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.

<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.

500 Thousand Protest Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Sea of green: 500,000 Palestinians gather in Gaza for Hamas anniversary rally

Hamas

Nearly half a million Palestinians have gathered for an afternoon rally commemorating the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas, the Islamist government in the Gaza Strip.

Schools of all levels, including Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, have announced the suspension of classes for the day to allows students to attend the Hamas rally.

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political chief, said in a speech at the rally that a technological device had been seized from the Israeli military after an undercover operation in Gaza was exposed last month, resulting in the death of an elite Israeli soldier and seven Palestinians and sparked the most severe escalation in violence between the sides since a 2014 war.

The device, Haniyeh said, exposed the IDF’s operational method in Gaza. The Hamas leader also commented on the two terror attacks in the West Bank this week, where two Israeli soldiers and a baby were killed in drive-by shootings.

“I will also respond to the Zionists who are saying what is happening in the West Bank is based on directives and arrangements from Gaza. This is an accusation that we do not deny… because it is a source of pride reigning over all of us,” Haniyeh said.

AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

“The men of the West Bank don’t need a remote control or an order,” he added.

Hamas said the first drive-by shooting that happened on Sunday last week was committed by one of its members in the West Bank. However, Hamas fell short of taking direct responsibility for the attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he had conveyed a message to Hamas following this week’s terror attacks in the West Bank.

“I sent a clear message to Hamas: We will not accept a situation in which there is a ceasefire in Gaza and terrorism in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). We will exact a heavy price for this,” Netanyahu said at his weekly cabinet meeting.

Hamas, which has its own security forces and military wing, aims to lead the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel. It is responsible for a long history of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and has fought in three wars against Israel since its founding in 1987.

Hamas’ rise to power began with the First Intifada, referred to also as the “stone uprising”, during which the movement worked to bolster tensions and ignite popular support for demonstrations against Israel.

AFP

Israel’s leadership has repeatedly said it considers Hamas responsible for all activity coming from Gaza, including recent rocket barrages launched by the Islamic Jihad terror group.

“After 31 years since the start of the Hamas movement, the occupation (Israel) is no longer the only one that controls the balance of the battle,” Hamas said in a statement leading up to the rally. “Rather, the resistance has become the most powerful…”

“This is proof of the growth of the resistance and its increase in all forms, day after day, and soon the day will come when the resistance will uproot the occupation from our land,” it reads.

Hamas has celebrated two shooting attacks against Israeli settlers in the West Bank last week, saluting the actions as proof the “resistance” was still alive outside of the Gaza Strip.

Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s ex-defense minister, responded to the attacks with a demand for the Israeli government to stop the transfer of Qatari money and fuel to Gaza, alleging Hamas was behind the two terror incidents.

AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

“It is clear beyond any doubt that at least in one case involved a Hamas cell operated by the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip,” Liberman claimed. “ I demand that the Israeli government immediately announce the cessation of the transfer of money and fuel in Qatari funding to the Gaza Strip.”

Meanwhile, on Friday, Hamas organized a “day of rage” during which some 10,000 Palestinians protested along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel against the blockade of the coastal enclave.

Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) said that several Palestinians attempted to breach the Gaza border fence into Israeli territory.

Iran Hegemony in Iraq Again (Daniel 8:3)

Iran Regime interferes in Iraqi politics again

Published: 16 December 2018

By INU Staff

INU- The Iranian Regime has once again begun to interfere in Iraqi politics, following the controversial elections earlier this year, to promote the interests of the Regime and threaten the Iraqi people’s way of life.

In fact, twice in the past week alone, the Iraqi parliament has blocked new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi from appointing candidates to key ministerial posts, with certain parties in the parliament strongly opposed to Mahdi’s insistence on having Faleh al-Fayadh as Interior Minister.

This has caused major blocs like Muqtada al-Sadr-backed Saairun to walk out of parliament every time Mahdi has scheduled Faleh al-Fayadh’s nomination, leaving the parliament without the required members for a vote, and as essentially left the government in a stalemate since the May elections.

Of course, it is not surprising that some would be opposed to al-Fayadh, the brutal security adviser to former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, given that he organised attacks on the Iranian Resistance refugees in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, killing 168 people and wounding a further 1,700. He also oversaw the ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population in areas like Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul by the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces under the pretence of fighting ISIS.

Essentially, Fayadh is a puppet of the Iranian regime, so it’s no wonder that the Iraqi parliament doesn’t want him in power.

The Iranian Regime, however, is desperate to see this. They’ve even sent General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, to visit Iraq on a diplomatic mission to push for his appointment, even ordering Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi to ensure that the vote was passed. Soleimani even flew to Erbil, Northern Iraq, to pressure the Kurds into backing al-Fayadh and, according to British security officials, is directing hit squads to assassinate critics of the Iranian regime and opponents of al-Fayadh.

This has, understandably, sparked major concerns about how the mullahs could well suppress the fledgeling democracy in Iraq in order to create their Shiite Crescent, a sphere of influence across the Middle East that would allow Iran to take control from the Gulf to the Mediterranean.

Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament from Scotland, wrote: “The Iranian mullahs’ malign interference in the internal affairs of Iraq has added to the growing crisis in the country, where there have been ongoing public protests against the corruption of the political elite and the resulting unemployment and lack of public services….

The international community must persuade al-Mahdi to dump the terrorist Fayadh and revert to the plan of appointing a cabinet composed of independent technocrats. Iranian interference in Iraq has cost the country dear. The blood-soaked sectarian legacy of Nouri al-Maliki and his henchman al-Fayadh should be a stark reminder that the mullah’s influence in Iraq has only ever been malevolent.”

Israel Keeps an Eye on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Netanyahu says Israeli agents ‘periodically visit’ Iran to monitor nuke program

PM tells diplomats: intelligence operatives working to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions ‘all over the world,’ and visit Islamic republic to ‘catch up’

By TOI STAFF

16 December 2018, 11:35 pm

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of diplomats on Sunday that Israeli agents continued to operate inside Iran as part of its efforts to thwart the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic republic.

We are fighting all over the world in regards to Iran’s nuclear program,” he said at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Jerusalem.

“We also visit there periodically… to ‘catch up,’” Netanyahu added without giving specific details.

Netanyahu was a vocal opponent of the US-led nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers in 2015 that lifted painful economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

The Israeli leader has repeatedly argued that the Obama-era deal will not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, after its restrictions expire in the next decade or so. US President Donald Trump, with whom Netanyahu is closely allied, withdrew from the accord in May and reimposed sanctions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech on files obtained by Israel, which he says prove Iran lied about its nuclear program, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Israel has admitted to covert operations inside Iran to thwart its nuclear program and undermine the agreement.

In April, Israel announced it had smuggled out of Iran more than 100,000 documents from a Tehran archive detailing the country’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu said at the time that the cache proved the Iranian leaders covered up their nuclear weapons program before signing the nuclear agreement. Iran has not acknowledged the alleged seizure.

In September, Netanyahu in his address at the UN General Assembly revealed what he said was a “secret atomic warehouse” outside Tehran, which contained nuclear materials that Iran was not allowed to posses without declaring them to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Both the archive and warehouse, he said in his UN speech, were proof that Iran had not given up its nuclear program.

He accused the IAEA of failing to investigate the cache of documents smuggled out of Iran by Israeli agents, and said he revealed the existence of the Tehran warehouse in an effort to goad the UN’s nuclear watchdog into taking action.

Photographs from the Iranian nuclear weapons archive, showcased by Israeli officials, of a metal chamber that Israeli officials said was housed at the Parchin military site and was built to conduct experiments as part of the Iranians’ rogue nuclear weapons program (Israeli government)

Last month, the Axios news site reported that the Trump administration promised Netanayahu that it would lean on the IAEA to examine the Israeli findings.

US Special Envoy Brian Hook told Israeli officials during a visit in November that the UN agency was “dragging its feet” in its investigation, and vowed that US officials would “work aggressively to make sure the IAEA seriously addresses all information provided by Israel, the US, and other countries regarding the Iranian nuclear program.”

Arab Ties

Netanyahu also addressed Israel’s burgeoning ties with the Arab world that have been largely driven by common fears over Iran.

“I won’t suspend efforts to reach peace with the Arab world until the Palestinians make peace with us. I won’t do it,” he says, describing a process of “normalization” with the region.

“We are going to the [Arab world] and are not subject to the whims of the Palestinians,” he says, repeating hopes that ties with the Arab world will open up new opportunities to reach a deal with the Palestinians.

The Arabs had in the past conditioned any normalization on Israel first reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu visited Oman last month and there has been increasing speculation of a breakthrough with Saudi Arabia, amid ongoing behind the scenes cooperation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

He also said Israeli bilateral trade with Turkey is on the rise, despite diplomatic tensions between the two former allies.

Antichrist Tells People To Prepare for ISIS

The ISIS demon haunts Iraq again

The government of Iraq announced December 10 a national holiday in which governmental institutions close to mark the first anniversary of defeating and expelling ISIS from the country. However, this is a bit misleading as ISIS has revived some of its activity in recent months in a number of areas from where it was expelled earlier. Statements about this activity is no longer limited to a number of journalists, security experts, political and civil activists, as even leaders of political blocs and influential parties have started issuing warnings against the dreaded terror group’s return.

Speaking at a press conference recently, leader of Kurdistan Democratic Party Masoud Barzani warned that “the ISIS threat is not over and has returned to (some) areas in a way that’s worse than before.” He said that it’s more dangerous than before, noting that the “organization strongly returned because the reasons that led to the rise of ISIS and al-Qaeda have not been resolved.”

A week before Barzani’s statement, leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr issued a warning on Twitter saying: “Mosul is in danger, terrorist cells are getting active and the corruptors are spreading destruction,” and added the hashtag ‘Save Mosul’.

The liberated areas, especially Nineveh Governorate, have recently witnessed a series of attacks, bombings, murders, kidnapping and road blockages attributed to ISIS. The menace extends as far as the Saladin Governorate in the south and the Diyala Governorate in the east. Under pressure from the pleas of the residents of these areas, Iraqi parliamentary members were forced to form an investigating committee for the security breaches in Mosul which had spread to several other western governorates.

It is obvious that this ‘return’ of ISIS is not because it has become very powerful. Official Iraqi statistics actually indicate that the number of its members killed in the war to restore areas they occupied since June 2014 exceeded 20,000

Adnan Hussein

It is obvious that this ‘return’ of ISIS is not because it has become very powerful. Official Iraqi statistics actually indicate that the number of its members killed in the war to restore areas they occupied since June 2014 exceeded 20,000. This is in addition to hundreds of prisoners held by Iraqi forces. Meanwhile, the international coalition sources estimate 80,000 members of ISIS were killed in Iraq and Syria.

Endemic corruption

The secret behind ISIS’s resurging activity is linked to the Iraqi state which has not been able to bring normalcy in the liberated areas. There are still tens of thousands of families who fled cities and villages during the military operations against ISIS and have been incapable of returning and continue to live miserably in camps.

This is all due to the state’s inability to rebuild the devastated areas, despite allocation of funds for the process — most of which were provided by rich Arab and foreign countries. The inability to reconstruct these areas is due to the reluctance among government departments to initiate reconstruction operations. There have been frank accusations against government officials of having swindled reconstruction money, in collusion with contractors and the companies that were supposed to carry out reconstruction operations.

This is a general problem in Iraq as according to government sources, the number of stalled investment projects in Iraq is over 30,000. Corruption is the main stumbling block. In Mosul, the largest city invaded by ISIS in 2014, there is no sign of commencement of any government reconstruction program. In fact, all the reconstruction effort, such as the rebuilding of houses and institutions in the city has been done by the local residents, who have received modest support from local and foreign charity organizations.

Another reason that has helped ISIS revive is that some military and security forces tasked with protecting and securing the liberated areas did not perform their duties like they should in a way that helps them gain the locals’ approval and hence cooperation. The head of the previous parliamentary security and defense committee, Hakim al-Zamili, recently stated that some military units’ preoccupation with financial affairs, selling lands, accepting bribes, smuggling scrap, drugs, goods and oil have helped in the return of terrorist groups to Mosul and its outskirts. This is reminiscent of the situation in Mosul and other western areas and cities just before ISIS invaded them.

The faltering center

According to local media reports, some officials of armed groups that participated in the liberation of Mosul a year ago have taken off their military suits and become businessmen. Many of them now control the oil market, real estate and auctions in the city. Influential parties are also involved in such practices and have formed “economic committees” to regulate them. This is why during his meeting with Nineveh Governorate MPs three weeks ago, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said he will work toward dissolving these partisan “economic committees.”

Certainly, the political crisis which Baghdad has experienced recently over the issue of government formation, wherein even the ministers of defense and interior have not been appointed, has exacerbated the situation.

It has hindered the restoration of much needed security and stability for launching reconstruction projects in the devastated cities. It has also impeded the return of displaced citizens to their areas to support the military and security forces in confronting the terrorist militia that is making efforts to restore its previous status via its sleeper cells in several areas and cities and its armed groups that roam freely. Truth is, if the current situation continues as such, it will encourage ISIS to expand and escalate its operations in the future while the influential political class in Baghdad remains preoccupied with its conflicts over government posts.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein.

Last Update: Saturday, 15 December 2018 KSA 12:56 – GMT 09:56

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English’s point-of-view.