New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How 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.

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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, and we may include it in a future column.

The Evolving Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

India and Australia Move to Tighten Bonds to Counter China’s Rise

Nov. 23, 2018

President Ram Nath Kovind of India, center, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, right, unveiled a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Sydney on Thursday.Mark Metcalfe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SYDNEY, Australia — India’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, on Friday began wrapping up his visit to Australia after several days of meetings as the two countries move to tighten their economic and political bonds at a time of worsening tensions between China and the United States.

The visit came four months after the quiet release of a 500-page report by Australia’s former top diplomat, Peter Varghese, on the need to enhance the country’s economic and security ties with India over the coming years.

Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, endorsed that report on Thursday, calling it “a road map for our economic future with India.” He and other officials said the Australian government had agreed to work on strengthening ties between the two countries’ education, resources, agribusiness and tourism sectors.

“The relationship is on an upward trajectory and this visit is likely to give it positive momentum,” said Ajay Gondane, India’s high commissioner to Australia.

Antichrist Unifies Iraq (Revelation 13)

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in a meeting with former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani in Najaf, Nov. 23, 2018. (Photo: Barzani’s Press Office)

Barzani, Sadr talk of ‘enhancing’ Baghdad-Erbil ties

Kosar Nawzad |

23 hours ago

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr welcomed former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani on his “historic” visit to the city of Najaf, the last stop of the Kurdish leader’s two-day trip to meet with top national political figures.

Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed a delegation of senior Kurdish officials to Baghdad, the first such visit since the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum held last year.

This is Barzani’s second visit to Najaf since the establishment of the new Iraqi government following the fall of the former regime in 2003.

In the meeting, Sadr expressed his happiness at Barzani’s trip, describing it as “historic,” according to a statement by Barzani’s press office.

Following his arrival in Baghdad on Thursday, the former Kurdish president met with, among others, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, and head of the al-Fatih coalition, Hadi al-Amiri.

On Friday, Barzani continued his outing in the capital, meeting separately with Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Arshad al-Salihi, former Prime Minister and current leader of Nasr (Victory) coalition Haider al-Abadi, Sunni leader Salih Mutlaq, and the head of al-Hikma (Wisdom) movement, Ammar al-Hakim.

The statement continued by saying that, according to Sadr, the various leaders viewed Barzani’s visits as “an important beginning and a new positive direction for the political process of Iraq” which would help bring an end to “repeating [past] mistakes.”

One topic was said to have dominated the discussion; the new Iraqi government and how its formation “has the potentiality to pave the way for a brighter future for all the components of the Iraqi state.”

The two leaders also spoke about “relations between Baghdad and Erbil and how the new government can work on enhancing those relations for the mutual benefit of the people of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.”

Barzani’s tour comes just over a year after the Kurdistan Region’s bid for independence, which led to a strong backlash from the central government and a severe weakening of the relationship between the two.

Recently, the two governments have been working to address outstanding issues with some visible signs of improvement, especially after the selection of Abdul-Mahdi as Iraq’s prime minister.

Editing by John J. Catherine

The Nations Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Rabbi warns ‘HOLY WAR’ looming in Biblical prophecy of the END OF DAYS

A RABBI has warned a “biblical war” is looming over Israel that will herald the end of days amid renewed clashes on the Gaza Strip and ongoing tension with Iran and Syria.

By Henry Holloway

00.11, 13 Nov 2018 UPDATED 22.11, 13 Nov 2018

Rabbi Pinchas Winston – a prolific doomsayer who has penned 50 books – warned the holy land is facing a devastating war that may be the “final battle”.

He warned the Israel Defence Force must prepare for a horrific war that could spark at “any time”. It comes amid renewed clashes between Israelis and Palestinians on the Gaza Strip – with both sides exchanging fire.

And Israel continues to be at loggerheads with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s ongoing presence in Syria.

The scholar warned the next major conflict in the region may be the war leading into the end times – known as the War of Gog and Magog.

Putin and Trump are Trigger Happy

Vladimir Putin reveals he WILL fire nuclear weapon ‘sparking global catastrophe’

Matthew Kirkham

| UPDATED: 14:35, Fri, Nov 23, 2018

VLADIMIR Putin says he will be ready and prepared to fire a nuclear weapon, if Russia is subject to an incoming missile attack.

It is no secret that Putin feels a world without Russia “will not be the same”. In a personal interview with the Russian leader on Amazon Prime documentary “World Order”, Mr Putin discusses the controversial topic of Russia’s possible use of nuclear weaponry. Host Vladimir Solovjev asked: “When you have the nuclear button, when millions of lives are at stake, or maybe the whole humankind is in your hands, how do you make such decisions?”

In the documentary, released in March 2018, the Russian President claims “it is my Presidential responsibility”.

He then adds: “As for the nuclear button, I think it’s an inappropriate question, to put it mildly.

“We are not the first ones who started all this.

“Secondly, we have never used nuclear weapons. It was done by the United States in Japan. Who can guarantee it won’t happen again? Besides we are not the only nuclear state.”

He also pointed out that Russia’s military doctrine does not envision a preventive nuclear strike, underlining that Moscow would only use its nuclear weapons if an early warning systems detected missiles moving towards Russia.

He added: “But I want you to know, I want our people to know that our plans to use nuclear weapons, and I hope it will never happen, but, theoretically, it is the so-called ‘launch under attack’.”

According to the Russian leader, the decision to use nuclear weapons can only be taken if their early-warning system not only registers the launch of missiles, but also gives the exact prognosis of the trajectory.

Vladimir Putin watches the launch of a missile during a military exercise (Image: Getty)

In other words, if someone decides to destroy Russia, “we will have a legitimate right to retaliate,” Vladimir Putin confirms.

Mr Putin adds: “Yes, it will be a global catastrophe, a catastrophe for the entire world.”

Earlier this year, Putin also praised Russia’s growing hypersonic arsenal as “invincible” during a state of the nation address.

Vladimir Putin hits out at US for ‘political incompetence’

The weapons included a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and a new hypersonic missile.

Speaking at an international policy forum in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi earlier this year, Mr Putin revealed: ”The aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable, and he will be destroyed.

“We would be victims of an aggression and would get to heaven as martyrs.”