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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Top Republicans on Capitol Hill are raising alarms over news that China has surpassed the U.S. in its number of launchers for land-based nuclear missiles — and arguing for the U.S. to expand its own arsenal to keep pace.
Four GOP leaders on the House and Senate Armed Services committees said the revelation about China’s nuclear capability, made in a Jan. 26 letter from the top commander of U.S. nuclear forces, is a warning that Beijing’s arsenal is expanding faster than anticipated, though the U.S. still has more warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“This should serve as a wake-up call for the United States,” said House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Senate Armed Services ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) in a joint statement. “It is not an understatement to say that the Chinese nuclear modernization program is advancing faster than most believed possible.
“We have no time to waste in adjusting our nuclear force posture to deter both Russia and China,” the lawmakers said. “This will have to mean higher numbers and new capabilities.”
Lamborn and Fischer are the top Republicans on the Armed Services subcommittees that oversee nuclear weapons programs.
China’s military modernization, including its nuclear capabilities and a potential invasion of Taiwan, have been an early focus for Republicans.
House Armed Services held its first hearing Tuesday on the threat posed by China. During the session, Rogers broached the ICBM launcher news and warned of China’s nuclear expansion, urging the U.S. to act immediately to deter Beijing.
“The [Chinese Communist Party] is rapidly expanding its nuclear capability. They have doubled their number of warheads in just 2 years,” Rogers said at the outset of Tuesday’s hearing. “We estimated it would take them a decade to do that.”
The U.S. is undertaking a long-term overhaul of all three legs of its nuclear arsenal as well as fielding new weapons introduced under the Trump administration’s 2018 nuclear blueprint.
Low-yield warheads have been deployed aboard ballistic missile-carrying submarines. Congress has also preserved funding to develop a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile that the Biden administration sought to cancel.
February 5, 2023, marks the 20th anniversary of US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech at the Security Council of the United Nations. In front of a worldwide audience, Powell told lies to justify the Bush administration’s criminal decision to invade Iraq.
Among the lying statements made by Powell were:
“We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.”
“Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents.”
“He [Saddam Hussein] remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons. … He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries.”
“What I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network … Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with al-Qaida. These denials are simply not credible.”
The war resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the destruction of what had been a highly developed country. The CIA and military conducted a brutal campaign of torture and murder. None of the officials responsible for the crimes were ever punished.
This grim anniversary is not being observed by the US media, which prefers not to recall the crimes of the not-too-distant past as it concocts the lies that are needed to promote the escalating war against Russia.
He said he had spoken with the deputy commissioner of the Erie County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Gregory J. Butcher, who said a “confirmed quake was felt as far north as Niagara Falls and south to Orchard Park.”
“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo. I jumped out of bed,” Poloncarz said.
Yaareb Altaweel, a seismologist at the National Earthquake Information Center, said Northeast earthquakes “happen all the time” and quakes can strike anywhere at any time.
Since 1983, there have been 24 earthquakes above magnitude 2.5 in the West Seneca region, with Monday’s being the largest so far in the area.
Altaweel said another 3.8-magnitude quake took place in 1999 in western New York.
“On a scale of earthquakes, 3.8 isn’t that big. But the crust in that region is old crust. It’s old and cold, and the efficiency of transferring the seismic waves versus sedimentary areas — that’s why people can feel it more. That’s why earthquakes can be felt even at 1.0 in some places,” he said.
Altaweel said a 3.8-magnitude quake is “not a big earthquake that you’d expect damage from.”
Existing fractures and fault lines can cause earthquakes to hit so far inland, he said.
Altaweel said there was nothing abnormal about this shock.
“I’d say it’s very normal. There was one, a 2.6, in March 2022. There was another 2 in 2020. These keep happening in this region at low magnitude,” he said.
Following his ninth retirement from Iraqi politics since 2013, the Iraqi cleric has attempted to remain relevant by making politically charged statements
ByNews Desk- February 07 2023
(Photo credit: Reuters)
Iraqi Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, released a controversial statement on 7 February saying that the devastating earthquake that struck Turkiye and Syria a day earlier was ‘God’s punishment’ for the ‘inadequate’ response by Arab and Muslim countries to the recent burning of the Quran by far-right groups in Sweden.
“If Arab and Muslim countries had taken an honorable stance in defending the noble Quran … even if it was at levels such as closing the Swedish embassy in their countries or reducing diplomatic representation, God Almighty would not have sent this message (the devastating earthquake),” Sadr said in a statement via Twitter.
“So, for how long? How long will this distance from God, His holy books, and His sanctities continue? … If Muslims do not take a serious and real stand, they will not be immune from calamities,” the statement added.
Sadr had initially released a statement expressing his condolences to the Syrian and Turkish victims of the earthquake, which has left at least 5,000 dead in both countries.
On 21 January, a Quran burning was held during a protest near the Turkish embassy in the Swedish capital Stockholm, organized by the far-right Swedish-Danish Stram Kurs party. The protest was held in defense of ‘freedom of expression’ but also came in the context of recent negotiations between Turkiye, Sweden, and Finland, as the two Scandinavian countries have been trying to get Ankara to approve their ascension to NATO.
On 26 January, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Swedish government was ‘complicit’ in the Quran burning, given that it took place following authorization from Swedish police.
Sadr’s statement comes as the disgraced cleric has been attempting to stay relevant – following the ninth announcement of his ‘retirement’ from Iraqi politics – by making random and politically charged statements.
In a recent statement, Sadr referred to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf in what was seen as a jab at the Islamic Republic of Iran and Tehran-affiliated politicians and parties in Iraq.
Published 11:45 AM ET Mon, 14 May 2018 Updated 9:54 AM ET Tue, 15 May 2018 CNBC.com
HAIDAR HAMDANI | AFP | Getty Images
Iraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr (C-L) shows his ink-stained index finger and holds a national flag while surrounded by people outside a polling station in the central holy city of Najaf on May 12, 2018 as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State (IS) group.
More than 91 percent of Iraq’s votes have been tallied after polls closed over the weekend in Iraq’s first election since defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) late last year. And they reveal a shock win for firebrand Iraqi cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who wasn’t even running for prime minister, along with his coalition allies, the Iraqi Communist Party. He was followed by Iran-backed Shia militia leader Hadi Al Amiri, while incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, initially predicted to win re-election, trailed in third. Voter turnout was a low 44.5 percent, indicating widespread voter apathy and pessimism, observers said.
Reports show that Sadr’s “Sairoon” alliance won more than 1.3 million votes, translating to 54 seats in the country’s 329-seat parliament, taking the greatest share among a broad and fractured array of parties.
A win for Sadr, the populist Shia leader known for his anti-American campaigns and his populist appeal to Iraq’s young and poor, could dramatically change Iraq’s political landscape and its relationship with external powers like the U.S. and Iran. In addition to pushing for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Sadr is avidly opposed to Iranian influence in his country. That influence has grown significantly thanks to the pivotal role played by Iran-backed militias in driving out ISIS. The influential cleric, who has millions of religious followers, cannot become prime minister as he did not run for the position himself — but his electoral success means he will likely have a key role in deciding who does.
Sadr has spearheaded a number of political movements in Iraq, gaining infamy for directing attacks on U.S. troops in the wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion. His charismatic sermons have drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets over a range of causes. More recently, he’s led campaigns and protests against corruption within the Shia-led government as well as against Iranian influence, and pledged to overcome sectarianism by leading a secular coalition that includes Iraq’s communists. Sadr in 2003 created the Mahdi Army, which executed the first major armed confrontation against U.S. forces in Iraq led by the Shia community — and it posed such a threat that U.S. forces were instructed to kill or capture him. The group, which numbered up to 10,000, was also accused of carrying out atrocities against Iraq’s Sunnis. It was disbanded in 2008, but re-mobilized in 2014 to fight ISIS. The cleric owes much of his religious following to the legacy of his father, an influential Iraqi ayatollah murdered in the 1990s for opposing former President Saddam Hussein, and has spent much of his career championing Shia causes.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE | AFP | Getty Images
But in the last year, he’s undergone something of a reinvention: he has reached out to Sunni Gulf neighbors, most notably in 2017 visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) powers typically shunned Iraq’s Shia, but are now making headway in the country through investment and economic aid, seen partially as an attempt to counter arch-rival Iran’s entrenched influence in the country. Ahead of the election, Sadr pledged a commitment to abandon sectarianism by forming a coalition with secular Sunnis and Iraq’s Communist Party, who have as a result seen their best election performance ever. “Sadr‘s strong showing suggests that he maintains a relatively loyal following and that his nationalist, cross-sectarian platform was effective at mobilizing voters in challenging conditions,” said Ryan Turner, a senior risk analyst at London-based PGI Group. He has also stopped advocating violence, said Renad Mansour, an Iraq researcher and fellow at U.K. policy institute Chatham House. “He passed the use of violence for his political agenda,” Mansour said. “But say if the U.S. come back and occupy Iraq, I imagine that this would change.”
Because of the fractured nature of Iraqi politics, no candidate or bloc has won an outright majority. The winners of the most seats must negotiate a coalition government within 90 days, during which a long complex process of compromise will have to unfold. Winning the greatest share of votes does not directly translate to leading the government. “Depending on the final tallies and political jockeying, Sadr may find himself in a position to play kingmaker, which could see Abadi reappointed prime minister,” Turner said, referring to the current prime minister, who was widely praised for leading the fight against ISIS and for balancing relationships across sects and external powers. But to do so, Sadr would likely have to outmaneuver Iran, which would prefer to see Amiri — the candidate who finished second place — assume the premiership. Tehran wields much of its influence by pushing its preferred policies through Iranian-backed candidates and political players like Amiri. A major objective of Iran’s is to push the U.S. out of Iraq, where some 5,000 troops still remain.
Department of Defense photo
U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to Bravo Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, maneuver through a hallway as part of squad level training at Camp Taji, Iraq.
The extent to which the reforms Sadr has championed can take place will be determined by these fractured politics, said Mansour. “So far Sadr has been a very vocal voice demanding change — the question becomes whether he’ll actually be able to maneuver around the system that Iraq is, which is one where power is so diffuse among different entities that it’s hard for one group to have complete control. But I think he certainly will try and be more dramatic about it.” Labeled one of the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International, Iraq is still mired in poverty and dysfunction following its bloody, three-year battle against ISIS. Officials estimate they’ll need at least $100 billion to rebuild the country’s destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure, and improvised explosive devices and landmines remain scattered throughout the country. The composition of the new government will be crucial in determining how Iraq moves forward. “It’s not clear that Sadr‘s rising political influence will undermine Iraq’s recent progress,” Turner said, noting that despite the cleric’s past, he has cooperated with Abadi and backed changes intended to reduce corruption. “Much will depend on what happens next, and whether Sadr is able to quickly form a governing coalition or Iraq enters a period of prolonged deadlock as after the 2010 election.”Natasha TurakCorrespondent, CNBC
The purpose of the targeted facility was not immediately clear. But Isfahan, in central Iran, is a hub for Iran’s production, research and development of missiles, including the assembly of Shahab medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach Israel and beyond.
Iran has steadily been ramping up its long-range missile capabilities in recent years and Israel fears that those missiles could one day be used to deliver a potential nuclear warhead. Israel, which sees the weapons program as an existential threat, has been locked for years in a shadow war with Iran. But repeated strikes targeting the nuclear program and military targets have failed to stop Iran’s steady advances on both fronts.
Here are some basic questions about Iran’s missile program.
Why was Isfahan targeted?
Isfahan houses two missile deployment sites and at least two missile-related organizations, according to a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. The city is also the site of four small nuclear research facilities, but the facility that was struck on Saturday did not appear to be nuclear related.
Danny Yatom, a former head of the Mossad, told Army Radio in Israel on Monday that the attack targeted a facility developing hypersonic missiles — long-range munitions capable of traveling up to 15 times the speed of sound with terrifying accuracy and which could be enabled to carry a nuclear warhead, if Iran developed one eventually. Iran’s defense ministry described the facility as a munitions factory.
Iran’s missile arsenal is the largest in the Middle East and the most diverse.
Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., who retired recently as the head of U.S. Central Command, where he oversaw military planning for dealing with Iran, described the country’s advances in missile technology to the Senate Armed Services Committee last year.
“They have over 3,000 ballistic missiles of various types, some of which can reach Tel Aviv,” he said at the time. “Over the last five to seven years, they have invested heavily in the ballistic missile program. Their missiles have significantly greater range and significantly enhanced accuracy.”
Ballistic missiles have long been considered a possible delivery system that could be used for a potential nuclear weapon, according to Mark Fitzpatrick, a former state department nonproliferation official now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Iranian scientists have not yet demonstrated that they have mastered the difficult task of launching a ballistic missile that could successfully carry and trigger a nuclear weapon to its target, should Iran develop such a weapon in the future. But Iran has at least nine ballistic missiles that might be capable of such a feat, Mr. Fitzpatrick said.
Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. U.S. intelligence assessments suggest that the country has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point in the future, but has not yet mastered all of the necessary technologies. Those assessments concluded that Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program.
Why are Iran’s foes worried about missiles?
Stopping Iran from attaining nuclear weapons is among Israel’s highest foreign policy priorities.
Israeli leaders are also concerned with Iran’s interference in and around their borders. In recent years, Iran has supplied a cocktail of precision-guided missiles, drones and military equipment to proxies in Lebanon and Syria hostile to Israel.
The weekend strike was seen as part of a broader Israeli strategy of expanding targets to hamper Iran’s military ability to arm proxy militias.
Could Iran’s missiles aid Russia’s war on Ukraine?
Weeks ago, American officials publicly identified Iran as the primary supplier of drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, and they said they believed Russia was also trying to obtain Iranian missiles to use in the conflict. But the strike on Isfahan was prompted by Israel’s own security concerns, they said.
“There is very little appetite to deal with Iran right now,” Mr. Vaez said. “But the reality is that there is a ticking bomb, which is the nuclear program, which is not going away.”
What is the status of Iran’s nuclear program?
Iran’s nuclear program is more advanced than ever, according to experts. Since 2019, Tehran has made so much progress that the estimated time it would take to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb has shrunk from a year to less than a week, according to experts.
Rafael Grossi, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said late last month that Iran now had accumulated enough highly enriched uranium to build several nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.
“Iran has never been closer to the verge of nuclear weapons,” said Mr. Vaez, adding that the country has “enough enriched material for an arsenal” of warheads. “It would only take as few as four days to enrich enough material for its first warhead — by the first month it could potentially have two or three,” he said.
Even with a sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium, Iran is not yet believed to be capable of making it into a functioning nuclear warhead. American and Israeli intelligence officials say that fashioning the fuel into a working weapon that could fit atop a missile would take two years.
But some experts, like David Albright, who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks the spread of nuclear arms, have estimated that Iran might be able to produce a working nuclear weapon in as little as six months.
Is the Iran nuclear deal dead?
The 2015 deal that sought to rein in Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions is no longer in force. Israel long opposed the deal and former President Donald J. Trump abandoned it in 2018, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
After complying for several years, Iran restarted enriching uranium beyond the negotiated limits in 2019. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used to produce energy while highly enriched uranium can be used to make a nuclear weapon.
The old nuclear deal placed no restrictions on Iran’s missile programs, one of the many reasons that Israel forcefully opposed it.
The notification highlights China’s rapid advancements in its nuclear modernization program in recent years and has prompted congressional Republicans to call for “higher numbers and new capabilities” in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
“It is not an understatement to say that the Chinese nuclear modernization program is advancing faster than most believed possible,” Republican leaders on the congressional Armed Services Committee and strategic forces panels said in a joint statement. “We have no time to waste in adjusting our nuclear force posture to deter both Russia and China.”
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, cautioned that ICBM launchers are only one metric in measuring nuclear expansion.
“We need to understand the issue in a little bit more detail before we figure out how to respond to it,” Smith told Defense News. “Launchers are one thing. The nuclear enterprise involves a lot more than just launchers. So, I think we need a more total vision.”
The unclassified STRATCOM notice did not disclose how many launchers China possesses while noting it provided Congress with additional classified updates.
The U.S. has 450 ICBM launchers. The Pentagon’s 2022 China military power report noted that Beijing had approximately 300 ICBMs with the caveat that it “appears to be doubling the numbers of launchers in some ICBM units.”
The report also found that China’s warhead stockpile has surpassed 400 and projected that “it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by its 2035 timeline” if it continues its current rate of nuclear expansion. The U.S. stockpile contained 3,750 nuclear warheads as of 2021, including 1,515 deployed warheads on ICBM launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers.
Making weapons quickly, cheaply
Henry Sokolski, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, advised against going “tit-for-tat, ICBM-for-ICBM with China.”
“If the aim is to compete with China, you want to do so in a leveraged way where you can prevail,” Sokolski told Defense News. “Beijing can now make far more nuclear weapons systems far more quickly, and far more cheaply, than we can.”
“This means we’re going to have to compete harder where we still have comparative advantages – such as in space – to potentially deprive China of its ability to command and control the ever larger military forces they are assembling,” he said, noting that the U.S. “should be focused on making our existing nuclear forces far less vulnerable to a potential first strike.”
Republicans are pushing for adding to the U.S. nuclear arsenal on top of the nuclear modernization efforts that are already ongoing.
Patty-Jane Geller, a senior policy analyst for nuclear deterrence at the conservative Heritage Foundation, in a statement also said “the U.S. should prepare for an even greater expansion in the years to come” and noted that the STRATCOM notice signals “China’s intent to race to nuclear parity with the U.S. if not superiority.”
And House China Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., said the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, or INF, could pave the way for the U.S. to field long-range, ground-launched missile systems in Australia – pending U.S. export control reforms.
“We have a massive opportunity to field INF non-compliant systems that we’re not taking advantage of,” Gallagher said on Tuesday at an Armed Services Committee hearing on China.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.