1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

January 20, 2010

New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.

But on August 10, 1884, a more powerful earthquake hit. Estimated from 4.9 to 5.5 in magnitude, the tremor made houses shake, chimneys fall, and residents wonder what the heck was going on, according to a New York Timesarticle two days later.

The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.

It wasn’t the first moderate quake, and it won’t be the last. In a 2008 Columbia University study, seismologists reported that the city is crisscrossed with several fault lines, one along 125th Street. 

With that in mind, New Yorkers should expect a 5.0 or higher earthquake centered here every 100 years, the seismologists say.

Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Israel Battles Fire Balloon Blazes From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Dousing the Flames: Israel Battles Gaza Fire Balloon Blazes

By ReutersAug. 27, 2020

BE’ERI, Israel — In a burnt and blackened wheat field along the Gaza border, Israeli firefighters brave the dry summer heat to extinguish blazes caused by fire balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave.

Palestinians have sent dozens of helium balloons laden with incendiary material across the frontier in recent weeks to push Israel to ease its blockade of the Islamist Hamas-run strip, home to two million people.

Winds blowing inland from the Mediterranean Sea carry the balloons towards southern Israeli towns and farmland, dripping chemicals as they fly and igniting brush fires when they land.

“To see the fields near your home burning, it’s indescribable, because it’s not happening naturally,” said Haim Yalin, a former member of Israel’s parliament who lives in Be’eri, a tiny kibbutz four km (2.5 miles) from the Gaza border.

Local residents and Israeli troops have joined firefighters to fight the blazes. A spokesman for Israel’s National Fire and Rescue Authority said some 460 fires so far have ravished mostly open areas, but have also damaged nature reserves.

Regular party balloons, condoms and large plastic bags are filled with helium and used to make the fire balloons by attaching an incendiary device, some times as simple as a burning string or even a cigarette.

Occasionally the balloons are strapped with explosives.

In one ashy field, a soldier beat down smoke with a fire broom as another sprayed it with a hose. Nearby, a hollowed out fox skull sat on a bed of charred leaves.

With tensions high, Israel closed its main commercial crossing with the impoverished strip earlier this month and halted fuel imports, causing Gaza’s only power plant to shut down. Gaza authorities announced a lockdown on Monday after a coronavirus outbreak in the enclave.

Israel has struck Hamas facilities almost nightly for the past two weeks, and on Friday the militant group fired a dozen rockets towards Israeli towns. Mediators from the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar have been working for calm.

Some of the Palestinians who launch the balloons — they describe themselves as the “Balloon Units” — say they narrowly escaped the Israeli air strikes.

But potential retaliation wouldn’t stop them, they said.

“We know it is a simple tool – but it causes fires, it causes panic and it shows we will not keep silent as long as our people continue to suffer,” a Palestinian source close to the Balloon Units said.

(Additional reporting by Rinat Hirash in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

Why Babylon the Great is Nuking Up

Why is the U.S. Military Building So Many New Weapons? (Like Smaller Nukes)

The Pentagon is celebrating multiple accomplishments towards the implementation of the 2018 National Defense Strategy. These include progress towards having hypersonic weapons by 2023, the launch of U.S. Space Command and the largest proposed research and development budget in history. Furthermore, the military has created of a first-of-its-kind low-yield, submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead. All of these milestones are cited in a recent Pentagon report.

These are all quite significant, yet the existence of a low-yield nuclear weapon and the anticipated arrival of U.S. hypersonic weapons are of particular tactical and strategic relevance. This is because, in part, they are technical arenas in which both Russian and China are extremely advanced compared to America.

Given Russian and Chinese testing of both hypersonic missiles and tactical, lower-yield nuclear weapons, U.S. equivalents simply cannot come soon enough for Pentagon weapons developers. The Department of Defense report on the National Defense Strategy says the Pentagon plans as many as forty hypersonic weapons tests over the next five years and has “already fielded” the new, low yield W76-2 weapon.

The new low-yield nuclear weapon is as it sounds: smaller, more surgical and less destructive than most nuclear weapons.

“There are currently over 1,000 nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal that have low-yield options. A yield is considered low if it’s 20 kilotons or less,” a 2018 an essay from the Federation of American Scientists states.

The existing Trident II D5, currently launched from ballistic missile submarines, carries what’s called a W-76 thermonuclear warhead carried inside a Mk-4 re-entry vehicle. The current Trident II D5 has a massive 100-kiloton yield, bringing massive destructive power to entire cities and well beyond.

A smaller warhead on a Trident would still bring the advantage of a long-range strike, yet afford commanders the options to launch a smaller scope, and therefore less destructive, attack.

The prospect of a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon, articulated in the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, was advocated before Congress by former Defense Secretary John Mattis, who said there was a pressing need to field such a weapon given that Russia already had one.

The goal, Mattis explained at the time, was not to fire nuclear weapons as much as match Russia’s hostility with an equivalent deterrent and force them to the negotiating table. The idea was to send a message to Russia that it would not be possible or in their interests to consider any kind of limited nuclear war. 

While America’s emerging new B-21 bomber will be configured to fire lower-yield, more precise B61 Mod 12 weapons, a submarine-launched nuclear weapon enables an ability to attack without having to operate planes in the air above enemy air defenses.

Kris Osborn is the new Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters.

Louisiana Bears the Storm of the Lord’s Anger (Jeremiah 23)

See the source image

Hurricane Laura sweeps ashore as one of most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S.

After making landfall as one of the strongest storms to hit Louisiana on record, Hurricane Laura steamrolled up through the state on Thursday, leaving a trail of far-flung damage in its wake.

The storm, which came ashore near Cameron, La., after midnight as a Category 4 hurricane, brought 150-mile-an-hour winds and a major storm surge out of the Gulf, ripping the facades off brick buildings in Lake Charles, La., and swatting telephone poles to the ground. Laura weakened as it moved inland, but remained destructive, with strong winds and heavy rain, and the potential to spawn deadly tornadoes.

The first confirmed U.S. death from the storm was that of a 14-year-old girl in Leesville, La., a small city about 100 miles inland. According to the Louisiana governor’s office, the girl was killed when a tree fell on her family’s home. Two more deaths were later confirmed in Jackson and Acadia parishes.

Hurricane Laura, one of the strongest U.S. storms on record, moved north through Louisiana after making landfall as a Category 4 storm early Thursday.

Hurricane Laura, one of the strongest U.S. storms on record, moved north through Louisiana after making landfall as a Category 4 storm early Thursday.CreditCredit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

At noon Central time, the storm had passed through Leesville and was centered west of Grambling, La., about 50 miles east of Shreveport, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was trudging north-northeast at 15 miles an hour, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles an hour — just below the Category 1 hurricane range — and it was expected to diminish to a tropical depression Thursday night.

People on the ground in southwestern Louisiana described catastrophic damage to buildings and vehicles, apparently more from the storm’s punishing winds than from its much-feared storm surge. In Lake Charles, La., a regional hub known for its petrochemical plants and crowded casinos, commercial buildings were peeled apart, exposing insulation and wood frames. Billboards were punched out and trees snapped in half. A fire was burning somewhere within the sprawl of petrochemical plants just outside downtown, filling the air with a brown haze and an acrid smell.

Gusts had blown out dozens of windows in high-rise office buildings, ripped the top off a sky bridge and tipped an R.V. on its side. The whistling winds mimicked the alarm-like sounds that could be heard inside buildings, according to videos on social media.

Landfall came after officials in both Louisiana and Texas issued the gravest of warnings about the storm, which was among the strongest ever to hit the United States and tied for the strongest ever to hit Louisiana, according to data compiled by Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University who studies hurricanes. At the peak, more than 1.5 million people in the coastal regions of Texas and Louisiana were under some form of evacuation orders.

Utility companies reported that about 404,000 customers in Louisiana and another 104,000 in Texas were without power Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us.

The full extent of damage will not be known until the winds die down, the storm surge recedes and residents and officials can survey the wreckage.Map: Tracking Hurricane Laura’s PathMaps showing Hurricane Laura’s path, storm surge and rainfall.

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said Thursday morning that his state had been hit with “extensive” damage to structures, particularly in the Lake Charles area. Search and rescue teams were on their way, he said, and by midmorning, pickup trucks hauling aluminum boats were driving through the streets of the otherwise empty city.

“We believe we got a break on the storm surge,” at least so far, the governor said on CNN, noting that the surge had not appeared to reach the extreme heights that forecasters said were possible. But there was still considerable flooding.

Governor Edwards said the state was taking Covid-19 precautions at shelters and in its rescue efforts; many of those who were evacuated on state-run shuttles were brought to hotels in Baton Rouge and elsewhere rather than large congregate shelters like gymnasiums. If such steps were not taken, the governor said, Louisiana could “pay the price” in a couple of weeks with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Pakistani and Saudi Horns Divide (Daniel 7/8)

Pakistan Rethinks Saudi Ties In Changing Region

Abubakar Siddique

For decades, two major Muslim countries were engaged in a symbiotic relationship. Saudi Arabia showered its petrodollars on impoverished Pakistan, and in turn, Islamabad’s military prowess became a bedrock of Riyadh’s security paradigm.

But financial disputes, lackluster diplomacy, and controversial comments by leaders this month highlighted rifts between the Sunni powers and former staunch allies. As the media scrambled to capture the fallout of a statement by the Pakistani foreign minister demanding that Saudi Arabia play a “leadership role” in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, one possibility was largely overlooked: that Islamabad is seeking to redefine its relationship with Riyadh.

Author Ayesha Siddiqa, a security expert, says Pakistan is reviewing its ties with Saudi Arabia. “It wants to be less dependent on Saudi Arabia and is shifting toward [its rival] Iran,” she told RFE/RL’s Gandhara website. “There is this expectation that with an Iran, China, Pakistan linkage around BRI [the Belt and Road Initiative], there is much more to be gained. Pakistan is looking to lessen its dependence on Saudi Arabia.”

In recent years, Islamabad and Beijing have touted the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship BRI project, as a game changer for the region. Tehran is reportedly negotiating a landmark deal in which Beijing will invest some $400 billion in Iran over the next 25 years, including linking Iran to China via CPEC in China’s drive to create a 21st-century New Silk Road to cement its global power status.

If Pakistan hopes to get more from BRI, it wouldn’t be bothered to keep bowing to Riyadh the way it has done in the past,” Siddiqa said.

This month, Islamabad turned to Beijing to quickly pay back a $1 billion loan to Saudi Arabia, which the latter recalled. Before visiting China on August 20, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his delegation “represents the stance of the political and military leadership of the country.” The next day, a joint communique by the two countries noted Beijing’s support for Islamabad in “independently choosing a development path based on its national conditions.”

Siddiqa sees no major break between the two but rather a gradual shift in relations. “If oil prices remain low, Saudi Arabia will have potential money issues. So, it can’t be a potential cash cow for Pakistan,” she said.

Remittances from millions of Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are a lifeline for Pakistan’s struggling economy. Riyadh has repeatedly bailed out Pakistan by providing cash and loans on oil imports. In return, Islamabad has provided key security support to Riyadh including protection and internal security for the ruling Saud dynasty.

“What Pakistan can provide to Saudi Arabia in terms of security, no other country — Arab or not, Muslim or not — can provide,” lawmaker Mushahid Hussain, chairman of Pakistan’s standing committee on foreign relations, told RFE/RL Gandhara.

He says that since the 1980s a security agreement between the two has allowed the stationing of Pakistani troops and advisers on Saudi territory. Since then, tens of thousands of Pakistani troops have been stationed there, and both supported Afghan mujahedin against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in one of the largest covert wars in modern history. Currently, up to 4,000 Pakistani troops are believed to be in Saudi Arabia while former army chief Raheel Sharif and other senior officers serve as advisers to the Saudis. Their close cooperation led to speculations Riyadh could even deploy Pakistani nuclear weapons.

This, Hussain argues, has kept Riyadh investing in a bilateral relationship with Islamabad. “There is a strategic confluence of objectives and interests between Islamabad and Riyadh which remains unchanged despite some technical differences on some issues,” he said.

FILE: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is welcomed by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah in September 2019.

In Riyadh, an informal official statement echoed this sentiment. “The Saudi-Pak historic partnership is too important to fail,” Ali Awadh Asseri, a former Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, wrote in an op-ed. “It will blossom in future, just as it did in history, defeating any attempt to sabotage it along the way, with the love and devotion of our two peoples.”

But his reaction to Qureshi’s August 5 call for “Prime Minister Imran Khan to go ahead with or without Saudi Arabia” showcases the Saudis’ fears. “The strategic partnerships between two nation states take years of patient hard work to build,” Asseri said. “Hence, they are unlikely to founder with the baseless rhetoric of a misguided individual that became the basis of the alleged rift in Saudi-Pak ties.”

Asseri highlighted what he sees as the futility of Pakistan exploring the possibility of an alternative Muslim bloc with Turkey and Iran. During the past year, Khan has publicly expressed enthusiasm for emulating Turkey and Malaysia and joining them in a new Muslim bloc. Reported Saudi pressure forced Pakistan to withdraw from a summit with Malaysia, Turkey, Iran and Qatar last December.

While Qureshi’s outburst was “a bit out of line,” says Siddiqa, it showcased some new thinking about Saudi Arabia. “The content of the message indicates a policy shift that has been coming about in the last two to three years,” she said.

In a commentary for London’s Royal United Services think tank, analyst Kamal Alam argued that a visit to Riyadh last week by Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was part of an effort to cement relations previously referred to as the closest of their kind without a formal treaty. “Close military cooperation has been developed into a broader corporate relationship on a more equitable basis, rather than being characterized by aid and dependence,” he wrote.

But Bajwa didn’t meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, arguably the kingdom’s most powerful figure, which led to speculation that the most powerful official in Pakistan had been snubbed.

“This was virtually unprecedented,” says Farzana Shaikh, a Pakistan specialist at the London Chatham House think tank. “If there is, in fact, a move on Pakistan’s part to recalibrate relations, it would also be hard to explain why Pakistan would think the price worth paying would be the public humiliation of Bajwa — Pakistan’s de facto leader.”

Shaikh says Islamabad might be inflating its role as Saudi Arabia’s sole defense umbrella. “There have been reports in recent months of Egypt assuming an increasingly salient presence as the chief guarantor of Saudi internal and external security,” she said.

In recent decades, Pakistan’s foreign policy ambitions, however, have rarely been checked by its actual financial, military, and diplomatic weight.

UN Mideast envoy voices concern over situation outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

UN Mideast envoy voices concern over situation in Gaza, West Bank

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov on Tuesday voiced concern over the deteriorating situation in Gaza and West Bank.

The security situation in Gaza has recently deteriorated, a trend which may soon become irreversible, he warned.

Militant activity, incendiary balloons, rockets and a deteriorating humanitarian situation inside Gaza are rapidly eroding peace efforts, he said.

This latest escalation has once again demonstrated the urgency of implementing long-term solutions for Gaza. There is a moral imperative to end all militant activity in Gaza, restore Palestinian national unity and lift Israeli closures, he said. “But the political solutions that must be provided by leaders are nowhere in sight. Instead, we have a day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year patchwork of crucial humanitarian efforts to prevent war and to try and sustain the lives of 2 million desperate Palestinians in Gaza.”

During the past months, Gaza’s economy has deteriorated dramatically, he said.

Compounding the impact of continued closures, intra-Palestinian division and more than a decade of Hamas rule, COVID-19-related restrictions have halted the crossing of workers and traders into Israel and inhibited revenue transfers to Gaza’s exporters. The current absence of cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in response to the threat of annexation has also slowed implementation of critical infrastructure projects and led to job losses, said Mladenov.

In the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, clashes between Palestinians and Israel continued. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a concerning increase in violent crime within Palestinian communities across the West Bank, as well as violent incidents involving Palestinian Security Forces and civilians, with several people shot dead in recent weeks.

Palestinian organizations focused on gender-based violence in the West Bank have also reported a sharp increase in femicides, he said.

Gaza is teetering on the brink of another major escalation with Israel, the occupied West Bank is fracturing under a multitude of economic and political pressures, settlement expansion and demolitions continue, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on Palestinian and Israeli societies.” Enditem

The Iranian Nuclear Horn Grows (Daniel 8:4)

Iran has 10 times enriched uranium allowed by JCPOA

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi: “Natanz explosion was sabotage; Iranian nuclear program will recover in 14 months.”

(August 26, 2020 / MEMRI)

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Monday that Iran has more than three tons of uranium enriched to 4 percent, and at least 1,000 tons of yellowcake. This is 10 times more than Iran is permitted to have under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, he said.

In an interview with Iran’s Al-Alam TV, Kamalvandi said that Iran also has 230 tons of heavy water, which he said is used for research, with the surplus being exported to unspecified countries in Europe or Asia. Iran is also producing and exporting 242 chemical isotopes, he added.

He also said that Iran can enrich uranium further if the need arises.

In addition, Kamalvandi said that Iran’s nuclear program would recover within 14 months from the explosion in the Natanz nuclear facility, which he said appears to have been an act of sabotage.

And if there is a “snap back” to economic sanctions against Iran, he said, then the JCPOA will become null and void.

Furthermore, Kamalvandi pointed out that International Atomic Energy Agency inspections must cease because a sovereign country should not be flooded by “unnecessary” questions and inspections, adding that the U.N. nuclear watchdog currently wants to inspect sites near Shahreza and near Tehran.