Earthquake Assessment For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquake Risk in New Jersey

by Daniel R. Dombroski, Jr.

A 10–fold increase in amplitude represents about a 32–fold increase in energy released for the same duration of shaking. The best known magnitude scale is one designed by C.F. Richter in 1935 for west coast earthquakes.

In New Jersey, earthquakes are measured with seismographs operated by the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the Delaware Geological Survey.

An earthquake’s intensity is determined by observing its effects at a particular place on the Earth’s surface. Intensity depends on the earthquake’s magnitude, the distance from the epicenter, and local geology. These scales are based on reports of people awakening, felt movements, sounds, and visible effects on structures and landscapes. The most commonly used scale in the United States is the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, and its values are usually reported in Roman numerals to distinguish them from magnitudes.

Past damage in New Jersey

New Jersey doesn’t get many earthquakes, but it does get some. Fortunately most are small. A few New Jersey earthquakes, as well as a few originating outside the state, have produced enough damage to warrant the concern of planners and emergency managers.

Damage in New Jersey from earthquakes has been minor: items knocked off shelves, cracked plaster and masonry, and fallen chimneys. Perhaps because no one was standing under a chimney when it fell, there are no recorded earthquake–related deaths in New Jersey. We will probably not be so fortunate in the future.

Area Affected by Eastern Earthquakes

Although the United States east of the Rocky Mountains has fewer and generally smaller earthquakes than the West, at least two factors  increase the earthquake risk in New Jersey and the East. Due to geologic differences, eastern earthquakes effect areas ten times larger than western ones of the same magnitude. Also, the eastern United States is more densely populated, and New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation.

Geologic Faults and Earthquakes in New Jersey

Although there are many faults in New Jersey, the Ramapo Fault, which separates the Piedmont and Highlands Physiographic Provinces, is the best known. In 1884 it was blamed for a damaging New York City earthquake simply because it was the only large fault mapped at the time. Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault.

However, numerous minor earthquakes have been recorded in the Ramapo Fault Zone, a 10 to 20 mile wide area lying adjacent to, and west of, the actual fault.

More recently, in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to the Indian Point, New York, Nuclear Power Generating Station. East of the Rocky Mountains (including New Jersey), earthquakes do not break the ground surface. Their focuses lie at least a few miles below the Earth’s surface, and their locations are determined by interpreting seismographic records. Geologic fault lines seen on the surface today are evidence of ancient events. The presence or absence of mapped faults (fault lines) does not denote either a seismic hazard or the lack of one, and earthquakes can occur anywhere in New Jersey.

Frequency of Damaging Earthquakes in New Jersey

Records for the New York City area, which have been kept for 300 years, provide good information

for estimating the frequency of earthquakes in New Jersey.

Earthquakes with a maximum intensity of VII (see table DamagingEarthquakes Felt in New Jersey )have occurred in the New York City area in 1737, 1783, and 1884. One intensity VI, four intensity V’s, and at least three intensity III shocks have also occurred in the New York area over the last 300 years.

The time–spans between the intensity VII earthquakes were 46 and 101 years. This, and data for the smaller–intensity quakes, implies a return period of 100 years or less, and suggests New Jersey is overdue for a moderate earthquake like the one of 1884.

Buildings and Earthquakes

The 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, is an example of what might happen in New Jersey in a similar quake. It registered a magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale and produced widespread destruction. But it was the age of construction, soil and foundation condition, proximity to the fault, and type of structure that were the major determining factors in the performance of each building. Newer structures, built to the latest construction standards, appeared to perform relatively well, generally ensuring the life safety of occupants.

New Jersey’s building code has some provisions for earthquake–resistant design. But there are no requirements for retrofitting existing buildingsnot even for unreinforced masonry structures that are most vulnerable to earthquake damage. Housing of this type is common in New Jersey’s crowded urban areas. If an earthquake the size of New York City’s 1884 quake (magnitude 5.5) were to occur today, severe damage would result. Fatalities would be likely.

Structures have collapsed in New Jersey without earthquakes; an earthquake would trigger many more. Building and housing codes need to be updated and strictly enforced to properly prepare for inevitable future earthquakes.

Why the Iran Deal Would Have Failed

The Latest Proof That the Iran Nuclear Deal Has Failed to Work

by David Gerstman

In explaining how the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran would prevent the Islamic dictatorship from developing nuclear weapons, the Obama White House claimed on its website that Iran agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors “to access and inspect any site they deem suspicious.” This suspicion, the website continued, could “be triggered by holes in the ground that could be uranium mines, intelligence reports, unexplained purchases, or isotope alarms.”

While the guarantee that Iran would open any suspicious nuclear site to IAEA inspectors sounded good in theory, in practice it has not happened.

The latest episode that exposed the weakness of the guarantees in the nuclear deal was last week’s paper from the Institute of Science and International Security, which concluded that Iran was likely developing or attempting to develop nuclear warheads, based on information learned from the documents that Israel recovered from Iran’s hidden nuclear archive last year.

The paper — written by David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute; Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the IAEA; Frank Pabian, a former inspector for the IAEA; and Andrea Stricker, a senior policy analyst at the Institute — reports that the Iranian documents show that, under the Amad Plan, there was a project for designing a warhead for a nuclear weapon.

The Amad Plan is Iran’s nuclear weapons research program. After 2003, it was restructured, and parts of it were made covert. One project associated with Amad was called Project 110. Under Project 110 was the Shahid Boroujerdi project.

The documents in the archive show that Iran built an underground tunnel at the notorious Parchin military site in order to accommodate the secret research of the Shahid Boroujerdi project.

“The purpose of Project Shahid Boroujerdi was most likely the production and fabrication of uranium metal components for nuclear warheads,” the Institute’s paper asserted.

“Over the last three months alone, we have conducted over a half dozen studies of the information in the Nuclear Archive,” the paper added.

The authors assessed that the information in the archives “is extremely rich in information about Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts that is actionable in terms of better carrying out inspections.” Additionally, they asserted that Iran’s statements to the IAEA have been “incomplete and duplicitous.” The archives would also allow for the IAEA to better understand the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program “today and in the future.”

The Obama administration guaranteed that for the whole enrichment process of uranium, “the IAEA will have eyes on it and anywhere Iran could try and take it.”

What we have seen from the lack of response to the new information about the scope of Iran’s nuclear weapons program shows that the IAEA has failed to guarantee Iran’s compliance, much less prevent Iran from reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.

Last July, members of the Obama administration defended the nuclear deal with Iran. According to a report in The New York Times, former Obama administration officials said that the information in the archive simply confirmed what “they had suspected all along.” The deal, according to these officials, forced Iran to ship out 97 percent of its enriched uranium.

This is an odd defense of the deal. It only says that the deal set back Iran’s nuclear ambitions, not that it ended them, as the deal was sold at the time.

In fact, as the Institute’s paper asserted, “The provisions of the JCPOA, with the current IAEA monitoring regime, would not be able to detect and precipitate action in time to block Iran from dashing to a nuclear weapon within a short period of time, particularly as restrictions on enrichment start to end beginning in five years.”

Until and unless the IAEA asserts its authority and insists on thorough inspections of all suspicious Iranian nuclear sites, the deal will be unable to achieve its advertised aim of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The IAEA must act — and the international community must back it up.

But at this late date, one must wonder if it is still possible to make the deal enforceable.

David Gerstman is senior editor of The Tower, the news blog of The Israel Project.

Protests Resume Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Palestinians run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip January 11, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)


More than 10,000 Palestinians protested along the Gaza security fence on Friday in what they call March of Return protests. Clashes with Israeli security forces occurred at five different locations.

Palestinian media reported that 14 protesters were injured, three were badly wounded and two were medics. Beirut based television channel Al Mayadeen reported that one of its reporters was injured in his leg.

This is the 43’d week that the Friday protests have taken place. They were originally started following the American decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that IDF forces fired tear gas on ambulances and medical teams present at the protests.

“We will continue with the March of Return protests until the blockade on Gaza is lifted,” said Hamas official Ahmed Bahar in a speech he gave east of Gaza, “despite all those who bet that it [the protest] would fail, our people will not give up its rights,” he said.

He continued that “the Zionists must know Jerusalem is ours.” “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu must leave our lands” Bahar said, adding “shame upon those who serve as agents of the occupation and all those who try to normalize relations with the Zionist enemy, such acts are a betrayal to the Palestinian people and the blood of the martyrs.”

Antichrist Wants Babylon the Great Out Too

As U.S. withdraws from Syria, some want its troops out of Iraq, too

Geneive AbdoJan 17

Expert Voices

An Iraqi graffiti artist sprays a cement wall with anti-Trump slogans in Basra. Photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP via Getty Images

As the U.S. begins to withdraw troops from Syria, some Iraqi leaders are now demanding the same for their country, even as ISIS is making a comeback.

The big picture: Iraqi politicians and military leaders are divided on the presence of U.S. military forces in the country. Those wanting them out include Shi’a militias under the control of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which wants to gain more power, as well as Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick cleric whose winning coalition in the May 12 national election gained popular support by running on pledge to secure the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country.

Background: The U.S. had the greatest number of troops stationed in Iraq in 2007 during the “surge,” more than 165,000. Four years later, the number had decreased to 40,000, with the last major contingent withdrawing in December 2011.

What’s new: Many Iraqis saw President Trump’s unannounced December visit as a violation of their country’s sovereignty. Secretary of State Pompeo’s January trip was less controversial, but his push for the remaining 5,200 American troops to stay galvanized politicians who want them out.

The other side: Some Iraqi politicians and Iraqi army officials believe they need U.S. troops to prevent an ISIS resurgence. Others are focused on Iranian, rather than U.S., influence, following protests last year during which thousands of Iraqi Shia took to the streets in Basra and Najaf to call for the expulsion of Iranian forces from the country.

The bottom line: The issue of the U.S. troop presence is dividing the Iraqi military and Iraqi politicians alike. Expect the debate to intensify as Iranian-aligned militias and some politicians seek to mobilize the Iraqi electorate against the continued presence of U.S. forces, especially if the U.S. Syrian withdrawal proceeds.

Geneive Abdo is a resident scholar at the Arabia Foundation.

Just Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquake Off East Coast Felt In New York

The quake’s tremors were felt in states up the East Coast, experts said.

By Adam Nichols, Patch Staff | Jan 16, 2019 1:21 pm ET | Updated Jan 16, 2019 1:28 pm ET

NEW YORK – A 4.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded Tuesday evening off the coast of Ocean City, Md., but the effects rippled through several states including New York.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was at a depth of 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles, about 136 miles off the coastline, and happened around 6:30 p.m.

There have been no reports of damage and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had not reported any tsunami activity off the East Coast. According to the USGS website, 78 responses were logged saying the earthquake had been felt.

The Northeast States Emergency Consortium is trying to gather information about how far away the tremors were felt and is asking for people to get in touch if they experienced it.

Did you feel the earthquake? Tell us in the comments!

Earthquakes happen when there is movement below the Earth’s surface on fault lines. They can occur anywhere in the U.S. and usually last less than a minute, according to FEMA.

Most recently in the Mid-Atlantic region, two small earthquakes rumbled the Goochland, Va., area on Nov. 9 2018, the same region where the 5.8 earthquake in August 2011 originated and caused damage the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

The first 2.4 magnitude earthquake occurred at 11:25 a.m. about 23 miles west northwest of Richmond, while a second quake nearby came about 20 minutes later and was recorded as a magnitude 2.5, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A quake on Nov. 30, 2017, about 6 miles northeast of Dover, Delaware, rattled NYC. The initial report was for a 4.4-magnitude quake but the USGS later scaled it back to 4.1.

And a 5.8-magnitude quake on August 23, 2011 alarmed millions along the East Coast. “Tens of millions of people all over the East Coast and southeastern Canada suddenly felt the earth shaking from the largest earthquake in that area since the M5.8 earthquake in 1944 near Cornwall and Massena, New York,” the USGS said.

When the Earth stopped shaking, more than 148,000 people reported their experience of the earthquake on the Did You Feel It? website, representing an area occupied by one-third of the U.S. population.

]The 5.8 earthquake was centered near the town of Mineral, Va., about 65 km northwest of Richmond at a depth of about 6-8 km.

With reporting by Deb Belt

Photo by Shutterstock

The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:9)

US could ask Australia to host nuclear missiles | The Strategist

US could ask Australia to host nuclear missiles

What would we say if Washington asked to base nuclear-armed missiles, aimed at China, on Australian territory? It’s not an entirely hypothetical question. Amid all the talk of a new cold war with China, the strategic logic of America’s plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty plainly suggests that such a request is a real possibility.

If the request comes—and it could come quite soon—Australia would face a truly momentous choice. If we agreed, our relations with China would face a crisis far, far worse than the recent chill from which the government has been working so hard to extract us. To refuse would be to abandon our ally in what everyone in Washington now sees as the decisive strategic contest of our time. Either way, Canberra’s fragile effort to avoid taking sides in the epic contest over the future of Asia would be smashed.

To see why this possibility looms, we have to go back to the INF Treaty and America’s reasons to withdraw. China wasn’t a party to the bilateral agreement reached in 1987 between the Soviet Union and America to ban missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. But it has been clear that the US decision to withdraw is as much or more about China as about Russia.

Moscow has violated the treaty by building new missiles that contravene its terms, but Beijing has never been constrained from building such weapons, and it now has thousands. Thanks to the treaty, America has none, but now, as the contest with China becomes America’s primary strategic focus, Washington wants to be able to match Beijing’s intermediate-range missiles with equivalent forces of its own. That’s a key reason why it wants to scrap the treaty.

Matching Beijing’s intermediate-range missiles with similar forces is seen to be important to Washington because of a fear that China’s intermediate-range forces will undermine the credibility of America’s nuclear deterrent in the Western Pacific. It’s the same fear that drove America to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles to Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, to counter the Soviet SS-20 missiles that threatened Western Europe.

The worry then was that the Soviet SS-20s could threaten Western Europe with impunity if Washington didn’t have similar systems, and had to rely instead on US-based intercontinental-range missiles to counter them. It was feared that Washington would be deterred from using those forces because that would provoke a massive Soviet counterattack on the US homeland. So, to deter the Soviets and reassure its European allies, America based intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe until, as the Cold War wound down, US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to ban such forces altogether.

Now that Washington’s strategists recognise that the US is in a new cold war with Beijing, they want to base intermediate-range nuclear forces in the Western Pacific for the same reasons. They are starting to take China more seriously as a nuclear adversary, and they worry that the possibility of a Chinese counterattack on America itself might undermine the deterrent credibility of their intercontinental-range forces. They worry both that China will be less convinced than they have long assumed of America’s nuclear advantage, and that that will lead Asian allies to doubt America’s commitment to defend them from Chinese nuclear threats.

Those worries are not without some foundation. In South Korea, there’s an active debate about the need to develop an independent nuclear capability. Japan’s doubts about America’s reliability as an ally are real and growing. And conversations with US policymakers and analysts suggest that some in Washington have been surprised and somewhat alarmed by the way that doubts about America’s reliability have sparked a debate here on The Strategist and elsewhere about whether Australia needs to consider nuclear options, suggesting that we too are losing faith in America.

This is bad news for Washington as it gears up to contest China’s bid for regional hegemony in Asia. America will need these allies, and that means they need to be convinced that the US is a credible and reliable nuclear ally. And many in Washington seem to have decided that deploying intermediate-range nuclear forces to the territories of its Asian allies is the best way to do that.

It’s far from clear that this is true. The whole INF issue deals only with land-based missiles, and America has plenty of options to deploy sea-based nuclear forces to Asia—just as it had in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. The land-based INF deployment to Europe was a political gesture aimed at reassuring nervous Europeans, and made little real difference to the nuclear balance in Europe—as many Americans recognised at the time.

But more importantly, deploying intermediate-range nuclear forces—whether land or sea based—would not fix the underlying weakness in America’s nuclear posture in Asia. That’s because the problem with that posture is not a lack of intermediate-range weapons but a lack of clear resolve to accept the risks to America itself of using them to attack China.

Those risks are very real. Unlike the old Soviet Union, China has no major military assets beyond its own territory, so the only targets worth hitting with nuclear forces would be in China itself. Any nuclear attack on Chinese territory—whether launched from within Asia or from the US—would carry a serious danger of Chinese nuclear retaliation against American territory.

Some strategists in the US assume that Beijing could be deterred from such retaliation by fear of a full-scale American counterstrike, but that can’t be taken for granted. And no one in Washington seems ready to argue that America’s desire to remain the primary power in Asia is worth the million American lives that might be lost in a Chinese nuclear attack on the US. That is one key difference between the old Cold War and the new one. There was little doubt that America was willing to suffer a nuclear attack to contain the Soviets, but no one has made that case about China.

Even so, the push to build and deploy land-based intermediate-range nuclear forces to Asia is now gaining momentum in Washington, and raises the question of where they would be based. The only US territory in the region is Guam, which is already highly vulnerable. The whole logic on INF deployment suggests that Washington will be looking to locate these forces with its allies in the Western Pacific.

That means before too long we can expect a preliminary approach about whether we would be willing to host some of them here. It would make a kind of military sense. Missiles at the upper end of the intermediate-range band based in northern Australia would be able to reach most of China, and would be much more secure from Chinese preemptive attack than missiles based in South Korea or Japan.

But to many in Washington, the real point of putting this request to Canberra would be political rather than strategic. It would not just be about reassuring Australia of America’s reliability as an ally, but also about testing Australia’s commitment to stand by America in the new cold war with China.

It cannot have gone unnoticed in Washington that Canberra has so far failed to endorse America’s new tough line on China, and is still trying desperately to avoid choosing sides between our major ally and our primary trading partner. That is not what Washington wants or expects. It wants us to choose sides unambiguously, and what better way to force that choice than to ask us to host nuclear missiles aimed at China?

The risk for the US, of course, is that we might not make the choice it wants. We might say no.

Hugh White is professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University. Image courtesy of the US National Archives.

The Antichrist is the Crucible for the New Iraq Government

Summer is Coming: The Crucible for the New Iraqi Government

In Baghdad this month, the mood is generally positive. A new government has been formed and higher oil prices (the recent decline notwithstanding) have given Iraq a stake of cash with which to address its problems. Despite continuing insecurity in the mixed areas between Baghdad and Mosul, levels of violence remain low. While most Westerners — constrained by the terms of their insurance policies or governments — retreat to convoys of SUVs, those unburdened by such restraints walk freely, are driven by friends, and take cabs or use “Uber-like” services. Nightlife continues to flourish in Baghdad as its youthful population brings a new mood to the city. And while the “opening” of the so-called “Green Zone” was a bit overhyped (it’s only open at night), it nonetheless shows the confidence of the Iraqi government to allow access to its own government center (after clearing numerous checkpoints). By any objective standard, things in Iraq are as good as they have ever been. True, the rest of the country lags behind the relative functionality of Baghdad, but the example set by the capital is important.

The Status of the Government

The shadow of the Basra protests of July and August still looms over the polity. The protests in Basra shook the state to the core, for several reasons. First, they occurred in the heart of the power base of most of the major parties. Major Shi’a parties such as Dawa, Fadhila, Hikma, Asa’ib al Haq (AAH) and Badr were all caught up in the conflagration, their offices burned by the protestors, making clear the lack of satisfaction with politics as usual. Second, Basra province is a critical, even existential, interest of the Iraqi state. As the last few years have demonstrated, Sunni-majority cities like Fallujah, Ramadi, and even Mosul can be lost, and Iraq can win them back, albeit at too high a cost. The fate of these regions does not threaten the (Shi’a-majority) state itself, at least not in the short term. But Basra is the heart, and — for now — virtually the sum total, of the Iraqi economy. Absent Basra’s oil revenues, activity in Baghdad — and the other provinces — grinds to a halt. Finally, these protests involved an important, if controversial, sector of Iraqi society — those who fought against ISIL, as well as the families of those who died or were heavily wounded during the fight. The failure of the state to provide essential services for the demobilized Hashd fighters and their families is of deep embarrassment.

Out of these protests — and the lack of a clear electoral mandate — has emerged this new Iraqi government. Prior to the protests, the political leaders were caught up in discussions about the “largest bloc” of new parliamentarians — from the eleven major coalitions — to select the new government. Then came the protests, which seem to have driven the largest two vote-gaining (though opposing) parties from the 2018 electoral cycle — the Sadrists and the Hashd-aligned “Fatah” party — to forge a very informal deal to move forward on a government, bypassing that key and stabilizing step. After the somewhat surprising election of Dr. Barham Saleh as President (Dr. Barham, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan(PUK) candidate, won over the  Kuridish Democratic Party (KDP) candidate Fuad Hussein, despite the KDP’s backroom dealings with the other major parties), the familiar figure of Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a 76 year-old former vice president, oil minister, and finance minister, was selected as the prime minister-designate.

On October 25, the parliament approved a majority of the nominated ministers (14 of 22), making Abdul-Mahdi the prime minister (three more were approved on December 18, then another two on December 24). Iraq-watchers immediately split on whether this was a glass half-full, or half-empty. The half-empty camp noted the absence of both security ministers, Interior and Defense, as well as the controversy surrounding three of the 14 approved ministers being plausibly accused of affiliation with extremist groups — two male ministers being accused of Baathist and al-Qaeda in Iraq ties, and, in late breaking news, the female education minister (the only female minister to date) was embroiled in a scandal regarding her brother’s alleged role as a high-level ISIL figure in Mosul. It now appears she was not sworn into office, leaving four ministries empty.  It was, in this sense, a less than auspicious start.

The half-full camp also has reason for cheer, however. In the key economic and service ministries, the promise to nominate respected technocrats seems to have been honored. Thamir Ghadaban, a British trained petroleum engineer and the oil minister during the interim government of 2004 to 2005, accepted the oil ministry post. He is closely partnered with the new electricity minister, Luay al Khateeb, the founder of the Iraq Energy Association and a well-known infrastructure and resources expert in British and U.S. think tank circles. The health minister, Alaa al-Alwani, has served in senior positions at the World Health Organization, while the new foreign minister, Mohammad al-Hakim, was until recently the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations. These are all respected and relatively apolitical Iraqi figures with impressive resumes.

The failure to fill the Defense and Interior slots is, first, driven by internal tensions within Iraq’s ethno-sectarian communities, and not between them. Everyone agrees that the defense minister will be a Sunni — it’s just that the Sunni can’t decide internally who he or she should be. Internal to the Shi’a parties, at issue is the nomination of a new interior minister, with the Fatah block of Hadi al-Ameri (Population Mobilization Units/Hashd affiliated) putting forward former National Security Advisor Felah Fayahd as their nominee. This nomination has been strenuously opposed by the Sairoon party of Muqtada al-Sadr. It is widely believed that the inability of the parliament to confirm Fayahd during their session on December 11 means that a new nominee will have to emerge (though this has yet to occur). This is interpreted by Sadr and his allies as a “brushback” of the Iranian strategy of Qassim Soleimani.

Further, in Iraq’s highly pragmatic democracy, it is worth recalling that during the entirety of the second Maliki administration of 2010 to 2014, the parliament confirmed neither Interior nor Defense ministers. Not that this is a model to be followed, but a lapse of a few weeks or months is hardly a crisis.

Even for those who accept the quality of the ministers, there is deep concern about the lack of an underlying coalition. As noted earlier, the key step of forming a “largest bloc” was skipped over by the major parties, leaving it unclear who is supporting the newly formed government. Once again, there are two interpretations about the lack of an underlying coalition. One reading is that this new government is essentially ungrounded, without a reliable block in parliament on which is can fall back. In this interpretation the entire government is walking a daily knife-edge of a “no confidence” vote, and therefore it will be unable, or at least highly unlikely, to take any difficult or controversial positions. Given that resolute action on (hopefully non-corrupt) infrastructure spending is the key issue, an inability to confront contentious issues would put the government in a difficult spot indeed.

The second interpretation notes that the various factions have somewhat bravely moved forward. In the absence of a resounding mandate from the voters, familiar elites have stepped into the void, though limited by the new parliament with a majority of fresh faces. This reading of Baghdad politics maintains that since no new coalition is likely to be formed should a “no confidence” vote occur, that such a vote is politically impossible to generate (as witnessed in the unsuccessful attempts to generate a no confidence vote on Nouri al Maliki in 2013). In this reading, the new government, though again constrained by the parliament, is taking its real cues from the demonstrators (or the people more widely), and the religious authorities in Najaf, both of which are strong voices for reform and action. To introduce a very non-Arabic influence, they seem to be appealing to an almost Rousseauian “General Will” that includes the interests of the citizenry without concern for the interests of the political elites.

New Political Alignments

The parliament is now effectively divided into two opposing blocks. The first, al-Islah, consists of the Sadrists, al Hikma, Abadi’s “Victory,” and the traditional Sunni parties of former Prime Minister Allawi and Saleh Mutlaq, plus a few smaller parties, including the Turkomen Front and the Kurdish New Generation Movement (NGM) (just announced January 15). Opposed to them, in the Bina coalition are arrayed the Fatah party (discussed above), former Prime Minister Maliki’s “State of Law,” and the National Axis party of Khamis Khanjar and Jamal al-Dari. While the Kurds (NGM excepted) keep some distance from this arrangement, in general the KDP is loosely aligned with Bina, and the PUK and smaller parties (Gorran,Kurdish Islamists) aligned with al-Islah. It is extremely important to note the emergence of cross-sectarian coalitions in Iraq.  Whatever one thinks of these two coalitions, their mere existence is a huge step forward in Iraqi politics.  The dispute between these two blocs is not about blood, race, or religion, but genuine policy differences.  This also brings us the phenomenon of one Shi’a majority party being the agent calling out the abuses of another Shi’a majority party from the opposing faction.

With regard to policy, as a convenient shorthand, one can look at al-Islah as the coalition of those parties whose priority is building the capacity of the Iraqi government, while the Bina coalition has an interest in keeping Baghdad weak so that their extra-governmental interests (be that their militia, Iranian interests, rejection of the post-2003 order, or an independent KRG) become more viable. What is at first look an odd array of allies in Bina takes on a clear logic when viewed through this lens. Some analysts have posited that the phenomenon of the KDP working closely with Maliki and the PMU-aligned parties (with whom they otherwise have long-standing disputes) can be explained only by heavy Iranian influence. But when their shared interest in a weak Baghdad is considered, the coalition makes much more sense and can be considered a natural. And just as US interests naturally align it with al-Islah, so also Iran’s interests in a weak Iraq align it with Bina.  Again, having two cross-sectarian and ethnically diverse political “blocs” is a major development and should be applauded. But note that the government draws its primary support from a major actor on each side (Sadrists from al-Islah, Fatah from Bina), so this has not yet evolved into a more traditional bloc in power and bloc in opposition. The quota, or muhasasa,  system—in which all parties get a share, leaving the government without a clear program—has once again survived another round of Iraqi elections, though weaker.


I find a vague, though cautious, optimism in well-informed Iraqi circles. Having well-known and internationally respected figures in the presidency (especially) and the prime ministry, as well as technocrats in the service ministries, gives a great deal of hope.

But there is a general awareness that the next crisis is looming, all revolving around infrastructure and services. Iraq’s sweltering temperatures create a huge demand for electricity in the summer, primarily for air conditioning. Summer demand peaks at 23 gigawatts, with the Iraqi grid averaging just over 12 gigawatts of power (peaking at 16 to 17) — enough for winter demand, but with its inadequacies and inefficiencies clearly on display during the blistering summer heat. It is this lack of electrical capacity (despite growing almost 300 percent since 2003), combined with similar deficiencies in clean water — for drinking, agriculture, and fisheries — and a general lack of economic opportunity that have most galvanized the Iraqi public. While the last government dealt with ISIL and the budget crisis, this government will be judged by services and the economy.

In a sentence, this government must find the “low hanging fruit” in services improvement, aggressively pursue these easy (or at least easier) solutions, and then move forward on the longer-term fixes. In the electrical sector, this means finding another source for a gigawatt or two of power, repairing the grid to reduce losses in transmission, and finding ways to move forward on actually having Iraqis pay for their government power, so that demand is kept at more reasonable levels. Once these steps are taken, Iraqis should then be able to see serious movement on longer-term solutions, as GE and/or Siemens begin to construct large-scale power generation plants to really address the demand issues of summer air conditioning.

Water projects need similar focus. Short-term local filtering efforts may be needed to address crisis situations, while longer-term projects are developed to deal with the underlying issues of poor urban sewage treatment throughout Iraq, and poor water management within all the river systems. State-of-the-art irrigation systems will be necessary to regenerate Iraq’s agricultural sector, as it is clear that there will not be sufficient water in Iraq’s future to allow for flood-style irrigation techniques now common. Further, the Turks will soon begin filling the reservoir behind Ilisu Dam, putting more pressure on the Iraqi water system already challenged by climate change, as considerably fewer gallons make their way downstream. This reduced flow both gives less water in absolute terms and increases the proportion of toxins in the water that does continue down the Tigris to the sea.

The domestic oil and gas sector has been making incremental improvements for years, but a more aggressive approach, in conjunction with assistance from international oil and gas and service companies, may be required. There are already very promising moves towards investment projects involving gas capture. Having these come to full maturity with both a working project and a viable business model would do a great deal to ease suspicions on both sides. Increasing the crude oil export capacity is a key requirement. The new Iraqi pipeline going north to Turkey is a good sign, but the lag in putting the long-discussed pipeline through Jordan to the Port of Aqaba should be addressed soonest, in addition to infrastructure improvements at and around the Basra ports. Finally, Iraq should move fully forward on the development of its gas fields, not only those associated with the oil fields in Basra and Kirkuk, but also those in Anbar and Sulimaniya. Full engagement of Iraq’s gas sector would not only allow for independent fueling of its own electrical plants, but an export commodity that would promote more economic interdependence with Turkey.

Finally on the jobs front, simply getting the first of these “shovel ready” projects underway should result in a number of jobs, both directly in construction, and secondarily in the contracts providing services to the companies and workers on the direct contracts. While many of the highly skilled jobs will have to go to expats — whether Turkish, Korean, or American — there will be significant numbers of Iraqis put to work. Of course, the business climate is sufficiently hostile that the number put to work will almost certainly be significantly less than it might otherwise be. But still, more jobs are better, even if the total is artificially deflated.

The crisis of infrastructure and services in the south is echoed in the north, though with a slightly different accent. The north had — in general — superior infrastructure to the south, but it has suffered a great deal of damage in the liberation from ISIL. Iraqi cities — Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul — suffered anywhere from significant to devastating damage from airpower, artillery, truck bombs, and hand-to-hand fighting. But in general one can say that the infrastructure in the north is suffering only a few years of neglect (since the arrival of ISIL), rather than the 15 years of neglect in Basra.

But the situation in the north is complicated by at least four other issues — the tensions between Baghdad and Irbil, the lack of security in many of the rural areas in the north, the problems related to the various minority groups (Turkomen, Christians, Yezidi, Shabak), and the issues of re-integrating those who participated, to whatever degree, in the ISIL project. Each of these issues is a full project unto itself, and it is not clear that Baghdad has the capacity — or the focus, given the issues in the south — to deal with all, or any, of these issues.

But while the north has a host of challenges, Baghdad’s primary focus will remain on the south. While the north’s problems are very real, the problems in the south are existential to the state. It is therefore by solving the problems in the south that the state will be judged. From the perspective of state survival, the south is existential, while Baghdad has demonstrated that it can lose the north, then recover it. Baghdad must make serious progress in infrastructure throughout the country, but particularly make amends with Basra, the generator of the entirety of the Iraqi financial system.  This will make for an interesting tension with the international community, which is far more focused on the liberated areas and Iraqi minorities.

The United States has a key role to play in providing technical expertise, helping Iraq where it can. The United States should resist the temptation to be transactional in its dealings with Iraq at this moment. The United States is deeply vested in a fully functioning Iraq (which, de facto, essentially aligns its interests with al-Islah) and in the longer term, its relationship with Iraq will be deeper and more beneficial for having helped in this key moment. There is a significant role for U.S. business to play in Iraq (despite, again, the very difficult business climate), but it should be on the basis of free and open competition. Finally, the United States should work very closely with at least the president and the prime minister. Both President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi are known quantities to the U.S. , particularly Dr. Barham, who lived in the United States for over a decade (making the political accusations of his being some type of Iranian proxy, or even the Iranian candidate, simply risible). This is not to say that the United States is or should be opposed to the parliamentary speaker, Mohammad al-Halbousi; it’s simply that we don’t yet have the same long history with him.

Iraq’s infrastructure problem is the crucible that will test the next government. In short, the debate between the optimists and pessimists, whether on the government or the stability of the coalition underlying it, will be resolved next summer. It is not unthinkable that this government could fail.  The government must show significant progress by next summer. Electrical generation must show at least incremental improvement, with the promise of significant change in evidence. While Iraq’s water problem probably cannot be changed at all in the next year, the government must be able to show that ground has been broken — or at the very least contracts awarded — on projects that international experts agree will address the myriad of water issues. New jobs must be in evidence, both in construction on all the items above, plus private-public partnerships with the State-Owned Enterprises and reduced regulation for the nascent entrepreneurial sector. And finally, there must be both an improved revenue flow — from oil sales in the near term — and better management of finances and contracts.

Summer is coming. And patience — both in the “street” and in Najaf — has worn thin. This government is sitting on a powder keg. Baghdad must show serious progress, or else the absence of power and water might overthrow the government in a way that ISIL could not.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article erroneously referred to the Hashd-aligned “Faith” party. The correct name is the Fatah party.

Douglas Ollivant, a former NSC Director for Iraq during the Bush and Obama administrations, is an ASU Senior Fellow in the Future of War project at New America. He is a managing partner of Mantid International, a strategic consulting firm with offices in Washington, Beirut and Baghdad, and a senior editor at War on the Rocks. Mantid International advises clients working in Federal Iraq.

Russia Prepares for the Nuclear Apocalypse (Revelation 17)

Russia Says It Will Soon Have More Than 30 Nuclear Apocalypse Torpedoes: Report

Kyle MizokamiToday 10:25am

Russian state news media is reporting that the country’s armed forces will receive more than thirty, long-range nuclear-tipped super-torpedoes. Named Poseidon, the super-torpedoes will be armed with thermonuclear warheads designed to obliterate coastal cities and other targets and spread lethal radioactive fallout. The fast-moving, nuclear armed torpedo would be difficult for U.S. and allied forces to stop, and failure to do so would guarantee the deaths of millions.

Poseidon, originally known as Kanyon or Status 6, was originally revealed in in November 2015 when the weapon’s name and a picture were “accidentally” leaked by Russian state television. The leaked information included a range of 6,200 miles, maximum submergence depth of 3,280 feet and a top speed of 56 knots, which works out to 64 miles an hour on land. The name was changed to Poseidon in 2018, and full scale tests are anticipated to begin this year.

Now, TASS media agency is reporting Moscow will procure 32 Poseidon torpedoes, with sixteen based with the country’s Northern Fleet and sixteen based with the country’s Pacific Fleet. Poseidon missiles based with the Northern Fleet could attack targets in Europe, Canada, and the East Coast of the United States, while Pacific Fleet torpedoes could attack Japan, China, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S.

Poseidon will be the largest torpedo designed by any country, with a diameter of 6.5 feet and a length of 65 feet. It will be nuclear powered, giving it the ability to cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans solo. It will be inertially guided, allowing it to avoid the need to surface to get a GPS fix on its position. The warhead was previously claimed to be up to 200 megatons but is now reported at 2 megatons. While not as horribly over the top as a 200 megaton weapon, it’s still worth keeping in mind that 2 megatons = 2,000 kilotons—and the Hiroshima nuclear blast was a mere 16 kilotons.

Poseidon is designed to be carried two at a time by a mothership submarine, including the submarines Sarov and Khabarovsk, then launched at their targets at extreme ranges. Poseidon won’t be difficult to detect but it will be hard to stop—traveling at 56 knots it will outrun both the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered attack submarines and Mk. 48 heavyweight guided torpedoes. Here’s a video made by Russia’s Ministry of Defense to help explain how Poseidon might affect you.

Thirty two Poseidon missiles with multi-megaton warheads would cause terrible damage to U.S. and NATO cities. An attack on San Francisco, with the torpedo detonating under the Golden Gate Bridge, would kill or injure more than half a million people and spread airborne radiation as far north as Nevada. A Poseidon torpedo swimming up to the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor would kill half a million outright and injure another two million, contaminating territory as far north as Portland, Maine. Such devastating attacks would be repeated over and over again against coastal targets on both coasts and abroad, generating tsunamis full of radioactive debris designed to spread fallout inland. The exact target list would only be known to Moscow, but two places for sure on the list are Kitsap, Washington and Kings Bay, Georgia, the east and west coast bases that support America’s ballistic missile submarines. Without those bases in a nuclear war those submarines could not return to reload their missile tubes.

As frightening as Poseidon is, the new weapon is worthless as a first-strike weapon. Poseidon will not suddenly kill you in your sleep with zero warning. Unlike intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States in minutes, Poseidon needs hours or even days to reach its targets. That’s plenty of time to retaliate and destroy Russia. Instead, Poseidon is designed as a second-strike weapon, dissuading enemies from attacking Russia lest it unleash the nuclear apocalypse torpedo. As long as nuclear war doesn’t break out Poseidon stays in the nuclear bullpen.

Why is Russia developing such a nightmarish weapon? Moscow is worried that America’s ballistic missile defenses, as small as they are, could eventually be scaled up to protect it from Russian missile attacks. Expanding U.S. defenses to do so would involve a thousand-fold increase in interceptors, but it is a theoretical possibility—at least from Russia’s perspective. Unless Russia has retaliatory weapons that can sneak around those defenses, Russia’s nuclear deterrent could be rendered worthless.

Can anyone—or anything stop Poseidon’s deployment? Yes. Poseidon is expensive, and Russia’s economy is smaller than that of Texas or California’s while maintaining a huge arsenal of conventional or nuclear weapons. Poseidon could become unaffordable, or Russia could decide to fund other types of weapons. An arms control agreement between the United States and Russia could outlaw such weapons, but such agreements generally rely on good relations, and the United States would need to give up something on its end—for a weapon that might end up being cancelled anyway. The entire point of developing Poseidon may be to use as a bargaining chip.

Poseidon is the first new type of nuclear weapon in decades. As numbed as the general public is to threat of nuclear war, Poseidon with its radioactive tsunamis feels like a fresh outrage. Will Russia eventually field this new terror weapon? We’ll just have to see.

East Coast Expecting The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

United States Fault Lines Map – Earthquakes could also happen in Cites

Submitted by Nicole Wilson on January 22, 2010 – 3:07pm.

[BestSyndication News] Earthquakes are always a concern out in Alaska and in California, as it is full of fault lines that are continually shifting. There are some fault lines that are overdue to shift, especially the California San Andres fault line that runs through the mountain ranges and close to Wrightwood. But did you know there is a United States Fault Lines Map that illustrates great potentials for earthquakes outside of our state?

New Madrid Fault Line

The New Madrid Fault Line has records of over 4000 earthquake reports since 1974. This fault line is also called the New Madrid Seismic Zone and has potential to devastate the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. The biggest part of the New Madrid Fault Line sits in Missouri.

We often forget that this Midwestern fault line is there, but in 1811-1812 there was a series of earthquakes that shook with estimated magnitudes of 8.1 – 8.3, with several aftershocks of 6.0 magnitudes. Since those big ones, the largest earthquake that this fault line produced was in a 6.6-magnitude quake that happened on October 31, 1895. It’s epicenter was in Charleston, Missouri.The damage from these earthquakes were extensive, and there has been recent speculation by the scientific community that believe that this fault line might be shutting down and moving elsewhere. In an issue of Nature, scientist believe the current seismic activity at the New Madrid Fault line is only aftershocks from the earthquake back in 1811 and 1812.

Ramapo Fault Line

The Ramapo Fault Line spans 300 kilometers and affects the states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These faults run between the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.

This fault remains relatively inactive, but scientists believe that it could produce some serious earthquakes. There was a study completed in 2008 that believes a 6 – 7 magnitude earthquake will very likely occur from this fault line. The last time this fault was the most active was believed to be 200 million years ago.

San Andreas Fault Line

The last few years Southern California has been preparing for the next big one with government sponsored Earthquake Drills. Scientist are predicting that the next big one with a magnitude of a 7.0 or higher for this fault line will happen any time, it could be now or 10 years from now. They believe the areas that are going to be hit the hardest are going to be Palm Springs and a number of other cities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties in California, and Mexicali municipality in Baja California.

To learn more about earthquakes you can visit

East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness


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.