Quickie: That Fortress Embassy in Haiti Stood Up to Quake’s Shaking

Debra K. Rubin in last week’s issue of the Engineering News Record wrote about the US Embassy in Port-au Prince that withstood the recent earthquake:  U.S. Embassy in Haiti Stood Up to Quake’s Shaking. Excerpt below: 

The U.S. embassy in Haiti is one of the rare significant structures in Port-au-Prince to have survived the Jan. 12, 7.0 magnitude earthquake with only minor damage, none of it structural.

As a result, the embassy has become an important base for several relief efforts. The embassy is a relatively new structure. It was built as a design-build project by Fluor Corp., as part of the U.S. State Dept’s overhaul of its global facilities. Construction started on the 134,000 sq-ft office building with its 54,874 sq ft of support structures in early 2005 and was completed in 2008 at a cost of $109 million.
As with all new diplomatic facilities, the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations specified the embassy be engineered to adhere to the International Building Code and also to an OBO specific code supplement. The supplement covers site-specific design requirements for each location where U.S. posts are built.
The supplement also details building design requirements including gravity, snow, wind, and earthquake loads, as well as blast protection.
Rod Evans, OBO’s embassy project director, says the preferred earthquake-resisting system, to include the one used in Port-au-Prince, is reinforced concrete shear walls. All other building systems, including mechanical, electrical and fire protection, must also be constructed to withstand the stresses of an earthquake.
The embassy in Port-au-Prince was designed for “high” seismic design criteria as well as wind loading of 45 meters/sec (100 miles per hour).
Read the whole thing here.
TSB over at The Skeptical Bureaucrat has also posted an item about the new embassy complex in PaP which was completed in March 2008:  
“U.S. Mission in Haiti is fortunate to have moved into a new office complex last year, a nice seismically-resistant one with lots of infrastructure support, independent electrical power and water treatment, and which is located close to the airport. The old embassy was a rickety little structure and was way too close to the now-devastated center of Port-au-Prince; in fact, it was only eight blocks from the National Palace that collapsed.”

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The New Guessing Game in Town Officially On

President Barack Obama confers with U.S.Secret...Image via Wikipedia

Just barely a year into Secretary Clinton’s term as the 67th Secretary of State, a new guessing game is already on for the 68th Secretary of State.  This came after her interview with PBS’s Tavis Smiley where she was asked whether she could “imagine yourself doing all four years and, if asked, doing it for another four years.” In which she replied “No, I really can’t.”  The Secretary clarified that she was referring to serving in a second term, saying “the whole eight, I mean, that that would be very challenging.  But I, you know, I don’t wanna make any predictions sitting here.”  She also said, I’m honored to serve…but it’s a 24/7 job, and I think at some point, I will be very happy to pass it on to someone else.

You know what’s going to happen, of course.  Josh Rogin of The Cable asks Who will be the next secretary of state?  Some new names and not so new names below but no career diplomat has made it so far in the guessing game.  
Early frontrunner: John Kerry
Gray eminence: Richard Lugar
Waiting in the wings: Jim Steinberg
Already in the cabinet: Susan Rice
A bridge too far:  Richard Holbrooke/George Mitchell
Always the bridesmaid: Chuck Hagel
Dark horse: Gen. David Petraeus
One of the names on the list above has been recently called America’s bungling UN ambassadorby the New York Post, which may not be your fair and balance newspaper but has a daily circulation of 500,000 and ranks 8th in number of unique visitors to online newspapers:
The job was plainly a consolation prize for the woman who tutored candidate Barack Obama on foreign policy in the ’08 campaign. And, because the president has given her Cabinet rank, Rice spends at most four days a week in New York — the rest of her time goes to maintaining her Washington status.
Rice must make sure that her whispers remain as close as possible to the president’s ear — especially if she wants to succeed Hillary Clinton at State one day.
[…]
[S]he told reporters, the fact that she spends three days a week in DC is a good thing for America. “There’s an understanding among my [UN] colleagues that I am speaking authoritatively as one of the president’s senior advisers — and I think that, frankly, very much enhances our ability to get things done,” she said, adding, “And I think the record speaks for itself.”
                                                        
Somebody will dig up the record that speaks for itself for sure.
Oh, Damascus! Laura Rozen of Politico reports about the rumored new ambassador to Damascus: “Two well-informed Levant analysts say the as yet unannounced Obama administration nominee for U.S. ambassador to Syria will likely be Robert S. Ford, most recently the deputy U.S. ambassador to Iraq.”
Ambassador Ford who is the #2 at the US Embassy in Baghdad was previously the US Ambassador to Algeria from 2006–2008 and PolCouns at Embassy Baghdad from 2004 until 2006.  He reportedly speaks German, Turkish, French, and Arabic.
So far, no official announcement from the WH as of this writing.


Officially In: Lana Pollack to the International Joint Commission

A satellite image of the Great Lakes.Image via Wikipedia

On January 29, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Lana Pollack to be Commissioner for the International Joint Commission. The WH released the following official bio:

A Michigan native, Lana Pollack was elected three times to the Michigan legislature, serving as a state Senator from 1983-1994. Following her tenure in public office, she served from 1996-2008 as President of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 environmental organizations working to protect North America’s Great Lakes and Michigan’s natural resources and environment.  As a state Senator, Ms. Pollack became a leading advocate for women, children and the environment. In this capacity, she earned praise as the architect of Michigan’s landmark 1990 polluter pay statute which, before it was repealed in 1995, saved taxpayers $100 million by requiring proven polluters to pay for the cleanup of toxic waste.  In addition to these roles, Ms. Pollack was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, taught at the University of Michigan, was elected a trustee of the Ann Arbor Board of Education, and served on a number of educational, non-profit and corporate boards.  Among these boards, Ms. Pollack currently chairs the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, which annually directs $35-50 million in discretionary public funds to protect, purchase and enhance parkland and open space for preservation and recreation. She has also served on the boards of NextEnergy (which promotes the development and commercialization of technologies advancing a low-carbon economy), ReCellular (the world’s largest recycler of cell phones) and the University of Michigan’s Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute. 
Ms. Pollack, who grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan in the town of Ludington, earned a BA in political science from the University of Michigan (U-M) in 1965, and an MA in Education from U-M in 1970.
* * *

On the IJC:  The International Joint Commission prevents and resolves disputes between the United States of America and Canada under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and pursues the common good of both countries as an independent and objective advisor to the two governments.  In particular, the Commission rules upon applications for approval of projects affecting boundary or transboundary waters and may regulate the operation of these projects; it assists the two countries in the protection of the transboundary environment, including the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the improvement of transboundary air quality; and it alerts the governments to emerging issues along the boundary that may give rise to bilateral disputes.

Related Item:


SFRC Hearings: Eleven State Dept Nominees

I) Booth, Williams, Welters, II) DiCarlo, Anderson, Katz, Kelly, Stock, III) DeLisi, Thomas, Adelman

I) Nominees: Booth, Williams, Welters
Date: Tuesday, Febuary 2, 2010
Time: 10:00 A.M.
Building: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The Honorable Donald E. Booth, of Virginia
to be Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Bisa Williams, of New Jersey
to be Ambassador to the Republic of Niger
Beatrice Wilkinson Welters, of Virginia
to be Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Click here to view hearing video and prepared statements.  
* * *  
II) Nominees: DiCarlo, Anderson, Katz, Kelly, Stock
Date: Tuesday, Febuary 2, 2010
Time: 2:30 P.M.
Building: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The Honorable Rosemary Anne DiCarlo, of the District of Columbia
to be the Deputy Representative of the United States to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador
Brooke D. Anderson, of California
to be Alternate Representative of the United States for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank
of Ambassador
Allan J. Katz, of Florida
to be Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic
Ian C. Kelly, of Maryland
to be U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with the rank of Ambassador
Judith Ann Stewart Stock, of Virginia
to be Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
Click here to view hearing video and prepared statements.
* * *  

III) Nominees: DeLisi, Thomas, Adelman
Date: Tuesday, Febuary 2, 2010
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Building: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The Honorable Scott H. DeLisi, of Minnesota
to be Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
The Honorable Harry K. Thomas, Jr., of New York
to be Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines
David Adelman, of Georgia
to be Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore
Click here to view hearing video and prepared statements.