1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

January 20, 2010

New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.

The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.

Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

India and Pakistan Closer to Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

A man stands in front of his damaged house Sunday after cross-border shelling in Jora in the Neelum Valley of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. (Sajjad Qayyum/Afp Via Getty Images)

India and Pakistan trade fire in Kashmir, killing nine

By Joanna Slater

October 20, 2019 at 3:05 PM EDT

NEW DELHI — India and Pakistan exchanged fire across the line dividing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Saturday and Sunday, killing nine civilians and soldiers, according to authorities in both countries.

It was one of the deadliest sequences this year at the Line of Control, the highly militarized frontier where soldiers from the two countries regularly trade small-arms and artillery fire.

The barrage came amid increased tension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

In August, India withdrew Kashmir’s semiautonomous status, shut down communications in the region and detained thousands of people. The moves incensed Pakistan, which considers itself the defender of Kashmiri Muslims.

India accuses Pakistan of stoking a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir by sending fighters and arms across the Line of Control. Pakistan denies the accusations.

India detains prominent Kashmiri leader under law critics call draconian

People gather during funeral prayer for victims of the cross-border shelling. (Sajjad Qayyum/Afp Via Getty Images)

Five civilians and one soldier were killed on Pakistan’s side of the Line of Control, a spokesman for the Pakistani army said Sunday. Two Indian soldiers and one civilian were also killed, a spokesman for the Indian Defense Ministry said.

India and Pakistan claimed to have killed larger numbers of the other country’s soldiers in the incident, but such assertions could not be verified independently.

Gen. Bipin Rawat of the Indian Army told reporters that the exchange began when militants attempted to cross into Indian-controlled territory. Pakistan rejected the accusation and said India’s firing was “indiscriminate and unprovoked.”

Exchanges of fire across the Line of Control have increased in recent years, an ongoing confrontation that some analysts have called a “war by other means.”

The two countries reached a cease-fire agreement in 2003, and for several years, relative calm prevailed on the de facto frontier in Kashmir. Since 2014, however, cease-fire violations have jumped.

Pakistani Kashmiri women mourn around the body of a family member who was killed in firing by Indian forces. (M.D. Mughal/AP)

Last year was the worst year in 15 years for such cross-border firings, according to data from the independent Indo-Pak Conflict Monitor. Each side reported 2,000 or more incidents.

US troops preparing to cross the Redline in Iraq

Pentagon chief says US troops leaving Syria for western Iraq

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

Posted 7 hours, 8 minutes ago

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under current plans all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the American military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence.

Esper, who arrived in the Afghan capital on Sunday, did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. But he told reporters traveling with him that those details will be worked out over time.

His comments were the first to specifically lay out where American troops will go as they leave Syria and what the counter-IS fight could look like. Esper, who flew overnight to Afghanistan, said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift the more than 700 troops leaving Syria into western Iraq.

The developments made clear that one of President Donald Trump’s rationales for withdrawing troops from Syria was not going to come to pass any time soon. “It’s time to bring our soldiers back home,” Trump said Wednesday. But they are not coming home.

As Esper left Washington on Saturday, U.S. troops were continuing to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey’s invasion into the border region. Reports of sporadic clashes continued between Turkish-backed fighters and the U.S.-allied Syria Kurdish forces despite a five-day cease-fire agreement hammered out Thursday between U.S. and Turkish leaders.

Turkey’s defense ministry says one soldier has been killed amid sporadic clashes with Kurdish fighters.

Trump ordered the bulk of the approximately 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria to withdraw after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear in a phone call that his forces were about to invade Syria to push back Kurdish forces that Turkey considers terrorists.

The pullout largely abandons America’s Kurdish allies who have fought IS alongside U.S. troops for several years. Between 200 and 300 U.S. troops will remain at the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf.

Esper said the troops going into Iraq will have two missions.

“One is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps,” he said. “Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”

The U.S. currently has more than 5,000 American forces in Iraq, under an agreement between the two countries. The U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq in 2011 when combat operations there ended, but they went back in after IS began to take over large swaths of the country in 2014. The number of American forces in Iraq has remained small due to political sensitivities in the country, after years of what some Iraqis consider U.S. occupation during the war that began in 2003.

Esper said he will talk with other allies at a NATO meeting in the coming week to discuss the way ahead for the counter-IS mission.

Asked if U.S. special operations forces will conduct unilateral military operations into Syria to go after IS, Esper said that is an option that will be discussed with allies over time.

He said one of his top concerns is what the next phase of the counter-IS missions looks like, “but we have to work through those details. He said that if U.S. forces do go in, they would be protected by American aircraft.

While he acknowledged reports of intermittent fighting despite the cease-fire agreement, he said that overall it “generally seems to be holding. We see a stability of the lines, if you will, on the ground.”

He also said that, so far, the Syrian Democratic Forces that partnered with the U.S. to fight IS have maintained control of the prisons in Syria where they are still present. The Turks, he said, have indicated they have control of the IS prisons in their areas.

“I can’t assess whether that’s true or not without having people on the ground,” said Esper.

He added that the U.S. withdrawal will be deliberate and safe, and it will take “weeks not days.”

According to a U.S. official, about a couple hundred troops have left Syria so far. The U.S. forces have been largely consolidated in one location in the west and a few locations in the east.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations, said the U.S. military is not closely monitoring the effectiveness of the cease-fire, but is aware of sporadic fighting and violations of the agreement. The official said it will still take a couple of weeks to get forces out of Syria.

The Chinese, Russian and US Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

Military vehicles carrying Chinese DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles are displayed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during a military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1. | REUTERS

Chinese nuclear plans cloud prospects for new U.S.-Russia missile deal

David WainerNEW YORK –

Military vehicles carrying Chinese DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles are displayed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during a military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1. | REUTERS

A key hurdle to extending a landmark nuclear treaty between the U.S. and Russia isn’t Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin. It is China.

The New START treaty, the last major arms control accord between the world’s two nuclear superpowers, is set to expire in early 2021. Like another key treaty covering intermediate-range nuclear missiles, which collapsed this year after the U.S. quit that accord, Trump administration officials say the agreement may not be worth extending if China isn’t brought into the fold.

A failure to renew or extend the accord would mark the effective end of decades of agreements aimed at limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Experts say it would also send a worrisome signal to other nations — from Saudi Arabia to North Korea — pursuing or seeking to pursue nuclear programs.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in August that the U.S. should consider “multilateralizing” the agreement: “If we really want to go after avoiding an arms race, and capture these systems, we should multilateralize it.”

Yet while the U.S. believes China will double its nuclear stockpile over the next decade, most arms control experts say it would be better for Washington and Moscow to settle on an extension of New START and worry about Beijing later.

“China doesn’t have anything like the number of warheads the U.S. and Russia possess,” Sam Nunn, a former Democratic senator from Georgia who co-chairs the Nuclear Threat Initiative, said in an interview. “We will at some point have to have China in the equation, but that won’t happen now. Common sense would be to at least extend a treaty that already exists and work from there.”

Russian officials say they want the current agreement extended for the allowed five years beyond its 2021 expiration. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters last month that the U.S. continues to insist China be brought into negotiations, a message he said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo delivered to him at the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings.

But Moscow says time is running out. Negotiations for a new deal would typically take as long as a year. Even settling on an extension would be lengthy.

“We urge our American colleagues not to lose time anymore,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with Russia’s International Affairs journal. “There’s almost none left. Simply letting this treaty die would be unforgivable. This will be perceived by the international community as neglecting one of the key pillars of international security.”

Despite American efforts, Beijing has so far balked at trilateral talks, arguing it is far behind Moscow and Washington, which together hold more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

China has no interest in participating in a nuclear-arms-reduction negotiation with the U.S. or Russia, given the huge gap between China’s nuclear arsenal and those of the U.S. and Russia,” said Fu Cong, director general of the foreign ministry’s Arms Control Department. “The U.S. and Russia, as the countries possessing the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenals, bear special and primary responsibilities on nuclear disarmament.”

Nine countries possess nuclear weapons, with the global nuclear warhead count at 13,865 in 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Russia and the U.S. each have more than 6,000 warheads, followed by France at 300, China at 290, the U.K. at 200, India and Pakistan with over 100 each, Israel at about 80 and North Korea estimated at 20 to 30.

China’s stockpiles are expected to grow rapidly. The country “has developed a new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, a new multiwarhead version of its silo-based ICBM and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in May. “With its announcement of a new nuclear-capable strategic bomber, China will soon field their own nuclear triad, demonstrating China’s commitment to expanding the role and centrality of nuclear forces in Beijing’s military aspirations.”

Getting China to participate in any talks is complicated by Beijing’s own calculus, which involves deterring India and expanding its weapons program, said Gary Samore, a former U.S. senior director for nonproliferation and export controls during the Clinton administration. “A trilateral approach is not practical at the moment because the Chinese will not agree to institutionalize their very small numbers compared to the U.S. and Russia,” added Samore, who now directs the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.

The demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) — the Cold War-era agreement that expired this year — is already raising tensions with Beijing. Esper recently indicated that the U.S. was looking at deploying previously banned intermediate-range missiles in Asia, angering Chinese officials. Potential bases for the missiles could be in Taiwan and Japan, Samore said.

Beyond China, U.S. talks with Russia are complicated by increasing mistrust on both sides. As a U.N. disarmament committee sought to begin its scheduled meetings earlier this month, Russian officials wouldn’t agree to adopt the schedule in protest of a U.S. refusal to issue visas to members of its delegation, a diplomat said.

The potential of an escalating arms race comes after a prolonged period of relative progress in curbing nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and Russia destroyed thousands of ground-launched missiles thanks to the INF treaty. New START, reached between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, capped the total number of U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles.

Crucially, after reaching that accord, the U.S. and Russia adopted a united stance against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, forcing Tehran to sign a 2015 nuclear accord that the U.S. withdrew from last year.

Unlike the situation during the Cold War, the advent of new computer and space technologies has moved much of the nuclear arms competition in recent years away from quantity to quality, warned Nunn and Ernest Moniz, the former U.S. Energy Department secretary and the co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, in a recent report. That may bolster the U.S. case for China to be included in a future deal.

China’s rising military and technological prowess in the decades since the first nuclear deals were ratified means the Trump administration is right in calling China to be included in new strategic talks, even if it remains in the U.S. interest to extend New START, said Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “The U.S. has historically dominated many emerging technologies such as space, but now the Chinese are growing in these areas,” Manning said. “We need strategic dialogue to tackle these new areas. Do we want autonomous weapons or not? Do we want to ban hypersonics or not? That’s where the next wave is, not in whether nuclear weapons should be reduced or not.”

But losing New START would send a signal to the world that the two biggest nuclear powers don’t care about arms control, Nunn said. Lori Esposito Murray, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, agrees.

“You don’t throw out the baby with the bath water,” Murray said. “You keep the constraints you have that have produced an 80 percent reduction of nuclear stockpiles and then you look at a process that looks at China and advanced technologies.”

The Nations Continue to Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Placed at the Al-Saraya junction in Gaza, a billboard shows Oron Shaul, an Israeli solider, standing with jail bars around him [Mohammed Asad/Apaimages]

Al-Qassam reminds Israel that its soldiers are still in Gaza

October 19, 2019 at 1:07 pm

Hamas’ military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, issued a poster featuring passport-sized photos of four Israeli soldiers who were imprisoned by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, Shehab News Agency reported on Friday.

The poster addressed the Israeli occupation by displaying the phrase “your soldiers are still in Gaza.”

Al-Qassam released the pictures to mark the eighth anniversary of the prisoner swap held between Hamas and Israel in 2011, when Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Shalit was captured from his tank during an incursion in Gaza, in 2006.

The Israeli occupation rearrested at least 50 former Palestinian prisoners, who were released by the prisoner swap in 2011.

Damaging the Oil and the Wine (Revelation 6:6)

Tankers at the Iraqi Al Basra Oil Terminal in the Northern Arabian Gulf

Iran’s Dual Game To Escalate Tensions With US

by Hassan MahmoudiOctober 19, 20190511

After more than four decades of countless negotiations under the appeasement tactics of the West, Iran’s policy had alternately two different characters. On one hand, Iran showed an iron fist with terrorist activities symbolized by the IRGC. On the other hand, Tehran used its foreign policy as a vitrine for negotiation symbolized by Zarif, however, both faces served the same goal — to make sure the regime survives.

A very recent example are the contradictory remarks raised by Iran’s government agencies regarding Friday’s attack on an Iranian SABITI oil tanker being targeted by “two missiles”, which made the incident and the original news even more suspicions than was originally announced. Saudi Arabia said it was not involved in Friday’s attack on an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea that caused a spike of more than 2% in crude prices.

Riyadh said it received a distress message on the same day from a damaged Iranian tanker in the area but the vessel kept moving and switched off its transponder before it could assist, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.

SPA said the SABITI tanker did not respond to any communications from the Saudi authorities.

A few hours after the attack, the regime’s National Iranian Oil Company denied missiles were fired from Saudi soil to target this oil tanker in the Red Sea. IRNA, the Iranian regime’s official news agency, wrote the following: “This oil tanker suffered an incident this morning while located 60 miles from the Jeddah port of Saudi Arabia. Although some say this incident could have been a terrorist attack, yet there was no missile fired towards this oil tanker from Saudi soil.”

The Associated Press reported the images published by Iran’s Oil Ministry showed no visible damage to the ship. However, the images do not show the ship’s sides. Satellite images from the region do not show any visible smoke clouds.

Political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said it did not have firm evidence about who may have been behind the incident.

However, according to Fars news agency affiliated with the IRGC, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s top security said, “Piracy and mischief on international waterways aimed at making commercial shipping insecure will not go unanswered.”

In a statement, Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei called Friday’s attack “cowardly” and said Tehran would give a “proportionate response” following investigations.

This incident is highly likely to be part of the wider narrative of Iran’s plan to escalate tensions and disrupt free maritime transport in the Persian Gulf. Iran has in mind a despicable dual game; in its show vitrine Iran says it’s ready for talks with Saudi Arabia, with or without mediation. But in reality, Khamenei calls on the IRGC to get ready for ground, sea, space combat.

Elsewhere in his speech on Sunday, Khamenei reiterated the IRGC should have access to modern “defensive, operational and intelligence equipment as well as knowledge of cyberspace” to be ready for combat “on the ground, in the air, in the space, on the sea, at the borders, and inside the country.”

However, according to an assessment provided to the Associated Press by private maritime security firm Dryad Maritime, “It is likely that the region, having been stable for the last month, will face another period of increasing maritime threats, as the Iranian and Saudi geopolitical stand-off continues.”

The Foolishness of Babylon the Great

FILE- In this Dec. 15, 2015, file photo, A U. S. Air Force F-15 fighter jet takes off from Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey. Frayed U.S. relations with Turkey are raising a sensitive question rarely discussed in public: Should the United States remove the nuclear bombs it keeps at a Turkish air base? There is no known evidence that the weapons are at direct risk, but President Donald Trump has threatened to “obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it does not halt its invasion of Syria, and some American arms control experts say the bombs would be safer elsewhere. (Associated Press/AP)

Some worries about nuclear weapons at Turkey base

WASHINGTON — Frayed U.S. relations with Turkey over its incursion in Syria raise a sensitive question rarely discussed in public: Should the United States remove the nuclear bombs it has long stored at a Turkish air base?

It’s a tricky matter for several reasons, including the fact that by longstanding policy, the U.S. government does not publicly acknowledge locations of nuclear weapons overseas. Still, it is almost an open secret that the U.S. has as many as 50 B-61 bombs stored under heavy guard at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

President Donald Trump implicitly acknowledged the stockpile this week when asked by a reporter how confident he was of the bombs’ security.

“We’re confident,” he said.

Turkey, a NATO ally, has reportedly hosted American nuclear weapons for 60 years. The bombs could be dropped by U.S. planes in a nuclear war. The arrangement at Incirlik air base is part of NATO’s policy of linking Turkey and other member countries to the alliance’s aim of deterring war by having a relatively small number of nuclear weapons based in Europe. Removing them, therefore, would be a diplomatic complication.

There is no known evidence that the nuclear weapons at Incirlik are at direct risk, but relations between Washington and Ankara are at perhaps a historic low and the war in Syria has grown more complex and unpredictable. Incirlik is about 150 miles from Syria by road.

Thursday’s announced U.S. deal with Turkey to pause its offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria may have slowed the deterioration of relations. But the overall direction has been decidedly and increasingly negative.

“The arc of their behavior over the past several years has been terrible,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said last Sunday, noting that Ankara defied repeated U.S. warnings not to purchase a Russian air defense system that the White House has likened to a portal for Russian spying. He added: “I mean, they are spinning out of the Western orbit, if you will.”

In July, the Pentagon kicked Turkey out of its F-35 fighter jet program because Turkey refused to halt its purchase of the Russian-made air defense system. This was a major blow to U.S.-Turkey relations and raised questions in Washington about whether Turkey was a reliable ally.

Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and senior Pentagon official, said Friday he believes the nuclear weapons are safe and secure. He sees risk in removing them.

“I’m not in favor of taking any actions that would potentially accelerate Turkey’s thinking about pursuing its own independent nuclear deterrent,” he said, noting that Erdogan as recently as September mentioned this possibility.

Some American arms control experts say the U.S. bombs at Incirlik would be safer in another NATO member country.

Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, who has followed the issue for many years, said in an interview that a review of options for the U.S. bombs at Incirlik, near the city of Adana, is long overdue. He believes the Air Force, which is responsible for the bombs, has grown concerned about their security in recent years.

“The Air Force is concerned about not only the standard physical perimeters — whether they are good enough — but also about the manpower on the base, whether they have enough to hold back an attack from someone,” Kristensen said.

The conflict in northern Syria, which has only grown more complex and unpredictable with a U.S. troop withdrawal, has added a new layer of worry for American officials, he said.

“They’re afraid of the spillover” inside Turkey, he said.

The Pentagon has declined to comment on the matter.

“It is U.S. policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Uriah Orland, a Pentagon spokesman. “The U.S. does not discuss the movement of nuclear weapons, the capability to store weapons at U.S. or foreign locations or planning for any of these activities.”

Even private experts who study the matter are not sure how many weapons are stored there, but Kristensen believes there are up to 50 B-61 bombs designed to be dropped by U.S. fighter aircraft. He says the U.S. has had nuclear weapons in Turkey continuously since 1959.

The bombs in Turkey are part of a network of roughly 150 U.S. air-delivered nuclear weapons based in Europe. Kristensen says the host countries, in addition to Turkey, are Belgium, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday he and Trump share “love and respect,” but he also let little doubt that he was offended by an Oct. 9 letter from Trump telling Erdogan, “Don’t be a fool!”

Erdogan told reporters Trump’s words were not compatible with “political and diplomatic courtesy” and would not be forgotten. He said he would “do what’s necessary” about the letter “when the time comes.” He did not elaborate.

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