1 km (1 mi) NNE of Queens (New York) (pop: 2,272,800) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 1 km (1 mi) NNE of Borough of Queens (New York) (pop: 2,272,800) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 2 km (1 mi) W of Jamaica (New York) (pop: 216,900) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 11 km (7 mi) ENE of Brooklyn (New York) (pop: 2,300,700) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 15 km (9 mi) NE of Sheepshead Bay (New York) (pop: 122,500) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 15 km (9 mi) E of New York (pop: 8,175,100) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 18 km (11 mi) NW of Long Beach (New York) (pop: 33,600) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 339 km (211 mi) NE of Washington (District of Columbia) (pop: 601,700) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
Weather at epicenter at time of quake
Broken Clouds 7.7°C (46 F), humidity: 57%, wind: 2 m/s (4 kts) from ESE
Step Two in the budding disaster is that the White House is letting the butcher of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, broker the talks between America and Iran. As I noted last week, on one hand, Putin is a war criminal raining death and destruction on millions of civilians, and on the other hand, we trust him to make an ironclad deal that blocks the mad mullahs from getting the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.
Oh, and in consideration of Putin’s efforts for world peace, any construction work Russia does in Iran related to the nuke deal would be exempt from sanctions imposed over Ukraine. As Biden would say, no joke.
If this sounds absolutely insane, get a load of Step Three. The Biden bots are actively considering, as a bonus to the mullahs, removing the terrorist designation of their main military group, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Recall that Trump droned the longtime commander of the Guards’ elite Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American soldiers in Iraq. Soleimani had spread terror in the region for decades, yet Biden said during the 2020 campaign he would not have ordered the hit.
His objection is probably relevant to the fact that Iran added the demand about removing the terror label. They figured they were pushing on an open door with the appeaser in chief.
Reports say all the group must do is pledge to make nice and stop killing Iran’s enemies across the Middle East and a separate agreement will lift the sanctions blocking its financing, travel, etc., as if it’s the Chamber of Commerce.
The whole notion is so far off the charts that the Jewish News Syndicate reports that Israeli leaders, already unhappy about the prospect of any deal with Iran, initially refused to believe the White House would even consider giving a free pass to the Revolutionary Guards.
Convinced the proposal is real, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a furious statement denouncing the group as “responsible for attacks on American civilians and American forces throughout the Middle East” and said it was “behind plans to assassinate senior American government officials.”
Bennett and Lapid continued: “The IRGC were involved in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians; they destroyed Lebanon and they are brutally oppressing Iranian civilians. They kill Jews because they are Jews, Christians because they are Christians, and Muslims because they refuse to surrender to them.”
Former American diplomats who have advised both Democrats and Republicans in the region agreed the idea stinks.
Dennis Ross tweeted that the concept “makes us look naive” and, citing the group’s recent rocket attacks in Iraq that nearly struck an American consulate, added: “For the IRGC, which admitted this week to firing rockets into Erbil, to promise to de-escalate regionally is about as credible as Putin saying Russia would not invade Ukraine.”
Ambassador Martin Indyk tweeted that removing the Guards from the terror list would be seen as a “betrayal” by many US allies who suffered from their brutal terrorism.
Nonetheless, it looks as if Biden wants to give the terrorists a pass in exchange for a vague promise. The White House has said no decision has been reached, which probably means it has but officials won’t defend it publicly until the agreement is signed.
There is one potential roadblock to all the madness, and that is the Senate. Because the entire package is new, Senate approval is required.
Many people believe it should be considered a formal treaty, which would require two-thirds support. Instead, Democrats are likely to try to use an end run similar to the one they used in 2015 to get the first deal through.
After a GOP-led filibuster effort failed, 58 to 42, the pact was deemed approved through what one critic called “brilliant political subterfuge.” That critic, Eric R. Mandel, director of the Middle East Political Information Network, writes in The Hill: “So, let’s recap: Forty-two senators were able to bind America to an agreement that should have required the votes of 66 senators for a treaty.”
If the Senate lets anything like that happen again, it will prove that Biden’s love of extremely bad ideas is contagious.
The military said that “gunmen opened fire” at an army position near the Jit junction west of Nablus, with the soldiers responding with “live fire”.
“Three armed gunmen were neutralised during the exchange of fire and an additional armed gunman surrendered himself to the forces,” the army said in a statement, noting none of the Israeli forces were wounded in the clash.
The soldiers, members of the elite infantry Golani reconnaissance unit, grabbed three M-16 rifles and a pistol used by the Palestinians, the army said.
Palestinian medical and security sources had no information on the event.
Several Palestinian armed groups had called on Tuesday for revenge for the recent deaths of six Palestinians in an Israeli army raid in the northern West Bank.
The Tel Aviv attack came just hours after Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin had called for de-escalation ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan that starts in March and the Jewish holiday of Passover in April.
Austin, following talks with Netanyahu and his counterpart Yoav Gallant during a brief visit to Israel, also called on the “Palestinian leadership to combat terrorism and to resume security cooperation and to condemn incitement”.
In Beitar Illit, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank southwest of Jerusalem, the army said bomb disposal experts had detonated a suspicious package found on a bus Thursday evening.
A Palestinian from a nearby village was arrested on Saturday for having placed an explosive device on the bus, along with four others suspected of aiding him, the army said.
Since the start of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 81 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.
Twelve Israeli civilians, including three children and one policeman, as well as one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.
A Borei-class nuclear-powered submarine launches a Bulava ballistic missile in the Barents Sea in August 2019. (TASS)
Russia’s missile and submarine capabilities compared to the Cold War Soviet era have exponentially developed, posing a serious and drastic threat to the United States, the Director of Russia Maritime Studies Institute (RMSI) told Newsweek.
Michael Petersen, a professor at the US Naval War College and founding director of RMSI, explained the difference between submarine advancement in current-day Russia and Soviet Russia.
The Russian Navy witnessed a massive modernization campaign since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, ranking today as one of the largest submarine fleets worldwide with nearly 58 vessels, 11 of which are nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, according to Nuclear Threat Initiative (RTI).
Russia’s threat to the US has now shifted from ballistic missiles to cruise missiles, Peterson added.
During the Cold War era, he noted, the Soviet Union used to deploy nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines off the western and eastern coasts of the US, however, as its submarine and warfare technology developed, the Soviets were able to change the location of their undersea vessels to distant locations while posing the same threat.
“Moving forward into today, what is the same? And what is different? I’ll start with the differences,” he started.
“So the difference today is that Russia today, as far as I’m aware, it does not deploy ballistic missile submarines off the coast of the United States. That’s a shift, and that is a reflection of the improving technology.”
By the end of the Cold War, the majority of ballistic missile submarines were being deployed in the Barents Sea and the Arctic region.
“So that hasn’t changed. Because the technology has allowed Russia to maintain strategic ballistic missile force that has enough range and enough accuracy to strike from these bastions.”
“So we’ve gone from a ballistic missile threat to a cruise missile threat. That’s not to say that the ballistic missile threat is non-existent, it’s still there. It’s just in a different location,” he said.
In recent years, Moscow has been manufacturing a number of submarines that are capable of targeting sensitive sites both in the US and the European continent.
In 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off a Naval Doctrine that sets forward a series of measures to develop the navy’s capabilities, in addition to shifting its strategic and operational role and future goals.
By 2030, Russia “must possess powerful balanced fleets in all strategic areas,” the document said then.
The new fleets, according to the doctrine, must include ships that can operate in the near and far seas, in addition to naval forces equipped with powerful striking weapons with high accuracy.
The document, dubbed by Russia as “The Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Naval Operations for the Period Until 2030,” states that the Naval forces must provide deterrence in addition to the ability to effectively retaliate against foreign attacks.
In June 2022, the United States Navy launched the building of its largest and most advanced Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), as part of its aspirations to modernize its sea fleets.
The US has around 64 submarines, including attack submarines, in addition to guided missile and ballistic missile submarines.
In December 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that four more nuclear-powered submarines will be built as part of the country’s current weapons program, ensuring the country’s security for many years to come.
The new submarines and ships would be outfitted with high-precision weapons and robotic systems, as well as advanced navigation, communication, and sonar equipment.
Russian ballistic missile submarines, which are currently being developed and built, have many distinguishing features, while new submarines and surface vessels have modern navigation, communications, and sonar systems, as well as high-precision weapons and robotic systems, Putin detailed.
“We will increase the pace and volume of construction of ships of various projects, equip them with the most modern weapons, and conduct operational and combat training of sailors, taking into account the experience gained, including during a special military operation.”
“In short, we will do everything necessary to reliably ensure the security of Russia and to protect our national interests in the oceans,” Putin added.
While Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles in Ukraine is grabbing attention worldwide, US defense officials believe China is outpacing Russia in developing hypersonic weapons and may have already fielded a weapon that can strike US facilities in the Pacific.
On March 10, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s chief scientist for science and technology told US lawmakers that China and Russia had tested hypersonic weapons successfully and had probably deployed operational systems. However, China currently outpaces Russia regarding supporting infrastructure and system numbers.
Paul Freisthler, the chief scientist for DIA’s analysis division, told a House Armed Services subcommittee that China had made significant advancements in developing conventional and nuclear-armed hypersonic missile technology and capabilities through intense, concentrated investment, development, testing, and deployment.
In addition, China has been testing an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2014 that carries a hypersonic glide warhead. He added that the weapon demonstrated its ability to traverse the world in July 2021.
Freisthler mentioned that China’s Academy of Aerodynamics allegedly uses at least three hypersonic wind tunnels with operating speeds of Mach 8, 10, and 12.
Hypersonic missiles, capable of moving at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, strike their targets in a blinding, destructive flash, leaving little time for a defense.
So far, no foolproof defenses have been developed. Being quick, efficient, precise, and unstoppable on the modern battlefield are rare but highly valued qualities.
According to data from the Congressional Research Service and the Defense Intelligence Agency, China reportedly runs two hypersonic weapon research facilities with at least 21 wind tunnels.File Image: China’s DF-17 Hypersonic Missile
In July 2021, China’s hypersonic weapon successfully circled the globe during a system test, leading a prominent US defense official to compare the event to the beginning of the initial space race in the 1950s.
The DF-17 is a medium-range ballistic missile important to China’s hypersonic arsenal. With a range of up to 2,500 kilometers, the missile can be fired from a mobile transport-erector launcher. The DF-17 can be launched as an HGV system from a standard rocket booster.
Moreover, China also possesses the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle.
According to Chinese media, the DF-41 missile can carry around ten independently targetable nuclear warheads with an operational range of more than 14,000 kilometers, making it capable of striking any location on Earth.
Meanwhile, on March 9, Russia launched a massive missile attack on Ukraine, using around six hypersonic Kinzhal missiles. The Kinzhal has a range of about 2,000 kilometers and can go up to Mach 10. File Image: Avangard Missile
Moreover, Russia has the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which it claims has a range of more than 6,000 kilometers and a top speed of Mach 20. In addition, there is the ship-launched Zircon hypersonic missile, which has a 1,000-kilometer range and a top speed of Mach 8.
According to Freisthler, Moscow has also revealed plans to mount a hypersonic glide vehicle on its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile and is currently working on an air-launched hypersonic missile (the Kh-95).
The US military has been working on various hypersonic weapons, all still in the testing or development stages.
In contrast to China and Russia, officials havestated that the United States has no intentions to equip any of its hypersonic weapons with nuclear warheads.
American officials are concerned that the Chinese could use hypersonic weapons to attack American warplanes and other assets at bases in Japan or Guam.
Defense analysts pointed out this vulnerability might someday make the floating behemoths outdated.
In the coming decades, these new weapons could carry out a task that nuclear weapons have long been envisioned to do: launch a first strike against the government or arsenals of another country, disrupt key communication channels, and weaken some of its retaliatory forces.
All of this could be accomplished without the radioactive fallout and specific condemnation that could result from the explosion of nuclear warheads.
This week the corporate media in the United States and Australia launched a coordinated barrage aimed at preparing their populations for war against China in the very near future. Prominent articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age call for the introduction of mass conscription and preparations for Australia to host as many as 200,000 US military personnel.
In the US, President Joe Biden has requested a record $1 trillion budget for military spending. This is both to escalate the US-NATO war against Russia over Ukraine and to boost the militarisation of Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region in preparation for war with China, which is viewed as the main obstacle to US geopolitical dominance.
US imperialism is hurtling towards all-out war against Russia and China, in a desperate bid to resolve its historic decline, and to divert the explosive class tensions over social inequality within the United States. It is becoming increasingly clear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, provoked by the US and NATO, is only the opening stage of what threatens to be a catastrophic Third World War involving nuclear-armed powers.
Washington is demanding that its allies fall into line. This includes New Zealand, a minor imperialist power allied to the US and Australia, and a member of the US-led Five Eyes intelligence sharing network.
Successive New Zealand governments have sent soldiers to join the bloody US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have welcomed the growing US militarisation of the Indo-Pacific over the past decade. The current Labour Party-led government has sent hundreds of NZ troops to Britain to help train Ukrainian conscripts, and has provided millions of dollars in funding for the war against Russia.
The government and the corporate media have been considerably more reluctant to openly join the belligerent US-led denunciations of China, for fear of damaging New Zealand’s most important trading relationship. In the year ending March 2022, China accounted for 26.8 percent of New Zealand’s exports, mostly dairy and other agricultural products.
With the media, politicians and military leaders in the US and Australia now declaring that war is inevitable, pressure is being applied to the New Zealand government to drop any pretence of a “neutral” or “independent” position.
On March 7, Newshub’s Melissa Chan-Green asked Prime Minister Chris Hipkins whether he had been contacted by US officials regarding “potential sanctions on China if they were to support military assistance [for Russia] in Ukraine.” Hipkins refused to reveal what has been discussed with the US, but said New Zealand would “take a very dim view of any other governments that were seen to be supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” Beijing has denied Washington’s claim that it is considering providing weapons to Russia.
Three days later Newshub interviewed Scott Brown, a former US Republican senator who served as ambassador to New Zealand from 2017 to 2020. He declared that while New Zealand had to make its own decisions, China should face “consequences” for “meddling and helping” Russia. Brown, who was a US military officer during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hypocritically ranted that China was “militarising islands,” “stealing our intellectual property” and “not playing by the rules”—that is, the rules set by US imperialism.
Addressing concerns about the impact on trade if New Zealand supported US moves against China, Brown said “it will be up to the United States and all the other countries to backfill any loss New Zealand has in their trade.”
Brown has a record of intervening publicly in New Zealand’s domestic politics. Following an inconclusive election in September 2017, he gave a series of extraordinary media interviews in which he made clear that Washington viewed the National Party government as too close to China and wanted the next government to take a tougher line against Beijing.
Shortly afterwards, the Labour-NZ First-Greens government was formed, with the right-wing and viciously anti-Chinese NZ First leader Winston Peters serving as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. NZ First, which is deeply unpopular in the working class, failed to win any seats in the 2020 election.
Brown’s reappearance sends a clear signal that Washington is closely observing NZ politics and is demanding a more decisive shift against China.
Canberra is also stepping up its collaboration with New Zealand in preparation for war. On March 9, the New Zealand Herald revealed that last October the Australian government spoke with New Zealand officials about “domestic and international efforts to build resilience to economic coercion.”
On the same day, Stuff reported that New Zealand’s spy agency, the Security and Intelligence Service, has been investigating Yuan Zhao, a senior public servant, for allegedly passing information to Beijing. Zhao, a New Zealand citizen who immigrated from China in 2006, said he was detained and interrogated at Wellington Airport last October. The SIS confiscated his phone and he was suspended from his job at the Public Service Commission.
No evidence has been released against Zhao, who maintains his innocence and has complained to the inspector-general of Intelligence and Security that he felt threatened by the SIS. The Chinese embassy denounced the allegations against Zhao, telling the media they were “ill-founded, and with an ulterior motive to smear and attack China, which we firmly oppose.”
Despite the lack of evidence, and the well-known close collaboration between the intelligence agencies and their US counterparts, the pro-Labour Party Daily Blog immediately declared: “we have another Chinese Spy.” The blog’s editor Martyn Bradbury has echoed allegations made by Brady that the opposition National Party is a tool of Beijing, and demanded surveillance of NZ’s Chinese community. He has also regurgitated the far-right conspiracy theory that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory.
Last April, in response to the World Socialist Web Site’s exposure of his militarist and anti-China propaganda, Bradbury published an inflammatory article demanding that the SIS “openly investigate [the] Socialist Equality Group as Chinese enablers and for possible treason.”
The Daily Blog’s embrace of the SIS and frothing hostility towards anti-war socialists exposes the fraud of its claims to support a “neutral” foreign policy. Yesterday, Bradbury published an article supporting the Maori Party’s proposal for a withdrawal from the Five Eyes. He declared: “Let’s be clear, not one of us wants to get tricked by America into fighting China.”
The same article demanded a “vastly larger military” with military spending increased from the current level of less than 2 percent of GDP to 3 percent, in line with NATO and the US. The blog has aligned itself with elements in the political establishment and business elite, including Maori capitalists, who are in favour of stepped up preparations for war and the demonisation of China, while maintaining a pretence of “independence.”
History proves that there is no pacifist tendency in New Zealand’s ruling class, which sent tens of thousands of people to fight and die in two world wars, and which depends on a close alliance with the US and Australia to uphold NZ’s imperialist interests in the Pacific region and more broadly.
In the working class there is widespread and deeply-entrenched hostility to war, which has yet to find organised political expression. This requires the building of a socialist party, independent of all the parliamentary parties and hostile to the Labour-Greens government and its pseudo-left and liberal supporters. The fight against war is impossible without the fight to mobilise the international working class to overthrow its source: the capitalist system.