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.

Iran intensifies attacks on US bases in Syria to win nuclear negotiations: Daniel 8:4

Elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) on the Syrian-Turkish borders (AFP)

Enab Baladi – Jana al-Issa

United States’ bases in Syria and Iraq have been heavily targeted over the past two weeks, with the US Defense Department (the Pentagon) blaming Iran for the attacks.

In a press briefing held on13 July, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby responded to a question regarding Iranian attacks by saying, “These attacks are dangerous and potentially lethal, and the Pentagon takes them seriously.”

The recent attacks indicate that Iran has been planning on escalating its military targeting of US bases. On 13 July, Reuters cited three sources from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and two Iraqi security sources who said that IRGC chief Hossein Taeb headed an Iranian delegation to Iraq and urged Iraqi Shi’ite militias to step up attacks on US targets during a meeting in the Iraq capital, Baghdad, last week.

Iranian officials advised the Iraqis not to go too far in their attacks on US forces in Syria to avoid a big escalation, Reuters quoted the sources.

Reuters cited a senior official in the region, who was briefed by Iranian authorities on Taeb’s visit, that Taeb met several Iraqi militia leaders during the trip and conveyed “the supreme leader’s message to them about keeping up pressure on US forces in Iraq until they leave the region.” 

Would Iran force US troops out of Syria and Iraq?

report by the Iranian al-Alam news TV channel entitled “Messages of the Five Targeting Operations Against American Occupation Bases in Syria” mentioned on 16 July that Iran’s long-term motives behind these attacks are to force US forces out of Syria by “popular resistance adopted by Iran through the attacks.”

Meanwhile, the short-term Iranian target is to pressure the US to “change its policy in Syria and ease sanctions,” the report said.

Iranian affairs researcher Alaa al-Sa’id told Enab Baladi that the Iranian targeting of US bases in Syria and Iraq does not put any pressure on America to leave these countries.

Al-Sa’id added that the US withdrawal from any country is not subject to Iranian pressures or the pressures of other sides. Such a decision is “purely American,” taken according to US interests with the aim of protecting national security.

Syrian writer and political analyst Zakariya Malahfji told Enab Baladi that Iranian attacks are not up to the aim of forcing US troops to withdraw from their bases in Syria or Iraq. Iran is involving itself in shenanigans, targeting US bases to win a pressure card on negotiating tables.

Iran’s attacks in Syria coincided with fiercer ones in Iraq targeting US interests there, opening the door to the possibility of Washington withdrawing its troops from the country it entered in 2003 to overthrow the regime of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

On 17 July, the US Associated Press news agency reported that a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi would take place in the White House on 26 July.

The meeting comes at a pivotal point in the US-Iraq relationship, and amid growing concerns about more frequent attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria, the Associated Press said.

Since Biden took office in January, there have been at least eight drone attacks targeting the US presence, as well as 17 rocket attacks, according to the Associated Press.

An ostensible objective

Al-Sa’id said that Iran’s claim that its attacks aim to pressure the US to ease economic sanctions against the Syrian regime is nothing but an “ostensible objective.”

He added that Iran’s real objective behind attacking US bases in Syria is to use the Syrian regime’s forces on battlefields and drain their sources in case Iran was attacked back.

Since the US imposed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, also known as the Caesar Act, entailing sanctions on the Syrian regime, Iranian officials released many statements rejecting US sanctions claiming that they “affect the lives of Syrian people.”

The statements also mentioned Iran’s assistance and support to the regime in the face of US sanctions in various sectors, chiefly oil derivatives.

New presidency, new goals

On 19 June, Ebrahim Raisi won the Iranian presidential elections after receiving the highest percentage of votes with 63 percent of the voters.

Al-Sa’id said that Iran’s new presidency and intensified attacks are interrelated in the sense that the new presidency led by Raisi wants to show itself strong at the beginning of its term. 

Raisi wants to appear strong to silence his opponents, on the one hand, and to send a message to the US on Iran’s force to ease pressures related to nuclear talks in Vienna, al-Sa’id added.

Political analyst Malahfji pointed out that Raisi is a hardliner who is accused of several war crimes and that his election to the presidency indicates Iran’s intentions of escalation. 

The new Iranian presidency is trying to pressure the US indirectly to win the Vienna talks between Tehran, the US, and world powers on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna, which restricted Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

In July, the US base in the al-Omar oil field in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor was targeted three times, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby denied the targeting of the US base in the al-Omar oil field and said that there were no military exercises for the US-led International Coalition Forces (ICF) in the area.

Iran has officially declared on many occasions that its presence in Syria is for advisory reasons at the Syrian government’s demand. However, since its early intervention in Syria, Iran has supported the regime politically, militarily, and economically and expanded its influence in Syria during the past years in various military, economic, and cultural fields.

The Russian nuclear Horn threatens WW3: Daniel

Russia claims it successfully trialled the fastest hypersonic missile in the world
Russia claims it successfully trialled the fastest hypersonic missile in the worldCredit: East2West

WW3 fears as Russia warns US not to deploy hypersonic missiles in Europe

6:05 ET,

RUSSIA has warned US plans to deploy hypersonic missiles in Europe could spark World War III.

The Russian Embassy in the US warned of an “inadvertent conflict” if the US pushed ahead with the deployment of the long-range rockets in Europe.

Recent Russian wargames in Europe have caused tensions to rise in the region
Recent Russian wargames in Europe have caused tensions to rise in the regionCredit: East2West
Russian president Vladimir Putin has been accused of greenlighting 'destabilizing activities' in Europe
Russian president Vladimir Putin has been accused of greenlighting ‘destabilizing activities’ in EuropeCredit: AP

“We would like to remind @PentagonPressSec that potential deployment of any [American flag] hypersonic [missile] in Europe would be extremely destabilizing,” a tweet from the Embassy’s official Twitter account read.

“Their short flight time would leave [Russian flag] little to no decision time and raise the likelihood of inadvertent conflict.”

Washington says it’s checking Russia’s “destabilizing activities” in the region, which has included a British destroyer coming under fire from Russian fighter jets in the Black Sea and the allegedly successful testing of the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile.

“It’s important to note that Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are potentially destabilizing and pose significant risks because they are nuclear-capable systems,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby shot back.

Kirby said the US was working “closely with allies and partners, including NATO, to try to check those destabilizing activities”.

‘TRULY UNPARALLED’

The deadly Zircon – or Tsirkon was unleashed at a speed of Mach 8 at a land target from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea off the northwest coast of Russia on Sunday.

The target more than 220 miles away was hit in the Zircon’s first state trial and the missile’s “tactical and technical characteristics were confirmed”, reported state-owned RIA Novosti and Defence Ministry TV channel Zvezda.

No further details were immediately given of the White Sea trial.

Last week it was revealed Russia was set to begin final tests of the hypersonic missile.

The Zircon has been identified by Moscow’s state-controlled TV as Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out coastal American cities in the event of a nuclear conflict. 

The Kremlin leader has called the Zircon missile “truly unparalleled in the world”, and the Russians have boasted it is “unstoppable” by Western defences.

A key use of the missile is taking out enemy ships and reports suggested its maximum range is between 188 and 620 miles. 

It is one of a number of hypersonic missiles Russia is developing including the 188-tonne Sarmat – known in the West as Satan-2 and the biggest beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal, due for tests in the autumn, and to go into service next year.

GOING NUCLEAR

Washington has tried to reduce their number of nukes but says foreign powers have moved in the opposite direction.

According to a bombshell Pentagon report, no potential adversary to the US “has reduced either the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy of the number of nuclear weapons it fields”.

The report warns of potential regional conflicts involving nukes in several parts of the world.

Russia’s strategic nuclear modernization has greatly increased, meaning Moscow can expand its warhead numbers, according to the report.

Beijing is reportedly considering whether to develop autonomous nuclear weapons systems, the New York Post reports.

Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters earlier this month that if foes of the US were to continue developing these kinds of weapons and aerial systems then it would have “the potential to change the strategic stability environment in a dynamic way.”

North Korean officials have fast-tracked testing of missiles capable of reaching American shores while Iran reportedly has the technology and capacity to create a nuclear weapon within a year, MailOnline reports.

Pyongyang reportedly poses the “most immediate and dire proliferation threat” to the international order, according to the defense report.

Officials are also concerned about Iran’s “aggressive strategy,” which could destabilize relations in the Middle East, and experts are suspicious about Tehran’s commitment to reducing their nuclear arsenal.

The report recommended: “Flexible and limited US nuclear response options can play an important role in restoring deterrence following limited adversary nuclear escalation.”

And Washington’s nuclear program must only be used in “extreme circumstances” and government officials must communicate in ways that are understood by rogue powers.

The publication of the report comes as the US and Russia extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for five years.

Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019.

The pact mandated the US and Soviet Union to eliminate nuclear missiles that had ranges of 500-5,500km.

The Asian nuclear horns continue to grow: Daniel 7

Asian countries stockpile powerful new missiles

Asia’s missile proliferation will fuel suspicions, trigger arms races, increase tensions and ultimately cause crises and even wars

  • By Josh Smith / Reuters, SEOUL

Asia is sliding into a dangerous arms race as smaller nations that once stayed on the sidelines build arsenals of advanced long-range missiles, following in the footsteps of powerhouses China and the US, analysts say.

China is mass producing its DF-26, a multipurpose weapon with a range of up to 4,000km — while the US is developing new weapons aimed at countering Beijing in the Pacific.

Other countries in the region are buying or developing their own new missiles, driven by security concerns over China and a desire to reduce their reliance on the US.

An Indigenous Defense Fighter fighter jet and Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missiles are seen last September at Makung Air Force Base in the offshore island of Penghu.

Before the decade is out, Asia will be bristling with conventional missiles that fly farther and faster, hit harder and are more sophisticated than ever before — a stark and dangerous change from recent years, analysts, diplomats and military officials say.

“The missile landscape is changing in Asia, and it’s changing fast,” said David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum.

Such weapons are increasingly affordable and accurate, and as some countries acquire them, their neighbors don’t want to be left behind, analysts said. Missiles provide strategic benefits such as deterring enemies and boosting leverage with allies, and can be a lucrative export.

The AntiChrist may cancel the Iraqi election

Sadr supporters celebrate after Iraq elections (Getty)

Iraq’s early parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, may be delayed if opposition parties boycott the poll, according to leading political figures.

Iraq’s powerful Shia Sadrist Movement, led by religious cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, as well as other parties and grassroots movements which emerged from the 2019 anti-government uprising, have all decided to snub the general election, planned for 10 October.

Sadr announced last week he will not participate in the process and withdrew his support for the government amid a wave of hospital fires and other acts of perceived corruption and ineptitude by Iraqi authorities.

Muhammad Al-Khalidi, the head of the Bayariq Al-Khair parliamentary bloc, claimed on Tuesday that most political leaders do not want the October elections to go ahead.

Speaking to a local news agency, Al-Khalidi stated there were problems with holding the elections on time as Sadr’s decision to boycott was “not arbitrary”.

He believes a boycott by the Sadrist Movement and other anti-government parties could mean the participation rate in the election would not exceed 10 percent.

The MP said we will know next month if the elections will be held in October or postponed until April 2022.

He said: “Postponing the elections is better than holding them incomplete and when the participants are not convinced.”

Ahmed Haqqi of the Iraqi Civil Movement told The New Arab’s sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that security concerns might be another factor for delaying the election. 

“The government has not yet provided any reassurances with regards to the constituencies in which armed militias are deployed and have control, who also have political wings participating in the elections,” he said.

There have been no reassurances either for “securing the safety of voters themselves and ensuring the integrity of the elections and not affecting voters’ (decisions)”, he added.

At least 35 people were killed and dozens wounded when a suicide bomber targeted a crowded market in Sadr City, a Shia neighbourhood in Baghdad, on Monday.

It was claimed by the Islamic State group, which remains active in Iraq despite losing the territories it once controlled.

Other parts of Iraq remain under the effective control of Shia militias which also have political wings

Hamas fires rockets from outside the temple walls: Revelation 11

Is Hamas now firing rockets from Lebanon?

Seeking to avoid drawing Israeli firepower south towards Gaza, which is deep in recovery mode, Hamas is looking for new avenues to promote an “equation”; Hezbollah to the north announced the equation, and Iraqi militias and the Houthis have pledged allegiance to it.

By Yaakov Lappin(July 20, 2021 / JNS)

The two Grad rockets launched at northern Israel early on Tuesday from southern Lebanon were likely fired by Hamas as part of its attempt to respond to tensions in Jerusalem and clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians around the Temple Mount on Sunday.

The Iron Dome air-defense system intercepted one projectile and a second fell in an open area, causing no injuries or damages. Warning sirens went off in border areas of northern Israel, and the Israel Defense Forces responded with artillery fire, firing about 12 shells into Lebanese territory.

The Lebanese Armed Forces found a third rocket, which was not launched, south of Tyre.

“Hamas looked for a response to the Temple Mount tensions, but it isn’t interested in firing from Gaza. Hence, it was easier to do this from Lebanon—with Hezbollah’s coordination,” said Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, director of the research department at the Alma research center, who analyzes security threats to Israel emanating from Syria and Lebanon.

According to Beeri, a former IDF intelligence officer specializing in the Lebanese and Syrian arenas, Hamas chose to fire from Lebanon for a number of reasons.

The first is that it has not been able to recover from the May conflict with Israel and did not want to draw Israeli fire towards Gaza. Hamas correctly assessed that Israel’s retaliation in Lebanon would be significantly smaller in scale than in Gaza, said Beeri.

A broader strategic consideration is Hamas’s desire to implement, albeit symbolically, a new “equation,” announced by Hezbollah, according to which any perceived Israeli offensive activity near the Temple Mount will be answered with attacks.

Beeri noted that in recent weeks, Iranian-backed Iraqi militias and Houthis in Yemen have pledged their allegiance to this same equation.

The Iraqi Qataib Hezbollah militia announced that it had joined the “regional equation” in June in the latest sign of a coordinated Iranian-led axis of radical entities operating against Israel.

Hamas in Gaza and Hamas in Lebanon tightly coordinate their activities, mainly through the terror organization’s headquarters in Turkey, according to Beeri.

A branch of that headquarters, known as the “Construction Bureau,” is responsible for arming Hamas in Lebanon and ensuring that it has its own ability to activate weaponry.

It appears as if Hamas’s gamble was well-calculated, judging by Israel’s restrained reaction. Israel also seems reluctant to respond more forcefully in Lebanon at a time when the country is experiencing severe economic and humanitarian crises—basically, sitting at the brink of collapse.

Addressing the rocket attacks from Lebanon, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated that Israel “has an interest in a stable, economically prosperous Lebanon. Unfortunately, the situation in Lebanon is deteriorating, and Hezbollah and other terror organizations are working against the interests of the Lebanese people. We responded last night, and we will continue to respond in the right time and place against any violation of Israeli sovereignty.”

He added that Lebanon is responsible for what occurs in its territory.

“We outstretched a hand to Lebanon and offered it humanitarian assistance,” said Gantz. “That same outstretched hand is also a steel fist that will respond against any aggression.”

Alarms go up on the Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

An Iranian national flag.

Alarm grows among sidelined monitors about Iran’s nuclear program

Peter Millard and Jonathan Tirone

International monitors are watching Iran’s fast-expanding nuclear program with growing alarm as Tehran refuses to extend an expired inspections pact and insists the experts must trust that it’s accurately documenting uranium-enrichment activities.

Iran claims it’s still preserving data captured by International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring equipment, the agency’s director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. But officials won’t give his investigators access to it until Iran concludes stalled talks with world powers to restore a broader 2015 agreement that lifted sanctions.

“It’s a rather uncomfortable situation for us because this assurance is informal in nature and we don’t know whether this is the case or not,” Grossi said on Monday. “But we do not have a choice.”

The deal struck six years ago this month restricted Iran’s nuclear activities, but it has crumbled since then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. in 2018. After Trump reimposed sanctions, Iran started breaking caps on its nuclear work, and it has now stockpiled nearly enough highly-enriched uranium to build a warhead.

“We need to verify that all this material at those higher grades is going to remain in peaceful uses,” Grossi said. “The only way to do that is to cooperate with the IAEA. If they don’t do it, they are outlaws.”

While the Biden administration, along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K., have been trying to revive the 2015 accord since April, diplomats are expected to reconvene only next month after new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric, is installed in office.

The discussions are being closely watched by energy markets anticipating a surge in Iranian oil and gas exports if sanctions on the country’s sales are lifted.

Grossi spoke amid reports that policymakers in Washington could start raising the pressure on Iran if talks to revive their agreement fail. Dow Jones reported that the U.S. might target Iran’s oil sales to China, which have surged since President Joe Biden entered the White House, if the talks break down.

That’s simply one among a number of alternative scenarios the U.S. is thinking about if there’s no return to the multinational nuclear accord, according to a U.S. official who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. China is where Iran exports most of its oil today, and the U.S. has conveyed the possibility of new sanctions to China, the official said.

Iran has more than tripled its stockpile of uranium enriched to 60% to 19.6 pounds (8.9 kilograms) from 5.3 pounds (2.4 kilograms) verified by international inspectors in a June report, according to a tweet from Iran’s foreign minister last week. That purity of uranium is technically indistinguishable from the material needed to make nuclear weapons, with as little as 10 to 15 kilograms of the highly-enriched metal needed to manufacture a crude nuclear device.

Iran has always maintained that its nuclear program is for civilian uses, but concern in Western capitals and Israel over the potential for bombmaking helped prompt the original agreement.

“We will have to see what the new government decides in terms of returning to the format,” said Grossi, whose agency isn’t represented at the talks but plays a key role enforcing the deal’s nuclear covenants.

Grossi said that his inspectors continue having a presence inside Iran but that their visits are restricted to declared nuclear sites. The IAEA’s probe into trace amounts of decades-old uranium found at several locations and linked to Israeli revelations remains at a standstill.

“That is basically stopped,” Grossi said. “We have exchanged a few letters, but there is no real engagement.”

The failure to clarify the source of the material opens another potential pathway for the U.S. to mount pressure on Iran. Washington’s IAEA envoy Louis Bono has suggested the Islamic Republic could face formal censure if progress isn’t made in the investigation before September.