Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Earthquakes

6.2 earthquake shakes Rome and central Italy - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has shaken Rome and central Italy, destroying some buildings and trapping people under rubble, officials said early Thursday. The quake struck at 3:36 a.m. with the epicenter 47 miles from the city of Perugia, at a depth of just six miles, according to the USGS. No casualties have been reported, however, the USGS expects there could be many, given conditions."

Comment: That's a pretty big quake, glad there have been no casualties. 

UpdateAt least 6 dead in 6.2 Italy quake - UPI.com: At least six people have been reportedly killed after a magnitude 6.2 earthquake has shaken Rome and central Italy, destroying some buildings and trapping people under rubble, officials said early Thursday.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Covenant With Many

VOA - Poll Shows Most Israelis, Palestinians Still Seek Peace
The Voice of America reports: "A new poll of Israelis and Palestinians released on Monday found that a slim majority on both sides still favor a peace settlement establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, despite years of conflict and deadlock in negotiations. The results of the joint poll may provide some small signs of encouragement when peace prospects appear bleak. The last round of negotiations broke down two years ago, and a resumption of talks, much less progress between the sides, at this point seems unlikely."

Comment: It does not seem that a peace agreement is high on the international agenda. I credit the Islamic State with taking over as the #1 Mideast agenda item. There is also a perception that the Palestinians have rejected several well-crafted Mideast peace efforts over the years and nothing better is on offer. 

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Gog Alliance - King of the North - Persia

Russian use of Iranian airbase to fight Islamic State ends - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Russian use of an Iranian airbase to launch airstrikes on targets in Syria has ended, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday. Use of the airbase near Hamedan, Iran, began a week ago, but the mission is complete, spokesman Bharam Ghasemi noted. He said Russia could seek Iranian consent to use the airbase again, but that no Russian troops were stationed within Iran, except for the airbase. [...] The use of the airbase was seen as strengthening military ties between Russia and Iran, which are both allied with the Assad government."

Comment: It looks like the alliance between Russia and Iran may not be the full alliance we thought, more of a convenience or a concession. I think pending weapons sales may have had more to do with it than a true commitment to a formal alliance.  Time will tell.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gog Alliance - Kings of the East

Russian defense official Komoedov proposes non-NATO anti-terror coalition: Russia, China, Iran, India - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The chairman of the Russian Duma's defense committee said this week the time has come for Russia, China, India and Iran to form an anti-terrorism coalition that is not aligned with the 'aggressive' NATO. Speaking to journalists in Moscow on Friday, Adm. Vladimir Komoedov said the four nations working together could defeat the Islamic State in a year. [...] Komoedov said the four countries he mentioned have common interests in the Middle East, as well as an understanding that 'peace and security in the Middle East is needed.'"

Comment: This is a interesting development. For the moment, it appears to be merely aspirational, but it's worth keeping an eye on. 

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Rumors of War - Kings of the East

China carries out ‘routine’ naval drills in Sea of Japan - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Chinese navy carried out drills in the Sea of Japan, days after Japan's coast guard released a video of Chinese vessels near disputed islands. The state-owned People's Liberation Army Daily reported the exercises took place in a 'certain area of the Sea of Japan' but did not give a specific location, according to The Japan Times. [...] A handful of the vessels were returning from RIMPAC, the U.S.-hosted Rim of the Pacific exercise that took place in Hawaii. The drills come after an event on Aug. 1, when the Chinese navy performed live-fire exercises in the East China Sea."

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Pestilence

AP - Officials: Zika found in South Beach; spraying not practical
The AP reports: "South Beach has been identified as a second site of Zika transmission by mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland, and containing it there will be difficult because high-rise buildings and strong winds make it impractical to spray the neighborhood from the air, officials said Friday. Five cases of Zika have been connected to mosquitoes in Miami Beach, bringing the state's caseload to 36 infections not related to travel outside the U.S., Florida's governor and health department announced Friday. The discovery prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to announce that it was expanding its travel warning for pregnant women to include an area in Miami Beach known for nightclubs, pedestrian thoroughfares and beaches."

Comment: They made such a big deal about Zika and the Olympics, isn't it ironic that it seems more of an issue now in Florida?

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the North

Seoul conducts massive military drill as North Korea condemns U.S. bombers - UPI.com UPI reports: "South Korea conducted a massive artillery drill near the demilitarized zone in a bid to warn the North against any future provocations as Pyongyang slammed the United States for deploying stealth bombers to Guam. [...] South Korea deployed 300 pieces of artillery from 49 artillery battalions. K-9, K-55 self-propelled howitzers participated in the exercises, according to Seoul's defense ministry."

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pestilence

Fears of global yellow fever outbreak spur vaccination effort - UPI.com
UPI reports: "An outbreak of yellow fever in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo has grown so significant in recent months that international officials are now moving to vaccinate large numbers of people to stem the spread of the disease. [...] More than 400 people have died and thousands more have been sickened since the start of the outbreak, which has led officials to ramp up a vaccination campaign much faster than would normally be done."

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Gog Alliance - Persia - War

Behind Russia-Iran cooperation over Syria, a larger goal - CSMonitor.com
The Christian Science Monitor reports: "Russian strategic bombers launched from Iran struck rebel positions in Syria on Wednesday, in a second day of attacks that multiply Russian firepower in the Middle East and underscore unprecedented military cooperation between the Islamic Republic and a foreign power. [...] the high-profile move allows both nations to ease their isolation, imposed by the US and the West, while spreading their regional influence through the use of hard power. [...] while both sides have downplayed any greater regional ambitions, others see a larger strategy at play. 'There could be more, and the possibility of spreading the Russian air campaign to Iraq,' says Felgenhauer. 'The thing is not about Syria per se. Syria is important, but there is more: Russia wants to spread its influence over the entire region, have bases all over, push the Americans out and become the dominant power in the region.'"

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gog Alliance

Russian bombers launch airstrikes in Syria from Iranian airbase - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Russia is using an Iranian airbase for the first time to attack targets in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday. It said in a statement its Tu-22M3 and Su-34 bombers took off from Iran's Hamadan air base to bomb the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front -- which now calls itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. The airstrikes targeted ammunition dumps, training camps, command posts and "numerous militants" in Syria before returning. [...] The announcement to expand the air war came after Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed anti-terrorism matters with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when they met last week in Azerbaijan. Russia and Iran each are backing Assad's Syrian army."

Comment: This is a significant development that displays unprecedented military cooperation between Russia and Iran, now joined in common cause against the Islamic State in Syria. Operational links are being forged between the two countries that make future cooperation (Ezekiel 38:2-9) against other countries much easier to imagine now than in times past. 

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Earthquakes

5.4-magnitude earthquake in Peru kills at least 9, injures 40 - UPI.com
UPI reports: "At least nine people have died and 40 have been injured in southern Peru after a magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck near the town of Chivay. One of the victims was a U.S. citizen. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 6.2 miles at about 10 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Emergency aid, including mobile shelters, has been deployed to affected areas."

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fearsome Events

At least two dead, one missing in 'unprecedented' flooding in Louisiana, Mississippi - UPI.com
UPI reports: "At least two people are dead and one person remains missing as heavy rains in Louisiana and Mississippi continue to cause floods that Louisiana Gov. Bel Edwards called 'unprecedented.' [...] Officials have no frame of reference for how bad the flooding could get because Edwards said there is no similar weather event to compare it to."

Comment: Does it seem like record-breaking weather events are becoming more common? 

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