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.

Pakistan is About to Become Our Nuclear Nemesis: Daniel 8

Hundreds of people gathered outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan last week. The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have c

Curtis A. Ward | US-Pakistan troubled relations and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

Published:Wednesday | August 18, 2021 | 12:09 AM

Ambassador Curtis Ward

APHundreds of people gathered outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan last week. The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country.

The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban is not an overnight or unexpected military victory for the Taliban or defeat for the United States. This disastrous outcome has been in the making for quite some time and accelerated exponentially with the deteriorating relations between the United States and Pakistan. 

Former president Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both exemplary examples of foreign policy naïveté, set in motion American exit and abandonment of Afghanistan. Pakistan is a major beneficiary, having a friendly Taliban government on its border replacing the pro-US government in Kabul.

Trump’s not-so-secret negotiated agreement with the Taliban, Pompeo’s personal meeting with the Taliban leader, sidelining and undermining the legitimate Afghan government began an irreversible process leading to the Taliban takeover. 

Notwithstanding the criticisms of the Biden administration’s seemingly chaotic US military withdrawal, the dice had been cast by the Trump administration. The end was inevitable.

Pakistan has never been a trusted ally or partner of the United States on Afghanistan or on any other issue in this troubled region. Successive Pakistani governments view US-India relationship and partnerships as anathema to Pakistan’s national and regional interests. The US has not been very adept at balancing between the two nuclear powers and has clearly demonstrated bias towards India. Pakistan has been kept in the game primarily because of its possession of nuclear arms. The Pakistan military relied on its partnership with the US military. This balance was in the overall national security interests of the United States which go well beyond US interests in Afghanistan.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-4993191856924332&output=html&h=250&slotname=0140336313&adk=511709804&adf=2123455122&pi=t.ma~as.0140336313&w=300&lmt=1629338726&psa=1&format=300×250&url=https%3A%2F%2Fjamaica-gleaner.com%2Farticle%2Fcommentary%2F20210818%2Fcurtis-ward-us-pakistan-troubled-relations-and-taliban-takeover&flash=0&fwrattr=true&wgl=1&dt=1629344930838&bpp=6&bdt=8257&idt=7&shv=r20210816&mjsv=m202108100101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D2f2b6603f153c5af-22f91591eac9009f%3AT%3D1629344930%3ART%3D1629344930%3AS%3DALNI_MY0XiU866F2UdIRAhBZofa25D-e4g&prev_fmts=300×250%2C0x0&nras=1&correlator=4922060813808&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=752216198.1629344923&ga_sid=1629344923&ga_hid=1087226252&ga_fc=0&u_tz=-360&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=667&u_w=375&u_ah=667&u_aw=375&u_cd=32&u_nplug=0&u_nmime=0&adx=38&ady=3671&biw=375&bih=537&scr_x=0&scr_y=1963&eid=44747620%2C20211866%2C31062297&oid=3&psts=AGkb-H-k6iq6RCqPjW0id14yAyBV_CzYbuUMtDcjCqh9RiBsg7TD5wpIpO7GDoJa3echGVeAI7r_LTSuZQ&pvsid=1147437017214227&pem=296&loc=https%3A%2F%2Fjamaica-gleaner.com%2Farticle%2Fcommentary%2F20210818%2Fcurtis-ward-us-pakistan-troubled-relations-and-taliban-takeover&eae=0&fc=896&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C375%2C0%2C375%2C667%2C375%2C622&vis=1&rsz=o%7C%7CpeEbr%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&alvm=r20210812&fu=0&bc=31&ifi=5&uci=a!5&btvi=2&fsb=1&xpc=wfQd7xiitb&p=https%3A//jamaica-gleaner.com&dtd=32

Most important, it was well known the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has been an ally of the Taliban from the origin of the Afghan group’s emergence out of Pakistan where they were given birth and trained in Saudi Arabian-funded madrassas (Wahhabism religious schools). 

The Pakistan military is also inextricably linked to the Taliban, allowing Taliban fighters safe haven in Pakistan when fleeing US military operations. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan denies his country’s connection to the Taliban, but no one should consider his denials of support for the Taliban as credible. The evidence is incontrovertible.

The rapid deterioration of political and military control of Afghanistan following US withdrawal ordered by President Joe Biden is being discussed in every foreign capital and in every foreign policy and international security forum. Media and foreign policy analysts are taking sides in the blame game. 

The incumbent US president’s decision is under the microscope. Political opponents would like to pin the fall of Afghanistan on President Biden. While Biden deserves some criticisms for the outcome of the process employed to end US engagement in Afghanistan, the predictable outcome was triggered by decisions taken by the Trump administration. The process began more than three years before Biden was sworn in as president.

My analysis of Trump’s decision to end US military-security assistance to Pakistan, ‘Blackmailing Pakistan is bad US policy’, published in The Ward Post on January 7, 2018, explained the dangers inherent in Trump’s Pakistan policy. As I stated then, “By undermining the Pakistani military, as President Donald Trump has done by cutting military-security assistance and support, it threatens US national security interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the entire region.” This entire article should be read in the context of the unfolding events in Afghanistan.

This possible outcome was to a large extent predicated on long-standing ISI-Taliban relationship. I warned about Trump’s actions as undermining moderate forces in Pakistan leaving the Islamist conservatives a free hand in control of the country and the military, including over the military’s control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. My analysis also highlighted control of the military’s and ISI’s support of the Taliban. The outcome was predictable.

Trump and Pompeo’s disdain for Pakistan was matched equally by Pakistan’s ultra-Islamic conservative Prime Minister Khan’s for the United States. Before Khan was elected prime minister, Trump cut support to Pakistan’s military and eliminated any possible Pakistan restraint on the Taliban.

Coupled to Trump’s negotiations with, and legitimisation of the Taliban, Pakistan was left to exercise a free hand in the ultimate outcome in Afghanistan. When Khan later assumed power in Pakistan, he could position Pakistan to take advantage of the US imminent departure from Afghanistan.

In what appears to be an endorsement of the Taliban takeover of power in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Khan has been quoted in multiple Asian media publications, including The Times of India, as responding to the Taliban takeover by saying, “Afghans have broken the shackles of slavery.” Khan, on occasions, has gone so far as to blame the English-oriented school system in Pakistan for Pakistani’s adopting “someone else’s culture”, a somewhat hypocritical statement considering Khan’s own articulation in perfect English.

Khan’s policy clearly points to having the people of Pakistan sever links to Western culture by breaking the so-called cultural “shackles of slavery” as he perceived the Afghans have done.

Khan was sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan on August 18, 2018. His ultra-conservative Islamist religious beliefs are in sync with the Taliban’s. Under Khan’s leadership, Pakistan has a significant advantage over all other regional players, particularly over India and Iran, to influence decisions in Kabul and the course of Afghan history. Expect Pakistan to be the Taliban’s advocate for international legitimacy

The Australian Horn prepares to Nuke Up: Daniel 7

‘A bomb in the basement’: The new push for a nuclear Australia

The Australian ruling class has long enthused about a nuclear-fuelled future. And as most of the rest of the world powers reduce their commitment to nuclear energy—Germany plans to shut down all of its nuclear plants by 2022, and only 16 percent of countries today have operational nuclear reactors—the Australian government wants to power up. 

Australian governments have been nuclear supporters since the technology first emerged in the 1940s. The country had scientists involved in bomb research in the US during World War Two. During and after the war, in the wake of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it readily responded to UK and US requests for uranium, primarily for nuclear weaponry.

In his book Australia’s Bid for the Atomic Bomb, Wayne Reynolds spells out in detail the nuclear ambitions of wartime Labor Prime Minister John Curtin, his successor  Ben Chifley and Liberal Party Prime Minister of the 1950s and ’60s Robert Menzies. He writes that many major projects of the postwar years, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme, were undertaken with a view to Australia becoming a nuclear state.

In 1952 the Australian Atomic Energy Commission was established to develop and train a cohort of researchers and workers to support a future nuclear industry. Defence and security planning also foresaw a central role for nuclear—the Australian air force, for example, purchased F-111 fighter jets precisely because of their nuclear weapons capability. The vision was not of an Australian state armed with nuclear weapons for defence, but one that could use such weapons to enhance its position as a regional imperialist power.

The main thing that has prevented the development of a nuclear industry in Australia is the anti-nuclear campaign and strong opposition from unions in the 1970s and ’80s. This campaign pushed state and federal governments to implement a moratorium on nuclear energy that has held ever since.

In recent years, however, there have been growing calls for the question to be revisited. Today’s nuclear proponents have a fresh angle for their propaganda campaign: a newly discovered concern about climate change. Though the Australian government refuses to commit to zero-carbon goals and pours billions into coal and gas, the need for improved sustainability is suddenly front and centre when it comes to arguments for nuclear power.

The government hasn’t wasted time in attempting to leverage nuclear energy’s supposed green credentials to shift public sentiment and open the door to overturning the moratorium. In August 2019 Energy Minister Angus Taylor set up a parliamentary inquiry—led by the Standing Committee on Energy and Environment—into “the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia”.

The result was a foregone conclusion because the Liberals hold four out of seven seats on the committee, although its two Labor members and the independent Zali Steggall wrote dissenting reports. “The Australian government”, the inquiry found, “should further consider the prospect of nuclear technology as part of its future energy mix”, and “consider lifting the current moratorium on nuclear energy … for new and emerging nuclear technologies”.

Recent reports suggest the government may be preparing to make good on these recommendations. “Morrison ministers lay groundwork for nuclear energy election plan”, read the headline of a 22 June article by Australian national editor Dennis Shanahan. According to Shanahan, “The option of taking a proposal for nuclear power in Australia to the next election has been considered in cabinet-level discussions as pressure grows within the Morrison government to prepare for a nuclear energy industry”.

“The top-level political and policy discussions including Liberal and Nationals ministers involved the argument that the moratorium on nuclear energy could be lifted in the decades ahead to cut greenhouse gas emissions and replace reliance on fossil fuels.”

Plans for a nuclear-fuelled Australia must be opposed. Nuclear is the “fool’s gold” solution to the climate crisis. As environmental scientist Mark Diesendorf says, “On top of the perennial challenges of global poverty and injustice, the two biggest threats facing human civilisation in the 21st century are climate change and nuclear war. It would be absurd to respond to one by increasing the risks of the other. Yet that is what nuclear power does”.

The case for nuclear can also be countered with cold, hard economics. Nuclear energy is much more expensive than the many low or zero-emissions alternatives. International financial advisory firm Lazard’s 2020 Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis found that the cost of new nuclear works out to US$129-198 per megawatt hour. By comparison, it estimated the cost of utility scale solar at US$29-42 and wind power at US$26-54. Nuclear energy has never stacked up economically. In the 50-year history of the industry, it has always relied on massive government subsidies.

The real motivation for the push for nuclear energy in Australia remains the same as it was in the 1950s and ’60s: the potential to develop nuclear weapons. The government, of course, isn’t prepared to say the quiet part out loud. Others, however, have no such qualms.

In an article published in the Financial Review in April, Patrick Porter—a professor of international security and strategy at the University of Birmingham—said what many in the Australian military and political establishment are no doubt thinking. In the context of growing instability in the region and the possibility of a war between the US and China, Australia should at least “create the option” to build its own nuclear arsenal, becoming “a latent nuclear state, with a so-called ‘bomb in the basement’: the ability to swiftly generate a deployable atomic arsenal if the world turns more threatening”.

A nuclear-armed Australia would be a disaster for workers here and around the world. It’s time to recapture the spirit of the anti-nuclear campaign of the 1970s and ’80s. And once again, if we’re to win we’ll need workers and unions at the forefront. Recent statements opposing the nuclear industry by the Electrical Trades Unionand the Victorian branch of the CFMEUprovide an example that other unions should follow.

Rocket fired at Israel from outside the Temple Walls : Revelation 11

Rocket fired at Israel from Gaza; first since May assault

The rocket fire could jeopardise three months of relative calm since Israel attacked Gaza over 11 bloody days.

Air raid sirens have sounded in southern Israel after a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip, the first since Israel’s 11-day assault in May on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for rockets fired by Palestinian groups towards Israel.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday it identified one rocket launch that was intercepted by aerial defence batteries.

Amateur video footage appeared to show the rocket being intercepted over the southern town of Sderot.

The rocket fire could jeopardise three months of relative calm since Israel and Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, struck a ceasefire.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire, which came hours after Israeli troops clashed with Palestinians during a late-night arrest raid in the occupied West Bank, killing four Palestinians in one of the deadliest battles in the area in years.

The fighting erupted in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank where tensions have been high since a man was killed by Israeli forces earlier this month.

The West Bank has experienced an uptick in deadly violence in recent months, with more than 24 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in recent weeks, including children and Palestinian protesters.

Israel’s May assault on the Gaza Strip, driven by friction as Israeli security forces tried to bar Palestinians from Jerusalem holy sites and a settler group works to evict Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 War and, in the decades since, has established dozens of illegal settlements where nearly 500,000 settlers reside.

The occupied West Bank is part of the territory where a Palestinian state is envisaged under the two-state solution, the illegal settlements are seen as a major obstacle to resolving the conflict.

Biden and the left cannot stop nuclear war: Revelation 16

Biden administration’s growing disconnect on nuclear deterrence priorities

China, Russia growing their nuclear arsenals, while U.S. delays modernization

By Patty-Jane Geller

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On Aug. 12, Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told us that we are witnessing a “strategic breakout by China.”

That same day, the Biden administrationwas reported to be considering delaying the Pentagon’s plan to modernize the United States’ Cold War-era nuclear forces. Worse, just a few days prior, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) sent a letter asking Biden to consider reducing U.S. nuclear forces.

There’s a clear disconnect between the reality of the threat facing the United States and the Biden administration’s stated desire to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. strategy. While the left proposes to cut U.S. nuclear forces, the fact is there is a desperate need to reinforce our capability for nuclear deterrence.

Over the last month, reports of additional Chinese nuclear expansion have arrived almost weekly. Private analysts discovered three different sites where China is constructing over 100 ICBM silos each. A tunnel was also discovered that confirms China’s “active nuclear testing program”—a clear violation of the nuclear test ban.

Just last week, Admiral Richard made a series of alarming revelations about China: Its explosive buildup of ICBMs, its shift of some forces to higher alert status, and its growing number and diversity of its nuclear weapons, which enable it to execute virtually any strike strategy. As Mr. Richard’s put it, Chinanow has the ability to unilaterally escalate “to any level of violence, in any domain, in any geographic location, and at any time.”

Combine all this with Russia’s growing nuclear capabilities, and it’s clear we find ourselves in an unprecedentedly dangerous threat environment, one in which the United States must now deter two nuclear peers simultaneously. That’s never happened in American history.

The Cold War was one thing. With the advent of nuclear weapons, the United States had to quickly figure out how to prevent nuclear war through concepts like mutually assured destruction between two states. That strategy succeeded in defusing dangerous scenarios like the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But the emergence of a third nuclear peer seriously complicates the deterrence calculus that America has employed for 75 years.

It’s so radically different that Admiral Richard stated that this situation warrants a “national academic undertaking” to figure out how to deter both powers. China’s breakout, he says, “is a cause for action.”

All this makes the suggestions by President Biden and Chairman Smith (one of the most powerful individuals in the national security apparatus) so inexplicable.

Our current nuclear forces—the Minuteman III ICBMs, B-52 bombers, Ohio-class submarines, and their accompanying warheads—were built during the Cold War. Some systems are over 50 years old, and all face risks of failure due to their old age.

Amid a Chinese strategic breakout, it’s hard to make sense of proposals to cancel the upgrades to these systems or reduce our nuclear arsenal’s size.

Among all their responsibilities, the one task we expect from our national leaders is for them to keep the country safe. And when the risk is nuclear war, is cutting down on our nuclear forces or allowing them to atrophy with age worth any savings in dollars or points to be scored with the liberal caucus?

A clear-eyed assessment should instead result in the President examining options to accelerate the modernization of our nuclear forces.

The administration’s ongoing Nuclear Posture Review is where threats and capabilities are weighed to arrive at the posture best suited to protest American interests. In that process, Biden and hisPentagon can demonstrate leadership in the face of China’s strategic breakout. By aligning our nuclear forces according to the threat, he can show the world the U.S. commitment to defend our country, our allies, and the Western-led world order.

Only time will tell if this administration is willing to address the 21st-century threats head-on by giving America the credible deterrent needed to secure our safety in a three-peer-power world.

• Patty-Jane Geller is a policy analyst specializing in nuclear deterrence and missile defense in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense.

Iranian Horn accelerating uranium enrichment to near weapons-level: Daniel 8

Watchdog: Iran accelerating uranium enrichment to near weapons-level

Watchdog: Iran accelerating uranium enrichment to near weapons-level

By Joseph ChoiAugust 17, 2021 – 03:51 PM EDT

The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a new report that Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment to near weapons-grade levels.

According to the IAEA report seen by Reuters, Iran has increased its uranium purity to 60 percent, compared with 20 percent in April. Weapons grade purity is around 90 percent.

Iran has maintained that its goals for uranium enrichment are peaceful and that it is seeking to develop reactor fuel. Western countries have cast doubt on those claims, arguing there is no credible civilian use for such development.


The IAEA’s report may endanger stalled negotiations in Vienna to have Iran return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. of being “stubborn” in the nuclear talks, The Associated Press reported in late July. Newly elected Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has signaled he would like to return to the Obama-era nuclear deal, though Khamenei has appeared less enthusiastic.

“Westerners do not help us, they hit wherever they can,” Khamenei said in remarks on Iranian state television last month.