity VII earthquakes were 46 and 101 years. This, and data for the smaller–intensity quakes, implies a return period of 100 years or less, and suggests New Jersey is overdue for a moderate earthquake like the one of 1884.

Buildings and Earthquakes

The 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, is an example of what might happen in New Jersey in a similar quake. It registered a magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale and produced widespread destruction. But it was the age of construction, soil and foundation condition, proximity to the fault, and type of structure that were the major determining factors in the performance of each building. Newer structures, built to the latest construction standards, appeared to perform relatively well, generally ensuring the life safety of occupants.

New Jersey’s building code has some provisions for earthquake–resistant design. But there are no requirements for retrofitting existing buildingsnot even for unreinforced masonry structures that are most vulnerable to earthquake damage. Housing of this type is common in New Jersey’s crowded urban areas. If an earthquake the size of New York City’s 1884 quake (magnitude 5.5) were to occur today, severe damage would result. Fatalities would be likely.

Structures have collapsed in New Jersey without earthquakes; an earthquake would trigger many more. Building and housing codes need to be updated and strictly enforced to properly prepare for inevitable future earthquakes.

The Antichrist Calls for “Prayer”

Iraqi supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr shout slogans and wave national flags as they demonstrate in Baghdad against corruption in the Iraqi government on March 2, 2018. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye | AFP

Sadr calls on supporters to hold ‘1 million individual prayer’

By Rudaw 7 hours ago

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Muqtada al-Sadr, the power broker in Iraq’s government formation, has called on supporters to rally and protest the corruption, sectarianism and partisanship within Iraq on the occasion of an upcoming “Unity Prayer” wearing death shrouds after months of stopping his protests.

“Yes, you believers rush to helping your Marja and custodian to victory with all prestige, veneration and humbleness, wear shrouds just like worn as shields by the unjust,” reads a message by Sadr on Wednesday.

The firebrand Shiite cleric has rallied relished the role of the opposition voice in Iraqi politics.

“Yes you soldiers of reform rush to helping the success of the reformer of the era ‘Sayid Mohammed al-Sadr’ and his Friday,” he added, referencing his father.

He says his father held Friday prayers while religion was “banned” and Iraq was held in a “prison where life was banned” by Saddam’s regime.

Sadr, throughout the last year and sometimes this year, has organized 1 million-man protests to demand reforms and better services. This helped his list win Iraq’s elections.

“Rush to a prayer of 1 million [men] from which the corrupt tremble, the oppressors get humiliated, the believer becomes humble and the oppressed get elevated,” called Sadr on his supporters.

Sadr called on supporters to reject sectarianism, corruption, partisanship, terror and “to the occupier,” unclear as to whether he is referring to the United States.

Iraq needs the “peaceful, honorable, angry stance” of the people, arguing this will pave the road for a new Iraq that is far from “the corrupt, sins, oppressors and all sinful aggressors and occupiers.“

Sadr currently has formed an alliance with Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi, Ammar al-Hakim and previous PM Ayad Allawi’s Wataniyah, while competing to win over Kurds and Sunni against the bloc of former PM Nouri al-Maliki.

Iraq’s new parliament is to convene its first session no later than September 3 by presidential decree.