Saturday, February 27, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor

The US Geological Survey has a great site with all kinds of historical data and information about past earthquakes.  For example, here’s a list of all US quakes ranked by magnitude:  click.

In terms of a US example that comes anywhere close to an 8.8 in a populated area, one would have to go to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which was a 7.8.

In terms of more recent comparisons, and to demonstrate how much larger the Chile quake is, I am taken back to the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which did extensive damage in Southern California, and it was only a 6.7.  That was the last time that I recall a California quake causing sufficient damage to make significant national news.  I had already moved out of SoCal by the time that one hit, but recall that it was bad enough to warrant massive national news coverage.

Some may recall the Santa Cruz Mountains/Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred right before a World Series game in 1989 (see more here).  It was a 6.9 and famously caused portions of the double-decker San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge to collapse.

The largest earthquake that I personally experienced in California was the 5.9 magnitude Whitter Narrows Earthquake.

The quake that most got my attention, was a 6.5 near Bogota.  My wife and I were in our apartment, which was on the 6th floor (IIRC) and the building was swaying rather dramatically.  It caused quite a stir, as bogotanos aren’t used to feeling earthquakes and it caught the city’s attention, to be sure.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT8.8-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Chile

A powerful 8.8-magnitude earthquake struckChile early Saturday, shaking the capital of Santiago for 90 seconds and sending tsunami warnings along much of the Pacific basin.

Speaking as someone who has experience a number of quakes (though, nothing like an 8.8), ninety seconds of the world moving around you with nowhere to go would be an eternity.  Wow.

Some details:

It struck at 3:34 a.m. local time and was centered about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The epicenter was some 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live.

The current death toll stands at 122, but that will certainly rise.

By comparison, the quake that hit Haiti was a 7.0

It is worth pointing out that the Richter scale is logarithmic, which means “each whole number increase in magnitude represents a tenfold increase in measured amplitude.”1  A measurement of 8 or more signifies a “great” earthquake.

Here’s a graphic2 to put some of it in perspective:

Richter Scale Graphic Representation

The US Geological Survey has a list of the Top Ten earthquakes of all (recorded) time.  If the 8.8 number is accurate, this is event will be tied for 5th for the largest recorded earthquake.  Chile has the record, a 9.5 quake in 1960.  The don’t call the Pacific Rim the “Ring of Fire” for nothing.

Indeed, there was a 7.3 quake in Japan as well.

  1. Soucre. []
  2. Source. []
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Friday, February 26, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor


365.57 (2/26/10)

By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters:  Colombia’s Uribe blocked from re-election.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via El Tiempo,  La Corte Constitucional le dijo ‘no’ al referendo reeleccionista: Era Uribe terminará el 7 de agosto [The Constitutional Court Says “no” to the re-election referendum:  The Uribe Era Will End on August 7th]:

Según la Corte, la violación de los topes, las maniobras usadas por la campaña por el referendo para hacerle esguinces a las normas electorales y las irregularidades en el trámite del Congreso hacen ilegal la iniciativa del referendo reeleccionista.

[According to the Court, the violation of spending limits, the maneuvers of the pro-referendum campaign to twist electoral norms, and the irregularities in the congressional process made the re-election referendum initiative illegal.]

In a statement read by the president of the Court, Mauricio González:1

"La Corte resuelve declarar inexequible por su inconstitucionalidad en su totalidad la ley 1354 de 2009, por medio de la cual se convoca a un referendo constitucional al pueblo colombiano”

[“The Court resolves to declare a constitutional referendum for the people of Colombia unattainable due to the total unconstitutionality of Law 1354 of 2009.”]

Law 1354 of 2009 was the enabling legislation for the re-election referendum.

In another piece, El Tiempo has the reaction of President Uribe, ‘Hay que respetar la participación ciudadana, pero también hay que respetar la norma legal’: Uribe, which included the following:

"La participación de los ciudadanos no puede ser contraria a la Constitución", dijo Uribe, y añadió: "el Estado de opinión es una expresión del Estado de derecho, por lo tanto debe respetar la Ley y la Constitución".

"La participación es una expresión superior del Estado de Derecho, que no puede ser contraria a la ley", agregó.

["The participation of citizens cannot be contrary to the Constitution," Uribe said, adding: "the state of opinion is an expression of the rule of law and therefore must respect the law and the Constitution."

"Participation is a superior expression of the rule of law, but it cannot be contrary to law," he added.]

  1. González was one of the two votes in favor of the referendum going forward.  The other was Jorge Pretelt.  As noted in the previous post, the vote was 7-2.  The seven who voted to strike down Law 1354 of 2009 were as follows:  Luis Ernesto Vargas, María Victoria Calle, Nilson Pinilla, Gabriel Eduardo Mendoza, Juan Carlos Henao, Jorge Iván Palacio, and Humberto Sierra. []
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By Steven L. Taylor

According to El Tiempo, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled 7-2 to nullify the law that would have allowed a referendum on re-election.

More later.

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By Steven L. Taylor

According to El Espectador, the discussion by the Colombian Constitutional Court may be carried over to Monday.

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By Steven L. Taylor

The Colombian Constitutional Court is voting today on the constitutionality of the re-election referendum.  If one wishes, the specific issues of the case can be be reviewed here.

Via El TiempoEn este momento se desarrolla la sesión más esperada de la Corte Constitucional en los últimos años

The Court convened at 9:15am local time to vote, although there will be debate prior to the actual vote, so it is unclear when the results will be announced.

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By Steven L. Taylor

So reports the Political Wire:  Support for Paterson Crumbles.

The New York Daily News reports Paterson will end his reelection campaign today, but currently has no plans to resign.

From that Daily News piece:

The governor has a reputation for being wildly mercurial and changing his mind at the last minute – particularly if he feels he’s backed into a corner.

However, with key Democrats abandoning him left and right, newspaper columnists and editorial boards turning against him and new revelations breaking about the David Johnson domestic violence scandal, Paterson is growing less politically viable by the hour.

This would appear to be a huge political boost for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who will be the likely Democratic nominee with Paterson out of the way (and, really, given Paterson’s circumstances, is likely to win a primary contest anyway—but if Paterson quits that will make things easier).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Libya’s Gaddafi urges ‘holy war’ against Switzerland

The Libyan leader made his comments while speaking at a meeting to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

"Let us wage jihad against Switzerland, Zionism and foreign aggression," he said.

"Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against Muhammad, God and the Koran."

Who knew Gaddafi had such power over all Muslims?

The genesis of the row:

Libya’s move came after Switzerland allegedly blacklisted 188 high-ranking Libyans, denying them entry permits. The Swiss ban is said to include Mr Gaddafi and his family.

The row began after the arrest of Mr Gaddafi’s son Hannibal and his wife, Aline Skaf, in Geneva in July 2008.

They were accused of assaulting two servants while staying at a luxury hotel in the Swiss city, though the charges were later dropped.

Libya retaliated by cancelling oil supplies, withdrawing billions of dollars from Swiss banks, refusing visas to Swiss citizens and recalling some of its diplomats.

Rhetorically, Gaddafi can also point to the Swiss vote banning minaret construction, but this is clearly a bit more personal.

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