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 Russian Nuclear Horn Sends a Warning to Babylon the Great

Russia Will Asymmetrically Respond To Unfriendly Steps Of West If Necessary – Lavrov

PARIS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 13th November, 2021) Moscow will take asymmetric retaliatory steps to the unfriendly actions of the West if necessary, RussianForeign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“We confirmed our intention to continue to show an exceptionally restrained approach, not to create artificial problems, but we will, of course, respond to the unfriendly steps that the West is taking. We will act reciprocally, and if necessary, asymmetrically,” he said after talks in France.

The issue of strategic stability was discussed at the French-Russian “2+2” talks, including in the context of new challenges after the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, he said.

NATO is behaving aggressively toward Russia, including by the latest buildup in the Black Sea, Lavrov said.

Russia and France at a meeting in the “2+2” format discussed the deployment of additional NATO forces in the Black Sea, he said.

“We traditionally did not bypass sharp corners and, among other things, considered the subjects on which our approaches do not always coincide, and in some places even contradict each other. This includes attempts to restrain the development of Russia, which are directly declared by NATO and the Americans, and include rather aggressive actions of NATO in relation to our country, of which there have been many examples in recent days. And from the point of view of deploying additional forces around the Black Sea, the direction of warships on an unusual scale to this region and other similar, rather militant actions,” he told reporters.

Babylon the Great to maintain presence in Mideast

In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force, an Israeli Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle flies in formation with a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer over Israel as part of a deterrence flight Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. The U.S. Air Force said Sunday it flew a B-1B strategic bomber over key maritime chokepoints in the Mideast with allies including Israel amid ongoing tensions with Iran as its nuclear deal with world powers remains in tatters. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Jerreht Harris via AP)

Air Force official says US to maintain presence in Mideast

The top U.S. Air Force general in the Mideast says American airmen will continue to be stationed in the region. That’s even as military planners consider competition with China and Russia as Washington’s next major challenge. Speaking to journalists Saturday in Dubai, Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot acknowledged that presence “could adjust” after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August. The U.S. Air Force operates a major base in nearby Qatar, which oversaw operations in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq and Syria. However, the general stressed that he didn’t “see any scenario where the United States does not have an important role.”

In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force, an Israeli Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle flies in formation with a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer over Israel as part of a deterrence flight Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. The U.S. Air Force said Sunday it flew a B-1B strategic bomber over key maritime chokepoints in the Mideast with allies including Israel amid ongoing tensions with Iran as its nuclear deal with world powers remains in tatters. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Jerreht Harris via AP)Senior Airman Jerreht Harris

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The top U.S. Air Force general in the Mideast said Saturday that American airmen would continue to be stationed in the region even as military planners consider competition with China and Russia as Washington’s next major challenge.

Speaking to journalists ahead of the Dubai Airshow, Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot acknowledged that presence “could adjust” after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August. The U.S. Air Force operates a major base in nearby Qatar, which oversaw operations in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq and Syria. 

“But I don’t see any scenario where the United States does not have an important role,” Guillot said. 

Guillot’s comments come as tensions remain high between Iran and the U.S. after years of confrontations following then-President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Israel meanwhile is suspected of launching a series of attacks targeting Iran’s atomic program

As talks over the deal remain stalled, Iran elected a hard-line protege of the country’s supreme leader as president and has itself seized vessels at sea and is suspected of launching drone attacks

Guillot several times declined to directly attribute recent drone attacks in the region to Iran, though he acknowledged the rising number of such assaults in the region.

“The collaborative defense of multiple countries, you know, in the region is going to be our key to detecting those and staying one step ahead of the threat as it evolves,” he said after appearing at the Dubai International Air Chiefs’ Conference. 

Russia is expected to display its Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate fighter jet at the Dubai Airshow this week. It’s a direct competitor to the American F-35 fighter, which the United Arab Emirates has been trying to buy since diplomatically recognizing Israel last year. That sale has slowed under President Joe Biden’s administration.

Asked about the Checkmate, Guillot said he hoped that U.S. allies and partners would use equipment that would be “interoperable” with the American military. He said buying the Russia fighter “absolutely” would affect that. 

During his presentation, Guillot displayed a graphic that included the Israeli flag among others in the region. The American military now considers Israel as falling under U.S. Central Command due to the recent recognition deals. Bahrain and the UAE just conducted a joint drill with the U.S. Navy and Israel in the Red Sea

Guillot said air drills with Israel and those nations could happen as well.

The nuclear deal with Iran will NOT be salvaged

Can the nuclear deal with Iran still be salvaged?

November 12, 2021

US President Joe Biden entered office pledging to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, provided Iran did the same. His predecessor Donald Trump walked away in 2018 from the deal, which placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. But Biden’s goal of resurrecting it now seems to be slipping out of reach. We spoke with Henry Rome, a director at Eurasia Group focusing on Iran, about what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

What is the current state of affairs?

Talks to revive the 2015 agreement have been on hold since the end of June, when Iran held its presidential election. The negotiations had made progress toward an agreement, and many thought a deal could have been secured over the summer. But Iran, led by new President Ebrahim Raisi, has delayed a return to talks and sent a consistent stream of negative signals about its interest in the agreement, such as appointing a strident opponent of the deal as the lead negotiator. The talks will resume on November 29th in Vienna, but the outlook does not look promising.

The limbo in the negotiations would not be as big of a concern if Iran wasn’t also rapidly advancing its nuclear program. But Tehran has made a number of notable steps in recent months, including enriching uranium to a level it has never before reached and experimenting with next-generation models of centrifuges. These steps reduce the amount of time it would take Iran to accumulate enough nuclear material for a bomb. Iran is gaining experience and confidence in different techniques, which cannot be erased. That puts the complex set of compromises that undergird the nuclear accord at risk.

What are the main sticking points in the talks to date?

The US and Iran share a common goal: to return to full compliance with the deal. But they don’t agree about what compliance actually looks like. The fundamental trade at the core of the agreement — sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear constraints — has become more tricky since Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018, because the US has layered on more sanctions and Iran has built up its nuclear infrastructure since then. The parties are trying to roll back the clock three years, but this is harder than it sounds.

The US and Iran have also made demands that go beyond the scope of the original agreement. Iran has called for relief from all sanctions imposed by Trump, even those that would have been permitted if the nuclear accord had been in place. It also wants a guarantee that no future president can withdraw from the agreement and mechanisms to verify sanctions relief. For its part, Washington has called on Tehran to commit to holding follow-on negotiations to improve and expand the agreement, although it has publicly downplayed this demand in recent months.

Given the state of the Iranian economy, why is Tehran not more eager to obtain sanctions relief?

US economic sanctions have cut off Iran from the international financial system and hurt its ability to sell oil, engage in trade, and court foreign investment. The Iranian economy has achieved modest growth coming out of the pandemic, but inflation remains very high at 39 percent, and the currency is volatile. The nuclear deal would certainly not solve all of Iran’s problems, but it would deliver a powerful, positive impulse to the economy.

Iran’s hawkish new government views the deal differently. It underestimates the economic benefits of the agreement, based on disappointment from the previous period of sanctions relief, and likely overestimates its own ability to muddle through without it. Iran’s new economic team aligns with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s desire to create a “resistance economy” that sees “neutralizing” sanctions by building up domestic capabilities as more productive than negotiating sanctions relief.

What will this mean for US (and Israeli) policy toward Iran and the wider Middle East?

By focusing on reviving the nuclear accord, the Biden administration hoped to avoid precisely the scenario it now faces: an unconstrained Iranian nuclear program that demands attention and distracts from the US’s attempts to focus on Asia and what it sees as the dangers posed by an increasingly powerful and assertive China.

If the nuclear talks break down, the US will begin taking a more coercive approach, including applying new sanctions to the Iranian economy and ramping up diplomatic pressure, including potentially at the UN Security Council. Israel, which feels particularly at risk given Iran’s threats to destroy the Jewish state, will likely take more aggressive steps to try to degrade the nuclear program and challenge regime stability, such as sabotage, although direct Israeli bombing of Iranian sites is still unlikely.Henry Rome is Senior Analyst, Global Macro at Eurasia Group.

Deindustrialization outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Gaza ‘undergone deindustrialization’ as a result of the Israeli siege, World Bank warn

November 12, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Gaza is still suffering “from a particularly difficult economic situation with very high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions”, the World Bank warned in a report this week.

The report highlights the critical challenges facing the Palestinian economy in general and more specifically Gaza’s economic performance and development needs and will be presented to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) in Oslo on 17 November.

It highlights that though the occupied West Bank is seeing a “rebound” following the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent closures, “The economy still suffers from restrictions on movement, access, and trade– the biggest impediment to investment and access to markets,” Kanthan Shankar, World Bank country director for West Bank and Gaza, said.

“The improved economic performance was fully driven by the West Bank while Gaza’s economy remained almost stagnant impacted by the 11-day conflict in May,” the World Bank added.https://d-3084160681580021656.ampproject.net/2110290545003/frame.html

It said the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) fiscal situation “remains very challenging”, with Israel’s deduction of monthly tax revenue adding to “the fiscal stress”. This, it warned, meant the “PA may encounter difficulties in meeting its recurrent commitments toward the end of the year.”

Gaza’s contribution to the overall Palestinian economy, it explained, “was cut by half over the past three decades, narrowing to just 18 percent currently” as a result of the 15-year Israeli siege on the enclave. Gaza has also “undergone deindustrialization” and its economy has become highly dependent on external transfers.

“Priority actions require increasing electricity supply and upgrading infrastructure and networks to enable economic growth and improve public services.”

The report, details of which were released on Tuesday, adds to warnings released yesterday by the UN which claim the financial situation in the Palestinian territories is “dire”. The full UN report is also set to be unveiled in Oslo next week

The Australian Nuclear Horn Joins the Cold War: Daniel 7

AUKUS- Are We Entering A New Cold War?

Its formation will lead to thwe formation of opposing blocs

ByKawsar Uddin Mahmud1290

The most prominent constructivist, Alexander Wendt, argued, “500 British nuclear weapons are less threatening to the United States than the five North Korean nuclear weapons” (1995). The assertion upholds the power of relationship and its competency between and among the states based on norms, beliefs and culture, though they geographically remain in a remote place. Despite 1071.7 miles distance between New York and England, their culture, norms and accord of attaining the same goal kept them allies for years.

Besides, Australia has also been reckoned a perpetual ally of the UK and the USA since it got independence from the British Empire. The remote country is still under the rule of the British Monarchy, although the British Queen Elizabeth II does not participate in all administrative activities of Australia. The British Queen plays ceremonial and focal symbolic roles. Constituting the aspects made Australia an eternal ally of the United Kingdom ,and intimate and anchored to the extant superpower, the USA.

Through the Thucydides’ Trap, we can effortlessly discern that AUKUS is taking us into another Cold War. In 2016, the Trump administration was in the leading role of beginning the economic cold war, in the name of a ‘trade war’, between the USA and China imposing sanctions on hundreds of Chinese products. As a consequence, China also imposed sanctions on US products and raw materials. Scholars deemed the Democrats would bring a halt to this war but the Biden Administration incited the war with greater interest

However, the three countries entered a remarkable trilateral security alliance, called ‘AUKUS’ on 15 September 2021. The initiative has been upheld and endorsed by the USA, UK and Australia, through a video conference, for enabling Australia obtain nuclear-powered submarines coming out from the generation of diesel-powered submarines. This initiative also comprises the alignment of the greater integration of military purposes, regional policies and actions, cyber-warfare and the capabilities of artificial intelligence.

As this initiative elicits, the security and military assistance to Australia from the USA and UK will ensue in the South China Sea, and the Naval Group of France is conceivably going to miss out on a $90 bllion contract with Australia signed in 2016. Marking a setback for Frrrench President Emmanuel Macron and his government, this initiative takes him aback.

Talking about the alliance, the security buildup facilitation to Australia is one side of the coin but the other side focuses on the root goal of the initiative that aims at confronting China in the South China Sea, the heart of the Indo-Pacific Strategy. In this initiative. None of the three leaders, Joe Biden, Boris Johnson or Scott Morrison, hinted the China concern, but it knows no bounds and AUKUS has been set up as a powerful security alliance against China’s expansionist drive in the South China Sea.

Johnson referred to this initiative as a ‘natural alliance’. He said, “We may be separated geographically” but we are “natural allies”. Morrison, however, insisted that Australia has no concealed intention of pursuing nuclear weapons. Australia will always be there to abide by the rules and regulations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which was ratified by it in 1973. Moreover, Australia joined in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1998 that also insisted on Australia’s eschewing pursuing nuclear weapons.

Notwithstanding this, critics assert this initiative would indirectly spur the nuclear proliferation of Australia. The alliance is creating a loophole in the NPT and perhaps, making the ways facile for Australia coming to be another nuclear-weapon-powered country. Australia is evolving as the first country to make use of the loophole that will bring about questions on the legitimacy of the NPT and other international institutions by exploiting the loophole in the NPT, critics argue.  No misgiving that the alliance will intensify suspicion and give rise to security dilemmaa among the NPT members and other countries surrounding the aim against China’s expansionist drive.

Focusing on another spectrum, the UK has been working on the concept of ‘Global Britain’ for a long time. It yearns to engage with the Indo-Pacific strategy, augmenting military power and intending for a global gain with the USA Inducting the UK. The initiative would mould the shape of the neo-cold war in the region. Despite the UK’s dependency on the USA, from the military perspective, the onetime world hegemonic power is newly thinking about amplifying sea power. Johnson, however, felt the significance of this trio– the UK, US and Australia– in the Indo-Pacific region which didn’t let him think out of the box.- Advertisement –

However, China is a rising power and the most peer competitor to the USA. A rising power never lets a superpower stay at peace. After 2000, China’s emergence in world politics was like a tiger that had been  asleep for a long time but by strengthening military power it is becoming, with time, another lion in world politics. The USA, the most powerful lion of world politics, will never bear with such a rising of an Eastern lion as its bravado and hegemony is in great danger. China’s military uprising in the South China Sea etches another Thucydides’ Trap in the region.

Thucydides, the writer of the History of the Peloponnesian War and predecessor of classical realism, argued ‘when a rising power challenges the dominance of an established power then war is inevitable between them.’ For instance, before WWI, Germany was the nearest peer competitor to Great Britain, second in military, economic and naval power, which irritated the demons of Great Britain and led it to commence WWI.

Through the Thucydides’ Trap, we can effortlessly discern that AUKUS is taking us into another Cold War. In 2016, the Trump administration was in the leading role of beginning the economic cold war, in the name of a ‘trade war’, between the USA and China imposing sanctions on hundreds of Chinese products. As a consequence, China also imposed sanctions on US products and raw materials. Scholars deemed the Democrats would bring a halt to this war but the Biden Administration incited the war with greater interest.

However, Thucydides’ Trap in the South China Sea issue is very apparent. China reproached the QUAD (The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue among the USA, Japan, India and Australia) initiative since it began. Moreover, AUKUS, undoubtedly, would raise anxiety and tension in China,and  in the South China Sea, strategically and militarily. China, the Eastern lion, will respond necessarily as its reign is being stymied by the Western lion, the USA.

AUKUS, it seems, is going to materialise another cold war. The Eastern bloc and Western bloc concepts will newly arise surrounding this issue. In the meantime, Bangladesh must be astute, as it fosters relations with not only the China bloc but also the US bloc, following further military and security policies. Bangladesh’s peace must not be obstructed in this ordeal maintaining friendly relations with the USA, China, India and all. As a NAM country, Bangladesh should uphold its core foreign policy ‘friendship to all, malice towards none,’ thus it can be competent to ensure security, economic and military peace and purposes.

Iran Protests Against the Antichrist’s Iraqi Win

The demonstration comes days after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, whom the Hashed supporters accuse of "complicity" in the alleged fraud, escaped unhurt from an unclaimed drone attack on his residence in Baghdad's Green Zone
The demonstration comes days after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, whom the Hashed supporters accuse of “complicity” in the alleged fraud, escaped unhurt from an unclaimed drone attack on his residence in Baghdad’s Green Zone  – AFP

Supporters of pro-Iran groups in Iraq protest against vote ‘fraud’

Issued on: 12/11/2021 – 17:16Modified: 12/11/2021 – 17:15

Baghdad (AFP) – Some 2,000 supporters of Iraq’s pro-Iran Hashed al-Shaabi network protested Friday in Baghdad against alleged fraud at last month’s parliamentary polls, a week after a similar rallies turned violent.