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.


A Palestinian demonstrator returns a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip January 4,2019. (photo credit:” IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)



An ambulance was also hit with gas bombs in eastern Gaza, wounding six paramedics, the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

One Palestinian was killed and dozens more injured by IDF fire during the weekly protests which saw some 10,000 demonstrators riot along the Gaza security fence.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 25 year-old Ehab Atallah Abed was killed during clashes with IDF troops east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Another 24 were injured including fourteen minors, the ministry was quoted by Palestinian Wafa news as saying.

An ambulance was also hit with gas bombs in eastern Gaza, wounding six paramedics, the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that the rioters had been burning tires,throwing rocks and hand grenades at Israeli troops who responded by riot-dispersal means, including firing rubber-coated steel rounds and live bullets at the protesters.

According to the military, two grenades were thrown at an army vehicle along the fence in the northern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and no damage was done to the vehicle.

Earlier on Friday two Palestinians were taken into custody after they crossed the border fence from Gaza. The military said they were unarmed.

The demonstrations took place against the backdrop of Hamas’s refusal to accept funds from Qatar and the escalation in violence last week.  Islamic Jihad, the second largest group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, voiced support for the Hamas move and called for the continuation of the weekly demonstrations near the border with Israel.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza over 210 Palestinians have been killed and over 23,000 others injured since the beginning of the Great March of Return protests along Gaza border which began on March 30,calling for an end of the 12 year long Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed and several wounded since March, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during a botched special forces operation inside Gaza.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in the blockaded coastal enclave has warned numerous times that health facilities and services will soon be forced to cease operation due to a severe fuel crisis.

Also on Friday a Palestinian was killed by IDF troops near the village of Silwad.

The military said that troops had opened fire on three men who had been throwing stones at Israeli vehicles traveling on Route 60. The suspects received medical treatment at the scene by the force, but one later succumbed to his wounds.

The event will be investigated, the army said.

The Upcoming War with Iran

Popular Mobilization Forces parade in Basra

The Iranian-American Upcoming Confrontation in Iraq

Diyari Salih

Iran worries that the dismantling of PMF will mean losing a strong friend affecting the nature of the Iranian interests in Iraq.

Thursday 24/01/2019

Since 1979, the US has been looking at Iran as an enemy. It made all possible efforts to prevent Iran from extending its influence outside its geographical borders. It supported Saddam Hussein regime during the 1980s war against Iran to stop it from turning into a great regional power. Later, when Saddam became a threat to the American interests in this region, especially after invading Kuwait in 1990, the Americans decided to topple him. In 2003, they opened the Pandora’s box that they cannot now manage the results of that step.

Iraqis, who felt happy because of ridding themselves of dictatorship, are now facing another blow: the Iranian-American battle on their rich land. Both of these powers were accused of being behind the civil war in 2006 that left many Iraqi victims.

These players are now blamed because they lead Iraq to the brink. Iraqis must not allow the others to turn their country into an arena for settling the regional and international accounts. This is the difficult mission that Iraq’s elite must take upon themselves.

Zarif in Iraq

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif paid a long visit to Iraq. Unlike the American leaders, he confirmed that he could move freely and safely in the Iraqi cities. He visited Baghdad, Erbil, Sulaimanya, Najaf and Karbala cities. He met with tribal elders, religious leaders and militia fighters. Zarif wanted to send a clear message to the Americans: Iraq is our living space.

Zarif stated that the Iranians would stay here in Iraq while the Americans would be forced to leave. It is the rhetoric of war through which he tried to mobilize the Iraqis who are sympathized with it. He wanted to say that Iran is working hard on a brain and heart gain as it considers this a basic cornerstone in its geopolitical aspirations in this part of the Middle East.

Ideologically, the US is an enemy in the eyes of Iraqi Shiites. This can be an added reason for the Iranians to think about their strong relations with them to stand against the US.

Zarif, for the first time talked about the new Iranian project in Iraq. He noted that his government would support the policies of improving the standard of living in Iraq. Iran would also apply a grand strategy to enhance Iraq’s economy for sustainable development.

Cooperation with Iraq in the Nuclear programs according to the international norms would be a priority to Tehran in the next years.

It seems that Iran has too late realised that its policies in Iraq were wrongly conducted. It paid a lot price for that fault. Iraq is no longer a stable country, nor has it any ability to face great challenges. Without the Iranian-American assistance, the war against IS in Iraq could not have been ended successfully.

However, the Iranian-American approach of conflict will lead to more chaos in this country. Thus, Iraq’s policymakers are in urgent need to think twice about how they could find a way out of this stalemate. Otherwise, we are going to face a bloody phase that brings back to memory what happened in Iraq in 2006-2007.

Pompeo in Baghdad

The American secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo had visited Baghdad. He had conversations with the Iraqi officials about the American sight to the Iraqi situation. He met with the Iraqi PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

Many sources said that he warned the Iraqi side that the Trump administration would not tolerate popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Therefore, Iraq must solve this problem as soon as possible.

He informed Abdul-Mahdi that Israel might attack PMF in western Iraq Iraq. Washington will not prevent this scenario in case Iraq does not positively reply to the American desire of dissolving PMF.

Pompeo affirmed that Iran had withdrawn its troops from Syria, but its allies are still deployed in al-Anbar and in the west of Mosul. They are mobilized and trained in Iraq. And they are now spreading along the Iraqi-Syrian borders. The White House believes this will result in changing the balance of power in favor of Iran.

Geopolitically, this area is important. It considers a geographical corridor to connect the areas of what is called ” the axis of resistance”. It controls the highways connecting Iraq with its neighbours: Syria and Jordan.

It is the soft zone where IS emerged and extended its hegemony on 40% of Iraq’s territories. Additionally, it is in the heart of the Chinese plan to revive the Silk road. If the others successfully assert themselves there, the US and its partners will lose a lot. Hence, it is expected that PMF will be attacked in this region.

Pompeo, in this context, insisted that if his country’s  embassy in Baghdad is assaulted, the American troops will attack the headquarters of PMF in Baghdad. This means, that the war is looming.

The Next Trade-off

A few days ago, Iraq was the center of world media attention. Many top foreign and Arab leaders visited it. French minister of foreign affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian was one of them. He went to al-Najaf, the hub of creating the Shiite rationality, and met with its religious figures. He conveyed a message to explain the seriousness of the situation on the ground. And he mentioned that IS is still a threat that all parties must work together to counter it.

Personally, I think he attempted to convince the Shiite clerics to release a Fatwa to end the problem of PMF. In a related context, On Friday’s sermon, A Shiite clergyman, Mohamed Mahdi al-Khalissi, called the Iraqi government to disarm and demobilize the Iraqi military groups. In exchange, it must legislate a parliamentary act through which the foreign troops can be compelled to leave Iraq.

There is no sign that the USA will accept this equation, nor will the Iranian side do. The Americans fear that Iran will fill the vacuum after their withdrawal from Iraq.

Iran worries that the dismantling of PMF will mean losing a strong friend affecting the nature of the Iranian interests in Iraq. Hence, as Iraqis, we have to produce more options to settle this tension if we want to avoid the shadow of war in our country. In the end, this is the function of politics: Finding the solutions.

Diyari Salih is an Iraqi academic, Ph.D. in Political Geography, Baghdad, Post-Doctorate in International Relations, Warsaw, Focuses on the Geopolitical Issues in Iraq.

Iran Prepares for World War 3

Iranian members of the Basij militia march during a parade / Getty Images

Iran to Launch ‘Massive’ War Drills

Military sends warning to enemies

Adam KredoJanuary 24, 2019 2:19 pm

Iranian military leaders announced on Thursday that the Islamic Republic would be launching a “massive” set of war drills later this week that will include the regime’s Army’s Ground Force and some 12,000 “combat and mobile forces,” according to Iran’s state-controlled media.

“The massive Eqtedar 97 war games of the Army’s Ground Force will be staged for two days in an extensive area of Isfahan region on Friday,” Iranian General Kiomars Heidari, commander of its ground force, said on Thursday.

The military leader disclosed that “different home-made weapons will be tested in the drills and various types of military equipment, including helicopters, drones and fighter jets will be used” in the war games, according to a report carried in the semi-official Fars News.

The military display is meant to send a message of reassurance to regional allies and one of warning to “enemies” of the Islamic Republic, Heidari said.

“The message of wargames for the friends of Iran is that they can consider the country’s military capabilities as part of the power of Islam’s army, meantime, adding that the Iranian army is always ready to give a crushing and quick response to any aggression by enemies,” Fars reported.

Iran conducted similar military drills earlier this month. Those war drills included heavy bombers and large refueling planes, such as those made by Boeing. Other types of large transportation planes and drones carried “precision-striking missiles and long-range smart bombs,” according to Iranian military leaders.

Meanwhile, Iraqi militia leaders operating in contested areas of Iraq disclosed this week Iran and its terror proxy group Hezbollah are responsible for teaching these jihadists how to build improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, that were used to kill and maim U.S. forces in the country since around 2004.

Sheikh Akram Al-Kaabi, the Al-Nujaba militia leader, disclosed the extent of Iran’s footprint during a wide-ranging interview earlier this month.

“The brothers from Hizbullah and from the IRGC helped us in that battle in Najaf. Even in Sadr City, there were Iranian consultants. There was an IRGC officer called Abu Ali, who was originally from Ahwaz and spoke fluent Arabic,” Al-Kaabi said in an interview on the militant group’s television channel that was subsequently translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“He was with us in Najaf, and he helped us with the battle management and provided much-needed basic and important advice,” he continued. “We realized that if we use these capabilities and expertise in a more extensive way, we will have better results.”

“One brother, called Abu Turab, was known to all the brothers in the Mahdi Army,” he disclosed. “He was with us in Baghdad also. This brother from Hezbullah specialized in engineering and had a lot of expertise in matters of combat. He trained many of our brothers. Our chief engineer in Najaf, Dr. Jassem Al-Abadi, who was martyred, was among the first to be trained by that brother from Hezbullah and by the brothers from the IRGC,” Iran’s paramilitary group that operates outside of its borders.

“So we realized that if we acquired more capabilities, things would improve,” Al-Kaabi said, praising Iran. “Our morale was high. Our mujahideen were ready to make sacrifices. So we decided to take this path and acquire a lot of expertise. So we developed our relationship with the brothers in Hizbullah and the IRGC. Both Hizbullah and the IRGC were open with us about everything.”

Antichrist to End US Presence

Iraq mulls law that would end foreign military presence

By Idris Okuducu


Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Bloc, which dominated Iraqi legislative polls last year, has submitted a bill to parliament that would, if passed, require all foreign military personnel to leave the country within one year.

At a Friday press conference in Baghdad, Sairoon Chairman Sabah Assadi said the proposed “Law against Foreign Military Deployments in Iraq” had already been submitted to Parliamentary Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi for review.

“The speaker’s office will now confer with the assembly’s security, legal, defense and foreign relations committees to discuss the next step,” Assadi said. 

If passed, he explained, the bill would require all foreign military deployments — including troops and advisers — to leave the country within one year of ratification. 

The U.S. ended combat operations in Iraq in 2010, after which it ostensibly focused solely on training Iraqi forces.

After a U.S.-led coalition was established in 2014 to fight the Daesh terrorist group, however, roughly 5,000 U.S. troops were redeployed to Iraq.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.

The Rising Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Saudi Arabia May Be Building Its First Weapons for a ‘Missile Race in the Middle East,’ Experts Say

By Tom O’Connor On 1/24/19 at 5:23 PM

Saudi Arabia is reportedly building its first known ballistic missile factory amid a regional push for new weapons capabilities and increased efforts by the United States and Israel to counter their mutual foe Iran.

In a report published Wednesday by The Washington Post, leading experts said satellite imagery dating back to November appears to show Saudi Arabia’s debut ballistic missile factory located at an existing missile base near the central town of Al-Watah. While the kingdom was already known to possess foreign-made ballistic missiles, this would reportedly be the first known instance of Riyadh manufacturing the weapons indigenously.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and founder of the Arms Control Wonk blog, and his team discovered the photos, raising “the possibility that Saudi Arabia is going to build longer-range missiles and seek nuclear weapons,” according to The Post. Lewis said that “we may be underestimating their desire and their capabilities.”

The findings were further confirmed by Michael Elleman of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and Joseph Bermudez of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Fabian Hinz, who worked alongside Lewis and fellow researcher David Schmerler, told Newsweek that their analysis “shows we are already seeing a missile race in the Middle East” as “Saudi Arabia has had missiles since the 1980s, but originally it was a very limited capability of doubtless military utility.” He added: “Then they began expanding it. And now, the fact that they build a factory and the sheer size of their missile force shows they are really strategically committed to missiles.”

Media reports of a Saudi ballistic missile base in Al-Watah first surfaced in the form of an article published in July 2013 by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. The site revealed satellite imagery that appeared to show surface-to-surface missile sites being constructed to accommodate the deployment of Chinese Dongfeng DF-3A intermediate-range ballistic missiles, purchased in the 1980s during a brutal war between regional foes Iraq and Iran.

Just two years after that conflict ended in 1988, Iraq invaded Kuwait, prompting a massive U.S. military response as an incursion into oil-rich Saudi Arabia was feared and Iraqi forces fired missiles at the kingdom. The U.S. later toppled the Iraqi government in 2003 on the pretext—later proven false—that it possessed weapons of mass destruction, a move that spurred a violent Sunni Muslim insurgency and, as the U.S. Army acknowledged in a recent report, deeply empowered Iran.

Revolutionary Shiite Muslim Iran and conservative Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia have for decades contended for influence across the Middle East and the former has managed to build the largest missile arsenal in the region. As tensions between the two played out in various proxy wars, Saudi Arabia publicly unveiled its DF-3A arsenal for the first time during a military parade in April 2014. That same year, Newsweek reported that the CIA helped facilitate a secret deal to allow Saudi Arabia to buy improved Chinese DF-21 missiles in 2007.

By early 2015, a Zaidi Shiite Muslim group known as Ansar Allah (or the Houthis) took over the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, sparking a Saudi-led military campaign in support of the Yemeni government’s attempts to retake the country from rebels suspected of receiving Iranian support. The Houthis have fired short-range ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia on multiple occasions, potentially accelerating Riyadh’s desire for its own domestically-built missile force as the war there continues to stagnate.

The Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force publicly unveils the kingdom’s China-built Dongfeng DF-3A intermediate-range ballistic missiles at a northeastern base in Hafr al-Batin, April 29, 2014. Saudi Arabia purchased Chinese missiles at the height of destructive war between nearby Iran and Iraq and may be seeking to build its own as regional tensions erupt again. Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia

While Saudi’s intervention in Yemen initially brought Riyadh and Washington together, persistent reports of the kingdom committing war crimes have begun to foster deep opposition to the Pentagon’s involvement there, especially after journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying by government agents at Istanbul’s Saudi consulate in October. Though President Donald Trump and his top officials have stood by their Saudi ally, the Senate has already moved to halt military assistance to Saudi Arabia, which has already expressed its potential to graduate from conventional to strategic means of defense.

Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and now-former Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir both warned that the kingdom would seek nuclear weapons if Iran did. Tehran has long argued that its own nuclear program was never intended to be weaponized and has abided by the terms of a 2015 deal restricting its production, but this agreement was threatened last year by the Trump administration’s decision to leave the accord and reinstate sanctions.

Iran has so far remained in compliance with the deal as fellow signatories China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom attempt to save the arrangement in the wake of the U.S. pullout, but Iranian officials have warned they could restart nuclear production at any point. As for Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed already launched the country’s first nuclear project in November, which was also ostensibly only for energy purposes.

While Hinz told Newsweek that “it is difficult to tell” whether Saudi Arabia was preparing to go nuclear with its alleged new missiles because their exact model was unknown and “you have a large global trend towards conventionally armed ballistic missiles, which muddies the waters even further,” he said that “if you want to have nuclear weapons, in general, you also want to have the means to domestically build the delivery systems.”

This combination of pictures taken on September 22, 2018 shows the long-range Iranian missiles Ghadr F (top), Sejil (center), and “Khoramshahr” (bottom) being shown during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in the capital Tehran. AFP/Getty Images

Hinz pointed out that the regional “missile race” was not limited to Iran and Saudi Arabia, but also included a scramble for new homemade capabilities among nations like Israel, Turkey and others seeking foreign assistance. A leaked State Department cable showed the United Arab Emirates purchased missile technology from North Korea in 2015 and Qatar followed in its Saudi rival’s footsteps by parading Chinese-made missiles in 2017. Algeria has reportedly received Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems from Russia and Syria was allegedly building missile factories with help from Iran, who has been accused of supplying the Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemeni Houthi movements as well.

“I would say there are two trends that really merge here. One is the old quest for prestige and the idea that if your enemies have it you need it, too. The other one is an increasing popularity of conventionally-armed short-range ballistic missiles, which due to increased precision can today be effectively used as conventional weapons systems,” Hinz told Newsweek. “But I would say, Iran and Saudi really stand out because of the sheer size of their missile forces. Saudi Strategic Rocket Forces are an own branch of their military, which is something very rare.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s other top two foes Israel and the U.S. have attempted to rally support for a campaign to politically and physically isolate Iran, whose allied militias extend through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Israel has accelerated its airstrikes against alleged Iranian targets in Syria, prompting rare public rebuke from Russia—which itself has joined China in warning of a new “arms race” due to Trump’s latest missile defense plan that was partially inspired by Iran’s advances in weapons development. The U.S. has also set out to co-host with Poland a conference next month in Warsaw that was originally set to “focus on Iran” as Secretary of Mike Pompeo said, though European pressure has watered down this message, which followed a “counter-Iran revolution” tour of the Middle East by the top U.S. diplomat.