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

By Simon Worrall


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earthquakes 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Another Rocket Attack Against US Troops (Revelation 6:6)

New Rocket Attack Targeting Iraq Base Housing US Troops Will Deepen Concerns

Radio Farda

Baghdad, Dec 12, 2019 (AFP) –

Two rockets were fired at a military base near Baghdad airport housing US troops, the 10th such attack since late October, the Iraqi army said on Thursday.

There were no casualties in the overnight attack, which follows one on the same base on Monday which wounded six members of Iraq’s elite US-trained counterterrorism force, two of them critically, the army said.

Washington has expressed mounting concern about the flurry of attacks on US bases and diplomatic missions, several of which it has blamed on Shiite militia groups trained by its foe and rival for influence Tehran.

Security sources have linked at least one attack last week to Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite faction close to Tehran and blacklisted by Washington.

Iran holds vast sway in Iraq, especially among the more hardline elements of the Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force largely made up of Shiite militias.

A US defense official told AFP the rocket attacks made the Hashed a bigger security threat to American troops in Iraq than the Islamic State group, the jihadist movement which the US has vowed to help Baghdad wipe out.

On Friday, the United States imposed sanctions on three senior Hashed figures.

Tensions between Iran and the US have soared since Washington pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and reimposed crippling sanctions.

Baghdad — which is close to both countries and whose many security forces have been trained by either the US or Iran — is worried about being caught in the middle.

US officials say they are considering plans to deploy between 5,000 and 7,000 additional troops to the region to counter Iran.

The Antichrist Defies the Iranian Horn (Revelation 13)


Analysis In Iraq, Iran Is Facing a New Strategic Dilemma

Tehran is attempting to retain its influence by experimenting with new methods of fighting. If it won’t use more force, Iran may lose its grip there

Zvi Bar’el

The four Katyusha rockets that hit a military base next to Baghdad International Airport this week mark a new trend in the battle Iraq has been waging since early October.

The six soldiers injured in the attack belong to the elite forces of a U.S.-trained anti-terror unit. Inside the base, American forces and diplomats live next to Iraqi forces.

It was the ninth attack in the past six weeks against American facilities within Baghdad’s Green Zone, where government offices and U.S. command headquarters are located. No organization claimed responsibility, butthe American administration attributes them to pro-Iranian forces.

Similarly to the first decade of the second Gulf war, the American enemy is close to home and can be confronted with minimal power. In those days, whoever wanted to hurt the Americans did it through terror attacks and roadside bombs.These days, a new trend is evolving: Attacks via rockets and mortars. The American ability to respond to these attacks is limited. Should Washington decide to launch a violent confrontation on Iraqi soil against pro-Iranian forces, Baghdad might demand that the Americans leave its territory. The White House is concerned that in such a case a public protest will be sparked and potentially inspire the Iraqi government to cancel its defense pacts with the U.S. administration.

Iraqi protester in a Money Heist outfit stands behind a Shiite Muslim cleric during an anti-government demonstration, Basra, November 29, 2019 AFP

Simultaneously, The New York Times quoted U.S. intelligence sources which said that Iran deployed short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq that could hit neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel. This may not be the first time that Iran has deployed ballistic missiles in Iraq, but it seems that this time Iran is taking advantage of the unrest that has gripped the country for the past two months to bolster its forces and respond to an addition of 14,000 American fighters in the Gulf region.

However, Iran’s ability to expand its military presence in Iraq has faced a public outcry that has led to the deaths of more than 450 people and thousands of injuries. The calls to kick Iran out of Iraqi territory, the temporary closure of the border crossings in southern Iraq, the two incidents of torching of the Iranian consulate in Najaf and the violent confrontations between demonstrators and pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias are only part of the expressions of rage against Iran. Sizeable Iraqi tribes who had previously backed Iran have recently joined the protests. As recently as July, a large delegation of tribal leaders met with the Iranian ambassador in Iraq to express their unqualified support for Iran.

“We are prepared to defend the Islamic Republic because a war against Iran is a war against Iraq,” they declared. “Iran proved that it stands beside the oppressed nations of the world and especially beside the Palestinian people.”

The tribal solidarity has begun to crack and even unravel.Some leaders of the important tribes realized that to preserve their status they must defend their sons being killed and injured by pro-Iranian militias during demonstrations.Some of those tribes had joined the Iraqi army when it was led by the late Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and after the fall of his regime in 2003 they supported the Shi’ite government and a close relationship with Iran. Now, they are caught in a dilemma, with some of their sons joining the Shi’ite militias operating under Iran’s directions despite their being part of the Iraqi army, and others demonstrating against the regime. This dilemma threatens Iran’s ability to dictate the way they fight against the popular protests, which have made the anti-Iranian discourse their main focus.

The leader of the caretaker government in Iraq, Adel Abd al-Mahdi, who has resigned as prime minister, is trapped by a combination of internal and external pressures that do not allow the government to implement reforms or make decisions that could calm the rebellion even temporarily. There is a fight over finding a consensus candidate to lead a new government, which would prepare for parliamentary elections.

Rebel leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who this week demanded that a prime minister be named from the ranks of the protest movements, faces down Iran, which seeks to dictate how the new government will look. Iran fears precisely such proposals, as it is liable to find itself facing an anti-Iranian prime minster who enjoys widespread popularity. The problem is that the protest movements have no consensus or recognized leader, and there is no party or other group that these movements are prepared to authorize to represent them.

At the same time, some of the protest movements do not regard al-Sadr as an authentic leader despite the fact that his forces, known as the Peace Companies, joined the protesters to protect them from Shi’ite militia fighters.

“The Iraqi people need leadership” : A poster of Iraqi Shiite cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr wearing military fatigues, Baghdad, October 24, 2019 AFP

The bitter confrontation between al-Sadr and his rival, Qais al-Khazali, who established the pro-Iranian Asaib Ahl al-Haqq militias and strives to establish an Iraqi regime similar to that in Iran, expand the political struggle and turn it into a fight between Iran’s opponents and supporters. Iran has always tried to prevent such a development in an effort to shirt the image of a country pulling the strings in Iraq and working against the interests of the Iraqi people.

After the Iraqi chief-of-staff informed protesters on Tuesday that “Iraq’s army and security forces stand by you and to defend you until your constitutionally-protected demands are achieved,” Iran realized it faces a much harder challenge than suppressing demonstrators. If Iran decides to send more forces to Iraq to suppress the demonstrations it is liable to find itself facing the Iraqi army and not just civilian demonstrators.

Iran will have to decide soon whether it is prepared to risk the establishment of a government of technocrats, which would significantly erode its political influence in Iraq and be tantamount to admitting that Shi’ite militias have failed to preserve its interests in Iraq, or to intervene more aggressively as it did against the Iranian protesters.

Past experience may indicate that Iran also knows when to pull back when circumstances are unfavorable, but when it is in a fight to save its position in Lebanon and Syria and its own streets are restless, it may actually be liable to flex its muscles more violently to defend that position.

US Prepares to Respond to Redline (Revelation 6:6)

US warnings over spate of Iranian-backed rocket attacks on its bases in Iraq

Abbie Cheeseman

Al Asad air base, Iraq, which President Trump visited last year, is one of the US bases targeted recently with rockets by Iranian-armed militias Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP

Attacks on bases hosting US-led coalition forces by Iranian-armed militias are heading towards a red line for the coalition, who would respond with such force that “no one would like the outcome,” a senior US official warned on Wednesday.

Just hours later a further two rockets hit near the military section of Baghdad airport.

The attack is the tenth of its type since October, targeting joint US-Iraqi military facilities that host forces from the US-led coalition to defeat Isil.

Speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, the US official reportedly said that while there were no claims of responsibility for the attacks, intelligence and forensic analyses indicated Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militia groups are behind them.

The Iraqi paramilitary groups and the US are trading blame on the series of attacks.

“We’re waiting for full evidence…If past is prologue, I’d say there’s a good chance it was Iran that’s behind it,” David Schenker, the US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, told reporters last Friday. Two further attacks have happened since.

The rocket attacks come amid US accusations that Iran has capitalised on the continued unrest in Iraq to secretly move short-range ballistic missiles into the country.

The Trump administration hit Iran with fresh sanctions on Wednesday in an effort to intensify their “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The sanctions target several transportation firms in the Islamic Republic, including the state-shipping line, as well as a China-based company that has been involved in delivering missile parts to Iran.

Piling economic sanctions and ramped up rhetoric have been a pillar of the “maximum pressure” campaign since Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.

Iran has since taken several major steps away from the deal amid fears of a war with the US, further exacerbating tensions.

An attack on Monday saw four Katyusha rockets hit a base near Baghdad airport, wounding five members of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service. A larger 240-millimetre rocket was used in a similar attack near the airport on Friday, which is thought to have not been used in Iraq since 2011.   

The Deception of the Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

The gate of Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, in Qom province. Photo: EPA

Uranium traces detected at undeclared site in Iran, confirming suspicions first voiced by Israel | South China Morning Post

The particles are understood to be the product of uranium which has been mined and undergone initial processing, but not enriched.

The IAEA added that it was “essential for Iran to continue interactions with the agency to resolve the matter as soon as possible”.

While the IAEA itself has not named the site in question, diplomatic sources have previously said the agency has been posing questions to Iran relating to a site where Israel has alleged secret atomic activity in the past.

Sources say the IAEA took samples from the site in the Turquzabad district of Tehran in the spring and that Iran has been slow in providing answers to explain the test results.

On Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, the IAEA report said Tehran’s stockpile had now reached the equivalent of 551kg, as opposed to the 300kg limit laid down in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Under that deal, Tehran agreed to curb some of its nuclear activities in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.

But the Islamic republic has said it no longer feels bound by the JCPoA after the US unilaterally pulled out of the accord last year and has reimposed sanctions.

A Vienna-based diplomat said the rate of production of enriched uranium had gone up substantially to more than 100kg a month, and could increase further.

Inside Iran’s Fordow Uranium Conversion Facility in Qom, in the north of the country. Photo: AFP

According to the IAEA, Iran is now enriching uranium at its Fordow facility, a development which “the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom and the High Representative of the European Union are extremely concerned” about, the western powers said.

The development “represents a regrettable acceleration of Iran’s disengagement from commitments under the JCPoA, including exceeding the maximum allowed low enriched uranium stockpile and the maximum allowed enrichment limits,” they said in a joint statement.

The IAEA report made no mention of an incident involving one of the IAEA’s inspectors two weeks ago which led to Iran cancelling her accreditation.

Iran said that the inspector triggered a security check at the entrance gate to the Natanz enrichment plant.

Without going into specifics, the IAEA has disputed the Iranian account of the incident and said last week that the inspector was briefly prevented from leaving the country, adding that her treatment was “not acceptable”.

However, a diplomat described the incident as an “isolated case” and there is no indication that the IAEA’s access for inspections has been restricted more broadly.

The JCPoA has been in increasing danger of falling apart since US President Donald Trump decided to pull out of the deal.

Since May, Iran has progressively breached limits under the agreement, while insisting the steps are reversible if the other parties to the deal provide relief to mitigate the effect of US sanctions.

However, despite Iran saying last week that it was now enriching uranium to five per cent, the report said the highest level observed was 4.5 per cent, still higher than the 3.67 laid down in the 2015 deal.

Ahead of the meeting in Paris on Monday of the British, French, German and EU officials, one European source had said that “the window of opportunity for de-escalation is narrowing very seriously”.

The source expressed concern that the so-called “breakout time” needed for Iran to gain the fissile material had been kept to at least 12 months while the Iranians were abiding by the terms of the JCPoA, but that it was not starting to “come down seriously”.

Iran has always insisted that its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful and that acquiring nuclear weapons would be contrary to Islamic principles.

Terrorism and Conflict Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (December 4-10, 2019)

Published: 11/12/2019

On December 6, 2019, the return march was renewed after a hiatus of three weeks. About 4,200 Palestinians participated. Despite the presence of Hamas security operatives, routine demonstrations of violence continued near the border (throwing IEDs and Molotov cocktails and shooting firecrackers).

On December 7, 2019, three rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. In response the IDF attacked Hamas targets. In the weeks since the most recent escalation there have been four rocket fire attacks in which seven rockets were fired at Israel. No organization claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, but rogue organizations were responsible and not Hamas. No casualties or damage were reported but the continued rocket fire disrupts the daily lives of the residents of southern Israel, mainly in the communities near the Gaza Strip.

• This past week a senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) delegation arrived in Egypt to discuss a lull arrangement. Egyptian sources reported that a long-term lull is being formulated. However, senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya, interviewed by various media outlets, said that the reports about a long-term understanding that would lead to ending the “resistance activities” were incorrect. He said any understanding had to be based on those reached after Operation Protective Edge, and would ease the “siege” of the Gaza Strip without tying Hamas’ hands.

• On December 9, 2019, Fatah called a general strike in the Hebron district to protest Israel’s plan to build in the city’s wholesale market. The strike, enforced by Fatah operatives, was complete and included educational institutions and businesses. In the meantime, senior Fatah and Palestinian Authority (PA) figures continue to strongly criticize the Israeli plan to build in Hebron, threatening to cancel all Palestinian agreements with Israel and the United States.