Americans Know What’s Coming (Revelation 16)

Americans perceive likelihood of nuclear weapons risk as 50/50 tossup

January 22, 2020 , Stevens Institute of Technology

It has been 30 years since the end of the Cold War, yet, on average, Americans still perceive that the odds of a nuclear weapon detonating on U.S. soil is as likely as a coin toss, according to new research from Stevens Institute of Technology.

“That’s exceptionally high,” said Kristyn Karl, a political scientist at Stevens who co-led the work with psychologist Ashley Lytle. “People don’t generally believe that highly rare events are slightly less likely than a 50/50 tossup.”

The finding, reported in the January 2020 issue of International Journal of Communication, represents the end of a decades long gap in the research literature on Americans’ perceptions on nuclear weapons threat. It also provides an initial look at how younger generations, namely Millennials and Gen Z (18-37 years old), think about the topic and what influences their behavior in an era of evolving nuclear threat.

Using their combined expertise in political science and psychology, Karl and Lytle fielded two nationally diverse online surveys totaling more than 3,500 Americans to measure individual characteristics and attitudes, such as perceptions of nuclear risk, apathy toward nuclear topics, media use, and interest in following current events.

They also analyzed how these characteristics and attitudes such as perceptions of nuclear risk influence behaviors, including the likelihood of seeking information and initiating conversations about nuclear topics, as well as preparing emergency kits in the event that the worst were to happen.

The ultimate goal of the work, which is part of the larger Reinventing Civil Defense project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is to learn more about how to best develop new communication tools to increase awareness among Americans about topics related to nuclear weapons, particularly what to do in the event of a nuclear detonation.

“The overarching narrative from the Reinventing Civil Defense project is that younger Americans just don’t hear anything about nuclear weapons risk,” said Karl. “Unlike older Americans, Millennials and Gen Z didn’t grow up during the Cold War, so what they know about nuclear risk is what’s in the media, and what’s in the media isn’t necessarily reflective of the true state of affairs.”

And media use matters.

Karl and Lytle find that consuming media has a striking effect on how younger and older adults think about topics related to nuclear weapons, especially as it relates to apathy. Specifically, as younger generations report using more media, they are increasingly likely to report being apathetic about nuclear topics.

But this pattern is different for older adults, as there is no association between their media use and their willingness to think about nuclear threats or how to survive them. In terms of behavior, apathy about nuclear topics is associated with a decrease in seeking information on the issue.

Interestingly, as Americans age, the lower they estimate the likelihood of a nuclear detonation in their lifetime. “Among lots of possibilities, they may be thinking if it didn’t happen during the Cold War, it won’t happen now; or perhaps I have fewer years to live, so it probably won’t happen in my lifetime,” said Lytle. However, older adults and those who tend to more closely follow the news tend to seek more information about nuclear topics.

Broadly, perceptions of nuclear weapons risk prove powerful as they lead Americans and take various actions to prepare in the event of a nuclear attack. On average, city dwellers estimate the risk as 5-7% higher than their rural or suburban peers whereas women estimate nuclear risk as 3-5% higher than men. Since men report significantly higher levels of media use and more closely following current events, this research presents several opportunities for targeting messages based on these varying perceptions.

One pattern is clear: as perception of nuclear weapons risk increases, so too does Americans’ intent to take action and that’s true across multiple measures, whether it putting forward effort to think and plan for it, seeking information about it, communicating with others on the topic, or taking steps to prepare for an attack.

Karl and Lytle explain that many people are fatalistic: if a nuclear weapon were to go off in New York City, then we would all be dead, ‘so why should I put any effort forward in thinking about it?’

Karl explains that the size of the weapon, the location, and even the weather, are important. In cities, for example, many nuclear weapons detonations would be funneled upward by tall buildings and modeling suggests that many people could survive. The most important thing people could do is get inside a building and stay there for three days.

“Our gut reaction is that everybody would die. But not everybody,” said Lytle. “We are trying to figure out how to educate people that this is not always true so that people feel like they have some sort of agency in a situation like this. Many people could survive the initial blast and then their subsequent behavior would determine what happens from there.”

While Lytle and Karl emphasize that they don’t wish to make claims about the actual degree of nuclear weapons risk, they maintain that perceptions of this risk are crucially important. Even if we assume the risk is low in the real world, it could be life-saving for Americans to know just a small amount about what you should do.

Provided by Stevens Institute of Technology

Antichrist’s Armed Groups Condemn Salih-Trump Meeting

A statement from the Iraqi presidency said that the two heads of state discussed reducing foreign troops in the country [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Baghdad, Iraq – Leaders of several Iraqi Shia armed groups have condemned President Barham Salih’s meeting with his United States counterpart President Donald Trump, with some threatening to force Salih to resign.

The meeting between the two presidents took place on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.

It came amid rising regional tensions that spilled over in Iraq after the killing of the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, and the simultaneous assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis,the deputy leader of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces or PMF) in an airstrike ordered by Trump near Baghdad airport earlier this month.

Al-Muhandis was also the founder of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed armed group that the US targeted in Iraq and Syria on December 30, killing at least 25 fighters and injuring more than 50. The attack was in response to the killing of a US civilian contractor two days earlier.

 

Supporters and members of Kataib Hezbollah and other paramilitary groups within the PMF, an umbrella organisation of mostly Iran-backed Shia armed groups, responded by storming the US embassy in Baghdad.

Mohammad Mohie, a spokesperson for Kataib Hezbollah, told Al Jazeera that the group considered the Salih-Trump meeting “deeply humiliating and inconsiderate of the loss of Iraqi blood”.

“Trump has committed unforgivable crimes against the Iraqi people. How could Salih join hands with someone who has no respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and the blood of its martyrs?” Mohie asked.

“He [Salih] has positioned himself against the Iraqi people. We call on him to step down and not return to Baghdad. He is no longer welcome among us.”

‘Must step down’

Echoing those sentiments, Nasser al-Shammari, deputy secretary-general of the al-Naujabaa Brigades, another Shia armed group in Iraq, told Al Jazeera: “The hands of this man [Trump] are covered in Iraqi blood.

“Most Iraqi people consider this [meeting] treacherous. We no longer accept him [Salih] as our representative and won’t rest until he’s held accountable for going against the will of the Iraqi parliament and disregarding our martyrs’ blood.

“He must step down and be banished from Baghdad,” al-Shammari added.

Following the meeting, Naeem al-Aboudi, a member of the Sadiqoon parliamentary bloc, the political arm of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq armed group, wrote on Twitter: “A statesman should not violate his country’s constitution and sovereignty, or be a reason to infuriate millions of his people.”

The PMF, which was legally integrated into Iraq’s state security forces last year, did not issue a formal statement on the meeting. Its media representative, Mohannad Hussein, told Al Jazeera: “We are part of the Iraqi government. It is within diplomatic protocols for heads of state to meet.”

Critics say some of the armed groups within the umbrella organisation operate independently of Baghdad.

Ahead of the meeting, Kataib Hezbollah had warned that Salih would be “violating the will of the people” if he met Trump.

In a statement ahead of the event, the Shia paramilitary group al-Nujabaa said it hoped Salih “rejects meeting this fool”.

‘Indebted’

In his address in Davos, Salih said: “Iraq is indebted to the US-led coalition for its military and economic support which [it] continues to provide in the fight against ISIL.

“The US-led military coalition was essential in allowing Iraqi forces to defeat ISIL.

“The Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel US troops was not a sign of enmity. It was just a reaction to what many Iraqis saw as a violation to their country’s sovereignty, an issue that will be addressed through dialogue.”

A statement from the Iraqi presidency said that the two heads of state discussed “reducing foreign troops in the country and the importance of respecting the demands of Iraqi people to preserve the country’s sovereignty”.

In a joint news conference with Salih, Trump said the US and Iraq had “a very good relationship” and said the number of US troops in the country was “historically low”.

Trump also met the president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Nechirvan Barzani, at the Swiss resort.

‘Every single one’

While Iraq’s populist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr did not issue a statement about the meeting, the move has amplified support for his calls for a “million-man march” against US troops in the country.

The leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali, issued a video statement condemning the meeting and called on Iraqis to join the march scheduled for Friday morning in Baghdad.

The leader of the Iran-backed group warned that the US will have to face the consequences if it “continues to disregard Iraq’s political and public will to expel US troops”.

Reiterating a similar message, Shammari told Al Jazeera: “We expect an unprecedented number of people to take part on Friday. It will reignite the flame of resistance which won’t die until we expel every single one of them [US troops] from Iraq.

“This is the will of the Iraqi people and the parliament,” he added.

Sadr’s calls for the march came just days after the country’s parliament voted to expel foreign troops and cancel its request for assistance from the US-led coalition that had been working with Baghdad to fight ISIL.

Around 5,000 US troops are left in Iraq – most of them soldiers who came to Iraq in an advisory capacity to help the PMF from 2014 to 2017 in their fight against ISIL.

The parliament vote earlier this month provoked Trump to threaten “sanctions like they’ve never seen before” on Iraq.

Abdullah al-Salam reported from Baghdad. Arwa Ibrahim reported from Doha.

These are the Days of God (Daniel)

‘Days of God’: A look at Iran’s mounting crises

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader says his nation is living through “days of God.”

The Islamic Republic has been reeling from one crisis to another, from the targeted killing by the United States of its top general to the Revolutionary Guard’s accidental shootdown of a passenger plane carrying scores of young people, most of them Iranians. U.S. sanctions have crippled its economy as tensions with America have soared.

In a rare Friday sermon in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stuck to the playbook Iran has relied on since 1979, blaming the country’s woes on the U.S. and other Western powers, and proclaiming that Iranians still support the Islamic Revolution.

He pointed to the outpouring of grief after Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians attended funeral services across the country for Soleimani, who was revered by many as a war hero. But the funeral itself was marred by tragedy when 56 people died in a stampede of mourners in Soleimani’s hometown of Kerman.

The moment of national unity was shattered days later, when Iranian forces accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people on board, and then concealed their responsibility until they were confronted with mounting evidence from Western leaders.

Here’s a look at the various crises Iran faces:

U.S. SANCTIONS

After unilaterally withdrawing from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, President Donald Trump began ratcheting up sanctions. The sanctions have exacerbated an economic crisis, sending the local currency into a freefall and wiping away many people’s life savings.

The Institute of International Finance, a global association of financial institutions, estimates that Iran’s economy will contract this fiscal year by more than 7%, mostly because of the drop in crude oil exports due to sanctions. The report found that as a result, Iran’s reserves are expected to dip to $73 billion by March, totaling nearly $40 billion in losses over two years.

———

THE LOSS OF SOLEIMANI

As head of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s regional military operations and its support for armed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. He was blamed for the killing of hundreds of American soldiers by Iran-backed militias in the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He also helped Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces battle rebels and Islamic extremists. In Iran, he was seen by many as a mythic figure who had defended the nation. Critics and supporters alike say he will be tough to replace.

———

THE PLANE TRAGEDY

In response to the killing of Soleimani, Iran launched a wave of ballistic missiles at U.S. bases in Iraq. No one was seriously wounded, though several soldiers were screened for concussions and sent to Germany for medical treatment. As Iran braced for a counterattack, the Revolutionary Guard shot down a passenger plane shortly after it took off from Tehran’s international airport last week, mistaking it for a U.S. cruise missile. Most of those killed were Iranians.

Iranian authorities concealed their role for three days, initially blaming a technical failure, until Western leaders said they had mounting evidence that a surface-to-air missile had brought the plane down. Iranian officials have apologized and promised to punish those responsible, but have faced widespread criticism and international demands to pay compensation to victims’ families.

———

STREET PROTESTS

As the economic crisis has worsened, Iran has seen wave after wave of sporadic, leaderless protests. The protests are usually sparked by economic grievances but rapidly escalate into calls to overthrow the Islamic Republic. The demonstrations have often turned violent, and security forces have responded with force. Amnesty International says more than 300 people were killed in protests in November over a hike in gasoline prices, when authorities shut down the internet for several days.

The Revolutionary Guard’s announcement on Saturday that it was responsible for shooting down the plane sparked days of protests in the streets and on university campuses. Security forces dispersed some of the crowds with tear gas and live ammunition.

———

THE UNRAVELING NUCLEAR DEAL

Iran continued to comply with the nuclear deal despite U.S. sanctions until last summer, when it said it would no longer fully abide with the agreement if it received no economic benefits. Iran began openly breaching certain limits set by the deal, and after the killing of Soleimani said it was no longer bound by any of the agreement’s restrictions.

Britain, France and Germany, which also signed the deal along with China and Russia, have been trying to salvage it. They have searched for a mechanism that would allow them to keep trading with Iran but have been unable to find one that would protect their companies from U.S. sanctions.

Earlier this week, the European nations triggered a dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal in an attempt to bring Iran back into compliance. They say they are committed to saving the agreement, but the dispute process could potentially result in the snapback of international sanctions, further compounding Iran’s woes.

Iran Threatens the European Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

Image result for europe iran deal

Iran threatens Europe with ‘consequences’ after move to hold country accountable for violating nuclear deal

by Tim Pearce  | January 22, 2020 01:29 PM

Iran is asking European countries to stay in the 2015 nuclear deal despite already violating the agreement.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened Western powers on Wednesday while pledging that Tehran would not pursue a nuclear bomb with or without a deal in place, according to Reuters.

“Do you want to make the same mistake?” Rouhani asked, referring to President Trump withdrawing the United States from the deal and reinstating sanctions on Iran. “I am emphasizing that if the Europeans make a mistake and violate the deal, they will be responsible for the consequences of their actions.”

Britain, France, and Germany triggered the agreement’s dispute mechanism on Jan. 14, a first step toward potentially scrapping the deal and reinstating United Nations sanctions on Tehran. The U.S. pulled out of the deal in 2018, and Iran has openly flaunted the deal’s restrictions since.

Iran has continued to break key restrictions set out in the [nuclear agreement]. Iran’s actions are inconsistent with the provisions of the nuclear agreement and have increasingly severe and non-reversible proliferation implications,” a joint statement by the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany said.

U.S. tensions with Iran escalated after Iranian terror leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani orchestrated a violent protest outside of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, in December. Trump responded by ordering a drone strike that killed Soleimani on Jan. 2.

Iran sought retribution for Soleimani by launching ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases where U.S. soldiers were stationed. No American or Iraqi troops were killed in the strike, though 11 U.S. servicemen received treatment for concussions. Several more were flown to Germany for treatment this week.

Iran Increases Her Missile Attacks (Daniel 8:4)

Iran is increasingly using missiles in its military operations — that’s a problem

By Behnam Ben Taleblu, Opinion Contributor

January 21, 2020 – 12:30 PM EST

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

More important than a military strike, it was a serious blow to dignity, a blow to the dignity of the U.S. as a superpower.”

That’s how Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, described recent missile strikes against bases in Iraq housing American troops during a rare Friday prayer sermon in Tehran last week. Earlier, Khamenei likened the strikes to a “slap” against America. While Iranian officials are no stranger to bombast and invective against the U.S., Iran’s broadcasting of the missile strike, and Khamenei’s repeated touting of it, does not neatly comport with Tehran’s long-established preference for proxy warfare and deniability.

Driven by more than a decade of investment in projectile accuracy, there is increasing comfort in Tehran with direct, public and attributable attacks against targets in the Middle East using ballistic missiles launched from Iranian territory. As Iran’s military aptitudes evolve, the prevalence of missiles in Iranian operations will only grow.

Iran’s ballistic missile salvo, which by popular accounts were spread out over the course of an hour, constituted Tehran’s long-hyped “hard revenge” against Washington for the killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds-Force. According to the U.S. secretary of defense, this reprisal was composed of 16 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) fired from three locations in Iran at two bases in Iraq, with 11 striking the Al-Asad base in the west and one striking a base in Irbil, in the north.

Iranian outlets reported that the regime launched two kinds of SRBMs at the bases in Iraq. The first was allegedly a Fateh-313, which is an SRBM propelled by solid compound fuel with a reported range of 500 kilometers capable of terminal-stage guidance. Experts assess the Fateh-313 to be able to carry a payload of 450-650 kilograms. The second was the Qiam, a liquid fueled SRBM that is a finless variant of a Scud-C. The Qiam is capable of traveling 800 kilometers while carrying a payload of up to 650 kilograms.

The Fateh-313 is part of Iran’s larger Fateh or “conquest” class of SRBMs. These missiles are domestically produced and rely on solid propellant, making them more battlefield-ready and easier to transport. The progenitor for this class of missiles is the Fateh-110, which has a shorter reported range and warhead weight, and was first unveiled and tested over a decade ago.

Since then, incremental improvements have yielded variants with a reportedly greater range, warhead weight, warhead type and accuracy (or a reportedly diminishing circular error probable). Known variants include the Fateh-110 B, the Fateh-313, the Zulfiqar, the Fateh Mobin, and the Dezful. The Fateh class is believed to be Iran’s most accurate ballistic missile, and variants of it have made their way to Shiite militias in Iraq.

The Qiam, or “uprising,” on the other hand, is Iran’s most-modified liquid-fueled SRBM. As mentioned above, the Qiam can trace its origins to the Scud-C, which in Iran has been rebranded as the Shahab-2. The finless Qiam implies an advanced missile stabilization system, and has been pictured with a triconic warhead that separates from the missile body. Under a different name, the Qiam missile has been proliferated to Houthis in Yemen – where the missile is dubbed the Burkan-2H – permitting Iran-backed rebels to strike targets far away from territory they control. There is an upgraded version of the Qiam, which some have called the Qiam-2. This variant has finlets under the warhead that aid in steering in the terminal phase prior to impact.

Observers of Iran’s missile program should be familiar with the Fateh and Qiam. Since 2017, Tehran has exclusively relied on variants of the Fateh family, as well as the Qiam, in its military operations during peacetime against nonstate targets in neighboring Iraq and Syria. Tehran has twice struck Islamic State positions in Syria (once in 2017 and once in 2018) using Fateh family (Zulfiqar) missiles and the Qiam (1 and likely the 2). Moreover, in 2018 Iran fired Fateh-class SRBMs at Kurdish dissident positions in northern Iraq. Iran’s increasing reliance on SRBMs in highly publicized operations from its own territory have always been in response to a threat or challenge — real or perceived.

Until the strikes on January 8, however, Iran never choose to use these weapons directly against America. That is why Khamenei described the operation as a game-changer. The decision to do so represents a growing confidence in the accuracy of Iran’s SRBM platforms, as well as in confidence that no matter the target, the strikes would not invite a devastating kinetic reprisal against the Iranian homeland.

This confidence requires Western analysts to revisit their assumptions about the risks Iranian security planners are willing to tolerate in times of crisis. It also requires analysts and policymakers to revisit their assumptions about the punitive and coercive value of Iran’s missile arsenal and the threshold for its use.

Given that Iran may be willing to respond with missiles to other crises in the future, regional missile defense will play an increasingly important role in informing Iran’s calculus about the value its strikes will have. Notably, there were no U.S. missile defenses in Iraq protecting the bases Iran struck. This is a major oversight, especially given Iran’s post-2017 ballistic missile operations in the heartland of the Middle East.

While no Americans were killed in the recent attack, 11 soldiers are being screened for brain injuries related to the strike. Iranian outlets claimed 80 Americans died in the attack, but have provided no evidence to back-up this claim, making it read as braggadocio for a domestic audience.

Until now, the Trump administration, as well as much of the public debate about the strikes, has sought to make sense of whether or not the regime intended to kill or avoid killing Americans. But the Islamic Republic need not have killed Americans to make its point. Ballistic missiles are not just symbols. They are weapons of war, and integral to Iran’s security strategy. A greater willingness on behalf of Tehran to use these weapons will have consequences for the Middle East.

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (@FDD), where he focuses on Iranian political and security issues. He frequently briefs Washington audiences on Iran-related issues and has testified before the U.S. Congress and Canadian parliament.

Israeli Army Kills 3 Palestinians Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli Army Kills 3 Palestinians After Attack at Gaza Fence

By The Associated PressJan. 21, 2020

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Israeli military said its soldiers killed three Palestinians who crossed the Gaza border fence and threw an explosive device at troops on Tuesday.

The army said its troops fired on three suspects who crossed the security fence and “hurled a grenade or an explosive device” at the soldiers. There was no immediate comment from the Gaza authorities.

The incident along the Gaza frontier threatened to undermine efforts to reach an informal cease-fire between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the Palestinian enclave.

Earlier in the day, a senior Hamas official said that incendiary balloons Palestinians launched from the Gaza Strip recently were a signal to Israel to accelerate unofficial “understandings” meant to ease the crippling blockade 0on the Hamas-ruled territory.

The resumption of flammable balloons and other explosive devices flown across the border broke a month of calm that has largely prevailed since Hamas suspended its weekly protests along the Israeli-Gaza frontier.

The quiet is meant to bolster an informal truce between Israel and Hamas being negotiated by international mediators.

Speaking to journalists, Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya accused the Israelis of moving too slowly.

He said the balloons had been launched by disgruntled individuals, not Hamas. But he said his group was “satisfied” with the launches and is ready to send more “if the occupation doesn’t pick up the message.”