History of Earthquakes before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

History of earthquakes in Lower Hudson Valley

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

9:05 a.m. ET Feb. 7, 2018

At around 6:14 a.m. this morning, a 2.2-magnitude earthquake was reported about three miles northwest of Mohegan Lake in Yorktown, according to the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter of the quake was in Putnam Valley.

Social media was rife with posts on the quake with people from Chappaqua, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mahopac and Putnam Valley chiming in with their rattling experiences, though it wasn’t nearly as strong as the 5.0 earthquake our forefathers experienced here in 1783.

Lower Hudson Valley earthquakes through the years:

1783 — The epicenter of a magnitude 5.0 earthquake may have been the Westchester-Putnam county line and was felt as far south as Philadelphia.

1884 — A magnitude 5.2 earthquake was centered off Rockaway, Queens, causing property damage but no injuries to people. A dead dog was reported.

1970 to 1987 — Between these years, instruments at the Lamont-Doherty Observatory in Rockland County recorded 21 quakes in Westchester and two in Manhattan.

October 1985 — A magnitude 4.0 earthquake was centered in an unincorporated part of Greenburgh between Ardsley and Yonkers. Tremors shook the metropolitan area and were felt in Philadelphia, southern Canada and Long Island.

November 1988 — A quake 90 miles north of Quebec City in eastern Canada registered magnitude 6.0 with tremors felt in the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City.

June 1991 — A 4.4-magnitude quake struck west of Albany, rattling homes.

April 1991 — A quake registering between magnitude 2.0 and 2.6 struck Westchester and Fairfield, Conn. It lasted just five seconds and caused no damage.

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January 2003 — Two small earthquakes struck the area surrounding Hastings-on-Hudson. One was a magnitude of 1.2, the other 1.4.

March 2006 — Two earthquakes struck Rockland. The first, at 1.1 magnitude, hit 3.3 miles southwest of Pearl River; the second, 1.3 magnitude, was centered in the West Nyack-Blauvelt-Pearl River area.

July 2014 — “Micro earthquake” struck, 3.1 miles beneath the Appalachian Trail in a heavily wooded area of Garrison.

January 2016 —  A 2.1 magnitude earthquake occurred at 12:58 a.m. northwest of Ringwood, N.J., and the earthquake was felt in the western parts of Ramapo, including the Hillburn and Sloatsburg areas.

April 2017 —  A 1.3 magnitude quake rumbled in Pawling on April 10. Putnam County residents in Brewster, Carmel, Patterson and Putnam Valley, as well as Dutchess County residents in Wingdale felt the earthquake.

Twitter: @SwapnaVenugopal

Iran Will Win the Influence in Pakistan

Saudi Arabia and Iran are beginning a competition for influence with the new government led by Imran Khan in Pakistan. Both have big stakes involved. The Saudi position is much weakened by the war in Yemen, which is unpopular in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s position is crucially important to both Riyadh and Tehran. Pakistan is the second-most populous country in the Muslim world and the only Muslim state with a nuclear arsenal. Over 1.5 million Pakistanis live in the kingdom. Pakistan and Iran share a 900-kilometer (559-mile) border in Baluchistan. Pakistan’s population includes a significant Shiite minority, perhaps as much as 30% of the country. In the Saudi-Iranian competition for influence in the Islamic world, Pakistan is crucial.

Prime Minister Khan says he wants Pakistan to play a “positive and constructive role” between Saudi Arabia and Iran. He has spoken by phone with the leadership in both countries since his election and is expected to travel to both early in his term. He has expressed interest in reducing tensions between the two and lowering sectarian violence. Khan visited the kingdom earlier this year, after his marriage, to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have traditionally been close allies. Most famously they worked together with the CIA to defeat the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The Pakistani army had stationed a reinforced brigade group in Saudi Arabia to defend the royal family from threats external and internal. Saudi Arabia’s economic assistance to Pakistan has been extensive and could be crucial for Khan’s government as it deals with major economic challenges.

But relations have cooled considerably in the last four years due to the Yemeni war. King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wanted Pakistan to join the war effort against the Houthi Zaydi Shiite rebels. The kingdom wanted Pakistan’s army to join Operation Decisive Storm. Senior Pakistani officials told me that the Saudis wanted a major Pakistani army contingent.

Then-Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif was summoned to Riyadh. He turned the issue over to the parliament at home, which voted unanimously against sending any troops. Khan’s Justice Party was at the forefront of the opposition. Last year, when Pakistan agreed to send a much smaller number of trainers to Saudi Arabia, Khan’s party was again opposed and demanded assurances that no troops would go to fight in Yemen. The party has also opposed Pakistan’s participation in the Saudi-sponsored Islamic coalition against terrorism, the brainchild of Crown Prince Salman, because it is perceived with good reason to really be an anti-Iran alliance.

The most visible critic of ties to the kingdom in the Justice Party is Shireen Mazari. A graduate of the London School of Economics and Columbia University, she is now minister for human rights in Khan’s Cabinet. She had been rumored to be his choice for defense minister, but that job is largely powerless in Pakistan because the army makes all the decisions on defense issues. Khan owes his election in large part to the army and its intimidation of his political enemies.

Mazari has led the criticism of the Saudi war in Yemen and the opposition to aligning Pakistan with the kingdom, calling the previous government “dishonest” about sending trainers. She is also an advocate for completing the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and for engaging with Iran to help end the war in Afghanistan.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif is due in Islamabad soon, as is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pakistan’s new foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a very competent and experienced choice, has said Zarif’s visit is a positive sign. Qureshi is well aware of the tightrope Pakistan has to walk between Riyadh and Tehran, especially since relations with Washington are at a low ebb in the Trump administration. The Saudis and Iranians both have extensive ties to sectarian militants, Sunni and Shiite, who can blow up the internal situation in Pakistan.

A Pakistani initiative to cool tensions between the Saudis and Iranians is a good thing for the region. The polarization of the region into hostile camps is causing immense humanitarian damage, most of all in Yemen.

This fall, Riyadh could start a process toward de-escalation, or it could ratchet tensions up considerably. The Saudi prosecutor’s decision to request a death sentence for a Saudi Shiite woman for nonviolent protests — the first time a woman has been given a death sentence — is a dangerous and provocative escalation in sectarianism. Israa al-Ghamgham’s release from her sentencing could be a wise and generous move by King Salman to de-escalate the fire burning in the Middle East. Her execution will light up the storm.

Bruce Riedel is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Gulf Pulse. He is the director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution. His latest book is „Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States Since FDR.“

A Last Ditch Effort by Iran

Image result for iran nuclearIran asks UN’s highest court to suspend US sanctions

By Mike Corder | AP August 27 at 11:48 AM
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Iran warned Monday that re-imposed U.S. sanctions would cripple its economy and plunge the volatile Middle East deeper into crisis as it urged the United Nations’ highest court to suspend the Trump administration’s economic pressure on Tehran.

In a written statement about the case at the International Court of Justice, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iran’s claims “meritless” and defended the sanctions as a way of keeping Americans safe.

The world court’s wood-paneled Great Hall of Justice in The Hague is the latest backdrop for Washington and Tehran’s high-stakes dispute about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

President Donald Trump said in May that he would pull the U.S. out of a 2015 agreement over Iran’s nuclear program and would re-impose sanctions on Tehran. Washington also threatened other countries with sanctions if they don’t cut off Iranian oil imports by early November.

Iran filed a case with the court in July challenging the re-imposition. Tehran alleges that the sanctions breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates and promotes economic and consular ties between the two countries.

The treaty was signed when the U.S. and Iran were still allies following the 1953 revolution — fomented by Britain and the U.S. — that ultimately cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

However, diplomatic relations were severed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and takeover of the U.S. Embassy and ensuing hostage crisis. Despite that dramatic deterioration in relations, the treaty remains in force.

Iran and the U.S. have a history of litigation at the International Court of Justice, in cases covering crises including the embassy seizure and the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet mistaken by a U.S. warship for a fighter jet.

Rulings by the world court, which settles disputes between nations, are final and legally binding. However, it remains to be seen if the U.S. would abide by a court order to suspend sanctions on Iran.

At Monday’s hearings, Tehran asked judges to urgently order a suspension of the sanctions while the case challenging their legality is being heard — a process that can take years. A decision on the urgent request for a suspension is likely to take weeks.

Iranian representative Mohsen Mohebi told the court the U.S. sanctions are a clear breach of the 1955 treaty because they are “intended to damage, as severely as possible, Iran’s economy.” He called Trump’s sanctions policy “nothing but a naked economic aggression against my country.”

Mohebi also warned that the sanctions could exacerbate regional tensions.

His comments came a day after Iran’s defense minister said his country will continue its support of the Syrian government to ensure improved security in the region. Israel has expressed concern over Iran’s growing influence in Syria, accusing Tehran of seeking to establish a foothold near the frontier with the Jewish state. The United States has been pressing for Iran to withdraw its fighters from Syria.

Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, brokered when Barack Obama was still in the White House, imposed restrictions on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most U.S. and international sanctions against Tehran.

However, the deal came with time limits and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its regional policies in Syria and elsewhere. Trump called the accord the “worst deal ever.”

Some U.S. allies oppose the sanctions and are seeking to keep the nuclear deal alive. Last week, the European Union announced a financial support package to help bolster Iran’s flagging economy.

Pompeo called the world court challenge an attempt by Tehran “to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions, which are necessary to protect our national security.”

The United States, which argues that the court does not have jurisdiction in the case, is to present its legal arguments to judges on Tuesday.

Pompeo said lawyers would “vigorously defend” the U.S. and “and we will continue to work with our allies to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran’s proliferation of ballistic missiles and other advanced weapons systems that threaten international peace and stability. We will also ensure Iran has no path to a nuclear weapon — not now, not ever.”

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Trampling Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

  Tear gas canisters are fired by Israeli troops toward Palestinian demonstrators during a protest demanding the right to return to their homeland at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City August 3, 2018.Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images Months of low-level conflict between Israel and Gaza seem to be reaching a boiling point — and experts worry the two sides may be hurtling toward all-out war.

Since March, thousands of Gazans have been protesting nearly every week at the Israeli border. They’re calling for the “right of return” for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their descendants who fled or were displaced from their homes after the creation of the state of Israel, as well as an end to Israel’s crippling 12-year land, sea, and air blockade of Gaza.

The terrorist group Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, organized most of these protests. And though the vast majority of protesters were peaceful, some have used violence, setting fire to Israeli land with flaming kites and balloons, launching rockets and mortars into Israel, and shooting at Israeli soldiers, killing one.

Israel has responded forcefully to the Gaza uprising, shooting and killing protesters at the border and pounding Hamas installations inside Gaza with artillery, tank fire, and airstrikes. Since March, Israeli forces have killed around 140 Palestinians and injured roughly 16,000 others, including women, children, and journalists who were covering the protests.

Hamas and Israel agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire on July 14, but it quickly collapsed, and the fighting has only escalated.

Neither side seems willing to back down, and Israeli officials have begun openly discussing the possibility of launching a full-scale military invasion of Gaza.

“Hamas leaders are forcibly leading us into a situation where we will have no choice, a situation in which we will have to embark on a painful, wide-scale military operation,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Jerusalem Post on July 20. “Hamas is responsible for this crisis, but unfortunately it’s the Gaza residents that may have to pay the price.”

Hamas has escalated the rhetoric too. The group stated on July 26 that it vowed to “make the enemy pay a heavy ‎price, in blood, for ‎its crimes against the Palestinian people.” Hamas may yet change its mind, as the group’s top leaders from abroad traveled to Gaza for talks about whether to finally accept the ceasefire.

In mid-July, top Israeli officials also ordered the military to prepare for a possible ground invasion of Gaza — but it’s unclear if that means an invasion is imminent.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned trip to Colombia last Thursday, citing current tensions with Gaza. That same day, Israel indefinitely blocked fuel and gas from entering Gaza.

These moves have led some experts to worry that Israel and Gaza are on the brink of yet another all-out war — their fourth in just a decade.

“I’m honestly surprised we haven’t seen a full-blown war yet,” said Khaled Elgindy, an adviser to Palestinian leadership from 2004 to 2009 who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. “It’s only a matter of time.”

Some in Israel might even welcome a larger fight. According to a July 31 poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, 61 percent of Jewish Israelis believe the country should launch a large-scale military operation against Gaza if it continues to attack Israel.

If full-scale war does break out, experts warn the conflict will almost certainly be even bloodier and uglier than the last time.

Why Israel and Gaza are fighting

Gaza is a tiny, densely populated strip of land located between Israel, the Mediterranean Sea, and Egypt. Approximately 25 miles long and 6 miles wide, it is home to an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians.

In 1967, Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank during the Six-Day War. (Gaza had formerly been under Egyptian control.) From then until 2005, Israeli military authorities controlled Gaza in the same way they control the West Bank today. Some 8,500 Jews also chose to build settlements in Gaza during this time, many believing it to be part of “Eretz Yisrael” (Greater Israel), the land biblically ordained for Jews.

Christina Animashaun/Vox

Those settlements, and the soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces who were charged with protecting the Jewish settlers who lived in them, caused serious friction with the majority population of Palestinians in Gaza.

As a result, in 2005, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally decided to dismantle all of the Jewish settlements in Gaza, evacuate the settlers (forcibly, if necessary), and pull out all Israeli troops.

A short time after the Israeli withdrawal, the Islamist group Hamas, which formed in 1987 as a militant “resistance” group against Israel, won political power in Gaza in a 2006 US-backed election and took full control of the Gaza Strip.

This prompted Israel to institute a blockade of the flow of commercial goods into Gaza, on the grounds that Hamas could use those goods to make weapons to be used against Israel. Israel has eased the blockade over time, but the cutoff of basic supplies like fuel still does significant humanitarian harm by restricting access to electricity, food, and medicine.

Hamas and other Gaza-based militants have fired thousands of rockets from the territory at Israeli targets. Israel has launched a number of military operations in Gaza, including an air campaign and ground invasion in late 2008 and early 2009, a major bombing campaign in 2012, and another air/ground assault in 2014.

In the summer of 2014, three Israeli students were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, a Palestinian-controlled territory. Once authorities found the bodies under rocks in an open field, Israeli officials blamed Hamas for the deaths and vowed to seek revenge.

Thus began the last time Hamas and Israel fought a war — and it was a brutal seven-week fight.

Israel started launching airstrikes on Gaza, and Palestinians responded by firing rockets into Israel. Then on July 17, 2014, the Israeli military invaded Gaza, in part to close down tunnels that allowed Hamas to secretly enter Israel and attack the country. Ground fighting led to a spike in Palestinian casualties, which went from a few hundred quickly into the thousands.

The conflict eventually ended in August, with both sides agreeing to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire. Israel said it would relax the blockade on Gaza; Hamas declared that it won the war. More than 2,100 Palestinians and 71 Israelis were killed, while over 10,000 people — mostly Palestinians — sustained injuries.

That war was bad, but a new one could be worse.

Why a new Israel-Gaza war could be worse than before

Israel may feel more emboldened this time around because there are fewer political constraints on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his team, the Brookings Institution’s Elgindy told me.

That’s because the United States — and the Trump administration in particular — is very closely aligned with Israel. Should Israel choose to drop even more bombs and send even more troops into Gaza, and kill more people, than it did four years ago, Elgindy expects Washington to let it happen with little criticism.

The question is how much leverage, or desire, Egypt and the US would have to broker a ceasefire and end a potential new war. And even if they did succeed in attaining some sort of peace, experts don’t think it would last.

“It is hard to imagine that any negotiated truce would survive in the long run,” Guy Ziv, a Middle East expert at American University, told me. “As long as Hamas is in power, and as long as the dire humanitarian conditions [in Gaza] persist, a renewed flare-up is probably only a question of time.”

So to recap: A new Israel-Gaza war could be bloodier this time, and when it ends, the potential for new conflict will likely still exist. It’s no wonder most experts note the prospects for peace between the two sides remains very slim.

“There’s no international initiative of any kind that can get us out of this mess,” Elgindy told me.

The Antichrist Consolidates His Power (Revelation 13)

image-939Iraq’s Maliki sidelined as Kurds and Sunnis seek Sadr coalition

Sadr’s Sairoon bloc says it expects deal to establish biggest alliance in parliament

Mina Aldroubi

Iraq’s Kurdish and Sunni blocs have expressed their willingness to form a coalition with election winner Moqtada Al Sadr, an indication that former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, who is seeking power, could lose his grip over the country’s political scene.

Mr Al Sadr’s Sairoon bloc and Mr Al Maliki’s State of Law coalition have 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.

„There are signs of agreement between the Kurds and the Sunnis to ally with Sairoon,“ Raed Fahmi, a prominent politician in Sairoon’s bloc said on Sunday.

Yet, Kurdish parties will play a central role in the formation of the next government as they collectively secured over 40 seats in the May elections. They have yet to officially announce their alliance.

The Kurdish parties have set conditions for allying with the major blocs, PUK leader Arez Abduallah said in a statement.

„Our conditions are constitutional and include the existence of a government with a true national partnership that is in balance with the constitution,“ Mr Abduallah said, adding that his party will ally with the bloc that is „consistent with our political vision“.

The development is seen as a blow to Mr Al Maliki’s efforts as he seeks to gain support from the northern Iraqi parties. During his time in power, he was criticised for alienating Sunnis and Kurds by excluding them from key positions and undermining power-sharing in Iraq.May’s parliamentary elections saw electoral lists led Mr Al Sadr and Iranian-backed militia chief Hadi Al Amiri win the largest number of seats out of the 329 seat house.

Mr Al Sadr, who is leading a quartet of major parties with 136 seats, needs to secure 28 more to form a parliamentary majority.

Kurdish parties have previously been in talks with Mr Al Maliki to join his State of Law bloc, which won 26 seats, along with Mr Al Amiri’s Fateh bloc which won 47 seats.

The two proposed coalitions account for around 249 seats between them, meaning that 80 seats held by smaller parties and individuals would hold the balance of power.

But there is no word on how close to an agreement the parties are, although officials from the two blocs are expected to visit Iraqi Kurdistan next week in hopes of announcing a deal.

Mr Al Maliki is a small player in the Iraqi parliament, with three or four seats out of his bloc who are loyal to him, said Michael Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

„However, he’s a natural politician, so he can bring people together and make deals, and this is why you talk to him,“ Mr Knights said, adding that he would have a limited role if Mr Al Sadr formed a government.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum held talks on Friday with Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi on the latest political developments, stressing the need to speed up the negotiation process to form the largest bloc in government.

The results of May’s elections were only ratified by the supreme court on August 19 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 Mr 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.