Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Turkmen Fails to Stop the Antichrist

Protests won’t change Iraq vote results: Turkmen leaderProtests won’t change Iraq vote results: Turkmen leader

Head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, Arshad Salihi
By Ali Jawad
“Any objection to the results of the manual recount would not make any change,” Arshad Salihi told Anadolu Agency.
Last week, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission said the manual recount of the May 12 parliamentary election results is compatible with the electronic count.
On Sunday, the electoral commission began to receive complaints from political parties against the poll results.
“Commission judges were subject to pressure, that’s why the results in Kirkuk were kept as it is,” Salihi said.
He claimed that votes were manipulated in around 1,140 polling stations in Kirkuk.
“Judges, however, recounted votes in 190 polling stations only and wrapped up their work in Kirkuk before the set time,” he said.
Salihi said he will file a complaint against the results of the manual recount. “But we don’t pin high hopes on changing the vote results because we know that there are pressures being piled on the commission,” he said.
“We have no choice but to resort to international organizations to follow up on the issue,” he said.
Once Iraq’s Federal Court approves the results of the manual recount, incoming MPs will hold a first session to elect a new assembly speaker.
Within 30 days of the first parliamentary session, the assembly will elect -- by a two-thirds majority -- the country’s next president.
The president will then task the largest bloc in parliament with drawing up a government, which must be referred back to parliament for approval.

Iran Builds Up Her Nuclear Arsenal (Daniel 8:4)

Iran taking back enriched uranium it sent out to Russia under nuke deal
Energy official says re-imposed US sanctions forcing Islamic Republic to return to nuclear fuel sources for domestic power needs
By TOI staff
11 Aug 2018, 11:26 pm
Iran on Saturday announced it was taking back another portion of the 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile it handed over to Russia as part of the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with world powers in exchange for sanctions relief.
Spokesman and vice-president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Behrouz Kamalvandi said the re-imposition of US sanctions following President Donald Trump’s exit in May from the accord necessitated returning the uranium for domestic needs.
“If the fuel is sold to us, we do not need to produce it by ourselves,” Kamalvandi said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“If the nuclear deal remains alive, the other sides should sell us the fuel and if the nuclear deal dies, then we would feel unimpeded to produce the 20% fuel ourselves,” he added.
Kamalvandi said Iran stopped producing 20% enriched uranium and transferred its stockpile to Russia in ten batches as per the 2015 deal. He said Russia had already returned one batch of the fuel earlier this year at Tehran’s request, and a second would be returned soon.
The multi-national accord brokered by the Obama administration stipulated that Iran ship out all but 300 kilograms (over 660 pounds) of its almost nine-ton stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Low-enriched uranium is suited to generate electricity but can be further enriched to arm nuclear warheads.

Illustrative: An unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency inspector cuts the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility, some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Monday, January 20, 2014. (AP/IRNA, Kazem Ghane)
In May, the US announced it was abandoning the 2015 agreement and reimposing nuclear-related sanctions, threatening global companies with heavy penalties if they continue to operate in Iran.
In a bid to salvage the accord, the EU and European parties to the deal — Britain, France, and Germany — presented a series of economic “guarantees” to Iran last month, but they were deemed “insufficient” by Tehran.
In recent weeks, Iran has prominently displayed its centrifuges and threatened to resume enriching uranium at higher rates. At one point, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani renewed a long-standing Iranian threat to close off the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes.
US sanctions that had been eased by the Obama administration under the deal took effect again Tuesday, targeting US dollar financial transactions, Iran’s automotive sector, and the purchase of commercial planes and metals, including gold. Even stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be re-imposed in early November.
Trump has offered talks on a “more comprehensive deal” but Iran has balked at negotiating under the pressure of sanctions and has instead leaned on its increasingly close ties with fellow US sanctions targets Turkey and Russia.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the conservative Tasnim news agency on Saturday there are no plans to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or other US officials on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month, which both Rouhani and Trump are due to attend.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, from left, wait for the start of a bilateral meeting, as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
“On Trump’s recent proposal [of talks], our official stance was announced by the president and by us. Americans are not honest and their addiction to sanctions does not allow any negotiation to take place,” Zarif told Tasnim.
It was Iran’s most explicit rejection of renewed nuclear talks to date, after much speculation that economic pressure would force its leaders back to the table with Washington or at least to engage in backroom discussions in New York.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Building the Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Trump stance on Iran heralds new reality for Australia
13 August 2018 — 12:00am
The Trump administration is reimposing a series of sanctions on Iran, targeting Iranian trade in aircraft, automobiles, pistachios and gold.  In November, an additional round of sanctions will target exports.
These trade moves follow Donald Trump's withdrawal in May of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. This new reality means that Australia should urgently clarify its stance towards Iran.
We know that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Iran at the July AUSMIN summit. While Bishop, commendably and appropriately, has been recently criticising Iran’s regional military aggression and ongoing missile development, Australian diplomats are actively reaching out to Tehran’s commercial class, with the embassy there recently announcing “Australian companies are keen on doing business with Iran” and signalling a “wait and see” approach to the discredited nuclear deal.
Australia needs a clear and consistent position which should be based on Australia’s national interest in robustly addressing the threat posed by a belligerent, expansionist and irresponsible Iran.
Smuggled intelligence documents revealed by Israel have shown both that Iran’s nuclear program was further advanced than anyone thought and that, since the signing of the 2015 agreement, Iran has continued to conceal its nuclear capabilities and ambitions.
This means that Iran has not, as often claimed, complied with the terms of the nuclear deal, reached between Iran, the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. That deal required Iran to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to account for and document its past nuclear efforts, but the smuggled archive shows Iran has done the opposite, actively hiding them from inspectors.

Julie Bishop, Australia's foreign minister, left, and Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, stand for photographs during a bilateral meeting at the Australia-US Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations at Stanford University.
Photo: Bloomberg
The agreement not only failed to do more than temporarily postpone a nuclear Iran but has effectively empowered Iran to step up its other menacing activities.
Much to the disgust of long-suffering Iranians, funds released under that deal were used primarily to save the despotic Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and to aid the rebels in the murderous war in Yemen, to fund and direct terrorists and to destablise most of Iran’s other neighbours - all developments definitely not in Australia’s national interest.
Furthermore, Iran’s ballistic missile program is continuing - in contravention of United Nations resolutions.
Meanwhile, even before US sanctions were restored, the economic pressure on the Iranian regime has been intensifying rapidly. Iran’s rial is in free fall, inflation is estimated at 220 per cent, multinational investors are fleeing in droves and street protests against the dire economic situation have become increasingly frequent and nationally widespread.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Photo: AP
Some oppose outside pressure on the regime, claiming it only weakens “moderate” actors in Iran, such as President Hassan Rouhani, and strengthens hardliners, such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Such claims rest on a fundamental misreading of Iranian politics. Rouhani is no moderate. He has been intimately tied to Iran’s nuclear program for two decades and boasted in 2015 about using negotiations as cover to advance Iran’s nuclear efforts. He also lacks direct control over foreign or defence policy – which is determined by hardline Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran signed the nuclear deal because Khamenei decided it was in Iran’s interests, to ease external economic pressure, and because the Obama administration, desperate for a deal, made concessions which essentially allowed Iran to build nuclear weapons after 2025.
Renewed pressure on Iran is the key to both changing these unacceptable arrangements on the nuclear issue and to making new agreements to address the Iranian regime’s other rogue activities.
Thus the Australian government’s more critical stance of late must be backed up by our diplomats. Iran poses a serious threat for our allies and for international and regional order and Australia has a useful role to play in supporting Washington's initiative to deter, counter and contain that threat.
Dr Colin Rubenstein is executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. Previously, he taught Middle East politics at Monash University.

Manual Recount Ratifies Antichrist’s Victory

Manual Recount Ratifies Sadr Movement Triumph in Iraq
Baghdad, Aug 11 (Prensa Latina) A recount of the votes in the Iraqi parliamentary elections ratified the triumph of the coalition led by the Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, after the results were released today.
Sadr's bloc, Sairoon, retained 54 of the 329 seats in dispute, according to the Independent Elections Commission of Iraq.
The review of the ballots covered 13 of the 18 provinces of this country due to allegations of fraud, which is why the Parliament ordered a recount of the votes.
Meanwhile, al-Fatih alliance, headed by Hadi al-Amiri, gained an additional seat and went from 47 to 48, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's al-Nasr bloc remained in third place with 42.
The winning parties of the consultation remain involved in negotiations to form the next government, without any sign of an imminent conclusion.
That uncertainty creates more tensions in the population that aspires to an improvement of basic services, of job offers and to accelerate the reconstruction of the country destroyed by a three-year war with the terrorist group Islamic State.
The Sairoon movement threatened Friday to remain in the opposition, instead of supporting the formation of the government, in case the other parties do not support 40 demands demanded by the cleric Sadr.
Claims include the rejection of sectarian quotas, the handing over of ministries to previous holders, the installation of deputies of dual citizenship and the expulsion of corrupt officials.
Popular anger over the prevailing situation is reflected in frequent protests in the southern provinces, in which predominantly Shiite Muslim confession, which is supported by the main leader of that religious variant, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
sus/tgj / arc

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
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.

The Threat of Pakistani Nuclear Terror (Daniel 8:4)

Pakistan’s constantly-moving missiles and hidden launches revealed
Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd)11 August, 2018
There is undeniable evidence on Google Earth satellite imagery exposing Pakistan’s unknown, secretive missile launches.
Pakistan keeps moving its missiles and launchers from place to place to conceal their whereabouts, according to evidence analysed by ThePrint.
For years now, Pakistan has sought to overcome its disproportionately smaller conventional military capability against India by amassing scores of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. In 1965, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the country’s foreign minister at the time, had said: “We will eat grass and leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (nuclear bomb).”
Later, as prime minister, Bhutto established the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) to fulfil his dream mission of possessing a missile programme.
Pakistan also created the Kahuta Research Laboratories (now known as Khan Research Laboratories) soon after its defeat in the 1971 war. The efforts to gain nuclear technology by illegal means increased after India’s Pokhran blast in 1974.
But Islamabad also resorts to bluff and bluster on its nuclear weapons programme. In January 2017, this author had exposed Pakistan when it used Photoshop and special effects to fake the launch of its Babur missile.
After almost 18 months, now there is undeniable evidence on Google Earth satellite imagery exposing Pakistan’s unknown, secretive missile launches.
China’s assistance
Pakistan’s closest ally has been China, with whom it shares an inseparable friendship. Since the 1980s, Pakistan has made strong efforts to acquire an indigenous capability in missile production, assisted by China and North Korea with their technological and other assistance.
China’s role in the sale of M-11 missiles to Pakistan, along with the blueprints of the U235 nuclear implosion device has been documented earlier. In the 1990s, many Chinese and North Korean vessels were raided to find and confiscate tons of ammonium perchlorate bound for SUPARCO.
China has also been providing transporter erector launchers or TELs for Pakistan’s missile programmes. The Wanshan Special Vehicles Factory has been providing its WS51200 vehicles for the Shaheen-III missiles to be made more mobile.
More recently, China has provided powerful and high performance tracking system for Pakistan’s missile development programme.
These are highly accurate spatial measurement systems known as cinetheodolites. They use high-speed cameras and laser tracking, enabling collection of trajectory and performance data obtained during testing to assist the missile development programmes.
As per the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a set of four systems has been provided with training and guidance of Chinese engineers and technicians.
Transport security
Pakistan is paranoid that Indian armed forces will know exactly where its missiles and weapons are located. So, it adopts a system of keeping the nuclear weapons and missiles moving so that no one ever knows their exact location.
This brings in the crucially important aspect of transport security, especially from an internal threat. The so-called “jihadists” or “good terrorists” may get to know how and when Pakistan moves its missiles and nuclear weapons from one location to another.
Pakistan has assembled at least 10 special trucks for transporting possibly weapons and missiles from KRL in Kahuta and the National Defence Complex, Fatehjang, to various locations, especially to Winder, near Karachi.
The civilian truck, which US commentators call a “1-800-FLOWERS” truck, has been observed at Fatehjang, Hyderabad (Sindh) and Winder.
These trucks have been seen on highways near Hyderabad and Karachi with seemingly no security cover.
The Shaheen-III missile was developed by Pakistan in response to the so-called threat posed by India’s Agni-III. The first service test was carried out in December 2017.
Since then, Pakistan’s former Strategic Plans Division chief Lt Gen. Khalid Kidwai has been boasting about capability to hit India as far away as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with nuclear weapons.
The satellite images of 1 December, 2017, cover the launch site of Pakistan’s premier facilities at Winder.

The images clearly display a missile horizontally placed on some kind of stand. The size and shape of the missile suggest that it is a Shaheen-III missile.
The launch pad has a tractor erector system for the missile to be raised to vertical firing position.
The movable shed has been shifted, possibly to place the missile on the erector system.
A large number of vehicles is observed near the command and control centre. They are possibly special instrumentation vehicles.
Indian scientists successfully tested the Agni-V missile in January 2018. The Indian missile has range of 5,000 km, which covers nearly all of Pakistan from any part of India. But the Agni-V is not a Pakistan-specific missile.
Pakistan is equally involved in the missile race. Its India-centric missile programme was readied for a repeat test of its of Ababeel missile.
Satellite images of Winder launch site show a white missile in erected position with a number of support vehicles around it. The movable shed has been moved to its end.

The size and shape of this missile suggests it is an Ababeel. Its position suggests it is ready to be fired and countdown has begun.
The presence of army tents in huge numbers along with the VIP tent suggests that this Ababeel launch was probably user trials for the Pakistan Army.
The MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) technology of the Ababeel missile reportedly uses the Chinese cinetheodolite tracking system to track multiple targets to develop a perfect multiple re-entry for its weapons.
The introduction of MIRV technology in South Asia is likely to have a cascading effect on the regional security environment.
NOTAMs — international warning notifications that are issued before testing flying objects — for Pakistan’s December launch could not be traced. They were possible issued a long time ago, and expired on the day of launch.
The NOTAMs issued by Pakistan for the 28 January 2018 launch cover a distance of 2,900 km into the Arabian Sea.
The distance is almost 700 km greater than the earlier-claimed 2,200 km by the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the military, after the first test on 24 January 2017.
The range indicated in the NOTAMs suggests very strongly that this particular Ababeel could be a variant with longer range.
In its zest to keep up with India, the new government, with Imran Khan as its leader, is unlikely to bring in any positive change to Pakistan’s military and nuclear establishments.

Antichrist Swears Allegiance to Iran

Sadr deputy: Defending Iran is a ‘religious and ethical duty’
TEHRAN – The first deputy of Moqtada al-Sadr has said that defending the Islamic Republic in the case of a possible U.S. attack would be a “religious and ethical duty”.
“In 2005 we told the top authorities of the Islamic Republic that should the hegemonic powers, including America, Britain and the Zionist regime, attack Iran, we won’t remain passive,” Seyed Jalil al-Nouri was quoted as saying by ISNA on Friday.
It came after Iraqi Vice President Nouri Al-Maliki said his country is opposed to any pressure and economic sanctions by the U.S. against Tehran.
In a meeting with Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi, al-Maliki added that the policy of exerting economic pressure on Iran and sanctions is rejected and the international community should block the policy of pushing peoples towards famine.
Also on Thursday, a group of students from the Najaf Seminary expressed solidarity with Iran, calling on the international community to oppose “those who are pursuing unilateral sanctions against Iran.”
They further condemned the “unjust sanctions” against the Iranian nation imposed by the “ruthless U.S. government, which does not want stability and progress for Muslim nations.”

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago
It happened before, and it could happen again.
By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg
Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM
On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.
The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.
According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.
The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.
A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:
“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”
The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.
The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.
The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.
“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”
The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.
“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.
The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.
There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.
According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.
“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,
that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,
the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;
O turn to God; lest by his Rod,
he cast thee down to Hell.”
Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”
There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.
Well, sort of.
In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”
It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.
In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”
If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Iran Rejects Trump’s “Let’s Make a Deal”

Defiant Iran rejects talks with US
Tehran — Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday there would be no meeting with the United States in the near future following Washington's reimposition of sanctions.
Asked by the conservative Tasnim news agency if there was any plan to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Zarif said: "No, there will be no meeting."
He said there were also no plans for a meeting with US officials on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month, which both Iranian President Hassan Rohani and his US counterpart Donald Trump are due to attend.
"On Trump's recent proposal (of talks), our official stance was announced by the president and by us. Americans are not honest and their addiction to sanctions does not allow any negotiation to take place," Zarif told Tasnim.
It was Iran's most explicit rejection of talks to date, after much speculation that economic pressure would force its leaders back to the table with Washington.
The US reimposed sanctions on Tuesday, following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers in May.
Zarif met repeatedly with then US secretary of state John Kerry during the agreement's negotiation and implementation.
Rohani said last week that Iran "always welcomed negotiations" but that Washington would first have to demonstrate it can be trusted.
"If you're an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife."
Rohani dismissed a US call for talks without preconditions last Monday, hours before Washington moved to impose new sanctions in line with President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a 2015 agreement over Iran's nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday they had killed ten "militants" overnight in a security operation conducted in the northwest of the country near the border with Iraq, the official news agency IRNA reported.
"A well-equipped terrorist group ... intending to infiltrate the country from the border area of Oshnavieh to foment insecurity and carry out acts of sabotage was ambushed and at least 10 terrorists were killed in a heavy clash," the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement carried by IRNA.
There has been sporadic fighting with Iranian Kurdish militant groups based in Iraq as well as Daesh fighters near Iran’s porous border with Iraq.
In July, there were at least two clashes in the mountainous border area, in which at least 10 Guards and three militants were killed. — Agencies

Who is the Antichrist, the Religious Cleric Who Won Iraq's Election Recount?

Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Religious Cleric Who Won Iraq's Election Recount?
The popular figurehead stormed the election back in May on a fiercely anti-corruption platform, while pledging to rid Iraq of unwanted foreign - particularly US - interference.
The manual recount of votes cast in Iraq’s election held in May is now complete, with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance holding on to all of the 54 seats that it initially won.
Iraq’s Independent High Commission released the results of the recount in the early hours of Friday, confirming that Sadr’s ‘Sairoon alliance’ has indeed snatched the popular vote.

© AP Photo / Karim Kadim
Now that the Sairoon alliance — a concoction of religious nationalists and secular communists —  has been confirmed as victorious, it is set to enter strenuous negotiations with members of parliament on the sufficient conditions for forming a new government. This comes nearly three months after national elections were held on May 12.
The manual recount was demanded by Iraq’s parliament, and amongst swathes of the population, following widespread allegations of voter fraud, which ruptured the country’s trust in the integrity of the electoral process. The May poll deployed a new electronic system for calculating votes cast, rather than by manual count, which some argue primed the system for vote-rigging.
Despite the manual recount, Baghdad’s incumbent Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, blasted the results, and asserted that there had been “unprecedented breaches” of the first election, rendering the recount null and void.
Abadi’s dismissal notwithstanding, the United Nations threw its weight behind the recount, hailing it is “credible,” and noting that it had been “conducted in a manner that is credible, professional and transparent.”
Despite the continued celebration amongst Western powers of Iraq’s post-2003 transition to democracy, many Iraqis remain weary and mistrusting of the country’s political class, with only 44.5 percent turning out for the election in May.
Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr? 
Mr Sadr was sanctioned as public enemy number one by Washington following the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The Shiite strongman, who doubles up as a religious cleric outside of his political life, led a band of militiamen throughout the early days of the country’s occupation, called the ‘Mahdi Army,’ who attempted to vanquish coalition forces through armed force, causing many fatalities amongst Western soldiers.
Despite the best efforts of the Iraqi and US armies, Sadr and his men — who came to epitomize the post-invasion insurgency — continued to control large parts of Baghdad, most notably the so-called ‘Sadr city’ district, almost unhindered.
The cleric turned militia leader was such a thorn in the side of coalition forces, that by the year 2006 Newsweek had plastered his image on their front page, branding him “the most dangerous man in Iraq.”
Sadr still remains an unremitting critic of the US military presence in his country — which currently numbers at nearly 8,000 personnel — and the US-backed central government in Baghdad. According to scholars of the Middle East, much of Sadr’s legitimacy is derived from cocktail of nationalism and religiosity, which has made him a credible leadership figure, particularly in the eyes of Iraq’s poor, to whom he has promised the complete removal of US influence in Baghdad.
Sadr is also notorious for his staunch opposition to the corruption that has plagued Baghdad’s central government since 2003. Most famously, he and his supporters staged a 2016 sit-in within Baghdad’s fortified ‘Green Zone’ — the centre of government established after the 2003 invasion — demanding greater government accountability. Eventually, Prime Minister Abadi was forced to reorganise his cabinet in what was perceived as an unprecedented act of appeasement.
Sadr will now set out to begin negotiating the formation of a new government with his former political rivals, including Iran-backed militia chief Hadi Al-Amiri, who came in second place in the parliamentary election and led the fight against Daesh in Mosul.
Whether the Iraqi populist will be able to reform Baghdad as he wishes remains to be seen, but one thing does appear certain: that his victory will cause somewhat of a headache for US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad Prepares the Iranian Horn (Daniel 8)

Ahmadinejad Asks Rouhani to Resign
Friday, 10 August, 2018 - 08:15 -
File photo of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadine...
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asked President Hassan Rouhani to resign.
In a video published on his official website, Ahmadinejad said Rouhani, the Larijani brothers and the conservative and reformative blocs are responsible for the current situation in Iran.
The return of calm hinged on the three authorities stepping down, he said.
Ahmadinejad said that Rouhani is not accepted by the Iranians, posing the question of 'Who is responsible for the current situation in the country?'
Five years have already passed, and the economy in the country is collapsing – the confidence in the regime is almost at zero level, he said. Ahmadinejad added that the people don’t want Rouhani and his presence undermines the country. He implicitly hinted at the nuclear deal, saying that it offered privileges but the people received nothing.
This is the second time in six months that Ahmadinejad demands the heads of the three authorities to resign. In February, Ahmadinejad responded to a speech delivered by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei on the delay of social justice and the necessity of apologizing to the Iranians 39 years after the Iranian revolution.
Ahmadinejad called on Khamenei to take tangible steps given his position and vast powers in the regime, in order to maintain the confidence of the public – he demanded to amend the constitution and to hold quick and free presidential and parliamentary elections.
The demands of Ahmadinejad coincide with the return of US sanctions and the renewal of popular protests. He finds himself comfortable in renewing his demands, especially that it was confirmed last week that Rouhani would appear in front of the parliament to answer questions on his government’s handling of Iran’s economic struggles.
Two pro-regime clerics Hossein Noori Hamedani and Naser Makarem Shirazi criticized the government and the judiciary over the slow pace in dealing with corruption files.
Larijani said Wednesday, after withdrawing confidence from the Iranian minister of labor, that it is a shame that launching accusations has become a trend, hinting at speeches delivered by Ahmadinejad in a number of cities in Iran.
Iranian government efforts to confront the country’s worsening economic crisis have backfired and things are likely to get worse after the US reimposed sanctions on the country following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
The government sought to stabilize the currency by pegging it at a set rate to the dollar but this measure ended up speeding the rial’s decline, Bloomberg said.
The rial’s value has gone down down 70 percent since May.
In the runup to the Aug. 7 resumption of US sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani got stern directives from a few corners of Iran.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged him to deal with corruption. The Revolutionary Guards commander told him to focus on Iran’s slumping currency, while a sizable chunk of Parliament summoned Rouhani to harangue him about the sinking economy. None of them, however, had any advice on how to ease the growing sense of despair and outrage in the streets, reported Bloomberg.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a 50 percent rise in the price of some food items, triggering scattered protests.
Fawaz al-Elmi, an expert in international trade, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran will likely “face the worst of scenarios.”
“The US sanctions will have severe repercussions on the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that 105 international companies have withdrawn from the Iranian market and the riyal has lost another 12 percent of its value since the sanctions have gone into effect on Tuesday.
Only three years after the nuclear deal was signed, though, instead of enjoying the fruits of the accord, Rouhani has to explain what went wrong—and how he’s going to fix it
To some observers, Rouhani’s attempts to deal with the situation have been reactionary and not part of a coherent strategy. “They’re dealing with crises as they happen,” Saeed Laylaz, a pro-reform economist who has advised the government, told Bloomberg.
“The people have lost their trust, and they are craving efficiency. They don’t care if it comes from men with beards (religious figures in Iran) or neckties.”
Rouhani has governed as a moderate. He now finds himself on precarious middle ground. To the right, he faces pressure from conservative clerics who were critical of the nuclear deal to begin with. On the left, he’s blamed for not doing enough to reform the political or economic system during the two years the deal was in effect. Progress was made—oil exports surged, for example—but job creation couldn’t meet demand in a country where more than 60 percent of the population is under 30.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

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

Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study
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.

Antichrist Threatens Iraqi Coalition

Muqtada Al-Sadr threatens to end Iraq coalition effort

Muqtada Al-Sadr has overseen coalition negotiations since his Saeiroon alliance won the election in May. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
BAGHDAD:  Muqtada Al-Sadr  threatened to give up his pursuit of a governing coalition on Thursday, raising further doubts about the country’s political stability.
The influential cleric was the biggest winner in parliamentary elections in May but three months of negotiations and maneuvering have made little progress.
If Al-Sadr follows through with his threat, it would open the door for a coalition dominated by parties representing Iran-backed paramilitaries.
Al-Sadr said he would join the “parliamentary and popular opposition” if his rivals did not implement his conditions to form the next government within 15 days of the results of a manual recount completed this week.
The Shiite cleric, who controls millions of followers across the country, formed the Saeiroon List to contest the election. Preliminary results placed his alliance first with 54 seats.
Al-Sadr has been leading negotiations to form the biggest parliamentary bloc, which would then be able to form a government. But his efforts have yielded no results because of his attempts to impose his will and vision for the country on his potential allies.
Last month, Al-Sadr set 40 conditions to choose the next prime minister, including being independent, without a parliamentary seat, and not necessarily a Shiite. 
Al-Sadr’s threat means he has reached a dead end in his negotiations with the leaders of other  Shiite parties.
The cleric, whose fighters once battled US soldiers before he turned against Iran, said he would return to being a powerful opposition leader and that he was trying hard to save the Iraqi people of all the “plots and conspiracies that are woven against you.”
The election also handed big wins to the various forces backed by Iran, which ran under the umbrella of the Fattah List. Fattah finished second to Saeiroon with 49 seats.
The unexpected poor showing by the previously prominent Shiite and Sunni parties and veteran figures prompted many claim widespread fraud in the electoral process.
The election was conducted using electronic devices for the first time.
A Federal Court ruling allowed for a manual recount of ballots at polling stations where fraud was suspected to have taken place.
The result of that recount was expected to be announced later on Thursday.
Officials involved in the counting told Arab News that the recount was unlikely to change the overall positions of the top three alliances: Saeiroon, Fattah and Nassir, which is led by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi.
Shiite politicians involved in talks with Al-Sadr said the cleric had been planning to announce a 120-seat parliamentary coalition in the last few days, but his efforts failed.
“We had reached an agreement with Al-Sadr last week to open the door for all the winning political blocs to join our alliance based on our governmental program but in a minute everything collapsed,” a senior Fattah leader and one of the negotiators told Arab News.
They blamed Nuri Al-Maliki, the former Iraqi prime minister, of sabotaging the agreement.
Maliki, who heads the State of Law coalition won just 25 seats and has no chance to compete for the post of prime minister.
But the Iranian backed political forces are keen to have him as a part of any ruling alliance.
The hostility between Al-Maliki and Al-Sadr dates back to 2008 when as prime minister he  led a military campaign in coordination with the US  military to hunt down fighters from Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
This week, Al-Maliki said Al-Sadr had agreed to join an alliance led by him.
“Maliki knows that Al-Sadr does not want him … so he deliberately presented himself as a sponsor of the negotiations with Al-Sadr and said that Al-Sadr agreed to join an alliance-led by him, so Sadr rebelled and broke the agreement,” Fattah’s negotiator said.
“He (Al-Sadr) feels that we will go without him, but this will not happen. We are keen to have Saeiroon with us aboard and will do our best to achieve this.
“But if Sadr insists on his stubbornness, we will not sit down to cry over the ruins.”

The Water Turned to Blood and One Third of the Sea Creatures Died (Revelation 8)

gnbTamara Lush
LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. (AP) — Tons of dead fish. A smell so awful you gag with one inhale. Empty beaches, empty roads, empty restaurants.
A toxic algae bloom has overrun Florida's southern Gulf Coast this summer, devastating sea life and driving people from the water.
"I've never seen it this bad," said 31-year-old Heather Lamb of Venice. She's a hairdresser and makeup artist who styled herself as a dead mermaid and posted photos on social media to raise awareness of the problem. "I feel like it cleanses your soul to go to the beach. For me to not be able to go, it's painful. I think a lot of people take for granted when they live in Florida. Some people save their paychecks for a whole year to come here."
Red tide — a naturally occurring toxic algae bloom that can be harmful to people with respiratory problems— has spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico, drifting in the water since it began in October. Stretching about 150 miles (240 kilometers), it's affecting communities from Naples in the south to Anna Maria Island in the north and appears to be moving northward.
The algae turns the water toxic for marine life, and in recent weeks beachgoers have been horrified to find turtles, large fish like goliath grouper and even manatees wash up dead. In late July, a 26-foot long (8-meter-long) whale shark washed ashore on Sanibel Island, which is known for its pristine beaches. In places like Longboat Key, more than 5 tons of dead fish have been removed from beaches. This week, nine dead dolphins were found in Sarasota County, and marine biologists are investigating whether the deaths are related to red tide.
The Florida Wildlife Research Institute says the number of dead and stranded sea turtles is nearly three times higher than average. More than 450 stranded and dead sea turtles have been recovered in four affected counties this year, and the institute estimates that 250 to 300 died from red tide poisoning.
In Bradenton Beach, the stench was impossible to ignore.
"I can't describe the smell. It's like unbelievable. It makes you throw up," said Holmes Beach resident Alex Kuizon, who has lived in the area for decades. He held a handkerchief over his mouth and nose while talking to a reporter. Just a few feet away, hundreds of dead fish clogged a boat ramp.
Red tide is a natural occurrence that happens due to the presence of nutrients in the water and an organism called a dinoflagellate.
"Off the west coast of Florida, we have persistent red tide events that occur with some frequency," said Steve Murawski, a marine science professor at the University of South Florida.
Another algae problem plagues Florida's waterways, Murawski said, and confused and frustrated people are conflating the two. Blue-green algae affect freshwater, and Murawski said it has a direct correlation to agricultural and urban runoff.
Heavy May rains caused Lake Okeechobee to discharge water containing blue-green algae into rivers and canals. The bright green sludge oozed onto docks, dams and rivers.
"Are they in fact related? That's kind of an open scientific question," Murawski said. "If you've got large nitrogen discharges, you could actually be fueling both the harmful algal bloom and the discharge of the blue-green algae. It's an area of very active concern."
Why this year's red tide is so intense is up for debate. Some researchers have noticed aggressive blooms after hurricanes; Irma swept past Florida's Gulf Coast in the summer of 2017 and a period of red tide affected Florida after the powerful 2004-2005 hurricanes.
Regardless, those who live, work and play in the area are disturbed.
"We get a lot of Europeans this time of year and even people from the Midwest are still coming down because school hasn't started yet. They come here and they're like, 'Oh my goodness, what's this smell? It's awful,'" said Anthony Cucci, the manager of the Mar Vista restaurant on Longboat Key. As he spoke, a worker cleared away dead fish littering the small beach near the patio.
For Charlotte County resident Magdalena Rossip, Saturday was her birthday, when she usually goes to the beach to celebrate. This year, she didn't.
It was too depressing — her family's pressure washing business has dried up because no one wants to use their boat or patio.
"It's catastrophic," the 35-year-old said.
Although this isn't peak tourist season for the Gulf Coast — that's in winter — red tide is affecting tourism.
"I'm pretty surprised, because I usually meet my family down here once a year and it's usually completely different. The water's usually much clearer than it has been today," said Brandon Mullis of Tampa, building a sandcastle with his daughter on Bradenton Beach.
The smell wasn't bad on that part of the beach, but he said he wasn't planning to stay long — and would choose his resort pool over swimming in the Gulf.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Iraq Concedes to Babylon the Great

Iraq to Stop Trading With Iran in US Dollars Due to Sanctions - Gov't Spokesman
CAIRO (Sputnik) - Iraq will have to stop using the US dollar in its financial transactions with Iran over Washington's sanctions against Tehran, Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told Sputnik on Thursday.
"The sanctions will influence, first of all, money transfers and banking operations in the US dollar. The sides will not use the US dollar," al-Hadithi said, adding that the move would result in a decline in trade between the two countries and thus affect the consumers.
He stressed that the Iraqi government would try to find " a new mechanism" in order to support trade relations with Iran.
"In any case, the government will seek to solve all the problems related to this issue, it will look for corresponding mechanisms to neutralize the [sanctions'] influence on the Iraqi market and also prevent the damage caused to the Iraqi citizens' interests," al-
Hadithi said,
The statement was made in wake of the first package of US sanctions against Iran, reintroduced on Tuesday, which were previously lifted under the Iran nuclear deal, was reinstated following the United States' withdrawal from the agreement. The sanctions target Iran's acquisition of dollar bank notes, trade in gold and other metals, transactions related to the Iranian rial, as well as the other countries' transactions and trade activities with Iran.
According to the estimates of the Iranian daily Financial Tribute, Iran exported $5.57 billion worth of non-oil goods to Iraq from March 2017 to February 2018, with food and construction materials topping the list of exported commodities. Iran also supplies vehicles and spare car parts, electronics to Iraq.

Antichrist retains victory in Iraq election recount

Iraqi security forces guard ballot boxes after a fire that broke out at Baghdad's largest ballot box storage site, where ballots from Iraq's May parliamentary elections are stored. AP
Moqtada Al Sadr retains victory in Iraq election recount
Al Sadr's bloc retaining its tally of 54 seats in recount, while second-placed group of Iran-backed Shiite militia leaders gain a seat
Mina Al Droubi
Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr retained his lead in Iraq's May parliamentary election, results of a nationwide recount of votes showed on Friday.
The recount, released by Iraq's Independent High Election Commission (IHEC), positions him to play a central role in forming the country's next government.
The recount did not alter the initial results significantly, with Mr Al Sadr's bloc retaining its tally of 54 seats.
A group of Iran-backed Shiite militia leaders remained second, but gained an extra seat that pushed them to 48, with incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi's bloc remains in third place with 42 seats.
The results announced on Friday can still be contested by parties and have to be ratified by Iraq's Supreme Federal Court in order to become final.
Once ratified, a 90-day timeline for the formation of government begins. Legislators must first elect a speaker, then the president, and finally the prime minister and cabinet.
Mr Al Abadi, who is seeking a second term in office, is heading a fragile caretaker government until a new one is formed.
Iraq began the manual recount of votes on July 3 in an attempt to end the country's political stalemate resulting from inconclusive elections in May. The process ended on August 6.
Here is how the first recount of a vote in Iraq's history unfolded.
A peaceful election
On May 12 Iraqi voted in the first parliamentary elections since the toppling of ISIS, in a largely peaceful election.
Even on the day of the poll, Kirkuk's minority groups claimed voting violations including glitches in electronic voting machines, which had been used for the first time to reduce fraud.
As the results of the elections were announced it became clear Moqtada Al Sadr's party, Sairoon, a bloc primarily consisting of the Sadrist Movement, would be the largest parliamentary party, although they would not have a majority of seats.
The next step for Mr Al Sadr was to form a parliamentary party and to pick a prime minister.

An Iraqi woman shows her ink-stained index finger before a national flag after having cast her vote in the parliamentary election, in the capital Baghdad's Karrada district. Sabah Arar
Mr Al Sadr was seen as unfavourable in the United States, as his militia fought a bloody insurgency against American troops in the 2003 US invasion. However, the cleric reinvented himself as a champion of the poor and linked up with secularists to battle corruption. He opposes both the presence of American troops and the heavy influence of Iran in the region.
His election success was met with congratulations by Mr Al Abadi as the prime minister conceded in what seemed like a successful transfer of power.
Sairoon won 54 of parliament's 328 seats in the first vote count while Hadi Al Ameri's Fatah coalition, the next-largest party, won 47 seats, Mr Al Abadi's party won 42 seats. It was then up to different political factions to forge a coalition with a majority of 165 seats needed to form the government.
Results of the election pushed out established political figures as Iraqis sought change in the country.
In the early days after the election, the US and Iran waded in to influence the formation of the new government.
Disputed results amid poor turnout
The elections were the fourth since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and had the lowest turnout of 44 per cent, a reflection of public anger at the dysfunctional political system.
The results were disputed by Turkmen and Arab communities in Kirkuk, which also has a large Kurdish population. Allegations of ballot stuffing and disputes over the legitimacy of the election led to calls to rerun the vote.
Iraq's parliament voted for a manual recount of all votes from the election and the appointment of judges to the election commission to oversee the process, but the recount needed supreme court approval.
Calls to rerun the election were rejected by Mr Al Abadi, who formed a caretaker government after parliament failed to extend its term because of a lack of quorum in its final session. Mr Al Abadi said a government investigation found serious allegations of fraud and imposed a travel ban on a number of election commissioners.

<p>Riyadh al-Badran, the head of Iraq's Independent Higher Election Commission (IHEC), speaks during a press conference, in the presence of the nine members of the IHEC. AFP</p>
Court-ordered recount
The supreme court ordered a recount of disputed votes in the parliamentary election on June 21, but ignored requests to annul votes cast by Iraqis overseas, in displacement camps and by members of Kurdish security forces, calling it unconstitutional.
The recount was monitored by UN representatives and international observers.
The judges on the electoral commission limited the recount to "areas where there were complaints of corruption and ballot stuffing". This included local electoral offices in seven provinces: Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, Dohuk, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar, and votes cast overseas in Iran, Turkey, Britain, Lebanon, Jordan, the United States and Germany.
The recount of votes was tarnished by a fire at a ballot storage site in Baghdad, the murder of an election worker, and a car bomb near ballot sites in Kirkuk.
At the end of July, it was announced that Iraq would put election officials on trial over fraud in the election.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Unfortunately, Indian Point is NOT Prepared for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Last week we activated Rockland County’s Emergency Operations Center in Pomona, thankfully not for an actual emergency but for an Indian Point disaster drill. Rockland was one of four counties that practiced emergency responses in case an incident ever happened at the Indian Point nuclear power plant located just across the Hudson River in Buchanan.
Westchester, Putnam and Orange counties, as well as the State of New York also participated along with Entergy, the plants owner. For Rockland’s part, officials from County and State departments gathered at the fire training center in Pomona where they were graded by monitors from New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services on how well they responded to the scenario in the exercise.
Let me be clear; Rockland is ready to respond should a major crisis arise at the nuclear power plant owned and operated by Entergy. These exercises are held multiple times a year to ensure all first responders, and employees are well prepared in the event of an emergency.
The drill was led by our Office of Fire and Emergency Services but included the Departments of Health, Mental Health, Social Services, Planning, Transportation, Highway, Office for the Aging, Highway Department, Sheriff’s Department, Purchasing, and numerous other agencies from around the region and state.
Through coincidence a heavy thunderstorm struck during the drill, disrupting communications and injecting a real-world situation into this mock exercise. As a former law enforcement professional, I understand just how important it is to maintain our readiness for anything the real world may throw at us.
During the drill, Rockland employees tracked wind direction, radiation levels, implemented protective actions, tested communications, held media briefings, and issued updates about evacuations.
Rockland County stands ready to handle whatever comes next, but I sincerely hope we never have to put these skills to the test. Thank you to all the employees, first responders and especially our Office of Fire and Emergency Services for cooperating and coordinating so well before, during and after this drill.
For more information on what you should do in the event of a real emergency at Indian Point, including evacuation routes, emergency planning and ways to receive notifications visit the Fire and Emergency Services section of Rocklandgov.com.

Building up the Ten Nuclear Horns of Prophecy (Daniel 7:7)

Why America’s Allies Should Develop Nuclear Weapons

By Doug Bandow • August 9, 2018

Germans are losing their trust in America’s security guarantees. Believing that U.S. troops would always defend Europe, Berlin has allowed its military outlays and capabilities to wither. German defense spending at present barely breaks 1 percent of GDP. With only slight overstatement, political scientist Christian Hacke recently said of the German military, “nothing flies, nothing floats, and nothing runs.”
For years, Washington officials have whined about Europe’s and especially Germany’s failure to take defense seriously. Yet the U.S. also continued to spend money and deploy troops to “reassure” its allies, giving them less incentive to do more.
Despite his tough rhetoric, in practice, President Donald Trump’s policy has proven to be more of the same. He criticized America’s defense commitments to Montenegro, yet allowed it to enter NATO. At the latest alliance summit, his subordinates advanced new subsidies for member states. This year the administration is putting another $6.5 billion into the European Deterrence Initiative, formerly called the European Reassurance Initiative.
Nevertheless, the president’s crude hostility and unpredictability have set him apart from his predecessors. Thus, many Germans and other Europeans worry that he might walk away from NATO.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been particularly vocal. Last year she defiantly responded to President Trump’s criticism by calling on Europeans to “take our fate into our own hands.” She remains committed to bumping her country’s military outlays up to 2 percent of GDP, despite opposition from her coalition partners.
Other Germans want to do even more. For instance, shortly after Trump’s election, Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of the Bundestag and former German general staff officer, suggested creating a European military budget to expand the French and British nuclear arsenals. Berthold Kohler, publisher of the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, urged direct German support.
Two weeks ago, the Welt am Sonntag ran an article by Christian Hacke that argued Germany was no longer under America’s nuclear umbrella and that “national defense on the basis of a nuclear deterrent must be given priority in light of new transatlantic uncertainties and potential confrontations.” Criticism of his idea was fierce—a former intelligence official denounced it as “reckless, foolish, and incendiary.”
U.S. commentators also dumped on Hacke’s proposal. Jim Townsend, a one-time deputy defense secretary, argued: “Trump notwithstanding, the U.S. nuclear guarantee is not going anywhere.” That, of course, is the conventional wisdom inside the Blob, as the Washington foreign policy establishment has been called, which also believes that America must forever defend Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; fix failed societies and sort out foreign civil wars everywhere; and underwrite every authoritarian regime that claims to oppose Washington’s enemy du jour.
But it isn’t just the Germans who are considering nuclear options. Jarsolaw Kaczynski, former Polish prime minister and dominant figure in Poland’s current government, has suggested developing a European nuclear arsenal to confront Russia.
The same question also has arisen in Asia. The Republic of Korea embarked on a nuclear program in the 1970s after President Park Chung-hee doubted the Nixon administration’s commitment to the ROK’s defense. Seoul later abandoned the effort under U.S. pressure, though in recent years the North’s nuclear advances have fed popular support for a South Korean bomb. A poll found two thirds of South Koreans in favor and some newspapers and politicians offered their support.
North Korea’s new pacific course has reduced the perceived necessity of a nuclear arsenal and leftish President Moon Jae-in last fall declared, “We will not develop or possess nuclear weapons.” However, the future remains uncertain. Indeed, few Korea analysts believe Pyongyang will ever fully disarm, and President Trump has shown disdain for America’s defense commitment to South Korea.
Even more controversial is the case of Japan. The idea of possessing nuclear weapons remains anathema to much of the Japanese population, but they also remain sheltered beneath America’s nuclear umbrella. Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to tie himself to President Trump, an increasingly burdened America may tire of protecting its wealthiest ally.
So far the proliferation door is “ajar, even if no one is leading the way through it,” observed Llewelyn Hughes of GR Japan. The idea of a Japanese nuke was studied (and rejected) by military and civilian policymakers as far back as the 1960s. During the conservative nationalist Abe’s earlier stint as prime minister a decade ago, he appeared to offer indirect support for a Japanese nuclear weapon, though nothing came of that gambit. In April 2016, Abe observed that the Japanese Constitution does not preclude the country from possessing and using nuclear bombs, which reaffirmed a position going back to Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi in 1957. The same reasoning allows Tokyo to field a “Self-Defense Force” despite the constitution’s Article Nine, which holds that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”
Most U.S. policymakers dismiss the idea of friendly proliferation in Asia, though analyst Ira Straus has proposed a nuclear loan by Washington to Japan and the ROK. Ultimately, however, there is no reason for the U.S. to remain entangled in those nations’ defense. Both are nuclear capable and could develop their own weapons if they desired. America should consider shifting—permanently, not temporarily—nuclear as well as conventional defense responsibilities onto its freeloading allies.
Uncle Sam has been profligate with his nuclear umbrellas. The 28 other NATO members—including Montenegro, President Trump’s bĂȘte noire—each received one. So did Japan and South Korea. Australia and Taiwan could also be seen as protected. Certainly Israel would be had it not developed its own arsenal. Perhaps Saudi Arabia would get one if Iran developed a bomb. Ukraine probably thought it had one after yielding its leftover Soviet nukes.
The presumption is that America’s commitments are costless since they will never be called in. Washington deters the bad guys while preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Whatever risk might exist, believes the Blob, it’s vastly exceeded by the dangers of proliferation. Under such assumptions, no wonder non-proliferation is one of foreign policy’s great sacred cows.
The problem with our promises to use nukes on behalf of other nations is that doing so costs nothing only so long as deterrence holds. And history is full of conflicts in which conventional alliances failed to prevent war. World Wars I and II are prime examples.
A nuclear guarantee that failed at deterrence would force either military action likely to result in destruction on the American homeland or humiliating retreat and a consequent loss of credibility and honor. What U.S. cities should be held hostage for Berlin, Taipei, Podgorica, Tokyo, Warsaw, and Canberra? Only an interest most compelling could justify taking such a risk. Yet Washington has opened its nuclear umbrellas casually, even thoughtlessly, without much regard for the consequences.
In fact, most of America’s nuclear guarantees are leftovers, tied to antiquated alliances created during a different time. But for those commitments, the U.S. would not be a nuclear target of so many opposing regimes. Through its alliances, Washington has needlessly turned itself into an adversary of nuclear-armed powers.
Hence last year’s bizarre nuclear scare involving North Korea. No serious analyst believed the DPRK planned to start a nuclear war with America. Nothing suggested that any one of the three Kims who ruled the North were suicidal. Yet in the event of a conventional war, Pyongyang could still be tempted to either strike out in desperation or threaten attacks on civilian targets to halt an allied advance. With South Korea well able to defend itself, Washington is risking nuclear attack for no good reason.
The dangers are exacerbated by the potential impact of nuclear guarantees on allied behavior, which can encourage intransigence and even recklessness. Conventional commitments are dangerous enough. In the early 2000s, Taiwan’s independence-minded Chen Shui-bian government appeared to provoke Beijing in the belief that the U.S. would deal with any consequences. In 2008, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili triggered a disastrous conflict with Russia, bombarding Moscow’s troops in the breakaway territory of South Ossetia, apparently expecting Washington to enter any war on his government’s side.
While friendly proliferation could create instability and encourage competing arms build-ups, it would also be the most effective way to constrain China without forcing the U.S. into a military confrontation over primarily allied interests with what will be soon a great power, perhaps eventually even a superpower. Enabling more nuclear states would be unfortunate, but it still might be the best among bad options.
If nothing else, Americans should debate Washington’s multiple nuclear guarantees. Recipient nations increasingly recognize that the nuclear umbrella offers an imperfect defense at best. And the U.S. government’s nuclear commitments create enormous, disproportionate costs and risks for Americans. When the issue is nuclear war, without question America must come first.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.