More Meteorites Before the Bowls of Wrath

Falling Meteor Breaks Up Over Australian Bay Releasing As Much Energy As 1.6 Kiloton Nuke : Science : Tech Times

By Diane Samson | May 28, 2019 06:27 AM EDT

A meteor zipped across Australia’s skies last week. According to a research center, the object entered the atmosphere with the force equal to 10 percent of the explosive yield of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. (Photo : South Australia Police | Twitter) 

The meteor that lit up the sky in Australia last week had the calculated impact energy of 1.6 kilotons of explosive power.

A Powerful Explosion

The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies in California recently released new data about the massive fireball that passed over the south coast of Australia on May 21. The NASA research center records the impact time, location, and amount of energy generated by the meteors that enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

Phil Bland, a professor from Curtin University, commented that the energy deposited by the meteor into the atmosphere was „very high.“

„It’s in the range of a small nuclear weapon,“ he told Adelaide Now. „Because it exploded at an altitude of 31.5 kilometers it didn’t do any damage.“

To put things into perspective, the nuclear bomb that went off in Hiroshima during World War II had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons. The meteor had the force of about 10 percent of Hiroshima.

Meteor Broke Into Smaller Pieces As It Enters The Atmosphere

Scientists estimated that, prior to entering Earth, the meteor was about the size of a small car or a big couch. However, due to high pressure, it broke down into smaller pieces.

„What the folks there along the coast of South Australia saw was a spectacular light show, probably a very loud sonic boom that would rattle the windows, this wasn’t big enough to break windows I expect,“ explained Steve Chesley, a NASA aerospace engineer, in an interview with ABC Radio, „and then just small pebbles falling to the Earth and not at hypersonic velocities, they slow down very quickly.“

However, according to David Finlay, who runs the Facebook page Australia Meteor Report, the fragments would have been dangerous if it landed in a populated area. Albeit small, the debris from the impact can still leave holes in roofs and cars.

Luckily, however, the pieces that survived fell in the Great Australian Bight off the coast of South Australia.

The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the California Institute of Technology also monitors the objects around Earth, including meteors, and the possibility of an impact with the planet. U.S. government sensors have been monitoring the occurrences of fireballs, or exceptionally bright meteors, around the world for the past 30 years. They combined the data in a map showing all reported fireball events from April 15, 1988, to May 22, 2019.

Sixth Seal: New York City (Revelation 6:12)

(Source: US Geological Survey)

New York State Geological Survey

Damaging earthquakes have occurred in New York and surely will again. The likelihood of a damaging earthquake in New York is small overall but the possibility is higher in the northern part of the state and in the New York City region.Significant earthquakes, both located in Rockaway and larger than magnitude 5, shook New York City in 1737 and 1884. The quakes were 147 years apart and the most recent was 122 year ago. It is likely that another earthquake of the same size will occur in that area in the next 25 to 50 years. A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in New York City would probably not cause great loss of life. However the damage to infrastructure – buildings, steam and gas lines, water mains, electric and fiber optic cable – could be extensive.

Earthquake Hazard Map of New York State

Acceleration of the ground during an earthquake is more important than total movement in causing structural damage. This map shows the two-percent probability of the occurrence of an earthquake that exceeds the acceleration of earth’s gravity by a certain percentage in the next fifty years.

If a person stands on a rug and the rug pulled slowly, the person will maintain balance and will not fall. But if the rug is jerked quickly, the person will topple. The same principle is true for building damage during an earthquake. Structural damage is caused more by the acceleration of the ground than by the distance the ground moves.

Earthquake hazard maps show the probability that the ground will move at a certain rate, measured as a percentage of earth’s gravity, during a particular time. Motion of one or two percent of gravity will rattle windows, doors, and dishes. Acceleration of ten to twenty percent of gravity will cause structural damage to buildings. It takes more than one hundred percent of gravity to throw objects into the air.

Trump is Out of Luck with Iran

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei says Tehran will not negotiate with US

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (File photo: AFP)

Iran will not negotiate with the United States over its nuclear and missile programs, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali KhaSupreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei menei said on Wednesday, after President Hassan Rouhani signaled talks with Washington might be possible if sanctions were lifted.

Washington withdrew last year from an international nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015, and it is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.

US President Donald Trump condemned the accord, signed by hispredecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile program and role in conflicts around the Middle East.

Trump said on Monday he was hopeful Iran would come to negotiating table to reach a new deal: “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal … and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website: “We said before that we will not negotiate with America, because negotiation has no benefit and carries harm.”

“We will not negotiate over the core values of the revolution. We will not negotiate over our military capabilities,” he was quoted as saying.

Earlier in the day, Rouhani had taken a more positive stance.

In remarks carried by state television, he said: “Whenever they lift the unjust sanctions and fulfil their commitments and return to the negotiations table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed.”

“But our people judge you by your actions, not your words.”

Khamenei has the final say in all major policies under Iran’s dual system, split between the clerical establishment and the government. He is also the head of the armed forces.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran saw no prospect of negotiations with the United States.

Last week the Pentagon announced the deployment of 900 additional troops to the Middle East, and extended the deployment of another 600 service members in the region, describing it as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran.

Speaking with reporters en route to Indonesia on Wednesday, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that while the Iranian posture had changed recently, the threat remained.

He added that sending military assets into the region, such as deploying bombers, Patriot missiles and accelerating the movement of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East, had helped deter attacks against Americans in Iraq.

US national security adviser John Bolton also said on Wednesday naval mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates this month, and warned Tehran against conducting new operations.

Mousavi dismissed Bolton’s remarks as a “ludicrous claim”.

Last Update: Wednesday, 29 May 2019 KSA 22:35 – GMT 19:35

The Nuclear Jihad (Revelation 16)

Cleric: Muslims ‘Have a Duty’ to Obtain Nuclear Weapons

Getty Images

BY: 

A leading Muslim cleric said that adherents to the faith across the globe have a religious duty to build nuclear weapons to combat Israelis and Jews, according to a translation of his recent remarks broadcast on a television station controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.

Muhammad Al-Hassan Ould Al-Dadou Al-Shanqit, a Mauritanian cleric, was interviewed on the Hamas‘ Al-Aqsa TV about efforts by Islamic countries to obtain nuclear weapons. While extremist regimes such as the Islamic Republic in Iran have claimed there are religious bans on the building of nuclear weapons, Al-Shanqit maintained it is „a duty“ of Arabs to build these weapons of mass destruction.

„Since this kind of weapon has been used in the past, and since there is now a threat that it will be used against the Muslims, they have a duty to strive to obtain this weapon,“ Al-Shanqit was quoted as saying in a translation of his remarks performed by the media watchdog site Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.

„Possession of nuclear weapons is the only way to deter the enemies. Look at Pakistan,“ he said. „When it obtained the nuclear bomb, a lot of the harassment by its neighbors stopped. These neighbors used to harass [Pakistan] because they had the nuclear bomb. The rush to normalize relations with the Zionists, which we are witnessing today, and many of the defeats that Arabs have suffered were caused by … Well, obviously it is caused by the lack of faith in Allah, but in large part, it is because the Zionists possess a weapon that the Arabs do not.“

„The Muslims must strive to obtain this deterring weapon, but they must not use it unless it is used against them,“ he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials have announced in recent days that they have again started to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, to amounts prohibited by the landmark nuclear deal. Iran has said that it will no longer abide by these restrictions due to President Donald Trump’s efforts to sanction the regime.

US-Iranian escalation tests Antichrist’s Men in Iraq

US-Iranian escalation tests Tehran’s militias in Iraq

Iraq’s Shiite militias are seeking to avoid America’s wrath and preserve political ascendancy

Iraqi Shiite militia group called Imam Ali Brigades chant slogans against ISIS on a battlefield in Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad. AP, file

Rising tensions in the Gulf threaten to undercut the political dominance of Iraq’s Shiite militias as they tone down their anti-American rhetoric to avoid being targeted by the US but also seek to maintain close ties with Tehran.

The escalation between Washington and Tehran thrust the issue of the 100,000-150,000 member Shiite-controlled militias to the fore. As Washington strengthens its forces in the region, some militia factions in Iraq have become an obvious potential early target for US forces seeking to hit Iran in a conflict scenario.

Speaking on a visit to Abu Dhabi on Monday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Iran against more of what he described as “indirect attacks” by its proxies. He was speaking in the wake of mine attacks against four tankers docked off the Emirati city of Fujairah, a drone attack on Saudi oil pumping stations and a rocket that landed close to the US embassy in Baghdad earlier this month.

Iraq’s Shiite militias operate under a loose grouping called the Popular Mobilisation Forces, known by the shorthand of their Arabic name – the Hashd. The 40 or so distinct factions range in the strength of their ties to Iran as well as in their ideological leanings, which are linked to the Shiite religious authorities they follow in Iraq or Iran.

Despite opposition in Iraq to any kind of regional conflict, Iran will not be short of proxies willing to carry out strikes on US forces if war breaks out, Iraqi sources with connections to the Hashd told The National.

After a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Baghdad on April 7, the public stance of most Hashd factions fell in line with the Iraqi government that Baghdad should remain neutral in any conflict. Iraqi political analyst Hiwa Osman said Washington had made it clear to Baghdad that the militias it regards as enemies would be a target if war broke out.

“I think Pompeo told Iraqi officials that you either deal with the militias as Iraqis or we deal with them as Iranians. After behaving more Iranian than Khamenei, the militias have backtracked,” Osman, who is a Kurd, said from Erbil.

“Phase one of any war would be hitting Iran outside Iran and in such phase, these militias would be on top of the list but the de-escalation of rhetoric we have seen could well be coming from the Iranians since they are their masters.”

In another sign of pragmatism, main Hashd figures distanced themselves from the firing of a rocket that landed about a kilometre from the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone on April 20. The Badr Organisation, the most dominant Hashd militia, said Iraq must stay away from any war. The group was founded in Iran in the 1980s as the Badr Brigades and is closely linked to Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran’s elite overseas Quds Force.

Smaller factions owe more pronounced allegiance to Iran. Among them are Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl Al Haq, foot soldiers of Iranian-backed military operations in support of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Syria. However, some factions are privately wary of Iran, especially those whose members tend to follow the religious authority, or marjia, of Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq’s most eminent Shiite cleric.

The Iraqi government named the Hashd a component of the national security forces during the fight to reclaim Iraq from ISIS between 2014 and 2017. Since the victory, they have overshadowed the Iraqi army and the political system. The members of the militias are mainly Shiites but there are a minority of Sunni and Christian members but they are largely in uninfluential positions.

Collectively they are estimated to receive $2.5 billion annually from the government in salaries and the parliamentarians who belong to the Hashd or owe allegiance to its militia’s amount to the largest unofficial bloc in the legislature.

But practically, the Hashd’s support base has been limited by suspected involvement of several major factions in high-profile corruption cases and criminal activity. There is also the lingering memory of mass killings of Sunni civilians during the war on ISIS, a group that massacred Shiites and minorities as well as Sunnis opponents. Battles over turf, illicit business and cartels have increasingly taken root among the Hashd’s ranks over the last year as the drudgery of a post-war militarised life left thousands of armed members across the country idle.

Some Hashd factions are not in favour of the deep Sunni exclusion that had characterized Iraqi politics since the US scaled back its military presence in Iraq under the Obama administration. Among them are groups allied with Moqtada Al Sadr, the Iraqi cleric who pitches himself as an anti-establishment figure and stature as kingmaker rose when his bloc won 54 seats out of the 329-seat Iraqi parliament in May 2018.

Known for a duality approach to politics, Mr Sadr plays militias allied to him against each other and sometimes appears anti-Iranian while affirming his ties with Tehran. Mr Sadr responded to overtures by Saudi Arabia by visiting Riyadh in 2017 although his relations with the Saudi monarchy later cooled.

An Iraqi cleric in Najaf familiar with the various power centres in the Hashd said ideological loyalty to Iran and backing by Tehran would make it difficult for most of the militias to refuse to hit US targets in Iraq if specifically requested by Iran.

“They take salaries and weapons from the Iraqi state but practically they are not subject in any way to it. If they want to take action individually or otherwise in support of Iran they have the tools and the allegiance, although they are afraid of a US hit. They won’t take into consideration any popular pressure,” said the cleric who wanted to remain anonymous.

“The militias might have had a noble cause once but they became addicted to violence. A lot of their members are the abject poor and joined because of ideology but have been used by less scrupulous parties,” he added

Amid the fears of Iraq becoming involved in a new conflict, some hope that 88-year Mr Al Sistani, the most influential cleric among the Iraqi Shiite religious establishment in the city of Najaf, could curb the more pro-Iranian factions in the Hashd by issuing an edict, or fatwa, demanding neutrality. In March, Mr Al Sistani told a visiting President Hassan Rouhani that Iraqi sovereignty must be respected and weapons must be kept by the state but he has not issued a Fatwa calling on the Hashd to disarm.

Few in Iraq criticise Mr Al Sistani publicly and while the Najaf based cleric who spoke to The National declined to address the ayatollah’s strategy, he indicated that the religious leader may well have lost much of his say over the militia forces he had helped unleash.

“Najaf’s religious authorities as a whole are too weak and too influenced by corrupt players linked to the Hashd,” he said.

Updated: May 29, 2019 06:10 PM

Russia Enlarges Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

U.S. Believes Russia Has Restarted Low-Yield Nuclear Tests

By Julian E. Barnes and William J. Broad

Ballistic missile systems were paraded through Red Square in Moscow during a Victory Day celebration this month. Russia may have restarted low-yield nuclear testing.Mladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ballistic missile systems were paraded through Red Square in Moscow during a Victory Day celebration this month. Russia may have restarted low-yield nuclear testing.Mladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration believes Russia has restarted very low-yield nuclear tests, officials said on Wednesday in a finding that could be used to renew in earnest the arms race between Moscow and Washington.

But the significance of the statements by the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a senior National Security Council official was immediately debated by nuclear weapons experts.

Some experts said claims of low-yield tests would be nothing new. Intelligence officials and nuclear analysts in Washington have long raised the possibility of such violations going back nearly two decades, to when Russia ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 2000.

Americans Are Clueless About The ‚March Of Return‘

Americans Should Know More About The ‚March Of Return‘

Susan M. Akram

Protestors march toward the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, marking first anniversary of Gaza border protests east of Gaza City, Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Adel Hana/AP)

While Israeli politics, including the recent election between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, was covered widely by the U.S. news media, another event central to peace and justice in the region was taking place a stone’s throw from Tel Aviv: the March of Return.

Gazan journalist and poet Ahmed Abu Artema inspired the protest movement in January 2018, when he pondered, on Facebook, about what might happen if Gazans marched peacefully to the Israeli border fence with the keys to their homes and Palestinian flags in hand, to demand an end to the Israeli blockade. He was surprised at the response.

Thousands of Gazans marched in what became weekly Friday protests, and the “Great March of Return and Breaking of the Siege” was born. Gazans of all ages, all walks of life and all political factions joined in. Speaking at Harvard Law School in February, Abu Artema reflected on the high cost of the March and Palestinians’ determination to continue it by saying: “We have no choice.”

I was a senior Fulbright fellow in Jerusalem, taught at Al Quds University, lectured at Birzeit University and know people, including former students, human rights academics and colleagues in Gaza. Those of us with friends and close connections in Gaza watch and worry about their fate, with news of deaths and injuries every day.

The U.S. has given and continues to give more military and financial assistance to Israel than any other country in the world. As journalist Peter Beinart wrote in Jewish Forward, “What distinguishes American aid to Israel is precisely its exemption from the rules and limitations that govern assistance to other nations …” such as the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which prohibits U.S. aid to countries that engage in “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

The Trump administration’s current budget proposal is for 61% of U.S. foreign military financing to go to Israel. The United Nations, human rights experts and international human rights organizations have said that Israel has been carrying out gross violations of human rights against demonstrators and the civilian population in Gaza. For any other country, such a finding would likely require immediate termination of all U.S. aid.

Gazans of all ages, all walks of life and all political factions joined in.

Why are thousands of people demonstrating? The majority of Gazans, 75%, are refugees or descendants of the 750,000 Palestinian refugees expelled from the land in 1948, by the newly declared state of Israel. Since the early 1990s, following the first Intifada and the first Gulf War, Israel has imposed increasing restrictions on the lives of Gaza’s people, including on their freedom of movement and their ability to obtain basic goods and services.

In June 2007, following the elections that brought Hamas to power, Israel imposed a  blockade on the 2 million people in Gaza, containing them in a small strip of land 40 km long with no means of access to the outside world, except as Israel permits. As a result, Gaza’s unemployment rate is 52%, with two-thirds of young people unemployed. Sixty-eight percent of the population is food insecure and dependent on international aid.

The Israeli government claims its restrictions are based on security concerns, and that it has no obligation to permit entry and egress from Gaza for any but exceptional humanitarian reasons. The Netanyahu government says the siege is intended to stop weapons from entering Israel from Gaza. It’s a position that has been severely criticized and refuted by the international human rights community, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Those of us with close connections and access to authoritative and first-hand reports from people on the ground are also keenly aware of the propaganda that distorts what Americans learn about the facts about the situation in Gaza; separating fact from fiction is not easy. However, there is sufficient reporting from eyewitnesses and experts from the United Nations to draw the conclusions I draw here.

The March of Return and Israel’s response to it should engender far more attention and publicity in the U.S. than it has thus far …

Israel’s response to the March of Return is to use overwhelming force against civilians. One casualty was Razan Najar, a 20-year-old member of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. She was shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper while wearing her white paramedic coat standing about 100 meters from the border fence. She died at the hospital. Her mother delivered an anguished call to continue the March: “I see my daughter Razan in the eyes of every young Palestinian.” In a single day, on May 14, 2018, the Israeli Defense Forces killed six children. 

During this same time period, according to the U.N. Special Commission of Inquiry (COI), there were no civilian deaths or injuries of Israelis, within Israel, due to the Gazan demonstrations. The COI Report found that four Israeli soldiers were injured as a result of the demonstrations, but none died. It further found that since the marchers in Gaza are civilian demonstrators, engaging in neither combat nor military operations, the IDF’s use of live ammunition against them are war crimes.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Office of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs reported that 23,313 Palestinian demonstrators were injured in 2018 by Israeli Defense Forces, including by tear gas inhalation and canisters. These statistics were included in COI’s findings.

The March of Return and Israel’s response to it should engender more attention and publicity in the U.S. than it has thus far, particularly in light of the Trump administration’s request for more aid to Israel. As Abu Artema wrote in an essay published by Al Jazeera, “The Great March of Return is the response of a proud nation to decades of occupation, aggression and theft. By taking this peaceful stand, we are announcing to the world that despite Israel’s attempts to wipe us out, we are still standing strong and united.”

Americans must take heed and challenge the unrestricted use of our tax dollars that is funding violations of Gazans‘ freedom, and their right to march for their lives and dignity.

Follow Cognoscenti on Facebook and Twitter.

Bolton will drag US into a war with Iran

Despite Trump’s stance, Bolton amps up accusations of Iran sabotage, desire for nuclear weapons

WASHINGTON – Two days after President Donald Trump tried to tamp down U.S. tensions with Iran, his national security adviser, John Bolton, dialed the administration’s hawkish rhetoric back up.

Wednesday, Bolton essentially accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons and said the regime was behind the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Bolton’s remarks came during a visit to the UAE, during which he said the oil tanker attacks were “almost certainly (conducted) by Iran.“ He did not offer specific evidence to support that claim. Bolton said there was “no reason” for Iran to back out of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers unless it planned to seek nuclear weapons.

„These kinds of action risk a very strong response from the United States,“ said Bolton, a longtime foreign policy hard-liner.

Bolton’s remarks stood in stark contrast to Trump’s comments Monday during the president’s visit to Japan.

„We’re not looking for regime change. I want to make that clear,” Trump said during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “We’re looking for no nuclear weapons.”

Trump downplayed Bolton’s assessment of another global hot spot: North Korea. Bolton had said North Korea’s recent missile tests violated United Nations resolutions.

„There is no doubt about that,” Bolton said before Trump’s news conference with Abe.

“All I know is there have been no nuclear tests,“ Trump said, „no ballistic missiles going out, no long-range missiles going out, and I think that someday we’ll have a deal.” Trump said he was in “no rush.” He praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, calling him a “smart man” who might have launched the missiles this month to “get attention.”

Bolton’s role exaggerated, experts contend

The apparent disconnect has raised questions across the globe about Trump’s foreign policy. Some fear Bolton is driving Trump into a perilous military confrontation with Iran, America’s principal foe in the Middle East.

National security experts inside and outside the White House said Bolton’s role has been exaggerated – and his influence on the president has been overstated, particularly when it comes to the prospect of a costly war with Iran.

Trump has made it clear he doesn’t like the idea and is generally averse to foreign military entanglements.

Asked this month if his administration is marching toward war with Iran, Trump offered a three-word response: „I hope not.“

Asked if US is going to war with Iran, President Donald Trump responds: ‚I hope not‘

Bolton is simply playing his part in a geopolitical dance designed to send a hard-line message to the Iranian regime, said Mark Dubowitz,  chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based foreign policy research institute that supports strong pressure on Iran.

„Bolton in many ways is from central casting if you were looking for a consummate hawk,“ said Dubowitz, who has advised the Trump administration and previous presidents on Iran policy. „It’s all useful from the psyops perspective.“

Dubowitz said the White House deliberately trumpeted its decision to send B-52 bombers and other military forces to Iran, purposefully said that move was in response to threats from Iran and intentionally used Bolton as a key messenger.

„I think it’s actually a well-orchestrated campaign that has a public relations piece, a military positioning piece (and) obviously the economic financial piece“ of escalating sanctions, Dubowitz said. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are the perfect „bad cops,“ he said, to make Iran – and the rest of the world – nervous about Trump’s intentions.

„Trump can go from fire and fury to writing love letters, so he has a certain amount of diplomatic flexibility,“ he said. „One minute he can be as bellicose as Bolton, and the next he can shout, ‚Hey, hi there. Do you want to talk.‘ „

That’s what Trump seemed to be doing this month, when he met with the president of the Swiss government, which has mediated between Iran and the United States.

„I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon,“ Trump tweeted Wednesday in a pair of messages. The president used social media to downplay reports of divisions within the administration over Iran.

„There is no infighting whatsoever,“ Trump said. „Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision – it is a very simple process.“

Concern in Congress over statements

Lawmakers are not reassured.

„This president has surrounded himself with people – Pompeo and Bolton in particular – who believe that getting tough on a military basis with Iran is in our best interest. I do not,“ said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democratic leader.

Durbin and other lawmakers said Bolton’s statements on Iran and his trumpeting of questionable intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2003 are deeply concerning.

Before Bolton joined the Trump administration, he advocated for regime change in Iran. He played a key role in pushing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq during George W. Bush’s administration, which relied on faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s chemical and nuclear weapons program.

Durbin said the situation with Iran has become so tense and the rhetoric so hot that even if Trump has no desire for war, he may stumble into it.

He noted that the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran and at war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, could launch an attack that might inadvertently kill an American service member.

„I fear … we’re going to have a Gulf of Tonkin moment, where there is some American or serviceman who is going to be injured or killed and people are going to be calling for retribution,“ Durbin said.

Bolton is one of many advisers Trump speaks to about Iran and other foreign policy issues, said current and former officials. He hears a lot of different views and often throws out ideas of his own – sometimes ideas he doesn’t really plan to pursue.

Throughout his presidency, Trump’s sounding boards have ranged from super hawks such as Bolton to cautious types such as Jim Mattis, who was defense secretary. From anti-China tariff warriors such as Peter Navarro to more market-oriented types such as Larry Kudlow.

At some point – no one else knows how or when – Trump suddenly makes a decision. He often announces things before informing staff members, sometimes by tweet and sometimes by statements to inquiring reporters.

„It’s not exactly chaos,“ one former staff member said. „But it’s not orderly.“

Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Bolton and the president are on the same page.

„Working closely with President Trump’s national security team, Ambassador Bolton continues to coordinate the president’s guidance to protect American personnel and interests from Iranian threats abroad,“ he said.

Trump and his advisers chafe at claims that Bolton is some kind of „puppet master“ leading Trump into war. Having campaigned against „stupid wars“ in Iraq and Afghanistan, Trump is highly unlikely to order military action against Iran, administration officials said, despite the rising beat of war drums from Bolton and others.

Talk of war with Iran is „way ahead of where things are“ within the administration, particularly with Trump, one official said.

The exception would be if Iran attacked U.S. personnel in the Middle East, officials said

Trump often sticks with his pre-existing views, and his default position in foreign policy tends to be against intervention. He has pushed to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria, over the objections of military advisers. Mattis resigned in part over Trump’s plan – later modified – to withdraw troops from Syria.

For all his criticism of the George W. Bush administration’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Trump has as his national security adviser a major proponent of those interventions.

Durbin said he fears he’s watching a replay of the debate for the Iraq War.

„The weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a fiction, and we were just stampeding into this invasion at that time,“ he said. „I see it again, all over again.“

History Expects the Sixth Seal in NYC (Revelation 6:12)

Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.

According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)

Iranian Horn Attack’s Christianity

IRAN AGENTS STORM CHURCH, TEAR DOWN CROSS AT 100-YEAR-OLD CHRISTIAN PLACE OF WORSHIP

Iranian intelligence agents have shut down a church in the country’s northwestern city of Tabriz, storming the place of worship and tearing down a cross that stood on its conical spire.

The Christian Iranian rights group Article Eighteenhas said Iranian regime security officials charged into the 100-year-old church May 9, took down its cross, changed all the locks and ordered the church warden to leave.

According to the group, members of the Assyrian Christian community that worshipped at the Presbyterian church had been living in a state of fear after pastors from nearby churches were barred from visiting the Tabriz church, a National Heritage site, in the days after Christmas.

Those fears were realized earlier this month when agents from the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), a state owned holding company built on confiscated assets and under the direct control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, descended on the church. As well as taking down the cross and threatening the custodian, the agents reportedly installed monitoring instruments.

While the church had been confiscated by the Iranian authorities in 2011, local worshippers had been permitted to continue using the building and carry out Assyrian language services. Article Eighteen’s Advocacy Director has said the confiscation and eventual destruction of Protestant churches in Iran has become a part of a noticeable strategy.

„In most cases the government has been unable to repurpose them, especially if they were listed. So they typically remain as empty buildings, often neglected, and turn into ruins before being demolished,“ Mansour Borji explained.

The human rights group Amnesty International has decried the treatment of the Christian minority by the Iranian government. Under the constitution of the Islamic Republic, the country’s Assyrian and Armenian Christians are permitted freedom of worship. However, they are not allowed to hold services in Persian, as this could be interpreted as proselytizing, and converts face harsh sentences of between 10 and 15 years in prison.

Ahead of Christmas last year, Iran arrested more than 100 Christians during a week-long crackdown. Many of the 114 detained were converts, who were accused of spreading Christianity, The Telegraph reported.

Christian groups have said imposition of harsh economic sanctions on Iran under the administration of President Donald Trump has had the unintended consequence of worsening the plight of Iran’s Christians.

“There are many reports that this has contributed to the government’s ever-increasing dependence on hardline Islamic ayatollahs, who naturally see Christianity as a threat to their power,” said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern. „For this reason, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an increase in Christian persecution.“