Tremors Before the Great Earthquake at Christ’s Return : Revelation 11

Cracks that appeared in a building in Tiberias following an earthquake on January 23, 2022, prompting an evacuation of residents. (Screenshot: Twitter)

2nd minor earthquake within hours rattles northern Israel; some buildings evacuated

3.5-magnitude quake centered south of Tiberias, just hours after earlier temblor; no immediate reports of injuries

By TOI staffToday, 1:32 pm

A minor earthquake shook northern Israel on Sunday afternoon, sending some residents into the streets during the area’s second temblor within hours.

Israel’s Geological Survey said the 3.5-magnitude quake struck just after midday, centered 16 kilometers southeast of the city of Tiberias.

Police said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no warnings about disturbances at sea.

A series of fault lines runs along the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley, causing geological activity in the area.

In Beit She’an, employees were evacuated from city hall as part of the standard procedures during an earthquake. A school was also evacuated in nearby Afula.

An unnamed resident of Beit She’an told the Walla news site that they were concerned a larger quake could be on the way.

“We felt a short earthquake just like it during the night. We left the building and waited a few minutes. It is very surprising that there was another earthquake and there is concern there may be a bigger one soon,” they said.

A resident of Nazareth told Channel 12 news that they also “felt the earthquake strongly.”Advertisement

The quake came just hours after an earlier minor quake in northern Israel, late Saturday night.

Israel’s Geological Survey said that 3.7-magnitude earthquake began at 11:36 p.m. on Saturday. The epicenter was around 19 kilometers northeast of Beit She’an, near Israel’s border with Jordan.

“It went on for a relatively long time. It moved things around in my house,” a Haifa resident told Walla news after the first quake. “My desk was moving by itself for four or five seconds. The whole house, the bed, the room shook.”

“My whole body was trembling with fear. I started grabbing my kids to get outside. The bed really moved. All the windows were shaking,” a woman from Tiberias said.

Authorities on Sunday reminded residents of earthquake protocols, with anyone who might be in danger told to head for an open space.

People unable to leave their building should enter their bomb-proof secure room, leaving the doors and windows open, or go into the stairwell and head down. If neither of these are options, they should shelter in the corner of a room.Advertisement

Those who are outdoors at the time of a quake should stay away from buildings, trees, power cables and any items that could fall.

Anyone close to a beach should move away at least one kilometer away from the water, or make sure they are on the fourth floor or above in case of flooding or a tsunami.

Anyone driving at the time of a quake should stop at the side of the road and wait inside the vehicle until the end of the earthquake, but should avoid stopping under a bridge or at a junction.

Earlier this month, a 6.6-magnitude quake hit off the coast of Cyprus. It was felt in nearby Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.

Israel lies along an active fault line: the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust that runs the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan. The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured 700 — and seismologists estimate that such earthquakes occur in this region approximately every 100 years.

In 2018, the state ombudsman warned Israel is woefully unprepared for a major earthquake.

This WILL Be the Next Big War That Finishes Off the Entire World: Revelation 16

An Iranian woman mourns as she holds a portrait of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Col. Sayyad Khodai while attending his funeral in southern Tehran on May 24. Colonel Khodai was shot dead in front of his home on May 22 by motorbike assassins in Tehran.

This Could Be the Next Big War That Grips the Entire World

Adam Sandler did career-best work as a New York City jeweler in deep basketball-gambling trouble in Josh and Benny Safdie’s 2019 Uncut Gems, only to be wrongly denied his first Academy Award nomination. Having been overlooked for that critical darling, which paired him with Boston Celtics great Kevin Garnett, Sandler takes a different tack in making a case for dramatic respectability—if not Oscar gold—with Hustle, a sports film in which he plays a revered scout for the Celtics’ Eastern Conference rival Philadelphia 76ers. Far removed from the maddening anxiety of his prior NBA-themed outing, Sandler’s latest is an inspirational athletic story that the superstar comedian is more than capable of carrying. Yet cut from a woefully familiar cloth, and thus weighed down by a preponderance of clichés, it’s a feel-good movie that—per basketball parlance—has no hops.

Produced by LeBron James and made with the participation of the NBA, Hustle is the sort of by-the-books sports affair that, once upon a time, would have been right at home running on a Saturday afternoon cable-TV loop, and it’ll serve a similar comfort-food function on Netflix, where it premieres on June 8 (following a brief theatrical run beginning June 3). Sandler is Stanley Sugarman, who spends his days and nights—and weeks, months, and years—taking cabs and planes from one international gym and hotel to another on behalf of the Sixers in search of the Next Big Thing. It’s a tireless slog of fast food meals and phone calls to his wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and daughter Alex (Jordan Hull), and full of names of disappointing prospects crossed off his endless list. Stanley is well-regarded by the organization’s owner (Robert Duvall), but he truly pines for a seat on the bench as a full-time coach. That dream finally becomes a reality, only to crumble when Duvall’s bigwig suddenly dies and the team comes under the control of his son (Ben Foster), who promptly rescinds Stanley’s promotion and sends him back out on the road.

Stanley is told that he’ll reclaim his coveted gig if he can find a player who’ll radically transform the Sixers’ fortunes. Consequently, heeding the advice of Duvall’s owner to “never back down,” Stanley perseveres, and his effort almost immediately pays off when he happens upon an outdoor streetball game in Spain where a veritable “unicorn” named Bo Cruz (real-life NBAer Juancho Hernangómez) is so dominant that, after the contest, he pockets cash by successfully betting that opponents can’t put the ball on the rim against him. Stanley pursues Bo first on the bus (where his phone-translation app makes him sound like a sexual stalker) and then to the modest home Bo shares with his mother (María Botto) and daughter (Ainhoa Pillet). An impromptu video call with Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki proves Stanley’s bona fides, and his subsequent sales pitch—including the promise of a league-minimum $900,000 salary—does the trick, convincing raw-talent Bo to journey to the States for a chance at pro fame.

Hustle sets this early scene with just enough delicacy and realistic basketball action to overshadow the creakiness of its plot mechanics. For a time, that also holds true in Philadelphia, where Foster’s nominal villain refuses to heed Stanley’s counsel, thereby leaving the scout to support Bo himself in a hotel room where the 22-year-old racks up enormous food and pornography bills. Such humor treads perilously close to the sort peddled by Sandler’s bread-and-butter comedies, but director Jeremiah Zagar (We the Animals) keeps his eye on the uplifting ball, emphasizing the rapport that develops between Bo and Stanley, two seemingly disparate men trying to pull off underdog triumphs in the face of skepticism and naysayers while simultaneously overcoming past traumas. For Bo, that’s the disappearance of his father, a threat to his custody rights, and a prior assault charge. For Stanley, meanwhile, it’s a college drunk-driving incident that mangled his hand and, with it, his shot at March Madness glory.

Despite Sandler’s well-publicized love of basketball, Hustle can’t persuasively posit Stanley—the butt of constant fat jokes—as a former pro-level NCAA player. Then again, the film barely breaks a sweat selling its fantasy at all, instead putting the brunt of its energy into diligently rehashing time-worn maneuvers, including a series of pivotal setbacks for Bo (involving a trash-talking adversary) that threaten to derail his journey to the NBA. Bo’s history is casually mentioned far more than it’s depicted or felt, and the third act is full of calamitous farewells, rom-com-grade races through airports, and contrived twists of fate that push things into fairy-tale territory. A cornucopia of cameos from NBA stars, coaches and personalities (led by Kenny Smith as Stanley’s talent-agent friend) routinely do the heavy-lifting when it comes to lending the proceedings an air of authenticity.

“Bo’s history is casually mentioned far more than it’s depicted or felt, and the third act is full of calamitous farewells, rom-com-grade races through airports, and contrived twists of fate that push things into fairy-tale territory.”

Zagar energizes Bo’s games with shot-countershot close-ups that create a winning sense of one-on-one intensity, and his generally muted direction prevents things from devolving into treacle. In that regard, he’s aided by a likably competent turn by Hernangómez and a far more endearing one from his headliner. Now in his mid-fifties, Sandler has retained his boyish charm and goofy wit even as he’s acquired a world-weariness in his eyes and body language, and those qualities are all put to excellent use in Hustle, no matter the rote motions that Stanley goes through on his path to redemption. The actor is so comfortable in this NBA milieu that the film’s best moments involve him analytically eyeing young players in far-off lands or working Bo to the bone in drill after drill (including a recurring bit in which he forces him to run up a hill at dawn). There’s a natural, lived-in quality to his performance that allows him to elicit a level of engagement that Taylor Materne and Will Fetters’ script doesn’t otherwise earn.

Paling in comparison to the similar (and superior) Ben Affleck vehicle The Way Back, Hustle never works hard enough to generate the comeback-saga pathos it craves. Still, if it likely won’t net Sandler any Academy Award recognition, it’s further proof that there’s more to the actor’s game than simply man-child ridiculousness.

South Korea Prepares to Go Nuclear: Daniel 7

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol takes an oath during his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday. (Jeon Heon-kyun/The Associated Press)

South Korea’s new leader offers ‘audacious plan’ if North abandons nukes

Incoming president Yoon Suk Yeol vows to pursue negotiated settlement of North’s nuclear program

The Associated Press · Posted: May 10, 2022 2:50 AM ET | Last Updated: May 10

Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative political neophyte, took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea’s threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons.

Yoon had promised a tougher stance on North Korea during his campaign but avoided tough words during his inaugural speech amid growing worries that the North is preparing for its first nuclear bomb test in nearly five years. North Korea has rejected similar past overtures by some of Yoon’s predecessors that link incentives to progress in its denuclearization.

“While North Korea’s nuclear weapon programs are a threat, not only to our security but also to Northeast Asia, the door to dialogue will remain open so that we can peacefully resolve this threat,” Yoon told a crowd gathered outside parliament in Seoul.

“If North Korea genuinely embarks on a process to complete denuclearization, we are prepared to work with the international community to present an audacious plan that will vastly strengthen North Korea’s economy and improve the quality of life for its people.”

Vexing security challenge

Yoon also addressed South Korea’s growing economic problems, saying decaying job markets and a widening rich-poor gap are brewing a democratic crisis by stoking “internal strife and discord” and fuelling a spread of “anti-intellectualism” as people lose their sense of community and belonging.

He said he would spur economic growth to heal the deep political divide and income equalities.

North Korea’s advancing nuclear program is a vexing security challenge for Yoon, who won the March 9 election on a promise to strengthen South Korea’s 70-year military alliance with the United States and build up its own missile capability to neutralize North Korean threats.

Crowds of people attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea’s new president. (Jung Yeon-je/The Associated Press)

In recent months, North Korea has test-launched a spate of nuclear-capable missiles that could target South Korea, Japan and the mainland United States. Pyongyang appears to be trying to rattle Yoon’s government while modernizing its weapons arsenals and pressuring the Biden administration into relaxing sanctions on it. North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un recently warned that his nuclear weapons won’t be confined to their primary mission of deterring war if his national interests are threatened.

In a policy briefing earlier Tuesday, South Korea’s military chief Won In-Choul told Yoon in a video conference that North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test if Kim decides to do so. Yoon then ordered military commanders to maintain firm readiness, saying that “the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is very grave.”

Other issues in the tough mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges facing Yoon are a U.S.-China rivalry and strained ties with Japan over history and trade disputes. South Korea is also bracing for the fallout of Russia’s war on Ukraine in global energy markets.

Chung Jin-young, a professor at Kyung Hee University, said South Korea must accept that it cannot force North Korea to denuclearize or ease the U.S.-China standoff. He said South Korea must instead focus on strengthening its defence capability and the U.S. alliance to “make North Korea never dare to think about a nuclear attack on us.” He said South Korea must also prevent ties with Beijing from worsening.

Yoon didn’t mention Japan during his speech. During his campaign, Yoon repeatedly accused his liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in of exploiting Japan for domestic politics and stressed Tokyo’s strategic importance. But some experts say Yoon could end up in the same policy rut as Moon, considering the countries’ deep disagreements over sensitive history issues such as Tokyo’s wartime mobilization of Korean labourers and sex slaves.

Will new evidence force Biden to admit that the Iran-Obama nuclear deal is dead?

Getty ImagesIf Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries will do everything possible not to be left behind.

Will new evidence force Biden to admit that the Iran nuclear deal is dead?


The Biden administration remains unable or unwilling to admit failure in its humiliating pursuit of America rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Nonetheless, dramatic news coverage may force its hand. The Wall Street Journal reported exclusively last week that:

“Iran secured access to secret United Nations atomic agency reports almost two decades ago and circulated the documents among top officials who prepared cover stories and falsified a record to conceal suspected past work on nuclear weapons…”

The Journal described how it had reviewed copies of these International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”) documents and others seized by Israel in a daring 2018 intelligence raid against a Tehran warehouse. The full extent of Israel’s haul in that dramatic operation is still not public, but everything revealed to date has proven accurate.

The news story emerged simultaneously with Senate testimony by Biden’s special representative for Iran, Robert Malley, so questioning at the hearing was inevitably limited. This latest revelation about Iran’s denial and deception efforts, however, undoubtedly presages more to come. 

Until the ramifications of the Journal’s story are further researched and thoroughly considered, the administration has no warrant to proceed any further in attempting to rejoin the nuclear deal. We still need to ascertain, for example, what else Tehran may have seen, and how long it benefitted from this unprecedented access, perhaps even to the present day.

Despite understandable gaps in the Journal story, the implications are volcanic. Iran has long invested considerable time and effort to deceive IAEA officials and inspectors, conceal or destroy critical information and generally obstruct the agency’s investigations. Thus, having any sensitive internal IAEA information would be of incalculable value to Tehran. As the article made clear, Iran would obviously benefit greatly by having advance notice of the lines of inquiry the IAEA was pursuing and the questions it wished to ask.

Early warning would have provided Iran sufficient, perhaps ample, opportunity to concoct a cover story and specific responses, get all relevant nuclear personnel prepared in line with the denial strategy and orchestrate a determined deception effort against the agency. In particular, Iran uhas consistently denied it ever had a nuclear-weapons program, and its concealment efforts could be greatly enhanced just knowing what the IAEA suspected.

The evident success of Iran’s disinformation campaign underscores another critical point: The IAEA is simply not capable of verifying compliance with agreements such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or other arms-control arrangements without full and unqualified cooperation by all parties involved.

Notwithstanding the agency’s inability to fulfill the responsibilities the 2015 nuclear deal entrusts to it, the Biden administration still argues that the IAEA is able to detect Iranian violations. The Journal report proves the precise opposite. The deal’s already weak verification provisions were always doomed to fail, but this new evidence puts the case beyond reasonable doubt. For the White House to continue asserting the contrary borders on perjury.

The IAEA does good and important work, but assigning it tasks it is inherently unable to accomplish gravely impairs its credibility. It is not an intelligence agency. Intelligence flows to the IAEA, not the reverse. Its “breakthroughs” typically come when member governments provide information which the agency uses to confront rogue states. America’s real insurance is not international monitoring of would-be proliferators but its own intelligence capabilities.

Even so, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi should immediately launch a wide-ranging forensic investigation into what happened, who was responsible, how much damage was done and what the IAEA can do to prevent a re-occurrence. One person with much to account for is Mohammed ElBaradei, Grossi’s predecessor in the early 2000s, when these breaches of IAEA security apparently began. ElBaradei’s tilt toward Iran was fully evident throughout his tenure at the IAEA. Given the stakes involved for America and its closest Middle East allies, Congress should also conduct its own bipartisan investigation. 

Meanwhile, Iran’s dogged pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons continues. Since his inauguration, Biden has ignored increasingly significant Iranian violations of U.S. sanctions, particularly trading in oil and related products with China and Venezuela. There is no longer a “maximum pressure” campaign, although indeed even that effort couldn’t stop Iran’s program. Weakening sanctions enforcement, however, especially under the guise of alleviating global oil shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, make it harder for other nations to maintain strict compliance.

The White House should reverse course immediately before more damage is done. We must also acknowledge that current U.S. sanctions-enforcement machinery is inadequate. Considerable improvement is required before we can honestly speak of “maximum pressure” campaigns. Having a tough-sounding slogan does not equal an effective policy.

Most importantly, Biden must admit that the Iran nuclear deal is dead and cannot be resurrected. Only by acknowledging reality can we and our European allies begin developing a new policy with some chance of achieving our common goal of stopping Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons. 

In fact, Tehran’s Islamic revolutionary government will never give up the goal of achieving nuclear weapons, which is one more reason among many why it needs to be replaced, sooner rather than later. Either that, or we and others will have to increase the military actions needed to reduce Iran’s nuclear and related efforts to ashes. Israel, in fact, created a few more ashes last week.Finland and NATO: A turning point the West should not missPutin sets the stage for NATO’s second act

Surveying the rubble of the 2015 deal, and the damage it has inflicted on every nation threatened by Iran and other aspiring proliferators, we have much more to learn and improve. Unless a nation makes a strategic decision to abandon the pursuit of nuclear weapons, no acceptable deal exists.

The Iran nuclear agreement or the prospect of one with North Korea is worth nothing unless Tehran and Pyongyang truly believe they are better off ceasing their nuclear-weapons programs than continuing them. Once that is understood, the U.S. path is clear. As Winston Churchill said in 1934 in an analogous context, “[i]t is the greatest possible mistake to mix up disarmament with peace. When you have peace, you will have disarmament.”

John Bolton was national security adviser to President Trump from 2018 to 2019, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 and held senior State Department posts in 2001-2005 and 1985-1989. His most recent book is “The Room Where It Happened” (2020). He is the founder of John Bolton Super PAC, a political action committee supporting candidates who believe in a strong U.S. foreign policy.TAGS BIDEN BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IAEA IRAN IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL IRAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS ROBERT MALLEY

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Why the Antichrist Failed to Reform Iraq

Why Muqtada al-Sadr Failed to Reform Iraq

Iraq’s most recent election promised change but ended up entrenching the establishment.

By Renad Mansour and Benedict Robin-D’Cruz, a visiting fellow at the Middle East Centre of the London School of Economics.

MARCH 10, 2022, 9:27 AM

Many observers predicted that Iraq’s elections last October would be a potential turning point in the country’s long struggle to find stability since 2003. Instead, the protracted government formation process has featured political violence against opponents, including tit-for-tat assassinations in the south, bombings of political offices and linked businesses, and even an attempt on the prime minister’s life. It has seen the judiciary weaponized to target opponents with lawsuits and disqualify candidates. Foreign powers, including Iran, have also directly intervened to prevent a change to the system of government.

All of this suggests that change is not on the horizon for Iraq. The country is still stuck in familiar cycles of violence with no clear path out.

Some experts have found this especially disappointing because the election results had initially hinted at change. Shiite populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr defeated his competitors by a significant margin, winning 73 seats. His rivals from the previous election, the Iran-allied Fatah Alliance, lost 31 seats and now only has 17 seats. His other rival, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, has only 35 seats. Sadr was widely predicted to play the role of kingmaker.

Sensing an opportunity for fundamental change, Sadrists called for an end to the consensus government system, where all parties divide the state among themselves at the expense of corruption and stagnation. Sadr instead insisted on a majoritarian government. The key was to exclude longtime rival and Iranian ally Maliki. In its own change of policy, the United States now backs Sadr, seeing his rise as an opportunity to push out Iranian influence and change Iraqi politics.

To reshape Iraqi politics, Sadr’s majoritarian push required an alliance—the Tripartite Alliance—with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which has become the strongest Kurdish party, and the al-Siyada bloc, which represents the recently united Sunnis. The alliance passed its first true test, on Jan. 9, when its candidate for speaker of parliament, Mohamed al-Halbousi, won a very clear majority with 200 votes.

But the opposing Coordination Framework led by Maliki and Fatah and backed by Iran still has violence as a hedge. Fatah mobilized its members and fighters to stage protests, blocking key entry points to the government district and judicial institutions. Sadrists soon realized that their armed group—Saraya al-Salam—was no match in terms of manpower and weaponry for a broader armed conflict. With government forces unwilling and unable to officially intervene, the Coordination Framework showcased their coercive power.

Direct violence between Sadrists and Iran-aligned groups, namely Asaib ahl al-Haq (AAH), escalated during the months of government formation. In Maysan, an Iraqi governorate bordering Iran, each side targeted the other, leading to a series of tit-for-tat assassinations of Sadrists and AAH-affiliated local officials. On Nov. 7, 2021, armed groups launched drone strikes on the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi—perceived to be a close Sadrist ally. For the first time in Iraq since 2003, a sitting prime minister was the target of an assassination attempt. The next day, Kadhimi decided to consult with the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella network of armed groups linked to Fateh, and its allies to de-escalate the situation.

The losing sides also targeted the main parts of Sadr’s Tripartite Alliance. Groups launched attacks against KDP headquarters in Baghdad and Kirkuk, Iraq, as well as against banks and businesses linked to the party. They also attacked Sunni political headquarters in Baghdad and Anbar province, Iraq, and even fired rockets at one of Halbousi’s private residences in Anbar. This violence was successfully used to drive fear into anyone who considered cooperating with Sadr.

Those opposing the Tripartite Alliance also resorted to lawsuits and legal proceedings—working with their allies inside the judiciary—to delay and disrupt the majority government. The day after the election, shocked by the result, Fatah leader Hadi al-Ameri announced he would file complaints alleging voter fraud. This would turn into a lengthy process aimed at discrediting the electoral result.

But while disputing the elections served to delay ratifying the election results, more complicated lawsuits served as an effective way to disrupt Sadr’s alliance itself. When the Tripartite Alliance put up Hoshyar Zebari as its presidential candidate for the majority government, the Coordination Framework worked to bring back old corruption suits that questioned Zebari’s candidacy. Zebari, who was approved by parliament, was disqualified by the judiciary, marking a blow to the push for a majoritarian government.

Muqtada al-Sadr Is the United States’ Best Hope

The Shiite cleric was once Washington’s bitter enemy in Iraq—and now offers the best chance of securing U.S. interests.


Working with incumbent President Barham Salih, the Coordination Framework also promoted a legal ruling that decreed the parliament required a two-thirds quorum to have any vote on the presidency. This meant a backroom deal was needed, ensuring the continuation of the consensus government system.

On Feb. 15, the Federal Supreme Court decreed that the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) oil and gas law was unconstitutional, meaning the central government could annul all KRG oil contracts and also hold Erbil liable for past oil revenues. Although this dispute has gone on for years, many saw the timing of the ruling as direct retaliation against the KDP for its support of the majoritarian government.

The same court struck down the prime minister’s anti-corruption committee as unconstitutional. This effectively put an end to the work of Iraq’s most aggressive anti-corruption unit, which the Sadrists had leveraged to go after Maliki and Fatah rivals.

Iran has historically been an important kingmaker in the formation of Iraqi governments. In 2010, for instance, the Iranians brought foes Sadr and Maliki together soon after the country’s civil war to form a consensus government. This year, Iran was without its key broker, Qasem Soleimani. In the past, Soleimani was fundamental to ensuring consensus. In his place, Esmail Qaani preferred a different approach. He wanted to stay out of the infighting and was willing to accept the Iraqi parties’ wills. This change in approach put Qaani up against other Iranian elements who were more wary of Sadr’s push for majoritarian power.

As months went by with no results, Qaani’s plan crumbled. He was sidelined and became a mere messenger for Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has now decided to directly intervene. Tehran’s policy was to target all members of the Tripartite Alliance. Khamenei sent Qaani with letters to deliver to the KDP and the Sunnis, discouraging and threatening them for their part in Sadr’s push. Leaders from both the KDP and the Sunni parties confided to the authors that Iran was taking a more active role, which concerned them.

Another concern was the lack of trust in Sadr himself among his own allies. Halbousi and the KDP increasingly believe that Sadr took too large a risk in alienating strong political opponents and their Iranian allies. They also fear that Sadr is not a dependable ally, citing his abandonment of his coalition’s presidential candidate, Zebari, after facing corruption allegations.

Meanwhile, some senior Sadrists are uncomfortable with the KDP alliance on nationalistic grounds, a tension exacerbated by the oil and gas ruling. A senior Sadrist recently indicated to the authors that there was reason to doubt whether the KDP and Sunnis fully understood and bought into Sadr’s political vision.

Sadr has also lost considerable ideological power. There was a time when Sadr had convinced many Iraqis that he was an agent for reform. In 2016, he occupied the Green Zone to protest corruption, even though he had hundreds of close allies linked to it. In the past few years, however, and especially since his movement took a leading role in suppressing a protest movement in October 2019, Sadr has lost his ideological power to convince Iraqis that he is a reformist. Last year, hospital fires that killed well over one hundred people were linked to corruption in Iraq’s Ministry of Health—widely known as a Sadrist-dominated ministry. While he may have won the election, Sadr received less votes than the previous election, and he is increasingly unpopular with younger voters.

Sadr’s attempt to impose his vision of political reform—under the pretense of fundamentally changing the nature of Iraq’s political system—has not worked. Electoral power is only one element of the equation that determines government composition. So Iraq’s seemingly weak consensus-driven system has again proven resilient to change.

How the Russian Nuclear Horn Really Works: Daniel 7

Nuclear Football
In this combination image, Vladimir Putin (left) arrives in France with one of his aides carrying the nuclear briefcase, 2019. A White House military aide (right) carries the “nuclear football” as he leaves the White House. (Getty Images)

How Putin’s ‘Nuclear Football’ Really Works


Everywhere President Joe Biden goes, he is accompanied by a nondescript briefcase. Though it looks harmless, the black briefcase contains within it the power to destroy civilization as we know it. The leather container is better known as the “nuclear football,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin has his own version of the briefcase.

Carried by one of six rotating aides, the American nuclear football—officially named the Presidential Emergency Satchel—functions as a mobile strategic defense hub should the president need to authorize a nuclear strike while away from command centers at the White House. The nickname “nuclear football” reportedly came from an early plan for launching a war called “Operation Dropkick,” and every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has traveled with the briefcase in tow.

Despite popular belief, there is no button inside the U.S. nuclear football to launch nukes. According to former White House Military Office Director Bill Gulley’s 1980 book Breaking Cover, the briefcase contains authentication codes, a list of secure bunkers for the president and instructions for using the Emergency Broadcast System.

Since Putin ordered his military to attack Ukraine in late February, various experts have warned about the possibility he could turn to using nuclear weapons. Those concerns have grown as his military campaign continues to struggle, which has raised questions about Russia’s nuclear procedures, including Putin’s version of a nuclear football.

The Russian portable nuclear hub is also contained in a briefcase, although it’s known as the “Cheget.” Named after a mountain in Russia’s Caucasus region, the Cheget is also always near Putin’s side. Not as much is known about the Cheget as its American counterpart, but Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty wrote that the Kremlin briefcase first came into use in 1983.

The team at Special Operations Forces Report (SOFREP) said the Cheget also doesn’t contain a nuclear launch button, but it does transmit launch orders to the central military command of Russia’s general staff. The general staff also have their own backup command system called the Perimeter, also known as the “Dead Hand,” which allows them to bypass immediate command posts and initiate the launch of land-based missiles. The Perimeter is said to have been created in the event that the Russian president and his deputies are all taken out by a first strike.

Although there have been no known instances of a U.S. president using a nuclear football, the Cheget has been operated on at least one occasion. This occurred in 1995 when Norway launched a missile for a scientific study of the Northern Lights, which Russian radars detected.

An erroneous message that the missile was launched from a U.S. submarine was conveyed to Moscow, and then-President Boris Yeltsin opened the Cheget for what is said to be the only time in history thus far.

“I have indeed yesterday used for the first time my ‘little black suitcase’ with a button that is always with me,” Yeltsin said afterwards, according to former CIA military analyst Peter Vincent Pry’s 1999 book War Scare. “I immediately contacted the Defense Ministry and all the military commanders that I require, and we were following the path of this missile from beginning to end.”

Yeltsin said he and his military leaders determined that the trajectory of Norway’s missile showed it was headed away from Moscow. They then decided not to shoot it down. (Some Russian officials have disputed this account, saying Yeltsin’s use of the Cheget in 1995 was overblown and no actual danger was presented.)

Below are photos reportedly taken of some Chegets over the years, shared on Twitter by Stephen Schwartz, a senior fellow at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Soon after the 1995 incident, it was determined that Norway had provided Russia with proper notice in advance of the launch, but the information was not conveyed to the early detection radar stations. Perhaps due to the possibility of such errors in communication, the Kremlin is said not to trust any single person with the power to launch nuclear weapons. The SOFREP team pointed out that an executive order signed by Putin in 2020 lays out the rules for Russia on using nuclear weapons.

Among the conditions in the order allowing Russia to deploy nuclear weapons is if “reliable data” shows “a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and/or its allies.” Similarly, evidence that nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction are being used on Russia or its allies can be used as justification, as well as if a country attacks “critical governmental or military sites,” or if Russia’s “very existence” is “in jeopardy.”

As for what is at Putin’s disposal that he can order activated from his Cheget, data released in early 2022 from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) showed Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. However, SOFREP believes there could be serious issues with Russia’s overall nuclear network.

For one, the Russian Early Warning Radar System is not in the same condition as it was under the Soviet Union, according to SOFREP’s analysis. Perhaps only 50 percent of its stations are still operational, which means a first strike by another country would be hard for Russia to detect, let alone react to it in time.

Added to this is the fact that most of the weapons in the Russian arsenal are thought to be more than 30 years old. Nuclear weapons require constant care and maintenance to function. The Russian missiles in silos would need protection from extremes in temperature and humidity and even from rodents getting inside them and chewing on the wiring, according to SOFREP. Given the general state of the Russian military, SOFREP believes it is fair to wonder just how well these weapons have been maintained.

Nevertheless, Russia does still possess a vast amount of nuclear weapons. But since no one person in Russia can reportedly order a nuclear strike, it is unlikely that Putin’s nuclear football would play much of a role in any potential war games.

Sean Spoonts is the editor-in-chief of SOFREP. He is a former Navy anti-submarine warfare operator and search-and-rescue aircrewman.

One Palestinian gunman was killed and several were wounded outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

One Palestinian gunman was killed and several were wounded in Ya’abad near Jenin on Wednesday night during clashes that erupted when Israeli forces entered the village to carry out a demolition order.

The order was for the home of Diaa Hamarsheh, who killed five people in Bnei Brak on March 29 before being killed by police.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, “hundreds” of Palestinians participated in the rioting, hurling stones and fire bombs at the Israeli forces, who were also fired on by Palestinian gunmen.

The Israeli troops responded with riot dispersal tools, as well as live fire in the case of the gunmen, the military said in a statement. Several hits were identified, the IDF said, and no Israeli casualties were reported.

“During the activity, the soldiers apprehended the father of the terrorist, who was transferred to the security forces for further questioning,” the statement added.

The fatality was a member of Hamas, according to Ynet, which reported that one Palestinian had been critically wounded and two more seriously wounded in the clashes.

The IDF notified the Hamarsheh family of the intended demolition on April 17. A petition by the family to block it was rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court. However, the court accepted the family’s argument regarding the ground floor, which is a storefront, after it was determined that the terrorist had no residential connection to this floor. The floor was not demolished.

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