A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

http://www.standeyo.com/NEWS/10_Earth_Changes/10_Earth_Changes_pics/100227.Ramapo.Fault.map2.jpgA Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

The Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Saudi Arabia’s new foreign policy doctrine

Al Arabiya

King Salman’s 2015 accession to the throne and the subsequent appointment of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as Crown Prince ushered in a period of unprecedented change in Saudi Arabia. This “tsunami” provoked polarized reactions, confounding many foreign observers while delighting, if not occasionally overwhelming, Saudis themselves.

The myriad challenges associated with restructuring the monarchy while simultaneously tackling extraordinary socioeconomic reforms and urgent foreign policy challenges have been accompanied by inevitable breakdowns in communication and occasional missteps in execution. This has disquieted friends and delighted foes and led many to assume the absence of a coherent plan built on sound strategic thinking. This is an entirely mistaken view.

In the foreign policy arena, a careful reading suggests that the new Saudi doctrine is based on three strategies: strengthening its military, reevaluating its alliances, and aggressively confronting Iranian expansionism.

For decades, Saudi Arabia relied on checkbook diplomacy, quiet mediation, secret agreements, and US guarantees to secure its foreign policy aims. Saudi leaders funneled billions in aid to friends, many of whom used that money to bankroll their own agendas (or line their own pockets), while delivering little in return.

Attempts to buy off enemies often failed or backfired. Neighbors cast aside secret agreements signed in good faith. And US guarantees became less reliable and less credible. Extraordinary geopolitical change accompanied these disappointments. The 2003 invasion of Iraq unleashed a wave of Iranian expansionism, and the chaos created by the 2011 Arab Spring accelerated it.

The Obama administration decided to withdraw US forces from Iraq, announced its pivot toward Asia, and failed to fulfill its “redline” pledge after Bashar al-Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his own people. Unchallenged by American might, Iran tightened its grip on Lebanon, took control of Iraq and Syria, infiltrated Yemen, backed insurgents in Bahrain, and trained and supplied terror cells in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

In light of this new reality, the King and the Crown Prince concluded that Saudi Arabia could no longer rely on outdated policies if they wished to successfully confront these rapidly growing threats.

Strengthening the military

With the era of pax Americana in the Middle East seemingly ending, Saudi rulers have moved to rapidly build up a military that does not overly rely on the United States and is capable of meeting both Iranian and jihadist threats.

With some exceptions, today’s Saudi military is, in many ways, a holdover from the parade ground army of the 1960s. In the aftermath of midcentury Egyptian and Iraqi military coup d’états, the Kingdom designed its military to be a predominantly symbolic force, incapable of mounting a takeover of the government.

The United States, in turn, guaranteed the defense of the Saudi state in exchange for secure oil supplies and massive arms purchases. The armed forces were also meant to inspire loyalty by providing employment for ordinary citizens and senior positions for society’s grandees. Sadly, this patronage system also provided opportunities for tremendous corruption.

In Qatar, the Saudis can afford to wait, as the boycott imposes far less of an economic cost on the Kingdom and its allies than it does on Doha

Ali Shihabi
The Kingdom learned hard lessons during its first conflict with the Houthis in 2009–2010, where the Saudi military performed poorly. In response to this, Riyadh has sought to strengthen its armed forces by urgently enhancing its special forces capabilities, upgrading training across the board, localizing military production, reforming the military bureaucracy, and seeking out new sources of arms. Improved relations with Russia, for example, have allowed Saudi Arabia to diversify its arms and equipment purchases and has also augmented the Kingdom’s influence over global oil prices.

Despite these efforts, the Houthi takeover of Sana’a did not provide the Kingdom with adequate time to complete the restructuring of its armed forces.

However, real combat experience gained from the Yemeni conflict has provided the Saudi military, as war inevitably does, with invaluable data on its performance. The sustained air campaign, for example, exposed deficiencies in the Kingdom’s precision bombing capabilities, which it is now working to improve. Changes such as this will inevitably take time to fully implement.

Reevaluating alliances

The second component of the strategy is to reevaluate existing bilateral and multilateral relationships by ensuring that the Kingdom’s “allies” hold up their end of the agreement.

To do this, the Kingdom began by focusing on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), its core regional security and economic alliance. Within the GCC, the recently improved Saudi-UAE cooperative security effort has acted as a force multiplier, augmenting the bloc’s ability to take collective action, as it did in Yemen.

It has also empowered the organization to address internal threats, most notably by imposing a boycott to end two decades of Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood, political dissidents, subversive media campaigns against neighboring states, and attempts to co-opt (by buying off) Saudi, UAE, and Bahraini military, government, and religious officials, all of which the Kingdom and its allies saw as undermining their security and stability.

Outside the GCC, the Kingdom has moved to rebalance its relationships with Egypt and Lebanon. For decades, Saudi Arabia’s influence over these states was built on checkbook diplomacy, with an increasingly insignificant return on investment.

Following the 2013 coup against the Morsi Muslim Brotherhood regime, Riyadh poured over $25 billion into Egypt. After Egypt had received this bailout, a 2014 leaked audio exchange caught Egyptian leaders speaking derisively of Saudi aid and Saudis as “having money like rice.” In addition, many of Cairo’s policies seemed designed to demonstrate Egypt’s independence from, rather than deliver political support to, its ally.

Cairo’s vote in favor of a 2016 Russian-backed Security Council resolution on Syria that was strongly opposed by the Kingdom is one such example. Because of these actions, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended an agreement to supply Cairo with over seven hundred thousand tons of refined petroleum products per month in late 2016. Rice, it seems, would no longer be plentiful.

The same logic seems to have influenced the Kingdom’s recent approach toward Lebanon. In 2013, the late King Abdullah earmarked $3 billion to support the Lebanese Armed Forces. After many in Riyadh objected to the funding of an army they saw as heavily infiltrated by Hezbollah in a state “captured” by Hezbollah, the new Saudi leadership rescinded this offer in 2016.

More recently, Lebanese leaders’ aggressive lobbying of the US Congress to “soften” sanctions against Hezbollah vindicated those who increasingly believed that when forced to choose between Saudi dollar diplomacy and an Iran that assassinates those who cross them, as it did with Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, Beirut would take Saudi money but prioritize appeasing Tehran.

The younger Hariri’s shocking resignation in Riyadh suggests that Saudi Arabia is signaling to Lebanon’s political class (and possibly the state) that they risk their political and financial relationships with the Kingdom if their actions (or inaction) continue to provide political cover and international legitimacy for Hezbollah.

Aggressively confronting Iranian expansionism

As Iran’s shadow grew and America’s footprint shrank, Saudi leaders concluded that the Kingdom would need to shift from a reactive to a proactive foreign policy posture when it came to dealing with the Islamic Republic.

Following the 2011 Bahraini uprising and the 2014 Houthi seizure of Sana’a, aggressively confronting Iranian expansionism became a strategic imperative in the Kingdom’s “near abroad.” But whereas Iran could rely on exploiting sectarian fault lines in order to create deadly proxies, the Kingdom had no such capabilities (its one attempt to emulate the Iranian model in Syria was an unmitigated failure). Saudi Arabia therefore needed to turn to multilateral military force to complement its soft power capabilities.

While a Saudi military intervention successfully helped deter an insurgency in Bahrain, Yemen’s mountainous terrain and size, and the considerable capabilities of its Iran-allied Houthi militias, posed a far more dangerous threat. Although it has been widely argued that Saudi Arabia’s foray into Yemen was based on the erroneous belief that the Houthis would quickly cave under a lightning “shock and awe” air campaign, this assertion is incorrect.

On the contrary, the Saudis recognized that the Houthis had acquitted themselves well during their first war against them without the full support of Hezbollah and Iran. In the years hence, Iran dramatically increased arms shipments to, and Hezbollah accelerated its training of, Houthi forces. In addition, the Kingdom understood that fighting a guerrilla force swimming, to paraphrase Chairman Mao, among the civilian population would be a long, arduous, and messy process.

With the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah working hard to upgrade Houthi capabilities, Riyadh concluded that war now was preferable to war later; even if the cost to Yemen (and Saudi Arabia) was high, it would be far higher if the Kingdom waited. Striking now would also clearly communicate to the Houthis and the world that the Kingdom would not tolerate the emergence of a new Hezbollah on its southern border with thousands of ballistic missiles aimed at Saudi cities.

In contextualizing the Saudi response, it is important to recall that the Kingdom reached this crisis point at a time when the regional credibility of the United States was at its nadir. In addition to the United States’ Asia pivot and failure to follow through on its “redline” pledge in Syria, the Obama administration sent clear signals that, post-JCPOA, the Kingdom would have to “carry its own water” and learn to “share the region” when it came to Iran.

While the Americans did ultimately provide refueling and limited targeting support to the Saudi air campaign, the Kingdom also secured the backing of six other nations, most importantly the UAE, to prevent the Iranians from succeeding in Sana’a. Outside the Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh has been strategic in choosing where and how to confront Iran. In Iraq, Saudi Arabia opted to push back against Iranian influence by engaging nationalist leaders like Muqtada al-Sadr and exploring opportunities to engage with the Abadi government by opening the Arar border crossing to pilgrims and commerce.

The Kingdom has also ended its support where the cost was no longer justified. For example, in Syria, Riyadh stopped sending weapons and supplies when it became clear that the fractious opposition could not unseat Assad and was becoming increasingly dominated by radical jihadists.


Admittedly, the Kingdom’s execution of all these plans could have been handled better. Riyadh did not clearly broadcast its intentions, provide sufficient context or background for its actions, or effectively communicate its aims. As a result, the Kingdom’s moves appeared sudden and haphazard, unnecessarily rattling friends and allies.

Also, the Kingdom could have done a better job anticipating some of the unintended consequences of its new policies. While these missteps did serious damage to Riyadh’s public relations image, this does not mean that Saudi Arabia lacks a well thought out strategy or that its strategy is an unsound one.

While critics have been unable to resist pronouncing any Saudi initiative that does not produce instantaneous success a disastrous failure, Saudi leaders are instead operating on a longer timeline and do not expect immediate results. In Qatar, the Saudis can afford to wait, as the boycott imposes far less of an economic cost on the Kingdom and its allies than it does on Doha.

In Lebanon, Riyadh can put Beirut’s valuable ties to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and their allies at risk, gradually increasing the price Lebanon’s political class pays for providing political cover to Hezbollah. And in Yemen, the Kingdom can wait for the opposition to splinter, the recent collapse of the Houthi-Saleh alliance being one such fracture. Riyadh is also learning from its mistakes. It has taken steps to be more proactive in tackling Yemen’s humanitarian crisis and has improved coordination with some international relief agencies.

For the Saudi leadership, the bottom line was that the cumulative effect of Iranian expansion and US inaction demanded that the Kingdom simultaneously tackle multiple foreign policy challenges quickly and decisively. This approach led to some tactical mistakes that disquieted and confused friends and provided fuel to critics.

But for the Kingdom’s leadership, these missteps are a small price to pay if one believes, as Saudi leaders clearly do, that inaction would have put the country in the position of the proverbial frog sitting in a pot of tepid water that is slowly being brought to a boil.

This article was first published in Arabia Foundation.


Ali Shihabi is the founder of the Arabia Foundation. A Saudi national, he graduated with a BA from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. His twitter handle is @aliShihabi.

The Antichrist Builds up his Army (Revelation 13)

Iraqi Shi’ite Paramilitary Chief Seeks to Put Troops Under National Army


BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The commander of Iraq’s biggest Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary group told its fighters on Thursday to take their orders from the national military and cut their ties with the group’s political wing.

Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Iran-backed Badr Organisation, also called on the group’s fighters to withdraw from the cities under their control.

The move paves the way for Amiri to stand in parliamentary elections on May 12.

Participation in the election by members of Iraq’s Iran-backed Shi’ite paramilitaries, collectively known as Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), has been hotly debated in Iraq. PMF members cannot run for office unless they formally resign their posts.

Amiri is the second commander to issue such a call in as many days. He called on those in charge of his armed wing to cut their ties with the group’s political party, which holds 22 seats in the Iraqi parliament.

“I also call on all my brothers, the commanders of various formations, to clear cities of all signs of militarisation,” he said in a speech.

Badr, which says it is loyal to both Iraq and Iran, is the biggest group within the PMF, which fought alongside security forces against Islamic State.

Sunni Muslims and Kurds have called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who declared victory over Islamic State last week, to disarm the PMF, which they say are responsible for widespread abuses.

The PMF were officially made part of the Iraqi security establishment by law and formally answer to Abadi in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Abadi has said the state should have a monopoly on the legitimate use of arms.

Qais al-Khazali, head of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, announced a similar move on Wednesday when he said he would place his fighters under Abadi’s command. The fighters and their political wing were now separate entities, he said.

Powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr set out conditions on Monday for his followers to give the government the weapons they used to fight Islamic State.

Iran-backed Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, which has about 10,000 fighters and is one of the most important militias in Iraq, said last month it would give any heavy weapons it had to the military once Islamic State was defeated.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Preparing for the Bowls of Wrath (Revelation 15)

How to prepare for a nuclear attack

Philip Bump

This combination of Nov. 29 images provided by the North Korean government purportedly shows the launch of a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP)
Children growing up in the 1980s were vaguely aware of the threat of nuclear annihilation the way children today are vaguely aware of the threat of being eaten by sharks. You heard horror stories and you saw movies about it, but it was something more than distant. It was like playacting royalty: Kings and queens exist, sure, but obviously they are not things you are going to bump into any time soon.

Our parents’ experience with the threat of nuclear war was different. There were the Soviets, bristling with warheads. The world order was still new for the baby boomers, and fragile. Those born the year World War II ended were 17 during the Cuban missile crisis, and they had more than a decade of nuclear-war preparation under their belts. Bert the Turtle offered them the best advice that American authorities had in their tool belts: If a nuke explodes near you, cover your head.

“Duck and Cover,” 1955. (Civil Defense Administration)

For nearly all of the 1990s, the threat of nuclear attack shifted to the background, transforming itself into the fear that a terrorist would obtain a nuclear device or set off a dirty bomb. It has been only recently, with North Korea’s tests of high-yield nuclear devices and long-range missiles, that the threat of a nuclear strike by a foreign adversary again has started to seem like something that might actually happen.

Might. North Korea has yet to demonstrate that it can fit a warhead onto a missile, that it can target a missile accurately or that it can successfully combine the two to deliver an atomic weapon anywhere within the United States. But it has moved much closer to that goal over the past 12 months, making the threat of a possible strike by that country seem much more real than it did even a decade ago. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told the Atlantic magazine in an interview this week that he thinks there may be as much as a 70 percent chance of the United States launching a preemptive military strike against the country should it conduct another test of a nuclear weapon — ramping up the likelihood that North Korea would retaliate significantly.

With that in mind, we figured it was worth consulting an expert to see what Americans might do to prepare for the threat of a nuclear strike. Meet Suzet McKinney, of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. McKinney was formerly the deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response at the Chicago Department of Public Health.

We will jump ahead to the question that motivated us to look into this: Does Bert the Turtle’s “duck and cover” actually work?

Surprisingly, yes.

“I would honestly say the duck-and-cover response from the Cold War era is really the best protection that we as individual citizens would have after a nuclear bomb or improvised nuclear device was detonated,” McKinney said. “That really is a method of personal protection against the effects of a nuclear explosion. Quite honestly, it’s inexpensive, and it’s something that’s very easy for every single member of a family or every single member of a community to understand.”

Why? If a nuclear blast happens within a few hundred yards of you, depending on the yield (that is, power) of the nuke, there’s probably not going to be much you can do one way or the other. If it happens at more of a distance, the immediate effect will in broad strokes be similar to the effect of other disasters: A blast wave that knocks over buildings and shatters windows. “Duck and cover” is the best response, because it’s essentially the same as “shelter in-place,” McKinney said, emphasizing the need to urgently protect yourself from physical harm.

“We put a lot of stock in the shelter-in-place theory,” she said. “With these nuclear bombs, the most effective [response] seems to be shielding from debris and material that can cause traumatic injury. So if you are in a place or can get to a place that you will help shield you from some of those things, then that’s what we want to promote.” Asked whether it is worth trying to get to a bomb shelter, McKinney said that, in general, it is not, given the risk of being caught outside instead of in a place of shelter.

That is what you should do in the moment. We also asked what should be done as preparation. Should we stock up radiation suits? Buy anti-radiation medication?

We should not.

“The first thing that people can do now and should be doing now is educating ourselves on the threat,” she said. “What is the threat, and what does it actually mean?” The rationale is simple: Better to know how to react now than to have to try to scramble when the nuke is en route to figure out what to do.

McKinney recommended getting information from local authorities. Some local emergency-response agencies may have information online about how to respond to such a disaster, but she also recommended attending public forums about the threat and asking leaders in person any questions you may have. If you are interested in going a step further, she recommended volunteering with emergency response teams to get better acquainted — and more comfortable — with what to expect.

More directly, McKinney recommended having emergency response kits for everyone in the family, including children, the elderly — and pets. This is not nuclear-attack specific; she recommends everyone having these anyway. What goes in those kits? The city of Chicago has a list. It includes:

Three days’ worth of water (one gallon per person per day).
Three days’ worth of food (ready-to-eat or just-add-water).
Manual can opener.
First aid items (bandages, alcohol wipes, disinfectant ointments, etc.).
Essential medications
Radio (battery-operated or manual )
A Ziploc bag including cash in small denominations and copies of important documents (insurance policies, medical prescriptions, etc.).
Unscented liquid household bleach for water purification.
Personal hygiene items, including toilet paper, feminine supplies and soap.
Sturdy shoes.
Heavy gloves.
Warm clothing, a hat and rain gear.
A local map.
Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items.
Utility knife and plastic sheeting and duct tape for covering broken windows.
Blankets or sleeping bags.
Extra keys to your house and vehicles.
Large plastic bags for waste and sanitation.
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“There’s nothing special that people can buy or should be buying in the threat of a nuclear attack,” McKinney said. “It is the simple, common-sense things that we should all have on hand in the event of an emergency.”

If you have a bunker or basement in your home, McKinney recommends preparing it a bit further with more food and water.

The time to make these preparations and understand the proper responses is now — not because there is any real, imminent threat of a nuclear strike but because there is no reason not to have these preparations on hand anyway. McKinney reinforced the most important point she had to offer.

“I have found in my experience that when people are knowledgeable, they can be calmer and they can act in a more efficient manner,” she said.

And if you see that flash of light in the distance, do what Bert the Turtle does.