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

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

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

Senate Repeals Bush the Beast’s War: Revelation 13

Senate votes to repeal decades-old measures that authorized Iraq, Gulf wars

The bipartisan effort is aimed at reasserting Congress’ power to declare war.

ByCaleigh Bartash

March 29, 2023, 2:21 PM

The Senate on Wednesday voted to repeal two congressional authorizations from decades ago allowing the use of military force against Iraq, a country then falsely accused of stockpiling chemical and nuclear weapons and now a U.S. security partner in the Gulf region.

The measure passed the Democrat-led Senate in a bipartisan 66-30 vote and now heads to the Republican-controlled House.

The 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force took effect under former Presidents George H. W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, respectively. Both AUMFs authorized force against Iraq.

A third, broader AUMF approved by Congress 2001 was not incorporated into the latest repeal effort because supporters say it is still needed to combat al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and related terror operations.

PHOTO: U.S. Marine Corp assault-man Kirk Dalrymple watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad's Firdaus Square, Apr. 9, 2003.
U.S. Marine Corp assault-man Kirk Dalrymple watches as a statue of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad’s Firdaus Square, Apr. 9, 2003.Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime advocate of repeal, said in a statement the Senate action would help Congress reassert its power to declare war as spelled out in the Constitution.

“Passing this bill is an important step to prevent any president from abusing these AUMFs, reaffirm our partnership with the Iraqi government, and pay tribute to the service members who served in Iraq and their families,” Kaine said.

Kaine said he urged the House, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy, to swiftly pass the legislation and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. Kaine’s Republican co-sponsor, Indiana Sen. Todd Young, called for quick action by the House as well.

“A broad and diverse coalition in the House supports this legislation, and I am hopeful the bill will receive prompt consideration,” Young said in a statement.

Previous attempts to retract or amend the authorizations failed in recent years, including a 2021 bill to repeal the 2002 AUMF approved by the then-Democratic-controlled House but which stalled when it reached the Senate.

PHOTO: U.S. Army 3rd Division 3-7 soldiers move to secure the VIP terminal of Baghdad International Airport during a dawn advance Apr. 4, 2003.
U.S. Army 3rd Division 3-7 soldiers move to secure the VIP terminal of Baghdad International Airport during a dawn advance Apr. 4, 2003.Scott Nelson/Getty Images

MORE: Crenshaw, Duckworth look back on military service in Iraq on war’s 20th anniversary

In the current debate, some senators expressed concerns the new repeal attempt could be seen as a sign of U.S. weakness by international foes such as Iran. But the legislation has found a broad support in the House across party lines and McCarthy has indicated support for the measure.

The legislation “has a good chance of getting through committee and getting to the floor,” the California Republican recently said at a GOP retreat in Orlando.

Biden came out in support of repeal earlier in March, noting that no ongoing military activities rely on the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs.

“President Biden remains committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework more appropriate to protecting Americans from modern terrorist threats,” the White House said in a statement just before the Senate held a test vote March 16.

IAVA, a large Iraq war veterans’ group, welcomed the resolution, too, saying Congress should not allow a president to have “unchecked” authority over troop deployments.

“Congress has shirked its responsibility to our troops and their families for too long by leaving open-ended authorizations of military force in place. It’s past time to change that,” IAVA CEO Allison Jaslow said in. statement about the Senate vote.

Russia is Prepared for Nuclear War: Revelation 16

‘People here are ready’: Russia’s Nobel prize-winning journalist warns nuclear war is being sold to the public ‘like pet food’

Chloe Taylor

Thu, March 30, 2023 at 4:44 AM MDT·3 min read

The world has entered a new era where nuclear war is once again a genuine threat, according to Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov.

In an interview with the BBC published on Thursday, Muratov said he was anxious about just how far Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to go in his standoff with the West over Ukraine.

“Two generations have lived without the threat of nuclear war,” he told the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg. “But this period is over. Will Putin press the nuclear button, or won’t he? Who knows? No one knows this. There isn’t a single person who can say for sure.”

Nuclear threat

Top Kremlin officials have made several thinly veiled threats to the West since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022.

Putin himself has repeatedly hinted in the year since the invasion that Russia could use a nuclear weapon if threatened, with U.S. intelligence warning earlier this month that the Russian leader was expanding his nuclear weapons arsenal.

In January, an ally of Putin issued a warning to NATO that a nuclear war could be triggered by a Russian defeat in Ukraine, while the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church cautioned that any Western desire to destroy Russia would result in the end of the world.

Muratov, who was interviewed by the BBC in Russian capital Moscow, said Russians were being conditioned by the Kremlin to be ready for nuclear war.

“We see how state propaganda is preparing people to think that nuclear war isn’t a bad thing,” he said. “On TV channels here, nuclear war and nuclear weapons are promoted as if they’re advertising pet food.”

As the war in Ukraine has raged on, Russian propagandists have used their platforms to hold discussions about their country’s nuclear capabilities.

Last May, a Russian television show saw its hosts casually chatting and joking about how long it would take for a ballistic missile to reach London, Paris or Berlin. In January, a Russian TV host reportedly described France, Poland and Berlin as “legitimate targets” that should be struck for supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Russian ‘propaganda’

Muratov described people in Russia as having been “irradiated by propaganda,” noting that in his country, state ideology was pushed out to the public via television, newspapers and social media.

“[The government] announces: ‘We’ve got this missile, that missile, another kind of missile,’” he added. “They talk about targeting Britain and France; about sparking a nuclear tsunami that washes away America. Why do they say this? So that people here are ready.”

A spokesperson for the Russian government was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune.

Muratov, the editor-in-chief of Kremlin-critical newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa in 2021.

The pair shared the accolade for their “courageous” efforts to uphold the freedom of expression in countries where press freedom is being curtailed.

Since the full-scale war in Ukraine began last year, almost all independent media outlets have been banned or declared “foreign agents,” while big-name newspapers and major TV news stations — where the majority of Russians consume their news — have remained under the control of the Kremlin.

Novaya Gazeta

In September, Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta — one of Russia’s last remaining independent news outlets — was stripped of its media license and effectively banned from operating.

Last year, Muratov auctioned off his Nobel medal to raise funds for Ukrainian child refugees, with the prize fetching more than $100 million.

Novaya Gazeta, co-founded by Muratov in 1993, was renowned for in-depth exposés of power abuses, human rights abuses, and corruption under the Russian regime.

The Nobel committee noted in 2021 that several Novaya Gazeta journalists had been murdered in the past because of the nature of their work.

The Iranian horn has attacked US troops 83 times since Biden became president

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Iran has attacked US troops 83 times since Biden became president

The U.S. military was unable to provide information on how often Iran attacked U.S. troops during previous administrations.

Published Mar 28, 2023 3:18 PM EDT

Iran and its proxy forces have launched 83 attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since President Joe Biden took office, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on Tuesday.  

In response to those attacks, the U.S. military has launched four major operations against Iranian-backed groups, Austin said during a tense exchange with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.

“So, what kind of a signal do we think this sends to Iran when they can attack us 83 times since Joe Biden has become president and we only respond [with] four [operations],” Cotton asked Austin rhetorically. “Maybe it’s because they know that we will not retaliate until they kill an American, which emboldens them to keep launching these attacks, which kill Americans.”

Neither U.S. Central Command nor Operation Inherent Resolve – the U.S.military command for troops in Iraq and Syria – were able to provide any information on Tuesday about how often Iranian proxies attacked U.S. troops in the Middle East during previous administrations, or whether attacks by Iranian-backed groups against U.S. troops in the Middle East had increased, decreased, or stayed the same since Biden became president.

When asked if the four U.S. operations launched during the Biden administration in response to Iranian attacks were directed against Iran or its proxy forces outside of the country, Austin said that the most recent U.S. military airstrikes in Syria targeted infrastructure belonging Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force, an elite group that carries out clandestine operations in foreign countries.

Those March 23 airstrikes came in response to a drone attack earlier that day in Syria that killed an American contractor and wounded another along with five service members.

Iran has attacked US troops 83 times since Biden became president
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps military personnel stand guard on an avenue in downtown Tehran during a rally commemorating the International Quds Day, also known as the Jerusalem day, on April 29, 2022. (Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On March 24, U.S. troops in Syria came under rocket attacks, wounding one service member. For now, the White House has decided not to launch another round of punitive airstrikes in response to the latest attacks against U.S. troops, the New York Times first reported.

U.S. intelligence officials believe the drone that attacked a coalition base in Hasakah, northeast Syria, was “of Iranian origin.” However, information about the group that is believed to have carried out the attack is classified, military officials have said.

A National Security Council spokesperson told Task & Purpose on Tuesday that Biden is responding to the situation in Syria by using a variety of methods to reduce risks to U.S. troops, but the president will also not hesitate to take action to protect American service members and U.S. overseas interests.

Biden took office 26 months ago, so the total of 83 attacks translates to an average of little more than three attacks against U.S. troops per month. By comparison, Iranian-backed militia groups attacked U.S. troops several times per day during the 2007 Iraq surge, said retired Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who served as executive officer for the commander of all U.S. troops in Iraq at the time.

Even though attacks against U.S. troops by Iranian forces have decreased significantly since the surge, the total number of attacks is still significant, Mansoor told Task & Purpose.

Iran has attacked US troops 83 times since Biden became president
An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps military personnel flashes a Victory sign during a rally commemorating the International Quds Day, also known as the Jerusalem day, in downtown Tehran on April 29, 2022. (Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“This basically shows us that Iran is on a war footing with the United States, in their view,” Mansoor said. “It’s a high number and it shows that Iran has not reconciled itself with the U.S. presence in Iraq or in the greater Middle East.”

The United States and Iran have been locked in hostilities since Ayatollah Khomeini took power in 1979. Over time, those tensions morphed into a proxy war that the two countries waged in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. A 2019 Pentagon report found that Iranian-backed groups killed 603 U.S. troops in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

During the height of the U.S.-led campaign to destroy the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, most of the interaction between U.S. and Iranian forces took the form of “unsafe, unprofessional behavior” by the Iranians at sea, said retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who led U.S. Central Command from 2016 to 2019.

“That was in the dozens per year,” Votel said. “I think there were some years where we would see as high as somewhere between 40 and 50 of these types of interactions in the maritime environment.”

The United States also made it very clear to the Iraq government at the time that it would not tolerate any attacks on American forces by Iranian-backed groups, Votel told Task & Purpose.

However, Iran increased the volume of weapons and other lethal materials that it shipped from Iraq to western Syria in order to threaten Syria, Votel recalled. 

Iran has attacked US troops 83 times since Biden became president
An Iranian young boy holds a portrait of former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani who has killed in a U.S. drone attack in Baghdad in 2020, while attending a funeral for the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) unknown martyrs in downtown Tehran on January 6, 2022. (Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Votel said he did not face the same types of challenges from Iran as the generals who have led Central Command since him, perhaps because the United States and Iran had an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program from 2015 to 2018.

“We were at a different place in the campaign and what we were trying to do there,” Votel said.

Tensions between the United States and Iran worsened after Votel left, and the two countries came close to war in January 2020 when a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the former head of the Quds Force, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed group that the United States has targeted with airstrikes.

Iran responded by launching ballistic missiles at U.S. troops based in Iraq. A total of 11 missiles hit Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq on Jan. 8, 2020, after which more than 100 U.S. service members were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury.

Although an open conflict between the United States and Iran was averted, Iranian-backed groups have continued to attack U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq. Shortly after taking office, Biden ordered airstrikes against Iranian-backed groups in eastern Syria in February 2021 following attacks that wounded a U.S. service member and killed an American contractor.

On Tuesday, Austin told Cotton that U.S. military commanders in the Middle East have the authority to respond if they are attacked under the rules of engagement, and they have done so several times.

The defense secretary also indicated that the Biden administration may not have entirely ruled out further airstrikes when Cotton asked him if the United States has retaliated for the March 24 rocket attacks against U.S. troops in Syria.

“We have not yet, senator,” Austin said.

The Iran Nuclear Disaster (Daniel 8:4)

The Iran Nuclear Deal

By Jonathan Tirone | Bloomberg

New fuel rods sit in wrapping ahead of use in a storeroom beside the main reactor hall at the Dukovany nuclear power plant operated by CEZ AS in Dukovany, Czech Republic, on Sunday, April 6, 2014. CEZ AS, the largest Czech power producer, sees potential for two new reactors at its Dukovany nuclear complex once the current four units are retired in 2035. Photographer: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Iran’s nuclear capabilities have been the subject of global hand-wringing for more than two decades. While Iran’s leaders long insisted the country was not building nuclear weapons, its enrichment of uranium and history of deception created deep mistrust. In 2015, after more than two years of talks and threats to bomb the country’s facilities, Iran and world powers reached a deal that limits the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work in exchange for relief from economic sanctions that had cut off oil exports and hobbled its economy. After President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the pact and reinstated sanctions in 2018, Iran began violating the deal’s restrictions and, in early 2020, said it was no longer bound by any of its limits.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal, though under threat, isn’t dead yet. The other parties to it — China, France, Russia, Germany, the U.K. and the European Union — have continued to talk to Iran about preserving the deal in some form. The Trump administration, in an effort to bury it for good, pressed the United Nations to restore its sanctions against the Islamic Republic but was rebuffed by other members of the UN Security Council. Of particular U.S. concern is the UN arms embargo against Iran, which lapses in October 2020 unless sanctions are snapped back. The deal’s future could turn on the outcome of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, in which Trump is seeking a second four-year term. His opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has said he would rejoin the deal if Iran resumes complying with it. Iran had expected the pact to stimulate an economic revival, but new and reinstated U.S. sanctions instead provoked an economic contraction. 

Iranian statements and international contacts with Pakistani scientists prompted the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to warn in 1992 that the Persian Gulf country could develop a nuclear weapon. While Iran reaffirmed its commitment to the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it wanted the country’s “right” to enrich uranium recognized before it made concessions. A breakthrough came after Iran elected a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, president in 2013. The 2015 deal he made recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and Iran was allowed to keep 5,000 centrifuges to separate the uranium-235 isotope needed to induce a fission chain reaction. But Iran agreed that for 15 years it would not refine the metal to more than 3.7% enrichment — the level needed to fuel nuclear power plants — and would limit its enriched-uranium stockpile to 300 kilograms, or 3% of the amount it held in May 2015. The International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran eliminated its inventory of 20%-enriched uranium, which can be used to make medical isotopes and to power research reactors but could also be purified to weapons-grade material at short notice. Inspectors also confirmed that Iran destroyed a reactor capable of producing plutonium. U.S. officials under then-President Barack Obama estimated that the pact extended the time it would take Iran to produce enough fissile material for a bomb from a few months to a year. 

Trump administration officials say the 2015 deal emboldened Iranian activities that destabilize the Middle East and didn’t adequately address Iran’s ballistic missile program. They had some company in criticizing the deal. Middle East powers including Israel and Saudi Arabia say it empowered Iran’s theocratic regime to the detriment of regional security. And some members of the U.S. Congress say Iran can’t be trusted to make any fissile material, whether for energy, medicine or bombs. Like other enriching countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Japan and South Africa, the technology gives Iran the ability to pursue nuclear weapons should it choose to break its commitments. Supporters of the deal say Iran would never agree to abandon enrichment entirely and that a decade’s worth of sanctions failed to stop its nuclear program. Keeping an enrichment capability was important to Iran, for reasons of national pride and because it was previously denied access to uranium on world markets. Defending the agreement, Obama has said that it prevented another war in the Middle East. Without a deal, supporters say, Iran would have been left free to pursue its nuclear ambitions unchecked.

Who is the Antichrist? (Revelation 13)

who is muqtada al-sadr karadsheh jsten orig_00004724Who is Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

By Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 5:20 AM ET, Fri May 6, 2016(CNN)

Muqtada al-Sadr isn’t an ayatollah.

He’s not a general and he’s not a politician, at least in the conventional sense. But with a single speech he can spark a protest that ends up in with hundreds of Iraqi Shiites storming their parliament. He’s commanded a militia of thousands, some who fought and killed U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. And he’s been on TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people on the planet.

Iraqi protesters overrun green zone

This is how he’s managed to gain such prominence — and retain it.

The Sadr family

Sadr was born in 1973 in the Shiite holy city of Najaf to a prominent family.

The city, which is about 100 miles south of Baghdad, is home to the Imam Ali shrine, where the eponymous cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad is buried. Shiites believe that Ali was the rightful successor to Muhammad.

Sadr’s father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was an important Shiite figure in Iraq who openly spoke out against Saddam Hussein and his ruling Baath party.

The elder Sadr and two of his sons were assassinated in 1999 in Najaf, and many believe that he was killed either by the dictator’s forces or Sunnis loyal to him.

Despite the cult of personality Muqtada al-Sadr has developed in recent years, he is still a relatively private man. He does not appear in public often and his exact age was not known until recently.

Protesters in Kadhimiya, Iraq, hold up pictures of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr’s father.

The Mehdi Army

Sadr is best known to Western audiences for his role leading the Mehdi Army, which he formed in 2003 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The militia is considered the armed wing of the Sadrist movement, which followed the teachings of Sadr’s father. Its power base was in Najaf and the massive Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, which is home to more than 2 million Shias.

Sadr himself opposed the presence of outside forces in Iraq — be they al Qaeda’s Sunni fighters or U.S. forces — and hoped to establish Islamic rule within the country, clashing with the Iraqi Army, U.S. forces and fellow Shias.

By 2004, forces loyal to Sadr battled the U.S. for control of Najaf. President George W. Bush labeled him an enemy and ordered the U.S. military to take him out.

U.S. Marines in northern Kuwait gear up after receiving orders to cross the Iraqi border on March 20, 2003. It has been more than 10 years since the American-led invasion of Iraq that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. Look back at 100 moments from the war and the legacy it left behind.

“We can’t allow one man to change the course of the country,” he said, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

Within a week, Bush changed course and decided not to go after him.

“That reversal was the turning point in al-Sadr’s rise to power,” Sanchez, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said. “It gave him legitimacy and enhanced his stature within the broader Iraqi community.”

Later that year, Sadr made peace with the most powerful Shia religious figure in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who brokered a truce between U.S. forces and the Mehdi Army. The deal brought together the unquestioned spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia population and the man who could mobilize the Shia “street.”

The Mehdi Army in Najaf in 2007.

As part of the agreement, the Iraqi government agreed not to press charges after a judge issued an arrest warrant for Sadr in connection with the killing of another prominent Shia leader, Ayatollah Abdul Majid al-Khoei.

But the Mehdi Army became even more deadly as the war dragged on.

The militia was linked to much of the sectarian violence that reached fever pitch in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. It was accused of running death squads, killing Sunni Arabs and fighting with rival Shiite factions, though Sadr would denounce the violence from time to time.

After more than 200 people were killed in an attack on Sadr City in 2006 — one of the deadliest periods in the Iraq war — Shiite militants responded by burning people to death and attacking Sunni mosques.

By the end of the year, Pentagon leaders assessed that the Mehdi army had replaced al Qaeda as “the most dangerous accelerant” of sectarian violence in Iraq.

But the Mehdi Army also clashed with other Shiite militias. The group often clashed with Badr Brigades for control of parts of Iraq’s Shiite-dominate south. At one point the Badr Brigades partnered with Iraqi security forces to fight the Mehdi Army.

However, the Mehdi Army’s power and influence began to subside by the end of 2007, in part due to the U.S. troop surge.


Sadr’s capacity to reinvent his role in Iraqi politics, and to tap into a strong vein of Shia protest, has helped him survive and outmaneuver many rivals over the past 13 years. His latest initiative reinforces his place as one of the most influential figures in Iraq.

He and the Iraqi government signed a ceasefire in 2008, and later that year he formally disbanded the Mehdi Army.

The organization is now called Saraya al-Salam, which means the Peace Brigades.

His plan was to transition it into a socio-political populist movement to help Iraq’s poor Shiites through a combination of political and grassroots activities — following a similar model to the structure of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Sadr would move to Iran later that year for religious study. Some believed that he hoped to achieve a higher religious standing, like Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, in order to strengthen his leadership position.

Muqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in Najaf in 2011.

He returned to Iraq permanently in 2011 — more than three years later — without a new title, but with ambitions to become an Iraqi nationalist leader who could make a difference by growing his movement and pushing his followers to the ballot box.

“We have not forgotten the occupier. We remain a resistance,” he said in one of his first speeches back. Sadr did strike a conciliatory tone with fellow Iraqis: “Whatever struggle happened between brothers, let us forget about it and turn the page forever and live united,” he said. “We do not kill an Iraqi.”

Though Sadr rarely makes public appearances, his plan seems to have worked so far.

During Iraq’s 2010 elections, his supporters were key to helping then-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki secure a second term; today they make up the second-largest bloc in Iraq’s Parliament.

Muqtada al-Sadr and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in 2006.

But Sadr and Maliki have since had a nasty falling out, and now are considered rivals in Baghdad.

After the 2010 election, Sadr referred to Maliki as a “dictator.”

He often called for the government to better include moderate Sunni elements, a faction that most say was marginalized by the Maliki government, which led to his ouster (and in part contributed to the rise of ISIS).

His support for Iraq’s current Prime Minster, Haider al-Abadi, is lukewarm at best.

Sadr is now focusing his efforts on reshaping Iraq’s government — he wants more technocrats appointed and to go after corrupt politicians.

Sadr’s supporters held massive protests earlier this year to push Abadi to form a new government and enact reforms. The demonstrations were called off after Abadi trimmed the size of his Cabinet and submitted a new list of nonpolitical ministers for approval by parliament.

And it was Sadr’s impassioned speech late April that spurred protesters to occupy the Iraqi Parliament and Baghdad’s Green Zone, a normally off-limits area housing government buildings and foreign embassies.

CNN’s Tim Lister, Hamdi Alkhshali, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Elise Labott contributed to this report

Israel Crisis Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Photo: Flash90

Israeli crisis tops Arab news

March 28, 2023 — NEWS 

Enemies of the Jewish State have been paying close attention to domestic upheaval over the Netanyahu government’s contentious judicial reform.

By Erin Viner

The Israeli government plan to tighten parliament’s control over judicial processes triggered some of the biggest mass protests in the country’s 75-year-old history, with opponents slamming the plan a threat to democracy.

Last night Israeli Pr Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed the bitterly contested plans  to open talks in attempts to calm tensions following expansion of the demonstrations over his firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had warned the coalition’s judicial overhaul threatened Israeli security. The development came amid rising concerns the divisions could fracture Netanyahu’s three-month-old coalition or escalate into violence.

The Israeli protests, strikes and political chaos have headlined across a wide range of Arab broadcasters. The news ticker on the pan-Arab Al Jazeera channel was dominated by a stream of news from Israel yesterday.

The crisis was the lead story on the evening news broadcast at Lebanon’s al-Manar, which also published an article on it’s website with a caption reading that “complete paralysis” had afflicted the “enemy” due to yesterday’s general strike. The station is operated by Hezbollah. Crowing last month that the Israeli strikes would disintegrate into civil war, leader of the Iran-backed terror group, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, proclaimed, “God willing, it will not reach its 80th birthday.”

Israeli Independence Day will be celebrated this year on 26 April according to the Hebrew calendar.

Some Arab viewers paying rapt attention to the internal fight over the judicial overhaul have voiced hope it will lead to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political demise, while others yearn for even more far-reaching consequences for Israel.

“As an Arab citizen I think that this is the beginning of the end of Israel, God willing,” said Jordanian national Qusai al-Qaisi, whose country signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. “I’m really happy that this is happening there,” he added.

In Syria, Mohammad Abdullatif, 39, said, “What’s happening is definitely, for any Arab, good news.”

“We hope it doesn’t settle any time soon, and we hope it escalates and gets worse,” commented political analyst Talal Okal in the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Another Gazan, Nael Meqdad, 43, said, “The division is of their own making and now it is hunting them down.”

The internationally-recognized Hamas terror group seized Gaza from its bitter rival Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, during a brutal conflict in 2007. Multiple attempts to end power-sharing disputes between the two sides have repeatedly ended in failure.

Some Palestinians, who accuse Israel of fueling the internecine fight to further set back statehood aspirations, compared the division in Israel to their own factional split.

“What’s happening in Israel – they deserve it. Just like they divided us, they are now getting divided,” said Gaza resident Hani Abu Tarabeesh.

Israel faced a storm of Arab condemnation earlier this month when a leading member of Netanyahu’s government, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, said there are no Palestinian Arab People.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of several Arab states to normalize ties with Israel in recent years, political commentator Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said yesterday that while the internal strife has no bearing the 2020 Abraham Accords and that commercial relations are ongoing. Israel and the UAE this week signed a free trade agreement expected to reduce or eliminate tariffs on about 96% of goods traded between the nations and enable Israeli companies to gain access to government tenders in the UAE. Abdullah went on to note, however, that recent “racist statements” in Israel have raised concern.

In Egypt, the first of Arab countries to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, pensioner Hakem Sherif blasted the Jewish State as illegitimate and echoed criticism of Israeli policies toward Palestinians. He nevertheless went on to express respect for Israeli democracy, saying, “Citizens have a space to express their opinions, they don’t randomly arrest or carry out violent dispersal of protests.”

We really are due for the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

Opinion/Al Southwick: Could an earthquake really rock New England? We are 265 years overdue

On Nov. 8, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck Buzzard’s Bay off the coast of New Bedford. Reverberations were felt up to 100 miles away, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and New York. News outlets scrambled to interview local residents who felt the ground shake their homes. Seismologists explained that New England earthquakes, while uncommon and usually minor, are by no means unheard of.

The last bad one we had took place on Nov. 18, 1755, a date long remembered.

It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:

“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.

“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”

We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.

The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.

According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”

Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.

Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.

What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:

“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”

So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.

Why does the Russian horn want tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus? Daniel 7

Why does Russia want tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus?

Minsk and Moscow have close military ties with Belarus a staging ground for the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Published On 28 Mar 202328 Mar 2023

Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he intends to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory appears to be another attempt to raise the stakes in the conflict in Ukraine – and follows the Russian leader’s warnings that Moscow is ready to use “all available means” to fend off attacks on Russian territory, a reference to its nuclear arsenal.

Belarus said on Tuesday it had decided to host the weapons after years of pressure from the United States and its allies aimed at changing its political and geopolitical direction.

“Over the last two and a half years, the Republic of Belarus has been subjected to unprecedented political, economic and information pressure from the United States, the United Kingdom and its NATO allies, as well as the member states of the European Union,” the Belarusian foreign minister said in a statement.

“In view of these circumstances, and the legitimate concerns and risks in the sphere of national security arising from them, Belarus is forced to respond by strengthening its own security and defence capabilities.”

Minsk said the Russian nuclear plans would not contravene international non-proliferation agreements as Belarus itself would not have control over the weapons.

A look at Putin’s statement and its implications:

How did Putin explain the move?

Putin said that President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has long urged Moscow to station its nuclear weapons in his country, which has close military ties with Russia and was a staging ground for the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Russia already has helped modernise Belarusian warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons – something that Belarus’s authoritarian leader has repeatedly mentioned.

In remarks broadcast Saturday, Putin said the immediate trigger for the deployment of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus was the UK government’s decision to provide Ukraine with armour-piercing shells containing depleted uranium. Putin toned down his language after first falsely claiming that such rounds have nuclear components, but he insisted they pose an additional danger to the civilian population and could contaminate the environment.

Putin also said that by stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia will be doing what the United States has done for decades by putting its nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. He said the Russian move does not violate an international treaty banning the proliferation of nuclear weapons, even though Moscow has argued before that Washington has breached the pact by deploying them on the territory of its NATO allies.

Putin’s move contrasted with a statement that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued after their talks at the Kremlin last week, which spoke against nuclear powers deploying atomic weapons outside their territories, in an apparent jab at the US.

What are tactical nuclear weapons?

Tactical nuclear weapons are intended to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield. They have a relatively short range and a much lower yield than nuclear warheads fitted to long-range strategic missiles that are capable of obliterating whole cities.

Unlike strategic weapons, which have been subject to arms control agreements between Moscow and Washington, tactical weapons never have been limited by any such pacts, and Russia has not released their numbers or any other specifics related to them.

The US government believes Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which include bombs that can be carried by aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds.

While strategic nuclear weapons are fitted to land or submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly ready for launch, tactical nuclear weapons are stored at a few tightly guarded storage facilities in Russia, and it takes time to deliver them to combat units.

Some Russian hawks long have urged the Kremlin to send a warning to the West by moving some tactical nuclear weapons closer to the aircraft and missiles intended to deliver them.

What exactly will Russia do?

Putin said that Russia already has helped upgrade 10 Belarusian aircraft to allow them to carry nuclear weapons and their crews will start training to use them from April 3. He noted Russia also has given Belarus the Iskander short-range missile systems that can be fitted with conventional or nuclear warheads.

He said the construction of storage facilities for nuclear weapons in Belarus will be completed by July 1. He did not say how many nuclear weapons will be stationed there or when they will be deployed.

Putin emphasized that Russia will retain control over any nuclear weapons deployed to Belarus, just like the US controls its tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of its NATO allies.

If Moscow sends nuclear weapons to Belarus, it will mark their first deployment outside Russian borders since the early 1990s. Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan inherited massive nuclear arsenals after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 but agreed to ship them to Russia in the following years.

What are the possible consequences?

With his latest statement, Putin again is dangling the nuclear threat to signal Moscow’s readiness to escalate the war in Ukraine.

The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, which has a 1,084-kilometre (673-mile) border with Ukraine, would allow Russian aircraft and missiles to reach potential targets there more easily and quickly if Moscow decides to use them. It would also extend Russia’s capability to target several NATO members in Eastern and Central Europe.

The move comes as Kyiv is poised for a counteroffensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, warned last week that attempts by Ukraine to reclaim control over the Crimean peninsula were a threat to “the very existence of the Russian state,” something that warrants a nuclear response under the country’s security doctrine. Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“Every day of supplying Western weapons to Ukraine makes the nuclear apocalypse closer,” Medvedev said.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said that Putin’s goal is to discourage Ukraine’s Western allies from providing Kyiv with more weapons before any counteroffensive.

Putin is “using nuclear blackmail in a bid to influence the situation on the battlefield and force Western partners to reduce supplies of weapons and equipment under the threat of nuclear escalation,” Zhdanov said.

“The Belarusian nuclear balcony will be looming over not only Ukraine, but Europe as well, creating a constant threat, raising tensions and rattling the nerves of Ukrainians and their Western partners.”

How have Ukraine and its Western allies responded?

Ukraine has responded to Putin’s move by calling for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. A UN spokesman referred questions on the issue to the Security Council, which had announced no meeting on it by Monday afternoon.

“The world must be united against someone who endangers the future of human civilisation,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that US officials “haven’t seen any movement of any tactical nuclear weapons or anything of that kind” since Putin’s announcement on Belarus.

He has said Washington has seen nothing to prompt a change in its strategic deterrent posture.

NATO rejects Putin’s claim that Russia only is doing what the US has done for decades, saying that Western allies act with full respect for their international commitments.

“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said, adding that the alliance hasn’t yet seen any change in Russia’s nuclear posture.

Lithuania, which borders Belarus, described Putin’s statement as “yet another attempt by two unpredictable dictatorial regimes to threaten their neighbours and the entire European continent,” calling them “desperate moves by Putin and Lukashenko to create another wave of tension and destabilisation in Europe.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded to Western criticism by pointing out that Washington and its allies had ignored repeated Russian calls for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe. The ministry reaffirmed Moscow’s right to take “the necessary additional steps to ensure security of Russia and its allies”.

China Horn’s rapid nuclear expansion most ‘disturbing’ threat he has seen: Daniel 7

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall speaks March 14, 2023, during the service’s Total Force Integration Symposium on Joint Base Andrews, Md.

Air Force secretary labels China’s rapid nuclear expansion most ‘disturbing’ threat he has seen



STARS AND STRIPES • March 28, 2023

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told lawmakers Tuesday that increased efforts by China to rapidly expand its inventories of nuclear weapons worries him more than anything he has seen in his long national security career.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything more disturbing in my career than the Chinese ongoing expansion of their nuclear force,” Kendall, a former Army officer who has spent decades in Pentagon and other national security roles, told House appropriators during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Pentagon warned in a November report that China was working to nearly quadruple its inventory of nuclear warheads by 2035. China now holds about 400 nuclear warheads and seeks to grow that number to 700 within a few years and to 1,500 by 2035, according to the Pentagon. The United States had about 3,750 active nuclear warheads as of 2020, the last time the federal government released such information to the public. Russia is believed to hold about 4,500 nuclear weapons, according to the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based nonpartisan organization that publishes information about international arms control policy.

The Pentagon in recent years has named China its “pacing challenge,” labeling Beijing’s efforts to expand its military capabilities and grow its influence across southeast Asia and into other regions as the Defense Department’s top concern. Of all of China’s efforts to boost its power, Kendall said Tuesday that its nuclear ambitions could have the greatest impact on global security.

“For decades, they were quite comfortable with an arsenal of a few hundred nuclear weapons, which was fairly clearly a second-strike capability to act as a deterrent,” Kendall told lawmakers during a hearing to defend the Air Force Department’s roughly $215 billion fiscal 2024 budget request. “That expansion that they’re undertaking puts us into a new world that we’ve never lived in before, where you have three powers — three great powers, essentially — with large arsenals of nuclear weapons.”

The United States and Russia for years have held the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons. Tensions between Washington and Moscow have increased recently after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its announced suspension from complying with the New START treaty, the last agreement between the two powers to regulate nuclear arsenals.

Kendall, who served in various national security roles during the Cold War, said the United States and the then-Soviet Union “came close a couple of times” to nuclear war, but it was ultimately averted via high-level communication between the powers.

China, Russia and the United States, he said, now need to establish communication norms on nuclear issues, warning of growing instabilities among the top nuclear powers.

“Russia’s latest move on the New START treaty is not helping — it’s going in the wrong direction,” Kendall said. “Nobody wants a nuclear war. We do not want to go back to that [Cold War] world of 30 years ago. I thought we would never be in this position again, and here we are. So, we need to be wise. We really need to start talking to them.”

Kendall implored lawmakers to fully fund the Air Force’s top priorities, which include billions of dollars for development of its next generation of nuclear capabilities, including the B-21 Raider bomber and the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missiles. He said it was critical lawmakers pass a 2024 budget on time for the first time in years, in part to counter China’s growing military threat.

Some $5 billion of the Air Force’s 2024 budget proposal funds efforts specifically focused on countering China’s military capabilities, he said. The budget request also includes more than one dozen new programs that cannot begin without an enacted fiscal 2024 budget and authorizations bill, Kendall said.

“We must develop, produce and field [those new programs] if we desire to maintain the air and space superiority that America and our allies have counted on for decades,” he said. “In order to proceed with any of these programs, the Department of the Air Force needs timely authorizations and appropriations.”

Without them, he warned, China would continue to improve its military, while U.S. combat capabilities could erode.

“War [with China] is not inevitable,” he said. “But successfully deterring conflict is heavily dependent on our military capabilities.”


Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.