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 tunnelsair 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.
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.

The Powerful Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

China’s nuclear stockpile has been growing rapidly. Image: Pacific Forum / iStock

China: the forgotten nuclear power no more

China’s nuclear arsenal expansion has sent mixed messages but regardless of intent will be an enduring problem for the US

by David Santoro July 15, 2021

New evidence has surfaced that China may be expanding its nuclear arsenal – much more, and much faster than previously assumed.

Experts from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation obtained satellite images showing work underway on the construction of more than 100 new missile silos near Yumen. 

The evidence, which dropped June 30, has since focused the minds of US national security experts – as might have been expected given Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s description of China as America’s “pacing challenge.”

The discussion is still fluid, but two interpretations are emerging. One offers that China is reacting to US actions and that Washington should pursue arms control with Beijing – negotiate to get both sides to limit their forces and avoid an arms race.

The other interpretation holds that the new discovery means that there is a nuclear dimension to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise that China will have “the dominant position” in the world by 2049, and that Washington should double down on deterrence, including by fully modernizing its nuclear arsenal and more.

Yet neither negotiating arms control nor strengthening deterrence is a straightforward solution – nor are the two necessarily mutually exclusive. The Chinese nuclear arsenal, like other facets of Chinese power, is going to be an enduring problem for the United States.

As Admiral John Aquilino, the new Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, put it during his confirmation hearing earlier this year: “China is a long-term challenge that must be ‘managed’ rather than ‘solved.’”Admiral John Aquilino, commander of US Indo-Pacific Command. Photo: US Naval Institute

The arms control response

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of US-China strategic relations is aware that the United States is a major driver of China’s nuclear modernization program. Beijing is concerned by Washington’s nuclear superiority and its improved ability to find and destroy Chinese forces, or to intercept them with missile defenses.

China, plainly, fears that the United States might become capable of putting it in checkmate, achieving what Chinese diplomats call “absolute security.”

To solve that problem, Beijing has been expanding and perfecting its arsenal. In addition to building more nuclear weapons, it is investing in road-mobile missiles and sea-based platforms because these systems make it more difficult for Washington to target its forces, and it is adding multiple independent re-entry vehicles to its missiles to penetrate US missile defenses.

Of late, Beijing also seems to have embraced tactical nuclear use and nuclear warfighting options. In unofficial dialogs, Chinese strategists make clear that China’s modernization program is directed at the United States and, by extension, its allies.

Countering the United States and its allies is not the sole driver, however. In private discussions, Chinese strategists confess that Beijing is increasingly motivated by nuclear developments in India. As one such strategist explained: “Beijing now regards India as a deterrence problem, not as a proliferation problem.”

Chinese strategists are less forthcoming when asked whether Beijing considers Russia when it does defense planning, but some admit it is a factor.

While it is unclear if North Korea impacts Chinese calculations, it would be foolish to assume that defense planners in Beijing do not also contemplate conflict with their nuclear-armed neighbor given their complicated relationship.

Finally, analysts have explained that domestic and organizational factors are driving the Chinese modernization program as well.

The idea that a US push for arms control with China could solve the problem, then, is not obvious.China’s DF-41 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles at a military parade on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on October 1, 2019. Photo: AFP via Getty / Greg Baker 

It’s also not as if the United States had never tried. Since the 2000s, Washington sought to jump-start bilateral nuclear dialogue with Beijing for that purpose. Yet neither Washington’s initial “patient” approach nor, from the mid-2010s, its more confrontational stance, has yielded results. Beijing has declined to engage.

The United States could try harder. Chinese strategists have long insistedthat a US statement recognizing that the United States and China are in a situation of mutual vulnerability would help establish a foundation upon which US-China strategic stability can be built, despite the asymmetry of forces between the two countries.

Put differently, a US “vulnerability acknowledgment” could entice Beijing to engage in dialogue and arms control.

Research currently conducted by this author, however, suggests that it is not a given and that, in any case, an agreement would not emerge quickly. So deterrence will play an important – and possibly growing – role in US-China relations regardless of whether there is movement on arms control.

The deterrence response

The deterrers, unlike the arms controllers, think that engaging China is pointless. They believe that the latest news makes clear that China seeks nuclear parity with, perhaps even dominance over, the United States, and they argue that Washington should counter with a major nuclear update.

Without minimizing the problem, maintaining perspective about China’s nuclear build-up is essential. The US Department of Defense estimates that China’s stockpile is in the low hundreds – a fraction of the US and Russian stockpiles, which are in the low thousands. 

So, neither a doubling, tripling or even quadrupling of China’s stockpile would come close to US and Russian stockpile levels.

It is also unclear whether China seeks nuclear parity or dominance. Some analysts have the opinion that the latest evidence may show Beijing playing a shell game – moving a small number of missiles across a big matrix of silos to prevent its adversaries from locating the missiles.

It is a possibility worth considering, especially given that the United States has systematically over-predicted the future size of the Chinese arsenal.

More problematically, focusing on the quantitative growth of China’s arsenal risks underestimating its qualitative improvement – which is where Beijing has made the most progress.A formation of Dongfeng-17 missiles takes part in a military parade during the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at Tian’anmen Square in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua / Mao Siqian

Beijing has not only strengthened the survivability of its forces. It also seems to have developed new missions. With its new intermediate-range, dual-capable missiles, Beijing is now able to conduct limited nuclear counterforce use.

Beijing is also improving the readiness of its force, including by mating warheads with missiles (a first for China), and possibly moving towards a launch-on-warning posture.

Moreover, Beijing has been increasing its cyber and space power, and it is developing an integrated deterrence posture, notably through its Strategic Support Force.

This overview suggests that China poses little risk of nuclear aggression against the United States and that this will remain unchanged in the foreseeable future.

The danger was high in the US-Soviet context during the Cold War, and it has not disappeared in US-Russia relations today.

It is low in the US-China context because the Chinese arsenal is and will remain limited in comparison to the US arsenal. China will simply not have a first-user advantage against the United States.

What is present, however, is a risk of nuclear escalation in a conflict. With a more sophisticated arsenal, Beijing may become more aggressive at the conventional level, which could lead to wars and nuclear use.

One pathway to such use is a situation in which China is losing a war – for instance over Taiwan – and launches limited nuclear strikes to force the United States to give up the fight.

Another is a situation in which, again during a war, the United States hits Chinese nuclear forces with conventional weapons, prompting Beijing to go nuclear with its remaining forces. This is not far-fetched given the increasing entanglement between Chinese nuclear and conventional forces.

To be sure, the open-ended nature of China’s nuclear build-up raises legitimate questions for the United States about nuclear policy, strategy and force planning, especially given that Washington, for the first time, faces two major nuclear-armed adversaries – Russia and China – that are growing their forces and deepening their strategic cooperation.Russian and Chinese soldiers take aim in a 2018 joint military exercise. Image: Twitter

US nuclear deterrence is also important because it provides an essential backstop to out-of-control escalation.

But doubling down on nuclear deterrence will do little to address the rising risk of conflict and limited nuclear escalation with China. This problem is best solved with stronger conventional deterrence and tighter alliance relationships – to deter Chinese adventurism below the nuclear threshold – and, if there is a conflict, good crisis management with Beijing to prevent nuclear escalation, at least inadvertent escalation.

So, even from a deterrence perspective, there is a role for engagement with China. This is important, and it’s worth noting that the 1963 US-Soviet hotline agreement – a crisis management mechanism – was a prelude to arms control.

Just over 20 years ago, a few analysts lamented that China was a “forgotten nuclear power.” Today, Russia is still the United States’ primary nuclear problem, but China is taking center stage. 

Addressing nuclear China will be challenging, and neither arms control nor deterrence will, alone, be enough. The United States needs a more sophisticated approach, one for which it can – and should – lay down markers in the next US Nuclear Posture Review.

David Santoro (david@pacforum.org) is the President and CEO of the Pacific Forum in Honolulu. He is the editor of a new volume, US-China Nuclear Relations: The Impact of Strategic Triangles (Lynne Rienner, May 2021). Follow him on Twitter @DavidSantoro1.This article was originally published by Pacific Forum and is republished here with permission.

Photos in Kashmir before the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Photos: Indian troops kill suspected rebels in Kashmir attack

Indian forces kill three suspected rebels in a gun battle in Indian-administered Kashmir, triggering protests and clashes.

Indian forces have killed three suspected rebels in a shoot-out in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said, triggering anti-India protests and clashes between the troops and residents.

The Indian military on Wednesday said rebels opened fire at soldiers and police as counterinsurgency troops surrounded a neighbourhood in the southern town of Pulwama on a tip that some rebels were hiding there.

Troops retaliated and trapped the rebels in a house, according to a statement by the military. Three fighters were killed in the eight-hour operation and two rifles and a pistol were recovered from the site, the statement said.

Villagers said troops set fire to one house and blasted another with explosives, a common anti-rebel tactic employed by Indian troops in the disputed Himalayan region.

Authorities issued a curfew in Pulwama town and cut off internet access on mobile phone services, a tactic aimed at making organising anti-India protests difficult and discouraging the dissemination of protest videos.

Shortly after the attack, anti-India protesters threw stones at government forces and chanted slogans seeking the end of Indian rule over the region. Government forces fired tear gas at the protesters. No one was reported injured during the clashes.

Locals said government troops detained several people and forced them to sit in front of them as shields during the clashes.

Wednesday’s fighting comes amid a surge in violence in the region, which is divided between India and Pakistan with the nuclear-armed rivals claiming it in its entirety.

Last week, authorities in the region also dismissed 11 Kashmiris from their government jobs for alleged links with rebel groups. They included two sons of a top Kashmiri rebel commander who is based in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and two police officials.

Kashmiris have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Most people in the Muslim-majority region support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

India says the Kashmir rebellion is “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism”. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.

The War Outside the Temple Walls 2021: Revelation 11

Rockets from Gaza

The Gaza War 2021: Hamas and Iran Attack Israel

Lenny Ben-David, editor,   July 15, 2021

Rockets from Gaza, on the right, are seen in the night sky fired towards southern Israel from Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021, while Iron Dome interceptor missiles, on the left, rise to intercept them. (Anas Baba/AFP via Getty Images)

The Gaza War 2021: An Overview

Amb. Dore Gold


Hamas’ Goals, Strategy, and Miscalculations

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser


The Gaza War 2021: How Iran and Hizbullah View the Attacks on Israel

Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira,  Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, and Jerusalem Center – Iran Desk


The Media in the 2021 Gaza War:
The New York Times’ Journalistic Malpractice

Lenny Ben-David


The Legal War: Hamas’ War Crimes and Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

Amb. Alan Baker


Hamas’ Human Rights Violations in the 2021 Gaza War

Amelia Navins and Lenny Ben-David


Timeline: The 2021 Gaza War Followed a Long Record of Hamas-Initiated Attacks

Taylor Froomin and Lenny Ben-David


Did Israel Lose the Social Media War over Gaza?

Jonathan Conn


The Hamas and Islamic Jihad Leadership and their Ties to Iran

Evan Brown and Lenny Ben-David


Lenny Ben-David

Lenny Ben-David is the Jerusalem Center’s Director of Publications. Ben-David served 25 years in senior posts in AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem. He served as Israel’s Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy in Washington D.C. He is the author of the American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs (Urim Publications). View all posts by Lenny Ben-David

New York Shakes Before the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6:12

A preliminary magnitude 2.8 earthquake struck Wednesday near Massena.
A preliminary magnitude 2.8 earthquake struck Wednesday near Massena.Gary S Chapman/Getty Images

Magnitude 2.8 earthquake strikes near Massena, New York

News staff Updated: July 15, 2021 6:44 p.m.

The United States Geological Survey reports a preliminary magnitude 2.8 earthquake struck Wednesday near Massena.

The quake hit at 11:35 p.m. local time at a depth of about 3 miles.

There was no initial word on damage or injury resulting from the quake. More information on this earthquake is available on the USGS event page.

Although there hasn’t been an earthquake of this magnitude since November, earthquakes are a constant in New York state. Statewide, between 1737 and 2016, New York has been rattled by 551 earthquakes

The Formidable Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russia boasts of ‘most modernised military arsenal in the world’ after intercepting US warplanes as NATO tensions mount

RUSSIA boasts it now has the most modern and deadly military in the world – amid spiralling tensions with its old enemies within NATO.

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said its state-of-the-art arsenal is now a far cry from the days when the Kremlin used to put “tin cans” on parade.

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia has the most modern military in the world
Defence minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia has the most modern military in the worldCredit: East2West
Russian fighters escorted US strategic bombers over the Bering Sea today, claims the Kremlin
Russian fighters escorted US strategic bombers over the Bering Sea today, claims the KremlinCredit: East2West

He was speaking as Vladimir Putin’s military claimed two new flashpoint encounters with US military planes over the last 24 hours.

In the first incident MiG-31 and Su-35 fighters were scrambled to “escort” three US Air Force B-52H strategic bombers over the Bering Sea, according to the Russian National Defense Control Centre.

The “three air targets” were allegedly approaching Russian air space over neutral waters.

In the second, a MiG-31 was deployed to monitor a US Navy P-8A Poseidon spy plane which was “rapidly approaching” the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East.

“It was escorted over the waters of the Pacific Ocean along the southeastern coast of Kamchatka,” said a report of the incident. 

Earlier this week there was a similar incident in the Black Sea – where a Royal Navy ship had a run in with Russian coastguard just last month. 

“Russia has repeatedly reported the escalating activity of NATO aircraft near its borders, warning that such actions by the bloc near the country’s territory might result in incidents,” stated state media outlet Sputnik.

NUCLEAR THREAT

Shoigu said that Russia now had the highest level of modernised weaponry among any army in the world.

“Today all understand and state, some with anger and some with approval, that the Russian army has over 70 per cent of advanced armaments and military hardware,” he said.

“This is the highest percentage among the world’s armies.”

He added: “Speaking about the strategic nuclear forces, the level of modern weaponry is more than 80 per cent. 

“This figure equals 83 per cent for the strategic nuclear forces that are the backbone of the nuclear deterrence system, our nuclear shield.”

Russia has used the Syrian conflict to test more than 320 types of weapons, he said. 

“Nine years ago we were told we were taking  another tin can to the parade,” he said before adding “Today no-one is talking about it.”

Among the Russian arsenal are a new hypersonic weapons including the Zircon – which is due to undergo final tests in the next fortnight. 

Shoigu said Russia’s massive main naval parade in St Petersburg on 25 July “will involve 54 ships, including frigates from India, Iran and Pakistan, and more than 4,000 servicemen will participate”.

In May,  Putin vowed to defend Russia against threats from the West during a celebration to mark the end of Second World War.

He hailed the achievements of the Soviet Union in defeating Nazism at the vast Red Square military parade commemorating the 76th anniversary since the end of the war.

In the huge parade, there were 12,018 troops and 191 pieces of military hardware, including intercontinental ballistic missile launchers.

GUNS OUT

It included the wartime T-34 tanks but also cutting edge weaponry symbolising Russia’s rising military strength. 

These include Typhoon-PVO vehicles, the BMP-3 and BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles equipped with the Berezhok combat module, and the advanced Kurganets-25 infantry fighting vehicles. 

Other formidable weaponry included nuclear capable  Iskander-M tactical missile system, the Tornado-S multiple rocket launcher, the Msta-S and Koalitsia-SV self-propelled howitzers.

On display were the S-400 missile systems, the BMD-4M and BTR-MDM Rakushka airborne infantry fighting vehicles, and TOS-1A heavy flamethrower vehicles.

Showcased too were the Buk-M3 and Tor-M2 medium- and short-range anti-aircraft missile systems and  the Pantsyr-S anti-aircraft missile launcher.

Rattling over the cobbles of Red Square were the Yars ICBM launchers, BTR-82A APCs and advanced wheeled armoured personnel carriers based on the Boomerang platform.

An aerial display included Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers, Sukhoi Su-35S fighters, talong with Su-34 and Su-24M bombers.

Antichrist Al Sadr to boycott general election

Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr to boycott general election

US adversary and militia leader exerts considerable influence over Iraq’s political and social realm

Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr said on Thursday that he will not take part in the general election scheduled for October.

Mr Al Sadr has considerable influence over the government and political structures in Iraq. His party, Sairoon, won the 2018 parliamentary elections with 54 seats.

“To preserve what is left of the country and to save the country … I inform you that I will not take part in this election,” Mr Al Sadr said in a televised speech.

He said the ministers he supports would stand down from the government.

“This is due to a dysfunctional political system and international conspiracy against Iraq,” Mr Al Sadr said.

Mr Al Sadr is known to be a long-time adversary of the US who also opposes Iranian influence in the country.

He portrays himself as a nationalist fighting for the benefit of his country. He led the Mahdi army against foreign intervention, specifically the presence of US troops after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was disbanded in 2008.

He now leads Saraya Al Salam (Peace Companies) militia, which is part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces grouping of state-recognised militias.

In recent years he has voiced concerns about Tehran’s growing influence over Iraqi politics.

Watch out before Iraq’s fate becomes like that of Syria, Afghanistan or other states that have fallen victim to internal, regional and international policies

Moqtada Al Sadr

In his speech, Mr Sadr said Iraq was being subjected to a “satanic regional scheme to humiliate the country and to bring it to its knees”.

“Watch out before Iraq’s fate becomes like that of Syria, Afghanistan or other states that have fallen victim to internal, regional and international policies,” he said.

The populist cleric has a large following among the Iraqi public and has a history of making bombastic statements to galvanise support.

Most of his followers come from the eastern Baghdad slums and share the same grievances as many Iraqis over a lack of job opportunities, poor health care and education.

Mr Al Sadr also wields the power, through his family’s religious legacy which is based on nationalist ideologies and Islamic foundations, to encourage thousands of his followers to take to the streets.

Iraq’s elections are scheduled to take place on October 10, responding to a key demand of protests since late 2019 for an early ballot under a new electoral system.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in Baghdad and the southern provinces to vent their anger over corruption and the government’s inability to provide them with security and stability.

Demonstrators are calling for an end to endemic corruption by a political class that many believe squandered Iraq’s resources, including oil reserves, through greed and mismanagement.

Updated: July 15th 2021, 2:04 PM