The Fight With Hamas Outside The Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

The Only Effective Option for Stopping Hamas Is Off the Table—For Now

NOV. 27 2018

By the time the second intifada began in 2001, Hamas and Fatah had built up a powerful terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank; only by reoccupying the territory did Israel succeed in putting an end to Palestinian attacks. Likewise, argues Evelyn Gordon, the only way to end Hamas’s rocket fire and other attacks would be to reoccupy the Gaza Strip—at a price that few Israelis today are willing to pay:

[Reoccupying] Gaza would have very high costs—in soldiers’ lives, in international opprobrium, and possibly in saddling Israel with responsibility for Gaza’s civilian problems. . . . No democracy could undertake such a costly plan without widespread public support, but especially not Israel, because any major military operation requires a massive call-up of reservists, and Israeli reservists tend to vote with their feet. They’ll show up in droves for an operation with broad support, but an operation widely considered unjustified will spark major protests. . . .

But with the option of reoccupying Gaza unavailable, the two main options left are both short-term fixes. One is a smaller-scale military operation. The last such operation, in 2014, bought Israel’s south three-and-a-half years of almost total quiet, but at a price (for Israel) of 72 dead and massive international opprobrium. Another such operation might buy a similar period of calm, but at a similar or even higher cost. And it would have to be repeated again in another few years, by which time Hamas may be better armed and capable of exacting an even higher price.

The second option, which [Prime Minister] Netanyahu evidently favors, is to negotiate a long-term ceasefire. This might buy a similar period of quiet, though since it hasn’t been tried before, there’s no guarantee. And it has several obvious advantages: no deaths, no international opprobrium, and most likely, greater support within Israel (though, judging by past experience, not abroad) for a more forceful response once the ceasefire collapses, as it will at some point.

But this option also has some obvious downsides. First, it’s devastating to Israeli deterrence, since it shows that firing rockets is a good way to get Israel to capitulate to your demands. Second, it ensures that when the inevitable next round arrives, Hamas will be able to inflict much more damage than it could today. . . . Either of these options would only postpone the inevitable: barring a miracle, Hamas will eventually become overconfident and cause Israel enough anguish to provoke it to reoccupy Gaza.

The Danger of the Merchant of Merchants (Revelation 16)

America’s greatest danger: Nuclear war decision-making by Donald Trump

GREG NASH

BY LOUIS RENÉ BERES, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

An inappropriate or irrational nuclear command decision by President Donald Trump is plainly conceivable. Nothing accurate can ever be said about the true probability of such a scenario, but it is not an unfounded worry.

Might this American president become subject to various forms of psychological debility? On 14 March 1976, in response to my specific query, I received a letter from General (USA/ret.) Maxwell Taylor, a former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, concerning nuclear risks of U.S. presidential decisional irrationality. Most noteworthy, in this handwritten response, is the straightforward warning contained in the closing paragraph. Ideally, cautioned Taylor, presidential irrationality is a problem that should be dealt with during an election, and not later on: “As to dangers arising from an irrational American president, the best protection is not to elect one.”

There are assorted structural protections built into any presidential order to use nuclear weapons, including substantial redundancy. Nonetheless, virtually all of these reassuring and mutually reinforcing safeguards could become operative only at the lower or sub-presidential nuclear command levels.

The safeguards do not apply to the Commander-in-Chief.

This means there likely exist no permissible legal grounds to disobey any presidential order to use nuclear weapons. In principle, certain very senior individuals in the designated military chain of command could sometime choose to invoke applicable “Nuremberg Obligations,” but any such last-minute invocation would almost surely need to yield to considerations of U.S. domestic law.

Should an American president operating within a bewildering chaos of his own making issue an irrational or seemingly irrational nuclear command, the only way for the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the National Security Adviser, and several possible others to effectively obstruct this order would be illegal “on its face.” Under the very best of circumstances, such informal safeguards might somehow manage to work for a time, but accepting the unrealistic assumption of “best case scenario” is hardly a rational or sensible path to nuclear security.

It follows that we Americans ought to ask for more predictable and promising institutional impediments to any debilitated president.

The United States is already navigating in uncharted waters.

While President Kennedy did engage in personal nuclear brinkmanship with the Soviet Union back in October 1962, he had calculated his own odds of a consequent nuclear war as “between one out of three and even.” This seemingly precise calculation, corroborated both by JFK biographer Theodore Sorensen, and by my own later private conversations with former JCS Chair Admiral Arleigh Burke (my colleague and roommate at the Naval Academy’s Foreign Affairs Conference of 1977) suggests that President Kennedy was either irrational in imposing his Cuban “quarantine” or that he was wittingly acting out certain untested principles of “pretended irrationality.”

JFK operated with serious and manifestly capable strategic advisors.

The most urgent threat of a mistaken or irrational presidential order to use nuclear weapons flows not from any “bolt-from-the-blue” nuclear attack – whether Russian, North Korean, or American – but from an uncontrollable escalatory process. Back in 1962, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev “blinked” early on in the “game,” thereby preventing mutual and irrecoverable nuclear harms. Now, however, any escalatory initiatives undertaken by President Trump could express very unstable decision-making processes.

Donald Trump should understand the unprecedented risks of being locked into an escalatory dynamic. Although this president might be well advised to seek escalation dominance in selected crisis negotiations with determined adversaries, he would also need to avoid catastrophic miscalculations.

Whether we like it or not, and at one time or another, nuclear strategy is a bewildering game that President Donald Trump will have to play. To best ensure that this easily-distracted president’s strategic moves will be rational, thoughtful, and cumulatively cost-effective, it will first be necessary to enhance the formal decisional authority of his most senior military and defense subordinates.

At a minimum, the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Advisor, and one or two others in appropriate nuclear command positions should immediately prepare to assume more broadly collaborative and secure judgments in extremis atomicum.

The only time for clarifying such indispensable preparations is now.

Louis René Beres, Ph.D. Princeton, is emeritus professor of international law at Purdue University. He is the author of 12 books and several hundred articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war. His newest book is “Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 2nd ed. 2018)

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)

Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think

By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017

Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

The Saudi Nuclear Horn Courtesy of Trump (Daniel 7)

The Crown Prince May Build Himself a Nuclear Kingdom

The horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi shed light on the reckless and dangerous decisionmaking process of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MbS). In addition to the latest crisis The New York Times recently published a story about how the prince’s closest security personnel sought to hire private foreign companies to assassinate senior Iranian officials—an act that could have trigger a regional military conflict. This conduct follows a string of other bizarre events in the last few months, initiated by MbS.

The crown prince has demonstrated arrogant, cruel, amateur and capricious behavior. His aggression has been left almost unmonitored by checks and balances inside the Saudi hierarchy. Indeed, MbS has constrained all his potential rivals and has taken full control of Saudi Arabia’s security and intelligence bodies. As the Khashoggi scandal has proven—such power enables dictators to secretly execute dangerous operations. In parallel, he managed to become the darling of the West after he initiated economic reforms and launched his so called modern 2030 vision .

Now add Saudi’s long history of nuclear ambitions to the mix. For years, Saudi officials have warned that Saudi Arabia will not curb its nuclear ambitions if it will sense a threat to its national security, or if Iran advances in its nuclear program. Rumors were that Pakistan was obliged to provide the Saudis a ready-for-use nuclear weapon if and when the time comes. Things only got more complicated once the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) with Iran was signed in 2015, practically legitimizing Iran’s rights to maintain and develop its uranium enrichment capabilities. At the beginning of November 2018, the crown prince participated in the opening ceremony marking the launch of construction of Riyadh’s first research reactor . It’s still early days and only a symbolic act—the Saudis lack knowhow, technicians, infrastructure and academic expertise—but the country has both enough ambition and funds to advance anyway. Shortly after that the Saudi energy minister said the kingdom launches uranium exploration program.

Over the last decade, purchasing sixteen nuclear power reactors—later scaled back to two reactors—plus uranium enrichment capabilities preferably from the United States, has featured prominently on the Saudi agenda. The official rationale is the country’s future needs to supply energy —with self-sufficient nuclear materials. While having enrichment capabilities can serve to counterbalance Iran, it may also constitute a future military nuclear program. During previous negotiations with Saudi officials, the Obama administration insisted that Saudi Arabia must comply with the “ gold standard ,” reflective of the conditions imposed on the UAE when it agreed to buy U.S. reactors in 2009. This standard requires a commitment not to enrich uranium or to produce plutonium as a strict condition for any agreement to sell nuclear reactors. According to current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration has maintained this policy . In an interview with CBS in March 2018, MbS maintained that “without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we would follow suit as soon as possible.”

Following the murder of Khashoggi, Senate members urged the Trump administration to curb any intention to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudi regime. This move is certainly necessary, but not nearly enough. An American refusal to his demands can push the prince to seek an alternative option elsewhere, with producers that will be all too happy to assist—for the right price.

Much of MbS’s current conduct lies parallel to previous experience with three other Middle East tyrants: former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Libya’s leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. These cynical dictators have a common denominator in their infinite ambitions, which ultimately led them to secretly promote a nuclear weapons program. They all relied heavily on their security systems in initiating these plans. Libya and Syria had no sufficient nuclear infrastructure, so they bought a turnkey nuclear project from Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan Network, and in the Syrian case from North Korea .

The Saudi nuclear issue has placed a challenge before the administration. If the prince is successful in surviving the current crisis, then that could prompt him to make even riskier decisions, including taking the nuclear path. Much like in Iraq, Libya and Syria, all the necessary components for that are now in place: A de facto dictator with delusions of grandeur and poor judgment, full control over the security services, unlimited funds for the purpose, a national sense of isolation, an acute threat, and a long-term nuclear vision. As Iran seems to be complying with the JCPOA, a Saudi move could instigate a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. To avoid this, the Trump administration should warn and restrict the Saudi heir. It should also keep a very close eye on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear connections and activities.

Ronen Dangoor is the former deputy head of the research and analysis division at the Israeli prime minister’s office.

Image: Reuters

Too Little too Late Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Evening Security Drill At Indian Point Tuesday | Peekskill-Cortlandt, NY Patch

By Lanning Taliaferro | Nov 27, 2018 3:09 pm ET

Don’t be alarmed by the fake gunfire. The special gear duplicates the effects, including sound, of live ammunition.

By Lanning Taliaferro | Nov 27, 2018 3:09 pm ET

CORTLANDT, NY — Entergy will be conducting security exercises at the Indian Point Energy Center during the evening Tuesday using weapons that simulate the sound of actual gunfire. During the exercises, anyone near the site may hear the sound of simulated gunfire.

Local law enforcement has been notified about the drills.

Entergy will be using a technical innovation for the exercise known as “MILES” gear, or Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems. These systems involve the use of laser “bullets” and vests with laser-detection equipment, which duplicate the effects, including the sound, of live ammunition. MILES gear is used for military and counter-terrorism training across the country to make it as realistic as possible without using real bullets.

Indian Point Energy Center, in Buchanan, N.Y., is home to two operating nuclear power plants that generate approximately 2000 megawatts of electricity for homes, business and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County. They are slated to close permanently by 2022.

Antichrist Controls the New Iraq Government

Sadr demands impartial candidates for coveted posts of defense, interior minister

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led the Sairoon Coalition to victory in the May 12 election, demanded the first session of parliament to resume on Oct. 7, 2018. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday stated he would only accept independent nominees for the ministerial posts of defense and interior in Baghdad after parliament delayed another session at which the question was to be settled.

In late October, the Iraqi Parliament gave its vote of confidence to 14 ministers. The rest were due to be voted in early November but has been repeatedly delayed as leading coalitions continue to contest the two posts vital to the country’s security.

“O’ my people, I am not the cause of delaying the conclusion of the government formation but that of postponing their schemes,” Sadr said in a tweet, in an apparent response to reports claiming otherwise.

“I will not accept a minister of defense or interior [who is politically] affiliated,” stated Sadr, who is the leader of the Reform and Reconstruction parliamentary bloc.

Sadr’s statement comes a day after parliament postponed by a week its Tuesday session, scheduled to resolve the vote on the vacant ministerial portfolios.

In the meantime, the populist cleric suggested to Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdu-Mahdi, to present to lawmakers his nominees for the rest of his cabinet, excluding those of defense and interior who would be voted on a later date.

He added that the PM should choose among “candidates that were previously great leaders who freed invaded lands from the hands of the cursed Da’esh [Islamic State (IS)] without intervention from any party or side.”

“Our neighbors are our friends, not our masters,” he added, referring to rumors of interference by regional powers, notably Iran, in the selection of ministers.

In addition to defense and interior, vacant posts include the ministers of planning, higher education, immigration, culture, and justice.

A parliamentary source on Tuesday told Kurdistan 24 that a further delay is expected unless the lawmakers receive the CVs of the PM’s candidates well before the session to have “sufficient time for review.”

Editing by Nadia Riva

Militia Leader Urges Security Role for Antichrist’s Men (Rev 13:18)

Iraq Militia Leader Urges Formal Border Security Role for Shi’ite Fighters

Qais al-Khazali, leader of the militant group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Najaf, Iraq November 24, 2018. Picture taken November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) – The head of a powerful Iraqi militia wants a formal role for Shi’ite paramilitaries in securing the border with Syria, a move that could deepen U.S. worries about Iran’s growing sway over a strategic corridor of territory from Tehran to Beirut.

Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, many of which are supported by Iran and oppose the presence of U.S. troops in the region, have sent reinforcements to the frontier after fighting flared between U.S.-backed Kurdish forces and Islamic State militants on the Syrian side.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq, urged the government to provide a more formal, long-term border protection role for the militias.

“Securing Iraq’s borders with Syria is among the most important duties of the Popular Mobilization Forces right now,” he said in an interview with Reuters at his office in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf on Saturday.

“The Daesh (IS) threat against Iraq won’t end as long as Syria is unstable. The PMF proved it is the military side most capable of dealing with Daesh … maybe the armed forces can invest the PMF in duties that include border security,” Khazali said.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq is part of the PMF, an umbrella grouping of mostly Iran-backed and trained Shi’ite paramilitary groups. The PMF was made formally part of the security forces this year after helping the military defeat Islamic State in Iraq in 2017.

It remains separate from the military and police, however, raising questions over whom the militias will answer to and what their exact role will be if they are fully integrated into Iraq’s security structure.

Khazali said paramilitary commanders should retain leadership positions and that “the government needs to provide bases and weapons depots.”

The growing presence of Iran-backed militias on the frontier has caused tensions with Washington, which has special forces on the Syrian side to back Kurdish-led fighters battling IS.

A formal PMF border role would exacerbate that friction as Washington seeks to counter Iran’s sway over territory stretching from Tehran to the Mediterranean via Iraq and Syria. Iran’s allies in that territory include Iraqi and Lebanese fighters and politicians, and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

The risks of having Shi’ite fighters and U.S. forces in close proximity were laid bare in July when the PMF vowed to “not be quiet” over an alleged U.S. air strike it said killed 22 of its members inside Syria.

The United States denied involvement in the strike.

The Iraqi military, which Washington supports, is deployed along the frontier, but PMF leaders have said they are taking the lead in securing it, including around the town of al-Qaim which borders Syria’s Deir al-Zor province.

“The border was not secure before. Our operations have fixed that completely,” a senior PMF commander said in October.

Iraq’s military relied on the PMF support to defeat IS. It says the militias are now crucial to securing the sprawling Syrian border.

Iraqi Sunni and Kurdish politicians have called for disarming the PMF. They say the militias are responsible for widespread abuses including extra-judicial killings and displacing non-Shi’ite populations, and in effect report to Tehran, not the government in Baghdad.

The PMF says any abuses were isolated incidents and not systematic and that those who committed them have been punished.

U.S. TROOP PRESENCE ‘UNACCEPTABLE’

The PMF, estimated at 150,000 members, includes groups which fought the U.S. military after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and individuals against whom Washington has imposed Iran-related sanctions.

Members of Congress have sought sanctions against Khazali’s group. Khazali denied it is currently receiving support from Iran.

“We don’t expect a good future for relations between Iraq and the United States under (President Donald) Trump,” he said, and reiterated his call for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

“A (U.S.) training role is one thing but presence of combat forces is unacceptable. Parliament should oppose this. Daesh is no longer a military threat, so there should be a reduction” in U.S. troops, he said.

The Pentagon says over 5,000 troops are deployed in Iraq.

Khazali’s militia started as a splinter group of the Mahdi Army, a force formed by anti-American Shi’ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr in the U.S. occupation. Under his leadership, it gained notoriety for its attacks against U.S. forces.

He and Hadi al-Amiri, the veteran leader of the Badr Organisation who contested Iraq’s May general election, were among the first to announce late last year they were putting their paramilitaries under the orders of the prime minister.

Iran has provided training and weapons to both groups.

(Writing by John Davison, Ahmed Rasheed, Editing by William Maclean)

Copyright 2018 Thomson Reuters.

Israel Continues to Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israeli Military Drills Commence in West Bank and Gaza

27 Nov

7:51 PM

The Israeli occupation army, on Tuesday afternoon, began military training at the Zikim military point, near the Gaza shore north of Beit Lahiya, where Gazans could hear the sound of explosions and the movement of active army forces.

Israeli Channel 7 said that, in the evening, the army will begin another training in the settlements of Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim, and the training will end on Wednesday afternoon.

PNN reports that, according to the army spokesman, training is part of the 2018 plan aimed at “maintaining the readiness of troops in times of emergency.”

Two days ago, Israeli forces started training combatants in a 10 day intensive program that sees soldiers training  under the pretext of readying the soldiers for combat in an imminent “war” against Gaza and Lebanon, at the same time.

The Israeli commando brigade, formed in 2015, has seen several training exercises where soldiers are being prepared to attack under what they call “perceived challenge” or threat.

Working with the air force, the indoctrination training serves as a tool resulting in the army legitimizing the use of military action against “any enemy in any area”.

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

 

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago

It happened before, and it could happen again.

By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg

Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM

On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.

According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.

The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.

A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:

“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”

The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.

The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.

The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.

“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”

The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.

“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.

The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.

There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.

According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.

“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,

that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,

the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;

O turn to God; lest by his Rod,

he cast thee down to Hell.”

Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”

There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.

Well, sort of.

In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”

It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.

In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”

If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Hamas Threatens From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Hamas Threatens Tel Aviv

By Jim Fletcher November 26, 2018 , 7:00 am

 (This week marks my 12th year having the privilege of writing in this space. I love Todd and Terry, my brothers, and thank them for the opportunity! I consider my readers to be family, truly. I believe we are living in the last days, so let’s go through this period together, looking forward with joy to our Great Hope! Thank you all!)

We live in a time in which a U.S. congressman has now threatened to use nukes on American citizens who do not turn in their guns.

A Michigan college has cancelled a presentation of the infamous “Vagina Monologues,” because, it is said, not all women have vaginas.

Think that through.

New Testament prophecies are coming so sharply into focus, one tends to reflexively flinch or duck.

But as usual, watch Israel for the clearest signs that we are in the last of the last days. The international community’s increasing pressure on Israel is the sign.

Last week, almost 500 Hamas rockets hit southern Israel; one person was killed and significant property damage occurred. The Iron Dome intercepted 100 of the rockets. A “ceasefire” brokered by Egypt in effect handed a PR and “moral” victory to the terrorists. From a Times of Israel report:

“Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar on Friday warned Israel ‘not to test us again,’ saying the next rocket barrage from the territory would target Tel Aviv and other central cities with a potency that would “surprise” Israel.

“Yahya Sinwa brandishes handgun with silencer he says was taken from Israeli special forces; warns next time IDF troops enter Strip, they’ll return only for ‘thousands of prisoners.’”

Israel’s decision to stand-down caused some political turmoil, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigning (it’s almost shocking to realize that Bibi Netanyahu has been PM for almost a decade, this go-around!).

A particularly odious Hamas leader made the following comment:

“Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh cheered Liberman’s resignation Wednesday, saying it marked an ‘admission of defeat’ by Israel. Haniyeh also boasted that Hamas ‘achieved a military victory against this odious occupier in less than a week.’”

One wonders if this vermin is making a thinly veiled reference to Israel’s epic Six-Day War victory 50 years ago. As usual, the Palestinians envy is showing.

My friend Ruthie Blum, a terrific writer and analyst, this week posted her thoughts on the Hamas dustup. She offers a clue as to Netanyahu’s thinking in backing-off of destroying Hamas:

“He is clearly far more concerned with the looming, existential threat along Israel’s northern border. It is a threat owed largely to the U.N.-brokered ceasefire agreement that sealed the 2006 Second Lebanon War, leaving the field wide open for Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, to amass enormous quantities of weapons with which to destroy the Jewish state at a later date.”

(I encourage you to follow Ruthie’s writing. Her book, To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring’ is sensational, and explains so much.)

 And if one takes both a macro and micro view of terrorism, we see that Israel is under existential threat in the north, and the international community—insulated from reality—does not see its own impending doom at the hands of jihadists. Consider this report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:

 “Syrian army soldiers and Iranian Revolutionary Guards operatives (probably operatives of the Shiite militias) reportedly started to plant mines along the west bank of the Euphrates River, for fear of SIS operatives infiltrating into the west bank of the river. The mines were planted about 20 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor (Furat Post Facebook page, November 9,2018).”

Then this:

“The spread of ISIS and Al-Qaeda to new countries: According to the head of the FSB, ISIS is sending its branches around the world, including to countries that used to be protected from terrorism. ‘At the moment most of the militants have been driven out of their bases in populated areas. They have been dealt a hard blow in terms of resources, they have been forced to change their methods of operation, and therefore they are searching for new opportunities, [new] ways and methods, to continue their terrorist activity.’ Bortnikov added: ‘After abandoning the strategy of military invasion and taking over territory, the Islamic State, the Al-Nusra Front, and other terrorist organizations decided on an operating method of expansion to countries that were once safe from terrorism.’”

I guess my point is, none of us have any real idea what a head-of-state deals with in these dangerous times. It’s easy to criticize Netanyahu, but he’s looking at threats to Tel Aviv from the south, from Hezbollah and actual Iranian operatives in the north. All the while, the UN threatens Israel politically.

Last week, the UN voted on nine resolutions critical of Israel, including the Jewish state’s control of the Golan Heights (a must-have for defense).

“’The UN’s planned assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,’ said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the UN Watch monitor group.”

So, Hamas is just one part of the puzzle.

Personally, I believe in God. The God who spoke to the Jewish nation at Sinai, and the same One that went ahead of their Six-Day War victory. He alone decides outcomes. It is our job and our privilege to pray for our Jewish friends the world over, and the do what we can to protect them physically.

It is our sacred duty.

Hamas does not know what awaits.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Rapture Ready