1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

January 20, 2010

New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.

The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.

Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Australia Will Still Go Nuclear (Daniel 7)

Professor White, the bomb can endanger but not defend Australia

Ramesh Thakur

“I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best”, wrote Benjamin Disraeli in the 19the century. Maya Angelou improved on that in the last century: “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between”. Hugh White in his latest book How to Defend Australia urges Australia to hope for the best but prepare for the worst and not be caught napping by this century’s mutating threats.

White’s description of the choices confronting Australian security planners as US strategic primacy recedes in the Asia–Pacific is stark and uncompromising. This includes a consideration of the nuclear option. But he fails to engage with the nuclear sceptics. The nuclear option has two fatal flaws: questionable benefits and damaging downstream consequences.

In a retrospective dissection of original justifications-cum-expectations behind India’s nuclearisation in 1998 and actual events since then, I pointed to the inconsequential gains and lasting insecurities of the path taken. The operational utility of nuclear weapons is highly dubious.

The “Agni Missile”, the delivery vehicle for India’s nuclear warhead, displayed during the 1999 Republic day parade in New Delhi (Photo: T.C. Malhotra via Getty)

They cannot compel an adversary to do one’s bidding. Yes, Japan surrendered immediately after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the evidence shows the decision to surrender to the US had been made in advance in anticipation of the entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific war against Japan’s undefended northern approaches. Moscow attacked Japan on 9 August 1945 and Tokyo announced surrender on 15 August.

For deterrence to work for the

weaker country, the more powerful

enemy must believe nuclear

weapons will be used if attacked.

There’s been not one clear-cut instance since then of a non-nuclear state having been bullied into changing its behaviour by the threat of being nuclear-bombed. According to a careful statistical analysis of 210 militarised “compellent threats” from 1918 to 2001 by Todd Sechser and Matthew Fuhrmann, nuclear powers succeeded in just 10 of them. Even then the bomb may not have been the decisive factor. Non-nuclear states were more successful at coercion than nuclear-armed states (32.2%).

They cannot defeat a non-nuclear enemy. The taboo is so strong that political costs of use will always exceed any military gains. That’s why nuclear powers have accepted defeat by non-nuclear states like Vietnam and Afghanistan rather than incinerate them.

They can’t be used for defence against nuclear-armed rivals. Mutual vulnerability to second-strike retaliation means any escalation through the nuclear threshold is mutual national suicide.

They don’t guarantee impunity against invasion: think Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982, Britain’s bomb notwithstanding.

The only purpose and role of nuclear weapons is mutual deterrence. They are credited with keeping the long peace after 1945. However, how do we judge this against the peace-preserving role of European integration and democratisation? There is no evidence that either side planned to attack the other at any time during the Cold War, but was deterred from doing so because the other side had the bomb.

Nuclear weapons didn’t stop Pakistan from occupying Kargil in Indian Kashmir in 1999, India from fighting a limited war to retake it, or Russia from invading eastern Ukraine and annexing Crimea in 2014.

Korean People’s Army soldiers carry packs marked with a radioactive symbol in a 2013 military parade in Pyongyang (Photo: Ed Jones via Getty)

For deterrence to work for the weaker country, the more powerful enemy must believe nuclear weapons will be used if attacked. If the enemy does attack, however, using nuclear weapons guarantees military devastation for everyone. Because the stronger party understands this, the existence of nuclear weapons will induce extra caution. But it won’t guarantee immunity for the weaker party. Indian missiles struck inside Pakistan and the two engaged in a dogfight in February.

Suppose sometime in the future, Australia possesses nuclear weapons and long-range delivery systems. For whatever reason, it’s attacked by China using sea-based and air-launched conventional munitions. Would we really threaten nuclear retaliation? What if China didn’t find our threat credible and persisted with its strikes. Would we launch nuclear strikes on Chinese targets? If we don’t, China will have called our bluff on a non-credible threat. If we do, we will have entrapped ourselves in a posture of mutual nuclear suicide in the name of national defence.

We backed international action to punish India and Pakistan for their nuclear breakout in 1998, to contain Iran’s suspected nuclear ambitions, and to demand nuclear rollback by North Korea. Australia, too, is firmly bound by its Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons obligations, reinforced by the South Pacific Nuclear-Free-Zone Treaty. It would take us a long time to recover from the stench of hypocrisy if we were to discard treaty obligations as a mere inconvenience when we’ve consistently rejected security arguments by others as justifications for getting the bomb.

Australia’s nuclear breakout would also guarantee the collapse of the NPT order and lead to a cascade of proliferation. Each additional entrant into the nuclear club multiplies the risk of deliberate or inadvertent war geometrically.

White fails to offer a hard-nosed analysis of the merits of the choice between investing in building the requisite skills, facilities and materials to move quickly to making the bomb should we decide to do so, or joining the majority of countries in trying to ensure there is a future for all of us by persuading and pressuring the nine with 14,000 nuclear bombs to get rid of them.

For the 21st century surely the better guide to action is: to escape the nuclear worst, prepare and work your hardest for the nuclear free best.

The Antichrist Unifies the Iraqi Army (Revelation 13:18)

Pro-Iranian militias are to be integrated into the Iraqi army in a move seen as strengthening the integrity and unity of the state

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s executive order of 1 July to integrate the Hashd Al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), into the Iraqi army triggered an outburst of controversy in Iraq.

However, the majority of the people support the decision to reform the PMF and effectively discipline its component groups.

The prime minister’s order comes at a time when Iraq and the regional environment are facing numerous challenges in which the PMF played no small part in light of its contribution to fighting the Islamic State group (IS) in Iraq, its ideological connection to Iran, and Iranian practices in the region (in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq) and the repercussions of these practices on other Arab states and their interests.

The order primarily obliges all components of the PMF, a collection of militias that began to band together several years ago to fight IS, to subordinate themselves to the General Command of the Iraqi Armed Forces (IAF), to relinquish their banners, insignia and other such emblems of separate identity and become incorporated into the Iraqi military structure as regiments, brigades, divisions and the like.

PMF members are to be assigned military ranks, in accordance with the IAF hierarchy, and to obey the orders of the IAF General Command which will appoint the head of the PMF Committee as their immediate supervisor.

The prime ministerial order gave PMF militias the choice of either abiding by its provisions or becoming unarmed political organisations. In addition, they must close all headquarters and offices carrying the name of a PMF faction.

The factions that choose to convert to political organisations must abide by the laws and regulations governing political parties, among which is the prohibition against bearing arms.

The PMF’s component militias must also close all economic offices, money-making operations and other such ventures that are not sanctioned under the new system governing the PMF.

Mahdi’s decree set a 31 July deadline for “drawing the final arrangements to complete the work in accordance with these points”, adding “orders will be issued subsequently to restructure the PMF Committee and its formations.”

Mahdi’s executive order followed through on a previous prime ministerial decree issued by former prime minister Haider Al-Abadi stipulating the state’s exclusive right to bear arms and ordering the dissolution of militias and the closure of all their bases and headquarters.

But the Mahdi decree was also motivated by a number of other factors related to regional developments, combined with the nature of some of the PMF’s activities in Iraq.

PMF units recently staged Katyusha missile strikes against US targets in Iraq in response to which the US designated a number of PMF militias and figures as terrorist entities.

The Iraqi government was deeply embarrassed by the attacks against oil companies operating in Basra governorate in June and by the incident of the storming of the Bahraini Embassy in Baghdad by some PMF factions.

More generally, the activities and behaviour of some PMF militias and members have stirred increasing discontent and criticism among Iraqi political and religious circles and, indeed, some military circles.

The executive order to integrate the PMF into the Iraqi army elicited some significant positive responses both at home and abroad. The Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr welcomed it as “an important thing and a good first step towards building a strong state”.

He stressed that the Saraya Al-Salam (Peace Companies), the militia that he, himself, founded, would be the first to fall in line with Mahdi’s decree.

Falih Al-Fayyadh, who heads the PMF Committee, declared his “absolute support” for the decree “because it truly serves the interests of security and stability in Iraq.

The PMF finds itself in harmony with the prime ministerial order.” Al-Fayyadh added that consultations were currently in progress with the prime minister to “complete the restructuring [of the PMF] in line with the prime ministerial order” and that the PMF “has begun to assume an official military character”.

He stressed that “the original purpose for creating the PMF was to defend the state. To fail to abide by this commitment is to violate this mission.”

At the regional and international level, the Iranian reaction is particularly significant given how major PMF factions align with Tehran ideologically.

Commenting on Iraq’s decision to integrate the PMF into the Iraqi army, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi told reporters at a press conference, “we respect the decisions made by Iraq’s government and consider it a domestic issue of Iraq. Iran has great respect for the Iraqi government and its armed forces and popular forces because of their courageous steadfastness against terrorism.”

The statement is an example of Iranian dissimulation since one of the aims of the integration of the PMF into the army is to clip Iranian wings in Iraq and prevent it from harming Iraq’s national security and interests both at home and abroad.

Washington, for its part, welcomed Mahdi’s decision and expressed its hope that the provisions of his executive order would be fulfilled.

So far, we can register the following observations in light of the reactions above and recent developments in general:

– As the reactions of Al-Sadr and Al-Fayyadh indicate the executive decree was only issued after the prime minister secured a broad base of political and religious support for its provisions.

– The integration of the PMF, which is a predominantly Shia umbrella organisation, aims to preserve and consolidate it by institutionalising it. This is important at this time in particular, when the Iraq army is still weak, in contrast to the PMF’s military strength as well as it economic strength.

– The decision to integrate the PMF is largely a formality undertaken to placate the US which has been angered by some of the actions of the pro-Iranian PMF.

– It is unlikely that Mahdi’s decree will severely undermine Iranian influence in Iraq because Tehran has forged a large network of support within the executive, legislative and judicial institutions of the state.

– The integration of the PMF into the military could work less to regulate the PMF than to strengthen the PMF’s influence in the military establishment.

Nevertheless, a number of factors could obstruct the implementation of the executive order. Firstly, it is still a decree and has not yet been passed into law.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the legislation required to implement it will also require increasing the IAF’s budget in order to cover the expenses of the integration process, which would strain the government’s resources at a time when it already has a large budget deficit.

The process of incorporating the PMF contingents into the army will involve, among other things, enlisting their troops in new military training camps after which they would be reassigned to existing army units which, in turn, could entail measures to restructure and retrain troops across the military establishment as a whole.

Moreover, it is also envisioned that the process will be applied to the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, thereby “unifying the Iraqi military creed beneath the banner of the defence of a single nation and loyalty to a single nation”.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Iraq to unify military structure

More Killing Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces on the Israel-Gaza border on July 5, 2019. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Palestinian media: Hamas commander killed by IDF on Gaza border

IDF confirms soldiers opened fire on two armed men approaching the security fence • Hamas: death will not go “unpunished.”

(July 11, 2019 / JNS)

A Hamas field commander was killed Thursday morning when Israeli troops opened fire on two armed men approaching the northern Gaza border fence, according to Palestinian media.

A member of a resistance force was hit by occupation fire,” Palestinian media reported, identifying him as a commander in Hamas’s armed wing.

According to media sources in Gaza, the man was shot in the leg and later died of his wounds. Palestinian Wafa news identified him as 28-year-old Mahmud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham.

Hamas said in a statement that the death would not go “unpunished” and that Israel “would bear the consequences of this criminal act.”

In a separate incident, Israeli soldiers reportedly fired at a Hamas observation post east of Rafah on Thursday, according to Hamas-affiliated Shehab news. No injuries were reported.

Babylon the Great Refuses to Back Down to Iran

Image result for trumpTrump responds to Iranian uranium enrichment: ‘Sanctions will soon be increased’

President Trump responded to news that Iran has begun enriching uranium beyond the levels set forth in the 2015 nuclear deal in a tweet warning of further sanctions against the country.

“Iran has long been secretly ‘enriching,’ in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration. Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years. Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!” Trump said. Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said this week that Iran had passed 4.5% enrichment over the weekend. The nuclear deal capped the allowed concentration of uranium-235 at a 3.67% threshold. Kamalvandi also threatened to restart a dismantled centrifuge or enrich uranium to 20% or more. Around 90% enrichment is standard for nuclear weapons.

Trump warned Iran last week about breaching the limit, saying that threats to increase the concentration of fissile material would come back to bite the country like “nobody has been bitten before.”

The United States recently announced sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader and top officials and in a Tuesday statement said that it would begin sanctioning Iranian-linked Hezbollah officials in Lebanon. Last month, the U.S. planned airstrikes against Iranian facilities in response to the downing of a U.S. drone, but Trump called off the attack with minutes to spare.

Russian Nukes Are Considered Holy!


A faction of clergy within the Russian Orthodox Church wants to end the eyebrow-raising practice of blessing the country’s nuclear missiles.

First of all, yes: Russian priests currently sprinkle holy water on nuclear missiles as part of an old tradition in which Orthodox priests bless soldiers and their weapons, reports Religion News Service. But that may change, as some priests feel that intercontinental ballistic missiles belong in a different category from individual firearms.

Faith Militant

The Russian military and the Russian Orthodox church have long worked hand in hand, according to RNS, framing many of the country’s military conflicts as holy wars. The nuclear arsenal even has its own patron saint — RNS reports that St. Seraphim’s remains were found in a Russian town that housed several nuclear facilities.

As such, the push to stop blessing nukes faces strong opposition among members of the clergy, such as the high-ranking priest Vsevolod Chaplin, who referred to the country’s nukes as “guardian angels.”

“Only nuclear weapons protect Russia from enslavement by the West,” Chaplin once said, per RNS.

Changing Hearts

One priest, Dmitry Tsorionov, parted from the more militant aspects of the Orthodox Church after seeing men willingly sign up to fight Russia’s wars “under the banner of Christ,” he told RNS. Now he wants to see less warmongering among the clergy.

“It was not uncommon to see how church functionaries openly flirted with these toxic ideas,” he told RNS. “It was only then that I finally realized what the blessing of military hardware leads to.”

Iran Threatens the Brits (Daniel 7/8)

Iranian boats ‘tried to intercept British tanker’

▪ 11 July 2019 UK


HMS Montrose was shadowing a British tanker as it moved into the Strait of Hormuz

Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker near the Gulf – before being driven off by a Royal Navy ship, the Ministry of Defence has said.

HMS Montrose, a British frigate shadowing the tanker British Heritage, was forced to move between the three boats and the tanker, a spokesman said.

He described the Iranians’ actions as “contrary to international law”.

Iran had threatened to retaliate for the seizure of one of its own tankers, but denied any attempted seizure.

Boats believed to belong to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) approached British Heritage and tried to bring it to a halt as it was moving out of the Gulf into the Strait of Hormuz.

Guns on HMS Montrose were trained on the Iranian boats as they were ordered to back off, US media reported. The boats heeded the warning and no shots were fired.

The BBC has been told British Heritage was near the island of Abu Musa when it was approached by the Iranian boats.

HMS Montrose had been shadowing British Heritage from a distance but came to its aid once the Iranian boats began harassing the tanker, BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said.

Although Abu Musa is in disputed territorial waters, HMS Montrose remained in international waters throughout.

A UK government spokesman said: “Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz.

“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox thanked the crew of HMS Montrose, adding: “It is our duty as a parliament to ensure that all those forces are adequately resourced.”

What does Iran say?

Quoting the public relations office of the IRGC’s Navy, the Fars news agency said, in a tweet, the IRGC “denies claims by American sources” that it tried to seize British Heritage.

“There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones,” the IRGC added, according to the AFP news agency.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the UK made the claims “for creating tension”.

“These claims have no value,” Mr Zarif added, according to Fars.

Why are UK-Iran tensions escalating?

Image copyright


Image caption

Two tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz in June

The relationship between the UK and Iran has become increasingly strained, after Britain said the Iranian regime was “almost certainly” responsible for the attacks on two oil tankers in June.

Last week, British Royal Marines helped the authorities in Gibraltar seize an oil tanker because of evidence it was carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

The Government of Gibraltar said it would not comment on matters relating to the vessel as it was the subject of a police investigation. It said the matter was also now in the Supreme Court.

The Port of Gibraltar’s live map showed Grace 1 remained anchored about 3km off the east coast of Gibraltar on Thursday.

An Iranian official said a British oil tanker should be seized if Grace 1 was not released.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said on Thursday that Grace 1 was a serious sanctions issue in relation to Syria rather than Iran.

Image copyright


Image caption

British Royal Marines helped to detain the oil tanker, Grace 1, near Gibraltar earlier this month

Iran also summoned the British ambassador in Tehran to complain about what it said was a “form of piracy”.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani mocked the UK, calling it “scared” and “hopeless” for using Royal Navy warships to shadow another British tanker in the Gulf.

HMS Montrose had shadowed British tanker the Pacific Voyager for some of the way through the Strait of Hormuz, but that journey had passed without incident.

“You, Britain, are the initiator of insecurity and you will realise the consequences later,” Mr Rouhani said.

Why does the Strait of Hormuz matter?

The Royal Navy has a frigate, four minehunters and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship already stationed in a permanent Naval Support Facility in the region, at Mina Salman in Bahrain.

This is enough to provide reassurance, but probably not to deal with a crisis, the BBC’s Jonathan Beale said.

“HMS Montrose will not be able to provide protection for every commercial vessel in the Gulf with links to the UK,” he added.

“Ministers will now have to contemplate sending another Royal Navy warship to the region. But in doing so, that may only further escalate tensions with Iran, which is something the government wants to avoid.”

The UK has also been pressing Iran to release British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted for spying, which she denies.

Could things get worse?

Iran appears to have been attempting to make good on its threat against British-flagged vessels in the wake of the seizure of an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar.

But though this incident has a specifically bilateral dimension, it is also a powerful reminder that the tensions in the Gulf have not gone away.

And with every sign that the dispute over the nuclear agreement with Iran is set to continue, things may only get worse.

The episode may add some impetus to US-brokered efforts to muster an international naval force in the Gulf to protect international shipping.

But most worrying of all, it shows that elements within the Iranian system – the Revolutionary Guard Corps’s naval arm, or whatever – are intent on stoking the pressure.

This inevitably plays into President Trump’s hands as Britain and its key European partners struggle to keep the nuclear agreement alive.

Image copyright


Image caption

The British Heritage tanker is capable of carrying more than one million barrels of oil, according to BP Shipping

British Heritage is one of three tankers delivered under a fleet rejuvenation project by BP Shipping. All three ships are registered at the port of Douglas, in the Isle of Man.

The crew on the tankers is typically made up of about 25 officers.

It is understood British Heritage was not carrying cargo at the time of the incident with the Iranian boats.

A spokesman for BP said: “Our top priority is the safety and security of our crews and vessels. While we are not commenting on these events, we thank the Royal Navy for their support.”

What are US-Iran tensions about?

The US has blamed Iran for attacks on six oil tankers in May and June.

The chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, on Wednesday, it wants to create a multi-national military coalition to safeguard waters around Iran and Yemen .

The news followed the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of an international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme and reinforce punishing sanctions against Iran .

European allies to the US, including the UK, have not followed suit.

Iran’s ambassador to the UN has insisted Europeans must do more to compensate Tehran for economic losses inflicted by US sanctions.

Tehran has begun to nudge the levels of its enriched uranium beyond the limits of a nuclear deal agreed with a group of world powers , in small and calculated steps.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi told the BBC, Iran would move to the “third phase” of its stepped-up uranium enrichment programme unless the Europeans kept promises to uphold the economic benefits of the accord.