Monday, February 29, 2016

Saudi Arabia Already A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

| Rome (Italy)
“We have nuclear bombs”: this is what was said on February 19 on Russia Today by the Saudi political analyst, Daham al-Anzi, de facto spokesman for Riyadh. He repeated it on another Arab channel. Saudi Arabia had already declared [1] its intention to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan (not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty), of whom it finances 60% of the military nuclear program. Now, through al-Anzi, the Saudis have indicated that they started buying them two years ago. Of course, for Riyadh, this is to confront the “Iranian threat” in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, where “the Russians aid Assad.” That is to say, where Russia supports the Syrian government to free the country from Daesh (Islamic state) and other terrorist groups, financed and armed by Saudi Arabia as part of the US / NATO strategy.
Riyadh has over 250 fighter-bombers with dual conventional and nuclear capability, provided by the US and by the European powers. Since 2012, Saudi Arabia is part of the “Nato Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency,” the NATO agency that manages European Eurofighter and Tornado fighters, of which Riyadh bought from Britain twice the number of that of the whole Royal Air Force. In the same context, enter the imminent 8 billion EUR maxi contract – thanks to Minister Roberta Pinotti, efficient sales representative for the supply of weapons – to supply Kuwait (ally of Saudi Arabia) with 28 Eurofighter fighter Typhoons, built by a consortium including Finmeccanica with British, German and Spanish industries. This is the largest order ever obtained by Finmeccanica whose coffers will absorb half the 8 billion. Guaranteed with 4 billion in funding by a pool of banks, including Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, and the group Sace Cassa Depositi e Prestiti.
And thus accelerates the conversion of military Finmeccanica, with outstanding results for those who enrich themselves with war: in 2015 Finmeccanica share value grew by 67%. Right in the face of the “Arms Trade Treaty” ratified by parliament in 2013, which states that “no State Party shall knowingly authorize the transfer of arms if the weapons could be used for attacks against civilian targets or subjects, or for other war crimes. ” Faced with the denunciation that the weapons provided by Italy are used by Saudi and Kuwaiti air forces for the massacre of civilians in Yemen, Minister Pinotti replies: “Let us not transform the states that are our allies in the battle against Daesh into enemies. This would be a very serious mistake. ”
This would be especially a “mistake” to allow it to be known who are our “allies” Saudi and Kuwaiti: absolute monarchies, where power is concentrated in the hands of the ruler and his family circle, where parties and trade unions are banned; where immigrant workers (10 million in Saudi Arabia, about half of the labor force; 2 million to 2.9 million people in Kuwait) live in conditions of exploitation and slavery, where those who call for the most basic human rights are hanged or beheaded.
In these hands, “democratic” Italy places bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs, knowing that Saudi Arabia already has them and that they can also be used by Kuwait.
At the “International Humanitarian Law Conference,” minister Pinotti, after stressing the importance of “respecting the norms of international law,” concluded that “Italy is a immensely credible and respected country.”

London Is Soon Due For The Dirty Bomb (Daniel 8:4)

ISIS Has ‘Dirty Bomb,’ Terror Group Claims In Twitter Messages, Plans To Target London

ISIS-620x461 
ISIS claims to possess a so-called dirty bomb, and has threatened to deploy the radioactive weapon in an attack on the West, probably in London, the group said last week on a Twitter account. The postings on the account, which was quickly taken offline by Twitter, are the first apparent confirmation from ISIS that the terrorists have their hands on actual nuclear material.

Even if true, however, ISIS is nowhere near producing a nuclear weapon. A “dirty bomb” is simply a conventional explosive device laden with radioactive material, supposedly designed to mimic the effects of fallout from an actual nuclear weapon.

The Twitter message went on line a little more than a week ago, and was posted by a British citizen, Hamayun Tariq, who hails from Dudley, a town of about 80,000 in England’s West Midlands region. The 37-year old Tariq fled to Syria where he now trains ISIS fighters under the pseudonym Muslim-al-Britani.
“O by the way, Islamic State does have a dirty bomb. We found some radioactive material from Mosul University,” Tariq wrote on the now-deleted Twitter feed. “We’ll find out what dirty bombs are and what they do. We’ll also discuss what might happen if one actually went off in a public area.”
ISIS — also known as Islamic State — militants seized the city of Mosul in Iraq over the summer, including the university there which apparently they looted thoroughly

Back in July, Iraq’s United Nations ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that about 88 pounds of uranium had been stolen from Mosul Univsersity.

But the International Atomic Energy Agency quickly determined that the looted uranium, which is now seemingly in ISIS hands, was of a “low grade,” that “would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk.”

The public perception of the danger of dirty bombs, thanks largely to Hollywood and inflammatory news media reports, is far different from the reality of the damage a so-called dirty bomb could actually inflict.

As the Center For Disease Control points out, “a dirty bomb is not the same as an atomic bomb.”
Where a true atomic bomb — a nuclear explosive — creates a chain reaction of splitting atoms that causes a massive explosion followed by fallout of deadly radiation, a dirty bomb is nothing more than dynamite or some other kind of conventional explosive used “to scatter radioactive dust, smoke, or other material in order to cause radioactive contamination.”

But radiation levels from a dirty bomb “would probably not create enough radiation exposure to cause immediate serious illness, except to those people who are very close to the blast site,” the CDC says.
“The main danger from a dirty bomb is from the explosion, which can cause serious injuries and property damage,” says the CDC.
The global security publication Stratfor also notes that the public fear of a dirty bomb may be the most dangerous element of a dirty bomb attack, saying, “the panic generated by a dirty bomb attack could very well result in more immediate deaths than the detonation of the device itself.”

The ISIS threats of a dirty bomb attack, while they should of course be treated seriously, are perhaps therefore not as frightening as ISIS would like them to be.

The History Of New York Earthquakes: Before The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)


Historic Earthquakes
Near New York City, New York
1884 08 10 19:07 UTC
Magnitude 5.5
Intensity VII
New York historic earthquakes
USGS.gov

This severe earthquake affected an area roughly extending along the Atlantic Coast from southern Maine to central Virginia and westward to Cleveland, Ohio. Chimneys were knocked down and walls were cracked in several States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Many towns from Hartford, Connecticut, to West Chester,Pennsylvania.

Property damage was severe at Amityville and Jamaica, New York, where several chimneys were “overturned” and large cracks formed in walls. Two chimneys were thrown down and bricks were shaken from other chimneys at Stratford (Fairfield County), Conn.; water in the Housatonic River was agitated violently. At Bloomfield, N.J., and Chester, Pa., several chimneys were downed and crockery was broken. Chimneys also were damaged at Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Allentown, Easton, and Philadelphia, Pa. Three shocks occurred, the second of which was most violent. This earthquake also was reported felt in Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Several slight aftershocks were reported on August 11.

Babylon Shows Its Military Might



U.S. test-fires ICBMs to stress its power to Russia, North Korea

By David Alexander

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (Reuters) – The U.S. military test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile in a week on Thursday night, seeking to demonstrate its nuclear arms capacity at a time of rising strategic tensions with Russia and North Korea.

The unarmed Minuteman III missile roared out of a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California late at night, raced across the sky at speeds of up to 15,000 mph (24,000 kph) and landed a half hour later in a target area 4,200 miles (6,500 km) away near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific.

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who witnessed the launch, said the U.S. tests, conducted at least 15 times since January 2011, send a message to strategic rivals like Russia, China and North Korea that Washington has an effective nuclear arsenal.

“That’s exactly why we do this,” Work told reporters before the launch.

“We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.”

Demonstrating the reliability of the nuclear force has taken on additional importance recently because the U.S. arsenal is near the end of its useful life and a spate of scandals in the nuclear force two years ago raised readiness questions.

The Defense Department has poured millions of dollars into improving conditions for troops responsible for staffing and maintaining the nuclear systems. The administration also is putting more focus on upgrading the weapons.

President Barack Obama’s final defense budget unveiled this month calls for a $1.8 billion hike in nuclear arms spending to overhaul the country’s aging nuclear bombers, missiles, submarines and other systems.

The president’s $19 billion request would allow the Pentagon and Energy Department to move toward a multiyear overhaul of the atomic arms infrastructure that is expected to cost $320 billion over a decade and up to 1 trillion dollars over 30 years.

The nuclear spending boost is an ironic turn for a president who made reducing U.S. dependence on atomic weapons a centerpiece of his agenda during his first years in office.

Obama called for a world eventually free of nuclear arms in a speech in Prague and later reached a new strategic weapons treaty with Russia. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in part based on his stance on reducing atomic arms.

“He was going to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security policy … but in fact in the last few years he has emphasized new spending,” said John Isaacs of the Council for a Livable World, an arms control advocacy group.

Critics say the Pentagon’s plans are unaffordable and unnecessary because it intends to build a force capable of deploying the 1,550 warheads permitted under the New START treaty. But Obama has said the country could further reduce its deployed warheads by a third and still remain secure.
Hans Kristensen, an analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said the Pentagon’s costly “all-of-the-above” effort to rebuild all its nuclear systems was a “train wreck that everybody can see is coming.” Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association, said the plans were “divorced from reality.”

The Pentagon could save billions by building a more modest force that would delay the new long-range bomber, cancel the new air launched cruise missile and construct fewer ballistic submarines, arms control advocates said.

Work said the Pentagon understood the financial problem. The department would need $18 billion a year between 2021 and 2035 for its portion of the nuclear modernization, which is coming at the same time as a huge “bow wave” of spending on conventional ships and aircraft, he said.
“If it becomes clear that it’s too expensive, then it’s going to be up to our national leaders to debate” the issue, Work said, something that could take place during the next administration when spending pressures can no longer be ignored.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and John Stonestreet)

Al-Abadi Threatened by Antichrist (Revelation 13)


Al-Abadi Argues Al-Sadr, “Fighting Corruption Begins within Parties”
Archival-photo-65
Baghdad- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi implicitly refused threats directed by Muqtada al-Sadr, who is a popular leader and a governmental official. Al-Sadr, during his Friday speech on Friday, before thousands of his supporters threatened that public enraged protest against corruption will break into the Green Zone. The zone notoriously goes by the Green Zone and is a 10-square-kilometer area centered in the Karkh district of Bahdad.

PM Al-Abadi, in a press conference held by the parliament at al-Rasheed hotel and in cooperation with the U.N. delegation in Iraq, stated that the fight against corruption must be initiated within the parties themselves. He pointed out that no political party acknowledges its responsibility towards corruption in the country, “they all assign their ministers, force them on the Prime Minister, and then renounce them”, Al-Abadi added.

At the conference, which was attended by Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Abadi confirmed that political parties in Iraq were established either based on labels or on sects. Thus he called out on an initiative to form a comprehensive party that surpasses the limits of sects and figureheads. The new party should be able to overcome sectarian and social strife. “The reinforcement of democracy cannot be achieved because political parties are undemocratic themselves”, Al-Abadi said.

The Iraqi PM also clarified that political parties strongly adhering to their ministers stands in the way of fixing the country. He asked that all influential parties begin with repairing their own-self, “it is not possible for us to fix the community, when parties are not competent themselves, it is not possible to further anchor the concept of democracy and freedom in the community, whilst our powerful parties are undemocratic and do not support freedom within their structuring” Al-Abadi explained.

Many have already raised slogans that call for surpassing social, sectarian bridges rifting the society apart. However, nothing has yet been realized on ground, Al-Abadi added.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

East Coast Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Revelation 6:12)


Earthquakes could also happen in East Coast and in the Midwest Cites
Fault Lines US


[BestSyndication News] Earthquakes are always a concern out in Alaska and in California, as it is full of fault lines that are continually shifting. There are some fault lines that are overdue to shift, especially the California San Andres fault line that runs through the mountain ranges and close to Wrightwood. But did you know there is a United States Fault Lines Map that illustrates great potentials for earthquakes outside of our state?

New Madrid Fault Line

The New Madrid Fault Line has records of over 4000 earthquake reports since 1974. This fault line is also called the New Madrid Seismic Zone and has potential to devastate the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. The biggest part of the New Madrid Fault Line sits in Missouri.

We often forget that this Midwestern fault line is there, but in 1811-1812 there was a series of earthquakes that shook with estimated magnitudes of 8.1 – 8.3, with several aftershocks of 6.0 magnitudes. Since those big ones, the largest earthquake that this fault line produced was in a 6.6-magnitude quake that happened on October 31, 1895. It’s epicenter was in Charleston, Missouri.The damage from these earthquakes were extensive, and there has been recent speculation by the scientific community that believe that this fault line might be shutting down and moving elsewhere. In an issue of Nature, scientist believe the current seismic activity at the New Madrid Fault line is only aftershocks from the earthquake back in 1811 and 1812.

Ramapo Fault Line

The Ramapo Fault Line spans 300 kilometers and affects the states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These faults run between the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.
This fault remains relatively inactive, but scientists believe that it could produce some serious earthquakes. There was a study completed in 2008 that believes a 6 – 7 magnitude earthquake will very likely occur from this fault line. The last time this fault was the most active was believed to be 200 million years ago.

San Andreas Fault Line

The last few years Southern California has been preparing for the next big one with government sponsored Earthquake Drills. Scientist are predicting that the next big one with a magnitude of a 7.0 or higher for this fault line will happen any time, it could be now or 10 years from now. They believe the areas that are going to be hit the hardest are going to be Palm Springs and a number of other cities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties in California, and Mexicali municipality in Baja California.

To learn more about earthquakes you can visit http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/

Nuclear Armageddon is more likely than ever (Revelation 16)


Is nuclear Armageddon more likely than ever?
armageddon
The Week Staff
How many nuclear weapons are there?

About 16,000. Russia and the U.S. have 93 percent of them, with more than 7,000 each; the rest are split between France, China, the U.K., Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. The global stockpile is much smaller than it was at the height of the Cold War: In 1986, Russia and the U.S. had 64,000 nukes pointed at each other — enough to devastate every square inch of the entire globe. But there are growing fears that nuclear catastrophe is becoming increasingly likely. The established nuclear powers are modernizing their arsenals with smaller, more sophisticated weapons. The unstable regime in nuclear-armed North Korea is trying to develop a hydrogen bomb. ISIS, which is richer and more ambitious than any previous terrorist group, is trying to get hold of a nuclear device. The Doomsday Clock, the symbolic countdown to Armageddon, was last year moved from five minutes to midnight to three minutes. “We are facing nuclear dangers today that are in fact more likely to erupt into a nuclear conflict than during the Cold War,” says former Secretary of Defense William Perry.
What’s the biggest worry?
Probably North Korea, since it’s run by the erratic, belligerent dictator Kim Jong-Un. The Hermit Kingdom carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, and claimed it was a hydrogen bomb. Atomic bombs create their explosive energy solely through nuclear fission, while H-bombs rely on nuclear fusion, the same chain reaction that drives the Sun. This makes them vastly more powerful than atomic weapons: A-bombs tend to be measured in kilotons (equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT); H-bombs in megatons (1 million tons of TNT). Nuclear scientists are unconvinced that North Korea’s underground test was a thermonuclear weapon, based on the shock waves it produced. But the country is believed to have built a 10-kiloton atomic weapon — slightly smaller than the Hiroshima bomb, but enough to destroy a city. The regime already has the capability to strike South Korea, Japan, and other nearby countries with nuclear weapons; its recent launch of a satellite into orbit, which was widely seen as an intercontinental ballistic missile test, suggested that it could soon reach the U.S.

What are other powers doing?

Arming up. Russia’s defense budget has increased by over 50 percent since 2007 — a third of it is devoted to nuclear weapons. China is increasing its warhead stocks and developing nuclear-armed submarines. Pakistan and India’s own nuclear standoff shows no sign of cooling. President Obama, who in 2009 pledged to try to create a “world without nuclear weapons,” has proposed spending $1 trillion over the next 30 years updating America’s nuclear arsenal, replacing 12 nuclear-armed submarines, 450 land-based missiles, and hundreds of nuclear bombers. Some of the weapons in development are very controversial.
Why is that?
They’re becoming smaller and more advanced, and thus more likely to be used. Last fall, the U.S. Air Force tested its first precision-guided atom bomb, which can be remotely guided like a cruise missile to zero in on small targets. Its explosive power can be dialed up or down, from 50 kilotons to 0.3 kilotons. Critics argue that nuclear weapons should never be used as battlefield weapons — only as a deterrent. “What going smaller does,” says retired Gen. James Cartwright, “is make the weapon more thinkable.” Russia’s new weapons are also causing concerns. Last November, the Kremlin leaked plans for a nuclear torpedo designed to sneak under traditional nuclear defenses and hit cities or military installations along the coasts.

Could terrorists acquire a nuke?

It’s possible. Between 1995 and 2012, the International Atomic Energy Agency catalogued 2,200 attempts to steal or smuggle uranium. ISIS’s propaganda magazine has suggested buying a nuclear weapon in Pakistan and smuggling it into the U.S. Nuclear experts warn that an improvised device could be fitted into an SUV-size shipping container. Ports and airports are fitted with radiation sensors, but they only work at very close range. Another potential threat is a “dirty bomb” — a regular explosive device that would spray radioactive material over a blast zone, exposing thousands of people to radiation and turning an entire city into an uninhabitable ghost town. Authorities in Iraq are now searching for a sizable quantity of “highly dangerous” radioactive material stolen last year, which theoretically could wind up in the hands of ISIS.

Is a nuke-free world possible?

Not in the foreseeable future. Once rogue nations develop nuclear weapons, they’re extremely unlikely to relinquish them. “The reason you attacked Afghanistan is because they don’t have nukes,” a North Korean diplomat told American negotiators in 2005. “That is why we will never give up ours.” For similar reasons, none of the nine nuclear powers will surrender its weapons. The nuclear genie was let out of the bottle in Hiroshima in 1945, and it will probably never be forced back in.

Monitoring nuclear wannabes 

Any nation seeking to develop nuclear weapons has to test them — and the good news is that it has become impossible to conduct a nuclear test in secret. With a huge network of seismic stations and underwater hydroacoustic centers, the international organization responsible for enforcing the ban on testing can detect and measure a nuclear explosion anywhere in the world. But uncovering the construction of a nuke is another matter. Satellites play a big part, but they’re far from infallible. Syria hid a nuclear reactor by assembling it in a building with a lowered floor, which from the outside looked too small to house such a facility. (The reactor was discovered and destroyed by Israel in 2007, before it could be completed.) Once a program has been detected, advances in nuclear forensics — the analysis of air and soil for radioactive particles — have made it very hard to cover up previous activity. “You can detect individual atoms,” says Andreas Persbo of Vertic, the international agreement verification think tank. “It’s virtually impossible to hide that you’ve been doing nuclear activity in a room.”

The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)


Zushan Hashmi 1
(Image via sbs.com.au)
Zushan Hashmi discusses the Turnbull Government’s recent unrestricted nuclear deal with India and the diplomatic ramifications for the South Asia region.
THERE IS NO DOUBT that the civil nuclear deal recently signed by Australia and India, for the purpose of exporting uranium, has raised various important questions regarding the use of Australian uranium in India.
Despite these questions being asked, various government officials have reassured the international and domestic community that the deal will build on the bilateral relationship between the two nations, through economic and strategic means.
Yet, it is quite clear that there are various risks involved on Australia’s part, which in turn, can significantly hamper their geopolitical reputation and affect their bilateral relationships with other nations — potentially leading to instability in South Asia.
In the past, Australia has considered exporting uranium to India, particularly under the Howard Government, only for the policy to then be revoked by Kevin Rudd. It was eventually reintroduced by Julia Gillard and then implemented by Tony Abbott. More recently, Malcolm Turnbull, who finally signed the deal along with Narendra Modi, has assured India that his government will follow through with the deal. However, lately there has been almost no further discussion on the matter from both nations.
Australia’s aforementioned vacillation over the years is of no surprise though, as India is one of the four nations that have failed to sign the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Over the years, Australia has always taken a strong stance against exporting uranium or having any form of uranium deals with any state that has refused to sign the NPT. However, due to India’s “good behaviour”, the safeguard agreement it signed in 2008 and the civil nuclear agreement between USA and India, Australia also opted to sign a deal to once again tap into its yellowcake reserves and eventually begin exportation to India.
However, there have been doubts from several prominent leaders, the international community and the general public regarding the safeguards against nuclear proliferation in relation to the deal. Firstly, these safeguards or the lack thereof, have resulted in a largely unrestricted deal that can enable India to use the uranium for nuclear proliferation or at least aid with the proliferation of its nuclear stockpile.
The blame, in this case, falls on the Australian Government, who went against the wishes of its joint committee to carry on with the agreement  – and ignored existing loopholes in the safeguards  – that may provide the opportunity for nuclear proliferation without India having to nullify the agreement or face repercussions.
Furthermore, it is very likely that Australian uranium will also enable India to free up their existing stockpiles, so as to use them for their nuclear weapons program, as stated by the Australian Conservation Fundation’s David Sweeney in the past. This is now truer than ever, as Pakistan is on course to possessing the third-largest nuclear stockpile in the world (behind the U.S. and Russia).
After all, it is well known that South Asia as a region has been heavily rocked by instability and insecurity. India and Pakistan have gone to war four times, and have also had several small-scale standoffs since the partition in 1947. Despite India’s economic rise and growing impact on global affairs today, it is still wary of several internal threats and of Pakistan — as often represented in its foreign policy. There is also always the possibility of militants slipping across the border from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Additionally, there is the risk of Pakistan’s nuclear arms falling into the hands of militants, or the aggressive foreign policies of both nations resulting in another war with the potential of going nuclear. The civil nuclear deal can lead to Australia to further fuelling these tensions in the region, which can force Pakistan to retaliate in protest and significantly hurt the steps India and Pakistan have taken in recent months towards reigniting talks.
Moreover, this can result in an imbalance across the wider region, which is likely to displease China — Australia’s largest trading partner and ally in the Asia-Pacific. China, which has also invested significant sums of money into Australian mining companies, may be led to believe that Australia is taking a stance against China and its ally Pakistan, with the U.S. and India.
On a positive note though, developments on the matter have taken a standstill in recent weeks, with no elaborations or further discussions on the civil nuclear deal. Then again, this is no surprise as it took a sizeable amount of time for the U.S. and India to reach their own civil nuclear deal.
This is a great opportunity for Australia to consider the several alternative energy exportation means available to them that are just as likely to succeed and without risking regional instability in the Indo-Pacific region. These include solar and wind power and coalmining. Furthermore, strengthening the relationship in the education sector (a goal both countries continue to pursue) can also benefit Australia on a wider scale, as it will also keep China at bay. China, along with India, has one of the largest international student populations in Australia.
It is vital that Australia rethinks the impact of exporting uranium to India while maintaining its strong bilateral relations with the country. The Government must also come to realise how this deal can affect the current dynamics of South Asia, the wider Indo-Pacific region and the perception of Australia across the global community. Regional instability in an already volatile region is the last thing Australia needs to get involved in.

The Antichrist Returns (Revelation 13:11)


Muqtada al-Sadr returns as Iraq battles chaos
TH28_MUQTADA_2754387g
Updated: February 27, 2016 23:48 IST | Tim Arango

They came from the slums of this city’s underclass, the alleyways and the simple halls of the seminary in the Shia holy city of Najaf, and the outer reaches of the rural south.

They waved Iraqi flags and demanded change. The crowd packed Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Friday morning, chanting by the tens of thousands against corruption and for decisive reforms in how politics is conducted here, as they waited for their man to appear.

“No, no to thieves! Yes, yes to reforms!”

Then Muqtada al-Sadr, the cleric and political provocateur whose command of the Iraqi Shia street is unmatched, stepped up to the rail of a makeshift stage on the rooftop of an old girls school and appealed to the people’s grievances in terms at once revolutionary and patriotic.

“After today, the Prime Minister has to act!” he said. Referring to the barricaded heart of the central government, he said, “Today, we are at the door of the Green Zone, and tomorrow the people will be inside!” The time is ripe for demagogues again in Iraq, where the public is seething with anger over corruption, a grinding war and a collapse in oil prices that has shaken the economy. With an ineffective political class unable to rise above internal scheming, Iraq is struggling to face its most pressing concerns, the primary one being winning the war with the Islamic State and reuniting the country.

Al-Sadr and his fearsome militia were once a primary enemy of the U.S., and he played many roles in shaping Iraq after the U.S. invasion: populist cleric, Iranian proxy, Iraqi patriot, political kingmaker.
In seizing a chance on Friday to return to the political spotlight, he positioned himself as an Iraqi nationalist in the face of Iran’s growing role and as an ally to a weak Prime Minister. “Today I am among you to say to you, frankly and bravely, that the government has left its people struggling against death, fear, hunger, unemployment, occupation, a struggling economy, a security crisis, bad services and a big political crisis,” al-Sadr told the crowd. Above all, it was a reminder of al-Sadr’s complexity, and the confused state of internal Shia politics, that even as he was seeking to harness public rage against the political elites, he had actually called the street rally to support the reform policies of the country’s struggling Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi. Al-Abadi’s proposal to tackle corruption and install technocrats in the country’s ministries has stalled over the opposition of powerful militia leaders and some pro-Iran politicians. For his part, al-Sadr has offered to have his ministers resign in protest to lend al-Abadi’s agenda some steam. Despite that, and the support of the most senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, it remains unclear whether al-Abadi’s agenda will be able to win the help of any other political blocs.

If nothing else, al-Sadr’s appearance in Baghdad on Friday was a chance to “get himself back in the centre of things,” said Kirk Sowell, an analyst based in Amman, Jordan, who publishes the newsletter Inside Iraqi Politics.

Al-Sadr was once at the very heart of things in Iraq, but in recent years had receded somewhat from the public eye. When the United States invaded in 2003, al-Sadr was just shy of 30. But he drew on the political inheritance of his father, a pivotal and immensely popular Shia cleric assassinated on Saddam Hussein’s orders in 1999, to emerge as a powerful voice for the Shia underclass.

He forged a movement that melded martial, political and social elements. His militia, the Mahdi Army, once fought the Americans and the Iraqi state, and it was blamed for atrocities during the sectarian civil war of 2006 and 2007.

Nowadays his militiamen are largely under the control of the government, and his anti-Americanism, once a defining issue for him, is less ardent. Once an open client of Iran, al-Sadr has in recent years gone his own way, and is widely seen these days as an Iraq-first advocate of cross-sectarian unity.
His militia, reconstituted after the extremists of the Islamic State captured Mosul in summer 2014, was renamed the Peace Brigades.

Today, as he seeks to redefine himself once again, al-Sadr, now 42, has positioned himself as backer of al-Abadi, who is seen as increasingly weak in the face of the growing influence of Iran. Tehran supports al-Abadi’s political rivals, who command militias.

Iraq is a place where everyone has his enemies, and al-Sadr has his share. One of his chief critics is the former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who once counted on al-Sadr’s support to secure a second term after national elections in 2010. Al-Sadr later broke from al-Maliki, and tried to oust him from the premiership.

During his time in office, especially in 2011 when the Arab Spring uprisings set off a protest movement in Iraq, al-Maliki feared what would happen if al-Sadr commanded his followers to take to the streets. He did not, and the protests died out. But al-Maliki said al-Sadr’s re-emergence presents dangers for Iraq, and warned: “He has power and weapons.”

(Falih Hassan and Ahmed Salah contributed to reporting.) — New York Times News Service

Babylon Vs Babylon the Great (Ezekiel 17)


America’s Twenty-Five-Year Fiasco in Iraq
MissionAccomplished
A problem that has confounded four presidents, and perhaps soon a fifth

Perry Cammack
February 2 2016

Twenty-five years ago this week, on February 24, 1991, the first United States ground invasion of Iraq began. The first Bush administration had clear UN and congressional mandates to liberate Kuwait. More than thirty countries contributed ground forces, and the Soviet Union was a critical diplomatic partner. After a punishing six-week air campaign, the ground battle seemed to be over almost as soon as it had started, displaying the American military’s tremendous tactical and technological superiority. But amid talk of a new world order, the hundred-hour ground invasion was only the opening chapter in America’s tragic twenty-five-year Iraq story.

Leaving Saddam in power was the correct decision, but it created a dilemma: what to do with an implacably hostile tyrant. As with Germany after World War I, Saddam had every incentive to challenge the postwar settlement. The economic embargo imposed to compel Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait remained after that withdrawal was complete. Because no real attempt was made to find a more durable postwar settlement—that would have constrained the Iraqi military and deterred chemical, biological and nuclear research, while mitigating the catastrophic impacts of a long-term full embargo—the diplomatic effort to sustain the sanctions regime was bound to increase with time.
Thus, tactical postwar adaptations gradually calcified into contradictory policy objectives of containment and regime change. Saddam’s willingness to sacrifice his people’s welfare gave him a powerful diplomatic weapon in resisting sanctions and weapons inspections. By the time the George W. Bush administration took office in 2001, the sanctions regime was unraveling amid growing outrage at the profound suffering of the Iraqi citizenry.

Then came 9/11.

It is now understood that Osama bin Laden’s masterstroke was blowback against the American military deployment in the Arabian Peninsula. But the second Bush administration’s response was a foreign policy blunder matched in modern American history only by the Vietnam War.
Saddam was removed from power in fewer than four weeks, but the incompetence of the occupation that followed defied comprehension. The simultaneous dismantling of the Iraqi army and the Baath Party exacerbated the devastation of decades of war and economic isolation, unleashing primordial forces that Washington struggled to comprehend, and that 150,000 American troops could not control.

Terrorist organizations had long operated in the shadows of the Middle East. But only since the second invasion of Iraq have they been able to recruit thousands of foreign fighters to the heart of the region, control vast territory and engage in nihilistic destruction on such a grand scale.
According to the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, an astounding 42 percent of the roughly 4,800 global suicide attacks since 1982 have occurred in Iraq, all of them since 2003. Before 2003, global suicide attacks averaged seventeen a year. Since then, they have increased by two thousand percent to an average of 370 per year.

Like Nixon’s Vietnam inheritance, President Obama faced an untenable commitment for marginal strategic benefit as he entered office in January 2009. Nearly four thousand American soldiers had died and credible estimates of the war’s full costs ran as high as $3 trillion, while Iraqi leaders were no closer to resolving fundamental political divisions.

Two months before leaving office, the second Bush administration signed a bilateral security agreement requiring American combat forces be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011. Many believed the agreement would be extended, but President Obama was determined to fulfill his campaign commitment to complete the withdrawal. In December 2011, the withdrawal was completed and America’s war in Iraq—the second in two decades—was declared over. But this modicum of stability, too, proved illusory.

The American military occupation was deeply unpopular among Iraqis, and the parliament was never going to provide legal immunities necessary to allow a large-scale American troop presence to continue. But despite tepid negotiations for a follow-on military presence, Obama gave the distinct impression he was content to take no for an answer. A more determined approach might have yielded a creative political mechanism for a limited, noncombat, follow-on American troop presence.
Might the collapse of the Iraqi army against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in 2014 have been delayed or prevented? Certainly, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s unique incompetence belied the decades-long devastation of Iraq’s political culture. The reconstituted military and police retained certain dysfunctions that limited the effectiveness of their Saddam-era predecessors. On the other hand, Maliki’s most egregious blunder was the purging of Iraq’s senior officer corps, replacing them with corrupt cronies. An American noncombat military presence might have discouraged some of these worst sectarian impulses, improved accountability and ameliorated the sharp decline in morale.
Instead, Iraq began again to fall apart, slowly at first, then more quickly as armed revolution began to shake Syria. Eventually this disintegration forced Maliki’s ouster, but not before the Iraqi army collapsed like a house of cards in Mosul in June 2014, against a vastly outnumbered IS force. By August, the American bombing of Iraq had commenced again.

At it its core, the American experience in Iraq has been a failed twenty-five-year effort to address Iraq’s internal political dysfunction. The George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations attempted this through an awkward balance of coercion, containment and, at least rhetorically, regime change. The second Bush administration undertook a disastrous imperial nation-building effort. The Obama administration was committed to disengagement until the declaration of a terrorist caliphate pulled it back in.

With a new administration taking office in less than a year, three important lessons can be drawn from this most unhappy experience. First, the United States needs to dispense with ideological approaches. The hubristic excesses of the second Bush administration in attempting to recreate the Middle East are well documented. But the Obama administration was itself slow to adapt to changing circumstances. As a result, U.S. policy toward Iraq since 2003 has resembled an ideological pivot on the narrow question of the efficacy of military force. While the military’s overuse has repeatedly been demonstrated incapable of resolving underlying political problems in the Middle East, both neoconservative and neo-isolationist approaches have proven profoundly lacking. Meanwhile, an assortment of economic, political and diplomatic instruments is too often treated as an afterthought.
Second, policy success is difficult to find where policy objectives are ill defined. Regrettably, the United States has lacked clear objectives in Iraq since Saddam’s eviction from Kuwait twenty-five years ago. As the borders between Syria and Iraq have been erased, the central locus for U.S. policy has shifted to Syria. In contrast with Putin’s ruthless focus on Assad’s preservation—which goes a long way toward explaining Russia’s relative success—American policies in Syria are every bit as contradictory today as in Iraq a decade ago. The next administration will have to clearly decide whether its overriding priority is the defeat of the Islamic State, the removal of Bashar al-Assad or ending the humanitarian catastrophe, since each requires a somewhat different approach.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the global policy community desperately needs tools to address the profound institutional deficiencies of the broader Arab world. The U.S. military has solutions that are often quite effective in addressing security threats and challenges. Unlike in 1991, however, the fundamental challenges in the Middle East today are primarily political in nature. The Islamic State’s terrifying emergence is rooted in decades of catastrophic governance failures in Syria and Iraq, which cannot be bombed away. Yet, after twenty-five years of near-continuous U.S. military engagement, Washington is no more competent today in supporting better governance, suggesting that the United States is likely to remain marginal to such efforts going forward.

Addressing these institutional failings is central to the emergence of a more stable Middle East. An important starting point for the next administration is recognition of the magnitude of the challenge, understanding the relatively marginal role Washington will play, and appreciation for the profound tension between America’s short-term security needs and the region’s long-term reform needs.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq in February 1991 marked the high water mark of American post–Cold War power. The Berlin Wall had fallen; the Soviet Union was existential nemesis turned partner; the demons of Vietnam vanquished. Yet for twenty-five years, four successive administrations have bequeathed grim inheritances to their successors involving this faraway desert land, hitherto marginal to American foreign policy.

Eleven months from now, a fifth American administration will begin its own chapter with a happy ending nowhere in sight.

Perry Cammack is an associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Sixth Seal Will Be On The East (Revelation 6:12)


Did You Feel It? East vs West: This image illustrates how earthquakes are felt over much larger areas in the eastern U.S. than those west of the Rocky Mountains. The map compares USGS
New Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes
Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances
Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.

“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”

“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”
This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.

This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.

The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.

“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”

The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.
Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

Babylon Prepares The World For WW3 (Ezekiel 17)


The US is Selling Weapons to Nearly Half the Countries in the World

Lima, Ohio March 2012 Turrets near completion. The Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (US Army Tank Plant) which is the only heavy armored tank factory in the United States. They build and refurbish Abrams tanks, Stryker armored personnel carriers, and other weapons systems.


The global trade in arms continued to grow over the last half decade, buoyed by an appetite for weapons in the Middle East and a near doubling of exports from China.

Figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a monitoring group, showed that even as the total trade in weapons grew by 14 percent between 2011 and 2015, the two largest exporters, Russia and the US, managed to capture even greater portions of the pie. American exports made up a full third of the global trade, up from 29 percent between 2006 and 2010.
According to a congressional report, US arms sales increased by more than a third in 2014 alone, to $36.2 billion from 26.7 the year prior. SIPRI reported that over the last five years, the US sold “major” weapons to at least 96 countries — just a hair under half the total number of UN member states.

Russia meanwhile captured a quarter of all exports in SIPRI’s most recent assessment, up from 22 percent in the previous reporting period.

In line with longstanding security alliances in the Gulf, the US sent nearly 10 percent of its total exports between 2011 and 2015 to Saudi Arabia, and a further 9.1 percent to the United Arab Emirates. Both countries are members of the coalition that has intervened militarily in Yemen for nearly a year, largely with American-supplied aircraft and munitions. According to the Congressional Research Service, the US sold them more than $90 billion in armaments and weapons systems since 2010.

Disaster Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


by Lacy Cooke
New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently called for an investigation after Indian Point, a nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, reported a leak of radioactive material flowing into the groundwater. Now, new samples taken from the local groundwater show that contamination levels are 80% higher than previous samples, prompting experts to claim this leak is spreading in “a disaster waiting to happen” and calling for the plant to be shut down completely. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is located just 25 miles north of New York City, and it’s a crucial source of of power for over 23 million people living in the greater NYC metropolitan region.

Pakistan Worried About India’s Nuclear Triad


4641_triadmain
IANS  |  Islamabad  February 26, 2016 Last Updated at 11:04 IST
Pakistan’s biggest worry right now is that “India will soon possess the much-vaunted nuclear triad”, said a Pakistani daily which observed that Pakistan is nowhere near reaching that level.
An editorial “The NCA meeting” in The News International said that Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions are three-fold: It wants to maintain a large enough stockpile to act as a deterrent against India, it wants a civil nuclear deal with the US so that it can import nuclear fuel and technology and it wants to convince the world that the command-and-control structure in place safeguards against our technology falling into the wrong hands.
Wednesday’s meeting of the National Command Authority tried to make some progress on all three fronts.
“Regarding the deterrent, our biggest worry right now is that India will soon possess the much-vaunted nuclear triad — the ability to launch nuclear weapons by land, air and sea.
“Since Pakistan is nowhere near reaching that level, the NCA decided to reiterate its call for a Strategic Restraint Regime with India,” said the daily.
It added that this would have the effect of cooling down the nuclear arms race, and lead directly to Pakistan’s second ambition of reaching a civil-nuclear deal with the US and countries like France.
“This is why India has adamantly opposed the Strategic Restraint Regime. India wants to maintain its status as the only country yet to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty that has been given a civil-nuclear deal by the US; and should we show our intentions are responsible by creating this regime, India is worried it could lead to a similar deal for us.”
It said that to advance Pakistan’s third goal of demonstrating the safety of its nuclear arsenal, the NCA also called for the ratification of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
“However, even if we ratify the treaty, as most of the world has already done, we will be unlikely to convince the West that our nuclear technology will not fall into the hands of militants.”
It went on to say that regular alarmist stories in the international press, accompanied by the memory of our illicit nuclear transfers in the 1990s to the pariah state of North Korea, have combined to ensure that regular demonstrations of the security and safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal go ignored.
“Add to that Indian lobbying against Pakistan and there is no chance of our being accorded a similar status as our neighbour.”

Antichrist Leads 1 Million In Iraq (Revelation 13:18)


Gathering in Baghdad’s central Tahrir square the protestors shouted and waved posters of ‘no to corruption and corrupts,”
Sadr who gave Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi an ultimatum last month to carry out his reform plans or face mass demonstrations, delivered a speech to the protesters in which he blamed the government for the current financial crisis.
“This demonstration is the voice of the displaced people and the oppressed Sunnis,” he said over loud speakers. “We disown any corrupt party or personality,”
The cleric said that the current government was not a true representative of his party or people.
In his warning message earlier this month Sadr, whose party has 34 seats in parliament, said that the former government of Nouri al-Maliki was responsible for the fall of Mosul and Abadi’s cabinet must hold them to account.
“Abadi must carry out grassroots reform,” Sadr said in front of the protesters. “Raise your voice and shout so the corrupt get scared of you,” he encouraged the people.
Riyadh Ghali Miftin, a Sadrist MP told Rudaw that the protests were to bring the country back on the right track and the right direction.
According to Rudaw reporters in Baghdad Sadr instructed his followers and protesters not to wave or sing flags of his party or family name and keep the protests nonpartisan.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Antichrist Shows His Might In Iraq (Revelation 13:18)


Iraq: Hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr supporters protest corruption in Baghda

Supporters of prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Mqtada al-Sadr
Supporters of prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr shout slogans during a protest against corruption at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, IraqReuters
Hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims, supporters of the influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have taken to the streets of Baghdad to protest corruption in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The partisan Kurdish news agency Rudaw has claimed up to a million Sadarists took up the call for anti-corruption protests, however estimated numbers from Arabic language media outlets have been lower.
Iraq Prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric
Iraq Prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (C) speaks during a protest against corruption at Tahrir Square in BaghdadReuters
The demonstrations, which began following Friday (26 February) prayers in the Iraqi capital, came in response an ultimatum given by Sadr to the Abadi government in January, demanding the implementation of reforms promised in summer 2015.

Protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square shouted slogans of “no to corruption and the corrupt” and speaking on stage Sadr told the masses they should be prepared to continue their protest movement. He spoke from a stage emblazoned with the Iraqi flag, flanked by members of his paramilitary organisation Saraya al-Salam.

“Abadi must carry out grassroots reform,” Sadr said. “Raise your voice and shout so the corrupt get scared of you,” he added.

Sadr also sought to strike a less sectarian tone. He said the failures of the previous government, headed by Nouri al-Maliki, had led to the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State and caused the suffering of the country’s Sunnis.

However, included in Sadr’s list of demands to the government is absorption of powerful Shiite militias, including his own, into the Iraqi army. Implicit in the holding of the demonstration on the edge of Baghdad’s green zone was the threat the hugely popular cleric, who holds no official government post himself, could unleash his supporters on the capital’s institutions and the country’s parliament.

Al-Sadr, who rose to prominence during the US war in Iraq, has capitalised on Shiite fears over the expansion of the Islamic State (IS), a Sunni extremist group, in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. His Saraya al-Salam brigade were established following the IS capture of Mosul in 2014.
People gather at a Shiite mosque
People gather at a Shiite mosque after a suicide bomb attack, in Baghdad February 26, 2016Reuters
Iraq’s Shiite community in Baghdad has borne the brunt of recent IS (Daesh) violence in the country. At least 15 people were killed in twin suicide bomb attacks, claimed by Isis on a Shia mosque in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Reuters reported another 50 people were injured in the explosions, citing police and medical sources. The attack was carried out in Baghdad’s Shulaa district, a predominantly Shia area of the city.
In January IS killed 51 in one day in three separate bomb attacks across Iraq. One of the IS assaults targeted Baghdad’s predominately Shia al-Jadid district, where least 18 people were killed and 50 injured.

Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study
New-York-Destroyed-300x224
A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.
Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New York compared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.
The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”
Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.
One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.
The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.
“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”
The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.
Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.
The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.
Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.
“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”
New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:
Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.
Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.
New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.
Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.
The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.
Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.
Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.
In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

The Iranian-Korean Connection (Daniel 8)

Nuclear Deal in Place, Iran Is Testing New Missiles and Doubling Down in Syria

Nuclear Deal in Place, Iran Is Testing New Missiles and Doubling Down in Syria
During festivities this month marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution, officials publicly displayed a mock-up of the country’s latest rocket, the Simorgh. Designed to launch a satellite into space, it bears a striking resemblance to the rocket North Korea just used for its own satellite launch, reinforcing concerns that Tehran is working with Pyongyang to develop advanced ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe.

Iran’s unabashed pursuit of missile technology is the latest example of how the country is asserting itself in the aftermath of the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran signed in July with the United States and five other major powers. While U.S. officials say Iran has so far abided by the nuclear accord, Tehran in recent months has been flouting separate international restrictions on ballistic missiles and arms imports while expanding its support for militants in the region.

Iran has recently conducted two ballistic missile tests despite a U.N. ban and appears poised to launch its new Simorgh rocket. Western intelligence agencies fear Iran is working its way to building an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could eventually be outfitted with an atomic warhead — if Tehran were to opt out of the nuclear agreement.

And across the region, Iran is waging war through proxies and even its own military units to shore up the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, undermine Israel, and support Shiite Houthis against Saudi-backed forces in Yemen. Working with Russian warplanes, Iran’s special forces — along with fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah militia — have helped the Assad regime clear out rebels from strategically important territories like the long contested districts around the city of Aleppo.

The moves are raising concerns in Middle Eastern capitals and in the U.S. Congress, including among some of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats who backed the nuclear agreement but are worried the administration could cede too much ground to Tehran.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who voted in favor of the nuclear deal, said he wanted to see the agreement succeed but that it was time to get “tougher” with Iran. “We’re going to have to be clear that we’re not going to tolerate their bad behavior, and we’re willing to punish Iran,” Coons told Foreign Policy.

Coons and some Democratic lawmakers took a significant political risk in endorsing the nuclear accord, which was opposed by every Republican member of Congress as well as by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Jewish groups. The support from Democrats followed an elaborate lobbying campaign by the White House, with senior officials offering repeated assurances that the administration would adopt a strict line on Iran’s activities that fall outside the accord.
Now those Democrats “are questioning whether the administration has their backs,” said one Senate Democratic staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House officials say they will remain vigilant against any actions taken by Iran that threaten its neighbors. Even with the nuclear agreement in place, “which ensures that our partners will not be faced with an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon, we’re still going to confront Iran’s destabilizing activities,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But while Congress is pushing the administration to take steps to check Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry appealed to lawmakers on Thursday to hold off for the moment on renewing the long-standing Iran Sanctions Act — which maintains a broad range of financial and other penalties on Tehran that are unrelated to the nuclear program.

“I wouldn’t advise that for a number of reasons,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying Congress should wait to see how Iran complies with the nuclear agreement and that sanctions could quickly be adopted if Tehran violated the deal.

Both Kerry and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told lawmakers Thursday that Iran has fulfilled its commitments under the agreement so far, though the implementation of the deal is still at an early stage. Experts say the acid test will come later when international inspectors ask Tehran for access to sensitive sites with possible links to Iran’s military.

In the meantime, Coons and some lawmakers are urging the United States and other major powers to prepare contingency plans for more minor violations of the nuclear agreement that would not be serious enough to trigger a resumption of international economic sanctions. These plans could involve unilateral penalties by the United States or measures coordinated with European governments.

“We need to have an agreed-upon menu of options that shows we won’t tolerate excursions outside of the limits on the deal,” Coons said in an interview with FP.

The nuclear agreement imposed an array of limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions, freeing up to $100 billion in frozen assets. In the final stage of negotiations, the United States and other powers bowed to Tehran’s demand to ease the terms of the embargoes on arms purchases and ballistic missile development, which were imposed to penalize Iran over its nuclear work. The arms embargo is due to expire in five years, and the ballistic missile restrictions will run out in eight years — pending Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord.

But Russia, which was one of the parties to the deal, has since announced plans to sell sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, as well as Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets. Iran has long sought the S-300 missiles, which have a range of about 100 miles and could make it much more difficult for Israeli or U.S. aircraft to stage an air attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. The missile sale does not violate the terms of the U.N. arms embargo that is still in place, but the proposed deal for Sukhoi warplanes would broach the ban.

The United States also maintains sanctions on Iran over its human rights record and as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” a designation dating back to the 1980s. In 2011, Obama issued an executive order introducing new sanctions on a high-ranking Iranian paramilitary group and other entities linked to the repression of Syrians. In the months since the nuclear deal was unveiled, Iran has bolstered its military presence in Syria with the deployment of additional special forces units along with Tehran-backed proxies from Hezbollah and other Shiite foreign fighters. The Iranian allies are paying a steep price: A new report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy estimates that Hezbollah has lost at least 865 fighters in Syria between Sept. 30, 2012, and Feb. 16, 2016.
Iran raised alarms in Washington recently after test-firing a rocket in the Persian Gulf within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier and after capturing 10 U.S. Navy sailors whose vessels had strayed into Iranian waters. Iran released the sailors promptly after a flurry of phone calls between Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. But before the sailors were freed, Iran released embarrassing video footage of the boat crews kneeling with their hands behind their heads, images of one sailor crying, and an interview with one officer who apologized for the navigation mishap.
Those aren’t the only incidents raising hackles in Washington. Iran carried out a ballistic missile test last October and another in November, despite a U.N. prohibition. The United States imposed sanctions over the tests in January, but the move was delayed while Washington negotiated the release of Americans detained in Iran in exchange for Iranians held in the United States.
Early next week, Iran will likely test its Simorgh rocket. That space-launch vehicle is named for a “mythical bird of Persia, so old it has seen the destruction of the Universe three times over,” as Brenda Rosen writes in The Mythical Creatures Bible. “An immense creature the shape of a peacock with spectacular plumage, it has the claws of a lion and is large enough to carry off an elephant or whale.”

If successful, its launch would represent a major achievement for a missile program that has made remarkable strides in recent years with the help of North Korea. Satellite imagery obtained by scholars at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey shows Iran preparing a launch site, and the country has issued a notice to airline pilots that it will conduct a launch between March 1 and 2.

That launch will inevitably be met with international condemnation, even if the rocket is for the peaceful purpose of putting a satellite in space. Experts who have analyzed the Simorgh rocket say it is explicitly designed for space launches, but Iran will gain data and experience from the launch that will be useful in developing longer-range rockets.

When North Korea put a satellite into space earlier this month, it did so with a rocket that appeared to be what it calls an Unha, which is roughly the same size — and uses the same engines in places — as the Simorgh. Both of the missiles’ first stages use engines from a North Korean medium-range missile, the No-Dong. The Simorgh and Unha also both use a Cold War-era steering engine from a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile, the SS-N-6. It is unclear exactly how Iran obtained these engines, but it is likely they were supplied by North Korea, which had, in turn, obtained them in the 1990s from Russia, according to Michael Elleman, a consulting senior fellow for regional security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Missile cooperation between Iran and North Korea began during the Iran-Iraq War, when Tehran found itself desperate for a ballistic missile capable of striking Iraqi targets far beyond the front lines. Iran first turned to Libya and Syria, purchasing limited quantities of Scud missiles. It eventually turned to North Korea for help. Pyongyang, in turn, supplied Iran with large numbers of Scud missiles, laying the basis for more than two decades of cooperation that will culminate with the likely launch of the Simorgh.

As with all things concerning North Korea, the full extent of cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang remains shrouded in mystery. But last month, the U.S. Treasury Department revealed that “Iranian missile technicians” from Iran’s liquid-fueled missile manufacturing group had traveled to Pyongyang “within the past several years” in order “to work on an 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Korean government.”

The U.S. government has refused to provide additional details on that booster, and arms control experts have puzzled over the revelation, which was contained in a sanctions designation on 11 entities and individuals associated with the country’s ballistic missile program. Elleman said that booster could be part of the Unha. But David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said an 80-ton booster would be too large for the North Korean rocket.

Still, Wright agreed that the allegations leveled at North Korea and Iran by the U.S. government — and the shared characteristics and components of their space-launch vehicles — point to a clear conclusion. “Iran and North Korea are working collaboratively to solve the developmental challenges of putting things into space,” Wright said.

While North Korea supplied Iran with the basis for its missile program in the 1980s and 1990s, there’s reason to believe Tehran has now far surpassed Pyongyang. The Simorgh is larger and more powerful than the Unha, and Elleman said Iran now has better design and engineering capacities than North Korea. “A number of folks who follow this would say that the student has passed the teacher,” Elleman said.