East Coast Earthquake Preparedness
By By BEN NUCKOLS
Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT
WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.
A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.
The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.
In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.
At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.
A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.
Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.
The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.
Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.
“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.
“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.
“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.
Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.
At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.
“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”
Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.
The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.
The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.
The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.
In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.
At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”
Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.
Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.
“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”
The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.
Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.
A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.
“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”
An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.
The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.
Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.
It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.
The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.
People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.
In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.
Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.
“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.
“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”
Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.
Day: September 23, 2022
Balance of Power of the Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Revelation 8
Pakistan nuke tests created balance of power in South Asia: Nawaz Sharif
Updated on May 28, 2017 06:38 PM IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said just like nuclear explosion, the country will also carry out an economic explosion.
Press Trust of India, Islamabad | ByPress Trust of India
Nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan in 1998 created a balance of power in South Asia and gave a strong message to the “enemies” that aggressors would meet an exemplary fate, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Sunday.
Sharif, in his message to commemorate the historic nuclear tests, said that the day was an unforgettable day for Pakistan.
“Pakistan’s nuclear programme created balance of power in South Asia, just becoming a symbol of peace as the smaller states in the region also heaved a sigh of relief,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that after becoming a nuclear power, now was the time to make the country an economic power, Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
“Nineteen years ago, we had made country’s defence as impregnable. Today, with same dedication and passion, the country’s economy is also being made strong and stable. In this age, the defence of any nation cannot be separated from its economic stability,” he said.
Sharif said the journey of national economic development was going on with fast pace and “just like nuclear explosion, Pakistan will also carry out an economic explosion. The whole world believed in such possibilities,” he said.
The nuclear tests also gave a strong message to the “enemies” that aggressors against Pakistan would meet an exemplary fate.
He said some 19 years ago, when the Pakistan Muslim League government decided to carry out nuclear tests, it had been facing numerous challenges.
“The nation is also thankful to the personalities who showed bravery at that time and played their role to make Pakistan an atomic power,” he said.
What Iraq court ruling means for the Antichrist
What Iraq court ruling means for Moqtada Al Sadr
According to Supreme Court, parliament must dissolve itself, which no lawmaker wants
Published: September 21, 2022 08:05Sami Moubayed, Correspondent
Earlier this month, Moqtada Al Sadr ordered his supporters out of the Green Zone of Baghdad, ending a stand-off that cost the life of no less than thirty Iraqis. The Sadrists obeyed his command, tentatively defusing a crisis that could have spiralled into a mini-civil war within the country’s Shiite community.
Moqtada has since come out with a series of conditions to put an end to the crisis that began over cabinet formation and has since snowballed on into who has the upper hand in Shiite politics.
Moqtada’s conditions include calling for early elections and dissolving the current chamber of deputies, which had been voted into office as recently as October 2021.
The 7 September Ruling
Iraq’s top court just put a damper on both conditions, however, putting Moqtada in difficult waters. On 7 September it came out with a statement saying that that it was constitutionally incapable of dissolving the chamber of deputies, adding that if Sadr’s condition were to be met, then parliament had no choice but to dissolve itself.
No answer could have been more worrying for Moqtada and his team. For starters, it shows that although he has proven — rather ultimately — that he and only he controls the streets of Baghdad, he is still far, from controlling strategic sectors like the Iraq judiciary, without which he can never rise to become a pan-Iraqi leader.
During the first few years of the post-Saddam era, Moqtada made claims to the ministries of education and health, packing schools and hospitals with his people, but failing to make similar advance into Iraqi courts. He is seen as someone who respects the rule of law, making it more difficult for him to challenge verdicts of the Supreme Court.
No dissolving of parliament means no new elections. Iraqis will have to keep their current chamber, from which Moqtada withdrew all his MPs last June in an arms-twisting move, aimed at pressuring his opponents into a political compromise.
The October 2021 parliamentary elections had originally been hailed as a great victory for the Sadrists, who managed to sweep 73 out of 329 seats in Parliament.
That was 92 seats short of the 165 needed for any majority vote. Sadr ordered them to resign collectively, hoping that this would either make his opponents accept his choice for premier, or else, run the risk of bringing down the entire chamber.
Lessons from Lebanon
It actually had the opposite effect. Shiite opponents in the Iran-backed Coordination Framework (CF) hurried to name their own premier, claiming that they were no longer obliged to negotiate names with Moqtada, who was technically, no longer represented in parliament.
Sadr did the same mistake committed by Lebanese politician Samir Gagegea in the aftermath of the 4 August 2020 port explosion in Beirut. Gagegea had won an impressive 15 seats in the 2018 parliament, making him leader of the second largest Christian bloc in Parliament.
He ordered them to resign — one after the other — objecting to state negligence that led to the port explosion, wrongly believing that his move would bring down the Chamber of Deputies. It also had the exact opposite effect.
The chamber stayed on for another three years, with Gagegea absent. When it was time to form a government, first by Saad Al Hariri and then by Najib Mikati, both were technically freed from the burden of accommodating Gagegea, since he was no longer commander of a parliamentary bloc.
According to a norm established in 2016, every four parliamentarians in Lebanon are entitled to one seat in cabinet. That would have given Gagegea four seats in government but he is now represented with not a single minister.
There may be no turning back for Moqtada’s 73 MPs. It would be far easier for him to call for new elections, than to withdraw their resignations. Until the supreme court ruling last week, Moqtada hoped to increase his share up from the 73 MPs.
The big conundrum
Western pundits who highlighted the 73 MPs in October fail to realise that this number was actually less than what Moqtada had promised his followers. He had originally aimed for 100+ and feels that now is the time to achieve that goal.
According to the Supreme Court, parliament must dissolve itself, which none of the remaining MPs want, certainly not after Sadr’s bloc withdrew from the chamber last June.
They fear that new elections would mean more seats for Moqtada and even less for Badr Organization, the Victory Alliance, or the Popular Mobilization Units (aka Al Hashd). A delegation of CF is due to meet with Moqtada in Najaf.
The talks are being sponsored by Hadi Al Amiri of the Fateh Alliance, a ranking member of the CF, who wants to keep the Shiite family united. Working with him to reach middle-ground are Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Al Halbousi, and head of the Sunni Al-Siyada Alliance Khamis Khanjar.
They are eying a deal that gives him a lion’s share of sovereignty seats, in exchange for naming a consensus prime minister who is seen acceptable both to the Sadrists and the CF.
For that deal to pass, Moqtada would have to drop his unilateral claim to naming a prime minister, accept the court ruling, and abandon his calls for a parliamentary dissolve and new elections.
— Sami Moubayed is a Syrian historian and former Carnegie scholar. He is also author of Under the Black Flag: At the frontier of the New Jihad.
U.S. pulls Australia Horn deeper into its plans for war against China
U.S. pulls Australia deeper into its plans for war against China
September 20, 2022 10:55 AM CDT BY BEVAN RAMSDEN
Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond speaks to personnel from the Australian Submarine Force during a visit to Fleet Base West and HMAS Stirling in Rockingham, Western Australia. The placement of new nuclear submarines in Australia is Part Two of a U.S. plan to expand its military influence throughout Asia and thereby threaten China. Part One of the U.S. plan was to expand NATO to the borders of Russia where it has placed dangerous nuclear capable weapons. | CPOIS Yuri Ramsey/Royal Australian Navy via AP
SYDNEY, Australia—The indicators that preparations are being made for war are coming thick and fast.
Previous governments have committed close to one-quarter of a billion dollars on so-called defense, but the items suggest war preparations coordinated with the U.S. and aimed at containing or confronting China militarily. Here are some of these commitments:
- Upgrading the Royal Australian Air Force’s Tindal aircraft runway to take U.S. B1 bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Cost: $1.1 billion;
- Building a huge fuel site in the NT to power U.S. fighter jets.
- Acquiring 135 U.S. M-1A2C Abrams Tanks.
Cost: $3.5 billion;
- Producing/acquiring high-speed, long-range missile defense systems.
Cost: $9.3 billion.
Acquiring eight nuclear-powered submarines at a cost, which experts predict, will blow out to $170 billion; these hunter-killer subs are designed for operation at long distances from Australia and are too large to be effective in the relatively shallow coastal waters of Australia.
$10 billion is to be spent building a port on the east coast of Australia to service nuclear-powered submarines, and we are told it will be made available to the U.S. and U.K. for servicing their nuclear-powered and probably nuclear-armed submarines.
Seventy-two, F-35 fighter bombers are to be purchased from the U.S. at a cost of $10 billion, or more, if the predicted blowout on costs occurs.
Australia is purchasing nine frigates at the cost of $35 billion.
The cost to Australia of having over 2,000 U.S. marines stationed in NT each year is unknown as questions by the Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) to the Minister for Defence evoked the answer: “It is a matter of national security and cannot be divulged.” These foreign troops stationed on our soil are not under the control of the Australian government. They take their orders from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which has recently established a regional HQ in Darwin.
Every second year, the Talisman Sabre military war exercises are carried out mainly by the ADF working in an integrated way with the US military. This is a land and sea operation involving aircraft, warships, landing craft, and land-based vehicles and missiles. Recent war exercises have had a clear aim of practicing for war aimed at China.
These military preparations and expenditures have been backed by war talk by ex-Defense Minister Dutton and government advisory “think tanks” such as Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Former Defense Minister Peter Dutton bluntly warned on ANZAC day this year of the prospect of war with China over control of Taiwan. He said it cannot be ruled out but said it was ultimately a question for China. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was reported as supporting Dutton, saying that the battle for Taiwan could start quite soon and cited recent statements by US military commanders to that effect.
The strongest indicator of preparation for war has been Australia joining with the US and UK in what appears to be a war pact called AUKUS whose aim is to contain and confront China militarily. This new alliance was entered into without any parliamentary or public discussion and has been imposed dictatorially upon the Australian people.
The change of government has not seen, as yet, any change in this general thrust to prepare for war. The Albanese Government supports AUKUS. And while Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong have sought to use more moderate language towards our neighbors on their recent overseas tours in an attempt to heal relations broken by the previous government, the thrust of their foreign policy has not changed.
In a speech recently in the U.S., Defense Minister Richard Marles called for the integration of our ADF with the U.S. military rather than interoperability, which was the policy of the previous Australian government. This would mean loss of sovereign control of our own ADF to the U.S.
Congratulated the Albanese government
Indeed, ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott has congratulated the Albanese government for providing seamless continuity in foreign policy with the previous government, telling ABC radio: “One of the things that encourages me about the new government is that they are very much continuing the line of the former Morrison government when it comes to Australia’s defense and strategic policy. […] Good on you Richard Marles and Anthony Albanese for doing so.”
Respected defense analyst Dr. Hugh White has issued a warning in his article, appearing in Quarterly Essay entitled “Sleepwalk to War; Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America.” In this hard-hitting essay, Dr. White writes that:
“The spirit of AUKUS and the logic of the Morrison government’s position make it close to inevitable that Australia will be entangled in detailed U.S. war planning for a conflict with China if that has not already happened […]. The danger is that once we allow U.S. military staffs to build Australian forces into their war plans, it becomes harder for us to make an independent decision about going to war when a crisis occurs.”
In commenting about possible war with China over Taiwan he said:
“The best way out of this predicament for America is to abandon ambiguity and acknowledge frankly that it cannot and will not defend Taiwan with armed force. And the best path for Australia is to urge America to do this and tell the Americans that we will not support them in a war over Taiwan.”
Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has previously said the same thing. Reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Nov.10, 2021, he warned the federal government not to be drawn into a military conflict over Taiwan, saying the fate of the self-ruled island is “not a vital Australian interest” and played down the prospect of a Chinese military invasion.
All this war talk and massive spending on war preparations have not gone unnoticed in the Australian community. It has provoked a response which is rapidly spreading that our foreign policies are taking us into an unnecessary and avoidable war, and not towards security and peace.
A recent Lowy Institute poll showed that just over half the Australian population is opposed to Australia going to war against China. The city councils of both Newcastle and Wollongong are united in opposing the establishment in their cities of port facilities for nuclear powered submarines and the Brisbane city council has reaffirmed its commitment to a nuclear free city.
A number of trade unions have strongly condemned AUKUS and the planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. These are: the Electrical Trades Union Queensland branch, National Maritime Union of Australia, the NSW Teachers Federation, Unions NSW, ACTU Retired Unionists Network, Retired Manufacturing Workers in Qld, Retired Rail, Tram and Bus Workers, and the National Tertiary Education Union.
Community organizations including Friends of the Earth, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Pax Christi, the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament, Australians for War Powers Reform and IPAN, have condemned AUKUS and the acquisition of nuclear submarines.
A petition raised by IPAN in conjunction with the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign has received 25,500 signatures. The petition is headed: “No Nuclear-Submarines; End U.S. dominance; Healthcare not warfare” and reads in part: “The Australian Government must withdraw from AUKUS, stop the development of nuclear submarines, and end integration into the U.S. military.”
Community, trade unions, faith and peace groups, and individuals have united to form the Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition, the AAAC, to campaign nationally against preparations for war against China, to oppose nuclear submarines, and oppose the AUKUS war pact with public anti-AUKUS protests in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Wollongong, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Darwin with more planned in the coming months.
The AAAC is currently coordinating the gathering of hundreds of signatures from individuals and organizations for a national newspaper advertisement which reads as follows:
“We call on the Government of Australia in the interests of peace and security for the Australian people and the region:
- To advise its AUKUS partners that Australia will not be involved in a war against China over Taiwan or disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea, or any other country, and will not allow the use of Australian territory for that purpose;
- To sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;
- To cancel military spending for AUKUS war preparations, including cancellation of the acquisition of nuclear-propelled submarines, so that urgent domestic social needs (climate change mitigation, education, health including public hospitals and housing) can be better addressed.”
Every stop should be pulled out to prevent Australia from being drawn into yet another disastrous U.S. war and the peace movement is growing rapidly to do its best to prevent that from happening.
Experts warn senators of Russia, China nuclear horns: Daniel 7
Experts warn senators of Russia, China nuclear programs
by: Raquel Martin
Posted: Sep 20, 2022 / 01:41 PM HST
Updated: Sep 20, 2022 / 01:41 PM HST
(NEXSTAR) – Nuclear security experts are sounding the alarm over China and Russia’s rising nuclear programs.
On Tuesday, at a Senate hearing, they warned the U.S. could be underprepared without new investments.
Experts are urging Congress to quickly address what they call growing threats from the two countries.
“The doomsday clock tool is now set to 100 seconds to midnight – in contrast, at the end of the Cold War, the clock setting was 17 minutes to midnight,” said Madelyn Creedon, research professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.
The panel of experts warned senators that both China and Russia have dramatically increased their nuclear capabilities.
“The world is very different now,” said Franklin Miller, a foreign policy and nuclear security expert with The Scowcroft Group. Miller, who also served as a special assistant to former President George W. Bush, said that as Russia and China continue a more aggressive global strategy, the U.S. must proactively prepare for how to respond if those two countries unite.
“Our goal must be a secure and effective deterrent,” Miller said.
The experts emphasized that creating such a deterrent would require the U.S. to modernize its technology, recruit more talent and pursue updated treaties with both countries.
“It is urgently needed,” said Rose Gottemoeller, who served as deputy secretary general of NATO from 2016 to 2019. “Going forward I think we should be looking at all different instruments.”
Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters says he’s also concerned about what happens if China or Russia develop autonomous nuclear weapons.
“Because clearly, this is coming – this is not if, this is when,” Peters said. “If we go that route we have to make sure that we can respond.”
Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe says a bipartisan group of lawmakers are working together right now to ensure the country’s defenses do not fall behind.
“It’s clear we are not prepared for this reality,” Inhofe said.
Nuclear Alliance Between China and Russian Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7
Growing Wary of Nuclear Alliance Between China and Russia
Bill Gertz The Washington Times September 20, 2022
The growing ties between China and Russia are sparking new fears among U.S. war planners that the nuclear powers will soon pose a unified nuclear threat, the Air Force general nominated to head the nation’s nuclear deterrence arsenal told Congress.
Gen. Anthony J. Cotton, currently commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command and nominee for Strategic Command commander, told a Senate confirmation hearing in response to repeated questioning that a China-Russia nuclear axis would require stronger U.S. nuclear deterrent forces and new thinking on how the U.S. would respond to a nuclear challenge.
US Does Not Expect Another Iran Obama Nuclear Deal
US Does Not Expect Breakthrough on Iran Nuclear Deal at UN
Tuesday, 20 September, 2022 – 17:30
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the media during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 20 September 2022. (EPA)
The United States does not expect a breakthrough on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at this week’s UN General Assembly but Washington remains open to both sides resuming compliance with the accord, a top US White House said on Tuesday.
“I don’t expect a breakthrough in New York,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
He said President Joe Biden would reiterate that “the United States has been prepared for a mutual compliance-for-compliance return … and if Iran is prepared to be serious about fulfilling its obligations and accepting that formula, we could have a deal.”