Faults Underlying Exercise Vigilant GuardStory by: (Author NameStaff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta – 138th Public Affairs Detachment Dated: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 This map illustrates the earthquake fault lines in Western New York. An earthquake in the region is a likely event, says University of Buffalo Professor Dr. Robert Jacobi. TONAWANDA, NY — An earthquake in western New York, the scenario that Exercise Vigilant Guard is built around, is not that far-fetched, according to University of Buffalo geology professor Dr. Robert Jacobi. When asked about earthquakes in the area, Jacobi pulls out a computer-generated state map, cross-hatched with diagonal lines representing geological faults. The faults show that past earthquakes in the state were not random, and could occur again on the same fault systems, he said. “In western New York, 6.5 magnitude earthquakes are possible,” he said. This possibility underlies Exercise Vigilant Guard, a joint training opportunity for National Guard and emergency response organizations to build relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. The exercise was based on an earthquake scenario, and a rubble pile at the Spaulding Fibre site here was used to simulate a collapsed building. The scenario was chosen as a result of extensive consultations with the earthquake experts at the University of Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), said Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of 53rd Troop Command, who visited the site on Monday. Earthquakes of up to 7 magnitude have occurred in the Northeastern part of the continent, and this scenario was calibrated on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake which occurred in Saguenay, Quebec in 1988, said Jacobi and Professor Andre Filiatrault, MCEER director. “A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in this area is not an unrealistic scenario,” said Filiatrault. Closer to home, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake occurred about 2.5 miles from the Spaulding Fibre site within the last decade, Jacobi said. He and other earthquake experts impaneled by the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada in 1997 found that there’s a 40 percent chance of 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurring along the Clareden-Linden fault system, which lies about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Jacobi added. Jacobi and Filiatrault said the soft soil of western New York, especially in part of downtown Buffalo, would amplify tremors, causing more damage. “It’s like jello in a bowl,” said Jacobi. The area’s old infrastructure is vulnerable because it was built without reinforcing steel, said Filiatrault. Damage to industrial areas could release hazardous materials, he added. “You’ll have significant damage,” Filiatrault said. Exercise Vigilant Guard involved an earthquake’s aftermath, including infrastructure damage, injuries, deaths, displaced citizens and hazardous material incidents. All this week, more than 1,300 National Guard troops and hundreds of local and regional emergency response professionals have been training at several sites in western New York to respond these types of incidents. Jacobi called Exercise Vigilant Guard “important and illuminating.” “I’m proud of the National Guard for organizing and carrying out such an excellent exercise,” he said. Training concluded Thursday.
The president of Belarus has suggested his nation will take advantage of access it has to nuclear weapons via its Russian ally, should Nato decide to arm parts of Europe with similar machinery.
It comes amid increasing tensions between Alexander Lukashenko and the EU over the current migrant crisis on the border shared by Belarus and Poland.
Less than two weeks ago, Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, announced in a statement that US nuclear weapons currently stationed inside Germany could well be moved to “other European countries” dependant on a decision about which territories leaders want them to sit in.
“It is for Germany to decide whether there [are] nuclear weapons in [their] country, but the alternative is we end up with nuclear weapons in other countries of Europe, also to the east of Germany,’’ Mr Stoltenberg said at a conference organised by the German Atlantic Association and the Federal Academy for Security Policy.
However, he added: “I expect that Germany will continue to be part of nuclear sharing, because it is so important for Europe.”
Asked by Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya about Mr Stoltenberg’s remarks, Lukashenko said if this happened, he “will propose to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin to return nuclear weapons to Belarus”.
Pushed on what weapons he was referring to, Belarus’ leader went on: “We will agree on what kind. The nuclear weapons that will be most effective in such an engagement. I said for a reason that we in Belarus’ territory are ready for it.”
The situation between Belarus and the EU – specifically Poland – has worsened in recent weeks as the migrant crisis intensified.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Lukashenko admitted his troops probably helped Middle Eastern asylum seekers cross into Europe via Belarus – after previously denying he or his army had anything to do with helping people on dangerous journeys across the border, which have killed at least 11.
“I told [the EU], I’m not going to detain migrants on the border, hold them at the border, and if they keep coming from now on I still won’t stop them, because they’re not coming to my country, they’re going to yours,” he said during the interview from his palace in Minsk.
The European bloc believes Lukashenko engineered the crisis as revenge for sanctions imposed on him and Minsk for human rights abuses following protests in the country over his contested leadership election last year.
Mr Stoltenberg said in his speech on 19 November that Nato’s “aim is a world free of nuclear weapons”. But, he added, “as long as others have them, we must have them too”.
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As the former leader of an anti-US militia who often surprises observers with his political maneuvers, Sadr called for a “majority” government which, analysts say, could include Sunni and Kurdish parties.
A distant runner-up in the Shiite camp with 17 seats was the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, the political arm of the pro-Iran Hashed al-Shaabi former paramilitary force, which is now integrated into Iraq’s state security apparatus.
Hashed leaders rejected the preliminary result as a “scam,” and their supporters held street protests chanting “no to fraud.”
Their activists also staged sit-in protests outside Baghdad’s Green Zone district, where the government, the assembly, and many foreign embassies are located.
The final results of the election will now be sent to the federal court for ratification.
Analysts warn that – in a country still recovering from decades of war and chaos, and where most parties have armed wings – political disputes could spark a dangerous escalation.
Israeli officials believe Iran could be weeks away from enriching uranium to a level sufficient for building a nuclear weapon.
The amount of uranium Iran has already enriched to 20-percent purity is critical, because when it reaches a certain threshold – known as the significant quantity – that stockpile can rapidly be enriched to the 90-percent purity needed for a nuclear weapon. Iran possessing a stockpile of 220 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium would mean it had reached the significant quantity.
According to intelligence shared by a number of countries, including Israel, the amount of uranium Iran has already enriched to 20-percent and 60-percent purity bring Tehran just a number of weeks away from having enough enriched uranium – which it can further purify to 90 percent should it chose to.
Even if Iran breaks out with uranium enrichment, assembling the nuclear warhead itself will take much longer – months, perhaps even years.
Israeli officials are concerned by the numbers, and have asked that an end to further enrichment be among the demands made to Iran during renewed talks over its nuclear program.
The 2015 nuclear deal sharply limited Iran’s uranium stockpile and limited the enrichment to 3.7 percent purity, a sufficient level for nuclear power plant fuel. However, a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal, Iran pushed production to 20 percent, and then to 60 percent after.
On Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on world powers not to “give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail.”
In a video statement that was delivered to representatives of nations opening negotiations with Iran, Bennett said that Tehran seeks “to end sanctions in exchange for almost nothing” and keep its nuclear program intact while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars once sanctions are lifted.
There has been pessimism in Israel in recent days over the resumption of the Vienna talks. According to assessments, the round of talks will not lead to real progress in the immediate term between the two sides. Officials had the sense that Iran is not interested in a return to the nuclear agreement and instead would drag out the talks, enabling it to advance its nuclear program under the radar.
Israeli sources expect Iran to make uncompromising demands in Vienna while the Americans, who at Iran’s insistence will not have their representatives in the room, will demand that Tehran return to full compliance with the nuclear agreement signed in 2015. The expectation is that the diplomatic drama between Iran and the United States will only begin after this round of talks.
Plans for US military upgrades of Australian defence bases to counter China have been highlighted in a long-awaited Pentagon study, which contains no actual major reshuffling of American forces worldwide.
The US plans to reduce troops and equipment in other parts of the world to bring more to Australia and the Indo-Pacific
US military will also upgrade Australian bases to counter China
Australia signed the AUKUS military pact to improve intelligence and technology sharing between the nations
The Biden administration has released some details of its global posture review, but the Pentagon document overseen by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will remain largely classified.
“In Australia, you’ll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments, you’ll see ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation,” US Under Secretary of Defense Mara Karlin told reporters.
“More broadly across the Indo-Pacific, you’ll see a range of infrastructure improvements in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Australia.”
Dr Karlin added that the Indo-Pacific region was a major focus of the assessment, because of Mr Austin’s emphasis on “China as the pacing challenge” for the department.
Dr Karlin said the previously flagged base upgrades in Australia should “hopefully come to fruition in coming years” and included logistics facilities, fuel storage, munitions storage and airfield upgrades.
Many details about the repositioning of military capabilities were classified and some others had been previously announced, but the review contained no major reshuffling of forces as the US moves to take on Beijing while deterring Russia and fighting terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.
In Washington, defence analysts believe the review’s lack of sizeable adjustments to military forces in Asia shows the challenges the US faces in rebalancing resources to confront China while maintaining other global commitments.
Earlier this year, the ABC revealed senior American and Australian officials had discussed options for expanded military cooperation, including a proposal to form a new joint US marines and ADF training brigade based in Darwin.
Australia recently signed on to a strengthened military pact with the US and United Kingdom, known as AUKUS, to improve intelligence and technology sharing between the nations.
The ABC has approached Defence Minister Peter Dutton for comment on the review.
STEVEN CHASESENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTERPUBLISHED NOVEMBER 29, 2021UPDATED YESTERDAY
Spectators wave Chinese flags as military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019.MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/THE ASSOCIATED PRESSLISTEN TO ARTICLE
An Austrian diplomat who was one of the architects of a new UN treaty aimed at banning nuclear weapons says the world is in the midst of a new arms race which includes a dramatic expansion of China’s arsenal.
Alexander Kmentt helped bring about the creation of the UN Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, or Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, which was adopted in 2017 and entered into force in January, 2021. More than 120 countries voted for the treaty’s adoption and more than 55 states have ratified, or acceding to, the treaty so far. All nine countries with nuclear arsenals, including the United States, Russia, Britain and France, have refused to sign.
In 2007, Joe Biden became one of only 22 senators to vote against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The IRGC is Iran’s central terror hub, organizing, funding, and training terrorists around the region and the world.
After Senator Mike Gravel defended two of the IRGC’s terror groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, contending, “these people are fighting for their rights”, Biden joined in with colleague, claiming that the “moment that declaration was made, every one of our friends, from Iraq to Pakistan, felt they had to distance themselves from us because it appears to be a war on Islam.”
The IRGC clearly appreciated Biden’s support and tried to pay it forward in the 2020 election.
Unlike most election interference news, the DOJ’s latest announcement has received very little media coverage because the interference was coming out of Iran and was helping Biden.
An indictment charged two Iranians over a “cyber-enabled disinformation and threat campaign designed to influence the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election.”
Many conservatives already knew that Iranian hackers had tried to pass themselves off as members of the Proud Boys in a false flag operation designed to increase Democrat turnout and generate an election backlash to President Trump. One example of the Iranian campaign involved sending emails to “tens of thousands of registered voters” that threatened them “with physical injury if they did not change their party affiliation and vote for President Trump.”
The importance of the indictment though is that it shows the campaign came from the IRGC.
The DOJ statement only notes that the hackers had “worked as contractors for an Iran-based company formerly known as Eeleyanet Gostar, and now known as Emennet Pasargad”. The official sanctions designation at the Treasury Department however explains why the company keeps changing names. “Emennet was previously designated under its former name, Net Peygard Samavat Company” for its work with the “Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Electronic Warfare and Cyber Defense Organization (IRGC-EWCD). The company rebranded itself to evade U.S. sanctions and continue its disruptive cyber operations against the United States.”
The false flag operation was actually being conducted by Iran’s terrorist cyberwarfarecorps who had been previously tied to various cyberattacks, including ransomware. Unlike these more obvious financial schemes, there was nothing financial for the IRGC’s hackers to gain from impersonating Trump supporters. This was a deliberate effort by Iran to defeat President Trump.
The organization in question had already been caught trying to “implant malware on the computer systems of current and former U.S. counterintelligence agents.”
There was little question that the Shiite Islamic terror regime in Tehran wanted Biden.
Two days after the election, President Rouhani of Iran blasted President Trump as a “person in the White House who brutally intensified sanctions”, but expressed hope that “the next American administration will surrender to the Iranian nation.”
It did indeed.
The Biden administration lifted the terror designation on the IRGC’s Houthi terrorists in Yemen. The Shiite terrorist group, whose motto also includes, “Death to America”, has since gone on to attack the U.S. embassy in Yemen and take local staff as hostages. This comes after Biden pulled anti-missile batteries out of several countries targeted by Iran: including Saudi Arabia.
This is unsurprising behavior from Biden, who, when addressing the American Iranian Council, had argued, “We cannot simply dismiss Iran’s security concerns.”
Since taking office, the Biden administration has allowed the Tehran terrorists to benefit from billions of dollars in sanctions relief. A regime paper boasted that $4 billion had been freed “without much negotiation”. The administration is currently floating an “interim nuclear deal” that would provide even more sanctions relief to Iran. And that’s even before the real negotiations.
The IRGC’s investment in Iran has already paid billions in dividends. It expects billions more.
While Democrats and the media used the Steele Dossier hoax to falsely claim that President Trump was in bed with Russia, Biden has extensive and deeply troubling ties to Iran.
After September 11, Biden proposed, “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran.” While the check never materialized, the Obama-Biden administration would send billions, not millions, to the Islamic terror state.
Before then, Biden prepped for a presidential run by doing a tour of Iran lobby groups.
At a 2003 Senate hearing, Biden suggested that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons because it felt “isolated”, and that its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction had nothing to do with Islam.
During the 2008 election, Biden wanted to reopen a US diplomatic presence in Tehran. He proposed cutting off Radio Liberty broadcasts that provided a voice for Iranian dissidents. And behind the scenes, he tapped into the Iran Lobby’s fundraising apparatus, raising tens of thousands, which, by the 2020 election had turned into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Right before the election, Biden released his list of fundraising bundlers. In an exclusive story, Front Page Magazine’s investigation revealed that they included Jamal Abdi, the executive director of NIAC Action. The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), often described as the Iran Lobby, claimed its members had run phone banks and donated $385,000 to Biden.
NIAC Action had endorsed Biden and declared, “our long, national nightmare is almost over. AP has called the race for Joe Biden”.
Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, Tony Blinken was, like his future boss, an opponent of designating the IRGC a terrorist group, cautioning, “If there’s a formal designation as a terrorist organization, I think there is going to be blowback.”
The IRGC got its dream team in Washington D.C. and now it’s taking advantage of it.
Biden had denied the IRGC’s terrorist operations arguing that, “the vote to declare the Qods Force and the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization was not a view that could be established without question.” It’s not a coincidence that the same terrorist group he had intervened to protect helped his campaign in the 2020 election with a false flag operation.
The same media that pushed the Russiagate hoax has shown no interest in Biden’s ties to Iran, the impact of those ties on his pro-Iran policies, or the IRGC attempts to help his campaign. But as Biden continues to reward Iran, we should be prepared for more IRGC election interference.
While nowhere near to the extent of the West Coast, damaging earthquakes can and do affect much of the eastern half of the country.
For example, across the Tennesse River Valley lies the New Madrid Fault Line. While much smaller in size than those found farther west, the fault has managed to produce several earthquakes over magnitude 7.0 in the last couple hundred years.
In 1886, an estimated magnitude 7.0 struck Charleston, South Carolina along a previously unknown seismic zone. Nearly the entire town had to be rebuilt.
The eastern half of the U.S. has its own set of vulnerabilities from earthquakes.
These older rocks have had much more time to bond together with other rocks under the tremendous pressure of Earth’s crust. This allows seismic energy to transfer between rocks more efficiently during an earthquake, causing the shaking to be felt much further.
This is why, during the latest quake in North Carolina, impacts were felt not just across the state, but reports of shaking came as far as Atlanta, Georgia, nearly 300 miles away.
Reports of shaking from different earthquakes of similar magnitude.
When a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Virginia in 2011, not only were numerous historical monuments in Washington, D.C. damaged, shaking was reported up and down the East Coast with tremors even reported in Canada.
There is no way to accurately predict when or where an earthquake may strike.
Some quakes will have a smaller earthquake precede the primary one. This is called a foreshock.
The problem is though, it’s difficult to say whether the foreshock is in fact a foreshock and not the primary earthquake. Only time will tell the difference.
The United State Geological Survey (USGS) is experimenting with early warning detection systems in the West Coast.
While this system cannot predict earthquakes before they occur, they can provide warning up to tens of seconds in advance that shaking is imminent. This could provide just enough time to find a secure location before the tremors begin.
Much like hurricanes, tornadoes, or snowstorms, earthquakes are a natural occuring phenomenon that we can prepare for.
The USGS provides an abundance of resources on how to best stay safe when the earth starts to quake.
As the negotiations to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement resume in Vienna, it is a déjà vu all over again. The United States warns of crippling sanctions, Israel threatens war, the Europeans plead and prod, and the Arabs watch from the sidelines, as Iran drags out the talks and accelerates its uranium enrichment.
Except this time, diplomacy seems destined to fail, leaving the door open to a number of scenarios, which, thanks to former US President Donald Trump and his Middle East brain trust, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, include war and/or the distinct possibility of Iran becoming a latent nuclear state.
After all, it was Trump who decided to nuke the internationally recognised 2015 agreement. After repeatedly condemning it as “rotten” and “disastrous”, he abandoned it in 2018 on the basis of unsubstantiated and unrelated allegations.
To make matters worse, Trump imposed new crippling sanctions on Iran, including secondary sanctions on third parties trading with the country, and ordered the assassination of its most revered general, Qassem Soleimani.
Boxed in, Iran lashed out in all directions. Most importantly, it renewed its uranium enrichment programme, bringing it ever closer to weapons-grade level.
After US President Joe Biden took office in January, he failed to use the small window of opportunity to disavow his predecessor’s policies and get the deal back on track in the first half of the year. His attempts to exploit Trump’s sanctions to force Tehran into accepting new conditions have backfired.
In August, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and a protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, was elected president of Iran.
Today, Tehran insists its return to the agreement is conditional on the Biden administration’s lifting “all sanctions” imposed after 2017 – whether nuclear-related or not. It expects Washington to provide the necessary guarantees that no future administration may abandon the deal again. And it will wait for proof that the sanctions are totally and truly lifted before making any moves towards the agreement. It also rejects any and all discussion of its missile systems and regional role.
For its part, Washington expects Iran to return to the status quo ante and dispose of the highly enriched uranium and the powerful centrifuges that produced it before nuclear-related sanctions are lifted. It insists other sanctions may only be lifted after Iran changes its “destabilising” regional behaviour. And it also insists on the need for a more comprehensive, more permanent agreement that guarantees Iran may never produce nuclear weapons.
In short, as mistrust runs deep and expectations run wild, a return to the 2015 agreement is looking utterly improbable and terribly insufficient to settle the nuclear issue.
That is why, the Biden administration is contemplating the use of so-called Plan B, which includes stronger diplomatic pressure and tougher economic sanctions against Iran.
But then again, this is a policy that has been tried and has failed many times. What is the point of redeploying it, knowing Iran could accelerate its uranium enrichment to the 90 percent needed to become a nuclear state, while its hardline government boasts mounting “economic resistance” against American imperialism?
That is why the US has recently warned that “all options are on the table”. But we have heard that before regarding the Taliban in Afghanistan and look how that turned out. We have also heard it muttered on Ukraine, Taiwan, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, etc.
Neither Washington nor Tehran is interested in such military escalation. Biden’s strategy is to largely disengage militarily from the Middle East hotspots, not get drawn into a quagmire worse than the Iraq war.
And despite his bluster, Khamenei has shown to be careful not to drag Iran into a military confrontation with the US – one that is sure to cripple the Islamic Republic, weaken its regime and damage its regional standing.
That is why, Washington will persist in its pursuit of a diplomatic solution, knowing all too well that Iran will continue to drag its feet in Vienna while it speeds up its enrichment, even refusing, for now, to negotiate directly with the Americans before sanctions are lifted.
And here lies the fundamental difference between Vienna 2015 and Vienna 2021.
Tehran may no longer be accelerating its enrichment to use as leverage in the negotiations, as it did prior to the 2015 agreement, but rather to become a de facto latent nuclear state.
To be clear, a latent nuclear state is not a nuclear power. It is a state that possesses the know-how and the resources to quickly become one – much like Japan, which is also a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). By contrast, Israel, which is a nuclear power, is not a signatory.
In fact, Iran has long wanted to be like Japan. Iranians who see Japan as a model to emulate, have long considered it a double standard that Japan can have the fuel cycle and “stay happily” in the NPT, but Iran cannot.
Iran may be more interested at this point in time in becoming a latent nuclear state like Japan than a nuclear power like India, Pakistan or Israel.
Not only is this consistent with its official line, which states that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons that it considers “immoral”, it is also more realistic than becoming a nuclear power and more achievable than ever before.
Short of a dramatic political reversal, this could lead to a direct confrontation with the US and/or Israel. But my guess is that for the foreseeable future, it is going to be the Arabs, those in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, who support a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, that will pay the price of this foolish regional Cold War.
ReutersNovember 30, 20218:27 AM MSTLast Updated 7 hours ago
CAIRO, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Iraq released final results on Tuesday from last month’s general election, confirming populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s movement’s victoryas the biggest bloc, with 73 seats in the fractious 329-seat house.
The Taqaddum Party, which draws support from minority Sunni Muslims, won 37 seats. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law group won 33 seats, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) secured 31, according to the results cited by state media.
The results were broadly in line with preliminary figures released in the days after the Oct. 10 election, and unlikely to alter calculations much as politicians negotiate on the makeup of a new government. Pro-Iran groups who performed poorly have refused to accept the results.
Turnout reached 44%, the commission said, revised up from the 43% preliminary figure but still lower than in the last election in 2018.
More than 9.6 million people cast their ballots in the Oct. 10 vote, where at least 167 parties and more than 3,200 candidates competed for the parliament’s 329 seats, the commission said.
Reporting by Yasmin Hussein Writing by Ahmad Elhamy Editing by Peter Graff