Antichrist Chooses New Iraqi PM

BAGHDAD: Amid escalating political wrangling, Iraqi lawmakers elected an Iran-backed Sunni Arab as speaker of Parliament Saturday, the first step in forming a new government four months after the elections. The 37-year old speaker was supported by the pro-Iran bloc inside Parliament, the Building coalition, which is mainly made up of Iran-backed Shiite militiamen – underscoring the growing Iranian influence in the process of forming the country’s new government.During a secret ballot, 169 lawmakers voted for Mohammad al-Halbousi, the former governor of Anbar, as 89 others voted for the former defense minister, Khalid al-Obeidi, lawmaker Ahmad al-Asadi said.

“This is a victory for the Building coalition,” prominent Sunni politician Mahmoud al-Mashhadani told the Associated Press after the session. “No one can ignore the Iranian influence in Iraq, it’s stronger than the U.S.’ [influence],” he added.

Early this month, the newly elected Parliament held its first session, but two Shiite-led blocs came into conflict, each claiming to be the largest bloc that should be tasked to form the new government. Namely, they are the Building coalition and the pro-U.S. Reform and Building coalition led by outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and populist Shiite preacher Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc.

Also Saturday, legislators elected Hassan Karim as the first deputy parliament speaker, according to legislator Dhafer al-Aani. Karim is a member of Sadr’s bloc.

The Parliament has yet to vote for the second deputy Parliament speaker, a Kurd. Three members of parliament are running for the seat.

Iran was the among the first countries to congratulate Halbousi. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi said in a statement that Tehran “has always supported the democracy, territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Iraq and supports decisions made by the people’s representatives.”

Ghasemi said in the remarks carried by state news agency IRNA that he hoped Halbousi’s election will be followed by electing a president and prime minister, paving the way to establish a new government in Iraq.

Alarmed by the political wrangling and the bloody protests in the southern city of Basra against poor public services and unemployment, the country’s Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for the appointment of a new face to lead the government. Abadi said Friday he’ll not “cling to power.”

Two Shiite politicians from the Reform and Building coalition who attended meetings between political parties to form the government, said Iran played a major role in undermining Abadi’s efforts to secure a second term. Iran tried to bribe and threaten lawmakers, they said.

Ahead of the parliament first session in Sept. 3, the U.S. brokered a deal to have Kurds join the Reform and Building coalition so that it becomes the larger bloc, the politicians said. Hours ahead of the session, a politician went to residence of the Kurdish diplomatic mission in the Green Zone to collect signatures from Kurdish lawmakers.

“I was surprised when I saw the Iranian ambassador sitting at the restaurant of the Kurdish residence to discourage the Kurdish [lawmakers],” from joining the coalition, one of the politician said. “He left 15 minutes before the session started.”

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief media.

Tehran had previously dispatched its top regional military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to Iraq to ensure the pro-U.S. coalition does not threaten its interests in the region.

Baghdad-based political analyst Essam al-Faily said that contributing to Iran’s successful sway in Iraq is that it “controls militias that have with influence on the ground. It has influenced even Sunni leaders.”

Under an unofficial agreement dating back to 2003, the position of prime minister is reserved for Shiites, the president a Kurd and the parliament speaker a Sunni.

Parliament now has 15 days to elect the president who will task the nominee of the largest bloc to form the government. Political wrangling among the Shiite-led blocs and other factions will likely indefinitely delay the process of naming a prime minister.

India Increases Her Nuclear Threat

The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is expected to officially induct its most advanced nuclear-capable intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM), the Agni-V, in December, according to local media reports.

The Agni-V, a three-stage ICBM officially designated by the MoD as an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), is expected to undergo one more pre-induction test in the fall. The missile was last test fired from a mobile launcher from the Integrated Test Range on Abdul Kalam island in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of the eastern Indian state of Odisha in June.

It was reportedly the sixth successful test of the Agni-V ICBM. Previous tests occurred in January 2018, December 2016, January 2015, September 2013, and April 2012. Whereas, the June and January as well as the January 2015 tests involved Agni-V ICBMs in deliverable configuration launched from sealed canisters, other missile tests had the Agni-V in ‘open configuration.’

An operational deployment of the Agni-V ICBM–designed to provide India with a second-strike capability–would require at least two additional test launches (user trials) by India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC). Development of the Agni-V kicked off in 2008. The missile features indigenously designed navigation and guidance systems including a ring laser gyroscope based inertial navigation system.

As I noted previously:

The Agni-V, a three-stage solid fueled missile, has an approximate range of 5,500-5,800 kilometers [the exact range remains classified, but it is assumed that the missile has a range of 6,000-7,500 kilometers], and can carry a 1,500-kilogram (3,300-pound) nuclear warhead. India has reportedly also been working on multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) for the Agni-V in order to ensure a credible second-strike capability.

Furthermore, I wrote:

While previous nuclear-capable missiles of the series (Agni-I, Agni-II, and Agni-III) were developed to offset Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the Agni-IV, [and] Agni-V (…) given their longer ranges, are designed to provide a credible nuclear deterrent against China.

India’s Defense Research and Development Organization has also been working on a next-generation ICBM, the Agni-VI, a four-stage ICBM with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) and maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) capability with an estimated range of over 10,000 kilometers. As I further explained elsewhere in these pages:

Both the Agni-V and Agni-VI will feature increased accuracy and a reduced launch time, which, paired with India’s burgeoning MaRV and MIRV capability, can have a destabilizing effect on the overall strategic balance in the region.

Notably, India has a No First Use (NFU) policy for nuclear weapon and keeps its nuclear warheads de-mated from the actual missiles.

Antichrist Prepares to Be Kingmaker (Revelation 13)

image-1022A new face likely to emerge as Iraq PM

Sami Moubayed, Correspondent

After Al Sistani’s call, Al Abadi, Al Maliki and Al Ameri have all but pulled out

Damascus: Shortly after angry demonstrators torched the Iranian consulate in the southern city of Basra earlier this month, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani announced that no old faces were entitled to the Iraqi premiership anymore. This sealed the fate of the incumbent US-backed Prime Minister Haidar Al Abadi, who has been in power since 2014.

Al Sistani is the highest religious authority in the Iraqi Shiite community. His approval was vital for the naming of every prime minister in Iraq since the US invasion and occupation of 2003. He now is calling for “a new face, known for competency, integrity, courage, and firmness.”

Iran is furious with Al Abadi, a former protégé of Tehran who parted ways in mid-2017 and mended relations with the Gulf states, paying two visits to Saudi Arabia, where he was received by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. More recently, he announced he was going to abide by renewed US sanctions on Tehran, instructing the Central Bank of Iraq to stop doing business with Iran.

Iran believes Al Abadi failed to protect its premises in Basra, and might have secretly encouraged its destruction. Shortly after Al Sistani announced his position on September 10, prominent cleric Muqtada Al Sadr — also a former ally of the Iranians — backed out on the Prime Minister. His support was essential, given that Sadr’s Sairoon bloc won 54 seats in last May’s parliamentary elections, making it the largest in the Iraqi Chamber.

Prime Minister Hopefuls

Sistani’s verdict is also a slap in the face of Al Abadi’s main rival, ex-prime minister and current Vice President Nouri Al Malki, who also entertained hopes of returning to power, after having been ejected in 2014, where he was blamed by many for the systematic elimination of the Sunni opposition and for the dramatic rise of Daesh. He has teamed up with the powerful commander of the Iraqi Mobilisation Units, Hadi Al Ameri, and the ex-National Security Adviser Faleh Al Fayyad, both viewed as Iranian proteges.

After Al Sistani’s verdict, Al Abadi, Al Maliki, and Al Ameri have announced they would personally no longer seek the premiership, with the incumbent premier saying: “We are not going to hold on to power. We are committed to constitutional procedures and we respect the directions of the Marja’a, and respond positively to them.” The last to withdraw from the race was Al Abadi, on September 18.

His surrender has raised speculation that the premiership might end up with either Al Fayyad or Shiite heavyweight Adel Abdul Mehdi. A senior commander of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) Abdul Mehdi is a French-trained economist who served previously as oil and finance minister, then as vice-president of Iraq from 2005 to 2011.

Some lawmakers are speculating that Al Sistani’s verdict applies to any politician who assumed government office in the past and not just former prime ministers.

Iraqi analyst Wathiq Aljabery told Gulf News: “Not all politicians who assumed office are blacklisted, but only those with a record of failure. There is no room to repeat that experience.” He believes the election of a new parliament speaker last Saturday will hasten resolution of the premiership dilemma, after lawmakers failed to do so in the first session of parliament on September 3.

“It also applies to former ministers as well,” said prominent analyst Najah Mohammad Ali, who noted the Shiite religious establishment doesn’t rule out Fayyad, and nor do the Kurds. “He is being marketed as a man of difficult missions”, who enjoys balanced relations with all parties concerned, locally, regionally, and internationally. He is even on good terms with the Russians and the Turks.”

Al Fayyad, a former prisoner under Saddam Hussain, was recently relieved of his duties as National Security Adviser while Al Ameri, a former minister of transportation, still commands the powerful Badr Organisation, set up with Iranian funds back in the 1980s to fight Saddam’s army during the Iran-Iraq War. Abdul Mehdi is still powerful, unaffected by the political tug-of-war of recent years. According to Najah Mohammad Ali, Al Sadr and Al Ameri have both decided to back Abdul Mehdi in the days ahead.

Ripple effects of Basra

The Basra demonstrators have snowballed in recent days, resulting in the death of 16 civilians and the burning of ambulances and hospitals. Apart from imposing a curfew, Al Abadi failed to address their grievances or to punish police officers stationed in Basra. For the first time since the US occupation, the sectarian war in Iraq was no longer Sunni-Shiite but an internal division within the Shiite community, with pro-US figures on one side, led by Al Abadi, and Iran-backed others led by Al Ameri, Al Fayyad, and Abdul Mehdi, who also happens to be a former communist.

The two sides have been bickering on who controls the biggest bloc in Parliament. Deprived of Al Sadr’s support, Al Abadi has just 45 out of 329 seats in parliament, while the Al Ameri/Al Fayyad/Al Maliki alliance boasts of 145. If Al Sadr decides to back them after withdrawing support from Abadi’s Nasr Coalition, they would be acknowledged as the biggest coalition capable of naming a premier. The matter is currently in the hands of the Supreme Federal Court, which is expected to issue its final say on the matter by the end of this week.

“I think we will get a prime minister with broad powers,” said Aljabery, speculating that “independents outside the main blocs stand a higher chance.”

Iraq government formation: the Antichrist’s turn

Iraq government formation: Muqtada’s turn?

The Hindu

The Iraqi Supreme Court’s ratification of the results of the May 12 parliamentary election has set the stage for government formation. After claims of widespread irregularities during voting, Iraqi lawmakers had ordered a recount. The only change after the recount is that the Al-Fatah bloc, which had come second with 47 seats, now has 48, gaining one from the Baghdad Coalition. The Sairoon Alliance led by firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr remains the largest bloc with 54 seats, while incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Victory Alliance has 42. Now that the results are official, lawmakers have about 90 days to elect a Prime Minister. The MPs must elect the Speaker in the first session of Parliament. Within 30 days they are to elect, with a two-thirds majority, the next President. The President will then, within 15 days, ask the largest coalition’s representative to form the government. The Prime Minister-designate will have 30 days to come back to Parliament to approve a Cabinet, with each member required to be approved by a majority vote. If this process fails, the President has 15 more days to invite another candidate to be Prime Minister. A workable coalition will need the support of 165 MPs in the 329-member House.

For now, four Shia blocs — Mr. Sadr’s Sairoon that includes the Sadrist movement and the Iraqi Communist Party; Mr. Abadi’s Victory Alliance; Shia cleric Ammar al-Hakim’s National Wisdom Movement; and secular politician Ayad Allawi’s Wataniyah — have formed a grand alliance. This Shia coalition has the support of about 140 lawmakers, and has sought support from other parties. The second largest bloc, Hadi al-Amiri’s pro-Iran Fatah Alliance, is yet to join hands with Mr. Sadr. During the campaign, Mr. Sadr had attacked the growing influence of the U.S. and Iran in Iraq. Fatah, made up of the Iran-trained Popular Mobilisation Forces that were at the forefront of the battle against the Islamic State, ran a pro-Iran campaign. In June, Mr. Sadr and Mr. Amiri had announced a surprise alliance in Najaf, but later Fatah backed out. If Mr. Sadr’s grand coalition does not get Fatah on its side, it will have to seek support from Kurdish or Sunni parties. Mr. Sadr cannot become Prime Minister as he did not contest. But being the leader of the largest bloc, he will play a crucial role in selecting the Prime Minister and setting the agenda for the government. His nationalist, pro-poor rhetoric during the campaign focussed on policies independent of foreign interference. The next government’s biggest early task is to improve security and address Sunni resentment in the north against the Shia elite in Baghdad. Mr. Abadi’s government has succeeded in regaining territories from the IS, but the task of re-accommodating Sunnis into the national mainstream remains.

Getting Ready for the Iran War (Revelation 8)

‘How Did the War With Iraq Turn Out?’ CodePink’s Medea Benjamin Interrupts Trump Official’s Warmongering Iran Speech

“You’re doing exactly the same thing we did in the case of Iraq. We don’t want another war in the Middle East.”

Jake Johnson, staff writer

After senior State Department official and head of the Trump administration’s so-called “Iran Action Group” Brian Hook delivered a hawkish speech on Wednesday trashing the Iran nuclear accord and praising the White House’s deeply harmful sanctions, CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin interrupted the event and condemned Hook for “making the case for war with Iran.”

“Are we going to allow another administration to take us into another war in the Middle East? Have we learned nothing?”

—Medea Benjamin, CodePink

“That is the most ridiculous thing I have seen. The world community wants to keep the Iran nuclear deal,” Benjamin declared as she walked on stage at the small gathering, which was hosted by the right-wing Hudson Institute.

Responding to Hook’s remark that Iran must begin acting like a “normal” country, Benjamin said: “Let’s talk about ‘normal countries.’ Let’s talk about Saudi Arabia. Is that who our allies are?”

“Do you think the sanctions are hurting the regime or are they hurting the Iranian people? They are hurting the Iranian people,” Benjamin added. “You are making a case for war with Iran. How did the war with Iraq turn out? You’re doing exactly the same thing we did in the case of Iraq. We don’t want another war in the Middle East.”

While Benjamin’s protest garnered zero attention from the corporate media, it was noticed by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who tweeted the video along with a short message: “Apparently, [the] U.S. only mocks calls for peace.”

US calls JCPOA “a personal agreement between two governments”, claiming it “seeks a treaty”. Wrong. It’s an int’l accord enshrined in a UN SC res. Plus, US has violated its treaty obligations too & faces 2 suits at ICJ. Apparently, US only mocks calls for peace.

“Are we going to allow another administration to take us into another war in the Middle East? Have we learned nothing?” Benjamin wrote on Twitter following her protest. “We need to interrupt the warhawks like Trump’s Brian Hook, head of Iran Action Group, who wants to take us to war with Iran.”

Iran Continues to Make Nukes (Daniel 8:4)

Iran says it has 3,000 to 4,000 active centrifuges for uranium enrichment

September 12, 2018 4:42pm

(JTA) — Iran has 3,000 to 4,000 active centrifuge machines for uranium enrichment, its Speaker of the Parliament said.

The number of operating machines is down from the 9,000 the Islamic Republic had running before it signed the 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said in a rare admission of actual numbers of centrifuges. The United States under President Donald Trump announced in May that it would withdraw from the deal.

The current number of active centrifuge machines is well under the ceiling agreed to in the nuclear deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Larijani told a meeting of clerics. He spoke in Iran’s southwestern province of Fars, the Iranian Tasnim News Agency reported. The deal had been signed with Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany.

Larijani in his remarks accused the U.S. and “the Zionist regime of Israel” of plotting against Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday verified Iran’s full compliance with the terms of the JCPOA.

On Wednesday Iran’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Kazem Gharibabadi, called on the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal to ensure that the deal serves the Islamic Republic’s interests.

“While Iran has continued its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in an effective way based on goodwill, unfortunately, our interests have not been fully served based on what has been mentioned in the nuclear deal,” Gharibabadi said in an address to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in the city.

He said Iran has behaved responsibly and fulfilled its obligations so far, unlike the United States, which left the deal and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran’s nuclear chief said on Sunday that Iran has completed building a facility at the Natanz nuclear plant that will build advanced centrifuge machines, Reuters reported, citing official state media.

The official IRNA news agency on Sunday quoted Salehi as saying that Ayatollah Khamenei, the country’s Supreme Leader, “had ordered us to set up and complete a very advanced hall for the construction of modern centrifuges, and this hall has now been fully equipped and set up.”

Khamenei in June reportedly ordered preparations to increase the country’s uranium enrichment capacity if the nuclear agreement with the world powers collapsed.

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The “Zone” of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

North Jersey region among ‘most active’ earthquake zones

Matt Fagan, Staff writer, @fagan_nj

Northern New Jersey, which straddles a significant ancient crack in the Earth’s crust known as the Ramapo Fault, recorded 16 earthquakes last year, an unusually high number for the area.

It had been relatively quiet this year, until geologists recorded a 1.3 magnitude quake last weekend in Morris Plains, and then a 1.0 magnitude quake Saturday in Morristown.

Last weekend’s tremor was reported by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory to the Morris Plains Police Department, which issued an advisory to residents on Monday morning.

Lamont-Doherty spokesman Kevin Krajick said the quake was pinpointed to a shallow depth of 6 kilometers just north of Grannis Avenue, between Mountain and Sun Valley ways, about 500 feet southeast of Mountain way School.

Rutgers Newark geology professor talks about earthquakes in northern New Jersey. Matt Fagan/

“It was a very small earthquake at a very shallow depth,” Krajick said. “Most people would not feel an earthquake that small unless they were absolutely right under it, if that.”

“To date (there) were no reported injuries or damage related to the earthquake and no Morris Plains residents reported any activity to this agency,” according to Morris Plains police Chief Jason Kohn

On the other hand, Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said his department received “a bunch of calls about it, between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.”

Saturday’s earthquake was so minor that Morristown police said they received no calls from residents

Earthquakes are generally less frequent and less intense in the Northeast compared to the U.S. Pacific Coast, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. But due to geological differences between the regions, earthquakes of similar magnitude affect an area 10 times larger in the Northeast compared to the West Coast.

The 16 tremors recorded in 2016 were minor, generally 1 or 2 magnitude, often misinterpreted as explosions, said Alexander Gates, geology professor at Rutgers University Newark campus.

“A lot of people in Butler felt them over the course of the last year, but a lot of them didn’t know it was an earthquake,” Gates said.

Butler is the borough, but also the name of the fault that sits at the end of aseries of others belonging to the Ramapo Fault, Gates said.

The Ramapo fault, Gates said, is the longest in the Northeast and runs from Pennnsylvania through New Jersey, snaking northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before coming to an end in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant.

The small area, Gates said, is considered the most seismically active region east of the Mississippi based on data gathered since 1974, when seismographs were installed.

“I’d be willing to bet that you’d have to go all the way to Canada and all the way to South Carolina before you’d get one that active,” Gates said of the area which runs from the New York state line in the Ringwood and Mahwah area down to Butler and central Passaic County, Gates said.

Of last year’s 16 earthquakes, 12 were directly associated with the faults around Butler, Gates said.

Butler Councilman Ray Verdonik said area residents are well aware of the frequency of earthquakes and agrees they are often difficult to discern.

During one earthquake, the councilman said he and his neighbors rushed from their homes.

“We thought it was from Picatinny Arsenal or a sonic boom.” he said.

Won-Young Kim, director of the  Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, which  monitors earthquakes in the Northeast, said often very shallow, the low magnitude quakes’ waves cause much ground motion. He said even though the waves don’t travel very far, they can seem more intense than the magnitude suggests.

They may not topple chimneys, he said but can crack foundations and frighten residents.

To put earthquake magnitudes in perspective, experts said each year there are about 900,000 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude or less recorded annually by seismograph. These mild tremors are usually not felt.

There are 30,000 that measure between 2.5 and 5.4, and these are often felt, but cause minor damage.

About 500 quakes worldwide are recorded between 5.5 and 6 magnitude per year and cause slight damage to buildings and structures.

The 100 that fall within 6.1 and 6.9 may cause lots of damage in populated areas.

The 20 or so which fall within the 7 and 7.9 magnitude per year are considered major and cause serious damage.

Those that measure at 8 or greater can totally destroy communities near the epicenter and average one every five to 10 years.

The earthquake recorded in Mexico last week measured 7.1 magnitude.

Gates said he has identified most of the region’s numerous faults, but has yet to name them all. Among the unnamed include the faults responsible for last year’s quakes in the region.

Earthquakes in this region are intraplate ones, Gates said, meaning they occur within the plates. Earthquakes of this type account for more than 90 percent of the total seismic energy released around the world.

Plates are the masses of the earth’s crust that slowly move, maybe as little as a few centimeters a year to as much 18 centimeters, around the globe. Faults such as the San Andreas are interplate and occur near where two plates meet.

The plate North America rides upon runs from the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Pacific Coast. The theory is that as plates interact with one another, they create stress within the plate. Faults occur where the crust is weak, Gates said. Earthquakes relieve the built up pressure.

Boston College Geophysics Professor John Ebel said he and a Virginia Tech colleague, believe the seismically active areas in New York and South Carolina are where some 200 million years ago, the plates tried to break off but failed. This led to a weakening of the earth’s crust which makes them susceptible to quakes.

While not predictable, the data collected seem to suggest earthquakes occur somewhat periodically, 40 active years followed by 40 less active, Gates said.

“We are over due for a 3 or 4” magnitude, Gates said. “A 4 you’d feel. It would shake the area. Everybody would be upset.”

Ebel does not fully agree. He said saying “overdue” might be somewhat misleading.  Earthquakes happen through a slow process of rising stress, “like dropping individual grains of sand on the table.”

You never know which grain will cause the table to break, he said.

Still all three experts say statistically it is only a matter time before a magnitude 5 quake is recorded in the northern New Jersey area.

The scientists said quakes in the Northeastern part of the United States tend to come 100 years apart and the last one was recorded in 1884 believed to be centered south of Brooklyn. It toppled chimneys and moved houses from their foundations across the city and as far as Rahway.

Washington D.C. experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake in 2011, which was felt in the Northeast, Gates said. That quake cracked the Washington Monument.

A similar quake was recorded in 1737 in Weehawken, Gates noted.

“Imagine putting a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Weehawken, New Jersey next to the Bridge, next to the tunnel,” Gates said. “Boy that would be a dangerous one.”

In 2008 Columbia University’s The Earth Institute posted an article titled: “Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study.”

“Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” the article’s co-author John Armbruster wrote. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling.”

The threat though, is not tangible to many, Armbruster wrote.

“There is no one now alive to remember that last one, so people tend to forget. And having only a partial 300-year history, we may not have seen everything we could see. There could be surprises — things bigger than we have ever seen,” Armbruster wrote.

The Earth Institute’s article did note New York City added earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.

New Jersey also began to require earthquake-resistant standards in the 1990s. The state, following the 2011 Virginia quake, now requires lake communities to make dams able to withstand a magnitude 5 earthquake.

The issue, Gates said, is that many of the buildings were built before these codes went into effect. A “sizable” earthquake could cause much damage.

Then there’s the prediction that every 3,400 years this area can expect a quake at 7 magnitude.

According to the Earth Institute article, a  2001 analysis for Bergen County estimates a magnitude 7 quake would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone.  Likewise, in New York City the damage could easily hit hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ebel noted that depending on the depth and power of a severe quake, damage could be also be wide ranging. In 2011, Washington D.C., 90 miles away from the epicenter, which was located in central Virginia, suffered significant damage.  Cities like Philadelphia fall within that radius.

“The big one could happen tomorrow or 100 years from now. That’s the problem,” Gates said. It geological terms 100 years is just a spit in the ocean, he noted.

Then again North Jersey is more likely to be hit by hurricane in the next three years, Gates added.


Staff Writer William Westhoven contributed to this report. 

New Jersey’s top earthquakes

• Dec. 19, 1737 — Weehawken, believed to be a 5-plus magnitude quake, could be very serious if occurred in same spot today.

• Nov. 29, 1783 — Western New Jersey. Geologists are not exactly sure where it happened because area was sparsely populated. Estimated magnitude varies from 4.8 to 5.3. Felt from Pennsylvania to New England.

• Aug. 10, 1884 — A 5.2 earthquake occurred somewhere near Jamaica Bay near Brooklyn. The quake toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far Rahway.

• The biggest earthquake in the last 45 years of data available form USGS was a 3.8 quake centered in Carneys Point in Salem County on the morning of Feb.28, 1973

• New Jersey has never recorded a fatality due to an earthquake, according to the DEP.

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The Antichrist Forms the New Iraqi Government

Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr, center, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in Iraq’s parliamentary elections, meets Prime Minister and other Iraqi politicians during the negotiations to form a new government in Baghdad, Iraq. AP

Sadr and Abadi lead major coalition seeking to be next Iraq government

The alliance needs 28 seats to gain a majority and then begin forming the next Cabinet

Mina Aldroubi

Iraq’s Moqtada 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.

An agreement was reached on Sunday night between the populist cleric’s Sairoon coalition, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi’s Victory bloc, Ammar Al Hakim’s National Wisdom Movement and Ayad Allawi’s National Coalition. Together the four parties have 136 of the 329 seat house, just 28 short of a majority.

“We have come together to form the core for an alliance that is seeking to establish a new government. We have decided at this meeting to open up to our other partners to contribute together in the formation of this alliance,” the four parties said in a statement on Monday.

The coalition also stated that it would take an anti-sectarian stance to the process of forming the next government.

“The coalition is determined to work hard to build a state of citizenship, justice, equality and the provision of a decent life for all our people,” the statement said.

Mr Allawi, a former prime minister and currently a vice president, said his National Coalition would now hold urgent meetings with the major alliances to discuss a unified national approach.

“The meeting aims to discuss the formation of a national government that seeks to implement a national program in addition to ending the crisis that country is currently faced with,” Khadem Al Shimmery, a prominent politician in Mr Allawi’s bloc told The National.

Mr Al Sadr’s 54 seats makes his Sairoon alliance the largest single party in parliament. Mr Al Abadi’s Victory bloc won 42 seats, and together with Mr Al Hakim’s National Wisdom Movement, which won 19 seats, and Mr Allawi’s National Coalition which won 21 seats – the alliance has 136 seats out of the 329 seat house.

While the coalition of groupings is now well on the way to a majority, experts cautioned that there was still a long way to go to form a government.

“The group that involves Abadi-Sadr-Hakim-Allawi is way short of a majority right now and the fact they are using the phrase ‘the nucleus of the largest bloc’ may, in fact, be true, but remember splits within Mr Al Abadi’s Victory coalition mean they don’t have his full 42 MPs,” Iraq analyst Kirk Sowell tweeted.

Meanwhile, talks are ongoing between Nouri Al Maliki, a former prime minister and currently a vice president, and Hadi Al Amiri, an Iran-backed militia leader, on potentially forming an opposition bloc. Mr Al Maliki’s State of Law coalition won 26 seats, while Mr Al Amiri’s Fateh bloc won 47 seats.

Kurdish parties have also signalled their willingness to join Mr Al Maliki’s alliance. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have collectively secured over 40 seats in the elections.

Although there is no word on how close to an agreement the parties are, if all four enter a coalition they would have 113 seats – just 23 behind the Abadi-Sadr-Hakim-Allawi alliance and 51 short of a majority.

The two coalitions – if finalised – account for around 249 seats between them, meaning just 80 seats are held by the plethora of smaller parties and individuals not accounted for.

The results of the May 12 election were only ratified by the supreme court on Sunday, following allegations of fraud forced a partial recount of ballots.

Mr Al Abadi is heading a fragile caretaker government until its replacement can be agreed and has already had to contend with mass protests across the south at the state of basic government services.

The court’s decision paves the way for President Fuad Masum to summon lawmakers to an inaugural session of the new, 329-seat house. In theory, parliament should then proceed to elect a speaker, a president and a prime minister, who will, in turn, form a new government within 90 days.

Yet, political wrangling over who is appointed prime minister will likely delay the process for weeks or even months.

The recount confirmed the surprise electoral win for Mr Al Sadr, whose coalition campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. Mr Al Abadi’s coalition came in third, behind Mr Al Ameri’s Iran-backed Hashed Al Shaabi paramilitary bloc.

Iran Tries to Stop the Antichrist

Iran, Qatar intervened to obstruct forming Iraq’s largest political bloc: Sources

Iraqi sources attributed the failure of the meeting of the political blocs’ leaders, in Babylon Hotel Sunday evening, to the interventions of Iran and Qatar, where both countries contacted and exerted pressures on the Kurds and Sunni Arabs to boycott the meeting.

According to the sources, the Iranian role is now exposed to prevent the formation of a larger bloc led by the Sadrist movement, which excluded the leaders of the Popular Mobilization units which is close to Iran, and most importantly it excluded former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who also has close relations with Tehran.

However, a hidden role played by Qatar in the same direction was revealed in past days.

On Sunday, the Babylon Hotel outside the Green Zone in Baghdad hosted a meeting to announce the largest parliamentary bloc of more than 200 seats.

The list of invited guests included: Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, leader of al-Nasr bloc, which has 42 seats, Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, heading Sairoon block, which has 54 seats, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of al-Hikma movement, with 20 seats, Iyad Allawi and Saleh al-Mutlaq leaders of the national bloc with 25 seats, the leaders of the Sunni National Bloc, which has 35 seats and representatives of the two main Kurdish parties who together have about 40 seats.

The absentees in this meeting were representatives of the Kurds and the Sunni National Axis Alliance, which led to the failure to form a parliamentary bloc that has the majority to form a government.

According to sources in Baghdad, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani met with Kurdish leaders, which resulted in their absence from the meeting.

Qatari officials also had secretly contacted Sunni Khamis al-Khanjar- heading al-Qarar Alliance-  a close associate of Qatar and Iran, who in turn pressured leaders of the Sunni National Axis Alliance to boycott the Babylon Hotel meeting

Last Update: Tuesday, 21 August 2018 KSA 20:08 – GMT 17:08

Save the Iranian Oil (Revelation 6:6)

Iran oil minister: French oil giant Total pulls out of Iran

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Aug. 20, 2018 Updated: Aug. 20, 2018 9:34 a.m.

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Aug. 20, 2018 Updated: Aug. 20, 2018 9:34 a.m.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s oil minister said on Monday that France’s oil giant Total SA has officially pulled out of Iran after cancelling its $5 billion, 20-year agreement to develop the country’s massive South Pars offshore natural gas field over renewed U.S. sanctions.

The parliament’s website quoted Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as saying that since Total first announced its decision a while ago, Iran has been in the process of “looking for an alternative” to Total. He didn’t elaborate.

There was no immediate comment from TotaI.

Earlier this month, Iran said China’s state-owned petroleum corporation took a majority 80 percent share of the project. CNPC originally had some 30 percent of shares in the project.

The renewed U.S. sanctions took effect in August, after America’s pullout from the nuclear deal in May. The re-instatement of the sanctions exacerbated a financial crisis in Iran, which has sent its currency, the rial, tumbling.

Total announced in May its decision to cancel the multi-billion-dollar project in Iran because of U.S. sanctions. The group said at the time it couldn’t “afford to be exposed to any secondary sanction,” including the loss of financing by American banks.

The 2017, $5 billion contract for new development at the massive South Pars offshore natural gas field was the first major gas deal signed with Iran following the 2015 nuclear deal.

Total said in May that its actual spending to date with respect to this contract was less than 40 million euros.

Total had pulled out of Iran already once before, in 2008, as Western sanctions over its nuclear program began to ramp up. The 2015 landmark nuclear deal — which curbed the Iranian nuclear enrichment program in return for the lifting of international sanctions — marked a rush for Western businesses to access Iran’s largely untapped market of 80 million people. Most prominently, airplane manufacturers rushed in to replace the country’s dangerously dilapidated civilian fleet.

South Pars is the world’s largest natural gas filed and is shared by Iran and Qatar, where it’s called North Dome. Qatar produces more than 590 million cubic meters per day from the shared field and plans to increase production by 10 percent by 2022.

Iran’s total gas production stands at 750 million cubic meters per day, of which 550 million is consumed domestically.

Iran exports gas to neighboring Turkey and Iraq, and pipelines to Pakistan and Oman are in the works. Iran also imports some 12 million cubic meters per day from neighboring Turkmenistan.


Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.