Expect the Sixth Seal in NYC (Revelation 6:12)

Residents in Morris Plains, New Jersey reported tremors–reminding folks that the Garden State has a fault line.  It’s called the Ramapo fault and Kathryn Miles, author of “Quakeland,” explains more about this lesser known spot for earthquake activity.  She also discusses fault lines in New York City.  Miles mentions that the brick walkup and brownstones would pose more danger and destruction during an earthquake than most of the newer skyscrapers.

And if you think, we have been experiencing our share of wild weather with Hurricane Irma, Harvey and Maria…Miles has an explanation for that too.  Check out her book “Quakeland.”

Israel Builds Up The Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel begins construction of new Gaza barrier

Six-metre tall fence will prevent Palestinians from infiltrating Israel from the Gaza Strip, prime minister says.

Israel has said the work to strengthen its fence along the Gaza Strip entered a new phase with construction starting on a massive new barrier along the frontier.

“Over the weekend we began building the above-ground barrier along the Gaza border,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists on Sunday before a weekly cabinet meeting.

The barrier, set to stand six metres off the ground, will be constructed on the pretext of preventing the infiltration of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Israel, Netanyahu said.

The Israeli prime minister gave no further details but a defence ministry statement said the work on the structure began on Thursday.

It is set to follow the 65km course of an underground barrier also under construction meant to neutralise the threat of cross-border tunnels built by fighters from Gaza.

At its western end, the statement said, the above-ground barrier would join a fortified sea wall jutting into the Mediterranean aimed at blocking Palestinian attacks by water.

The construction of the wall is expected to finish by the end of the year.

“It’s massive and especially strong,” the ministry said in an accompanying video clip.

Local Palestinian news agency Maan reported on Sunday that Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians who crossed the Israeli fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

While Israel admitted to arresting the Palestinians and taking them to an unknown area, no further information was provided.

In the last Gaza war in 2014, Israeli forces killed four Hamas fighters who managed to cross into Israel by the sea.

Last November, an Israeli special forces team infiltrated an area near the southern city of Khan Younis in a civilian vehicle, leading to a shoot-out that resulted in the deaths of seven Palestinian and one Israeli soldier.

The undercover Israeli unit managed to leave the strip under the cover of Israeli air raids.

Military action?

Israel established a concrete wall to separate the occupied West Bank from Jerusalem two years after the second Intifada began in 2000. It has also built walls along the border with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the occupied Golan Heights.

Some Israeli commentators have said Netanyahu would be unwilling to see a new uptick in hostilities with Gaza’s Hamas rulers in the run-up to Israel’s general elections set for April 9.

But the prime minister, who is also the defence minister, on Sunday pledged the upcoming polls would not affect security decisions.

“If the quiet is not maintained in Gaza, we will make the decisions even in the elections period and will not hesitate to act,” he said.

Palestinians have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the Gaza border for protests.

They want to be able to return to the villages and towns their families were ethnically cleansed from in the follow up to Israel’s establishment in 1948. The protesters have also been calling for an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of Gaza.

At least 246 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since March 30, the majority during protests but also by tank fire and air attacks.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

Israel says its actions are necessary to stop mass incursions into its territory.

It accuses Hamas, against whom it has waged three wars since 2008, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence. Hamas has rejected these claims and said while it supports the weekly demonstrations, they remain organised by civil rights organisations.

The Iranian Nuclear Threat (Daniel 8:4)

Iran tests long-range cruise missile, releases video

By Allen Cone

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami (R) speaks Saturday during a ceremony unveiling a new missile, called Hoveizeh, which he says i capable of traveling more than 800 miles. Photo courtesy Iran Defense Ministry/EPA

Feb. 2 (UPI) — Iran announced Saturday it successfully fired a cruise missile with a range of more than 800 miles, including the capability of reaching Israel.

The test firing was 40 years after 1979 Islamic Revolution in which the monarch was overthrown.

The Hoveizeh missle was shown off at a ceremony in Tehran and the private-run Tasnim News Agency published a 37-second video of the test-firing alongside its report.

“The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 kilometers [840 miles] and accurately hit the set target,” Brig. Gen. Amir Amir Hatami, the defense minister, said on state television. “It can be ready in the shortest possible time and flies at a very low altitude.”

At the ceremony in Tehran, Hatami described the Hoveizeh missile as as “the symbol of self-belief and an important defense achievement based on today’s technological progress in the world.”

He added “no obstacle can hinder the Iranian nation’s determination and will in the defense field, and the nation “will decisively respond to any kind of threat at the same level.”

The missile has a range of 839 miles and was successfully fired in the video at a distance of 745 miles. The air distance between western Iran and Tel Aviv is 771 miles. There was no independent confirmation of Tehran’s claims, the Times of Israel reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of testing a medium-range ballistic missile capable of “carrying multiple warheads,” which he said could strike “anywhere” in the Middle East, including Israel, and even parts of Europe.

On Tuesday, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, said that terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah were prepared to unleash an “inferno” on the Jewish State.

At a space tech conference, he said “hundreds of kilometers of tunnels dug underneath [Israelis’] feet, and the resistance forces in Gaza and Lebanon have missiles with pinpoint accuracy and are ready to respond to any foolish Israeli behavior with an inferno.”

Last, year, U.S. President Donald Trump ended the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions.

On Wednesday, Iran announced the production of large amounts of yellowcake, a precursor to enriched uranium. Two batches were shipped to a uranium conversion facility.

In February 2018, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, called for a boost in Iran’s defense capabilities.

“Without a moment of hesitation, the country must move to acquire whatever is necessary for defense, even if the whole world is opposed to it,” Khamenei said at the time.

Preparing For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


Preparing for the Great New York Earthquake

by Mike MullerinShare

Most New Yorkers probably view the idea of a major earthquake hitting New York City as a plot device for a second-rate disaster movie. In a city where people worry about so much — stock market crashes, flooding, a terrorist attack — earthquakes, at least, do not have to be on the agenda.

A recent report by leading seismologists associated with Columbia University, though, may change that. The report concludes a serious quake is likely to hit the area.

The implication of this finding has yet to be examined. Although earthquakes are uncommon in the area relative to other parts of the world like California and Japan, the size and density of New York City puts it at a higher risk of damage. The type of earthquake most likely to occur here would mean that even a fairly small event could have a big impact.

The issue with earthquakes in this region is that they tend to be shallow and close to the surface,” explains Leonardo Seeber, a coauthor of the report. “That means objects at the surface are closer to the source. And that means even small earthquakes can be damaging.”

The past two decades have seen an increase in discussions about how to deal with earthquakes here. The most recent debate has revolved around the Indian Point nuclear power plant, in Buchanan, N.Y., a 30-mile drive north of the Bronx, and whether its nuclear reactors could withstand an earthquake. Closer to home, the city adopted new codes for its buildings even before the Lamont report, and the Port Authority and other agencies have retrofitted some buildings. Is this enough or does more need to be done? On the other hand, is the risk of an earthquake remote enough that public resources would be better spent addressing more immediate — and more likely — concerns?

Assessing the Risk

The report by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University at summarizes decades of information on earthquakes in the area gleaned from a network of seismic instruments, studies of earthquakes from previous centuries through archival material like newspaper accounts and examination of fault lines.

The city can expect a magnitude 5 quake, which is strong enough to cause damage, once every 100 years, according to the report. (Magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source of an earthquake.) The scientists also calculate that a magnitude 6, which is 10 times larger, has a 7 percent chance of happening once every 50 years and a magnitude 7 quake, 100 times larger, a 1.5 percent chance. Nobody knows the last time New York experienced quakes as large as a 6 or 7, although if once occurred it must have taken place before 1677, since geologists have reviewed data as far back as that year.

The last magnitude 5 earthquake in New York City hit in 1884, and it occurred off the coast of Rockaway Beach. Similar earthquakes occurred in 1737 and 1783.

By the time of the 1884 quake, New York was already a world class city, according to Kenneth Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City.”In Manhattan,” Jackson said, “New York would have been characterized by very dense development. There was very little grass.”

A number of 8 to 10 story buildings graced the city, and “in world terms, that’s enormous,” according to Jackson. The city already boasted the world’s most extensive transportation network, with trolleys, elevated trains and the Brooklyn Bridge, and the best water system in the country. Thomas Edison had opened the Pearl Street power plant two years earlier.

All of this infrastructure withstood the quake fairly well. A number of chimneys crumbled and windows broke, but not much other damage occurred. Indeed, the New York Times reported that people on the Brooklyn Bridge could not tell the rumble was caused by anything more than the cable car that ran along the span.

Risks at Indian Point

As dense as the city was then though, New York has grown up and out in the 124 years since. Also, today’s metropolis poses some hazards few, if any people imagined in 1884.

In one of their major findings, the Lamont scientists identified a new fault line less than a mile from Indian Point. That is in addition to the already identified Ramapo fault a couple of miles from the plant. This is seen as significant because earthquakes occur at faults and are the most powerful near them.

This does not represent the first time people have raised concerns about earthquakes near Indian Point. A couple of years after the licenses were approved for Indian Point 2 in 1973 and Indian Point 3 in 1975, the state appealed to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeal Panel over seismic issues. The appeal was dismissed in 1976, but Michael Farrar, one of three members on the panel, dissented from his colleagues.

He thought the commission had not required the plant to be able to withstand the vibration that could occur during an earthquake. “I believe that an effort should be made to ascertain the maximum effective acceleration in some other, rational, manner,” Farrar wrote in his dissenting opinion. (Acceleration measures how quickly ground shaking speeds up.)

Con Edison, the plants’ operator at the time, agreed to set up seismic monitoring instruments in the area and develop geologic surveys. The Lamont study was able to locate the new fault line as a result of those instruments.

Ironically, though, while scientists can use the data to issue reports — the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot use it to determine whether the plant should have its license renewed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission only considers the threat of earthquakes or terrorism during initial licensing hearings and does not revisit the issue during relicensing.

Lynn Sykes, lead author of the Lamont report who was also involved in the Indian Point licensing hearings, disputes that policy. The new information, he said, should be considered — “especially when considering a 20 year license renewal.”

The state agrees. Last year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began reaching out to other attorneys general to help convince the commission to include these risks during the hearings.

Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation delivered a 312-page petition to the commission that included reasons why earthquakes posed a risk to the power plants. The petition raised three major concerns regarding Indian Point:

• The seismic analysis for Indian Point plants 2 and 3 did not consider decommissioned Indian Point 1. The state is worried that something could fall from that plant and damage the others.

• The plant operators have not updated the facilities to address 20 years of new seismic data in the area.

• The state contends that Entergy, the plant’s operator, has not been forthcoming. “It is not possible to verify either what improvements have been made to [Indian Point] or even to determine what improvements applicant alleges have been implemented,” the petition stated.

A spokesperson for Entergy told the New York Times that the plants are safe from earthquakes and are designed to withstand a magnitude 6 quake.

Lamont’s Sykes thinks the spokesperson must have been mistaken. “He seems to have confused the magnitude scale with intensity scale,” Sykes suggests. He points out that the plants are designed to withstand an event on the intensity scale of VII, which equals a magnitude of 5 or slightly higher in the region. (Intensity measures the effects on people and structures.) A magnitude 6 quake, in Sykes opinion, would indeed cause damage to the plant.

The two reactors at Indian Point generate about 10 percent of the state’s electricity. Since that power is sent out into a grid, it isn’t known how much the plant provides for New York City. Any abrupt closing of the plant — either because of damage or a withdrawal of the operating license — would require an “unprecedented level of cooperation among government leaders and agencies,” to replace its capacity, according to a 2006 report by the National Academies’ National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution chartered by Congress.Indian Point Nuclear Plant

Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center, a three-unit nuclear power plant north of New York City, lies within two miles of the Ramapo Seismic Zone.

Beyond the loss of electricity, activists worry about possible threats to human health and safety from any earthquake at Indian Point. Some local officials have raised concerns that radioactive elements at the plant, such as tritium and strontium, could leak through fractures in bedrock and into the Hudson River. An earthquake could create larger fractures and, so they worry, greater leaks.

In 2007, an earthquake hit the area surrounding Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s largest. The International Atomic Energy Agency determined “there was no significant damage to the parts of the plant important to safety,” from the quake. According to the agency, “The four reactors in operation at the time in the seven-unit complex shut down safely and there was a very small radioactive release well below public health and environmental safety limits.” The plant, however, remains closed.

Shaking the Streets

A quake near Indian Point would clearly have repercussions for New York City. But what if an earthquake hit one of the five boroughs?

In 2003, public and private officials, under the banner of the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation, released a study of what would happen if a quake hit the metropolitan area today. Much of the report focused on building damage in Manhattan. It used the location of the 1884 quake, off the coast of Rockaway Beach, as its modern muse.

If a quake so serious that it is expected to occur once every 2,500 years took place off Rockaway, the consortium estimated it would cause $11.5 billion in damage to buildings in Manhattan. About half of that would result from damage to residential buildings. Even a moderate magnitude 5 earthquake would create an estimated 88,000 tons of debris (10,000 truckloads), which is 136 times the garbage cleared in Manhattan on an average day, they found.

The report does not estimate possible death and injury for New York City alone. But it said that, in the tri-state area as a whole, a magnitude 5 quake could result in a couple of dozen deaths, and a magnitude 7 would kill more than 6,500 people.

Ultimately, the consortium decided retrofitting all of the city’s buildings to prepare them for an earthquake would be “impractical and economically unrealistic,” and stressed the importance of identifying the most vulnerable areas of the city.

Unreinforced brick buildings, which are the most common type of building in Manhattan, are the most vulnerable to earthquakes because they do not absorb motion as well as more flexible wood and steel buildings. Structures built on soft soil are more also prone to risk since it amplifies ground shaking and has the potential to liquefy during a quake.

This makes the Upper East Side the most vulnerable area of Manhattan, according to the consortium report. Because of the soil type, the ground there during a magnitude 7 quake would shake at twice the acceleration of that in the Financial District. Chinatown faces considerable greater risk for the same reasons.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management agency does offer safety tips for earthquakes. It advises people to identify safe places in their homes, where they can stay until the shaking stops, The agency recommends hiding under heavy furniture and away from windows and other objects that could fall.

A special unit called New York Task Force 1 is trained to find victims trapped in rubble. The Office of Emergency Management holds annual training events for the unit.

The Buildings Department created its first seismic code in 1995. More recently, the city and state have adopted the International Building Code (which ironically is a national standard) and all its earthquake standards. The “international” code requires that buildings be prepared for the 2,500-year worst-case scenario.

Transportation Disruptions

With the state’s adoption of stricter codes in 2003, the Port Authority went back and assessed its facilities that were built before the adoption of the code, including bridges, bus terminals and the approaches to its tunnels. The authority decided it did not have to replace any of this and that retrofitting it could be done at a reasonable cost.

The authority first focused on the approaches to bridges and tunnels because they are rigid and cannot sway with the earth’s movement. It is upgrading the approaches to the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel so they will be prepared for a worst-case scenario. The approaches to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street are being prepared to withstand two thirds of a worst-case scenario.

The terminal itself was retrofitted in 2007. Fifteen 80-foot tall supports were added to the outside of the structure.

A number of the city’s bridges could be easily retrofitted as well “in an economical and practical manner,” according to a study of three bridges by the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. Those bridges include the 102nd Street Bridge in Queens, and the 145th Street and Macombs Dam bridges, which span the Harlem River. To upgrade the 155th Street Viaduct, the city will strengthen its foundation and strengthen its steel columns and floor beams.

The city plans upgrades for the viaduct and the Madison Avenue bridge in 2010. The 2008 10-year capital strategy for the city includes $596 million for the seismic retrofitting of the four East River bridges, which is planned to begin in 2013. But that commitment has fluctuated over the years. In 2004, it was $833 million.

For its part, New York City Transit generally is not considering retrofitting its above ground or underground structures, according to a report presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2004. New facilities, like the Second Avenue Subway and the Fulton Transit Center will be built to new, tougher standards.

Underground infrastructure, such as subway tunnels, electricity systems and sewers are generally safer from earthquakes than above ground facilities. But secondary effects from quakes, like falling debris and liquefied soil, could damage these structures.

Age and location — as with buildings — also add to vulnerability. “This stuff was laid years ago,” said Rae Zimmerman, professor of planning and public administration at New York University. “A lot of our transit infrastructure and water pipes are not flexible and a lot of the city is on sandy soil.” Most of Lower Manhattan, for example, is made up of such soil.

She also stresses the need for redundancy, where if one pipe or track went down, there would be another way to go. “The subway is beautiful in that respect,” she said. “During 9/11, they were able to avoid broken tracks.”

Setting Priorities

The city has not made preparing its infrastructure for an earthquake a top priority — and some experts think that makes sense.

“On the policy side, earthquakes are a low priority,” said Guy Nordenson, a civil engineer who was a major proponent of the city’s original seismic code, “and I think that’s a good thing.” He believes there are more important risks, such as dealing with the effects of climate change.

“There are many hazards, and any of these hazards can be as devastating, if not more so, than earthquakes,” agreed Mohamed Ettouney, who was also involved in writing the 1995 seismic code.

In fact, a recent field called multi-hazard engineering has emerged. It looks at the most efficient and economical way to prepare for hazards rather than preparing for all at once or addressing one hazard after the other. For example, while addressing one danger (say terrorism) identified as a priority, it makes sense to consider other threats that the government could prepare for at the same time (like earthquakes).

Scientists from Lamont-Doherty are also not urging anybody to rush to action in panic. Their report is meant to be a first step in a process that lays out potential hazards from earthquakes so that governments and businesses can make informed decisions about how to reduce risk.

“We now have a 300-year catalog of earthquakes that has been well calibrated” to estimate their size and location, said Sykes. “We also now have a 34-year study of data culled from Lamont’s network of seismic instruments.”

“Earthquake risk is not the highest priority in New York City, nor is dog-poop free sidewalks”

The Antichrist Will Unify Iraq

Iraq: Why The ‘Intra-Shia Civil War’ Narrative Is Flawed – Analysis

IPCSFebruary 3, 2019

By Pieter-Jan Dockx*

Since the parliamentary election in May 2018, deep divisions among Iraq’s various Shia factions have come to the surface. This has led numerous analysts to deduct or predict the beginning of a new intra-Shia civil war in the country. The narrative that has emerged alongside these claims describes two competing blocs. The first group mainly consists of the previous Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, and cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. The other bloc is comprised of the various factions of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) led by Hadi al-Amiri, and former Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. While these two factions did indeed form in the parliament to influence the government formation process, the different components of the prevailing narrative are vast oversimplifications of a complex reality. More specifically, the overemphasis on external players, inter-bloc pertinacity and intra-bloc cohesion draws away from the significance of local figures’ interests and agency.

External Actors

The narrative tends to frame the division as part of the conflict between the US and Iran, the two most important external players in Iraq. In this line of thought, Abadi, but also to some extent Sadr, is considered to represent American interests. Amiri and Maliki are seen as doing Iran’s bidding. However, in reality, these ties are not as robust and static as portrayed. Furthermore, the overemphasis on the principal–agent model to characterise these relationships also underestimates the considerations of domestic actors.

Although Washington’s and Sadr’s interests do overlap to a certain extent, this is coincidental and not premeditated. A decade ago, Sadr was still considered as Washington’s foremost enemy due to his violently staunch resistance to the US’s presence in Iraq. To this day, Sadrists continue to call for the withdrawal of US forces from the country. Furthermore, while Abadi does indeed enjoy a good relationship with the US, until recently, the same could be said about his rapport with Tehran. His skilful balancing act only came to a standstill after he declared his intention to abide by the renewed US sanctions on Iran, making Tehran turn further towards alternative actors.

However, despite their well-known affiliation with Iran, these alternative actors, Amiri and Maliki, have not refrained from engaging with Washington either. During the recent war against the so-called Islamic State (IS), the US and Amiri’s PMF tacitly coordinated their efforts under a joint-command. In the subsequent run-up to the May 2018 parliamentary election, both sides openly courted each other, expressing their mutual desire for future collaboration. Even the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, a more radical PMF faction, issued an unexpected public apology for the killing of US soldiers. Moreover, for years Maliki was considered Washington’s main man in Iraq. It took until the emergence of the IS for the US to decisively turn away from Maliki and seek regime change.

Inter-bloc Engagement

The narrative framework also portrays both blocs as being almost mutually exclusive and their differences as irreconcilable. Yet, an inquiry into the recent past points to the existence of cross-cutting cleavages. Prior to the May 2018 election, Abadi did not align himself with Sadr, and instead attempted to form a coalition with Amiri and his PMF. It was only after this partnership failed that collaboration between Abadi and Sadr seemed almost inevitable. Thus, the prevailing structures of coalitions are in part a consequence of a failed attempt at alliance-building across the divide, one which is now being perceived as insurmountable.

Also in the aftermath of the May 2018 polls, players from the opposing factions either found common ground or attempted to work towards that goal. In September 2018, the de facto leaders of the respective blocs, Sadr and Amiri, jointly agreed to install Abdul-Mahdi as the country’s new prime minister. Before that, both leaders had even been on the verge of uniting their own factions, which would have led to a breakup of the two blocs. In a similar fashion, Abadi and Maliki, who hail from the same party but contested elections on separate electoral lists, tried to bridge their differences and reunite the party. As the split was turning out to be too severe, the former prime ministers remained in their respective blocs and the status-quo prevailed.

Intra-bloc Discord

These negotiations and agreements between figures from opposing blocs also expose their internal rivalries and mistrust, contradicting the notion of intra-bloc unity. Although Sadr’s and Abadi’s policy objectives already converged during the latter’s tenure as prime minister, the pair’s competition over the symbolic leadership of the reformist movement came in the way of their mutual support. Sadr’s abovementioned agreement with Amiri on the prime ministership also ended Abadi’s ambitions for a second term in office. Even at this very moment, contention over the vacant governor position is again impairing bloc harmony.

The short-lived electoral alliance between Abadi and Amiri illustrated the existence of similar disagreements in the Amiri-led bloc. Immediately after the agreement was announced, rifts began to emerge between the various factions that make up the PMF. When those who most vehemently rejected the agreement threatened to withdraw from the PMF’s political alliance, the deal with Abadi was abandoned to protect internal unity.

In summary, an inquiry into the past behaviour of the various actors lays bare a reality more intricate than the prevailing narrative presumes. Friction between allies and engagement—among blocs and with external powers—contradicts the reductionism inherent in the narrative. Moreover, because this narrative does not take local dynamics into account, its framework is ill-suited to serve as a basis for any analysis of contemporary Shia politics in Iraq.