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

New York City Is Overdue For Large Earthquake: Seismologist

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Won-Young Kim, who runs the seismographic network for the Northeast at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the city is well overdue for a big earthquake.

The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.

Kim said the city is likely to experience a big earthquake every 100 years or so.

“It can happen anytime soon,” Kim said. “We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

New York has never experienced a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake, which are the most dangerous. But magnitude 5 quakes could topple brick buildings and chimneys.

Seismologist John Armbruster said a magnitude 5 quake that happened now would be more devastating than the one that happened in 1884.

Israeli Troops Attack Palestinians Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli Troops Attack Non-Violent ‘March of Return’ Protests in Gaza

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Israeli forces attacked Palestinians taking part in the weekly ‘March of Return’ protests near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel, leaving a number of protesters injured. This will be the last official protest until March, according to organizers in Gaza, who are temporarily suspending the weekly protests.

Palestinian media outlets reported that Israeli forces shot and injured protesters east of Jabalia and east of Khan Younis on Friday.

Dozens of Palestinians also suffered from tear gas inhalation due to inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli troops in the eastern part of Gaza.

The “Great March of Return” rallies have been held every week since March 30 last year. The Palestinians want the return of those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression.

Israeli troops have killed at least 307 Palestinians since the beginning of the rallies and wounded more than 18,000 others, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.

In March, a United Nations fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.

The protest organizers announced on Thursday that the rallies would be suspended until March 2020, after which it would be held on a monthly basis.

Yousri Darwish, a member of the Supreme National Committee of the March of Return, said the decision to suspend the rallies was made in the best interest of the Palestinian people.

He said preparations for the commemoration of the Land Day would be done in the upcoming few months in which the protests would stop. The annual event is held on March 30 to mark the killing of six Palestinians by Israeli forces during mass protests against Israel’s seizure of their land in 1976.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a severe decline in living standards.

Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans each time and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.

World War III Will Start With Iran

5 Places World War III Could Start in 2020

As the United States enters an election year, prospects for global stability remain uncertain.  President Trump’s foreign policy stood at odds with those of his predecessor, and will likely a central point of contestation in the election.  At this point, several crises might emerge that would not only turn the election, but potentially bring about a wider global conflict.

Here are the five most likely flashpoints for world war in 2020 (See my World War III lists from back in 2017,  2018 and 2019).

None are particularly likely, but only one needs to catch fire. Let the wars begin!

Iran-Israel:

Iran and Israel are already waging low-intensity war across the Middle East. Iran supports anti-Israel proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere, while Israel feels comfortable in striking Iranian forces across the region. Israel has taken steps to quietly build a broad anti-Iran coalition at the diplomatic level, while Iran has invested deeply in cultivating ties with militias and other non-state actors.

It is hardly difficult to imagine scenarios that might bring on a wider, more intense war. If Iran determines to re-embark on its nuclear program, or decides to discipline Saudi Arabia more thoroughly, Israel might feel the temptation to engage in broader strikes, or in strikes directly against the Iranian homeland. Such a conflict could easily have wider implications, threatening global oil supplies and potentially tempting the United States or Russia to intervene.

Turkey:

Strains between Turkey and the United States have only grown over the past year. Tensions increased dramatically when the United States unexpectedly gave Turkey a green light to clear Syrian border areas of U.S.-supported Kurds, then immediately issued an about-face and threatened Ankara with sanctions. All the while, an arsenal of US nuclear weapons, by all accounts, remains at Incirlik Air Force base. Certain statements by President Erdogan suggested that he has immense aspirations for Turkey, aspirations which might include nuclear ambitions.

The state of the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey has decayed to the extent that some fear for the future of the NATO alliance. No one expects Erdogan to really go through with an attempted seizure of the weapons, and even if he did it’s unlikely Turkey could break the safeguards on the warheads in any kind of reasonable time. But Erdogan is not known to compartmentalize issues well, and it’s possible that linkages with other problems could push Washington and Ankara to the very edge. And of course, Russia hovers on the edge of the problem,

Kashmir:

Over the past decade, the gap in conventional power between India and Pakistan has only grown, even as Pakistan has tried to heal that gap with nuclear weapons. Despite (or perhaps because) of this, tensions between the rivals remained at a low simmer until steps taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reduce the autonomy of Kashmir and to change citizenship policies within the rest of India. These steps have caused some unrest within India, and have highlighted the long-standing tensions between Delhi and Islamabad.

Further domestic disturbances within India could give Pakistan (or extremist groups within Pakistan) the idea that it has the opportunity, or perhaps even the responsibility, to intervene in some fashion. While this is unlikely to begin with conventional military action, it could consist of terrorist attacks internationally, in Kashmir, or internationally. If this happened, Modi might feel forced to respond in some fashion, leading to a ladder of escalation that could bring the two countries to the brink of a more serious conflict. Given China’s looming position and the growing relationship between Delhi and Washington, this kind of conflict could have remarkably disastrous international ripple effects.

Korean Peninsula:

A year ago, hope remained that negotiations between the United States and North Korea could succeed in permanently reducing tensions of the peninsula. Unfortunately, core problems in the domestic situations of both countries, along with a puzzling strategic conundrum, have prevented any agreement from taking hold. Tensions between the two countries now stand as high as at any time since 2017, and the impending U.S. election could imperil relations further.

The Trump administration continues to seem to hold out hope that a deal with North Korea could improve its electoral prospects in November. But North Korea has no interest in the terms Trump is offering, and has become increasingly emphatic about making its disinterest clear.  Recently, North Korea promised a “Christmas present” that many in the United States worried would be a nuclear or ballistic missile test. It turned out to be nothing of the sort, but if North Korea decides to undertake an ICBM or (worse) nuclear test, the Trump administration might feel the need to intervene forcefully. In particular, President Trump has a reputation for pursuing a deeply personalistic foreign policy style, and might feel betrayed by Supreme Leader Kim, producing an even more uncertain situation.

South China Sea:

U.S.-China relations stand at a precarious point. A trade deal between the two countries would seem to alleviate some tensions, but implementation remains in question. Economic difficulties in China have curtailed some of its naval construction program, just as a flattening of the defense budget in the United States has moderated shipbuilding ambitions. At the same time, China has worked assiduously to assure its relations with Russia, while the United States has sparked controversies with both South Korea and Japan, its two closest allies in the region.

Under such circumstances, it seems unlikely that either country would risk conflict. But President Trump has staked much of his Presidency on confrontation with China, and may feel tempted to escalate the situation in the coming year. For his part, President Xi faces the continuous prospect of turmoil at home, both in the Han heartland and in Xinjiang. Both sides, thus, have incentives for diplomatic and economic escalation, which always could lead to military confrontation in areas such as the South or East China Seas.

What Does the Future Hold for 2020?

The prospect of global conflagration in 2020 is low. Everyone awaits the result of the U.S. election, and a better understanding of the direction of US policy for the next four years. Still, every crisis proceeds by its own logic, and any of Pakistan, India, China, Israel, Iran, Turkey, or Russia might feel compelled by events to act. Focus on the election should not obscure the frictions between nations that could provide the spark for the next war.

Dr. Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, teaches at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of the Battleship Book and can be found at @drfarls.

Image: Reuters.

The New Cold War In Space

Putin fears the US and NATO are militarizing space and Russia is right to worry, experts say

PUBLISHED THU, DEC 5 2019 2:06 AM EST

UPDATED THU, DEC 5 2019 2:43 AM EST

Holly Ellyatt

KEY POINTS

It looks like NATO and Russia have a new domain to compete and conflict over: space.

• Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he was “seriously concerned” about NATO’s “attempts to militarize outer space” when he met with members of the Kremlin’s Security Council last month.

NATO, the U.S. and Russia have a new domain to compete and conflict over: space.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that the U.S. saw space as as “theater of military operations” and that the development of the U.S. Space Force posed a threat to Russia.

“The U.S. military-political leadership openly considers space as a military theater and plans to conduct operations there,” Putin said at a meeting with defense officials in Sochi, according to Russian news agency TASS.

“For preserving strategic supremacy in this field the United States is accelerating creation of its space forces, which are already in the process of operative preparations,” Putin said, adding that the world’s leading countries are fast-tracking the development of modern military space systems and dual purpose satellites and that Russia needed to do the same.

“The situation requires us to pay increased attention to strengthening the orbital group, as well as the rocket and space industry as a whole.”

Russia opposed the militarization of space, Putin insisted, but said “at the same time the march of events requires greater attention to strengthening the orbital group and the space rocket and missile industry in general.”

NATO too

Putin’s comments Wednesday reiterated those he made in late November to his security council, in which he said he was “seriously concerned” about NATO’s “attempts to militarize outer space.”

That comment came after NATO had declared space a fifth “operational domain” for the military alliance, alongside air, land, sea and cyber.

“Space is part of our daily life here on Earth. It can be used for peaceful purposes. But it can also be used aggressively,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a meeting of foreign ministers on November 20.

“Satellites can be jammed, hacked or weaponized. Anti-satellite weapons could cripple communications and other services our societies rely on, such as air travel, weather forecast or banking,” he said. “Space is also essential to the alliance’s deterrence and defense,” Stoltenberg added, referencing the organization’s ability to navigate, to gather intelligence, and to detect missile launches.

“Making space an operational domain will help us ensure all aspects are taken into account to ensure the success of our missions,” he said. “For instance, this can allow NATO planners to make a request for allies to provide capabilities and services, such as satellite communications and data imagery.”

He said that around 2,000 satellites currently orbit the Earth with around half of them owned by NATO countries.

Stoltenberg insisted that “NATO has no intention to put weapons in space. We are a defensive alliance.” He added the alliance’s approach to space will remain fully in line with international law. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is a global agreement considered a foundation stone of international space law.

The treaty was first signed by the U.K., U.S. and then-Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War to promote the peaceful exploration of space. It banned the placing of nuclear weapons in space and limited the use of the Moon and all other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes only. It also established that space shall be free for exploration and use by all nations, but that no nation may claim sovereignty on any part of it.

Star Wars

There are other space treaties covering, for example, the rescue of astronauts, the moon, the International Space Station (ISS) and liability for damage caused by space objects. Still, the use of space for defensive activities is likely to be litigious and provocative territory.

It’s not the first time that space has been seen as a potential realm for defense though, especially during the Cold War. The “Strategic Defense Initiative” was a program first initiated in 1983 under President Ronald Reagan. The aim of the program was to develop an anti-ballistic missile system that was designed to shoot down nuclear missiles in space, with potential missile attacks from the Soviet Union specifically in mind.

Artist’s concept of interceptor under development for the U.S. Army’s HEDI (High Endoatmospheric Def. Interceptor), a key element of its 1983 Strategic Defense. Initiative (aka Star Wars) Time Life Pictures | The LIFE Picture Collection | Getty Images

It was dubbed “Star Wars” because it envisaged that technologies like space-based x-ray lasers could be used as part of the defensive system. Funding shortages as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant that the SDI was never built.

The idea of space dominance and defense has gained more traction in recent years, however, and in 2018, President Donald Trump floated the idea of developing another military branch, the “Space Force.” He said the idea of a Space Force had started as a joke but he had then decided it was a “great idea.”

“Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” Trump said. “We have the Air Force, we’ll have the Space Force.” In June 2018, he ordered the Pentagon to begin the creation of the new branch.

At the start of 2019, the U.S. unveiled an overhaul of its missile defense program in its “Missile Defense Review” in which it stated the need for a “comprehensive approach to missile defense against rogue state and regional missile threats.” The review also recognized “space is a new war-fighting domain, with the Space Force leading the way” and said it would ensure “American dominance in space.”

In a speech presenting more detail on the Missile Defense Review, Trump said the U.S. would “invest in a space-based missile defense layer. It’s new technology. It’s ultimately going to be a very, very big part of our defense and, obviously, of our offense,” he said.

U.S. Air Force Space Command Gen. John “Jay” Raymond stands next to the flag of the newly established U.S. Space Command, the sixth national armed service, in the Rose Garden at the White House August 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. Citing potential threats from China and Russia and the nation’s reliance on satellites for defense operations, Trump said the U.S. needs to launch a ‘space force.’

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“The system will be monitored, and we will terminate any missile launches from hostile powers, or even from powers that make a mistake. It won’t happen. Regardless of the missile type or the geographic origins of the attack, we will ensure that enemy missiles find no sanctuary on Earth or in the skies above.”

Arms race in space?

Russia responded angrily to the comments, saying it was tantamount to the U.S. relaunching the Cold War-era “Star Wars” program. According to a statement from Russia’s foreign ministry, reported by Reuters, Russia condemned the strategy as an act of confrontation and it urged Washington to reconsider its plans.

“The strategy, de facto, gives the green light to the prospect of basing missile strike capabilities in space,” the statement said. “The implementation of these ideas will inevitably lead to the start of an arms race in space, which will have the most negative consequences for international security and stability,” it said.

“We would like to call on the U.S. administration to think again and walk away from this irresponsible attempt to re-launch, on a new and more high-tech basis, the still-remembered Reagan-era ‘Star Wars’ program,” it said, Reuters reported.

Experts say Russia is wary of the U.S., and NATO, opening up a new operational frontier in space as Russia would be easily out-competed by the combined NATO countries’ technological expertise, advances and weaponry in space.

“I think when the Russians hear this, they primarily think of the ‘Strategic Defense Initiative’, they think of missile defense, and those are the kinds of things they can’t compete in those areas as well and something they would be very keen to avoid (competing over). The question is, what is NATO actually going to do here?,” Daragh McDowell, principal Russia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC Wednesday.

Russia was quick to criticize NATO’s announcement of space as a new operational domain with Putin telling his security council that “we are also seriously concerned about the NATO infrastructure approaching our borders, as well as the attempts to militarize outer space.”

Earlier this year, Putin had said Russia needs to heavily upgrade its space industry, telling his security council in April that “it is obvious that it is necessary to fundamentally modernize the rocket and space industry,” according to news agency TASS. He also said that leading positions in space exploration were essential for solving national development tasks, ensuring the country’s security and technological and economic competitiveness, TASS reported.

Christopher Granville, managing director of EMEA and Global Political Research at TS Lombard, told CNBC Wednesday that Russia had spent considerable time and effort, in the last few decades, developing technologies to defend against “any conceivable U.S. strategic defense or anti-missile defense capabilities.”

“And if the U.S. were hypothetically to develop new capabilities in outer space, then Russia would have to come up with new responses in addition to the weapon system that Putin announced with some fanfare last year,” he said, referencing Putin’s revealing of new nuclear weapons in March 2018 that he said were “invincible.”

The Redline Has Been Crossed (Revelation 6:6)

About 5,000 US troops are currently based in Iraq [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Iraq rocket attack kills US contractor, wounds military personnel

Washington calls on Baghdad to take steps to protect American interests in country in face of attacks.

A rocket attack in northern Iraq has killed an American contractor and wounded several military personnel, the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has said.

“One US civilian contractor was killed and several US service members and Iraqi personnel were wounded in a rocket attack [on Friday] on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk,” the coalition said in a statement.

“Iraqi Security Forces are leading the response and investigation,” it added, without specifying who might be responsible for the attack.

US interests in Iraq have been hit by a flurry of rocket attacks since late October that have not been claimed, but which Washington has blamed on Shia paramilitary groups backed by Iran, which wields growing influence in the country, particularly through armed groups.

Washington has called on Baghdad to take steps to protect American interests in the country in the face of the attacks.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters earlier this month that he had expressed “concern about the optics in attacks on bases in Iraq where US troops and material might be,” in a call with acting Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

The United States has “a right of self-defence, that we would ask our Iraqi partners to take proactive actions … to get that under control because it’s not good for anybody.”

Abdul Mahdi’s office called on everyone “to spare no effort to prevent an escalation that will threaten all parties,” warning that “unilateral decisions will trigger negative reactions that will make it more difficult to control the situation.”

ISIL fighters operating in the area have turned to insurgency-style tactics aimed at bringing down the government in Baghdad ever since it retook all territory and declared victory against them in December 2017.

However, a senior US military official said this month that attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting US forces in Iraq were gathering pace and becoming more sophisticated, pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation.

About 5,000 US troops are currently based in Iraq.

Nuclear Horns Trade Accusations Before the Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India & Pakistan trade accusations following deadly clash in Kashmir that killed at least 4, including Indian civilian

26 Dec, 2019 23:52 / Updated 20 hours ago

The latest border skirmish between Indian and Pakistani forces in the disputed Kashmir region claimed at least four lives, the arch-rivals confirmed while trying to pin the blame for ceasefire violations on each other.

The clash that occurred late on Wednesday was acknowledged by both Islamabad and New Delhi, but their accounts and casualty numbers differ significantly.

Two Pakistani soldiers were killed while responding to fire from the Indian side, Pakistan’s military spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, said on Thursday, claiming that at least three Indian servicemen were killed by return fire.

Indian military officials, however, insist that it was the Pakistani military that shot first. One Indian soldier and a female civilian were killed during the skirmish, India’s military spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said. No claims were made by New Delhi about the Pakistani casualties, yet the officials insisted the troops responded to the shooting from the Pakistani side “strongly and befittingly.”

Also on rt.com India orders drawback of 7,000 troops sent to Kashmir after security review

The disputed Kashmir region, which is claimed by both nations as their own, has been a major source of tensions between India and Pakistan since they gained independence from British rule in 1947. Two major wars and numerous smaller-scale conflicts have taken place over the years due to the dispute.

While a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) – the de-facto border that crosses Kashmir – was established in 2003, it has been repeatedly violated by both nations. The most recent major escalation occurred in February when a suicide bombing by a Pakistani-based military group prompted a large-scale military response from India. New Delhi conducted cross-border bombing raids into Pakistan, and the two nuclear-armed countries even engaged in an aerial battle, stopping just short of all-out war.

Both India and Pakistan ultimately took steps to de-escalate the situation, but Kashmir once again became a flashpoint in August when New Delhi revoked the region’s autonomous status in order to integrate it with the rest of India.

The Hypocrisy of Ayatollah Khamenei (Daniel 8:4)

Ayatollah Khamenei says martyrs must be honored

TEHRAN – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that martyrs must be honored, because there are “malicious” moves in line with marginalizing martyrdom.

“Honoring martyrs is an essential thing to do and is a duty upon all of us because there are malicious policies and moves aimed at making the revolution’s symbols, especially Jihad and martyrdom, forgotten and we have to stand against these policies,” he said during a meeting with members of the Hormozgan martyrdom congress on December 16 which was published on Thursday.

He said that martyrs are a symbol of altruism and those who are ready to die on the path of defending righteousness and attached great importance to introducing these “very valuable symbols” to the youths.

Elsewhere, the Leader said that islands in Hormozgan province are very important from security, economic and historical aspects.

He added that the people in this province face economic problems which must be addressed.