The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12)

New York City is Past Due for an Earthquake
by Jessica Dailey, 03/22/11
filed under: News
New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.
Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.
There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation rates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.
John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.
The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.
Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”
Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”
Via Metro and NY Daily News

Antichrist calls on supporters to attain majority in next Iraq parliament

Leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr [File photo]

Sadr calls on supporters to attain majority in next Iraq parliament

November 28, 2020 at 11:02 am

Shia leader Muqtada Al-Sadr called on Friday on the supporters of the Sadrist Movement to attain a majority in the next Iraqi parliament, allowing the party to form the next government.

Al-Sadr delivered his speech during the Friday prayer sermon in front of around one million supporters who gathered in and around Tahrir Square.

The Shia leader expressed: “We are not hungry for power, but we are committed to defending Iraq through a Sadrist majority in parliament, and we are ready to sacrifice for the sake of establishing reforms. We want to win the position of prime minister in order to protect Iraq from corrupt parties.”

“We will defend the country peacefully, away from violence and killing, because we are committed to protecting Iraq from corruption, and we are convinced that the reform project is our responsibility,” he added.

Early elections in Iraq will be held on 6 June, 2021.

Still another wind of God’s wrath: Jeremiah 23

Hurricane center increases odds of development for system in far east Atlantic

By PAOLA PÉREZ

ORLANDO SENTINEL

NOV 29, 2020 AT 1:40 PM

One system in the Atlantic Ocean with potential to form into a tropical or subtropical depression or storm was under close watch by the National Hurricane Center on Sunday, as the end of hurricane season grew closer.

As of 1 p.m., the non-tropical low pressure system system was becoming more organized in the far east Atlantic and moving towards the Canary Islands, producing showers and thunderstorms near Africa.

Forecasters described it as “strong and large.” It poses no threat to Florida or the U.S. at large.

The low could acquire subtropical characteristics over the next couple of days, but environmental conditions are expected to become less favorable for development by the middle of the week, the NHC’s latest advisory said.

“Regardless of development, this system should cause strong winds and locally heavy rains in the Madeira Islands through Monday or Tuesday,” the advisory read.

If it achieves circulation and spun up to at least 39 mph, it would be most likely subtropical and become Subtropical Storm Kappa.

On Sunday morning, the center stopped tracking a separate system in the Central Atlantic that had low developmental chances throughout Saturday.

In 2005, the last of its tropical storms, Tropical Storm Zeta, formed on Dec. 30 and lasted through Jan. 6 of 2006.

Staff writer Richard Tribou and Lynnette Cantos contributed to this report.

Clashes with Antichrist’s supporters kill 5 in southern Iraq

Clashes with cleric’s supporters kill 5 in southern Iraq

Qassim Abdul-zahra, Associated Press

9:43 am EST, Saturday, November 28, 2020

Photo: Khalid Mohammed, AP

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, in the posters, gather in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Thousands took to the streets in Baghdad on Friday in a show of support for a radical … more

BAGHDAD (AP) — Supporters of a firebrand Iraqi cleric shot dead five people on Saturday, according to medical officials, in overnight clashes with anti-government protesters in southern Iraq.

The anti-government demonstrators attempted to bloc the path of a rally supporting Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr. Followers of the populist cleric also wounded 40 others in the clashes, according to two medical officials.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The anti-government protesters were camped out at a main square in the city of Nasiriya, which has been an epicenter of the youth-led protest movement that has sought to sweep aside Iraq’s ruling sectarian elite.

Following the clashes beginning on Friday, al-Sadr’s supporters stormed Haboubi square, and torched tents pitched in the square.

Al-Sadr leads a powerful political bloc in Iraqi parliament and his supporters had called for a demonstration in support of the leader’s call for mass participation in next year’s nationwide elections.

Anti-government protesters feel betrayed by al-Sadr’s flip-flop approach toward them, especially in the last few months when he withdrew support for their movement.

Dozens returned to the anti-government sit-in’s site on Saturday morning in support of those protesters killed overnight.

Khamenei Promises Revenge Against Israel

Iran’s supreme leader vows revenge over slain scientist

By AMIR VAHDAT and JON GAMBRELL

Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday called for the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing of a scientist linked to Tehran’s disbanded military nuclear program, a slaying the Islamic Republic has blamed on Israel.

Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian scientists a decade ago amid tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, has yet to comment on the killing Friday of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. However, the attack bore the hallmarks of a carefully planned, military-style ambush.

The slaying threatens to renew tensions between the U.S. and Iran in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s term, just as President-elect Joe Biden has suggested his administration could return to Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers from which Trump earlier withdrew. The Pentagon announced early Saturday that it sent the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back into the Mideast.

In a statement, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Fakhrizadeh “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist.”

Khamenei said Iran’s first priority after the killing was the “definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it.” He did not elaborate.

Speaking to a meeting of his government’s coronavirus task force earlier Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani blamed Israel for the killing.

Rouhani said that Fakhrizadeh’s death would not stop its nuclear program, something Khamenei said as well. Iran’s civilian nuclear program has continued its experiments and now enriches uranium up to 4.5%, far below weapons-grade levels of 90%.

But analysts have compared Fakhrizadeh to being on a par with Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who led the U.S.’ Manhattan Project in World War II that created the atom bomb.

We will respond to the assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh in a proper time,” Rouhani said.

He added: “The Iranian nation is smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionists. They are thinking to create chaos.”

Friday’s attack happened in Absard, a village just east of the capital that is a retreat for the Iranian elite. Iranian state television said an old truck with explosives hidden under a load of wood blew up near a sedan carrying Fakhrizadeh.

As Fakhrizadeh’s sedan stopped, at least five gunmen emerged and raked the car with rapid fire, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency said.

Fakhrizadeh died at a hospital after doctors and paramedics couldn’t revive him. Others wounded included Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards. Photos and video shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes in the windshield and blood pooled on the road.

Hours after the attack, the Pentagon announced it had brought the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back into the Middle East, an unusual move as the carrier already spent months in the region. It cited the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq as the reason for the decision, saying “it was prudent to have additional defensive capabilities in the region to meet any contingency.”

The attack comes just days before the 10-year anniversary of the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari that Tehran also blamed on Israel. That and other targeted killings happened at the time that the so-called Stuxnet virus, believed to be an Israeli and American creation, destroyed Iranian centrifuges.

Those assaults occurred at the height of Western fears over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran long has insisted its program is peaceful. However, Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called AMAD program that Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003.

IAEA inspectors monitor Iranian nuclear sites as part of the now-unraveling nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

After Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the deal, Iran has abandoned all those limits. Experts now believe Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to make at least two nuclear weapons if it chose to pursue the bomb. Meanwhile, an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility exploded in July in what Tehran now calls a sabotage attack.

Fakhrizadeh, born in 1958, had been sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. for his work on AMAD. Iran always described him as a university physics professor. A member of the Revolutionary Guard, Fakhrizadeh had been seen in pictures in meetings attended by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a sign of his importance in Iran’s theocracy.

In recent years, U.S. sanctions lists name him as heading Iran’s Organization for Defensive Innovation and Research. The State Department described that organization last year as working on “dual-use research and development activities, of which aspects are potentially useful for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons delivery systems.”

Iran’s mission to the U.N., meanwhile, described Fakhrizadeh’s recent work as “development of the first indigenous COVID-19 test kit” and overseeing Tehran’s efforts at making a possible coronavirus vaccine.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Sabotaging the Iran Deal

Assassination in Iran Could Limit Biden’s Options. Was That the Goal?

The killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist is likely to impede the country’s military ambitions. Its real purpose may have been to prevent the president-elect from resuming diplomacy with Tehran.

By David E. SangerNov. 28, 2020

WASHINGTON — The assassination of the scientist who led Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon for the past two decades threatens to cripple President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s effort to revive the Iran nuclear deal before he can even begin his diplomacy with Tehran.

And that may well have been a main goal of the operation.

Intelligence officials say there is little doubt that Israel was behind the killing — it had all the hallmarks of a precisely timed operation by Mossad, the country’s spy agency. And the Israelis have done nothing to dispel that view. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long identified Iran as an existential threat, and named the assassinated scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, as national enemy No. 1, capable of building a weapon that could threaten a country of eight million in a single blast.

But Mr. Netanyahu also has a second agenda.

“There must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement,” he declared shortly after it became clear that Mr. Biden — who has proposed exactly that — would be the next president.

Mr. Netanyahu believes a covert bomb program is continuing, until yesterday under Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s leadership, and would be unconstrained after 2030, when the nuclear accord’s restraints on Tehran’s ability to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wants expires. To critics of the deal, that is its fatal flaw.

The reason for assassinating Fakhrizadeh wasn’t to impede Iran’s war potential, it was to impede diplomacy,” Mark Fitzpatrick, a former State Department nonproliferation official, wrote on Twitter on Friday.

It may have been both.

Whatever the mix of motives, Mr. Biden must pick up the pieces in just seven weeks. The question is whether the deal the president-elect has outlined — dropping the nuclear-related sanctions Mr. Trump has imposed over the past two years if Iran returns strictly to the nuclear limits in the 2015 accord — was shot to pieces along with Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s S.U.V. in the mountain town of Absard, east of Tehran.

The answer lies largely in how Iran reacts in the next few weeks. Three times since the start of the year, Iran has been on the receiving end of highly visible, highly damaging attacks.

First came the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian commander who ran the elite Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in a drone strike in Iraq, where the Trump administration said he was planning attacks on American forces.

Then, in early July came the mysterious explosion at a centrifuge research and development center at Natanz, a few hundred yards from the underground fuel-production center that the United States and Israel attacked more than a decade ago with a sophisticated cyberweapon.

And now the killing of Mr. Fakhrizadeh, a shadowy figure often described as the Iranian equivalent of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who oversaw the Manhattan Project more than 75 years ago in the race for the United States to develop the world’s first nuclear weapon.

Credit…Wana News Agency, via Reuters

The chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, described Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s killing as “a bitter and heavy blow to the country’s defense system” and said there would be “severe revenge.”

The commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, said “the assassination of our nuclear scientists is a clear, violent war against our ability to achieve modern science.” He carefully avoided mention of the overwhelming evidence that Mr. Fakhrizadeh taught physics once a week at the Guards’ own university, but spent the rest of his time keeping alive the option of building a nuclear warhead that could fit atop one of Iran’s growing fleet of missiles.

The Israelis may well be betting that they win either way.

If Iran holds off on significant retaliation, then the bold move to take out the chief of the nuclear program will have paid off, even if the assassination drives the program further underground.

And if the Iranians retaliate, giving Mr. Trump a pretext to launch a return strike before he leaves office in January, Mr. Biden will be inheriting bigger problems than just the wreckage of a five-year-old diplomatic document.

Both those options seem fine with Mr. Trump’s departing foreign policy team, which is trying to lock in the radical reversal of Iran policy that has taken place over the past four years.

“The Trump administration’s goal seems plain,” said Robert Malley, who leads the International Crisis Group and was a negotiator of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The administration’s plan, he said, was “to take advantage of the time remaining before it heads to the exits to solidify its legacy and make it all the more difficult for its successor to resume diplomacy with Iran and rejoin the nuclear deal.”

Mr. Malley expressed doubts that “it will in fact succeed in killing diplomacy” or the deal.

“The center of gravity in Iran is still with those who want to wait until Biden is president,’’ said Mr. Malley, who has known Mr. Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, since they attended high school together in Paris.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Blinken have made clear that returning to the deal Mr. Trump pulled out of is one of their first objectives in the Middle East.

But as Jake Sullivan, the newly appointed national security adviser, who served as one of the secret emissaries to begin the negotiations that led to the deal, put it on Wednesday at an event at the University of Minnesota, “that’s really up to Iran.”

“If Iran returns to compliance, for its obligations that it has been violating, and is prepared to advance good-faith negotiations on these follow-on agreements,” Mr. Biden is willing to do the same, he said. (While Mr. Biden supported the 2015 deal, he was also in on the decision-making in 2010 as the cyberstrike against Natanz unraveled.)

Before the assassination, there was considerable evidence that the Iranians were laying low, avoiding provocations that might give Mr. Trump a pretense to strike before he leaves office. Iran’s leaders have made clear that regime survival is their No. 1 goal, and they have been careful not to take risks that could upend their hopes of lifting sanctions, and restoring the deal, after Mr. Trump’s term ends.

After the killing of General Suleimani, there was a brief missile attack on an American facility that miraculously killed no American troops (though there were many cases of traumatic concussion injuries that Mr. Trump dismissed as “headaches.”) De-escalation followed.

There was no real response to the explosion at Natanz, also attributed to Israel, other than the subsequent installation of some advanced centrifuges to make the point that Iran’s program would move ahead, slowly and methodically. Attacks aimed at American forces in Iraq, many by Iranian proxies, have diminished in recent weeks, and Iran’s feared cyberattacks on the American election system seemed more like amateur hour — emails to some voters purporting to be threats from a far-right group, the Proud Boys.

But the hard-liners are angry, and some experts fear that the combined loss of Iran’s most revered general and its most revered nuclear scientist is too much. Pressure is already mounting for some response — either a calculated one, presumably on the orders of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or an unscripted lashing out, perhaps by a rogue element of the Iranian military or an Iranian-sponsored militia that does not get the memo to wait for Inauguration Day.

That may be exactly what Mr. Netanyahu — and Mr. Trump and his advisers — is betting on. Any retaliation could result in American military action, exactly what Mr. Trump contemplated, and was argued out of, two weeks ago when news came that Iran was continuing to produce nuclear fuel above the limits of the 2015 accord. (That move, of course, was in response to Mr. Trump’s decision in mid-2018 to break out of the agreement himself.)

American military officials said on Saturday that they were closely monitoring Iranian security forces after Iran’s vow to retaliate for Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s death, but that they had not detected any usual Iranian troop or weaponry movements.

The officials declined to comment on any heightened U.S. alert levels or additional measures to protect American forces in the Middle East, noting that the more than 40,000 troops in the region are already at a relatively high level of alert.

A cycle of military action could make it all but impossible to reconstitute the Iran nuclear deal, much less negotiate a bigger, longer-lasting diplomatic arrangement.

If the response to the killing of Mr. Fakhrizadeh is a cycle of retaliation and counter-retaliation, the nuclear program will go deeper underground — quite literally — where bombs and saboteurs cannot reach it, and cyberstrikes may be ineffective.

“We should not exclude the use of force, but military strikes won’t bring us a long-term shutdown of the program,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a former under secretary of state and the Iran nuclear negotiator from 2005 to 2008 under President George W. Bush.

“Our goal is to roll back and shut down its nuclear program for decades to come,’’ said Mr. Burns, who now teaches diplomacy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and “achieving that through tough-minded diplomacy is still a smarter and more effective option than a military strike that could provoke a wider war in the Middle East.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

Iran is just months from a nuclear bomb: Daniel 8

Explainer: How close is Iran to producing a nuclear bomb?

Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – A 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is being eroded and efforts to revive the pact face a new challenge with the killing of Tehran’s top nuclear scientist.

FILE PHOTO: An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

The accord’s restrictions on Iran’s atomic work had one objective: to extend the “breakout time” for Tehran to produce enough fissile material for a bomb, if it decided to make one, to at least a year from about two to three months.

Iran maintains that it has never sought nuclear weapons and never would. It says its nuclear work only has civilian aims.

Tehran began breaching the deal’s curbs last year in a step-by-step response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal in May 2018 and the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

This has shortened the breakout time but reports by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which polices the deal, indicate that Iran is not moving ahead with its nuclear work as fast as it could.

European states have sought to save the nuclear deal, pressing Tehran to comply even as Washington has tightened sanctions, and holding out hopes of a change in U.S. policy once President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

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Biden was part of the U.S. administration under Barack Obama that negotiated the 2015 deal.

WHAT HAS IRAN DONE TILL NOW?

Iran has contravened many of the deal’s restrictions but is still cooperating with the IAEA and granting inspectors access under one of the most intrusive nuclear verification regimes imposed on any nation.

* Enriched uranium – The deal limits Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium to 202.8 kg, a fraction of the more than eight tonnes it possessed before the deal. The limit was breached last year. The IAEA report in November put the stockpile at 2,442.9 kg.

* Enrichment level – The deal caps the fissile purity to which Iran can refine uranium at 3.67%, far below the 20% achieved before the deal and below the weapons-grade level of 90%. Iran breached the 3.67% cap in July 2019 and the enrichment level has remained steady at up to 4.5% since then.

* Centrifuges – The deal allows Iran to produce enriched uranium using about 5,000 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at its underground Natanz plant, which was built to house more than 50,000. It can operate small numbers of more advanced models above ground without accumulating enriched uranium. Iran had roughly 19,000 installed centrifuges before the deal.

In 2019, the IAEA said Iran had begun enrichment with advanced centrifuges at an above-ground pilot plant at Natanz. Since then, Iran started moving three cascades, or clusters, of advanced centrifuges to the underground plant. In November, the IAEA said Iran had fed uranium hexafluoride gas feedstock into the first of those underground cascades.

* Fordow – The deal bans enrichment at Fordow, a site Iran secretly built inside a mountain and that was exposed by Western intelligence services in 2009. Centrifuges are allowed there for other purposes, like producing stable isotopes. Iran now has 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges enriching there.

HOW CLOSE IS IRAN TO HAVING A BOMB?

The breaches lengthened the breakout time but estimates still vary. Many diplomats and nuclear experts say the starting point of one year is conservative and Iran would need longer.

David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector who tends to have a hawkish position on Iran, estimated in November that Iran’s breakout time could be “as short as 3.5 months”, although this presumes Iran would use 1,000 advanced centrifuges that were removed under the deal.

WHAT MORE WOULD IRAN NEED TO DO?

If Iran accumulated sufficient fissile material, it would need to assemble a bomb and probably one small enough to be carried by its ballistic missiles. How long that would take exactly is unclear, but stockpiling enough fissile material is widely seen as the biggest hurdle in producing a weapon.

U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran once had a nuclear weapons programme that it halted. There is evidence suggesting Iran obtained a design for a nuclear weapon and carried out various types of work relevant to making one.

Tehran continues to grant the IAEA access to its declared nuclear facilities and allow snap inspections elsewhere.

Iran and the IAEA resolved a standoff this year that had lasted several months over access to two suspected former sites.

Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; Editing by Edmund Blair