The Case for America joining the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

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 Task Force Transiting the Suez CanalThe United States is still not party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, fifteen years after the treaty became operational. Though this has been driven by internal concerns about losing sovereignty, an opportunity now presents itself for the US to enhance its maritime interests by joining the Convention.

The United States is undeniably the world’s leading maritime power, enjoying the largest Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and possessing the world’s largest and most powerful navy. Yet despite relying heavily on the use of the seas for its economy as well as its national security, the US is surprisingly not party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the one treaty that governs the use of the oceans. This universal legal framework for the maritime domain is endorsed by 162 countries.

Ironically, the US is often described by experts as ‘the Convention’s best supporter’, having formidable influence during the drafting of UNCLOS. Today it follows the rules set out by the treaty and even takes part in UNCLOS meetings as an “observer.” Endorsed by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, always supported by the military chiefs, and recognised as fundamental by all key maritime stakeholders in the US, UNCLOS paradoxically still has not made its way to the Senate. Submitted to the Senate by President Clinton in 1994, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved it twice in 2003 and 2007, sending it to the full Senate for ratification. However, some Senate Republicans have blocked a vote on the treaty on the grounds that membership of UNCLOS would compromise national security and sovereignty.

There is a small chance that this could now change when former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry presses once more for Senate approval. He is supported by the Committee’s ranking Republican, Senator Richard Lugar, and by the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Ocean, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, Senator Mark Begich. However, opposition remains strong, in particular with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposing the ratification.

The main US arguments against UNCLOS can be summarised as follows:

1. UNCLOS offers nothing new, as its main dispositions are already integrated in international customary law;

2. The US would have to share the revenue generated from the exploitation of the deep seabed with developing nations without having any control over who the revenue would go to; (History has shown the US typically creates proxy wars in order to steal resources).

3. The dispute resolution system would leave the US open to criticism by opportunistic nations who could lodge fallacious allegations against the US;

4. The US should not subjugate itself to the UN, a ‘corrupt body’ whose activities are mainly hostile to American interests.[1]

However, the relatively limited opposition to UNCLOS should not be allowed to prevent  the Senate from taking a vote on ratification. It will cost the US more to be excluded from the UNCLOS system than the limited amount of sovereignty it will give up by binding itself to this international treaty. The US will deeply hurt its own economic, diplomatic and military interests, while other countries will strengthen their maritime power.

Law of SeaClear strategic and economic gains

UNCLOS has contributed to the successful building  of a stable international order at sea, accommodating the desire of states to exploit their marine resources whilst preserving the right to free navigation on the high seas. The Convention’s major provisions are widely recognised as being integrated into international customary law. Yet, international customary law leaves sufficient space for numerous uncertainties to be addressed as experts disagree about which precise rules are actually part of customary law.

Without a written text to refer to, misunderstandings over US rights and duties at sea is bound to generate disputes with other nations. The predictability of international law is key in maintaining international peace and security. For instance, although the United States Navy considers it has the right to navigate freely on the high seas and on foreign EEZs, some states, including China, have divergent interpretations of UNCLOS and strictly control the activities of other states in their EEZ. This leads to frequent tensions. The fact that the US is not part of UNCLOS makes its position weaker whenever it tries to defend its interpretation of the rules.[2] Simply following international customary law does not allow the US to fully defend its interests and assert its claims.

Apart from clarifying existing rights that the US can already enjoy, UNCLOS also provides the US with additional rights. Only a country party to UNCLOS is allowed to seek UN permission to extend its continental shelf beyond the usual 200 nautical miles. The continental shelf is home to many resources such as natural gas and oil and an extension of the continental shelf can prove very profitable. It is no surprise therefore that, since 2001, fifty-six submissions have already been made to the relevant UN body, and many more are still to come. Australia, for instance, has managed to extend its continental shelf by an extra 2.5 million square kilometres of continental shelf (five times the size of France) thanks to this procedure.  However, because the US is not party to UNCLOS, it cannot do the same. Needless to say, this deeply hurts its economic interests.

The failure to ratify UNCLOS also undermines the strategic importance of the US role in the Arctic region. Russia, Norway and Denmark have already made their submissions for an extension of their continental shelf into the Arctic. Without membership of UNCLOS, the US cannot do the same, thereby preventing itself from playing a key role in one of the highly sensitive strategic questions of the Twenty-first century. Important economic gains are also at stake. It is estimated that Alaska’s offshore natural assets holds 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Those resources could generate hundreds of billions of dollars and contribute to the country’s goal of achieving energy independence.[3]

oil-platform-in-the-water1-537x358On-going scepticism towards the deep-sea mining system

Although ratifying the Convention would clearly enhance US interests, President Ronald Reagan did not sign it in 1982 because of his opposition to Part XI, which addresses the issue of deep-sea mining regime.[4] When UNCLOS was first opened for signature, most major Western powers – the US included – refused to sign it because of these specific provisions. An amendment to the Convention was eventually concluded in 1994, this additional agreement being more favourable to the national interests of developed countries. This modification was necessary to secure ratifications from more countries, and was welcomed by the US.

However, US opponents to UNCLOS continue to strongly criticise the role of the the International Seabed Authority (ISBA), a newly-created institution within Part XI of the Convention. The Authority organizes and controls the activities in the seabed and ocean floor beyond national jurisdictions (known as the ‘Area’), granting authorisation for deep seabed exploration and exploitation. It is also responsible for redistributing some of the revenue generated from the exploitation of extended continental shelves and of the ‘Area’ to least developed countries and landlocked countries (up to 7 per cent of the value of the production). This appears to be a fair system, based on the idea that beyond national jurisdictions the sea is something to be used for the ‘common good.’ In other words, countries that do not have the expertise or the financial means to exploit the sea can still get some benefit out of it. Those modest revenue sharing provisions are however what make most opponents hesitant to ratify UNCLOS.

International Seabed AuthorityYet without being party to UNCLOS, the US will not be able to exploit the resources without infringing international law. It is highly likely that US companies will seek legal certainty afforded only to UNCLOS members before investing in any exploitation opportunities which emerge. If it was a signatory to UNCLOS, with some of the most advanced equipment and expertise to explore the deep seabed the US could already be carrying out research in the ‘Area’, just as other countries – such as China, Russia but also Nauru and Tonga – are starting to do.[5] Research and exploitation of what could become very lucrative opportunities – in terms of profit and job creation – has started without the US.

The US is generally reluctant to defer to multilateral processes, especially to the UN, which sometimes is seen as a risky forum for promoting US interests. Therefore, the role of the ISBA has raised concerns over the extent to which it would impede US sovereignty. However the US, if it joins the ISBA, will have a strong leverage on the decision-making process thanks to the 1994 amendment which also modified the decision-making system within the institution. The argument that the ISBA will have the opportunity to distribute to any country the revenue generated by seabed exploitation without the US having a say is flawed.

The Agreement clearly states that if the US were to become a party, it would be granted a seat in the Council of Authority, the main decision-making body: as a maritime leader, the US can be sure that its voice will be heard. It should also be appreciated that decisions are made based on consensus, thereby preventing the tyranny of a majority that could go counter to the US interests.

UNCLOSAn innovative system of disputes settlement:

There is little ground for arguing that the compulsory system of disputes settlement created by UNCLOS – obliging participant countries to resolve a dispute through judicial means – will strongly impede US sovereignty. Indeed, the idea that ill-meaning countries could lodge specious allegations against the US is unconvincing. Bringing a country to court or arbitration is often prohibitively expensive and time-consuming – even for a state which may wish to undermine US power.

Although the provision on compulsory settlement of disputes is innovative, the system is not as restrictive as it might appear. The US cannot be subjected to any dispute resolution procedures without its consent. The Convention gives a varied choice of courts and tribunals to solve a dispute. The US is likely to choose the less constraining one – arbitration – as the method applicable for most categories of disputes.[6]

Moreover, the system of compulsory settlement of disputes has many exceptions, notably on most issues closely related to the sovereignty of the state, such as the delimitation of maritime boundaries or the military use of the seas, thus leaving the most sensitive issues out of the system.

An international treaty safeguarding national interests

US opponents of UNCLOS generally have been skeptical of the US need to join any multilateral treaty. But the maritime domain is unique: recognised as the ‘Common Heritage of Mankind‘, shared and used by everyone, the oceans can only be governed through multilateral institutions. UNCLOS has managed to accommodate various interests in a domain where sovereignty issues often are particularly exacerbated: stakes are high in terms of economic, diplomatic and military power.

It is time to admit that UNCLOS enhances the US sovereignty more than it constrains it, for it gives the US the ability to play in the maritime domain on an equal footing with other maritime powers and to assert its rights and interests strongly.

Global CommonsBy staying outside of the system the US opens itself to criticism from other countries and loses some control over global maritime affairs. This is worrying as the peaceful use of the seas is fundamental to the maintenance of wider international security. The sea is becoming a ground for competition over resources and a means to display military power.[7] The US is now faced with new maritime challenges – such as China and Russia’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, the melting of the ice in the Arctic region, and an increase in piracy attacks in various regions of the globe. Ratifying UNCLOS is a first necessary step to successfully address these issues.

 

 

Notes:


[1] Kim Holmes, ‘UN Sea Treaty Still a Bad Deal for US‘, The Heritage Foundation, 14 July 2011. For a full overview of arguments in opposition of UNCLOS, see Scott Borgerson, The National Interest and the Law of the Sea, Council on Foreign Relations Press, May 2009, Appendix I, pp.41-47

[2] The 2009 incident between the Impeccable and Chinese vessels illustrates such divergences in the interpretation of UNCLOS. For a full analysis of the legal implications of the incident, see Mark Valencia, ‘The Impeccable Incident: Truth and Consequences’, China Security, vol.5-2, spring 2009.

[3] Testimony of Peter Slaiby, Vice President of Shell Alaska, before the US Senate Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coastguards, 27 July 2011, p. 3.

[4] President Ronald Reagan had declared that the US would abide by all non seabed parts of the Convention. See President Reagan, ‘Statement on U.S. Oceans Policy‘, March 10, 1983.

[5]  International Seabed Authority, “Seabed Council Approves Four Applications for Exploratory Contracts with Authority in Deep Seabed Area“, Press Release SB/17/11, 19 July 2011.

[6] According to the draft Senate Resolution of Advice and Consent, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, December 2007.

[7] Robert Kaplan, ‘The South China Sea is the Future of Conflict‘, Foreign Policy, Sept/Oct 2011.

Further Analysis: Maritime Forces, International Institutions, United States, Americas, United Nations

Resources:

United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS )

the Law of the Sea

International Treaties and U.S. Foreign Policy | Solutions 2014

Status of the United Nations Convention on the Law of t

Advancing the National Interests of the United States

Exclusive economic zone

RUSI – America joining the United Nations

Outlaw of the Sea | Foreign Affairs

Sen. Kerry Pushes U.S. To Join ‘Law Of The Sea’

Strategic Monitor 2014: Four Strategic Challenges

May | 2012 | At Water’s Edge

Navy Maritime Domain Awareness Concept – U.S. Navy

Political science

 

 

 

 

Government Official Says 9/11 Directed Energy Weapon Research “Worthy”

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 Requests for Corrections - to NISTGovernment Official Says 9/11 Directed Energy Weapon Research “Worthy”

The Director of Public Affairs at the Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico says Dr. Judy Wood‘s 9/11 directed energy weapon evidence is “interesting and worthy of further consideration.”

Dr. Judy Wood (with degrees in Civil Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, and Materials Engineering Science), widely acknowledged as the leading proponent of the theory that Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) were used to destroy the World Trade Center (WTC) complex, has filed a Request for Correction under the Data Quality Act with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), located in Gaithersburg, MD.

Dr. Wood is represented in this effort by Attorney Jerry Leaphart, a Connecticut-based trial lawyer, who states that NIST now has 60 days to respond to the RFC. After that, an appeal can be taken and/or other legal action may then follow.
WTC7Leaphart further states that Dr. Wood knows that the implications of her theory that DEW were used to destroy the WTC complex shatter certain key beliefs that Americans as a whole cherish and hold dear. Her theory has generated a lot of interest and commentary within the 9/11 Truth Movement that relies primarily upon the Internet as its media source. Mainstream print and broadcast media do not cover the 9/11 Truth Movement, but may need to take heed of this administrative action filed by Dr. Wood, according to Attorney Leaphart.

Leaphart said that to his knowledge, only three RFCs concerning NIST’s WTC report have been filed to date. One by Dr. Morgan Reynolds, another by Edward F. Haas and the one filed by Dr. Wood. All three are currently pending.

The 43 page RFC filed by Wood asserts that the basic integrity of NCSTAR 1 is lacking because, by its own admission, it did not investigate the actual destruction of the World Trade Center Towers.

SouthTowerCollapseNCSTAR 1 admits:

“The focus of the investigation was on the sequence of events from the instance of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse for each tower. For brevity in this report, this sequence is referred to as the “probable collapse sequence,” although it does not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached and collapse became inevitable.” [See NCSTAR 1, pgs xxxvii, footnote 2 and/or 82, footnote 13]

E.1 Genesis of this investigation

p. xxxv-xxxvi (pp. 37-38): “The specific objectives were:

1. Determine why and how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the aircraft and why and how WTC 7 collapsed; …”

WTC2_explosion_timingE.2 Approach

p. xxxvii (p. 39) footnote2 “The focus of the Investigation was on the sequence of events from the instant of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse for each tower. For brevity in this report, this sequence is referred to as the probable collapse sequence,” although it includes little analysis of the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached and collapse became inevitable.

WTCTo this day, Americans have not been given any explanation whatsoever for the destruction of the WTC complex that comports with information and quality standards.

In contrast, Dr. Wood’s RFC contains a stunning array of visual evidence confirming highly unusual energy effects seen by all as the twin towers were almost instantaneously destroyed in less time than it would take a billiard ball to hit the ground if dropped from the height of the twin towers.

CARS DESTROYEDThat fact is assessed on the basis of the two other laws of physics in Wood’s RFC, thus confirming its scientific rigor. Wood also points to other compelling evidence that NIST ignored. Wood’s RFC shows visual evidence of unusual and unexplained blast effects on vehicles parked blocks away from the complex. Wood also demonstrates unexplained visual damage in the form of perpendicular gouges in WTC 3, and WTC 4,5,6 and the near disappearance of WTC 3, all of which remain unexplained by NIST to this day. Wood goes further and points out that the incredible amount of dust resulting from the visible process of steel disintegrating before our very eyes all point to the use of directed energy weapons. One other element of Wood’s proof is the almost complete lack of even a rubble pile at the WTC complex. Wood asks: Where did it go?

911wtc6craterwestairAdded to all of that is the fact that whatever the energy and heat source was, it had no effect upon paper that was seen floating everywhere and not burning very much, if at all.

Dr. Wood’s RFC demonstrates all of the above mentioned effects in its 43 pages of text and pictorial proof. The combined effects of gravity, jet fuel (a form of kerosene) and plane damage could not possibly have caused the massive destruction that occurred on September 11, 2001, in New York City, according to Dr. Wood. The wonder of it all is that more engineers and scientists have not come forward to challenge the woeful, scientific inadequacies of the official explanation.

Dr. Wood invites her peers and colleagues to set aside their emotional attachments and to view the evidence objectively. Then and only then can America come to grips with what happened on 9/11/01, according to Dr. Wood.

911wtc6Hole_03March 16, 2007: Former Clemson University Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr Judy Wood files a Request for Correction with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) regarding the 9/11 NIST Report. Dr Wood cites fraud and deception, and shows clear evidence that the World Trade Center was destroyed by directed energy weaponry.

Dr Judy Wood is represented by attorney Jerry V. Leaphart.

Dr Wood’s Request for Correction (RFC) is archived on the US Government’s Department of Commerce website in PDF format:

WTC

DR. JUDY WOOD – Office of Chief Information Officer

RFC (March 16, 2007):

http://www.ocio.os.doc.gov/ITPolicyandPrograms/Information_Quality/ssLINK/PROD01_002667

Supplement#1 to RFC submitted earlier – Dr. Judy Wood (March 29, 2007):

http://www.ocio.os.doc.gov/ITPolicyandPrograms/Information_Quality/ssLINK/PROD01_002722

Supplement#2 to RFC (April 20, 2007):

http://www.ocio.os.doc.gov/ITPolicyandPrograms/Information_Quality/ssLINK/PROD01_002899

April 7, 2007: Dr Wood sends letter to:

* The Head of U.S. Air Force Directed Energy Directorate
* The Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management
* The Board of Directors of Directed Energy Professional Society

WTC
The main question of this letter:
“Are the effects set forth in RFC filed with NIST consistent with the destructive effects that would result from the use of directed energy weapons?”

See here for full letter with additional comments by Jerry Leaphart:
http://drjudywood.com/articles/NIST/DEW_letter.html

April 27, 2007: Wood and Leaphart are contacted and have telephone conversation with

* The Director of Public Affairs
* Directed Energy Directorate
* Air Force Research Laboratory/DEO-PA
* Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico

May 3 2007: Leaphart sends letter to the Director of Public Affairs:
http://drjudywood.com/pdf/070503_letterGarcia.pdf

May 4, 2007: Leaphart receives the following FAX from the Director of Public Affairs at the Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base (emphasis added):

===================================
MESSAGE: I received your fax yesterday and your FedEx package today, and had a chance to review the materials you sent. During our telephone conversation I outlined a variety of directed energies that might have future weapons applications but I’m not aware of any that are mature enough to cause the damage at the World Trade Center. Lasers are the most likely candidates for nearer-term weapons use and, to that enc, we have conducted laboratory tests to evaluate the effects of laser energy on different materials. For the most part, those materials have been metals, not concrete structures. Effects on metals are from the heat generated by an intense beam of coherent light, which cause the metals to weaken and split. Given sufficient heat, metals would melt (become liquids) and, given significantly more heat, could turn to gases. Since we haven’t tested concrete I don’t know if the effect would be dust. You report phenomena that we cannot explain here, either because we don’t have enough data or because the phenomena are not within our area of expertise. While on a personal level I may find Dr Wood’s investigation interesting and worthy of further consideration, on a professional level we are unable to devote our limited resources to activities outside of our charter, I wish you success in your endeavor and am available to answer whatever directed energy questions may arise.

911 Directed Energy Weapon Research
===================================

Garcia Responds – Dr. Judy Wood:

See here for a scan of the original FAX document:
http://drjudywood.com/articles/NIST/Garcia_letter.html

Dr Wood’s 9/11 directed energy weapon evidence is “interesting and worthy of further consideration!”

————————–

where did the towers goJune 29, 2007: The Chief of the Management and Organization division at NIST replies to Dr Wood, and states they need more time to respond to her RFC:
http://drjudywood.com/articles/NIST/NIST_letter.html

NIST needs **more time** ??

070822_APPEAL of NIST initial denial dated July 27, 2007 (7.9 MB pdf)
22 August 2007, by Dr. Judy Wood

Attachments:
Judy WoodLegal documents related to 9/11 filed by and on behalf of Dr. Judy Wood:
Challenges to NIST’s 9/11 Investigations.
16 March 2007, Judy Wood

Qui Tam case
25 April 2007, Judy Wood, represented by Jerry Leaphart

Qui Tam case Affirmations and Affidavits
in response to motions to dismiss (ARA and others)
29 February 2008, Judy Wood, represented by Jerry Leaphart

Qui Tam case Affirmations and Affidavits
in response to motions to dismiss (SAIC and others)
21 March 2008, Judy Wood, represented by Jerry Leaphart

RFC: What Happened was Not Inevitable (6.5 Mb)
16 March 2007, Judy Wood
(Other pdf resolutions available here.)

Supplement#1 to RFC submitted earlier (28 kb)
29 March 2007, Judy Wood

Supplement#2 to RFC submitted earlier (320 kb)
20 April 2007, Judy Wood

Qui Tam case
25 April 2007, Judy Wood, represented by Jerry Leaphart

070822_APPEAL of NIST initial denial dated July 27, 2007 (7.9 MB pdf)
22 August 2007, by Dr. Judy Wood

Dr. Judy Wood’s Qui Tam Law Suit Unsealed 
12 September 2007, Judy Wood, represented by Jerry Leaphart

————————–

See Dr. Judy Wood‘s 9/11 directed energy weapon research here:
http://drjudywood.com

Related:

Requests for Corrections – to NIST – Dr. Judy Wood

An Interview with 9/11 Counselor Jerry V. Leaphart

Press Release — NIST-RFC – Dr. Judy Wood

Star Wars Energy Weapons 1 – Dr. Judy Wood

Future Weapons Systems. Star Wars ain’t got Angelfire

WTC Disaster Study

The Vatic Project: 9/11 Right is Radical

The Truth About Project Labor Agreements

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 F Bliss map(2)Recently, there was a Department of Defense contract awarded to Archer Western Federal JV for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Complex (UAV) located on Fort Bliss Army Military Installation in El Paso, Texas. Archer Western Federal JV, of Chicago, was awarded a $30,197,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of an Unmanned aerial vehicle launch and recovery complex within restricted airspace.

Primary facilities include Standard Design UAV Maintenance Hangar with associated maintenance shops, administrative space, storage space, 5-ton bridge crane, oil/water separator, aircraft container and forklift storage, UAV runway, taxiway, access apron, oil and hazardous waste storage buildings, and vehicle storage facilities.

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) installation, Energy Monitoring and Control Systems (EMCS) connection, building information systems, and Fire protection/alarm systems, will be provided. Sustainability and energy enhancement measures are included. Supporting facilities include utilities (electrical service, water, sewer, gas), paving, walks, curbs and gutters, parking, storm drainage, landscaping, security lighting, information systems, and site improvements. Measures in accordance with the Department of Defense DoD Minimum Antiterrorism Standards for Buildings standards will be provided. Comprehensive building and furnishings related interior design services are required.

M3391M-1012Work performed at Ft. Bliss, Texas estimated completion date of Dec. 21, 2015. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had solicited the construction community and specifically the use of a government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA) under federal construction contract.

USACE and other federal agencies have issued more than 175 similar surveys requesting information about the potential use of PLAs on specific construction projects across the country as a result of regulations and federal agency policies stemming from President Obama’s pro-government-mandated PLA Executive Order 13502, which encourages federal agencies to mandate PLAs on a case-by-case basis for federal construction projects exceeding $25 million in total cost.

In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13502, which encourages federal agencies to mandate project labor agreements (PLAs) on large-scale federal construction projects exceeding $25 million in total cost on a case-by-case basis. Many merit shop advocates of fair and open competition predicted it would lead to billions of dollars’ worth of federal construction contracts being awarded to unionized contractors and their all-union workforces—without true competition from qualified merit shop contractors.

Government Mandated Project Labor Agreements mapIndustry experts feared the executive order would result in taxpayers needlessly paying nearly 20 percent more per federal contract procured with a PLA requirement. Faced with finite building budgets, it would generate less building and create fewer jobs for the experienced men and women employed by merit shop contractors who deliver projects safely, on time and on budget every day to the federal government.

Stakeholders turned to Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) to defend fair and open competition in federal contracting. ABC and the merit shop contracting community mobilized an aggressive campaign of effective public relations, political, legal and legislative strategies to restrict the devastating impact of anti-competitive and costly government-mandated PLAs on federal, state and local public works projects.

Executive Order 13502The campaign is producing impressive results. Efforts helped prevent PLA mandates and preferences on nearly 99 percent of federal contracts exceeding $25 million from FY2009-FY2013, freeing up a total of $64.78 billion worth of work from PLA requirements so all qualified firms can fairly compete to win these contracts.

From FY2009-FY2013, ABC member prime contractors won 61 percent of large-scale federal contracts subject to President Obama’s pro-PLA Executive Order 13502. That’s 577 contracts valued at a total of $40.31 billion won by ABC members.

PLA Data Table FY2009-FY2013Defense Tactics

Legal tactics proved effective at stopping federal PLA mandates. Federal contractors, with the support of ABC, filed five Government Accountability Office (GAO) bid protests against PLAs mandated by four different federal agencies on large-scale federal construction projects. In each instance, federal agencies abandoned the PLA requirements after GAO officials suggested they violate federal contracting laws in specific circumstances.

The latest legal victory against a PLA mandate on a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Job Corps Center in Manchester, N.H., was the DOL’s second failed attempt to require a PLA on the project. It was also the first apples-to-apples comparison of a federal project bid with and without a PLA requirement.

Advocates of fair and open competition were not surprised when the PLA-free project experienced three times as many bidders and bid prices that were 16 percent lower than when the project was bid with a PLA mandate, saving taxpayers more than $6.2 million.

Helping merit shop contractors respond to more than 225 surveys issued by federal agencies to determine if a PLA is appropriate for a federal project has been another effective strategy in the fight against PLAs. A robust response from the merit shop contracting community resulted in no PLA requirements on any surveyed projects.

Construction-Worker-Thumbs-Up-255x125More importantly, ABC’s campaign prevented the expansion of Executive Order 13502 onto federal projects costing less than $25 million, as well as thwarted an additional push for costly PLA mandates on private, state and local projects receiving federal assistance.

Since 2011, 17 states responded to the threat of discriminatory PLA mandates and preferences by adopting legislation or executive orders banning government-mandated PLAs on state, local and publicly funded projects, bringing the total number of states to enact such measures to 21.

In 2014, Mississippi, South Dakota and Alabama enacted laws prohibiting state government entities from requiring contractors to sign a PLA or other agreements with labor unions as a condition of performing work on public construction projects.

Dozens of communities across the country also have enacted similar rules for public works contracting.

These efforts ensure a level playing field, increase competition, reduce costs and eliminate cronyism in public works contracting at the local and state level.

However, some states controlled by union-friendly Democrats have enacted legislation or executive orders pushing the use of PLAs on state and state-assisted projects. In addition, federal agencies have encouraged state and local governments to require PLAs on billions of dollars worth of state and local projects receiving federal money and other forms of federal assistance.

While our campaign is making remarkable progress, lawmakers requiring and encouraging the use of PLA mandates cost taxpayers a fortune and harm qualified merit shop contractors and their skilled trades employees.

stock-footage-flag-hanging-from-a-craneContinuing the Fight

Faced with another 30 months of President Obama’s pro-PLA policies, ABC will continue to make defending fair and open competition in public contracting a top priority. In the 113th Congress, ABC is promoting the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (S. 109/H.R. 436), which would restore a level playing field in federal contracting by preventing entities procuring federal and federally assisted projects from requiring PLAs as a condition of winning a taxpayer-funded contract.

Because the passage of a legislative solution to the PLA problem in a divided federal government in a mid-term election year will be highly unlikely, ABC will continue to complement effective legislative, legal and regulatory strategies with a communications and grassroots campaign to educate federal agency procurement officials, lawmakers, industry stakeholders, the media and taxpayers about the harmful effects of special interest PLA schemes.

The merit shop contracting community can overcome economic and political adversity, but it needs industry leaders to dedicate resources to fight for fair and open competition until a political solution is achievable.

The Truth About PLAs has taken the opportunity to respond to all PLA surveys as they are issued and encourages the merit shop contracting community to do the same. Responding with accurate and timely information is critical to creating more work for qualified merit shop contractors and their skilled employees.

The magnitude of construction is estimated to be between $ 25 Million – $ 100 Million.

 

Related:

Y–FY14 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Complex (UAV)

USACE Project Labor Agreement Survey for Ft. Bliss, Texas

Archer Western Contractors

Executive Order 13502 — Use of Project Labor Agreements

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

Get the Truth – The Truth About PLAs

Army Manual Calls for the Use of Lethal Force Against Peaceful Protesters

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Posse Comitatus Act of 1878Here’s When Cops Are Justified In Using Force Against Protesters

The new Army manual, known as ATP 3-39.33, provides discussion and techniques about civil disturbances and crowd control operations that occur in the Continental United States Field Command (CONUS) and outside the continental United States (OCONUS).This document, just published this past Friday, August 15, 2014, promises to change the way the “authorities” deal with protesters, even peaceful ones.

The consequences of ATP 3-39.33 CIVIL DISTURBANCES could prove deadly for protesters. Further, the provisions of this Army manual could prove to be the end of the First Amendment right to assemble peaceably.

In section 1-2., the manual states that “Civil unrest may range from simple, nonviolent protests that address specific issues, to events that turn into full-scale riots.” This section of the manual clearly states that protesting is a right protected by the Constitution. However, the authorities leave themselves an out to “legally” engage in lethal force toward protesters when the manual states that “peaceful protests can turn into full-scale riots” and field commanders have the right to make that determination.
Subsequently, all protests, peaceful or not, need to be managed by the potential for violence. In other words, all protests are to be considered to be violent and handled accordingly. This certainly explains the violent manhandling of the media by the DHS controlled and Police Militarization In Ferguson, MO.

On the surface, the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S. Code § 1385) act should prevent the Army from deploying the troops in the midst of a protest that is not on the scale of something like the 1992 LA Riots. However, the Army claims exemption from Posse Comitatus in the four following areas.

10 USC 331. When a state is unable to control domestic violence and they have requested federal assistance, the use of the militia or Armed Forces is authorized.

10 USC 332. When ordinary enforcement means are unworkable due to unlawful obstructions or rebellion against the authority of the United States, use of the militia or Armed Forces is authorized.
10 USC 333. When a state cannot or will not protect the constitutional rights of the citizens, due to domestic violence or conspiracy to hinder execution of State or Federal law, the use of the militia or Armed Forces is authorized.
House Joint Resolution 1292. This resolution directs all departments of the U.S. government, upon request of the Secret Service, to assist in carrying out its statutory duties to protect government officials and major political candidates from physical harm. With regard to 10 USC 331, if the local authorities have lost control in the midst of a profound display of domestic violence (e.g. LA Riots), most Americans support the use of National Guard or the military. However, in 10 USC 332, 333 and House Joint Resolution 1292 are ripe with exceptions which open the door to federal authorities abusing the public for exercising their Constitutional right to protest.

In 10 USC 332, the phrase “unlawful obstructions or rebellion against the authority of the United States, use of the militia or Armed Forces is authorized,” permits the federal government from being demonstrated against.

An act of demonstration, or the most benign demonstrations of civil disobedience gives the government the authority to take “deadly action” against the public because there are no clear distinctions on when the use of lethal and nonlethal force is appropriate (see the two charts displayed below).

In 10 USC 333, any disruption of federal law can be decisively dealt with by the federal government. The phrase “…conspiracy to hinder execution of State or Federal law, the use of the militia or Armed Forces is authorized” is a telling passage of this Army document. If 10 USC 333 is applied to the letter of the written Army policy, the protesters who recently objected to illegal aliens being deposited in Murietta, California, could be subject to deadly force. Further, the protesters in Ferguson could be subject to the use of lethal force as well (Again, see the charts below). The next time a community decides that it does not want to accept illegal immigrants, or protest the shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old, they could be met by the following:

Swat_1

The fourth exception claimed by the Army, with regard to the Army’s right to violate Posse Comitatus, is presented to the American people under the veil of the need to protect politicians.

Police Militarization in Ferguso

House Resolution HB 1292 claims any protest which makes a public official feel “threatened” would be illegal and subject to intervention by the U.S. Army. Hypothetically, if 100 protesters were to gather outside of Senator John McCain‘s office in Phoenix, would that be enough to trigger a violent response by the Army? If McCain says he feels threatened, regardless if his claims are legitimate or not, it most certainly would justify the strongest response possible from the Army. Therefore, all a politician has to do is to say they feel threatened by any gathering to have the gathering dispersed and the protesters dealt with in any manner seen fit by the field commander. Make no mistake about it, this is the end of the First Amendment’s right peaceably assemble.

Army Depictions On How Best to Kill An American Citizen Who Expresses Disagreement with the Government

Do you remember the uproar when DHS was caught distributing target practicing sheets of pregnant women to be used for DHS agents when they were engaged in target practicing?

dhs-target-2

And of course, I am certain that you recall the use of an elderly person’s image to be used by DHS agents for the same purpose. The implication is clear; The American people are the new terrorists.

Below, is the graphic depiction of the Army’s version of a terrorist, and worse yet, there are instructions on how to best maim and kill an American citizen who is engaged in their Constitutional right to protest
army-trauma-chart

The second chart is a sample guideline on when the application of lethal force is appropriate to be applied to protesters. Please note the ambiguity with regard to the application of lethal force. It is also noteworthy to point out that the following chart provides for the planned use of snipers to target the perceived leaders of the protest. These procedures remind one of the events in Kiev prior to the ouster of the Russian-friendly Prime Minister. It would appear that CIA agents were beta testing these procedures in Kiev prior to the coup.

army-use-of-lethal-forceConclusion

ATP 39.33 is quite clear in its intent which is to eliminate the act of protesting from the American landscape. More disturbingly, the right to summarily execute peaceful protesters is contained in this Army manual due to the purposeful ambiguity of when it is appropriate to use deadly force against protesters. This Army manual is an example of hardcore, in-your-face martial law befitting the most violent regimes in the history of the planet.

Executive Order 13603There is another message contained in ATP 39.33, and that is the clear anticipation that the American people are going to feel the need to be protesting in earnest in the foreseeable future. What exactly are the American people going to feel compelled to protest that remains unspecified in this manual? Could it be resistance to mandatory Ebola vaccinations? Could we be looking at food riots in the future? Will it be a currency collapse that puts Americans in the street? Will America rise up and say no to the plans for World War III and the coming conscription of both potential military personnel and civilian labor slave force as described under Executive Order 13603?

Not only should this document be a frightening wake-up call for all Americans, it should also serve as a warning for what is to come.

 

 Here is the complete Army Manual:

ATP 3-39.33 CIVIL DISTURBANCES

  • 132 pages
  • April 2014
  • 4.9 MB

Download

DHS Takes Millions From FEMA, Coast Guard, TSA To Fund Border Operations

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The Obama administration had warned Congress that failure to pass a border funding bill by August would mean DHS would run out of money, and would have to “repurpose” funding from other parts of the government in order to deal with the so-called “humanitarian crisis.”

That crisis involves the apprehension of 63,000 unaccompanied child immigrants, and tens of thousands of others from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The legislative package passed 223-189 and includes funds for more immigration judges and National Guard troops, and provide aid to house and care for the thousands of undocumented minors held at the border.

Over the weekend, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said he has made these decisions, after Congress left without passing a border bill.

“We are disappointed that Congress left town a week ago for its August recess and did not act last week to help us,” Johnson said August 9.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson“You can’t fly an airplane without fuel, and I cannot fund a massive immigration enforcement effort without money.”                           “To sustain our campaign, I therefore had no choice but to re-program hundreds of millions of dollars away from other vital homeland security missions. There were no good choices.”

 

Dollar SignAccording to a DHS spokeswoman, DHS “repurposed” $405 million from other government programs to deal with the border crisis.

 

Dollar SignFirst, DHS took $267.6 million from the FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund. The spokeswoman said this decision “could have a long-term impact on FEMA’s ability to respond to a natural disaster.”

 

Dollar SignDHS also took $31.5 million from the U.S. Coast Guard, which will force the Coast Guard to defer planned maintenance projects on some vessels.

 

Dollar SignLast, DHS took $34.7 million from TSA’s screening technology and maintenance, which will defer maintenance on aviation security screening equipment.

Dollar SignThe spokeswoman said the last $70.5 million will be taken from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which will “internally realign” that money to support work at the southern U.S. border.

Congress left for the August break without finishing work on a border funding bill. The House passed one bill that would have spent $694 million on enhanced border operations, and approved another bill that would have blocked President Barack Obama from expanding an amnesty program.

The Senate left without passing any border legislation, and it’s not clear the Senate will try again once it returns in September.

 

 

 

Resources:

Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Obama DREAM relief / Deferred Action / DACA

House Republicans

House approves border package

Immigration

Talk Wisdom

House Bill Would Keep Guns Away From Federal Regulators

TheBlaze

Southwest Border Unaccompanied Alien Children | U.S.

News for 63,000 unaccompanied child immigrants

Border Fence (U.S. – Mexico)

Washington Weekly | Vantage Point Strategies

House Republicans Pass Dead-End Border Security Bill

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border-immigrants

After delaying their five-week summer recess by a day, House Republican leaders passed a bill Friday designed to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S-Mexico border – a bill that President Obama and Senate Democrats have said they won’t ever consider.

The bill, which passed 223-189 along party lines, would allocate $694 million to the cash-strapped agencies handling the crisis, including $35 million tacked on at the last minute to reimburse states such as Texas who have sent the National Guard to the border to help deal with the crisis.

Without a fresh infusion of funding, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is scheduled to run out of money in mid-August, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and Customs and Border Patrol will run out of money only a month later.

border military guard

President Obama criticized House Republicans before it passed accusing the vote of being merely for show, “just so they can check a box before they’re leaving town for a month.”

The White House, the Democrat-led Senate and the Republican-led House “all agree that there’s a problem that needs to be solved in a portion of our southern border,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the crisis-level surge of undocumented, unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“And we even agree on most of the solutions. But instead of working together… House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere, that can’t pass the Senate, and that if it were to pass the Senate, I would veto.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel responded, “When it comes to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, President Obama has been completely AWOL – in fact, he has made matter worse by flip-flopping on the 2008 law that fueled the crisis. Senate Democrats have left town without acting on his request for a border supplemental. Right now, House Republicans are the only ones still working to address this crisis.”

Republican leaders postponed their recess on Thursday after they were forced to cancel a vote on the bill due to an insurrection among conservative members. They spent Friday tweaking the bill before passing it late in the day.

GOP leaders on Friday also passed a bill that would bar Mr. Obama from continuing or expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which suspends the threat of deportation for certain immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The second bill was largely seen as a way to bolster conservative support for the funding measure.

DREAM-ACT

Deferred Action. For Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate were initially at odds over a 2008 anti-trafficking law that makes it more difficult to deport Central American children than those from Mexico. Many of the unaccompanied minors at the heart of the crisis were driven northward from three Central American countries – Honduras El Salvador, and Guatemala – due to a surge in gang violence.

Many Democrats firmly opposed changing the 2008 law, saying the U.S. should not be sending the children back into certain danger, while Republicans said it was necessary to speed up deportations and deter more children from making the dangerous journey.

Those differences would have been hard enough to overcome. But to complicate matters further, the DACA vote was added to the schedule of votes Thursday, infuriating the White House and House Democrats.

As Mr. Obama repeated Friday, the White House had already promised to veto the House’s emergency funding bill, calling it “patchwork legislation that will only put more arbitrary and unrealistic demands on an already broken system” in a statement Wednesday afternoon. The news about the DACA vote only added fuel to their fire.

“It is extraordinary that the House of Representatives, after failing for more than a year to reform our broken immigration reform system, would vote to restrict a law enforcement tool that the Department of Homeland Security uses to focus resources on key enforcement priorities like public safety and border security, and provide temporary relief from deportation for people who are low priorities for removal,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement Thursday. “The House is instead driving an approach that is about rounding up and deporting 11 million people, separating families, and undermining DHS’ ability to secure the border.”

House leaders defended the move as a necessary check on Mr. Obama’s power, particularly in light of reports that the president is considering a range of executive actions he could undertake to provide deportation relief for anywhere from 550,000 to 4.4 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

“Such action would create an even greater incentive for more illegal crossings and make the crisis on our border even worse. That would be a grave mistake,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “If the president takes this action he’ll be sealing the deal on his legacy of lawlessness.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Texas and Arizona Responsible for the Border Crisis

border security bill

Rumors swirl of undocumented immigrants arriving in South

the crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S-Mexico border

Michael Brown Death: Turmoil, Tear Gas and a No-Fly Zone in Ferguson, Missouri

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APTOPIX Police Shooting-Missouri

Residents have taken to the streets to express their anger at the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old shot dead by a police officer. Witnesses said that Brown was innocent and was doing nothing but jaywalking.

Character Assassination “strategic” move:

The officer who shot Brown was identified Friday as Darren Wilson, 28. His identity was released at the same time that a police report was made public alleging that Brown was suspected of having stolen a box of cigars from the convenience store supposedly assaulting a clerk before Wilson shot him.

Darren Wilson, the officer who murdered Brown, wasn’t even aware that Brown was a suspect in the robbery, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Friday afternoon.

President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have weighed in on Brown’s death, which has led to a separate FBI investigation that will include the assistance of attorneys from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

As Obama vacationed in ritzy Martha’s Vineyard Thursday, Obama held a hastily convened press conference, where he tried to walk down the middle of the factions involved, suggesting that both sides were in the wrong.

Obama interrupting summer vacation

Obama was already on the golf course seven minutes after he made his comments on Thursday.

Even if the militant police assault on peaceful protestors, working journalists, and peaceful family neighborhoods was an isolated incident, it would still be driven by the Obama’s racial exploitation.

Racism

 

FAA sets no-fly zone over Ferguson

On Tuesday, a freelance journalist noticed that a no-fly zone had been issued over Ferguson, Missouri, the site of the recent protests over police violence.

The reason listed on the Federal Aviation Commission’s website for the no-fly zone over the city is “TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES.”

The helicopter dispatcher at the St. Louis County Police Department. St. Louis, not Ferguson, has been “responsible for crowd control,” a Ferguson Police spokesperson said.

According to the dispatcher, the department originally requested the no-fly zone — for certain flights; “the ceiling is only at 5,000 feet,” the dispatcher said, though the website actually lists 3,000 feet — for 24 hours. The department then asked the FAA to extend the ban on flying.

The reason? “It’s just for a no fly zone because we have multiple helicopters maneuvering in the area and we were having some problems with news aircraft flying around there,” the dispatcher, who would only identify himself by his first name, Chris.

Chris also said that police helicopters were a common occurrence over the city, but would not reveal whether there had been an increase in police helicopter presence as the protests have heated up.

ferguson no fly zone 2

Another reason for the no-fly zone is to stop media from flying over the area to film is troubling, especially in light of reports that police have turned journalists away from the sites of the protests.

A spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department told NBC News that “police helicopter came under fire on 3 or 4 occasions, so we requested that the FAA put up a no-fly zone for the safety of pilots who would be in the area.” He said that “no aircraft had been hit but that officers had seen shots fired into the air.”

It’s hard to get a sense of how often these requests are made, and a spokeswoman for the FAA was unable to immediately provide data to that effect. But a quick search over recent no-fly requests in the FAA database shows that most no-fly zones are issued either “TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR FIRE FIGHTING AVIATION OPERATIONS,” for a “VIP” — a situation when security forces clear the airspace for an important person like President Obama or a head of state — or for air shows. (One no-fly restriction over Socorro, New Mexico, was for the purpose of “EXPLOSIVE TESTING.”)

 

 

Related:

#US: No-fly zone enacted above #Ferguson Missouri to hide

The Murder of Michael Brown And The Subsequent Police

Michael Brown’s Family Accuses Police of ‘Character

Ferguson Under Seize: Why Michael Brown’s Murder And

Obama calls death of Michael Brown ‘heartbreaking’ and

Breitbart News: Big Government

Obama Campaign’s Racial

 

FEMA: Operation ‘Alaska Shield’

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FEMA_logo2Fifty Years Since the Great Alaska Earthquake:

Catastrophic Disaster Planning

If you work in the emergency management field, you’ve probably heard about the 2014 Capstone National Exercise.

For those who haven’t, it’s a complex activity comprised of five distinct, but linked, component events: Alaska Shield, Ardent Sentry 14, Nuclear Weapon Accident/Incident Exercise, EAGLE HORIZON and Silver Phoenix. Together, these activities help us examine the core capabilities described in the National Preparedness Goal.

More specifically, the events and participants included the following:

  • Alaska Shield: State emergency management agencies and FEMA will commemorate the anniversary of the 1964 9.2 magnitude Great Alaskan Earthquake with an exercise that tests response, recovery and mass casualty care.
  • Ardent Sentry 14: In conjunction with Alaska Shield and other exercise sponsors, the Department of Defense will exercise its Defense Support to Civilian Authorities’ mission.

Alaska Shield, Ardent Sentry 14

  • Nuclear Weapon Accident/Incident Exercise: The Department of Energy will participate in the Capstone with a scenario that tests response and recovery following an accident during secure transport convoy of nuclear weapons.
  • Eagle Horizon 2014: During this exercise, many federal departments and agencies will activate their continuity of operations and reconstitution planning to test their continuity plans and ensure that primary mission essential functions can take place from alternate facilities.
  • Silver Phoenix 2014: This recovery focused event is threaded across the entire Capstone and explores challenges associated with prioritizing, and conducting recovery activities involving multiple geographically-dispersed and competing events using the National Disaster Recovery Framework.

Planned activities like Capstone help participants think through how to respond to and recover from a catastrophe. Many different people play a role in how our nation responds to disasters, so these exercises included not only FEMA but also their partners in federal, state, tribal and local government, the private sector, and non-profit and faith-based-organizations.

Alaska Shield DrillBothell, Washington. –  FEMA Region X

In March and April, partners from the American Red Cross to the Bonneville Power Administration to the U.S. Army, and many others, joined FEMA for what is known as a table-top exercise, for a larger full-scale exercise.
A table-top is an exercise in which field and logistics movements are “simulated” – while planning and decision-making proceed as if they are actually to taking place.
A table-top is an exercise in which field and logistics movements are “simulated” – while planning and decision-making proceed as if they are actually to taking place.

A similar scenario will play out in late March when many of the same partners participate in a full-scale exercise with “real field and logistical activity.”
The table-top brings more than 100 people to the Region 10 Response Coordination Center in Bothell.
The scenario involves a magnitude 9.2 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Such a quake would be the second strongest in known history, and the largest in known U.S. history. In fact, that largest-ever U.S. quake inspired the scenario; the upcoming full-scale “Alaska Shield” exercise coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964.
The scenario projects the loss of hundreds of lives. Also, it has thousands displaced in an Alaska winter with no power or heat and possibly tens of thousands of buildings damaged. Other problems would include loss of communications and how to moving relief commodities to survivors despite destroyed roads and bridges.

fema-exercise-2014

Similar scenario are being played out throughout the US:

 

FEMA and Partners Exercising Earthquake Scenarios

Alaska National Guard participates in statewide disaster exercise

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska — Approximately 1,150 Air and Army National Guardsmen from Alaska, Hawaii, Ore., Wash., Neb., Wis., Ariz., Calif., Nev., Idaho, Minn., N.D. and Utah are set to participate in exercise Alaska Shield 2014 across the state, from March 27 through April 2.

“After coming off multiple years of deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq I think this is an invigorating chance for our soldiers to reintegrate themselves back into the community and our soldiers are learning again how to reconnect and this gives us that opportunity to do that”

Region 10 Administrator Kenneth Murphy said of the table-top, “This exercise is important for all of us to work with all of our partners leading up to Alaska Shield, and to make sure that all of our systems are working together smoothly and seamlessly.”
FEMA regularly tests procedures and practices in this way, together with local, state, tribes, and other federal agencies.

Volunteer pilots, photographers aid Alaska Shield disaster exercise

Joint Base Elmendorf-RichardsonJoint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska – Civil Air Patrol volunteers help ensure Alaska’s energy assets are safe and secure during natural disasters by taking pictures and downloading them to federal authorities for analysis.

On March 29, 2014, one such flight took off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to inspect energy platforms as part of the disaster exercise Alaska Shield 2014.

After an earthquake strikes, volunteer pilots with the Civil Air Patrol immediately get up in the air and fly across the state on a damage assessment mission.

The Civil Air Patrol also trains its own photographers how to take pictures of energy production and transport facilities in the event of a natural emergency and how to send photos to federal authorities for analysis.

This day, Jeff Morton, a Civil Air Patrol mission observer, took several hundred pictures of a dozen oil rigs in Cook Inlet.

“We get different shots from many angles, and make sure they are up to the standards required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” said Morton.

tsunami damage to oil platforms

An earthquake can damage oil platforms by causing footings to slip and from tsunami activity all of which may cause the structures to ignite or cause large oil spills.

“When it comes to a bridge, the damage is not easily seen, with an oil rig, it’s there or not,” said Ron Preston, a mission pilot with the Alaskan Civil Air Patrol. “There are a cubic million feet in the pipeline [below the rig] at any given moment.”

One of the other oil rigs photographed on this mission was a “mono pod-style” rig with a single shaft of steel rising above the water.

“It’s a pedestal table that is designed to break the ice around it,” said Preston.

More Like This

  • The Valdez Fire Department participated in Alaska Shield 14 by conducting a glacier rescue scenario here March 30, 2014. Alaska Shield 14 is an exercise that involves federal, state, local and military designed to test response and coordination efforts during a disaster and is modeled after the 1964 earthquake.
  • As part of Alaska Shield 14, volunteers were stranded in frigid water simulating victims of a Tsunami here, March 29, 2014. This was a planned event to test disaster response by the U.S. Coast Guard and Army National Guard.
  • The city of Valdez participated in Alaska Shield 14, a disaster exercise hosted by State of Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management with federal, state, local community, and Non-Government Organization participation. The exercise started with an aftershock that put the city into a communication blackout – no phones or internet connections.
  • Alaska Vigilant Guard 2014, a full-scale disaster response exercise, kicked off at 10:10 a.m., March 27, 2014, when a mock earthquake with the magnitude of 9.2 occurred in Jonah Bay in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

50th anniversary warning: A megathrust quake like Alaska’s 9.2 will hit Seattle

The devastating megathrust earthquake that struck Alaska 50 years ago Thursday is a pretty good indication of what’s in store for Seattle and the upper regions of the West Coast when the Cascadia Subduction Zone lets one fly.

And we all thought the Nisqually Earthquake of February 28, 2001 was big … well look at these photos from the 9.2 magnitude Alaskan megathrust quake:

Damage from the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964

Damage from the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964Luckily these megathrust, magnitude-9 quakes happen only every few hundred years, so Alaska should be fine for many more decades. Unlucky for this part of the Northwest, however: The last Cascadia Megathrust was a few hundred years ago … so we’re due.

On the 314-year anniversary of the last one, the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW) published an updated scenario document for what that magnitude of quake would do to us now. The group said in a news release:

“Cascadia’s last great earthquake occurred on January 26, 1700 and ‹stresses have been building on the fault ever since. While the full extent of the earthquake hazard was not realized until the 1980s, the Cascadia subduction zone is now one of the most closely studied and monitored regions in the world.”

And no wonder.

big-quake-zone

THE CASCADIA SUBDUCTION ZONE: The North American Plate collides with a number of smaller plates: the largest of these is the Juan de Fuca Plate, flanked by the Explorer Plate to the north and the Gorda plate to the south. These smaller plates “subduct” (descend) beneath the North American Plate as they converge along a 700-mile long (1,130 km) boundary. A large portion of the boundary between the subducting and overriding plates resists the convergent motion, until this part of the boundary breaks in a great earthquake.

Ketchikan Plans Alaska Shield 2014 Exercise

Ketchikan Plans Alaska Shield

“Alaskans must be aware of the threat of distant tsunamis and be prepared and ready in the case of a locally generated one,” said Aimee Devaris, acting director of the National Weather Service Alaska Region. “It is critically important that people recognize nature’s warning signs that a tsunami may be imminent such as intense ground shaking, the ocean roaring, or the ocean suddenly retreating.”

Here’s the TEST scenario of what happens in Ketchikan: On Thursday, after weeks of preparation and community outreach, Ketchikan dispatch and the public will be notified of the live code TEST from the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) by the National Weather Service’s (NWS) direct phone and the Emergency Alerting System (EAS). This TEST provides the community an opportunity to practice a DROP! COVER! HOLD ON! Exercise area wide.

As part of Ketchikan’s TEST scenario: Ketchikan experiences a large/intense earthquake throughout the island.  The earthquake causes Ketchikan Public Utilities (KPU) concern about the Ketchikan Lakes dam which then triggers the KPU Ketchikan Lakes Emergency Action Plan, at a Condition C; “Non Failure Emergency”.  The Ketchikan Borough Fire Chiefs and Ketchikan City Emergency Manager and Police Chief are then contacted by dispatch.

In the TEST, concurrently, the earthquake scenario causes a fuel tank spill at Petro Marine Services’ upper tank farm which escalates to a fire. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT) work crews realize the Ward Creek Bridge experienced substantial structural damaged during the earthquake.  The ADOT maintenance crew contact Ketchikan dispatch regarding the damage, consequentially the bridge is immediately shut down, closing all vehicle access from North Tongass area to the City of Ketchikan and, more importantly the hospital until the damage can be assessed by ADOT engineers. Damage to several residential homes is also reported to dispatch by the public.

As part of the Alaska Sheild exercise, the Ketchikan area Incident Management Team (IMT) will assemble a Joint Information Center (JIC) to address public concern and disseminate the information from the local, state, and federal authorities to the public, quelling the public panic and rumors.

The incidents are handled in less than one operational period and then the Ketchikan area IMT and JIC are demobilized.

QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS earthquake

Earthquakes are not rare events in Southeast Alaska. In October 2012, a 7.7 magnitude quake that shook the Queen Charlotte Islands grabbed Ketchikan’s attention. This was followed in January 2013 by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that ripped the sea floor about 80 miles west of Craig around midnight on Jan. 4th. That earthquake released most of its energy in the first 20 seconds, but it took 50 seconds for 85 miles of the Queen Charlotte Fault to rupture. The fault slices Earth in a north-south swath just west of Southeast Alaska. The great Alaska earthquake of 1964, by comparison, tore the sea floor for six full minutes.

On June 28, 2004 at approximately 1:49:36 am Alaska Time, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake was also reported off the coast of Southeast Alaska 65 miles WSW of Craig, Alaska.

The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964” occurred in Prince William Sound. When it was finally over, Anchorage was in ruins, a victim of a massive magnitude 9.2 earthquake, the second largest earthquake ever recorded in world history. The 1964 Alaskan Tsunami generate by the quake was the second largest ever recorded, following the May 1960 Chile earthquake with a magnitude 9.5.

1964 Alaskan TsunamiMuch of the damage and most of the lives lost during the 1964 quake were due to the effects of water waves. These were mainly of two kinds: the tsunami of open-ocean sea wave, generated by large-scale motion of the sea floor; and the local wave, generated by underwater landslides in bays of fiords. Of the deaths attributable to the effects of the ocean, about one-third were due to the open-ocean tsunami: 4 at Newport Beach, Oregon; 12 at Crescent City, California; and about 21 in Alaska. Local waves claimed at least 82 lives. Maximum height reported for these waves were 229 feet in Valdez Arm.

The 1964 earthquake effects were heavy in many other Alaska towns, including Chitina, Glennallen, Homer, Hope, Kasilof, Kenai, Kodiak, Moose Pass, Portage, Seldovia, Seward, Sterling, Valdez, Wasilla, and Whittier.

Tsunami Preparedness WeekDuring the 2014 Tsunami Preparedness Week, many television systems are programmed to scroll a standard emergency alert text message and in some cases, the message may not contain the word “TEST.”  An audio message will say that the message is only a test, but if the volume is turned down or otherwise unheard, viewers may not realize the message is a test.  In addition, siren audio may not contain the word “TEST.”

The test is part of Tsunami Preparedness Week, proclaimed by Gov. Sean Parnell as March 23 to 29, and is a cooperative effort of NOAA’s National Weather Service, Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Alaska Broadcasters Association, and local emergency management officials.

Emergency managers urge coastal residents to review information on what to do in the event of a tsunami. NOAA’s National Tsunami Warning Center web site offers complete information, including the current status of tsunami watches, warnings and advisories. A list of frequently asked tsunami questions and answers as well as tsunami safety rules can be found on the Center’s site under “Education.”

New map shows likely tsunami flood zones

traveltimes_map

U.S. Tsunami Warning Centers issue tsunami travel time forecasts for a pre-determined set of coastal locations.

When the big wave comes, will my house be under water? Researchers at the Alaska Earthquake Information Center released a a new map outlining which parts of Sitka would be affected by a major tsunami.

On January 4, 2013, just before midnight, Sitkans woke up to feel the ground shaking beneath them. Then came the tsunami siren, warning everyone to get to high ground.

“The thing that got people excited about it was that we actually felt the quake, and we heard the siren, and we hadn’t heard the siren in probably 20 years.”

Tsunami Flood Zones

Matt Goff takes a look at the new tsunami inundation map created by the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.

In the end, there was no wave. But for many people, it was a wake-up call – what would happen if a big wave did come?

Elena Suleimani is a tsunami modeler at the Alaska Earthquake Information Center, and it’s her model that the new map is based on.

“I’ve been studying tsunamis all my life,” she said.

According to Suleimani, the worst-case-scenario for Sitka – the scenario on which the map is based – would be a big earthquake on the subduction fault that stretches from Kodiak to Prince William Sound. That fault produced The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, the second largest quake ever recorded anywhere.

Alaska_earthquakes

The Queen Charlotte Fault

Closer to home, the Queen Charlotte Fault – which got Sitkans out of bed in January – is a strike-slip fault: the plates are sliding past each other, instead of colliding head-on, and during earthquakes.

They can, however, cause landslides, both on land and on the continental shelf, under water. These landslides can cause their own waves – and it’s almost impossible to model them. That’s, in part, because they occur along smaller faults that haven’t been studied.

Rich Koehler works with Suleimani.

“We haven’t looked at these,” he said. “Nobody has. Partially because they’re covered in – it’s rugged terrain, covered in forest, it’s hard to get to. Anyway. There’s nothing known about these faults, how often earthquakes happen, how big they could be, nothing.”

Still, Suleimani and Koehler said that the largest wave caused by a landslide would still be smaller than the worst-case-scenario “plotted” on the map.

So, at the end of the day, what’s the takeaway? According to Suleimani, no matter what the map says, if you feel the ground shake, go uphill:

“If you are in a coastal area and you feel the ground shaking, just get uphill immediately,” she said.”Don’t wait for any official announcement, don’t wait for sirens. Just go uphill. And stay there for 24 hours.”

Sitka Fire Chief Miller says the key point is to know ahead of time where you’re going, and be ready to head there on a moment’s notice – something many Sitkan’s weren’t prepared for in January.

Alaska quake meets California

“You get 9,000 people trying to move all at one time, it’s a zoo at best.” Miller said. “There’s a lot of cars, there were cars going hither and yon at any given time on the street in front of the fire hall.”

“The thing that you’ve got to remember is, this is a computer generated map,” Miller said “In Japan they had the same thing, they did the same studies, had the same results…and then they had the earthquake and   Mother Nature said, get ready. I’m coming!”

 

Related:
Imagine: A great Alaska earthquake meets southern California

An expected event in Alaska could affect millions of Americans. Here’s how:
On Thursday, March 27, 2014, a slab of the seafloor larger than human imagination fractures, rumbling beneath the Alaska Peninsula. In several planet-ringing minutes, thousands of years of potential energy releases to become kinetic. A great earthquake occurs right where scientists predicted it would. – More

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National Tsunami Warning Center

West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center – NOAA

AlaskaDepartment of Military and Veterans Affairs

Alaska Division of Homeland Security & Emergency

DHSEM ExerciseAlaska Division of Homeland Security

Frank Share
Fire Chief, City of Ketchikan

FEMA and Partners Exercising Earthquake Scenarios

Follow the Follow the Alaska Shield Exercise at @AlaskaDHSEM and FEMA online at twitter @FEMARegion10 , facebook FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency, and FEMAYouTube. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.
News Desk: 425-487-4610 and FEMA online at twitter @FEMARegion10 , facebook FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency, and FEMAYouTube. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.
News Desk: 425-487-4610

 

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The Nazi Road To The “Final Solution”

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 Madagascar-PosThe Madagascar Plan was a proposal of the Nazi government of Germany to relocate the Jewish population of Europe to the island of Madagascar. Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Nazi government. This wasn’t formally proposed until June 1940, shortly before France’s defeat in the Battle of France. The proposal called for the handing over of Madagascar, then a French colony, to Germany as part of the French surrender terms.

The idea of deporting Polish Jews to Madagascar was investigated by the Polish government in 1937, but the task force sent to evaluate the island’s potential determined that only 5,000 to 7,000 families could be accommodated. As efforts by the Nazis to encourage emigration of the Jewish population of Germany were only partially successful, the idea of deporting Jews to Madagascar was revived by the Nazi government in 1940.

TogetherThe plan was postponed after the Germans failed to defeat the British in the Battle of Britain later in 1940 and was permanently shelved in 1942 with the commencement of the extermination of European Jewry.

Origins

Paul_Anton_de_LagardeAs early as 1885 there were a number of resettlement plans for European Jews that were precursors to the Madagascar Plan.

Paul de Lagarde, aka Bötticher, an Orientalist and German scholar, was the first to suggest evacuating the European Jews to Madagascar in 1885. He was one of the prime movers in the revival of anti-Semitism in the later years of the 19th c., demanding a national Christianity purge of Jewish and, in particular, Pauline elements.

Members of the Zionist movement in 1904–1906 seriously debated the British Uganda Programme, by which Russian Jews, who were in immediate danger from ongoing Pogrom, would be settled in what today is Kenya. The plan was later rejected as unworkable by the Zionist Congress. Adherents of territorialism split off from the main Zionist movement and continued to search for a location where Jews might settle and create a state, or at least an autonomous area.

 Zionist Conference

The idea of Jewish resettlement was taken up in the 1920s by British Antisemites Henry Hamilton Beamish, Arnold Leese, and others. With the cooperation of the French, the Polish government commissioned a task force in 1937 to examine the possibility of deporting Polish Jews to the island. The head of the commission, Mieczysław Lepecki, felt the island could accommodate 5,000 to 7,000 families, but Jewish members of the group estimated that only 500 or even fewer families could safely be accommodated.

Henry Hamilton BeamishThe Planning begins

Violence and economic pressure were used by the Nazis to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. By 1939 around 250,000 of Germany’s 437,000 Jews emigrated to the United States, Argentina, Great Britain, Madagascar, Mexico, Palestine, and other countries.

Treatment of Alien Races in the East, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.

The Nazi leadership seized on the idea of deporting the remaining German Jews overseas. Barren unproductive lands were viewed as appropriate destinations as this would prevent the deportees from flourishing in their new location.

Although some initial discussion took place in 1938 among Nazi ideologues such as Julius Streicher, Göring, Alfred Rosenberg, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, it was not until 1940 that planning formally began. Franz Rademacher, recently appointed head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, forwarded on 3 June to his superior, the diplomat Martin Luther, a memorandum on the fate of the Jews. He recommended that the French colony of Madagascar should be made available as a destination for the Jews of Europe as one of the terms of the surrender of France, which the Germans had invaded on 10 May 1940. The resettled Jews, noted Rademacher, could be used as hostages to ensure “future good behaviour of their racial comrades in America.”

Final SolutionOn receiving the memorandum, Luther broached the subject with Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who was simultaneously developing a similar scheme. By 18 June, Hitler and Ribbentrop spoke of the Plan with Italian leader Benito Mussolini as a possibility that could be pursued after the defeat of France.

Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), insisted that Ribbentrop relinquish any future responsibility for the Plan to that office. As Heydrich had been appointed by Hermann Göring in January 1939 to oversee Jewish evacuation from German-occupied territory, the Jewish Question was hence under his purview.

Adolf Eichmann, head of the RSHA Sub-Department IV-B4, which dealt with Jewish affairs and evacuation, soon became involved. On 15 August, with Adolf Hitler‘s approval, Adolf Eichmann released a Memorandum titled Reichssicherheitshauptamt: Madagaskar Projekt (Reich Main Security Office: Madagascar Project), calling for the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years and abandoning the idea of retaining any Jews in Europe.

The RSHA, he emphasised, would control all aspects of the program. While Rademacher called for the colony to be under German control but self-governing under Jewish administration, Eichmann made it plain that he intended for the SS to control and oversee every aspect of life on the island, which they would govern as a police state.

Most Nazi officials, especially Hans Frank, governor of the General Government (the occupied portion of Poland), viewed ‘the forced resettlement to Madagascar as being preferable to the heretofore piecemeal efforts at deportation into Poland. As of 10 July, deportations into Poland were cancelled and construction of the Warsaw ghetto was halted, since it appeared to be unnecessary.’

Planning continues

Rademacher envisioned the founding of a European bank that would ultimately liquidate all European Jewish assets to pay for the plan. This bank would then play an intermediary role between Madagascar and the rest of the world, as Jews would not be allowed to interact financially with outsiders. Göring’s office of the Four Year Plan would oversee the administration of the plan’s economics.

Ministry of Public Enlightenment and PropagandaAdditionally, Rademacher foresaw roles for other government agencies. Ribbentrop’s Foreign Affairs Ministry would negotiate terms with the French for the handover of Madagascar to Germany. It would also play a part in crafting other treaties to deal with Europe’s Jews. Its Information Department, along with Joseph Goebbels and his Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, would control the flow of information at home and abroad. Viktor Brack, a division chief in the Chancellery of the Führer, would oversee transportation. The SS would undertake the expulsion of the Jews from Europe and govern the island as a police state. The Nazis expected that after the invasion of Great Britain in Operation Sea Lion that they would commandeer the British merchant fleet to transport the Jews to Madagascar. Many deportees were expected to perish in the harsh conditions or die at the hands of the SS.

Plan abandoned

After Germany’s failure to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain in 1940, the invasion of Britain was postponed indefinitely. This meant the British merchant fleet would not be at Germany’s disposal for use in evacuations, and planning for the Madagascar proposal stalled. In late August 1940 Rademacher entreated Ribbentrop to hold a meeting at his ministry to begin drawing up a panel of experts to consolidate the plan. Ribbentrop never responded. Likewise, Eichmann’s memorandum languished with Heydrich, who never approved it. Establishment of ghettos in Warsaw and other cities in Poland resumed in August 1940. Hitler continued to mention the plan until February 1942, when the idea was permanently shelved. British Empire forces took the island from Vichy France in the Battle of Madagascar in November 1942 and control was transferred to the Free French.

General Plan Ost

At the end of 1940, Hitler asked Himmler to draft a new plan for the elimination of the Jews of Europe, and Himmler passed along the task to Heydrich. His draft proposed the deportation of the Jews to the Soviet Union via Poland. The later Generalplan Ost (General Plan for the East), prepared by Professor Konrad Meyer and others, called for deporting the entire population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to Siberia, either for use as slave labour or to be murdered after the Soviet defeat. After the German failure in the Battle of Moscow in December 1941, Hitler resolved that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated immediately rather than after the war, which now had no end in sight. Since transporting masses of people into a combat zone would be impossible, Heydrich decided that the Jews would be killed in extermination camps set up in occupied areas of Poland.

Text of the Madagascar Proposal

The approaching victory gives Germany the possibility, and in my view also the duty, of solving the Jewish question in Europe. The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe.

The task of the Foreign Ministry:

a) To include this demand in the Peace Treaty and to insist on it also by means of separate negotiations with the European countries not involved in the Peace Treaty;

b) to secure the territory necessary for the settlement of the Jews in the Peace Treaty, and to determine principles for the cooperation of the enemy countries in this problem;

c) to determine the position under international law of the new Jewish overseas settlement;

d) as preparatory measures:

1) clarification of the wishes and plans of the departments concerned of the Party, State and Research organizations in Germany, and the coordination of these plans with the wishes of the Reich Foreign Minister, including the following:

2) preparation of a survey of the factual data available in various places (number of Jews in the various countries), use of their financial assets through an international bank;

3) negotiations with our friend, Italy, on these matters.

Office of the Reichsführer-SSWith regard to beginning the preparatory work, Section D III has already approached the Reich Foreign Minister via the Department Germany [interior affairs], and has been instructed by him to start on the preparatory work without delay. There have already been discussions with the Office of the Reichsführer-SS in the Ministry of Interior and several departments of the Party. These departments approve the following plan of Section D III:

Section D III proposes as a solution of the Jewish question: In the Peace Treaty France must make the island of Madagascar available for the solution of the “Jewish Question,” and to resettle and compensate the approximately 25,000 French citizens living there. The island will be transferred to Germany under a mandate. Diego Suarez and the port of Antsirane, which are strategically important, will become German naval bases (if the Navy wishes, these naval bases could be extended also to the harbors – open road-steads –Tamatave, Andevorante, Mananjara, etc.). In addition to these naval bases, suitable areas of the country will be excluded from the Jewish territory (Judenterritorium) for the construction of air bases. That part of the island not required for military purposes will be placed under the administration of a German Police Governor, who will be under the administration of the Reichsfuehrer SS. Apart from this, the Jews will have their own administration in this territory: their own mayors, police, postal and railroad administration, etc. The Jews will be jointly liable for the value of the island. For this purpose their former European financial assets will be transferred for use to a European bank to be established for this purpose. Insofar as the assets are not sufficient to pay for the land which they will receive, and for the purchase of necessary commodities in Europe for the development of the island, the Jews will be able to receive bank credits from the same bank.

As Madagascar will only be a Mandate, the Jews living there will not acquire German citizenship. On the other hand, the Jews deported to Madagascar will lose their citizenship of European countries from the date of deportation. Instead, they will become residents of the Mandate of Madagascar.

This arrangement would prevent the possible establishment in Palestine by the Jews of a Vatican State of their own, and the opportunity for them to exploit for their own purposes the “symbolic importance” which Jerusalem has for the Christian and Mohammedan parts of the world. Moreover, the Jews will remain in German hands as a pledge for the future good behavior of the members of their race in America.

This can be made for propaganda purposes of the generosity shown by Germany in permitting cultural, economic, administrative and legal self-administration to the Jews; it can be emphasized at the same time that our German sense of responsibility towards the world forbids us to make the “gift of a sovereign state” to a race which has had no independent state for thousands of years: this would still require the test of history.

Signed, Franz Rademacher

Berlin, July 3, 1940

 

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Sedlec Ossuary “Bone Church”

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Sedlec Ossuary Bone Church

 

The Art of Human Remains

The Sedlec Ossuary, known to most as “The Bone Church,” it displays some of the world’s more macabre art. In addition to a splendid bone chandelier composed from almost every bone in a human body, the ossuary displays two large bone chalices, four baroque bone candelabras, six enormous bone pyramids, two bone monstrances (a vessel used to display the Eucharistic host).  Another impressive artwork is the Coat Of Arms Of The Schwarzenberg Family that is also made of human bones. While there are other macabre places to visit in Europe like the Paris Catacombe, the Sedlec Ossuary is really unique in nature.

OssuaryAn Ossuary is a chest, box, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary.

Coat Of Arms Of The Schwarzenberg Family

You may wonder how all these bones ended up being craved in a small chapel located in the Czech Republic. It all goes back to 1278 when the King of Bohemia sent an abbot of the Sedlec Cistercian monastery to the Holy Land of Palestine.

The Abbot of the Sedlec Monastery (Abbot Henry) brought brought back a jar of Holy earth from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the place where Jesus was crucified at Golgotha.

He scattered this “holy soil” across the Sedlec cemetery, securing its place as one of the most desired burial sites for people all over Bohemia and the surrounding countries. The rumor about his act soon spread out all over the place, and thus Sedlec became a desired place to be buried.

Sedlec-Ossuary-Photo2

Everyone wanted to be buried in that handful of the Holy Land and an estimated  70,000 were. But it wasn’t long before there simply wasn’t enough room for everyone to rest in peace, and the bodies were moved to a crypt to make room for the newly dead.

In 1870, a Gothic church was built near the cemetery and its basement was used as an ossuary. A local woodcarver, František Rint was employed by the House of Schwarzenberg to organize the human bones interred at the Sedlec Ossuary.

František Rint bone church

Rint came up with the Bone Church’s stunning chandelier, as well as the amazing Schwarzenberg coat of arms, which includes a raven pecking at the severed head of a Turk–all made of human bone. Rint was responsible for bleaching all of the bones in the ossuary in order to give the room a uniform look. His artist’s signature is still on the wall today–naturally, in his medium of choice, bones.

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Roman Catholic

Many examples of ossuaries are found within Europe such as the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome, Italy, the San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, Italy, the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic, the Skull Chapel in Czermna in Lower Silesia, Poland, and Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of bones) in the city of Évora, in Portugal.

Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome, Italy

Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini or Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins, is a church in Rome, Italy. This church has a crypt that contains the bones from monk who used to live or/and work there.

The village of Wamba in the province of Valladolid, Spain has an impressive ossuary of over a thousand skulls inside the local church, dating from between the 12th and 18th centuries. A more recent example is the Douaumont ossuary in France, which contains the remains of more than 130,000 French and German soldiers that fell at the Battle of Verdun during World War I.

The catacombs beneath the Monastery of San Francisco in Lima, Peru also contain an ossuary.

Ursulakammer in the Basilica of St. Ursula in Cologne

The Ursulakammer in the Basilica of St. Ursula in Cologne, where in the seventeenth century the largest mosaic in human bones ever was created, that covers the four walls of the room.

Eastern Orthodox

The use of ossuaries is a longstanding tradition in the Orthodox Church. The remains of an Orthodox Christian are treated with special reverence, in conformity with the biblical teaching that the body of a believer is a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians, etc.), having been sanctified and transfigured by Baptism, Holy Communion and the participation in the mystical life of the Church. In Orthodox monasteries, when one of the brethren dies, his remains are buried (for details, see Christian burial) for one to three years, and then disinterred, cleaned and gathered into the monastery’s charnel house. If there is reason to believe that the departed is a saint, the remains may be placed in a reliquary; otherwise the bones are usually mingled together (skulls together in one place, long bones in another, etc.). The remains of an abbot may be placed in a separate ossuary made out of wood or metal.

The use of ossuaries is also found among the laity in the Greek Orthodox Church. The departed will be buried for one to three years and then, often on the anniversary of death, the family will gather with the parish priest and celebrate a parastas (memorial service), after which the remains are disinterred, washed with wine, perfumed, and placed in a small ossuary of wood or metal, inscribed with the name of the departed, and placed in a room, often in or near the church, which is dedicated to this purpose.

Jewish burial cave

Jewish

During the time of the Second Temple, Jewish burial customs included primary burials in burial caves, followed by secondary burials in ossuaries placed in smaller niches of the burial caves. Some of the limestone ossuaries that have been discovered, particularly around the Jerusalem area, include intricate geometrical patterns and inscriptions identifying the deceased. Among the best-known Jewish ossuaries of this period are: an ossuary inscribed ‘Simon the Temple builder’ in the collection of the Israel Museum, another inscribed ‘Elisheba wife of Tarfon‘, one inscribed ‘Yehohanan ben Hagkol’ that contained an iron nail in a heel bone suggesting crucifixion, another inscribed ‘James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus’, the authenticity of which is suspect, and ten ossuaries recovered from the Talpiot Tomb in 1980, several of which are reported to have names from the New Testament.

Jewish bones in a ossuary

During the Second Temple period, Jewish sages debated whether the occasion of the gathering of a parent’s bones for a secondary burial was a day of sorrow or rejoicing; it was resolved that it was a day of fasting in the morning and feasting in the afternoon. The custom of secondary burial in ossuaries did not persist among Jews past the Second Temple period nor appear to exist among Jews outside the land of Israel.

 

 

See also

Resources:

Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus

Kutná Hora Sedlec, Ossuary, Sedlec Cathedral

Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus, Czech Republic | UTS Library

Sedlec Ossuary – Photos

Czech Republic

Tomb of Our Lord – Jesus Christ – Jerusalem

Jesus Family Tomb: Skull Ossuary – The Lost Tomb of Jesus

The Tomb of the Most Holy Virgin, Jerusalem

House of Schwarzenberg

9 of the Strangest Bone Churches of Europe | BootsnAll

 

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