The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan
By Brooklyn Eagle
New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale.Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.
If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.
But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.
Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.
“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.
While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.
“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”
Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”
While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

Babylon the Great Should Stop Underestimating Russian Power

The U.S. Should Stop Underestimating Russian Power

Vladimir Putin deploys capabilities and resources that have made his country a resurgent global player

Russia is also the world’s largest exporter of grain, and it sells many things of far greater value—including nuclear power plants, construction materials, nickel, timber, diamonds, advanced mining equipment, chemicals, high-tech communications equipment and ever more sophisticated weaponry, which sometimes comes with the services of Russian soldiers and mercenaries.

Russia hasn’t needed the world’s biggest economy or military to forge new relationships. Only 18 months after Russian-speaking militiamen seized the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, Russian forces performed a snap mobilization by air and sea into Syria, saving Bashar al-Assad’s reeling regime—and changing the balance of power in the Middle East. Russian military hardware, including antiballistic missile systems, now sit on the soil of Turkey and Greece (both NATO members), as well as in Iran and Syria; America’s regional partner Saudi Arabia recently agreed to buy such systems too.

Russia has taken advantage of the vacuum created by Trump’s isolationism.

Russia has taken advantage of the vacuum created by Mr. Trump’s isolationism and the resulting strains with U.S. allies. Moscow has supported right-wing populists in Western Europe, including Marine Le Pen’s bid for the French presidency, and Mr. Putin has become a role model for authoritarian populists like Viktor Orbán in Hungary. Nicolás Maduro remains president of Venezuela because of Russian intervention, and one key reason that Libya remains a violent mess is Russian support for a powerful warlord there.

Meanwhile, Russia has used oil and weapons sales to forge an axis of mutual convenience with China. Mr. Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping boast of their close relationship, and their countries increasingly cooperate in joint military exercises. Under Narendra Modi, India too relies heavily on Russia for weaponry. Yet Russia saves plenty of arms for itself and has transformed the remnants of the decrepit Soviet military into an agile, professionalized fighting force.

In the past few years, Mr. Putin’s Russia has also become adept at the use of its “soft power” in support of anti-liberal values. Conservative societies in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are the most receptive. Many in these countries see Mr. Putin as a socially conservative alternative to American and European hedonism, permissiveness and “political correctness.” Russia’s message has been pushed world-wide through RT, Mr. Putin’s global television mouthpiece, and through its sister radio network, Sputnik. Notoriously, Russia has also used its “sharp power” to penetrate information environments in other countries, including cyberattacks, like the recent offensive against the U.S., and disinformation campaigns intended to sow confusion about the divide between truth and fiction.

President-elect Joe Biden and his foreign-policy team must meet the true threat posed by today’s Russia. This means working with Mr. Putin where the U.S. must while challenging his many efforts to harm American interests, both overseas and at home.

One immediate opportunity for cooperation is U.S.-Russian arms control, since the New START treaty—which sets crucial limits on further nuclear-weapons deployment and provides an extensive verification regime—is set to expire in February 2021. Mr. Biden’s team should also move quickly to work with Russia and others to revive the Iran nuclear deal that Mr. Trump too hastily abandoned. A nuclear-armed Iran isn’t in either Russian or U.S. security interests. Moscow has strong relations with Tehran and will be instrumental in getting the mullahs to sign any new agreement. Similarly, Russia remains vital to efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, after Mr. Trump’s courting of Kim Jong Un did nothing to check his weapons program. Finally, the Biden administration should work with Moscow on limiting the further militarization of space and the Arctic.

Matters are quite different on Ukraine: Mr. Biden should work with our European allies to resist Russia’s continued support of separatist rebels in Ukraine’s east and Moscow’s occupation of Crimea. The U.S. has some leverage because of its tough sanctions against Russia and could offer gradual, partial relief in exchange for concrete actions to end the conflict on decent terms, including restoring Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia. Meanwhile, Mr. Biden’s team should invest in Ukraine’s economic and political success, including fighting corruption. Progress and prosperity in Kyiv would demonstrate to Russians that democracy can work better than aggressive autocracy.

At the same time, the Biden administration should take advantage of some of Russia’s key weaknesses, including the “Putin exodus” of the past several years. Thousands of Russia’s most highly educated citizens have fled, and more Russians (especially those aged 18-30) than ever before say in recent surveys that they intend to emigrate permanently. This robs Russia of the labor and creativity of its most talented citizens. Making immigration into the U.S. easier for these highly skilled Russian workers is good for us and bad for Mr. Putin.

Russia today isn’t a traditional superpower, but it possesses a diverse set of powerful tools and, under Mr. Putin, the will to use them to remain a formidable global player. The U.S. must face up to the threat that Russia now poses with a sense of urgency and by deploying the full range of American diplomatic, economic and political resources, including a renewed effort to rally the world to our tradition of democratic values.

—Dr. Stoner is a senior fellow and deputy director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Her forthcoming book is “Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order,” which will be published by Oxford University Press on Feb. 1.

Why does the world keep quiet about the murder of nuclear scientists?

A funeral ceremony for Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, held in Tehran, Iran on 30 November 2020 [Iranian Defense Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

December 23, 2020 at 9:48 am

On 27 November, Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated; the killing has been assumed widely to have been the work of Israel. While some people expected an immediate response from Iran against Israel, others applauded the murder, believing that it will hinder Iran’s nuclear programme. What happened goes beyond Iran, though, and affects every country trying to develop its own nuclear programme.

Covert operations are normal when regional and global rivals have the ability to harm each other. Responses are also usually covert. We should not, therefore, wait to see what Iran does. We know that while it does not want war, it will not tolerate breaches of its sovereignty. It may well be adopting the same approach that China uses in its relations with the US; despite threats, provocations and sanctions, it just keeps its head down and gets on with it.

The killing of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and how Israel and Saudi Arabia might be behind it? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Iran is avoiding direct confrontation with any country for the time being because it knows that its nuclear facilities will be prime targets in an open armed conflict. That would set back its goal of having nuclear capabilities for its missiles with which it hopes to be a real power in the Middle East. As such, talk about an imminent Iran-Israel war due to Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, or a US-Iran war connected directly to America’s assassination of Quds Force commander General Qasem Soleimani last January, is speculation.

Many countries, including Arab states, applauded the latest assassination of a key Iranian figure in the belief that this would disrupt Tehran’s nuclear project, but they are wrong. The programme may be delayed, but the project is not built around one person; it is a collaborative effort.

Fakhrizadeh was killed not simply because he was Iranian, but because he was working to develop his country’s nuclear capabilities. The original nuclear club — the US, Britain, Russia, France and China — are determined not to let another India or Pakistan develop nuclear weapons. Those two sneaked in under the radar, much to the annoyance of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, none of whom dare say anything about Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

READ: Iran says ‘smart satellite-controlled machine gun’ killed top nuclear scientist

Any country trying to develop nuclear weapons will face opposition, if not from the “big five” nuclear powers then from their local proxies. If any country ignored this and pressed ahead with its programme, then it too would see its facilities attacked and scientists murdered, as Iran has.

We should not forget that Iran and Israel were both alleged to be involved in the assassination of Iraqi scientists who worked on chemical and nuclear weapons and missile development after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Any Iraqi renaissance not under their control was seen as a threat. In other words, their interests coincided in the elimination of Iraqi scientists.

Turkey dared to buy the Russian S-400 missile defence system and faces threats and sanctions. What if it tries to build a nuclear bomb? Turkey and other countries such as Brazil are thinking about nuclear development, and know what they will face if they go ahead.

US sanctioning Turkey over the purchase of Russian missile – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Despite the competition between major world and regional powers, they all meet and agree when it suits them to collaborate against third parties. It is likely, therefore, that even though the Israelis are blamed for Fakhrizadeh’s murder, it went ahead with significant logistical assistance from one or more of Iran’s neighbours and the major powers, all of whom share the goal of preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. The same scenario will be repeated with Saudi Arabia or Turkey if either approaches the red lines drawn in the nuclear sand.

Even superficial research will reveal that a number of scientists in places such as Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, have died in mysterious circumstances. It is no coincidence that they studied nuclear science in Western universities before returning to their home countries to serve their own national projects.

Nuclear weapons must, it seems, remain the prerogative of the original nuclear powers; Pakistan and India are the uninvited guests in this regard, and Israel is the regional proxy about which nothing is ever said or done. This explains the silence whenever nuclear scientists are murdered.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 21 December 2020

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

More Killings in Kashmir Before the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Pakistan army: Indian fire kills woman, wounds 3 in Kashmir

ISLAMABAD

— A 50-year-old woman was killed and three other villagers wounded Tuesday when Indian troops fired into the Pakistan-administered part of the disputed Kashmir region, Pakistan’s military said.

In a statement, the military accused Indian troops of “deliberately targeting (the civilian) population with mortars and heavy weapons.” It said the wounded included a 4-year-old girl.

In Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an Indian army spokesman, accused Pakistani troops of violating a longstanding cease-fire by firing mortar shells and small weapons over the border Tuesday. He said Indian forces retaliated and no casualties were reported on the Indian side.

Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India and both claim it in its entirety. The neighboring countries often trade fire in the region.

The latest violence comes days after Pakistan put its military on high alert in Kashmir after Prime Minister Imran Khan warned India against carrying out “false flag” operations in Kashmir.

On Friday, Pakistan blamed India for targeting a U.N. vehicle in the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir, although there were no casualties. India denied the allegation after doing an investigation and the U.N. has said it was still investigating.

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa visited snow-covered forward military positions in Kashmir, where he was briefed about the latest situation, according to a military statement..

Since gaining independence from British rule in 1947, the two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

____

Associated Press writer Aijaz Hussain contributed from Srinagar, India.

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Iranian Rockets Target U.S. Embassy In Baghdad

Rockets Target U.S. Embassy In Baghdad

A barrage of rockets has targeted Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, causing minor damage to the U.S. Embassy compound and residential areas in the international zone.

An Iraqi military statement said “an outlawed group” launched eight rockets on December 20 targeting the Green Zone, the location of embassies and government buildings. Most of the rockets landed near an empty residential complex and checkpoint, injuring one Iraqi security person.

The U.S. Embassy said its defense systems engaged the rockets and called on the Iraqi government to take action to prevent such attacks by militia groups.

“These sorts of attacks on diplomatic facilities are a violation of international law and are a direct assault on the sovereignty of the Iraqi government,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

U.S. officials have blamed Iran-backed Iraqi militia for carrying out a string of attacks on U.S. interests in the country, prompting Washington to threaten a diplomatic and military withdrawal from the country.

Several militia groups in October announced a brief suspension of attacks on U.S. interests on condition that a timetable would be presented for U.S. forces to leave Iraq. That truce came to an end on November 18 with a rocket strike on the U.S. Embassy.

The United States confirmed in early December it was partially withdrawing some staff from its embassy in response to rising tensions with Iran and Iraqi militia groups.

U.S. officials say the temporary staff reduction came ahead of the first anniversary of the U.S. strike that killed Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, and Iraqi militia leaders outside Baghdad’s airport on January 3.

Soleimani’s killing and that of leading Iraqi paramilitary figure Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis led Iraq’s parliament to pass a nonbinding resolution calling for the exit of all foreign troops from Iraq.

U.S. officials say Iran or allied militia could carry out a possible retaliatory strike around the anniversary.

Tension spiked again across the region following the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran in late November. Iran has blamed Israel and, indirectly, the United States, raising the possibility that Iran or one of its regional proxies will retaliate.

The developments in Iraq come as President Donald Trump ramps up pressure on Iran ahead of a transition to President-elect Joe Biden, who has said he will try to revive diplomacy with Iran upon entering the White House in January.

Biden is expected to try to rejoin the Iran nuclear accord that Trump quit in 2018 and work with allies to strengthen its terms, if Tehran first resumes compliance.

Western diplomats and media reports have suggested Iran has told Iraqi militia groups to avoid provoking the United States in the final weeks of the Trump administration out of concern the situation could escalate before a more dovish Biden administration comes to power.

The Trump administration in November ordered a reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500 by mid-January.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

NOBODY can prevent the next war outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Who will prevent the next war in Gaza, now that Mladenov’s gone? – Middle East News – Haaretz.com

Published at 15:07

The next time Israel and Hamas come to blows and need someone to hold them in check, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, will no longer be there to help as he has often done since being appointed in 2015.

Mladenov was one of the most successful international envoys to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, gaining the respect and trust of both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as of regional actors and the international community.

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Mladenov repeatedly managed to prevent escalation between Israel and Hamas, clearly spelled out the obstacles preventing resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and provided consistent and meaningful support to pro-peace Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations.

Israel is usually concerned about non-American international involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Mladenov’s tenure proved that the opposite is sometimes true. Under President Trump, U.S. policy distanced Israeli-Palestinian peace and created tensions in the Palestinian arena, while the UN, which Israelis tend to vilify, was the one that prevented warfare and encouraged dialogue.

The UN has appointed special envoys at different stages of the Israeli-Arab conflict to mediate between the sides and advance peace, as it does in other conflict zones.

The UN’s first appointed envoy to the Israeli-Arab conflict, Folke Bernadotte, was an active mediator during 1948 Arab–Israeli War but came to a tragic end with his assassination by the pre-state Lehi underground (Stern Gang). His successor, Ralph Bunche, led the successful mediation in negotiations on the armistice agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors, which brought the war to an end in 1949. Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role.

Following the Six Day War (1967), the UN Security Council appointed Swedish diplomat Gunnar Jarring to advance peace in the region. Jarring shuttled between Israeli and Arab capitals, especially Cairo, but his efforts did not yield results. Following the Yom Kippur War (1973), the U.S. intensified its involvement in the diplomatic process and essentially monopolized the role of mediator both in the Israeli-Arab arena and subsequently in the Israeli-Palestinian one.

In the wake of the Oslo Accords (1993), the UN decided to appoint a special coordinator (UNSCO) to the Middle East peace process to monitor its implementation and help build the Palestinian Authority established under the terms of the agreement.

The first coordinator was Norwegian diplomat Terje Larsen, who had taken part in the secret Oslo talks. The U.S. played the leading role throughout most of the ensuing peace process, while the UN envoys, as well as those appointed by the EU, were secondary players who helped out to the extent possible.

The role of the UN envoy was always challenging and complex. The envoys lacked formal, strong leverage and did not represent a state or a superpower with tools and resources to incentivize or sanction the parties.

In addition, the position’s mandate and authority were unclear, and the envoys also had to contend with the deep suspicion and hostility toward the UN on Israel’s part, but also on that of the Palestinians. For example, in 2014 Israel decided to boycott UN envoy Robert Serry after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused him of trying to funnel money to Hamas and called for his expulsion.

Against this backdrop, and despite the position’s innate structural weakness, Mladenov managed to play an important role in the region. He became the sole player accepted and respected by all sides in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, from Prime Minister Netanyahu and hardliner Naftali Bennett to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar.

In fact, Mladenov remained the only “responsible adult” in the face of Trump’s policies and other international actors who lost interest in the conflict or focused on other conflict arenas.

While other incumbent international envoys (such as the EU special representative to the peace process) work out of their home countries and occasionally visit the region, Mladenov worked out of Jerusalem with the help of a skilled team of local and international diplomats.

He became a key player in the indirect negotiation process between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, stepping in often at crucial moments to stem escalation. He did so working in tandem with Egypt and Qatar, despite the rivalry between these two Arab states. Mladenov also stepped in to fill the vacuum created by the suspension of security and civilian coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority this past year, helping to coordinate contacts on the coronavirus crisis.

Along with the declining international interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mladenov was forced to sound the alarm bells at regular briefings to the Security Council and to draw up recommendations and urge action. His desire to maintain good ties with both sides did not prevent him from expressing a clear and loud voice calling at every opportunity for adherence to the two-state vision, leading broad-based opposition to the annexation plan, displaying empathy for victims on both sides and condemning activities by various parties to the conflict.

Mladenov also chose to deviate from the classic diplomacy conducted solely through decision makers and held an expanded dialogue with Palestinian and Israeli civil society organizations. He emphasized over and over the important role they play in advancing peace, participated in events they organized and conducted discussions and briefings with them.

However, while Mladenov recorded achievements with Gaza, peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority did not progress during his term. Netanyahu’s rejection of the two-state solution, Trump’s policies and difficulties within the Palestinian Authority all posed obstacles to promoting peace, and largely circumscribed Mladenov’s role to Gaza only. His successor, Norwegian diplomat Thor Wennesland, will enjoy a better starting position.

Biden’s presidency is expected to revive the U.S. commitment to the two-state solution, rehabilitate U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, restore the U.S. to its role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, and open the way to multilateral cooperation between the U.S. and international partners.

This will enable the new envoy to not only carry on Mladenov’s work relating to the Gaza Strip, but also to try and assume a significant role in coordinating and leading international moves, such as establishing a renewed international mechanism for the advancement of peace (to upgrade the Quartet, which no longer fulfills its designated task), and devising an international package of incentives for peace for Israel and the Palestinians.

Dr. Lior Lehrs is the director of the Program on Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking at Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies and a Research Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Dr. Nimrod Goren is founder and head of the Mitvim Institute and a lecturer on Middle East studies at Hebrew University.

Parties to Iran nuclear deal say they’re preparing to make another deal with the Democrats

Parties to Iran nuclear deal say they’re preparing for possible US return to accord

Published 14:07 December 22, 2020 Updated 14:13 December 22, 2020

Remaining parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Monday said they are preparing for a possible return of the United States to the accord.

Iran signed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia.  President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018 and imposed punishing sanctions on Iran.

The deal allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. Citing the US withdrawal from the deal, Iran has breached many of JCPOA’s restrictions, including on the purity to which it enriches uranium and its stock of enriched uranium.

The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency earlier said that, as of November 2, Iran had a stockpile of 2,442.9kg, up from 2,105.4kg reported on August 25. It added that Iran has been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the deal.

President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on January 20, has suggested he will reenter the JCPOA if Iran complies with the agreement

In a joint statement, Germany, France, and the U.K., along with accord signatories China, Russia, and Iran, said they were ready to “positively address” a US return to the nuclear accord.

Iran, however, says its missile program and regional policies are off the table and that Washington and the E3 must first comply with the nuclear agreement. Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that Tehran will not agree to a new deal.