History Warns New York Is The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Friday, 18 March 2011 – 9:23pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: ANI

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “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.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale.

Antichrist Condemns Attack on Iran Consulate

Muqtada al-Sadr condemns attack on Iran consulate

November 29, 2019 – 3:05 PM

News Code : 990000

Source : Press TV

Link: http://abna.cc/8W11

Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has condemned an arson attack on the Iranian consulate in Najaf, dismissing allegations that his followers were behind the Wednesday incident.

“We condemn attacks on diplomatic missions, because such acts are not characteristic of the Sadr Movement,” Muqtada al-Sadr was quoted as saying by Iraq’s Al-Ahad TV.

His comments came after a group of masked assailants stormed the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic mission in Najaf and set it ablaze on Wednesday night.

They also took down the compound’s Iranian flag and replaced it with an Iraqi one.

Iraq’s foreign minister on Thursday called his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to apologize to Iran over the incident.

Mohammad Ali al-Hakim told Zarif that Baghdad was committed to protecting Iranian diplomatic missions and their staff in the Arab country.

raqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has also ordered the formation of a fact-finding committee to probe the attack on the Iranian consulate, al-Forat News reported.

He had earlier appointed Major General Ali al-Hashemi as the new security chief of Najaf province following the mob attack.

Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi on Thursday blamed the arson attack on certain Iraqi and non-Iraqi elements, and described it as a move to undermine good relations between the two countries.

The torching of the Iranian consulate in the holy city of Najaf was definitely aimed at severing brotherly relations between the two Muslim and neighboring countries, he said, adding that the friendly relations have outraged certain regional states.

Masjedi noted that such moves by a small group of assailants in Iraq do not reflect the Iraqi nation’s view of Iran, as the majority of Iraqis have repeatedly shown their opposition to such acts and their love for the Iranian nation.

The Stealth of the Russian Nuclear Horn (Revelation 7)

Meet the Terrifying Russian ‘Stealth’ Submarine That Scares the U.S. Navy

Key Point: The Akula is old, but it still packs a dangerous—and secretive—punch.

The Soviet Union produced hot-rod submarines that could swim faster, take more damage, and dive deeper than their American counterparts—but the U.S. Navy remained fairly confident it had the Soviet submarines outmatched because they were all extremely noisy. Should the superpowers clash, the quieter American subs had better odds of detecting their Soviet counterparts first, and greeting them with a homing torpedo. However, that confidence was dented in the mid-1980s, when the Soviet Navy launched its Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. Thirty years later they remain the mainstay of the Russian nuclear attack submarine fleet—and are quieter than the majority of their American counterparts.

Intelligence provided by the spies John Walker and Jerry Whitworth in the 1970s convinced the Soviet Navy that it needed to seriously pursue acoustic stealth in its next attack submarine. After the prolific Victor class and expensive titanium-hulled Sierra class, construction of the first Project 971 submarine, Akula (“Shark”), began in 1983. The new design benefited from advanced milling tools and computer controls imported from Japan and Sweden, respectively, allowing Soviet engineers to fashion quiet seven-bladed propellers.

The large Akula, which displaced nearly thirteen thousand tons submerged, featured a steel double hull typical to Soviet submarines, allowing the vessel to take on more ballast water and survive more damage. The attack submarine’s propulsion plant was rafted to dampen sound, and anechoic tiles coated its outer and inner surface. Even the limber holes which allowed water to pass inside the Akula’s outer hull had retractable covers to minimize acoustic returns. The 111-meter-long vessel was distinguished by its elegant, aquadynamic conning tower and the teardrop-shaped pod atop the tail fin which could deploy a towed passive sonar array. A crew of around seventy could operate the ship for one hundred days at sea.

Powered by a single 190-megawatt pressurized water nuclear reactor with a high-density core, the Akula could swim a fast thirty-three knots (thirty-eight miles per hour) and operate 480 meters deep, two hundred meters deeper than the contemporary Los Angeles–class submarine. More troubling for the U.S. Navy, though, the Akula was nearly as stealthy as the Los Angeles class. American submariners could no longer take their acoustic superiority for granted. On the other hand, the Akula’s own sensors were believed to be inferior.

The Akula I submarines—designated Shchuka (“Pike”) in Russian service—were foremost intended to hunt U.S. Navy submarines, particularly ballistic-missile submarines. Four 533-millimeter torpedo tubes and four large 650-millimeter tubes could deploy up to forty wire-guided torpedoes, mines, or long-range SS-N-15 Starfish and SS-N-16 Stallion antiship missiles. The Akula could also carry up to twelve Granat cruise missiles capable of hitting targets on land up to three thousand kilometers away.

Soviet shipyards pumped out seven Akula Is while the U.S. Navy pressed ahead to build the even stealthier Seawolf-class submarine to compete. However, even as the Soviet Union collapsed, it launched the first of five Project 971U Improved Akula I boats. This was followed by the heavier and slightly longer 971A Akula II class in the form of the Vepr in 1995, which featured a double-layer silencing system for the power train, dampened propulsion systems and a new sonar. Both variants had six additional external tubes that could launch missiles or decoy torpedoes, and a new Strela-3 surface-to-air missile system.

However, the most important improvement was to stealth—the new Akulas were now significantly quieter than even the Improved Los Angeles–class submarines, although some analysts argue that the latter remain stealthier at higher speeds. You can check out an Office of Naval Intelligence comparison chart of submarine acoustic stealth here. The U.S. Navy still operates forty-three Los Angeles–class boats, though fourteen newer Seawolf- and Virginia-class submarines still beat out the Akula in discretion.

However, Russian shipyards have struggled to complete new Akula IIs, which are not cheap—one figure claims a cost of $1.55 billion each in 1996, or $2.4 billion in today’s dollars. The struggling Russian economy can barely afford to keep the already completed vessels operational. Two Akula IIs were scrapped before finishing construction and three were converted into Borei-class ballistic-missile submarines. As for the Akula II Vepr, it was beset by tragedy in 1998 when a mentally unstable teenage seaman killed eight fellow crewmembers while at dock, and threatened to blow up the torpedo room in a standoff before committing suicide.

After lingering a decade in construction, the Gepard, the only completed Akula III boat, was deployed in 2001, reportedly boasting what was then the pinnacle of Russian stealth technology. Seven years later, Moscow finally pushed through funding to complete the Akula II Nerpa after fifteen years of bungled construction. However, during sea trials in November 2008, a fire alarm was triggered inadvertently, flooding the sub with freon firefighting gas that suffocated twenty onboard, mostly civilians—the most serious recent incident in a long and eventful history of submarine disasters.

After an expensive round of repairs, the Nerpa was ready to go—and promptly transferred on a ten-year lease to India for $950 million. Redubbed the INS Chakra, it served as India’s only nuclear powered submarine for years, armed with the short-range Klub cruise missile due to the restrictions of the Missile Technology Control Regime. In October 2016, Moscow and New Delhi agreed on the leasing of a second Akula-class submarine, although it’s unclear whether it will be the older Akula I Kashalot or never-completed Akula II Iribis—though the steep $2 billion price tag leads some to believe it may be the latter. This year, the Chakra will also be joined by the domestically-produced Arihant class, which is based on the Akula but reoriented to serve as a ballistic-missile sub.

Today the Russian Navy maintains ten to eleven Akulas, according to Jane’s accounting in 2016, but only three or four are in operational condition, while the rest await repairs. Nonetheless, the Russian Navy has kept its boats busy. In 2009, two Akulas were detected off the East Coast of the United States—supposedly the closest Russia submarines had been seen since the end of the Cold War. Three years later, there was an unconfirmed claim (this time denied by the U.S. Navy) that another Akula had spent a month prowling in the Gulf of Mexico without being caught. The older Kashalot even has been honored for “tailing a foreign submarine for fourteen days.” All of these incidents have highlighted concerns that the U.S. Navy needs to refocus on antisubmarine warfare. In the last several years, Russia has also been upgrading the Akula fleet to fire deadly Kalibr cruise missiles, which were launched at targets in Syria in 2015 by the Kilo-class submarine Rostov-on-Don.

Despite the Akula’s poor readiness rate, they continue to make up the larger part of Russia’s nuclear attack submarine force, and will remain in service into the next decade until production of the succeeding Yasen class truly kicks into gear. Until then, the Akula’s strong acoustic stealth characteristics will continue to make it a formidable challenge for antisubmarine warfare specialists.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

This article first appeared in 2017. It is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Reuters.

Iran Arrests 8 ‘linked to Babylon the Great’ During Unrest

Iran arrests 8 ‘linked to CIA’ during unrest: state media

Iranian security agents arrested at least eight people linked to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during last week’s unrest over gasoline price hikes, the official news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday.

The branch of a local bank that was damaged during demonstrations against petrol price hikes in Shahriar, west of Tehran, November 20, 2019. /VCG Photo

“These elements had received CIA-funded training in various countries under the cover of becoming citizen-journalists,” the Intelligence Ministry told IRNA.

Among them, “six were arrested while attending the riots and carrying out (CIA) orders and two while trying to… send information abroad,” said ministry authorities.

The unrest, which began in October, soon lost control with banks, petrol pumps and police stations vandalized in some areas by protesters.

Iranian officials have so far confirmed five fatalities and around 500 arrests, while some organizations gave largely different numbers indicating more deaths.

Upon the end of the fuel protest, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that the violent turnout following the oil price hike was a plot set by the United States.

“The people foiled a deep, vast and very dangerous conspiracy on which a lot of money was spent for destruction, viciousness and the killing of people,” said Khamenei on the state TV.

Condemning the U.S. interference in the unrest and showing support for the Iranian government, large numbers of Iranians across the country went on the street holding slogans and images of their leaders on Wednesday.

It was not the first time that the ministry claimed that they identified CIA affiliated spies in the nation.

Back in July, the agency said that they had arrested in total 17 by March 2019, the end of last Iranian calendar year. Some received death penalty and some were sentenced to long imprisonment.

The head counter-intelligence official said that the spies were working for industries across fields including infrastructure, cyberspace and nuclear programs, while leaking vital information to the foreign enemy.

U.S. President Donald Trump then denied the accusation on Twitter and called the report of arrests “false.”

Iran Advances Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

Iran is building advanced new centrifuges to enrich uranium

Denton Staff Contributor

Iran has been building advanced new centrifuges to enrich uranium, the UN‘s nuclear watchdog has confirmed, leaving Tehran‘s 2015 nuclear deal hanging by a thread. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said 56 centrifuges had been installed or were being installed at the secretive Natanz plant in Iran.

The equipment has been ‘prepared for testing‘ with uranium hexafluoride, the IAEA said.

Using it to enrich uranium would be a breach of Iran‘s commitments under the 2015 deal, which says Iran can only use more basic first-generation centrifuges.

Enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons.   

Just yesterday Iran‘s atomic agency chief accused European powers of ‘failing to act on their promises‘ to secure the deal.

Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran had little choice but to shun the deal, which it has done by ramping up enrichment and increasing its uranium stockpile.

The deal began unravelling last year when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the pact negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani.

Washington reimposed sanctions against Iran which had been suspended under the agreement, crippling Iran‘s economy.

Iran has pleaded for help from Europe to dodge the sanctions but efforts by Britain, France and Germany have largely proved unsuccessful.

As a result, Tehran has retaliated by scaling back its commitments under the deal in the hope of forcing Europe to help.

On July 1, it said it had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to beyond the 300-kilogram limit set by the agreement.

A week later, the Islamic Republic announced it had exceeded the deal‘s uranium enrichment level of 3.67 percent.

On Saturday, Iran‘s Atomic Energy Organisation said it had taken another step by starting up 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 advanced centrifuges, the step now confirmed by the IAEA.

Under the landmark pact, Iran was allowed to enrich uranium using only first generation – or IR-1 – centrifuges.

‘The European Union was supposed to be the replacement of the US but, unfortunately, they failed to act on their promises,‘ Salehi said.

‘Unfortunately the European parties have failed to fulfil their commitments … The deal is not a one-way street and Iran will act accordingly as we have done so far by gradually downgrading our commitments,‘ he said.

France, which has been leading Europe‘s efforts to rescue the nuclear deal, yesterday urged Iran to halt its steps away from the accord.

Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin ‘spoke in favour of uniting the efforts of all interested parties in order to preserve the JCPOA and full compliance with it‘, a Kremlin statement said, referring to the deal by its formal name.

The Elysee Palace in Paris said Macron and Putin agreed ‘all concerned parties‘ should act to ‘ease tensions‘.

In a report on August 30, the IAEA said it was continuing to verify compliance through cameras and on-site inspections.

Iranian officials say the text of the nuclear deal allows one party to the deal to cut its commitments if others do not live up to theirs.

Washington has largely dismissed Iran‘s threats and warned of more sanctions. Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its atomic programme is for entirely peaceful purposes.

On top of that, tensions between the West and Iran have risen over a series of shipping disputes in recent months.

Washington has blamed Iran for a string of explosions on Gulf oil tankers, but Tehran denied involvement in any of them.

Then on July 4 an Iranian oil tanker was seized by the British territory of Gibraltar, which claimed the ship was delivering crude oil to Syria.

Iran seized the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Middle East two weeks later in what was widely seen as a retaliation.

It sent Middle East tensions escalating alarmingly as both Britain and America beefed up their military presence in the region.

Trump called off air strikes against Iran at the last minute in June after the Islamic republic downed a U.S. drone.

The Iranian tanker was released last month but now appears to have headed for Syria after all, fuelling further anger from Washington.

Yesterday state media in Iran said the tanker had berthed on Mediterranean shores and unloaded its cargo, without saying exactly where.

The Stena is still idling at an Iranian port, although Iran said yesterday that it could be released soon.

Experts have warned that a crisis in the critical Strait of Hormuz could endanger the world‘s oil supply.

Israel Strikes Civilians Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

‘You Can’t Knock on Their Door’: Israel Strikes Some Gaza Targets Without Checking for Civilians in Real Time

The killing of the al-Sawarkah family reveals failures in ‘fire and forget’ attacks, where pilots don’t see the target and intelligence isn’t updated

Yaniv Kubovich28.11.2019 | 10:27

Two weeks since the air force attack in Deir el-Balah that killed nine members of the Sawarkah family, who were living in a structure that the army had defined as an Islamic Jihad “terror infrastructure,” the Israel Defense Forces are still investigating why the green light to bomb the building wasn’t based on updated information.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 50 Haaretz

But an inquiry conducted by Haaretz shows that this conduct isn’t unusual. According to sources in the defense establishment, the IDF often bombs terror targets in Gaza that were included in its target bank long before the strike without checking in real time whether there are civilians at the site or whether the site has been converted into residences.

The IDF is continuing to claim that the structure bombed was an Islamic Jihad “training installation.” Security sources familiar with the incident say it wasn’t a family home, but shacks with embankments and surrounding fences typical of a training compound. However, a photo of the structure from 10 months ago obtained by Haaretz shows the site had one small shack surrounded by a torn fence that allowed free access and that there were no embankments. On the other hand, there were also no visible items of the type associated with a family dwelling or the presence of children.

After it was revealed that the information on the structure was not updated before it was bombed, the army argued that it had done another check a few days before the bombing. However, the last check dealt with the conditions for a strike and the restrictions imposed on it – but the building’s situation and updated intelligence information were not checked. The family’s neighbors say that in recent years the building was occupied by civilians.

Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi said this week, “Such things can happen. We weren’t surprised by it, while on the other hand this was not a result that we wanted.” In an interview with Army Radio, Halevi repeated the claims that the compound “served Islamic Jihad for several rounds of clearly military activity,” and said, “We act meticulously.”

He added, “We know [how] to attack slowly and more carefully, but our job is to look at the entire equation. If we attack slowly and act too carefully, it’s liable to harm us. The dilemma is between the residents of the south and the residents of Gaza. If you know that you are living near terror infrastructure, then leave the area when the escalation starts.”

A security source said that if the army classifies a place as “terror infrastructure” there are very few restrictions on attacking it, especially if it’s in an agricultural region or distant from a residential area. He said the assumption is that there are not meant to be civilians in military installations and that those harmed will be terror operatives staying in the site. “Targets like a warehouse for weapons aren’t always checked [again] by the IDF before an attack; there’s no way for the IDF to check that,” he said. “You can’t knock on their door.”

Noting that during a war thousands of targets may be attacked in a day, it’s impossible to examine every target in real time or document it before striking, said the source. He added most terror infrastructures are bombed on a “fire and forget” basis, with the pilot never even seeing the target.

After the strike, the IDF clarified that in all the recent rounds of operations in Gaza, only terror infrastructures were targeted and that no other incident similar to the Deir Al-Balah one had occurred.

A military source said that there are some intelligence sources that still believe that the area was an Islamic Jihad training compound. While the army argues that the selection of targets and planning of the assault “were done in accordance with the mandatory instructions,” the IDF refuses to explain what the “mandatory instructions” are, arguing that, “We’re talking about operational procedures and intelligence methods that cannot be revealed.”

Last year, human rights activists filed suit to get information from the IDF on the procedure for attacking targets in the West Bank and Gaza, and Tel Aviv District Court Judge Shaul Shohat ordered the army to hand over a summary of the procedures that did not include classified information. The document given to attorney Eitay Mack, representing the human rights activists, noted that, “Legal advisers are involved in some of the missions of planning the validity of the targets, with a stress on the process of approving the targets in advance.” In other words, lawyers may examine the targets when they are included in the target bank, but there is no obligation to review the information when a possible attack is imminent.

A senior security source who was heavily involved in the IDF’s activity in recent years and is very familiar with target choices and the approval of attacks, told Haaretz that, “When a target is put into the [target] bank, the operational conditions for attacking it are not updated; they are determined when it’s inserted into [the bank on the basis of] intelligence.”

He added that some of the information about targets comes from sources that are not professional and may be influenced by a dispute among neighbors or a business dispute. “Everything should be done to examine the information, but to say that this can always be done is not accurate,” he said.

After the attack, MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) submitted a query to Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter, in which she asked about the procedures for setting targets, how often their relevance is checked, whether the IDF attacks targets that aren’t updated and if this doesn’t constitute a waste of money and undermine the army’s effectiveness. In his response Dichter also noted the possibility of unreliable information, adding, “Sometimes there are limitations on checking the validity of targets and one must decide whether to attack despite the time that’s passed,” said Dichter, adding “I suggest that we wait for the [results] of the inquiry.”

The IDF Spokesperson said in response, “As reported by the IDF, structures were attacked in this incident that were implicated as an Islamic Jihad infrastructure. These buildings were first selected as a military target after being incriminated several months ago, and professionals validated this incrimination again a few days before the attack.

“From the initial investigation, the selection of the target and the planning of the attack were done in accordance with the IDF’s mandatory instructions. In keeping with the information the IDF had at its disposal when the attack was carried out, it was not expected that noncombatant civilians would be hurt in the strike. The IDF regrets any harm to uninvolved civilians and regularly takes varied operational and intelligence steps to prevent, to the degree possible, harm to them because of attacks on military targets. The IDF is investigating the various aspects of this incident.”

India-Pakistan Fury and the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India-Pakistan fury: Fears of all out war over Kashmir as senator issues chilling warning

A PAKISTAN senator has condemned India’s activities in Kashmir following its controversial decision to revoke the region’s autonomy.

By Joel Day 05:44, Thu, Nov 28, 2019 | UPDATED: 05:44, Thu, Nov 28, 2019

Kashmir: Civilians mourn losses after cross-border attacks

Former Pakistan Ambassador to the US and leader of the opposition, Sherry Rehman, has condemned India’s move to revoke Kashmir’s special status in August. Ms Rehman also drew attention the the deteriorating relations between the US and Pakistan, and how Pakistan must do more in Kashmir to make its people heard.

In a conference that was attended by ambassadors from Turkey and Iran, she said: “Pakistan has a lot more to do for amplifying Kashmiri voices.

“We’re seeing an outpouring of support here today in Ankara.”

For the past few months, Kashmir has been subject of intense media attention when India decided to revoke Kashmir’s autonomous identity and centralise power to Delhi.

Violence in Kashmir can be traced back to when India and Pakistan won independence from Britain in 1947.

Sherry Rehman is the former Pakistan ambassador to the US (Image: GETTY)

A bloody partition occurred between the two states, with Kashmir opting to stay independent.

Kashmir’s Hindu ruler not long after ceded the territory to India, which has since seen a tense conflict brew as both states claim sovereignty over the region.

Both Pakistan and India are nuclear-armed, leading global powers to fear things could get out of hand.

Imran Khan, the former captain of the Pakistan national cricket team, in August vowed to throw his full force behind the fight to end Indian violations in Kashmir.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s leader, has said his country won’t back down (Image: GETTY)

At the time, he said Pakistan’s army was preparing to respond to anticipated Indian aggression.

During a visit to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in a speech marking Pakistan’s independence day hr said: “The Pakistani army has solid information that they are planning to do something in Pakistani Kashmir, and they are ready and will give a solid response.

“We have decided that if India commits any type of violation we will fight until the end.

The time has arrived to teach you a lesson.”

Many have protested what has unfolded in Kashmir (Image: GETTY)

The conflict ensued relatively quickly in August (Image: GETTY)

The speech was just one example of the battle of rhetoric that spanned several months, but has since simmered down – though, the potential for full blown conflict is still a threat, with neither side seeming to back down.

Various skirmishes broke out, with Pakistan’s Major General Asif Ghafoor writing on Twitter: “In efforts to divert attention from precarious situation in IOJ&K, Indian Army increases firing along LOC.

“Three Pakistani soldiers embraced shahadat. Pakistan Army responded effectively.

“Five Indian soldiers killed, many injured, bunkers damaged. Intermittent exchange of fire continues.”

Talking to Al Jazeera, Mr Ghafoor claimed that three civilians had also been caught up and killed in the border war on the Pakistani side.

Several high-profile political figures and notable names were imprisoned when tensions peaked.

Omar Abdullah, the descendant of a prominent political Kashmiri family and a former chief minister of the state was arrested.

The UN has since called for the withdrawal of forces and a plebiscite to determine the fate of Kashmir.

Rehman said Pakistan had a lot more to do to make the voices of Kashmiri’s heard (Image: GETTY)

UN resolutions have long been advocated by Pakistan, as well as holding a referendum on the regions right to autonomy.

India, however, has rejected any effort to “internationalise” the dispute, insisting that the disagreement be resolved bilaterally.

This, the nation claims, is the only way to resolve the issue, with it being directly in line with the 1972 Simla Agreement and 1999 Lahore Declaration.

The “Zone” of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Matt Fagan, Staff writer, @fagan_nj

It had been relatively quiet this year, until geologists recorded a 1.3 magnitude quake last weekend in Morris Plains, and then a 1.0 magnitude quake Saturday in Morristown.

Last weekend’s tremor was reported by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory to the Morris Plains Police Department, which issued an advisory to residents on Monday morning.

Lamont-Doherty spokesman Kevin Krajick said the quake was pinpointed to a shallow depth of 6 kilometers just north of Grannis Avenue, between Mountain and Sun Valley ways, about 500 feet southeast of Mountain way School.

Rutgers Newark geology professor talks about earthquakes in northern New Jersey. Matt Fagan/NorthJersey.com

“It was a very small earthquake at a very shallow depth,” Krajick said. “Most people would not feel an earthquake that small unless they were absolutely right under it, if that.”

“To date (there) were no reported injuries or damage related to the earthquake and no Morris Plains residents reported any activity to this agency,” according to Morris Plains police Chief Jason Kohn

On the other hand, Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said his department received “a bunch of calls about it, between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.”

Saturday’s earthquake was so minor that Morristown police said they received no calls from residents

Earthquakes are generally less frequent and less intense in the Northeast compared to the U.S. Pacific Coast, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. But due to geological differences between the regions, earthquakes of similar magnitude affect an area 10 times larger in the Northeast compared to the West Coast.

The 16 tremors recorded in 2016 were minor, generally 1 or 2 magnitude, often misinterpreted as explosions, said Alexander Gates, geology professor at Rutgers University Newark campus.

“A lot of people in Butler felt them over the course of the last year, but a lot of them didn’t know it was an earthquake,” Gates said.

Butler is the borough, but also the name of the fault that sits at the end of aseries of others belonging to the Ramapo Fault, Gates said.

The Ramapo fault, Gates said, is the longest in the Northeast and runs from Pennnsylvania through New Jersey, snaking northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before coming to an end in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant.

“I’d be willing to bet that you’d have to go all the way to Canada and all the way to South Carolina before you’d get one that active,” Gates said of the area which runs from the New York state line in the Ringwood and Mahwah area down to Butler and central Passaic County, Gates said.

Of last year’s 16 earthquakes, 12 were directly associated with the faults around Butler, Gates said.

Butler Councilman Ray Verdonik said area residents are well aware of the frequency of earthquakes and agrees they are often difficult to discern.

During one earthquake, the councilman said he and his neighbors rushed from their homes.

“We thought it was from Picatinny Arsenal or a sonic boom.” he said.

Won-Young Kim, director of the  Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, which  monitors earthquakes in the Northeast, said often very shallow, the low magnitude quakes’ waves cause much ground motion. He said even though the waves don’t travel very far, they can seem more intense than the magnitude suggests.

They may not topple chimneys, he said but can crack foundations and frighten residents.

To put earthquake magnitudes in perspective, experts said each year there are about 900,000 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude or less recorded annually by seismograph. These mild tremors are usually not felt.

There are 30,000 that measure between 2.5 and 5.4, and these are often felt, but cause minor damage.

About 500 quakes worldwide are recorded between 5.5 and 6 magnitude per year and cause slight damage to buildings and structures.

The 100 that fall within 6.1 and 6.9 may cause lots of damage in populated areas.

The 20 or so which fall within the 7 and 7.9 magnitude per year are considered major and cause serious damage.

Those that measure at 8 or greater can totally destroy communities near the epicenter and average one every five to 10 years.

The earthquake recorded in Mexico last week measured 7.1 magnitude.

Gates said he has identified most of the region’s numerous faults, but has yet to name them all. Among the unnamed include the faults responsible for last year’s quakes in the region.

Earthquakes in this region are intraplate ones,Gates said, meaning they occur within the plates. Earthquakes of this type account for more than 90 percent of the total seismic energy released around the world.

Plates are the masses of the earth’s crust that slowly move, maybe as little as a few centimeters a year to as much 18 centimeters, around the globe. Faults such as the San Andreas are interplate and occur near where two plates meet.

The plate North America rides upon runs from the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Pacific Coast. The theory is that as plates interact with one another, they create stress within the plate. Faults occur where the crust is weak, Gates said. Earthquakes relieve the built up pressure.

Boston College Geophysics Professor John Ebel said he and a Virginia Tech colleague, believe the seismically active areas in New York and South Carolina are where some 200 million years ago, the plates tried to break off but failed. This led to a weakening of the earth’s crust which makes them susceptible to quakes.

While not predictable, the data collected seem to suggest earthquakes occur somewhat periodically, 40 active years followed by 40 less active, Gates said.

“We are over due for a 3 or 4” magnitude, Gates said. “A 4 you’d feel. It would shake the area. Everybody would be upset.”

Ebel does not fully agree. He said saying “overdue” might be somewhat misleading.  Earthquakes happen through a slow process of rising stress, “like dropping individual grains of sand on the table.”

You never know which grain will cause the table to break, he said.

Still all three experts say statistically it is only a matter time before a magnitude 5 quake is recorded in the northern New Jersey area.

The scientists said quakes in the Northeastern part of the United States tend to come 100 years apart and the last one was recorded in 1884 believed to be centered south of Brooklyn. It toppled chimneys and moved houses from their foundations across the city and as far as Rahway.

Washington D.C. experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake in 2011, which was felt in the Northeast, Gates said. That quake cracked the Washington Monument.

A similar quake was recorded in 1737 in Weehawken, Gates noted.

“Imagine putting a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Weehawken, New Jersey next to the Bridge, next to the tunnel,” Gates said. “Boy that would be a dangerous one.”

In 2008 Columbia University’s The Earth Institute posted an article titled: “Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study.”

“Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” the article’s co-author John Armbruster wrote. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling.”

The threat though, is not tangible to many, Armbruster wrote.

“There is no one now alive to remember that last one, so people tend to forget. And having only a partial 300-year history, we may not have seen everything we could see. There could be surprises — things bigger than we have ever seen,” Armbruster wrote.

The Earth Institute’s article did note New York City added earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.

New Jersey also began to require earthquake-resistant standards in the 1990s. The state, following the 2011 Virginia quake, now requires lake communities to make dams able to withstand a magnitude 5 earthquake.

The issue, Gates said, is that many of the buildings were built before these codes went into effect. A “sizable” earthquake could cause much damage.

Then there’s the prediction that every 3,400 years this area can expect a quake at 7 magnitude.

According to the Earth Institute article, a  2001 analysis for Bergen County estimates a magnitude 7 quake would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone.  Likewise, in New York City the damage could easily hit hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ebel noted that depending on the depth and power of a severe quake, damage could be also be wide ranging. In 2011, Washington D.C., 90 miles away from the epicenter, which was located in central Virginia, suffered significant damage.  Cities like Philadelphia fall within that radius.

“The big one could happen tomorrow or 100 years from now. That’s the problem,” Gates said. It geological terms 100 years is just a spit in the ocean, he noted.

Then again North Jersey is more likely to be hit by hurricane in the next three years, Gates added.

Email: Fagan@NorthJersey.com

Staff Writer William Westhoven contributed to this report.

New Jersey’s top earthquakes

• Dec. 19, 1737 — Weehawken, believed to be a 5-plus magnitude quake, could be very serious if occurred in same spot today.

• Nov. 29, 1783 — Western New Jersey. Geologists are not exactly sure where it happened because area was sparsely populated. Estimated magnitude varies from 4.8 to 5.3. Felt from Pennsylvania to New England.

• Aug. 10, 1884 — A 5.2 earthquake occurred somewhere near Jamaica Bay near Brooklyn. The quake toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far Rahway.

• The biggest earthquake in the last 45 years of data available form USGS was a 3.8 quake centered in Carneys Point in Salem County on the morning of Feb.28, 1973

• New Jersey has never recorded a fatality due to an earthquake, according to the DEP.

The Antichrist’s Men: Behaving Badly (Revelation 13)

Iraq: Behaving Badly

November 28, 2019: The anti-corruption demonstrations have, since October 1st, left nearly 400 dead and over 18,000 injured. The protest is not just about corruption but also the Iranian efforts to control Iraq and exploit the corruption to do so. Protestors consider the current government crippled by politicians who are pro-Iran or have been bribed to do what Iran wants. Both the Iraqi and Iranian governments were caught by surprise at the size, ferocity and persistence of the protests. This eventually included the most senior Iraqi Shia clerics backing the protestors, which was a major embarrassment for the senior Iranian Shia clerics, who have been running Iran since the 1980s and had hoped to persuade their Iraqi colleagues to adopt the same system. The Iraqi Shia clerics considered the idea after the Sunni dictatorship and Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003, but gradually realized that this form of religious dictatorship wasn’t working in Iran and was definitely not going to work in Iraq. The Iraqi Shia clerics tried to explain to their Iranian peers that Iraqi Shia were eager to worship together with other Shia, including Iranians, but were generally opposed to Iranian politics or political control. A growing number of Iranian clergy understand and accept that. But the Shia clergy who still control the Iranian government refuse to accept that reality, despite the fact that a growing number of Iranians are out in the streets protesting the religious dictatorship running Iran into the ground.

We Will Never Surrender, Not Yet

The Iraqi government is not giving up, despite the number and determination of the protestors. Today the government shut down some media outlets and warned others that they risked the same fate unless they reported the demonstrations from a pro-government point of view. Now the government is at war with Iraqi media, which protestors see as a sign of government weakness and desperation. The media has generally been accurate in reporting on the violence but the government wants Iranian involvement left out and publishers realize that is a reality that cannot be erased by any media that wants to retain its audience. Iraqis are protesting what they have seen themselves, not read about somewhere or seen on TV news. The protestors say their government isn’t paying attention and the government keeps proving it.

Troops and police confronting the protestors had already become violent towards anyone recording the protests, even with just a smartphone camera. These videos and pictures were showing up on mass media as well as Internet social media. The security forces personnel don’t want any publicity, especially when they are behaving badly. As dictators everywhere are learning, you cannot hide when your opponents have smartphones.

The Others

The demonstrators are almost all Iraqi Shia. The Sunni Arabs and Kurds have complained, sometimes vigorously, in the past about the corruption of the Shia dominated government and are content to stand back and let the Shia sort out problems that have largely been created by Shia politicians and pro-Iran Iraqi Shia. This was obvious in 2014 when corruption in the Shia dominated security forces rendered Iraqi unable to halt the rapid advance of the Syrian based ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). This organization was created by Iraqi Sunni, in the form of Iraqi al Qaeda leaders who sought to take advantage of the 2011 uprising in Syria. The Iraqi founders of ISIL outdid themselves but the ISIL force invading and seizing control of a third of Iraq in 2014 contained a lot of Syrian Sunnis and other foreigners. Despite being run by Iraqi Sunnis, ISIL was never very popular with Iraqi Sunni communities and tribes. By 2016 there was an active Sunni resistance to ISIL. In 2014 Kurdish forces played a decisive role in halting the ISIL advance and led the way in eventually defeating ISIL in Iraq. Now it’s up to the Iraqi Shia to clean house.

Governments Respond

The government is trying to respond to calls for prosecution of corrupt officials. That’s a huge undertaking because there are hundreds of senior officials, many of them government ministers, who became quite wealthy after getting their job and even if they were dismissed for bad behavior, they are still unprosecuted and enjoying their wealth. Many of the “more lucrative” ministries are so desirable those appointed to them will only have a year or so to steal as much as they can before they are replaced with another greedy politician. All these thieves are now beholden to other politicians who got them the ministerial post or lesser, but still lucrative, job in the state oil company or any government operation with a large budget. So much of that money disappears that the government barely functions.

Most schools, hospitals and public utilities (power, sanitation, road repair and so on) are absent or rarely operational in most parts of the country. Until a lot of corrupt officials are deprived of their freedom and stolen wealth the protestors will keep at it. It will also require all those absent government services to become operational to prevent protests from returning and escalating even more.

Iraq has been known as one of the most corrupt nations in the region, and the Transparency International corruption rankings document that. Since the Sunni (Saddam Hussein) dictatorship was removed in 2003 the free (by Middle Eastern standards) media has made Iraqis aware of how extensive and destructive their corruption is. Saddam always liked to blame foreign (usually American and Israeli) conspiracies for problems caused by corruption. It is still popular to blame Israel or the West but most Iraqis know the cause is Iraqi and they often know specific officials who have caused specific problems.

While the current unrest in Iraq is mainly about corruption there is also an anti-Iran undertone. The Iranians have taken advantage of the many corrupt government officials in Iraq. In fact, Iranian “advisors” rely on corrupt Iraqi officials to survive and thrive. For this reason, one thing the rioters and the government could agree on was how important it was to retain American troops in Iraq. This would discourage Iran from trying to take over the government by force. Iran already has a lot of influence in the Iraqi government. For example at the end of October the head of the Iranian Quds Force, general Soleimani flew to Baghdad and presided over a meeting of senior Iraqi officials on how to deal with the growing violence. Soleimani was there to show Iraqi officials how Iran had suppressed similar mass protests in Iran.

Soleimani did not reveal any details to the media. That would have been interesting because the situation in Iran is quite different. For example, Iraq is a democracy while Iran is a religious dictatorship pretending to be a democracy. Moreover, Iran has a “royal guard” force in the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), which Quds is a part of. While Quds specializes in disrupting or controlling foreign governments, most of the IRGC personnel exist to prevent the Iranian armed forces or the Iranian people from overthrowing the religious dictatorship. Iraq is a democracy and there is nothing similar to the IRGC. If there were such a force would be very unpopular because it would remind many Iraqi Shia of the Saddam Hussein era Republican Guard. This was a carefully recruited and well-paid force of Sunni Arab troops whose primary job was to keep the majority (80 percent who are not Sunni Arab) from taking control. Quds has been trying to create an Iraqi IRGC in the form of pro-Iran PMF (Popular Mobilization Force) militias. That has backfired as many Iraqis in the Iran-backed PMF brigades have changed their minds about supporting Iran. A growing number of Iraqis are convinced that most of the protestors killed were murdered by Iranians or pro-Iranian PMF members. Time and again the killings are carried out either by snipers (which Quds is a big fan of) or groups of uniformed masked gunmen firing on protestors. PMF members wear military uniforms, the masks and killing demonstrators are a Quds thing.

Iraqi elections and opinion polls document how Iran is losing support in Iraq and the Iranians are desperate to turn that around and will do dangerous things as part of that effort. Iraqi government efforts to stop the verbal threats to American facilities and forces as well as the actual violence are hampered by the fact that while a shrinking minority of Iraqis support Iran those supporters still occupy key political and security force jobs. This is why the army was accused of opening fire on protestors although most Iraqis believe the shooters were pro-Iran PMF, who also wear army uniforms.

The entire PMF is seen as another form of corruption and that was confirmed when the 2019 military budget was announced it showed a quarter of the budget was going to the PMF, which is supposed to be part of the army but still answers to the Interior Minister rather than the Defense Ministry. Iran also “owns” many Iraqi politicians. This loyalty is obtained via bribes, threats and a shrinking element of belief in the value of Iran having a lot of control over Iraqi affairs.

Iran and the Quds Force faces a similar problem in Lebanon. There, Hezbollah enjoys the allegiance of fewer and fewer Lebanese. The core Hezbollah support is the Shia minority (normally about a third of the population) and some political allies, in the form of Christian factions. Thanks to the influx of so many Syrian Sunni Arabs since 2011 the Sunnis in Lebanon are no longer dwarfed by the Lebanese Shia numbers. The violence Iran brought to Syria and support of the hated (by most Lebanese) Assad dictatorship created record levels of anti-Hezbollah and anti-Iran attitudes. That is demonstrated weekly by large and loud anti-Iran demonstrations. General Soleimani has been spending a lot of time in Lebanon as well. There he confers mainly with Hezbollah leaders because most Lebanese politicians want nothing to do with Quds or Iran.

Soleimani tends to offer the same advice in both Lebanon and Iraq; if persuasion or threats don’t work, anonymously open fire and keep shooting, especially at known or suspected leaders, until the unrest subsides. That often works in a police state, which Iran is, but not so much in democracies, which Iraq and Lebanon are. You can see why Iran opposes true democracy. Iran has a democracy but there is a group of senior clerics who can veto anything the Iranian parliament tries to do and even block “unsuitable” Iranians seeking to run for office.

Blame Games

Israel is also being blamed for weeks of violent protests in Iran and Iraq that have left hundreds dead in both countries and caused nearly a billion dollars in damage so far. The Iranian government mobilized over 100,000 IRGC reservists to help control the continuing protests. Millions of Iranians are protesting government mismanagement of the economy and the resulting growth in the cost-or-living and the percentage of Iranians slipping into poverty. Desperate to reduce expenses a week ago the government eliminated fuel subsidies. This meant Iranians suddenly had to pay three times as much for petroleum products. That meant 25 cents a liter ($1.10 a gallon) which was a painful burden to small businesses as well as families. It was the last straw for many Iranians and the violent demonstrations began. The crowds called for an end to the religious dictatorship and establishment of a real democracy. Again there were also calls for an end to Islam in Iran but the majority of rioters wanted economic relief. The government blamed the United States and Israel but the government has been doing that for decades and Iranians have noted that the problems are the work of their own corrupt and incompetent leaders.

Bloody public protests against the Iranian government have already been going on in Iraq and Lebanon. The violence in Lebanon has been so severe that the economy is suffering and the elected government has collapsed. It is almost as bad in Iraq. While Israel and America are still blamed, that is seen as a hollow gesture in the protest ridden nations because in all three countries there is no mystery who the enemy is and what the protestors want done to their government to fix the problems Israel and America had nothing to do with.

November 27, 2019: In the south (the Shia shrine city Najaf), protestors seized and burned down the Iranian consulate. The anti-Iran Shia protestors called the consulate a center for terrorism and Iranian efforts to dominate Iraq. That was no secret in Najaf and the surprising thing is Iran was not able to muster enough pro-Iran Iraqis to defend the consulate.

In Baghdad three bombs went off overnight, leaving six dead and fifteen wounded. ISIL did not take credit but Sunnis are suspected.

November 24, 2019: The nationwide demonstrations became even more intense, despite escalating efforts by the security forces to halt and disperse protestors. The security forces are using more force and a record (for one day) protestors were killed today.

November 23, 2019: In the south (Dhi Qar province, north of Basra province), protestors blocked a main highway. Dhi Qar is predominately Shia and where most of the “Marsh Arabs” lived. It is also the poorest province with the highest unemployment and poverty rates.

In the south (Basra province), a major border crossing with Iran was reopened to travelers after being closed for a week by Iran. Commercial truck traffic was still allowed, but individuals just traveling between the two countries was banned. Iran did not give a reason for the one week closure.

November 21, 2019: The government announced it was lifting the bans it had imposed on Internet social media. Since early October the government has tried, unsuccessfully, to block the use of the Internet by Iraqis to coordinate their demonstrations and keep each other informed. The efforts to censor the Internet backfired, giving protestors more to protest and the government realized this.

Parliament voted to repeal some of the special privileges that senior elected officials had. This made little impression on the demonstrators because there are so many special privileges, both formal and informal, that elected officials have. What parliament repealed today was a tiny portion of those privileges and a lot more would have to be eliminated before demonstrators were satisfied.

November 20, 2019: The prime minister invited key tribal leaders from the southern city of Karbala to meet with him and the tribal leaders refused to do so until demonstrators’ demands were met. In times of crisis such meetings are often held and what amounts to a bribe is offered. The leaders go back home and try to calm things down. That is not working anymore. Karbala is full of Shia shrines and the local tribal leaders have long criticized the government for tolerating crippling corruption.

November 19, 2019: In the north (Nineveh Province, 120 kilometers west of Mosul), a Turkish UAV used a missile to attack a PKK base near Sinjar. There were dead and wounded.

November 18, 2019: Leaked Iranian intelligence files from 2014-15 detailed how much Iran had infiltrated the Iraqi government and Security forces. Names were named, both Iraqi and Iranian. Many of the names, especially the Iranian IRGC commanders and religious leaders, are still around and still actively interfering inside Iraq. This was inflammatory material in Iran and Iraq, as both countries are undergoing nationwide protests against corruption and the misbehavior of the IRGC and Iran’s religious dictatorship. For a lot of Iraqis and Iranians, the leaked documents just confirmed what was already suspected, but that both Iranian and Iraqi governments denied.

November 17, 2019: In several southern provinces government office workers joined the demonstrators and shut down their offices. Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr had been calling for this and the office workers responded.

November 15, 2019: Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most senior Iraqi Shia cleric, announced his support of the demonstrators and their goals of eliminating corruption, especially in the government. In effect, Sistani was also supporting the very anti-Iran attitudes of the protestors.

November 8, 2019: The Israeli government went public with its support for the Syrian Kurds. Israel had long unofficially and discreetly supported the Syrian (as well as the Iraqi) Kurds. The Americans are willing to go to war to protect Israel but not to assist the Syrian Kurds in fighting Syria, Turkey and Iran.

October 31, 2019: ISIL confirmed the death of their founder and leader Abu Baghdadi and announced a successor; Abdullah Qardash, a former officer in the Saddam era Iraqi military. The new leader is generally unknown outside of ISIL and is now being actively sought for capture or killing. Former officers and officials who worked for Saddam Hussein have long provided most of the leadership for Islamic terror groups in Iraq. This includes both local al Qaeda groups as well as ISIL.

October 29, 2019: In Iraq (the Shia holy city Karbala), groups of masked men in civilian clothes opened fire on demonstrators and killed or wounded over a hundred. Nearby soldiers and police did not interfere thus most Iraqis believed the gunmen were Iranian. In Lebanon, the prime minister (Saad Hariri) resigned a job he was forced to take by Hezbollah. The 12 days of anti-Iran demonstrations have reduced the impact of Hezbollah intimidation.

October 28, 2019: The U.S. has moved several hundred troops from Iraq to the Kurdish occupied oil fields in eastern Syria. This was apparently in response to Kurdish assistance in finding, and recently killing, ISIL leader Baghdadi.

October 27, 2019: In central Iraq (Hilla city), the pro-Iran militia fired on demonstrators killing seven and wounding 38.

October 25, 2019: In Iraq, the mass anti-corruption protests resumed after a brief pause. The violence is now nationwide. The anti-Iran element was more prominent than ever. Anti-Iran chants were heard often. Security forces and Iran-backed militiamen opened fire on many demonstrators, killing at least 25 and wounding nearly 2,000. This increased violence is partly because senior Shia clerics in Iran and Iraq are feuding now, which is rare as the Shia clergy usually stick together.

Iraq Contests the Iranian Horn (Daniel 8 )

Officials: Iraq protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf


Posted Nov 27, 2019 2:19 PM CST

BAGHDAD (AP) — Anti-government protesters burned down an Iranian consulate building in southern Iraq on Wednesday, while six protesters were killed by security forces who fired live rounds amid ongoing violence in the country, Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

Protesters torched the consulate in the holy city of Najaf in the evening. One protester was killed and at least 35 people were wounded when police fired live ammunition to prevent them from entering the building, a police official said.

The demonstrators removed the Iranian flag from the building and replaced it with an Iraqi one. Iranian staff were not harmed and escaped the building from the back door and authorities imposed a curfew in Najaf. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The incident marked an escalation in the demonstrations that have raged in Baghdad and across the mostly Shiite southern Iraq since Oct. 1. The protesters accuse the Shiite-led government of being hopelessly corrupt and complain of poor public services and high unemployment. They are also decrying growing Iranian influence in Iraqi state affairs.

Protesters previously attacked the Iranian consulate in Karbala earlier this month, scaling concrete barriers running the building.

Security forces have fired bullets, tear gas and smoke bombs on a near daily basis since the unrest began. At least 350 people have been killed and thousands wounded in what has become the largest grassroots protest movement in Iraq’s modern history.

Two protesters were killed and 35 wounded when security forces fired live rounds to disperse them from Baghdad’s historic Rasheed Street, security and hospital officials said.

The street, which is adjacent to the strategic Ahrar Bridge, has been the focus of violence for a full week, with near daily incidents of deaths as a result of security forces using live ammunition and tear gas to keep demonstrators from advancing beyond a concrete barrier.

Protesters are occupying three key bridges in central Baghdad – Jumhuriya, Ahrar and Sinar – in a standoff with security forces. On Wednesday, they also burned tires on Ahrar Bridge to block security forces from accessing the area.

The burning of the Iranian consulate followed tense days in southern Iraq, where protesters have burned tires and cut access to main roads in several provinces.

In Karbala, four protesters were killed by live fire from security forces in the previous 24 hours.

Three of the anti-government protesters were killed when security forces fired live rounds to disperse crowds in the holy city of Karbala late Tuesday, security and medical officials said. One protester died of wounds suffered when a tear gas canister struck him in clashes earlier in the day.

Protesters have largely kept away from threatening Iraq’s economy, but in the southern city of Basra daily closures of the two main Gulf commodities port has caused disruptions to trade activity, a port official said.

Protesters continued to cut major roads to Umm Qasr and Khor al-Zubair ports on Wednesday, reducing trade activity by 50%, according to the port official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Protesters also blocked roads leading to major oil fields in West Qurna and Rumaila. A senior oil ministry official said crude production was not impacted by the closures.

Three simultaneous explosions rocked Baghdad late Tuesday, killing five people and wounding more than a dozen, Iraqi officials said, in the first apparent coordinated attack since anti-government protests erupted. The bombings took place far from Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of weeks of anti-government protests that have posed the biggest security challenge to Iraq since the defeat of the Islamic State group.

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