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

By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017

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.

Babylon the Great’s New Tactical Nukes

U.S. Submarines Are Getting New W76-2 Tactical Nuclear Warheads (And It Might Be a Giant Mistake)

It was a small, obscure-sounding item in the 2020 defense budget—a mere $19.6 million to procure W76-2 warheads, a sum which could pay for just one quarter of a single F-35A stealth fighter.

But it, along with a select few other items including plans for a Space Force and border wall funding, generated such controversy that Senate Republicans and House Democrats spent three additional months hashing out a compromise defense budget after striking an initial deal this summer.

Ultimately, the House conceded on most of its defense policy priorities—meaning funding will continue flowing to deploy the W76-2 nuclear warheads manufactured by the Pantex plant in Texas.

The W76-2 is a less powerful variant of the W76-1 warhead deployed on 13.5-meter-tall Trident II ballistic missiles deployed on the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class submarines. Whereas the four 90- or 100-kiloton independently reentering warheads carried on a standard Trident each explode with six times the force of the Little Boy uranium bomb that killed over 60,000 Japanese at Hiroshima, the 5 to 7 kiloton W76-2 has an explosive yield a third or half that of the Hiroshima blast.

The difference reflects that the W76 is a strategic weapon designed to obliterate hardened nuclear missile silos and annihilate large populated areas in an apocalyptic nuclear war—and more pointedly, to deter foes from initiating such a war—while the W76-2 is a tactical nuclear weapon designed to hit individual military bases and formations on the battlefield.

The W76-2 has been championed by officials such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis as a means to give the U.S. military an additional too with which to retaliate rapidly and proportionally to the tactical nuclear weapons possessed by Russia.

But opponents, including many former senior defense and foreign policy officials and a broad swathe of arms control experts fear that introducing such a capability simply increases the risk of devastating nuclear war.

Escalate to De-Escalate?

In the 1950s, it was initially assumed that small nuclear weapons would liberally—even routinely—be employed in future battlefields. However, when their use was simulated in NATO’s aptly-named Carte Blanche wargame in 1955, the results were horrifying.

At best, the “small” nukes were used in such large numbers that Europe was left a devastated, irradiated wasteland. Worse, the fighting could cause both sides to escalate to large-scale strategic nukes.

Today, U.S. defense officials fear that Moscow may espouse an “escalate to deescalate” doctrine in which a tactical nuclear strike is employed to signal Moscow’s resolve. Such a limited strike or strikes might be employed after Russian conventional forces have secured a vulnerable target (ie. the Baltics) and before NATO has mustered a large-scale counterattack, in order to convince member states to back down from a conventional conflict Russia would likely lose.

Unlike strategic nukes, tactical nuclear weapon numbers are not regulated by treaty. Russia has around 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons which can be launched by tube artillery, cruise and ballistic missiles, and air-dropped munitions.

As Russia’s odds of winning a conventional war against a fully mobilized NATO are slim, the thinking goes that intimidating adversaries into backing down by leveraging the threat of Russia’s nuclear arsenal may be Moscow’s only winning strategy.

Arms control advocates point out Russia’s tactical arsenal actually has shrunk in the last decade, so that claims that the threat is growing are dubious. Furthermore, evidence as to whether Moscow genuinely plans on an “escalate to deescalate” strategy is mixed at best, and contradicted by official doctrine.

However, defense hawks argue that new Russian hypersonic missiles may allow Russia’s nukes to hit their targets faster, and with less chance of being intercepted, than before.

Thus, the Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review argued the United States should expand its tactical nuclear strike capabilities so that it could proportionally retaliate against Russian tactical strikes. As with much nuclear strategy, the ultimate “victory” for such weapon is to deter enemies from necessitating their use in the first place.

However, the United Staes already maintains an arsenal of around 500 air-dropped B61 tactical nuclear bombs with a yield that can be dialed from .3 to 400 kilotons. 150 B61s are forward deployed and shared with select NATO partners. These can be dropped by fourth-generation jet fighters (F-15, F-16 and German Tornados), long-range B-2 stealth bombers and soon F-35 stealth fighters.

Advocates for the W76-2 argue that jets aren’t good enough, as they take longer to deploy and reach their target than ballistic missiles and may suffer losses to Russian air defenses.

By comparison, a Trident missile can be launched within minutes of receiving a low-frequency signal from an E-6 Mercury “doomsday” plane, can hit a target thousands of miles away within a half hour traveling at up to twenty-four times the speed of sound, and doesn’t put pilots at risk.

However, critics point out that the submarine launching the Trident will be placed at increased risk afterwards as the launch exposes its general position, endangering the submarine’s roughly 150 crew and the vital strategic missiles it carries.

They also argue that difference in response speed shouldn’t matter that much for retaliating against a “signaling strike,” as the intention is less about hitting a specific military target in a short time window than conveying a political message.

But there’s a much scarier risk: Russia likely wouldn’t be able to distinguish a Trident carrying a tactical warhead from a strategic one. And a Trident launched from the Atlantic at a tactical target in Eastern Europe may look very much like it could be headed to wipe out Russia’s leadership in Moscow instead.

Thus, a tactical Trident strike could inadvertently trigger a strategic nuclear riposte—the kind that could result in some or all the major cities in the United States and/or Europe meeting the same fate as Hiroshima.

In fact, when the United States tested its own “escalate to deescalate” doctrine in the 1983 “Proud Prophet” wargame, it decided to disavow the strategy after discovering it invited precisely such a disastrous consequence.

Weaker, more “useable” nuclear weapons may indeed also be perceived as having a lower threshold for use—particularly by civilian leaders who misjudge the implications—increasing the risk that the chain of escalation described above occurs.

Thus, most arms control experts argue that deploying additional less-destructive nukes actually increases the odds of a civilization-shattering nuclear conflict.

Essentially, whether the W76-2 improves American security is much more about psychology than technology. Would the presence of tactical-yield Trident missiles dissuade U.S. adversaries from employing their own tactical nukes against U.S. forces or their allies?

And even if that’s the case, would that benefit outweigh the risk that the tactical Trident option makes use of nuclear weapons seemingly more usable and likely, and that such use could inadvertently escalate to a strategic nuclear conflict?

We can only hope such scenarios remain strictly theoretical. With the policy fight resolved in the weapon’s favor in Congress, the new warheads should soon enter service on Ohio-class submarines if they have not already, giving them a new tactical nuclear capability along with their established strategic nuclear mission.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Image: Reddit.

Russia’s New Hypersonic Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Look Out America: Russia’s Hypersonic Avangard Nuclear Missile Is Going Live

December 20, 2019, 10:45 PM UTC

Key point: The U.S. withdrawal from the INF agreement has spurred fears that Washington and Moscow will revive the costly and dangerous Cold War nuclear arms race.

Russia’s Avangard hypersonic boost-glide missile is about to operational.

“This missile system is set to go on combat alert in December 2019,” Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced.

A defense industry source said “that the first two UR-100N UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) outfitted with the Avangard nuclear boost-glide vehicle would go on experimental combat duty in late November – early December in the Dombarovsky division of the Strategic Missile Force,” according to Russian news agency TASS.

TASS also noted that another defense industry source said in October 2018 that “two Avangard regiments with six silo-based missiles each were due to assume combat duty in Russia.” And in December 2018, Sergei Karakayev, chief of the Strategic Missile Force, said that Avangard be deployed with the Dombarovsky missile division in the Orenburg Region in 2019. Orenburg is a city in southwest Russia near the border with Kazakhstan.

The Avangard is a nuclear-armed glider that travels at hypersonic (faster than Mach 5) speed. Lofted high into the atmosphere atop an ICBM, the glider descends on to its target with such velocity that it will be difficult to intercept the weapon.

“The boost-glide vehicle is capable of flying at over 20 times the speed of sound in the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense,” said TASS. That last part is key: this is Moscow’s response to U.S. ballistic missile defense, which has stoked Kremlin fears that America will out to neutralize Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

Coincidentally or not, Russia has also just shown Avangard to U.S. inspectors, as required by the provisions of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START. “A U.S. inspection group was shown the Avangard missile system with the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle on the territory of Russia on November 24-26, 2019,” said the Ministry of Defense, which said it permitted the inspection to keep the treaty “viable and effective.”

Why We Should Fear the Saudi Arabian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Why we should fear a nuclearized Saudi Arabia

A dangerous loop has been established between Iran and its Middle Eastern neighbors – Arab countries that feel threatened will step up nuclear activity, which in turn will make it more difficult to rein in the Islamic Republic.

In Saudi Arabia there are two nuclear research centers – one operates in the open, while the second stays in the shadows, and most of its activity is secret. This year, satellite images showed that Saudi Arabia has built, for the first time, a factory to manufacture long-range surface-to-surface missiles as well as a research nuclear reactor. The kingdom has also recently discovered that it owns large deposits of uranium.

In October 2019, outgoing US Energy Secretary Rick Perry confirmed that talks about American aid for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear project were moving ahead. Perry noted that the two sides intended to sign a “123” agreement, but Riyadh announced it was unwilling to commit to not enriching uranium. Uranium enrichment can be used for the legitimate purpose of fueling a research reactor and providing power, but also as a source of fissile material for nuclear weapons, as it has in the military projects underway in Pakistan and Iran.

The kingdom’s interest in nuclearization is nothing new, nor is the concern that in certain circumstances and conditions it could turn toward nuclear weapons. That fear became more strongly based in March 2018, when Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said publicly – and explicitly – for the first time that if Iran acquired military nuclear capabilities, the Saudis would follow suit without delay. Indeed, the main motivation in developing nuclear capability, even if not at a military level, is security. However, it’s not clear whether bin Salman was referring to Saudi Arabia developing its own nuclear weapons, or buying them, or joining forces with Pakistan or some other entity.

The way the Saudis see things, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal only increased Tehran’s aggression, rather than stopping its long-term nuclear aspirations. Worse, the dynamic of escalation Iran has created with the US this past year could lead to an even better deal for Iran, or even the US leaving the Iranian nuclear issue unaddressed.

It’s possible that a dangerous nuclear loop has been established between Iran and its neighbors: Iran’s nuclear efforts are motivating the states that feel threatened by Iran to nuclearize, and attempts by Saudi Arabia and Turkey to nuclearize do nothing to convince Iran to stop its nuclear program. At some point, Iran and its neighbors’ progress on nuclear infrastructure and knowledge could pass the point of no return.

In addition, recent years have seen more and more civil nuclear projects in the region, projects that are not intended for military use and which the international community sees as legitimate. These projects are slowly creating a new reality in which nuclear capabilities are spreading slowly, making knowledge and capabilities more common. Thus, one legitimate step after another could lead to the taboo nuclear barrier. Which is why it is not in Israel’s interest for Saudi Arabia to develop its civil nuclear project, even though Jerusalem and Riyadh have common goals and – according to reports – the two countries are working together on strategic issues.

Taking a broader look, it could be said that Israel has an interest in preventing even Arab countries that cooperate with Israel, whether openly or in secret, from nuclearizing. This is because of the concern over a regional dynamic of nuclearization (which could push Iran to step up its own nuclear work); concern over dissemination of nuclear information; and concerns about a future change to the alignment of regional players or changes to friendly nations – for example, if a regime were to fall.

When we take all these factors into account, it appears that it would be best for Israel if the US were to help Saudi Arabia with its nuclear program, but insist that the latter comply with the “gold standard.” In particular, Saudi Arabia’s uranium enrichment capacity must be held in check, and a precedent in which the US and the international community help a Middle Eastern entity transition into uranium enrichment must be avoided.

Getting Closer to the Redline (Revelation 6:6)

Image result for rocket baghdad airport

Rockets Hit Military Base Near Baghdad Airport

20 Dec, 2019  in Iran / Iraq / United States by Erin McBrairty (updated 1 day ago)

On December 9th, four Katyusha rockets hit a military base near the Baghdad Airport in Iraq. As a result of the attack, six Iraqi soldiers were wounded. Security forces in Iraq found a rocket launcher and several defused rockets near the area after the attack. According to a security official in Iraq, the targeted military base is frequently visited by military advisers from U.S forces located in Iraq. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but, according to Al Jazeera, this incident was the most recent in a series of attacks on military installations in Iraq. Last Tuesday, December 3, five rockets hit the Ain al-Asad airbase which frequently hosts U.S forces; this attack caused little damage and no casualties. The following Thursday, two Katyusha rockets were fired at the Balad airbase, but there were no reported casualties or damage. A rocket also landed less than a mile away from the U.S Embassy in Baghdad, in close proximity to Iraq’s parliament building; no one was injured and damage was minimal.

Security forces told AFP that the six wounded Iraqi soldiers worked in Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service, an elite unit that was formed and trained by U.S forces present in the country; two of the wounded are in critical condition. According to Arab News, U.S officials believe these recent attacks can be attributed to Iranian-backed factions in Iraq. Security forces have attributed at least one of the attacks over the last week to Kataib Hezbollah, a strong Shiite group close to Tehran and blacklisted by Washington. Iran holds extensive influence in Iraq due to the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a security force operating in Iraq made up of Shiite militia. A defense official from the U.S stated that these recent rocket attacks made the Hashed a bigger threat to U.S troops in Iraq than the Daesh group, a militant group that the U.S is helping Iraq eradicate.

These recent attacks, largely associated with Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups, has caused concern about increasing tensions between the U.S and Iran; along with these tensions, a fear has developed that Iraq will get caught in the middle if a conflict develops between the U.S and Iran, two of Iraq’s closest allies. This attack on the military base near the airport is one of the first incidents in this series of attacks that has had serious consequences. The past attacks have caused minimal damage and no injuries; this attack resulted in damage to the base and six injured Iraqi soldiers, two of which are still in critical condition.

The tenuous relationship between the U.S and Iran has become much more volatile since the U.S pulled out of an important nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and imposed harsh sanctions against the country later that same year. These recent attacks have all targeted some aspect of the U.S forces in Iraq. Most of the U.S forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011; in 2014, the Iraqi government invited them back to help combat the Islamic State group after the latter seized control of areas in the northern and western parts of the country. There are about 5,000 U.S troops currently in Iraq. According to the Washington Post, officials in the U.S said they are considering a plan to send an additional five to seven thousand troops to Iraq to combat the Iranian threat.

As tensions rise between the U.S and Iran, Iraq is getting caught in the middle. The Washington Post pointed out that these attacks contribute to setting the stage for a larger, full blown attack aimed at the U.S and Iraqi forces. The unpredictability of the possible conflict is a major security concern for Iraq especially. Iraqi officials have repeatedly expressed these concerns and have warned that a break out of a serious conflict will destabilize Baghdad, especially since the government is in such a vulnerable state as it tries to recover from a costly campaign to get the IS out of their country. As Iranian-backed militias continue these attacks and the U.S makes no plans to develop a new nuclear agreement while continuing to impose sanctions, tensions between the two rise and leave Iraq vulnerable and caught in the middle.

Iran Lashes Mike Pompeo for Creating the Redline (Revelation 6:6)

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Iran Lashes Mike Pompeo as a ‘Loudspeaker for Bullying’

Simon Kent20 Dec 201i

Lest anyone be in any doubt about Iran’s continued hostile feelings towards “great satan” America, a spokesman on Friday called U.S. foreign policy “delusional” and its chief diplomat a “loudspeaker for bullying, deceit and disdain.”

The diplomatic attack came barely 24-hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new measures against two Iranian judges, saying Washington would also restrict visas for Iranian officials.

“They will not achieve anything this way,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement seen by the domestic MEHR newsagency. “They have shown nothing to America’s people and the world other than an inefficient, delusional, static and bullying foreign policy.”

President Donald Trump’s administration has already ended the vast majority of new visas for Iranians.

Washington also reimposed unilateral sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors after withdrawing from the Obama-negotiated 2015 nuclear deal last year and imposing a strategy of “maximum pressure”.

Pompeo said the new measures were “for the sake of human dignity” and that the United States stands with the Iranian people.

Mousavi shot back saying the former Central Intelligence Agency chief Pompeo was unfit to be in the “civilised field” of diplomacy.

“Foreign ministers are usually the heralds of peace, friendship, dialogue and respect while Mr. Pompeo is a loudspeaker for bullying, deceit and disdain,” he said.

Iran has long made diplomatic attacks on the U.S. and called its very continued existence into question.

As Breitbart News reported in June, the U.S. was warned it would be hit with “unimaginable reciprocal blows” if any attack is made on Iran.

The month before that, the entire U.S. military was branded a “terrorist organization” in response to the Trump administration’s decision to label the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terror organization.

More recently Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States is a failure and referred to the nation, as he has for decades, as the “Great Satan” during his annual Eid al-Fitr prayers in Tehran.

“Although the powers keep trying (to undermine Iran’s power), they always face defeat,” Khamenei said of the United States, according to Iran’s state-run Tasnim News Agency.

AFP contributed to this report

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: skent@breitbart.com

Shooting the Eyes of Children Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

‘Blinding the truth’: Israeli snipers target Gaza protesters in the eyes

Tareq Hajjaj and Pam Bailey

Twelve-year-old Mohammed Al-Najar was shot in his eye by Israeli soldiers [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 December, 2019

To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers since the demonstrations began last March leaving them permanently blind.

Media coverage and social media posts went wild when Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh was blinded in his left eye after he was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in the West Bank.

However, Amarneh was far from unique; Israeli snipers targeting participants in Gaza’s weekly Great Return March protests have aimed for the legs – and eyes. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye since the demonstrations began March 30, 2018 – leaving them permanently blind.

“Some of these protesters and journalists were hit in the eye with teargas canisters, but most were targeted directly with what is commonly called a ‘rubber bullet,’ giving the impression they are somehow benign,” says Ashraf Alqedra, MD, a treating physician at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“But there is still steel at the core, and although these bullets don’t usually kill, they do grave damage. It is impossible to save an eye hit directly by a rubber-coated steel bullet.”

However, he adds, due to the Israeli blockade, there are no artificial, glass eyes in Gaza – only a cosmetic improvement, but one that can be a significant psychological aid. These are available only by travelling out of Gaza for treatment and permits for such journeys are often not granted.

According to data released by the World Health Organization, Gaza residents submitted 25,897 applications to travel via Erez Crossing to receive medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel; an average of 2,158 were submitted each month. However, the Israeli government only approved 61 percent.

Mai Abu Rwedah: the most recent victim

Mai Abu Rwedah, 20, grew up in north Gaza’s al-Bureij Refugee Camp in a family of nine children supported by a father who works as a janitor for a UN school. She just graduated from university, hoping to start her professional life as a medical secretary and contribute her income.

But that dream was dealt a severe blow December 6, when she became the most recent Gazan to lose an eye to an Israeli bullet.

Abu Rwedah believes in using peaceful, but active, resistance to reclaim Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homeland. So, she has joined participants in the Great Return March protest since its launch on March 30, 2018.

On September 21 of that year, she was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in one of her legs, but that didn’t stop her from participating; she kept on going.

Doctors had to extract Mai’s right eye and the bullet damaged her jaw as well

A sit-in protest takes place in Gaza in solidarity with Mai

Earlier this month, stood with a few friends about 100 metres from the fence that marks the border between Gaza and Israel. She glimpsed an Israeli soldier waving and pointing his finger to his eye.

“He was trying to intimidate me, but I was not afraid because I was doing nothing wrong. I wasn’t even throwing stones,” Abu Rwedeh recalls.

The soldiers fired tear gas then, and Mai and her friends ran away, but still were in sight of the young man who had threatened her.

“He was watching me; wherever I moved he kept watching. Then, suddenly, he raised his gun and pointed it at me. I was about to flee but he was too fast. He shot me in my eye.”

The bullet damaged her jaw as well. Doctors had to extract her right eye, since it was destroyed, Her determination, however, is intact. Abu Rwedeh continues to protest.

He was watching me; wherever I moved he kept watching. Then, suddenly, he raised his gun and pointed it at me. I was about to flee but he was too fast. He shot me in my eye.

The youngest victim

Mohammed Al-Najar, 12, is the second-oldest son among four children, supported by a father who works in a wedding hall in Khan Younis.

In January, during the mid-year vacation from school, Mohammed begged his parents to allow him to watch the Friday protest with his cousins and other relatives, thinking it would give him an exciting story to share with classmates.

He was given permission to ride one of the government buses that collected people from the various neighbourhoods, taking them to the protest sites. When he disembarked, teargas bombs were flying, and he shouted to warn those around him. Then next one hit him directly in his right eye.

When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved, he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school. When he did go back, he struggled.

“At first his marks at school dropped and he isolated himself. He tried to hide his missing eye,” says his mother, Um Edress.

She took to him an organisation that provided psychotherapy, but he refused to speak. Today, he is socialising, but goes quiet when asked about his injury.

When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved, he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school [Getty]

The journalist

According to Dr Alqedra, most people with eye injuries from the Great Return March are journalists or photographers.

One of them is Sami Musran 35, a photographer who works for Al-Aqsa TV. On July 19, he was shot several times – first in his hand, the next two times in his shoulders and the fourth time in the chest. (Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, so it did not harm him.) The last time cost him his left eye.

Sami says he had received several calls from Israeli officers warning him not to take photos at the Great Return March. His mother also received calls, saying her son might be killed.

Forty times, my Facebook account was hacked or deleted for me, and I received death threats as well

“Forty times, my Facebook account was hacked or deleted for me, and I received death threats as well,” he says. “But I decided to keep on with my work to reveal the Israeli crimes against unarmed Palestinians who participate in the march.”

The night before Musran was shot, his wife tried to insist he stay home, but he refused.

“Minutes before I was hit, my mother called me twice, saying she was very worried about me. But I said that nothing happens that isn’t God’s plan,” he recalls.

He was about 250 metres away from of the Israeli fence when two women and a child were shot. Musran was taking photos of them and went in close. That’s when a rubber-coated bullet hit his eye and he lost consciousness. Two days later, he woke up in the intensive care unit to find out he had a skull fracture and an injured eye. The bullet had damaged the iris, retina and cornea and his vision was gone.

Today, it is hard for him to continue with his job; his depth perception is off, he gets headaches and the sight in his remaining eye “fades” at night. But he will keep trying.

“Israel wants to blind the eyes of the truth by sending messages to photographers saying we will hit your eyes to make you stop taking photos,” he says. “But we do not surrender.”