New York Quake Overdue (The Sixth Seal) (Rev 6:12)

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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.

Iran Closer to a Nuclear Bomb

U.N. agency sees sharp increase in Iran’s uranium stockpile, potentially reducing time needed to build a nuclear bomb

Joby Warrick

An Iranian flag flutters among other flags in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna in September. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Iran is dramatically ramping up production of enriched uranium in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal, the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed Tuesday while also criticizing Tehran for blocking access to possible nuclear-related sites.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency reported a near-tripling of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium just since November, with total holdings more than three times the 300-kilogram limit set by the nuclear accord. Iran also substantially increased the number of machines it is using to enrich uranium, the agency said, allowing it to make more of the nuclear fuel faster.

The confidential report provided to member states and obtained by The Washington Post is the first since Iran announced it would no longer adhere to any of the nuclear pact’s restrictions on uranium fuel production, in a protest of the Trump administration’s decision to walk away from the deal. Iran has declined to formally pull out of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in which it had to sharply curtail its nuclear activities and submit to intrusive inspections in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

The Iran nuclear deal, explained

Inspectors confirmed that Iran now possesses more than 1,020 kilograms of low-enriched uranium — up from 372 kilograms in the fall — although the IAEA found no evidence that Iran is taking specific steps toward nuclear weapons production. Iran’s low-enriched uranium, the kind typically used in nuclear power plants, would have to undergo further processing to be converted into the highly enriched uranium needed for nuclear bombs.

Independent analysts said the bigger stockpile and faster enrichment rate has substantially decreased Iran’s theoretical “breakout” time — the span needed for acquiring enough weapons-grade material for a single nuclear bomb. When the Iran deal was fully implemented in 2015, U.S. officials said Tehran would need about a year to reach the “breakout” point if it chose to make a bomb. Based on the new figures, one Iran analyst calculated Tuesday that the window has been reduced to about 3½ months.

Iran’s enriched uranium soared to “levels not expected just a few weeks ago,” said the analyst, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington nonprofit specializing in nuclear weapons research.

The dramatic increase appears to be mostly due to the addition of about 1,000 centrifuges that Iran had put back into production in recent months. The report confirmed that Iran has restarted hundreds of centrifuges at an underground facility called Fordow, where all enrichment activity had been officially halted under the terms of the 2015 deal.

In a rare step, the watchdog agency criticized Iran in a separate report for blocking its efforts to investigate claims of undisclosed nuclear activity at three sites in Iran. The agency sent letters to Iran demanding access to the sites, which independent experts say were apparently used to conduct experiments or to store equipment from a secret weapons research program in the early 2000s.

After a 2019 visit to one of the sites — a building in a Tehran suburb called Turquzabad — IAEA officials reported finding unexplained traces of enriched uranium. Since then, inspectors repeatedly observed activities “consistent with efforts to sanitize” the site, the agency said in the report.

Iranian nuclear documents stolen in daring Israeli raid

The watchdog agency began asking about the facilities after they were first identified in a trove of stolen nuclear documents taken from inside Iran by Israeli operatives in 2018. The stolen records exposed new details about Project 119, as Iran called its secret weapons program in the early 2000s. U.S. officials believe the program was halted by Iran’s leaders in 2003, when the country shifted its focus to making enriched uranium. Tehran says the uranium was intended only for use in civilian nuclear power plants.

The IAEA reports are certain to rekindle a debate over President Trump’s decision to walk away from the accord, which the White House says failed to address long-term concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions. Critics of the deal pointed to Tehran’s lack of cooperation with IAEA inspectors as evidence that Iran cannot be trusted.

“The problem is not breakout at known facilities; it is sneakout at clandestine facilities through advanced centrifuges permitted by JCPOA,” Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in a Twitter posting Tuesday, using the acronym for the nuclear deal.

Other experts said the report highlighted the administration’s folly in torpedoing a deal that was demonstrably working, without having a viable alternative plan for keeping Iran’s nuclear activities in check.

The bottom line: Iran is closer to being able to build a bomb now than under JCPOA and the previous administration, and we are less capable of addressing that danger,” said Jon Wolfsthal, the senior director for arms control on the Obama White House’s National Security Council, in an email.

Some experts who supported the JCPOA viewed the dispute over Iran’s transparency as ominous. While the standoff stemmed from a research program that was abandoned nearly two decades ago, the issue is potentially “more serious than the increased stockpiles, in that it challenges the IAEA’s verification role,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, an associate fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“Failing to cooperate with the agency is a probable safeguards violation, which could trigger more IAEA board censure and reporting to the U.N.,” he said.

European countries press Iran on violations of nuclear deal

The 2015 Iran agreement was signed by the United States and five other world powers: Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. In it, Iran agreed to sweeping restrictions on its nuclear activities, including limits on its uranium stockpile and curbs on the number of centrifuges — machines used to enrich uranium — that it could operate. Iran also agreed to remove and disable a nuclear reactor that U.S. officials feared could be used to make plutonium for nuclear bombs. Some of the restrictions were set to expire after 15 years.

Trump ridiculed the Obama-era deal during his presidential campaign, calling it a “disaster” and the “worst deal ever.” Although Trump administration officials confirmed that Iran was honoring the terms of the agreement, the White House in 2018 said it was quitting the accord and reimposing economic sanctions in an effort to force Iran to agree to even tougher limits. The other signatories have continued to honor the agreement, although Iran’s recent defiance has spurred concerns that the deal will collapse, freeing Iran to further accelerate its nuclear program.

Many current and former U.S. officials believe that Iran’s defiant behavior is partly posturing, an attempt to pressure Europeans and warn the United States about the potential consequences of fully abandoning the nuclear agreement.

Iran has continued to grant IAEA inspectors access to its declared nuclear facilities. Kicking out the U.N. nuclear watchdog would be widely perceived as a sign that Iran intends to begin making nuclear weapons.

Disarmament advocate sounds warning of the first nuclear war (Revelation 8 )

Disarmament advocate sounds nuclear alarm

Dr. Ira Helfand (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Tony Holt) ( Tony Holt)

As long as there are nuclear weapons, the potential of mass extinction looms.

That was the understanding among people around the world 40 years ago. Then came the easing of hostilities between the world’s two biggest superpowers and the subsequent crumbling of the Eastern bloc.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, fear of a nuclear holocaust tapered almost to the point that it flat-lined, but nuclear weapon danger has been ramping up in recent years and not enough people are recognizing that upward trend, said Dr. Ira Helfand of the Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-chair of the agency’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee.

Helfand, one of the world’s leaders in anti-nuclear weapon advocacy, spoke on the topic Monday at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock and is scheduled to speak about it again at 11 a.m. today at Mills Hall on the Hendrix College campus in Conway.

Nuclear weapons in the world today pose an existential threat to human survival,” Helfand told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette during a sit-down interview Monday. “What perhaps has changed during the past few years is that the [likelihood] they’ll be used has really grown dramatically.”

A physician who still practices medicine at an urgent care center in Springfield, Mass., Helfand, 70, has traveled the globe for years seeking to restore the public’s attention to the reality that thousands of active nuclear warheads still exist throughout the world.

His awareness to the hazard of nuclear proliferation was formed after he read a book about nuclear power and its dangers while in medical school during the 1970s, he said.

Helfand serves as co-president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility’s global federation, commonly known as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Helfand represents the organization at the annual World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

His visit this week to central Arkansas was the result of a request by Dr. Sherry Simon, president of Pax Christi Little Rock. Pax Christi is an international Catholic-based peace advocacy organization, and one of its signature missions is nuclear disarmament.

Simon saw Helfand’s TED Talk appearance and wanted him to give a similar talk in person to a local audience. She sent him an email with no expectations he would answer. He emailed her back hours later. He agreed to come to central Arkansas and said he would do it for free.

“His heart is really in this,” Simon said. “He is not only passionate about his work, he brings so much knowledge, too.”

During every presentation, Helfand lists four major geopolitical situations that have led him and other anti-nuclear activists to think nuclear war is a greater likelihood today compared with 20 years ago.

Those situations are the rising tension between the United States and Russia, the U.S. and China, as well as the U.S. and North Korea. The fourth geopolitical situation, Helfand said, is one that fewer Americans pay attention to and one that could easily bring the world closer than ever to a nuclear war — the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan.

“They’ve had four wars since the 1940s. They came close to war twice last year,” he said.

“What everyone who studies South Asia closely tells us is that if there is a fifth war, it will be a nuclear war because of the force disparity,” he said. “Pakistan is so much weaker in conventional arms that they would be easily defeated by India.

“They have made it very clear if that is looming, they will use nuclear weapons against Indian military forces. India has made it very clear that if Pakistan uses any nuclear weapons at all, they, the Indians, will respond using nuclear weapons on strategic targets, meaning [big] cities.”

The “scant attention” being brought to this threat is dangerous for one big reason, he said. A nuclear war between India and Pakistan — which have the second- and fifth-largest populations in the world, respectively — would cause a climate disruption that would have a profoundly negative impact on food production all over the world, Helfand said.

It would precipitate a global famine that is unprecedented in human history, which will almost certainly be the end of modern industrial civilization,” Helfand said.

Quelling tensions between two rival nations while increasing awareness of the devastating consequences of nuclear proliferation is possible because it has already been done. It happened during the mid-1980s by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It was so successful that both empires reduced their nuclear arsenals.

When he was elected in 1980, Reagan was “the most hawkish president with regards to nuclear weapons we ever had,” Helfand said, describing the era as “an extraordinarily dangerous time” in world history.

More than 60,000 active nuclear weapons existed then. Today, the number is less than 3,800.

In early 1984, during his televised State of the Union speech, Reagan told Congress that nuclear war “can never be won and must never be fought.”

The influence on Reagan came in different forms. Helfand said the public outcry against nuclear weapons was one of the reasons for Reagan’s 180-degree turn. He went from ratcheting up the country’s nuclear arsenal to scaling it back dramatically.

Hollywood played a role too, Helfand said, through the airing of The Day After, one of the highest-rated television movies in history. Demonstrations also were commonplace during the early 1980s, including one that included a concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., that featured Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan, among others.

A mass movement rallied and world leaders listened, Helfand said.

He hopes for a repeat of that phenomenon.

“It is a source of incredible frustration that we can’t get Hollywood to play the same role today that they did then,” Helfand said. “They have a responsibility to speak to this issue … especially if you’re reaching young people.”

Metro on 03/03/2020

Lawmakers Blast NRC Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Lawmakers Blast NRC for Faulty Analysis of Pipeline Near Plants

March 3, 2020 By Rick Pezzullo

Federal, state and county lawmakers criticized the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Friday following a report that the federal agency allegedly failed to properly analyze the safety risks of a natural gas pipeline being placed near the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan.

The report from the NRC Inspector General indicated that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relied upon NRC to assess the impacts of the pipeline that now traverses the Indian Point site as part of the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, called on NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki to hold an immediate briefing in the wake of the Inspector General’s report’s release, stating the report is alarming considering the plants are slated to start being decommissioned next year.

The IG findings show outrageous failings by an agency charged with the important responsibility of protecting the health and safety of our communities,” Lowey said. “This report indicates repeated failings to use proper analysis by the same commission that oversees the decommissioning of Indian Point. NRC must immediately explain to our communities the risks they face as a result of the agency’s faulty processes and take steps to protect the public from any dangers that have resulted from the pipeline’s approval and installation.”

State Senator Pete Harckham (D) reacted to the report by describing the NRC’s actions as a “colossal error that erodes public’s faith in good governance.”

“The chief responsibility of our government officials, through policy and action, is to safeguard our residents—and that’s it,” said Harckham. “But in this terrifying and unbelievable instance, the federal regulators involved with the approval process for the Algonquin pipeline project have failed all of us and put tens of thousands of lives at risk. Instead of carefully conducting a thorough examination of whether this pipeline should be situated under a nuclear power plant, with its decades of spent nuclear fuel roads in storage on site, they allowed industry to lead them by the nose to a desired conclusion.”

Several members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators also joined in on the NRC bashing.

“We are outraged by the findings of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Inspector General. The IG found serious irregularities in the NRC’s risk assessment in approving a 42-inch, high-pressure natural gas line crossing the Indian Point nuclear power plant property,” Board Chair Ben Boykin, Majority Leader MaryJane Shimsky, Legislator Colin Smith, Chair of the Board’s Committee on Public Safety, Legislator Catherine Borgia, Chair of the Board’s Committee on Budget & Appropriations, Legislator Catherine Parker, Chair of the Board’s Committee on Planning, Economic Development & Energy; and Legislator Nancy Barr, Chair of the Board’s Committee on Environment & Health, said in a joint statement.

The Inspector General’s report raises profound concerns about the safety of that pipeline. It also raises issues about the integrity of the data and of the process the NRC relies on to assess risk.  This calls into question not only safety at the site, but also the integrity of future risk evaluations by the NRC as the decommissioning of Indian Point moves forward,” the legislators continued. “Mischaracterizing analyses, claiming analyses had been conducted which hadn’t, using software for purposes it wasn’t designed for, and other irregularities and mistakes detailed in the IG report are unconscionable.”

Jerry Nappi, spokesman for Entergy, owners of the plants, defended the analysis conducted for the pipeline.

“The safety of the plant, our employees and the community is our top priority. We are confident that the thorough pipeline assessment previously performed by Entergy’s independent engineering experts remains valid, and that safety of the plant is assured. However, Entergy has pledged to work cooperatively with the NRC and to provide any information needed as it completes the review ordered by its Chairman over the next several weeks,” Nappi stated.

Israeli Forces Impose Total Closure Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

On Israeli Election Day, Israeli Forces Impose Total Closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Ali Salam

The Israeli army imposed a comprehensive closure on the West Bank and Gaza due to the Israeli elections on Monday.

The closure was imposed from midnight on Sunday until early Tuesday morning, due to the Israelis going to the polls for the Presidential and “Knesset” elections.

The Israeli army said in a statement that “according to an assessment of the security situation and instructions at the political level, a comprehensive closure will be imposed on the Judea and Samaria area [the current Israeli government’s name for the West Bank, based on a biblical translation that they say justifies their claim to control the Palestinian land] and the crossings in the Gaza Strip will be closed, starting from 2 March 2020 at midnight.”

The army statement added that “the opening of the crossings and the lifting of the closure will be carried out on Tuesday, 3 March 2020, according to an assessment of the situation and normal working hours.”

The army stated that “during the closure, only exceptional humanitarian and medical cases will be allowed to cross, after the approval of the government’s coordinator in the occupied territories.”

The Plague Kills One of Iran’s Leaders

Men wearing face masks wait for a bus in northern Tehra…

Council Member Close to Iran’s Khamenei Dies from Coronavirus

Monday, 2 March, 2020 – 08:30 –

Asharq Al-Awsat

A member of a council that advises supreme leader Ali Khamenei has died after after falling ill from the new coronavirus, reported Iranian state radio on Monday.

Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi died at 71, it said.

The council advises Khamenei, as well as settles disputes between the supreme leader and parliament.

His death comes as other top officials have contracted the virus in Iran, which has the highest death toll in the world after China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Iran has reported more than 1,500 confirmed cases of the new virus with 66 deaths from the illness it causes, called COVID-19. Across the wider Middle East, there are over 1,150 cases of the new coronavirus, the majority of which are linked back to Iran.

“The definite latest numbers we have are 523 new infections and 12 new deaths so the total number of those infected is 1,501 until now and the number of deaths is 66,” Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi announced on state television, as a World Health Organization (WHO) team headed to Tehran.

A four-person WHO team is expected to arrive in Iran on Monday evening, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in Geneva, and will review measures to deal with the outbreak and provide technical guidance.

During a week-long visit, the team will meet health ministry representatives and visit health facilities and laboratories dealing with the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trying to stem the outbreak, Tehran on Monday held an online-only briefing by the Foreign Ministry as Britain began evacuating nonessential staff and families from the country.

Experts worry Iran’s percentage of deaths to infections, around 5.5%, is much higher than other countries, suggesting the number of infections in Iran may be much higher than current figures show.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi opened the online news conference addressing the outbreak, dismissing an offer of help for Iran by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Iran and the US have seen some of the worst tensions since its 1979 revolution in recent months, culminating in the American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad and a subsequent Iranian ballistic missile counterattack against US forces.

Hoarded medical supplies

Iranian authorities, meanwhile, uncovered a stash of hoarded medical supplies including millions of gloves.

The hoarded supplies, including 28 million medical gloves, were found in two warehouses in Kahrizak, a town about 25 km south of Tehran, a Revolutionary Guards commander, Hassan Hassanzadeh, told the Fars news agency.

Pharmacies are short of gloves and other supplies.

Anyone found hoarding medical supplies will be dealt with harshly, Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday, according to Mizan, the news site of the judiciary.

“Show no mercy to hoarders of medicine and medical supplies,” Raisi said in a message to prosecu

Travel curbs

The British Embassy meanwhile has begun evacuations over the virus.

“Essential staff needed to continue critical work will remain,” the British Foreign Office said. “In the event that the situation deteriorates further, the ability of the British Embassy to provide assistance to British nationals from within Iran may be limited.”

While Iran has closed schools and universities to stop the spread of the virus, major Shiite shrines have remained open despite civilian authorities calling for them to be closed. The cities of Mashhad and Qom in particular, both home to shrines, have been hard-hit by the virus.

Armenia, meanwhile, will temporarily suspend its visa-free regime for Iranian citizens within the next five days, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said during a government meeting about coronavirus prevention on Monday.

Armenia reported its first coronavirus infection on Sunday, in a citizen returning from neighboring Iran, and on Monday said it would extend the closure of its border with Iran, which was announced on Feb. 23.

Pashinyan did not say how long the additional extension would be.

Uzbekistan suspended flights to and from Iran, Afghanistan and Italy to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Central Asian nation’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

Kazakhstan will bar Iranian nationals from entering the Central Asian nation starting from March 5, the government said on Monday, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency called on Monday for the government’s transport authority to withdraw Iran Air’s license to fly to and from Sweden because of the outbreak.

“Continuing to receive large groups of passengers from Iran, in the current circumstances, would make the work of limiting the spread of COVID-19 considerably more difficult and raise the risk that the infection could spread locally,” Public Health Agency General Director Johan Carlson said in a statement.

Iran Air currently has two direct flights to and from Stockholm Arlanda, and one to and from Gothenburg Landvetter, per week.

Sweden’s Transport Agency has not stopped flights between Sweden and China.

Antichrist Needs to Find New Minister

Iraqi prime minister candidate Allawi quits, political crisis continues

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi withdrew his candidacy for the post on Sunday night, accusing political parties of obstructing him, deepening a domestic crisis and threatening an unprecedented power vacuum.

His move came hours after parliament failed for the second time in a week to approve his cabinet amid political infighting in the oil producer, where mass protests and deadlock between lawmakers are delaying Iraq’s recovery from years of war.

Allawi’s appointment was meant to ease a crisis as the Shia-led country faces a mass protest movement that broke out in October and brought down Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

President Barham Salih will begin consultations to choose a new candidate for a new prime minister within 15 days, the state news agency said. But Iraq could end up without a prime minister in the meantime if Abdul Mahdi, who stayed on in a caretaker capacity, also quits on Monday.

He issued a statement late on Sunday denying social media reports that he wanted to stay on, saying he would announce his intentions on Monday, which would have been the last day for Allawi to get his proposed Cabinet approved by parliament.

Salih appointed Allawi after squabbling lawmakers from rival parties failed for two months to decide on a successor to Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November during mass unrest. Allawi had one month to form a government that was meant to organise early elections.

“I tried by all possible means to save Iraq from drifting to the unknown and to solve the current crisis, but during negotiations I faced many matters,” Allawi said in a statement.

He blamed political parties he did not name, saying they “were not serious about implementing reforms that they promised to the people” and accusing them of placing obstacles in the way of a new and independent government.

“If I agreed to offer concessions, I would be prime minister now, but I tried everything possible to save the country from sliding toward the unknown and resolve the current crisis. But the negotiations hit repeated snags,” he said in a short address to the nation, explaining his decision to withdraw. He accused some parties of negotiating “purely for narrow interests.”

Highlighting volatile security, two blasts could be heard in central Baghdad early on Monday morning, with two Katyusha rockets hitting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and embassies, security sources said.

One missile landed near the US Embassy but caused no casualties, the sources said.

The protests, which initially demanded jobs and services, quickly turned into calls for the removal of Iraq’s entire ruling elite. Protesters had opposed Allawi because they view him as part of the system they want to bring down.

Security forces and powerful militia groups have fatally shot hundreds of mostly unarmed demonstrators. Around 500 people have been killed in unrest since October, most of them protesters, according to a Reuters tally from medics and police.

On Sunday, security forces killed one person and wounded 24 at an anti-government protest in Baghdad, a police source said.

Government officials say Allawi’s Cabinet selection was heavily influenced by renegade Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has gained from the general chaos in Iraq after the United States killed a senior Iranian commander in Baghdad in January.

Sadr said in a statement he supported Allawi for his decision to withdraw his candidacy and criticised the parties who obstructed him.

Sunni and Kurdish political groups that stood to lose portfolios in a Cabinet of ostensible independents have vehemently opposed Allawi’s choices.

(With news agencies)