The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12)

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by , 03/22/11

filed under: News

New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.

Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.

There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigationrates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.

The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.

Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”

Via Metro and NY Daily News

Images © Ed Yourdon

NO man can save humanity from the nuclear winter

The man who wants to save humanity from nuclear winter

A nuclear war might make crops stop growing, so we need a backup plan.

Kelsey PiperJul 25, 2019, 8:10am EDT

The sun dimmed by a volcanic eruption in Karo, Indonesia in 2014. A sufficiently large disaster — natural or manmade — could block out the sun and cause mass famine.

Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

Seventy thousand years ago, it’s believed that humanity nearly went extinct.

A supervolcanic eruption, called Toba, dropped a thick layer of ash across much of the world and dimmed the sun for six full years. Crops worldwide died, and by most estimates, only a few thousand humans survived — some researchers believe it was as few as 40 “breeding pairs” of survivors.

The possibility of an event like that happening again keeps David Denkenberger up at night. Denkenberger is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and his thinking about apocalypse scenarios has driven him to a quixotic side project: figuring out how to ensure that no one starves to death in the aftermath of a natural catastrophe like Toba or a manmade one like a nuclear winter.

It may seem like a peculiar fixation, but it’s a real problem that very few people are thinking about. The world does not have much food stored up for the possibility of a large-scale disaster. To be fair to us, those disasters are quite rare. Toba was one. Another was the asteroid believed to have killed the dinosaurs. And there are manmade disasters — risk of a “nuclear winter” in the aftermath of a thermonuclear war, for one.

None of these are likely. But each would be catastrophic if it happened, and Denkenberger argues that if we start acting now, we could make them less catastrophic. He’s started an organization — Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED) — aimed at doing just that.

He got the idea in 2011 while reading a paper called “Fungi and Sustainability,” which concluded that if humans drive ourselves extinct, mushrooms would again rule the world. “I thought, why don’t we just eat the mushrooms and not go extinct?” Denkenberger recalls.

For a long time, thinking about catastrophe has been the domain, mostly, of fringe groups and individual survivalists. There’s very limited academic literature looking at things that might wipe humanity out, and how to prevent such disasters or survive them. “There are more academic papers on dung beetles than the fate of H. sapiens,” one researcher into existential risks wrote last year.

But that’s slowly changing. The fate of human civilization is an important subject of research and scientific inquiry — and if we get unlucky enough, it might be a vital one.

How to feed the world in a disaster

ALLFED is an eight-person nonprofit with a simple mission statement: to help increase the preparedness of governments, NGOs, corporations, and international bodies to feed everyone in the world in the aftermath of a catastrophe. The group focuses on both research and communications: figuring out how to produce food without the sun, and disseminating that information to help humanity in the event of a disaster.

When Denkenberger first dove into the existing research on survival in the aftermath of such catastrophes, what he found wasn’t encouraging. Most existing research takes for granted that billions of people will die.

But Denkenberger argues that technology has advanced far enough that there’s no reason for such pessimism. Mushrooms turn out not to be a great solution — too expensive and slow-growing — but there are several alternatives. Insects, for one — they grow fast, they eat things we can’t, and they are edible (though not friendly to American culinary sensibilities).

Seaweed and algae are another. They might grow all right with less sunlight. The sudden cooling from a sunless world would change how currents in the oceans move, and while that’s hard to model, it might actually produce a nutrient-rich ocean suitable for low-light food growth.

Then there are bacteria that turn biological products like leaves and grass, which we can’t eat, into sugars and proteins that we can, and bacteria that do the same thing but are fed on methane from natural gas. (The companies working on this much prefer the term “single-celled proteins,” Denkenberger tells me, and it definitely sounds more appetizing.).

In a book, Feeding Everyone No Matter What, Denkenberger and co-author Joshua M. Pearce explore the state of these options. They don’t sound appetizing — but the critical thing is that they might be possible. If humanity set its sights on producing enough calories without the sun, it looks like we could nearly do it, and additional research might close the remaining gaps.

These aren’t, for the most part, schemes you can set up in your backyard. “Lot of efforts, like the preppers” — a subculture of people who prepare for the collapse of civilization — “have been more focused on individual and family survival,” Denkenberger points out. But today, food production is vastly more efficient for being centralized in factories, and that would still be true in the aftermath of a catastrophe. So the ALLFED team looks at how to convert chemical plants and factories to grow food, more than at how households and individuals could do it.

“Some of these ideas can be used at the household scale,” Denkenberger said, but “it’s sort of a backup plan for if we can’t do the large-scale cooperation required to retrofit a factory”

Feeding the world would also ensure our resilience against a catastrophe in more indirect ways. For example, countries might be less likely to go to war and governments more likely to hold themselves together if there was reliable food access in the middle of a crisis, whereas wars and internal conflict might be more likely in the event of a food shortage.

Worst-case planning might come in handy in situations that aren’t as bad as the worst case, like a bad drought that produces what Denkenberger calls a “10 percent shortfall.” A 10 percent drop in global agricultural production would still leave enough food that it could supply everyone, but in practice, food prices would likely jump and hundreds of thousands would starve. A backup plan could be helpful in those situations too.

ALLFED is a fairly new organization, so at present they’re just investigating the lowest-hanging fruit in a dozen different areas of relevance to feeding the world in a catastrophe. Can ethanol-producing bioreactors be used, instead, to turn biofuels into sugar people can eat? Can single-celled proteins be grown on sheets of plastic? How expensive will retrofitting chemical plants be?

Of course, all this raises the question: Why not pour this effort into preventing these catastrophes, whose casualties would no doubt be enormous even if very few people starved? Denkenberger certainly agrees we should focus on that. But sometimes, it’s worth preparing even for something we’d very much prefer to prevent.

Iran is Taking a Huge Gamble Against War

What’s the point of having the world’s most powerful military if we never use it, then–Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is said to have shouted at Gen. Colin Powell in 1992, over his reluctance to commit American force to the Balkan wars. President Donald Trump clearly agrees with Albright that the military is there to be used, but also with Powell that it should be kept out of quagmires in harm’s way. He has wielded the US military as a political prop—at the border, in symbolic air strikes against forewarned Syrian targets, and in a July 4 DC extravaganza. But, despite his bellicose tweeting, Trump has declined every chance for expeditionary adventurism.

That’s because a key pillar of the president’s “Make America Great Again” promise has been to reverse the interventionist legacy of President George W. Bush. “We’re charting a path to stability and peace in the Middle East, because great nations do not want to fight endless wars,” Trump reiterated at his 2020 campaign launch in Orlando last month, in language that could have just as easily come from Barack Obama. “They’ve been going on forever,” he added, promising that he was removing troops and “finally putting America first.”

Even as Trump was considering a wrist-slap air strike on Iran following its downing of a US Navy surveillance drone, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson warned him on air against being drawn into the vortex of a military confrontation with Tehran. Trump stood down (except, of course, on Twitter), and Iran saw its strategic reading vindicated: Trump wants to avoid going to war with a country three times the size of Iraq and with far better capacity to hit back.

Although the US Navy later downed an Iranian drone during a confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has continued to up the ante in that strategically vital oil shipment passageway, most recently by seizing a British tanker in response to the UK’s earlier interdiction of an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar. As the International Crisis Group’s Ali Vaez told The Wall Street Journal, “The reality is that [Trump’s] maximum pressure [strategy] has rendered Tehran more, not less, reckless.”

A year ago, Trump tore up the international nuclear deal (JCPOA) and used US dominance of the international financial system to bully third parties into participating in a new sanctions regime, thereby preventing them from honoring their obligations under the nuclear deal and removing the incentives that had kept Iran compliant. Trump was persuaded by his Saudi and Israeli allies and their DC echo chambers to put Iran’s economy into a stranglehold unless it surrendered to US terms that went far beyond the nuclear deal.

It was an all-or-nothing gamble, conceived by a regime-change faction more alarmed by how the deal treated Iran as a legitimate partner than by anything happening in its nuclear program. More sober analysts warned that Iran would not capitulate, and would choose confrontation over surrender or the slow death of its economy. It’s certainly clear, now, that Iran is willing to take risks in pursuit of ending the US economic siege.

Iran is not going to concede, and it’s betting that Trump cannot afford a war. That looks like a smart wager, but one that carries a high risk of miscalculation on either side that could spark a conflagration despite the desire on both sides to avoid one

Iran followed its downing a US drone in June with the resumption of limited uranium enrichment and threats to shipping. This suggests a willingness of the Islamic Republic to absorb such force as Trump is willing to consider, in the hope that the resultant crisis prompts third parties to break with the US-led sanction regime. Some 20 percent of daily global oil demand passes through the Strait of Hormuz, meaning that any disruption of that shipping lane risks a major spike in global oil prices. As the Brookings Institution’s Suzanne Maloney told The Wall Street Journal, “Provocations in the Gulf help galvanize more effective European diplomacy by raising the costs.”

She added, “They remind Trump of his own domestic interests in avoiding either spikes in the price of oil or another costly, protracted US military intervention in the Middle East as he begins his re-election campaign.”

And precisely because it lacks a plausible end game—the Iranians cannot capitulate and will keep raising the stakes in hopes of forcing the US side back to the table—Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign has, in fact, left the strategic initiative in Tehran’s hands.

As Iran analyst Laura Rozen recently noted, “If the United States expected that a year or so of crippling economic sanctions on Iran following Donald Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal might bring the Iranians to the table ready to yield to the long list of US grievances with the Islamic Republic, Iran has flipped the script, newly shifting its strategy from one of relative restraint to one where the United States and other powers increasingly seem to be responding to Iranian actions.”

There’s no question the collapse of the JCPOA dealt Iran a strategic setback, reversing some of the diplomatic gains Tehran had achieved through the deal, and by extension, through its nuclear work. It has effectively reset the clock, but only by about five years, to a moment when US blunders in the region had exponentially expanded Tehran’s regional influence, and alarm over its growing capacity to build nuclear weapons had brought Western powers to the negotiating table with a regime most had preferred to see isolated or destroyed.

Iran’s nuclear activities fit the pattern of post-Hiroshima global statecraft: Nuclear weapons have never been an end in themselves; instead they provide the ultimate deterrent. US politicians from Trump to Hillary Clinton casually threaten to “obliterate” Iran, a nod to US nuclear capability. Iran knows that no power can seriously contemplate an existential attack on a regime capable of responding in kind.

The attraction of a nuclear deterrent for any regime with more powerful enemies is obvious. “The Iranians had good reason to acquire nuclear weapons long before the present crisis, and there is substantial evidence they were doing just that in the early 2000s,” realist US foreign policy scholar John Mearsheimer wrote recently in The New York Times. “The case for going nuclear is much more compelling today. After all, Iran now faces an existential threat from the United States, and a nuclear arsenal will go a long way toward eliminating it.”

While it may have been birthed in a chaotic revolution 40 years ago, historical circumstances have made regime-survival rather than the export of revolution the Islamic Republic’s top priority. No question, Iran “exports” its political and military influence, but those exports have for decades been shaped by a certain realpolitik. Iran had no ideological reason to expend considerable blood and treasure propping up Syria’s Assad regime, built on a militantly secular alliance of the religiously heterodox Alawite community, Syria’s Christians and other non-Muslim minorities, and the Sunni Muslim bourgeoisie. Iran saved Assad to preserve the land bridge that makes it possible to directly supply weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. This access allows Iran’s proxies to target Tel Aviv with Iranian missiles and to hold their own against Israeli ground invasions. For Tehran, Hezbollah’s substantial independent military capability serves a key asymmetrical deterrent against any Israeli or US strikes on Iran.

Iran’s regional military-political reach had expanded considerably in the decade preceding the JCPOA, principally because of the catastrophic blundering of the Bush administration. In Afghanistan and then Iraq, the United States eliminated Iran’s most threatening neighbors (the Taliban and Saddam Hussein), and then for good measure, goaded Israel into a ground invasion of Lebanon in 2006 in the hopes of eliminating Hezbollah—a military catastrophe that killed hundreds of Lebanese and left Hezbollah stronger than ever. Democracy in Iraq brought further gains as the electoral process repeatedly returned governments that put Baghdad within Iran’s sphere of influence.

Tehran appears to have begun research efforts into nuclear weapons—clerical prohibitions notwithstanding—in the early 2000s, in response to the nuclear program of its mortal enemy, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who had attacked Iran in 1980 launching a brutal eight-year war financed by the Saudis. Inspections following Operation Desert Storm in 1991 revealed a robust and sophisticated underground program that had brought Hussein perilously close to achieving nuclear-weapons capability.

And on Iran’s eastern flank, Saudi client-state Pakistan had nukes, as did Iran’s key regional rival Israel, and of course, the United States did too. Ideology aside, there is a compelling incentive to obtain nuclear weapons. The “untouchable” status afforded all nuclear-armed regimes would certainly have its appeal in Tehran.

But in its dealing with world powers, the Iranians were clearly open to other routes to take regime change off the table. In 2003, Tehran reached out to the Bush administration to offer talks in pursuit of a grand bargain that would address all US concerns about Iran, in exchange for normalizing relations. The administration, giddy with the illusion of victory in Iraq and the belief that Tehran had been intimidated by the American show of force, ignored the offer.

The Europeans continued to negotiate with Iran, hoping that offers of economic incentives could stop Iran from enriching its own uranium—which Iran is entitled to do under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Europeans couldn’t get Bush on board, and therefore couldn’t take regime change off the table. And after two years of restraint, Iran turned on its centrifuges, realizing the leverage obtained by slowly, and legally, expanding the civilian nuclear infrastructure that would enable it, if it wanted, to build weapons. It was this leverage that ultimately compelled world powers to negotiate.

And so Iran achieved a diplomatic innovation: It never actually began to build a nuclear weapon, but it demonstrated sufficient proof of its ability to do that it was able to accrue many of the gains that other regimes had won only once they had built and tested atomic bombs. Iran’s capacity to produce bomb materiel compelled the key international powers to recognize a regime that many would have preferred to shun.

It was the JCPOA’s effective negation of a regime-change option that ignited such fierce hostility from Israel and the Saudis. The deal clearly restricted Iran’s nuclear work and blocked pathways to weaponization, but at the expense of normalizing and legitimizing a regional challenger they’d long sought to eliminate.

Sure, the nuclear deal did not deal with many problematic aspects of Iran’s regional activities (much less of its repressive domestic policies, though that’s something international agreements to keep the peace among states almost never do). Iran’s ability to achieve nuclear breakout capacity had created a tactical urgency to conclude a deal limited to nuclear activities, but the underlying strategic assumption was that such a deal could potentially open the way to negotiate Iran’s integration in the regional security arrangements—a grand bargain. That idea is deeply threatening to the Saudis, who since World War II had enjoyed a primacy in US Middle East policy trumped only by Israel.

As Saudi historian Madawi al-Rasheed explained in The New York Times, “Any rapprochement between the United States and Iran—such as the nuclear agreement under President Obama—is viewed with intense suspicion and fear as it threatens the Saudi position as the leading American client in the region.”

For the Israelis, removing the “Iran nuclear threat”—which Israel’s own security establishment had long warned was hyped beyond credulity by Netanyahu—also removed the chief red herring deployed by the Israelis for avoiding even serious discussion of ending its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Obama did not disguise the fact that détente with Iran aligned with a wider rethink of US priorities in the region, at the expense of Saudi primacy. His administration openly advocated “offshore rebalancing,” a doctrine under which Washington would retreat from efforts to remake and micromanage the region’s balance of power and, instead, allow a new status quo balancing the interests of the most powerful players—Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel—to emerge organically.

As Obama expressed it in an interview with The Atlantic, “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians—which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen—requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace.” It was not in US interests, he argued, to back the hard-line positions of regional allies that risked starting wars that they could not finish without US involvement.

The Saudis, though, were never going to settle for an end to their primacy in US national security doctrine, and they and their allies worked hard to persuade Trump to reverse the deal brokered by his predecessor. But precisely because his aversion to new military entanglements in the Middle East, his “maximum pressure” strategy has hit a wall.

Not only is Iran willing to raise the risk of a military clash, its actions in recent weeks suggests it has not forgotten its own leverage in the nuclear talks.

Much has been made of how Obama’s sanctions had brought Iran to the table for the JCPOA; scant attention is given to that fact that it was Iran’s uranium enrichment capability, effectively shortening the time frame of any breakout sprint to weaponization, that brought the Western powers to the same table.

Iran has now sought to revive that leverage by pushing its enrichment efforts past the limits it agreed to in the JCPOA, first of its stockpile of reactor fuel enriched to 3.7 percent and then, as it escalates, to the 20 percent level used in cancer treatment (which significantly shrinks the reprocessing time required to bring it to weapons-grade)—those limits remember are far more restrictive than those required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, within whose parameters Iran’s current nuclear work remains.

But the damage the United States has done to the JCPOA could be irreversible, vindicating the warnings of Iran hardliners that the “Great Satan” can’t be trusted. “No sensible Iranian leader is going to wager his country’s survival on who gets elected president of the United States,” writes Mearsheimer. “American policy toward Iran over the past year makes it clear that Iranian leaders were foolish not to develop a nuclear deterrent in the early 2000s.”

Mearsheimer believes that the short-term Iranian response will include a variety of military provocations designed to alarm the Europeans and others into defying the US sanctions that are killing Iran’s economy.

But the Europeans have been squeamish about openly defying the United States, and prospects for a do-over are fraught, not only for the Iranians, but for the five foreign powers that stood by and allowed Trump to destroy the JCPOA and replace it with a nothing-left-to-lose scenario for Tehran. Consider the incentives placed before Iran’s leaders, right now, and it’s not hard to see how they’d read them as a creating a surrender-or-fight choice.

Having been burned before, Iran will expect significant, tangible concessions for a new deal. Effectively, Trump would have to reverse himself, regardless of how such a move was spun. He may also have to find ways of restraining his regional allies, particularly Israel, from launching attacks on Iran designed to draw Trump into the war he’s desperate to avoid. (And restraining Israel is not part of the administration’s playbook.)

Right now, though, Iran is not being shown any incentive for restraint. Mearsheimer predicts that the result will likely be Iran’s following a more traditional path to securing the “untouchable” status nuclear weapons confer.

The clearest sign that Trump may be panicking—Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called him “desperate and confused”—may be his tapping of Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican and a critic of foreign military interventions, as a back-channel emissary to Iran.

The sense that Trump’s retreat will be to paint some version of existing agreements as some bold breakthrough are reflected in Paul’s recent comments on Fox News: “I think there is a possible opening that Iran would sign an agreement saying that they won’t develop a nuclear weapon, ever. That would be a huge breakthrough.”

Well, no, it wouldn’t, since that’s essentially what Iran agreed to when it adopted the NPT in 1970, and has maintained ever since. But Paul was almost comically sycophantic in adding, “I think President Trump is one of the few people who actually could get that deal…because he’s strong, and he is showing maximum pressure, but he is also willing to talk.”

Iran has separately offered to ratify the Additional Protocol to the NPT, which would allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities on a permanent basis if Trump lifts sanctions. But under the JCPOA, Iran was required to take that step in 2023, so Tehran is simply offering to expedite a step to which it had previously agreed.

Restoring calm and reducing the rising danger of hostilities triggered by miscalculation will require that Iran’s regime is credibly persuaded that its existence is not threatened by outside powers. Essentially, the United States will be relitigating much of what was achieved by the JCPOA, but under less favorable circumstances after Trump has provided Tehran’s hard-liners a compelling case study in the danger of trusting the United States as a negotiating partner.

How the UK got Sucked into this Mess

John Bolton is whispering hawkish deeds in Trump’s ear (Image: GETTY)

UK ‘dragged into US-Iran tensions by Donald Trump’s security advisor’

BRITAIN has been dragged into the United States’ diplomatic war with Iran after being pressured by Donald Trump’s security adviser John Bolton, an analyst has claimed.

By KUMAIL JAFFER

PUBLISHED: 15:38, Thu, Jul 25, 2019

UPDATED: 15:40, Thu, Jul 25, 2019

The US-Iran war threat is ‘very significant‘ according to foreign affairs expert Henry Rome. He says the risk ‘should not be understated.’

A total of 23 shipmates are currently being held captured after Iran stormed the Stena Impero off the Strait of Hormuz on July 19. Tehran’s actions came in response to Royal Marines seizing Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks earlier. Two analysts suggested Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s move was part of a wider plan orchestrated by President Trump’s national security advisor.

Gareth Porter, an analyst at The American Conservative, believes the tanker seizure was an attempt to push tensions with Iran to breaking point.

He said: “Evidence indicates that the British move was part of a bigger scheme coordinated by National Security Advisor John Bolton. 

“The evidence also reveals that Bolton was actively involved in targeting the Grace 1 from the time it began its journey in May as part of the broader Trump administration campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran.”

If the UK acted in a rational and legal basis, it would not have carried out the operation, he added.

Bolton has called for strikes on Iran since 2007 (Image: GETTY)

It was only because they were prompted by the US – most likely Mr Bolton – that Mr Hunt ordered the seizure. 

Evidence also suggests that Mr Bolton put pressure on the Panamanian government to stop allowing Iranian vessels to fly their flag.

This meant that they could not transport goods undercover, leaving the Grace 1 ship to be seized in plain sight.

Mr Porter’s words were echoed by Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall, who claimed that Britain was set up by Mr Bolton.

He wrote: “John Bolton, White House national security adviser and notorious Iraq-era hawk, is a man on a mission.

Given broad latitude over policy by Donald Trump, he is widely held to be driving the US confrontation with Iran.

“And in his passionate bid to tame Tehran, Bolton cares little who gets hurt – even if collateral damage includes a close ally such as Britain.” 

He concluded: “Britain is blindly dancing to the beat of Bolton’s war drums”.

John Bolton is not unopposed in the White House, however, which could be why a war has not broken out between Tehran and Washington.

Senator Rand Paul’s installation in the Iran negotiating team had American hawks up in arms.

The libertarian congressman, who is known for his anti-war stance, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after being given the green light by the President.

Bolton tried to get Trump to strike Iran last month (Image: GETTY)

It is thought he will come to blows with Mr Bolton on Washington’s negotiation strategy going forward.

Mr Bolton may also have to compete with Tucker Carlson, a popular Fox News pundit who President Trump often consults for foreign policy advice.

He labelled Mr Bolton a “bureaucratic tapeworm” after the national security adviser almost succeeded in calling for air strikes on Tehran.

President Trump called them off with minutes to spare after consulting Mr Carlson.

Mr Bolton has long been an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump pulled out of last month.

The US-Iran war threat is ‘very significant’ according to foreign affairs expert Henry Rome. He says the risk ‘should not be understated.’

The move signalled the start of rising tensions between Iran and the US, resulting in the current diplomatic crisis.

Mr Bolton first called for the US to attack Iran under President George W Bush.

In 2007, he endorsed Vice President Dick Cheney’s call for airstrikes on Iran, and a year later, he suggested the same due to Iran’s alleged support for anti-American forces in Iraq.

He has since called for the bombing of Tehran on a consistent basis, even as he entered the upper echelons of the White House.

Hamas Sacrifices Children Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

PALESTINIAN HAMAS SUPPORTERS in Gaza celebrate the Ariel terrorist attack, earlier this week

PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST TELLS HOW HAMAS BRINGS KIDS TO FRONT LINE TO DIE

A Palestinian journalist has described in detail how Hamas operatives take children in buses to protest against Israel on the Gaza border.

BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 JULY 25, 2019 06:27

PALESTINIAN HAMAS SUPPORTERS in Gaza celebrate the Ariel terrorist attack, earlier this week. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

A Palestinian journalist has described in detail how Hamas operatives take children in buses to protest against Israel on the Gaza border.

In a new documentary released by TPS, the journalist, whose face is blurred and his voice distorted for security reasons, says he has witnessed Hamas operatives taking chairs and sitting nearby the fence eating seeds and watching people die.

“They bring children to the playgrounds and let them play and then encourage them to do whatever they can to get close to the fence,” the journalist told TPS.
The documentary focuses on the March of Return riots, which started in March of last year. Some 2,200 terror-related incidents have been reported since the start of the riots – a combination of gunfire, explosive device and molotov cocktail attacks.
“The goal is to bias the general public opinion because the general public opinion is that the kids are safe,” the journalist told TPS. “They [Hamas] exploit this to claim that Israel is killing our children.”

Iran Refuses to Negotiate with Babylon the Great

Top Khamenei aide says no talks with U.S. under any circumstances

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) – The top military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Tehran would not negotiate with the United States under any circumstances, an apparent hardening of its position as the Gulf tanker crisis escalates.

FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during ceremony attended by Iranian clerics in Tehran, Iran, July 16, 2019. Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

The Swedish operator of a British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran in the Gulf last week said it had been able to speak to crew members and all 23 of them were safe.

“We had direct contact with the crew on board the vessel last night by telephone and they’re all okay and in good health and they’re getting good cooperation with the Iranians on board,” Stena Bulk spokesman Pat Adamson said.

The company said it had no evidence that the ship had been involved in a collision, one of the reasons Iran has cited for sending commandos to capture it last Friday.

The tough remarks by Khamenei’s aide, Hossein Dehghan, a senior commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards whose views are seen as reflecting those of Khamenei, appeared to take a firm line in response to Western proposals to beef up security in the Strait of Hormuz in the wake of the seizure of the ship.

Dehghan said Iran would take action if the status of the strait were altered, and that no country would be allowed to ship oil through it unless all countries can.

His remarks were reported by Al Jazeera television which did not supply direct quotes of an interview with him. He singled out the United Arab Emirates for criticism, saying it had become a base for attacks on Iran, and repeated earlier Iranian threats to attack all U.S. targets in the region in the event of war.

VOLATILE TIME

Dehghan’s remarks appear to shift the Iranian position on talks with the United States. In the past Tehran has said talks are possible although Washington must lift all sanctions first and return to the nuclear deal it abandoned last year.

The Trump administration says the purpose of its sanctions is to force Iran to the negotiating table, and it is open to talks, but Iran must make the first move.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran’s pragmatist president, Hassan Rouhani, who has drawn fire from hardline clerical leaders for reaching the nuclear pact with world powers in 2015, said Iran was ready for “just negotiations” but not if they mean surrender.

Britain has called for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the world’s most important oil artery after Iran seized the Stena Impero last week. The United States is trying to rally support for a global coalition to secure Gulf waters, although allies have been reluctant to join a U.S.-led mission for fear of escalating confrontation.

France, Italy and Denmark gave initial support to the British plan. A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Berlin was talking to Britain and France about the idea.

The Trump administration abandoned the nuclear deal last year arguing that it was too weak because it did not cover non-nuclear issues such as Iran’s missile program and its regional behavior. Dehghan repeated Iranian assertions that its missile program is non-negotiable.

Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Peter Graffq

Hamas Assists the Shi’a Axis (Daniel 8)

Hamas pursues ‘axis of resistance’ alliance during Tehran visit

By TZVI JOFFRE

During a visit to Tehran, Hamas expressed a desire to strengthen relations between Iran and the terror group and to reach an agreement on a “joint defense alliance” with all the parties of the “axis of resistance,” according to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper.

The alliance would aim to help Hamas, the Islamic Republic, Syria and Hezbollah confront attacks in a coordinated manner.

The delegation visiting Iran is headed by deputy chairman of Hamas’s Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri and includes Head of Hamas Diaspora Office Maher Salah, Musa Abu Marzouk, Izzat Al-Rishq, Zaher Jabarinm, Hussam Badran, Usama Hamdan, Ismail Radwan and Khaled Qaddoumi, Hamas’s representative to Iran.

Al-Arouri presented the Iranians with a letter from Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, thanking Iran for “its efforts in supporting the Palestinian cause” and asking for more support to “face the suffocating Israeli siege.” The letter also emphasized Hamas’ solidarity with Iran against American and Israeli policies.

Haniyeh was unable to be a part of the delegation since Egypt refused to allow him to exit the Gaza Strip.

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The report also addressed relations between Syria and Hamas, saying that while the terror movement and Syrian officials have attempted to reestablish relations, “the issue is still complicated” as “Hamas is evading responding to the Syrian demand that the movement apologize for its departure [from Syria],” according to Al-Akhbar.

Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Bashar Assad in the civil war that erupted in Syria in 2011 prompted the Syrians to cut their relations with the movement, forcing its senior leaders to leave the country. The Syrians have also accused Hamas of supporting anti-regime terrorist groups.

In an interview with Al Mayadeen, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem reaffirmed that Hamas is becoming closer with Syria after revisions carried out within the movement and that it is important for Hezbollah to remain part of the axis of resistance and to help restore relations between Hamas and Syria.

Al-Akhbar reported that Hamas felt satisfied with statements made by Iranian officials throughout the visit.

During the visit, Hamas officials met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the first time since the terror movement’s exit from Syria in 2012.

Khamenei praised the Hamas terrorist group and the “resistance of the Palestinian people” during the meeting, saying, “victory will not be achieved without resistance and struggle,” according to a press release on Khamenei’s website. He added that the Palestinian cause is the “first and most important issue” in the Islamic world.

The Iranian leader expressed appreciation of the “good and important” position of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, saying, “Hamas is at the heart of the Palestinian movement, as Palestine is at the heart of the movement of the Islamic world.”

“We have always stated our views on Palestine explicitly and clearly, and even in the international arena of our friends… they know that the Islamic republic is quite serious in the Palestinian affair,” Khamenei noted.

The leader of the Islamic republic added that Palestinians shouldn’t feel like their goals are unrealistic, using Iran as an example of such a transformation.

“Forty years ago, no one believed that a religious government would be established in Iran, which was the center of American influence and hope, or that the Israeli embassy would be turned into a Palestinian embassy, but this incredible transformation was achieved,” said Khamenei.

The adviser to the Supreme Leader for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati said that the meeting with Hamas and Khamenei was a strategic turning point in relations between Iran and the Palestinians, according to Al Mayadeen. Velayati told Al-Arouri that the region would see more victories in favor of the resistance front.

Velayati added that recent developments in the region are “turning points in the history of militant Islam” and “symbols of Iranians’ and the resistance movement’s struggle against the arrogance of Zionism and the United States,” according to Radio Farda.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.