We typically don’t think of New York state for having earthquakes, but they certainly are capable of having them.
Upon my own investigation, there does appear to be an existing fault line right nearby where the quake happened that may have contributed to the light tremor, but it is not confirmed by official sources.
The Clarendon-Linden fault line consists of a major series of faults that runs from Lake Ontario to Allegany county, that are said to be responsible for much of the seismic activity that occurs in the region. It is a north-south oriented fault system that displays both strike-slip and dip-slip motion.
This fault is actively known for minor quakes, but is said to not be a large threat to the area. According to Genesee county, researchers have identified many potential fault lines both to the east, and to the west of the Clarendon-Linden Fault.
According to the University at Buffalo, they have proof that upstate New York is criss-crossed by fault lines. Through remote sensing by satellite and planes, a research group found that “there are hundreds of faults throughout the Appalachian Plateau, some of which may have been seismically active — albeit sporadically — since Precambrian times, about 1 billion years ago.”
The state of New York averages about a handful of minor earthquakes every year. In Western New York in December of 2019, a 2.1 earthquake occurred near Sodus Point over Lake Ontario, and in March of 2016, a 2.1 earthquake occurred near Attica in Genesee county.
For an interactive map of recent earthquakes from the USGS click HERE.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory
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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creating global upheaval, and war, conflict, and unrest blighting all parts of the world in 2022. The UN stressed the importance of international dialogue, and announced plans for a new peace agenda.February saw a furious round of diplomacy at the UN, as it became increasingly clear that Russia was intent on invading Ukraine, a crisis which UN Secretary-General António Guterres said was testing the “entire international system”.
“We need restraint and reason. We need de-escalation now,” spelled out the UN chief, urging all sides to “refrain from actions and statements that would take this dangerous situation over the brink”. These calls were in vain, however, and the war, which Russia described as a “special military operation,” began.
The conflict took on a significance far beyond its effect on Ukraine and Russia. Global fuel and food prices soared, and the UN trade body UNCTAD identified the war as the main contributing factor to projections of a global economic downturn, in a world still reeling from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dark memories of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in 1986 were revived, when the Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine, the largest in Europe, came under Russian military control.
An highlight of UN diplomacy this year was undoubtedly the successful implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which saw exports resume from Ukrainian ports in July, and paved the way for Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets, helping to slow the vertiginous rise in the price of grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer across the world.
The delicately balanced deal involved the establishment of a Joint Coordination Centre in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with representatives from Ukraine, Russia and Türkiye, to monitor the onloading of grain at the three ports.
Ukrainian pilot vessels guide the ships through the Black Sea, which is mined, after which they head out through the Bosphorus Strait along an agreed corridor.
Perhaps more impressive, given the lack of trust between Ukraine and Russia, and no prospect of a ceasefire in sight, is that the deal was renewedfor a further 120 days in November. By then more than 11 million tonnes of essential foodstuffs had been shipped from Ukraine, and food prices began to stabilize.
Africa: Hope for peace in Sudan and Ethiopia, conflict grinds on in DRC and Mali
UN peacekeepers in several African countries found themselves in harm’s way this year, whilst carrying out their role protecting civilians from violence.
Over the course of the year, Mali’s reputation as the world’s most dangerous posting seemed to be borne out: nearly every month saw an attack that killed or wounded peacekeepers, amid reports of civilian massacres, and a deteriorating security situation.
By December, however, Mr. Guterres was able to hail a peace agreement between civilian and military leaders, and the UN team in Sudan announced that they would ensure a package of support during the transitional period.
In Ethiopia, which has seen fierce fighting centred on the Tigray region, efforts to defuse the conflict led to a ceasefire in March. This did not end the violence, however, or the humanitarian crisis resulting from the unrest, but a peace deal, which was finally signed in November, was described by Mr. Guterres as a “critical first step” towards ending the brutal two-year civil war.
Middle East: No end in sight for many long-running conflicts
In March, Mr. Guterres called for the international community not to fail the Syrian people, as the country entered the eleventh year of a brutal civil war, in which 307,000 civilians have died.
The year ended with signs of military escalation, and no prospect of a peace deal, but the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, continued to meet with a host of key Syrian and international stakeholders, in pursuit of an eventual political solution to break the deadlock.
Yemen is now in the seventh year of its catastrophic conflict, which again exacted a vicious toll on its people. Hopes were raised in April, when the UN brokered a nationwide truce, the first in six years. However, the truce came to an end in October, leading to fresh uncertainty.
Hans Grundberg, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, told the Security Council in October that he believed a peace agreement could still be achieved: “With the stakes this high, it is critical that we do not lose this opportunity. The parties need to demonstrate the leadership, compromise and flexibility required to urgently reach an agreement”.
Little progress was made in relations between Israel and Palestine, during a year in which more than 150 Palestinians and over 20 Israelis were killed in the West Bank and Israel.
Mr. Wennesland called on Israel to cease advancement of all settlement activities as well as the demolition of Palestinian-owned property, and to prevent possible displacement and evictions. “The deepening occupation, the increase in violence, including terrorism, and the absence of a political horizon have empowered extremists and are eroding hope among Palestinians and Israelis, alike, that a resolution of the conflict is achievable,” he warned.
Americas: Haiti ‘on verge of abyss’, Colombia closer to lasting peace
It’s hard to overstate the extent to which the security situation in Haiti collapsed in 2022. Practically nowhere in the capital, Port-au-Prince, could be deemed safe, as rival gangs fought over territory, terrorizing increasingly desperate citizens, already struggling to survive a humanitarian catastrophe.
In October, the UN Special Representative in the country, Helen La Lime, welcomed the sanctions regime adopted by the Security Council, which targets gang leaders and their backers. She toldthe Security Council that even if a political solution could be found, it would not be sufficient to address the crisis.
Ms. La Lime indicated her support for the mobilization of a specialized military force, whilst the US Permanent Representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council in October that the US and Mexico are working on a resolution which will authorize a “non-UN international security assistance mission”, which would help in the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid.
There were positive signs that Colombia, which suffered decades of civil war, may be on the verge of achieving a lasting peace.
Six years on from the historic peace accord signed between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, the country was still beset by outbreaks of fighting in 2022 and, in July, the UN human rights office called on the incoming administration to tackle rising violence, particularly in rural areas.
By October, the head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, felt confident enough to brief the Security Council that expectations were running high for progress towards the full and final implementation of a lasting peace deal: “I am certainly confident that Colombia can demonstrate to the world, once again, that there is no better alternative to ending conflicts than through dialogue”.
Asia: Korean nuclear tension, scores attacked in Afghanistan
Much of the focus on Afghanistan has centred on the steady erosion of women’s rights under the Taliban, the de facto rulers of the country, but security has been increasingly challenging.
The Afghan people were rocked by waves of deadly terror attacks, from blasts at schools in April, to the bombing of a mosque in August, claimed by the so-called Islamic State group, also known as Da’esh. The group also carried out attacks against the Russian and Pakistani embassies, and a hotel hosting many Chinese nationals.
The top UN official in Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, announced in December that the UN is keeping dialogue open with the leaders of the Taliban, despite their differing positions. Whilst the Taliban face little to no political opposition, they are unable to satisfactorily address terrorist groups operating in the country, she reported.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), more commonly known as North Korea, continued to test missiles in 2022, provoking condemnation from the UN, and fears that the country was attempting to develop its nuclear weapons capability.
In a Security Council briefing in November, Rosemary Di Carlo, the head of UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), said that DPRK had reportedly launched its “largest and most powerful missile, capable of reaching all of North America”.
Overall, said, Ms. Di Carlo, DPRK had launched some 60 ballistic missiles. She reiterated calls on the country to “desist from taking further provocative actions and to fully comply with its international obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions”.
A new UN peace agenda
The wider issue of peace is likely to figure more highly on the UN agenda in 2023, when the UN chief, António Guterres, delivers A New Agenda for Peace, to Member States.
Addressing the Security Council in December, Mr. Guterres explained that the document will articulate the Organization’s work in peace and security; set out a comprehensive approach to prevention; link peace, sustainable development, climate action, and food security; and consider how the UN adapts to cyberthreats, information warfare, and other forms of conflict.
“The challenge ahead is clear,” said Mr. Guterres “To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, with a revitalized multilateralism that is effective, representative and inclusive”.
The newly commissioned vessels included a corvette, a minesweeper and the Generalissimus Suvorov nuclear submarineRussian president vows to increase the pace and volume of construction of various ships, equip them with the most modern weapons
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to further strengthen his country’s navy. Photo: EPA-EFE
President Vladimir Putin oversaw the commissioning of several new warships and a nuclear-powered submarine as he vowed to further strengthen Russia’s navy.
Putin, who has largely avoided public engagements since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, gave the green light for Russian flags to be hoisted on the new vessels via video link.
Moqtada al-Sadr, the Muslim Shiite cleric who dominated Iraqi politics for two decades, appears isolated for now after his step away from formal politics instilled courage in his Iranian-backed rivals and raised the prospect of new factional flare-ups.
Iran, which already controls dozens of heavily armed Shiite militias in its oil-producing neighbor, may now have an opportunity to expand its influence over the Iraqi government, a worst-case scenario for the United States and its allies.
Sadr’s decision may already drive out some of the followers who helped him become the center of Iraqi politics in the chaotic aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled longtime dictator Saddam Hussein.
“Some followers who support his eminence Sayed Moqtada have begun to complain that withdrawing from politics and parliament will leave the path more open for corrupt parties to control the government,” said Ali al-Iqabi, a sadrist activist.
“Unfortunately that has now happened,” he told Reuters.
New Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani has reshuffled several senior security posts and installed officials close to Iran-backed parties, including in the critical position of head of military intelligence, four security officials told Reuters.
The post was previously held by a more pro-Western official.
But Sudani has secretly rejected calls from Sadr’s opponents to fire pro-Sadr government officials, fearing this would incite Iraq to violence again, five Shiite lawmakers and two senior Sadrist officials said.
This account was confirmed by four Shia lawmakers who attended meetings between Sudanese and Shia politicians on October 20 and December 11.
PLANNING A RETURN?
Sadr’s followers took to the streets after he retired from politics, and the country briefly slipped into civil war between Shiite factions until the protests were called off.
“Sudani is struggling not to wake the dragon,” said a Shiite government official who attends weekly cabinet meetings.
Sudani’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the appointments or his refusal to act against officials believed to be associated with Sadr.
Sadr, who has not made the kind of public appearances that once roused supporters and intimidated rivals, has previously retired from politics to return. Some of those close to the Mercurial cleric expect this withdrawal to be temporary.
“As soon as there are signs of new elections, Sadr will apply,” one of his relatives told Reuters.
Sadr, who has closed several of his offices since his retirement from politics, could not be reached for comment.
A representative of the cleric in the city of Kerbala said: “Sadr is closely monitoring the political developments and performance of the Sudanese government, which he (Sadr) believes will not be long in coming.”
A 2022 survey by British think tank Chatham House found that Sadr supporters were more likely to vote than other groups.
But in addition to losing some street support, his hand may now be weakened by his unwillingness to show more pragmatism in forming a government with those backed by Tehran, which some see as an ally in the fight against Islamic Stands.
Sadr himself also suggested that Haeri spoke under pressure without naming who was to blame. “I don’t believe he did this of his own accord,” Sadr wrote on Twitter.
Ghazi Faisal, president of the Iraqi think tank Center for Strategic Studies, said Haeri “provoked an impetus to Iran’s efforts to consolidate the power of its allies in Iraqi politics.”
When asked for comment by Reuters, a representative for Haeri said the scholar was not commenting on politics.
Many Shiite Iraqis still regard Sadr as a hero of the oppressed. He inherited much of his early legitimacy from his father, a respected cleric who was assassinated by Saddam Hussein’s agents, before building his own power base and leading hundreds of thousands of followers in protests against everything from corruption to inflation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin may resort to nuclear weapons if he faces defeat in the Ukraine war, a top Italian defense official warned as concerns continue to circulate that Russia may further escalate the ongoing conflict.
Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto reportedly said in a recent interview that the “use of tactical nuclear energy is planned by Russia.”
“It is unthinkable for us, and for Moscow—yes, if the point of no return is passed, if they risk defeat. In short, the danger potentially exists, although it is very unlikely,” the minister said.
Crosetto’s comments were reported by the Ukrainian News Agency and the Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano on Wednesday, though neither report specified exactly when he made the remarks.
Putin and his allies have made a series of direct or indirect threats of nuclear weapon use since the start of the Ukraine war in late February. These threats have suggested that Ukraine and even Western nations could be the targets of potential attacks.
Putin, for example, said during a televised address in September that he was willing to respond to what he described as the West’s “nuclear blackmail” using his country’s own weapons, strongly implying the possibility of nuclear strikes.
“If Russia feels its territorial integrity is threatened, we will use all defense methods at our disposal, and this is not a bluff,” Putin said.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, a former commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe, told the Kyiv Post in October that even though he takes the threat of nuclear war very seriously, it is “very unlikely” that Russia will resort to nuclear weapons in its war in Ukraine.
South Korea’s new regional diplomatic policy seeks closer security ties with Washington but refers to Beijing as ‘key partner’Foreign policy expert says ‘dull’ plan lacks details on how it will achieve its goals
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (right) has promoted stronger ties with the US since taking office in May. Photo: AFP
South Korea’s new Indo-Pacific strategy attempts to cosy up to the US on security matters while leaving room for cooperation with China on the economy, but some observers say the plan offers few specifics about how Seoul will achieve this delicate balance.
The office of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said the strategy aimed to expand Seoul’s vision towards the Indo-Pacific region and strengthen “strategic cooperation on bilateral, regional and global issues”.
The document mostly aligned with Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy on security issues.
It also stated that Seoul reaffirms “the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait for the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and for the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific”.
South Korea’s Yoon in hot water over alleged ‘hot mic’ moment criticising US Congress
South Korea’s Yoon in hot water over alleged ‘hot mic’ moment criticising US Congress
The document called China a “key partner” in achieving prosperity and peace in the region. It said Seoul “will nurture a sounder and more mature relationship as we pursue shared interests based on mutual respect and reciprocity, guided by international norms and rules”.
It stressed the importance of cooperation between Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing, suggesting a trilateral summit last held in 2019 could resume. It also called for South Korea and Japan to cooperate with the US and China on the green transition and digital transformation.
Washington welcomed South Korea’s new policy, stating that Seoul’s commitment to other partners across the Indo-Pacific would strengthen their alliance to “advance international peace, security and promote nuclear non-proliferation”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said “China advocates solidarity and cooperation among all countries … and opposes the establishment of exclusive cliques”.
“We hope the South Korean side will work with China to promote the healthy and stable development of China-South Korea relations, and jointly make positive contributions to promoting regional peace, stability, development and prosperity,” Wang said.
Yoon has promoted stronger ties with the US since taking office in May, and the new Indo-Pacific strategy signals Seoul’s commitment to increasing security cooperation with Washington.
However, the addition of Beijing as a key partner shows an attempt to strike a balance amid the growing US-China rivalry.
Yoon has urged China to take an active role in the denuclearisation of North Korea. In an interview with Reuters, he called on Beijing to carry out its “responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council” to stop Pyongyang’s missile provocations.
However, Seoul has not followed Washington’s lead on other matters, such as its attempts to contain Beijing’s role in the international supply chain. South Korea’s economy relies heavily on China, its largest trade partner and the destination for a quarter of its exports.
South Korean semiconductor factories in China have been under pressure to shut down since October, when Washington imposed curbs on China’s use of US technology in chip production. It is not yet clear whether the South Korean companies, which were granted a year-long exemption from US sanctions, will agree to move the facilities.
Choo Jae-woo, professor of Chinese studies at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, said the Yoon administration’s new policy was vague about how it would promote the strategy.
“It’s dull and does not have any context … I cannot see what they are promoting or why, from the perspective of South Korea’s national interest,” Choo said.
“The vision and tasks in the document only introduce the government’s diplomatic stance and do not explain a detailed strategy and methodology.”
Choo said the strategy’s sparse details suggested a lack of coordination with the US on the plan, which could cause Seoul to lose Washington’s trust.
Seong Hyeon joined the SCMP in 2022. He is from South Korea and graduated with a bachelor of journalism and master of international and public affairs from the University of Hong Kong. He worked as a research intern for Korea Chair at US foreign policy think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and as a news trainee for NK news.
In January 2022, world powers were in talks aiming to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The year ends with the powers in dispute at the UN Security Council.
Back in January, there was “no alternative to dialogue,” tweeted German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Washington. “Political decisions are needed now,” wrote Enrique Mora, the senior European Union official chairing the talks in Vienna aimed at restoring the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian agreed the talks were at a point where “we have to make a political decision.” Brett McGurk, a leading US security official, saw a “culmination point…pretty soon.”
The Biden administration continued to apply ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, in November sanctioning 13 companies from mainland China, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, over alleged involvement in selling Iranian petrochemicals in East Asia. Tehran continued expanding its nuclear program beyond JCPOA limits, employing more advanced centrifuges to expand its stockpiles of uranium enriched up to 60 percent.
While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported regularly on Iran’s program, its access remained at a lower level than under the JCPOA. Tehran enforced a law passed by parliament in December 2020 after scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed, so reducing agency monitoring roughly to that required under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But this widened the gap with China and Russia. Geng Shuang, Beijing’s deputy permanent representative at the UN, told the UNSC December 19 that as the “the creator of the Iranian nuclear crisis…the US should recognize its responsibility and take the lead in taking practical measures.” Geng said that pressuring Iran would “escalate conflict, undermine trust and cast a shadow over the negotiations.”
The United States Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley
Talks ‘no longer our focus’
By October, US officials, including special envoy Rob Malley, said JCPOA revival was no longer their “focus.” President Joe Biden said Washington was instead “shining a spotlight” on protests in Iran – so rejecting the logic underlying the JCPOA of isolating the nuclear issue. The US, the European Union and the UK all introduced sanctions on Iranian officials over gross violation of human rights during the deadly suppression of protests and over supplying drones to Russia.
Opponents of the JCPOA have ended 2022 in high spirits, nowhere more so than in Israel where Benjamin Netanyahu – whose warning over Iran go back to 1996 when he told the US Congress Tehran was “extremely close” to a nuclear weapons – is preparing to return to power in coalition with three far-right parties.
But some analysts have argued that new thinking is needed to restore momentum for non-proliferation. In November the Washington-based Arms Control Association called for a ‘plan B’based on “confidence-building steps by the United States and Iran to prevent further escalation…”
In the Washington Post December 1, Ellie Geranmayeh, of the European Council on Foreign Relations, rejected widening sanctions that had led Iran to escalate, arguing for “an active diplomacy track… before it is too late.” She called for “step-by-step measures” to at least freeze Iran’s nuclear program and improve IAEA access in return for “humanitarian economic relief” and eased “sanctions enforcement against third parties trading with Iran, such as those in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and China.”
But given the prevailing atmosphere amid government violence that has killed 500 protesters and supply of weapons to Russia, tensions with Iran are no longer just over the nuclear issue.