New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1196134%21/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/alg-mta-tunnel-5.jpgHow vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

<img src=”https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/9936059/8695441677_7fbb2d7d9a_o.jpg&#8221; alt=””>

The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.

MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

Nuclear War Against North Korea Will Never Happen

PHOTO: In a handout photograph released by the North Korean News Agency, North Koreas Kim Jong-un, center is shown with members of the high-level delegation, including his sister, Kim Yo-jong, who visited South Korea to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics.North Korea’s reclusive leader, Kim Jong Un, meets for 1st time with South Koreans

“I plan to hold in-depth discussions on various ways to continue talks between not only the South and the North, but also the North and the United States and the international community,” said South Korean National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong shortly before his departure from Seoul. Chung is leading the South Korean delegation along with National Intelligence Chief Suh Hoon.

North Korea has appeared quite eager to hold talks with the U.S. in recent weeks, softening the language and tone of some of its previous public announcements that referred to the “U.S. imperialists’ plot” to invade and annihilate their country.

Korean Central News Agency, the North’s state-controlled media arm, reported on Saturday that the nation’s foreign ministry will “never beg” for talks and described the U.S. as “fooling around” by demanding preconditions for talks. But it stressed an atmosphere of diplomacy, negotiation and peaceful resolution.

“It is our consistent and principled position to solve problems diplomatically and peacefully,” according to the KCNA article. “The dialogue that we are aiming at is one that discusses issues of mutual interest among countries in an equal footing.”

PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, talks with president of the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un, looks on, Feb. 11, 2018. Yonhap via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, talks with president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, looks on, Feb. 11, 2018.

The U.S. recently ordered new sanctions against North Korea and warned of a potential military blockade to deny access to materials that could be used for missiles.

The South Korean envoys’ visit to Pyongyang follows extensive talks between South Korean and North Korean representatives in the days surrounding the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

 

The Threat of the Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

See the source image

US-Saudi Nuclear Talks Aimed at Containing Iran

A lawmaker described the nuclear negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the United States as a “political game” aimed at undermining Iran’s regional clout.

“The US and Saudi Arabia are seeking to weaken Iran’s role in the region. The issue of a US-Saudi nuclear agreement appears to have been raised for political motives.” Ezzatollah Yousefian told ICANA in a Friday talk.

“Such future [nuclear] activities, if any, in Saudi Arabia will be undertaken by the US because, unlike the Islamic Republic, the Saudis lack the required know-how,” he said.

Yousefian was commenting on an AP report earlier this week that US Energy Secretary Rick Perry would lead an interagency US delegation to talks with the Saudis in London on Friday.

The Curse of Babylon the Great Will Happen (Revelation 18)

Trump on China’s Xi consolidating power: ‘Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day’

(CNN)President Donald Trump bemoaned a decision not to investigate Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential election, decrying a “rigged system” that still doesn’t have the “right people” in place to fix it, during a freewheeling speech to Republican donors in Florida on Saturday.

In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China’s President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn’t mind making such a maneuver himself.

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.

The remarks, delivered inside the ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a lunch and fundraiser, were upbeat, lengthy, and peppered with jokes and laughter. But Trump’s words reflected his deeply felt resentment that his actions during the 2016 campaign remain under scrutiny while those of his former rival, Hillary Clinton, do not.

“I’m telling you, it’s a rigged system folks,” Trump said. “I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s a rigged system. And we don’t have the right people in there yet. We have a lot of great people, but certain things, we don’t have the right people.”

Trump has repeatedly said that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, should launch investigations into Clinton, and has continued to lambast Sessions on Twitter for not taking what he views as appropriate steps to probe Clinton’s actions involving her private email server.

The stewing anger with Sessions has soured Trump’s mood over the past week, including on Wednesday evening, when he fumed inside the White House over his attorney general’s decision to release a statement defending himself after Trump chastised his approach to an investigation into alleged surveillance abuses as “DISGRACEFUL” on Twitter.

The episode was just one irritant in a long series of upsetting moments for Trump this week. Morale at the White House has dropped to new lows, and Trump himself has seethed at the negative headlines.

On Saturday, among donors gathered in the grand ballroom named for himself at Mar-a-Lago, Trump pondered the happiness of his former rival, wondering aloud whether she was enjoying life after the campaign.

“Is Hillary a happy person? Do you think she’s happy?” he said. “When she goes home at night, does she say, ‘What a great life?’ I don’t think so. You never know. I hope she’s happy.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Trump went after former President George W. Bush for his decision to invade Iraq after faulty intelligence indicated the country had weapons of mass destruction.

“Here we are, like the dummies of the world, because we had bad politicians running our country for a long time,” he said.

Trump called the Iraq invasion “the single worst decision ever made” and said it amounted to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest.”

“That was Bush. Another real genius. That was Bush,” Trump said sarcastically. “That turned out to be wonderful intelligence. You know? Great intelligence agency there.”

Trump has previously cited the WMD failure to go after US intelligence agencies, bringing up the error as a reason to doubt the same agencies conclusions’ that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

The Canadian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Please consider inaugurating a nuclear armament program. Please begin this process now.

I never imagined writing something like this. American by birth, but now also a Canadian citizen, I’ve always regarded the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a stain on my birth nation’s honour. But the time has come to face reality, and the foreign minister’s June speech reasserting Canadian sovereignty is only the beginning of the reckoning.

We are in many ways living through a replay of the 1930s: a world struggling in the wake of economic cataclysm, fascists rising across Europe and an authoritarian in power (this time in the United States) cultivates support from the radical right.

Tyranny is on the march, and there is no clear end-point in sight. We can no longer assume that our country’s safety is assured, and even proposals for anti-missile defence don’t go far enough because they assume a democratic U.S. – the very thing that is now in question.

Alarmist? Maybe. But the consequences of a misstep now — the 21st-century equivalent of 1933, the year of Hitler’s ascendance — are dire, and we can’t regain later the time that we lose now. Nuclear programs take time to initiate, and in order to be prepared for our version of 1939 (the start of the Second World War), we cannot allow these to be “the locust years,” as Winston Churchill described the time wasted between 1933 and 1939.

So this is 1933. Start the countdown.

America is on a quest to demonize Muslims, round up Mexican immigrants, restrict trade, break up NATO and help Vladimir Putin divvy up the world. If you want to understand Donald Trump’s foreign policy, think “Mafia Protection Racket.” Just change the little shop-owners, forced to pay up, into little nations across the globe.

Canada is a small shopkeeper not so well-positioned to resist this new racket.

To understand what it’s like being beside a bully in today’s world, look at Ukraine. Perhaps the greatest mistake that country made after the breakup of the USSR was to get rid of its nuclear weapons. The consequences? Russia seizes Crimea and effectively invades eastern Ukraine by arming Russian secessionists there. This could also happen to Latvia and the Baltic states.

Could it happen here? For more than a century, Canadian policy could assume that, while the U.S. might be an 800-lbs gorilla on our doorstep, at least the gorilla played by the rules. But Trump has said the old rules won’t apply, and his selection of white nationalists and conspiracy theorists to powerful roles in his administration indicates he is not kidding.

Most troublingly, recent Congressional Republican capitulation on “L’Affaire Russe” shows us that the famed “checks and balances” of the U.S. Constitution mean little, and that the path to American authoritarianism is wide open.

To plan for the day when the U.S. is more like Putin’s aggressive bear, Canada must be able to protect itself without anyone’s assistance. A conventional military buildup is nonsensical, given the size disparity between the U.S., Russia, and ourselves.

But as Israel, Pakistan and North Korea have shown, nuclear arms are a pragmatic deterrent for small nations adjacent to populous neighbours of uncertain motives.

Yes, this might provoke the ire of Trump or Putin, and hasten the conflict it means to stave off. That risk must be carefully weighed. But what do you think Ukraine would do, given the chance to go back and keep its nukes?

Was Ukrainian disarmament rewarded with Russian pacifism? Who, other than Putin, is Trump’s model for strong leadership? And, speaking of Putin, who is looking to contest Canada’s future Arctic claims? If you think Trump will support us against Russia’s coming provocations, think again.

Rather than trigger a crisis, I expect this strategy would preserve the peace, by forcing potential aggressors to acknowledge a far more potent Canadian response.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that America is our enemy. Canada just needs to prepare to ensure its own security in an uncertain world, which requires having the resources to face any potential future conflict.

Starting a nuclear program is not easy. It takes time and research to determine the most practical options for Canada. It will also require withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, a step with major ramifications that requires careful consideration.

Importantly, however, we should not think that such a program would be inherently “un-Canadian.” For two decades, during the Cold War, we had up to 450 nuclear warheads permanently stationed on Canadian bases (though these were not under exclusive Canadian control). We need to trust in ourselves even more now, and stop relying on others to protect us.

Maybe I’m being alarmist. Maybe. But at what point does alarmism become prudence? Not when an aggressor makes the first overt threats – by then it’s too late. If 1933 (i.e. now) is too soon, then when? At some point we must be ready to start the discussion about protecting ourselves, and three years’ grace is about the best we can hope for.

After that we have to rely on the United Kingdom or United States to bail us out … Oh, wait.

Stefan Dolgert is an associate professor in the department of Political Science at Brock University in St. Catharines, and can be found on Twitter @PosthumanProf.