The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

NEW YORK IS 40 YEARS OVERDUE A MAJOR EARTHQUAKE AND AMERICA ISN’T PROPERLY PREPARED, ‘QUAKELAND’ AUTHOR KATHRYN MILES TELLS TREVOR NOAH

BY TUFAYEL AHMED ON 9/27/17 AT 9:28 AM

Updated | An earthquake is long overdue to hit New York and America isn’t prepared, author and environmental theorist Kathryn Miles told Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s Daily Show.

Miles is the author of a new book, Quakeland, which investigates how imminently an earthquake is expected in the U.S. and how well-prepared the country is to handle it. The answer to those questions: Very soon and not very well.

“We know it will, that’s inevitable, but we don’t know when,” said Miles when asked when to expect another earthquake in the U.S.

She warned that New York is in serious danger of being the site of the next one, surprising considering that the West Coast sits along the San Andreas fault line.

“New York is 40 years overdue for a significant earthquake…Memphis, Seattle, Washington D.C.—it’s a national problem,” said Miles.

Miles told Noah that though the U.S. is “really good at responding to natural disasters,” like the rapid response to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the country and its government is, in fact, lagging behind in its ability to safeguard citizens before an earthquake hits.

“We’re really bad at the preparedness side,” Miles responded when Noah asked how the infrastructure in the U.S. compares to Mexico’s national warning system, for example.

“Whether it’s the literal infrastructure, like our roads and bridges, or the metaphoric infrastructure, like forecasting, prediction, early warning systems. Historically, we’ve underfunded those and as a result we’re way behind even developing nations on those fronts.”

Part of the problem, Miles says, is that President Donald Trump and his White House are not concerned with warning systems that could prevent the devastation of natural disasters.

“We can invest in an early warning system. That’s one thing we can definitely do. We can invest in better infrastructures, so that when the quake happens, the damage is less,” said the author.

“The scientists, the emergency managers, they have great plans in place. We have the technology for an early warning system, we have the technology for tsunami monitoring. But we don’t have a president that is currently interested in funding that, and that’s a problem.”

This article has been updated to reflect that Miles said New York is the possible site of an upcoming earthquake, and not the likeliest place to be next hit by one.

US Joins the Trampling Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. is “no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs,” referring to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

She said some countries in the Middle East, including Jordan, Egypt, and Qatar, have stepped up funding for the program, “but the overall international response has not been sufficient.”

She also argued that UNRWA recognizes too many Palestinians as refugees, creating an “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries” that is unsustainable. “The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” Nauert stated.

Restrictions in the classification of Palestinian refugees could limit their “right of return” – the concept that those displaced Palestinians would eventually be allowed to return to their homes or communities.

The decision to cut off funding for the Palestinian refugee program comes one week after the Trump administration revoked more than $200 million in economic aid for the West Bank and Gaza. The State Department said that decision came after a review of the funding and took into account the challenges of providing assistance in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

The U.N. agency provides health care to approximately 3 million Palestinians, education assistance to 500,000 children, micro-loans to another 400,000 beneficiaries, among other aid.

Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdainah told Reuters the State Department’s action, in addition to last week’s $200 million cut in economic aid, represented “a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of UN resolutions.”

“Such a punishment will not succeed to change the fact that the United States no longer has a role in the region and that it is not a part of the solution,” the spokesperson said.

Critics in the U.S. said the Trump administration’s decision will cause further suffering among the Palestinians and harm U.S. national security by pushing them into the arms of terrorist groups.

“Further impoverishing Palestinians only empowers extremists, undermines the (Palestinian Authority) and harms Israel’s security,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Friday. “Completely cutting off funding to UNRWA is inhumane and undermines our own interests in the region.”

Samantha Power, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Obama administration, said the move would further destabilize the Middle East. She noted that UNRWA runs schools, health centers, and provides food for millions of Palestinian families.

“Reckless decision that will be devastating for civilians, especially kids, as schools will have to be shuttered,” Powers said in a tweet Friday.

Dave Harden, a former top official at the U.S. Agency for International Development who worked extensively in the West Bank and Gaza, said UNRWA provides vital humanitarian aid to Gazans “who have no means of obtaining essential services.” He said the U.S. would cede political influence in the region with this decision.

“When the U.S fails to lead, who will?  Hamas and Hezbollah stand ready,” Harden said.

Earlier this week, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, blasted not just UNRWA but also Palestinian leaders, who she said were critical of the U.S. even as they sought funding from Washington.

“The Palestinians continue to bash America … This is the government, not the people, not the Palestinian people,” Haley said at a forum in Washington on Tuesday. At the same time, she said, “They have their hand out wanting UNRWA money.”

Nauert, in her statement on Friday, said the State Department was “very mindful of and deeply concerned” about the impact of UNRWA’s flawed funding and operating structure on “innocent Palestinians, especially school children.”

“… Palestinians, wherever they live, deserve better than an endlessly crisis-driven service provision model,” Nauert added. She said the U.S. would work with the U.S., other governments, and international stakeholders “about new models and new approaches,” raising the possibility of direct bilateral aid from the United States.

A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

By Bob Hennelly

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

The Growing Pakistani Nuclear Horn

Pakistani nuclear forces, 2018

By Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris, Julia Diamond, August 31, 2018

The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists, and Robert S. Norris, a senior fellow with the FAS. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the since 1987. This issue’s column examines Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which includes 140 to 150 warheads. The authors estimate that the country’s stockpile could realistically grow to 220 to 250 warheads by 2025, if the current trend continues.

Read more: Pakistani nuclear forces, 2018

Issue: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Volume 74 Issue 5

Iran Hegemony During the Iraq War (Daniel 8:4)

Image result for iran hegemony iraq

Michael R. Gordon and Ben Kesling

 

WASHINGTON—Recently declassified U.S. interrogation reports shed new light on one of Iraq’s most prominent Shiite political figures and Iran’s role in training and arming Iraqi militias that attacked U.S. troops during the Iraq war.

The interrogations of Qais al-Khazali resonate today because he leads a major Shiite militia group whose power has grown after recent elections in Iraq, where the U.S. and Iran are jostling for influence.

Mr. Khazali’s interrogations were conducted a decade ago after he was captured by the American-led coalition and accused of organizing a 2007 attack that led to the deaths of five U.S. soldiers.

The reports were declassified and approved for public release by the U.S. Central Command months ago as part of an effort to study the history of the Iraq war. Though they haven’t been officially distributed by the U.S. government, copies have been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The reports have been circulating in Washington as lawmakers and Trump administration officials have been debating whether to designate Mr. Khazali and his militia group as terrorist entities. Such a designation could have economic consequences for Mr. Khazali and his group, but could put the U.S. on a collision course with hard-line Shiite politicians in Iraq.

The reports are also likely to roil the political scene in Baghdad, where Mr. Khazali is jockeying for power with other Shiite political leaders, including Moqtada al-Sadr, the fiery Shiite cleric whose movement reaped impressive gains in the recent Iraqi elections.

Mr. Khazali leads Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Shia militia group that won 15 of Iraq’s 329 seats in parliamentary elections in May.

The Trump administration has vowed to roll back Tehran’s aggressive posture in the region and has withdrawn from the six nation agreement with Iran to constrain its nuclear program. Throughout the Iraq war, Iran sought to influence the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq, often to the real and perceived detriment of the Sunni minority.

In recent months, Mr. Khazali has asserted publicly that he isn’t beholden to Iran. But the interrogation reports show that Mr. Khazali discussed his interaction with Iran and the arms and training received from Tehran by Iraqi Shiite militias during a period when they were attacking U.S. and allied troops to pressure them to leave the country.

U.S. forces left in 2011 after President Obama and then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki failed to reach an accord to allow American troops to stay.

According to a June 18, 2007, interrogation report, Mr. Khazali said the training was carried out by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps at three bases near Tehran, including the Imam Khomeini base, which Mr. Khazali said he had visited.

“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.”

Iranian officers didn’t dictate which specific targets should be attacked in Iraq but suggested that the Iraqi Shiite militias focus attacks on British in the Basra area and American troops elsewhere “to force a withdrawal,” the report said.

A representative for Mr. Khazali asserted that the U.S. was meddling in Iraq’s political affairs. “It seems that the U.S. is leading a campaign against Asaib Ahl al-Haq and its leader Sheikh Qais al-Khazali because he strongly rejected foreign interference in Iraqi affairs,” said Qassim al-Darraji, a member of the party’s political bureau.

Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, denied that Iran sought to manipulate Iraqi politics or had trained Shiite militias to fight U.S. troops in Iraq.

“That question has been answered numerous times over the past 15 years and is also preposterous on the face of it,” he said. “Iran has helped Iraqis purely for the purposes of self-defense against terrorist groups like Daesh,” he added, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

Mr. Khazali also discussed how the Iranians supplied the militias with what the Pentagon calls explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, a particularly lethal type of explosive device that killed or wounded hundreds of American troops. “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.”

U.S. officials say Mr. Khazali’s most notorious role, and the one that led to his capture, was his involvement in a plot to kidnap U.S. troops in the Iraqi city of Karbala south of Baghdad, which ended with the death of five American soldiers. The goal of the Karbala attack, which he told interrogators was planned by Iran, had been to take U.S. hostages that would be traded for followers of Mr. Sadr held by the American-led coalition, Mr. Khazali said.

Mr. Khazali was turned over to Iraqi authorities in late 2009 after he vowed his militia members would lay down their arms and was released shortly after that. There was no indication in the reports that Mr. Khazali was subjected to harsh interrogation while in the custody of the U.S. military, though he complained that he was under stress and suffered seizures, the reports note.

Mr. Khazali said while undergoing interrogation that he had been a chubby youth, according to interrogation transcripts, and a studious young man who earned a bachelor’s degree in geology before going on to study religion. His willingness to meld science and theology won him the approval of Mohammad al-Sadr, one of the most respected Shiite thinkers and father of Moqtada al-Sadr, he said.

The elder Mr. Sadr was killed in 1999 in an attack his followers blamed on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and his son took on much of his father’s mantle.

Under repeated questioning, Mr. Khazali discussed his extensive travel to Iran with Moqtada al-Sadr and later on his own as an emissary in search of money, political support and arms.

In early visits the two were received by high-ranking Iranians. Later, during a 2005 visit to Iran Mr. Khazali undertook alone, he was told by Iranian officials that Mr. Sadr needed to take part in Iraqi elections to ensure “the Shia people gained complete control of the country and the government.” He also met with Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force.

Mr. Sadr couldn’t immediately reached for comment.

Mr. Khazali also told of his falling out with Mr. Sadr, who he complained in a Jan. 6, 2008, interrogation report “has no principles and only works for personal gain.”

Many of his interrogations are filled with accounts of Mr. Sadr’s dealings with the Iranians and his interest in controlling the Iranian money flowing to political groups in Iraq.

Mr. Khazali also told interrogators that a number of other Iraqi political figures were sympathetic to or influenced by Iran, including Jalal Talabani, who served as the Iraqi president and died in 2017.

Iranian-backed militias have refrained from attacking U.S. troops since they returned to Iraq in 2014 to help Iraqi forces fight the militants from Islamic State, a common foe of Washington and Tehran.

Still, Mr. Khazali’s close ties with Iran are important since Asaib Ahl al-Haq is a potentially powerful faction as Iraq struggles to form a government after a fractious election.

“They had one seat before, and they played a big role because they had guns; now they have 15 times as many seats,” said Kirk Sowell, publisher of the Inside Iraqi Politics newsletter.

While those 15 seats aren’t necessarily useful on their own, Mr. Khazali could fold into a coalition or break away and become a persistent voice of opposition to a government that is likely to be dysfunctional, Mr. Sowell said.

Mr. Sadr has seen great success by being an opposition gadfly over the past few years, and Mr. Khazali could gain power and popularity with a similar approach.

—Ghassan Adnan in Baghdad contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com and Ben Kesling at benjamin.kesling@wsj.com

Antichrist Selects Sunni Arab as Parliament Speaker

Iraqi lawmakers elect Sunni Arab as parliament speaker

By: QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press

Updated: Sep 15, 2018 – 1:30 PM

BAGHDAD (AP) – Amid escalating political wrangling, Iraqi lawmakers elected an Iran-backed Sunni Arab as speaker of parliament on Saturday, the first step in forming a new government four months after national 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 Mohammed al-Halbousi, the former governor of Anbar, and 89 others voted for the former defense minister, Khalid al-Obeidi, lawmaker Ahmed 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.’s (influence),” al-Mashhadani 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 cleric 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 al-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 al-Halbousi. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi 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.”

Qasemi said in the remarks carried by state news agency IRNA that he hoped al-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. On Friday, al-Abadi said 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 al-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 fifteen 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.

___

Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.

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

Antichrist Plans a Day of Rage (Revelation 13)

Iraq’s Sadr Hints at ‘Million Man Day of Rage’

Thursday, 30 August, 2018 – 06:45
Cleric Moqtada Sadr. Reuters file photo
Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa

Iraq’s political crisis is set to grow after the blocs that have won most seats in the parliament failed to create the largest legislative bloc capable of forming a new government.

The inaugural session of the 329-seat chamber would be chaired by its oldest member, President Fuad Massum said this week in a decree calling for the sitting to take place on September 3.

As the parliament plans to meet, cleric Moqtada Sadr called on Wednesday for a “peaceful day of rage” to rebuild a “new Iraq.”

Dozens of Iraqis protested near the entrance to the green zone in Baghdad over what they say are US plans to keep Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in his post for a second term.

They said Brett McGurk, the US special envoy for the coalition against ISIS, has been ‘interfering” in the negotiations aimed at forming the biggest parliamentary bloc.

“No to America,” the protesters chanted as they pledged not to remain silent to the US embassy’s “interference” in the Iraqi government formation process.

Addressing his followers in a statement, Sadr urged them to hold a million man march against the corrupt.

“Say no to sectarianism, no to corruption, no to division of shares, no to terrorism and no to occupation,” he said.

“Iraq needs a peaceful day of rage to set the stage for building a new Iraq away from corruption and oppression,” Sadr added.

His foes considered his statement a call for street protests if the government was not formed anytime soon.

A political source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the slogans used in Sadr’s statement mainly with regard to ‘occupation,’ is a hint to the US, which has been seeking to keep Abadi in power.

Political analysts believe that tension ahead of the parliamentary session, along with US and Iranian pressure on the formation of the largest legislative bloc, are a reflection that Iraq’s political crisis has not abated and is set to become worse.