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.

Resistance groups can destroy Israeli regime in 5 minutes: Revelation 11

Resistance groups can destroy Israeli regime in 5 minutes

TEHRAN, Jun. 26 (MNA) – Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh said that Palestinians are preparing for a confrontation with the Zionists, adding that the Resistance forces can destroy the Israeli regime in less than 5 minutes.

TEHRAN, Jun. 26 (MNA) – Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh said that Palestinians are preparing for a confrontation with the Zionists, adding that the Resistance forces can destroy the Israeli regime in less than 5 minutes.

Speaking at a conference in Lebanon on Sunday, the Head of Hamas’ Political Bureau stated that the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque is close, adding, “We are in a time of victory and development that our nation and resistance are shaping.”

Although Gaza is under siege by land, air, and sea, the people are preparing for a strategic battle with the Israeli regime and its inhabitants, Haniyeh added, according to Al Mayadeen.

Noting that the Saif al Quds (operation) is a strategic development in the conflict with the Zionist enemy, the Hamas chief stressed that the Zionist regime will be destroyed in less than 5 minutes with 150 missiles.

Emphasizing that there is no place for the Zionists in the Al Aqsa Mosque, Haniyeh cited that the Saif al Quds operation would not end until the whole of Palestine is freed.

Speaking at another conference in Lebanon yesterday, the Hamas chief condemned the normalization of relations with the Zionist regime and said, “What is happening at the regional level is far more dangerous than normalizing relations because it integrates the regime (the Zionist regime) into the region through military alliances against Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.”

India Pressures the Pakistani Nuclear Horn:Daniel 7

An advanced sea-to-sea variant of the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise missile is test-fired from the Visakhapatnam, an Indian navy ship, Jan. 11, 2022. [Photo courtesy Defense Research and Development Organization @DRDO_India via Twitter]

Indian Nuclear Missile Proliferation: Effect On South Asian Strategic Stability – OpEd

June 27, 2022

An advanced sea-to-sea variant of the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise missile is test-fired from the Visakhapatnam, an Indian navy ship, Jan. 11, 2022. [Photo courtesy Defense Research and Development Organization @DRDO_India via Twitter]

An advanced sea-to-sea variant of the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise missile is test-fired from the Visakhapatnam, an Indian navy ship, Jan. 11, 2022. [Photo courtesy Defense Research and Development Organization @DRDO_India via Twitter]

The nuclear capability of Pakistan is purely security based and depends upon the changing technological developments in the region. Pakistan maintains a posture of credible minimum deterrence and ensures strategic stability in the region. However, India continually pushes Pakistan towards arms race, by the development and induction of new aggressive technology, and incorporation of offensive doctrines. 

The proliferation of supersonic and hypersonic weapons, which is echoing in South Asia, could be disastrous for the regional peace and stability. Ever since the mass nuclear power has been invented, the deterrence stability in the region is maintained by keeping the mutual vulnerability intact, which India tries its best to sabotage. The introduction of supersonic and hypersonic weapons could be devastating as it travels with immensely high speed, and the enemy can’t be certain whether it is carrying conventional or non-conventional weapon, hence the chances and risks of nuclear war manifolds. 

Recently, Atul Rane, CEO and MD, BrahMos Aerospace said that in five to six years, India will be able to have the first hypersonic missile. Moreover, India has also tested the Supersonic missile assisted torpedo (SMART), which indicates the continuous modernization of its technology. Owing to the volatile situation in south Asia, with the absence of any conflict resolution treaties and agreements, the innovation in technology in South Asia leads to the change in the nuclear doctrines a swell. Pakistan maintains a policy of minimum credible deterrence, but that minimum is directly proportional to the advancements made by the adversary in offensive technology and ultimately in the nuclear doctrine. 

The Indian posture of NFU is also questionable, as the statements from the defence minister of India comes otherwise. The recent development indicates India’s move towards a counterforce targeting, which is a highly destabilizing factor for south Asia. The Indian military modernization is far exceeding the ‘minimum’ in minimum credible deterrence, and there is no reasonable justification of credible and minimum in the recent developments. Such doctrines only exist when a country prepares for the offensive first strike targeting and pre-emption strikes, hence leading to a full scale war. 

The recent BrahMos Misfire incident into the Pakistan territory indicates the weak command and control structure of India. This is signaling as it indicates India’s poor handling of such sensitive technology. This irresponsible behavior of India needs to be changed as it could result in disastrous consequences. Pakistan has always made efforts for restoring regional peace and stability, which India has always tried to destabilize due to its immature ruling authority. The political elite has always used the aggressive war-prone card against Pakistan in front of public for their political gains, without realizing the repercussions, which shows the ill-mindset of India’s ruling power. Moreover, the world has seen numerous instances of Uranium theft in India, which indicates weak safety and security protocols and weak Command and Control structure in India to handle such precarious technology. 

The Indian obsession of acquisition of newer technology could result in the accidental or inadvertent war in South Asia, provided its unproven capability to manage it and war-prone behavior. This shows India being an irresponsible nuclear weapon state and the international community should look into this child state that is incompetent to take-up with nuclear and nuclear-related technology and delivery vehicles, and is thus a threat to the regional and global peace and security.

India doesn’t have any security concern for which it is going for the acquisition of hypersonic weapons or change in doctrine. It doesn’t have any potent threat from the neighboring countries to go for such ventures; hence, the drive is totally out of the prestige factor, as India wants to come at par with US, Russia and China in leading world technologies, without realizing the effect of such technologies on the regional stability. India needs to withdraw its hegemonic ambitions if the stability and regional peace is required or if the arms race needs to be withheld. As a responsible nuclear weapon state, Pakistan always maintains a modest nuclear posture, and any military development is the part of strategic chain in the south Asia, and or because of its allies.

The Saudi Nuclear Horn:Daniel 7

Saudi and Iraqi leaders

Saudi crown prince, Iraq PM discuss ‘regional stability’

Iraq’s prime minister met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the kingdom Sunday as part of Baghdad’s efforts to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran.

Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who headed to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, is expected to then visit Iran, its regional rival with which Riyadh has had no diplomatic ties since 2016.

Prince Mohammed and Kadhemi addressed “bilateral relations and opportunities for joint cooperation”, reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

“They exchanged points of view on a number of issues that would contribute to supporting and strengthening regional security and stability,” it added.

Iraq has over the past year hosted five rounds of talks between the two regional rivals, with the last session held in April.

Kadhemi said at the time he believed that “reconciliation is near” between Riyadh and Tehran, a further reflection of shifting political alignments across the region.

On Saturday an Iraqi cabinet source said that Kadhemi’s trip to Saudi Arabia and Iran “comes in the context of talks that Riyadh and Tehran recently held in Baghdad”.

The source said those talks “represented a road map for mending relations and returning to the right course of strengthening bilateral relations” between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which support rival sides in conflict zones around the region.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have had no diplomatic ties for six years.

In early March, Prince Mohammed said his country and Iran were “neighbours forever”, and that it was “better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist”.

After his arrival in the kingdom, Kadhemi performed the minor pilgrimage, known as umra, in the holy city of Mecca, according to pictures released by his office.

Short link:

War with the Chinese Nuclear horn: Daniel 7

Nagy: War with China? It’s already here, just not with bullets yet

A few weeks back when I spoke with the Lubbock Rotary about the state of the world, much of our discussion concerned China, and whether we could avoid a future US – China conflict.  My point was: It’s been ongoing for years, just not with bullets – yet.

We should have listened to Napoleon when he said: “let China sleep – for when she awakens, she will shake the world.” Instead, the US played reveille, and we are now suffering the consequences.  We tried accommodating China within the international rules-based system which the US (mostly) established; instead, China is now working nonstop to accommodate the global system to its worldview and succeeding.  But an even higher priority for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is its continuing and total control over the Chinese people so it can perpetuate itself in power; the greatest obstruction to that goal is the US and the Western model of open societies, democracy, and the free flow of information. 

In pursuing global domination, the CCP is already at war with us in several areas, and in some we have unilaterally disarmed. I saw this firsthand in Africa, where the Chinese were spending large sums to control vital resources which are essential for this century’s “electric” economy. Just one example: the Democratic Republic of Congo holds about 70% of the world’s cobalt reserves, a metal essential for batteries and alloys – China has not only gained control of most cobalt mining, but 85% of processing takes place in China. This is being repeated with other key minerals. The CCP is also investing heavily to promote Chinese culture, purchase favorable media and diplomatic support in Africa, which will double in population by mid-century, and which has the largest number of votes in international institutions which set global rules. China understands the key role Africa will play this century; we seem to not. And for the first time ever, a recent poll found young Africans favoring China more than America.

The CCP’s strategy is global and all encompassing.  China’s aggressive combat extends to fields beyond controlling global resources, such as: intelligence (stealing military, technical and trade secrets through every means possible); technology (using its vast resources to leapfrog our advantages across the board); and higher education (recruiting the best global scholars to make its universities tops in research). China is also increasing its military aggression – like buzzing our allies’ aircraft and saturating Taiwan’s air defenses – while dramatically upgrading its military capabilities. It just launched an ultra-modern aircraft carrier and is also increasing the quantity and quality of its nuclear weapons.

And how is China able to pay for such global overreach? With dollars and other western currencies which flooded into China when we made it into the factory of the world.  As an anonymous quote goes: “God created the World; everything else is made in China!”

But the area which poses the greatest danger to our way of life – beyond military conflict – involves our financial well-being. Currently, almost everything in the world is priced in dollars, meaning we slap green paint on paper, and it has real value. So, when China buys raw materials they need to do it with dollars. But China is now introducing its own digital currency (Yuan). This is for two purposes. By doing away with paper money, every currency transaction in China will be monitored for even greater control over their people. “Big Brother” will know how much every citizen spends and on what. Beyond that, China will likely export the capability to governments – and there are many around the world – who would also like to control their people. China will no doubt gladly provide the technology and maintenance. Once implemented, such countries will be able to transact business with China without ever having to enter the global dollar transaction system. Eventually, the Chinese Yuan could replace the US Dollar as the world reserve currency – meaning everything would be priced in Yuan and we would be the ones having to buy their currency to transact business. And even more seriously, our government could no longer slap green paint on paper and give it value – our dollars would have to be supported by more than our name. This scenario could come sooner rather than later, as China becomes the major trading partner of more and more countries and regions. (China is gaining on the US even in Mexico).

So, is China’s victory inevitable? By no means! But to assure our primacy we need both an external and an internal strategy. Externally, we absolutely need to maintain and strengthen our alliances and partnerships.  As Churchill said, “there is only one thing worse than fighting with our allies – and that is fighting without them!” Right now, those partnerships are our strength, and we need it to keep them.  But even more importantly, we need to again be the UNITED States of America.  To paraphrase Lincoln, “America will never be destroyed from the outside – if we lose our freedoms, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves from within.”  And unfortunately, we are succeeding at doing just that!

Not too long ago, we were in a national funk similar to today. Post-Vietnam defeatism, combined with stagflation and Carter’s international fiascos deeply depressed the nation. But how quickly America’s mood uplifted when Ronald Reagan came on the scene. I’m praying there is a Reagan ready to come on stage.

Ambassador Tibor Nagy was most recently Assistant Secretary of State for Africa after serving as Texas Tech’s Vice Provost for International Affairs and a 30-year career as a US Diplomat.

Don’t write off the Obama nuclear deal just yet

Borrell

Don’t write off the Iran nuclear deal just yet

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi still wants and needs the JCPOA more than Biden.

JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

June 24, 2022

EU Foreign Policy Chief:  JCPOA talks to resume ‘in coming days

In the movie Godfather II, mafia boss Michael Corleone says that his rival Hyman Roth “has been dying of the same heart attack for twenty years.”

After swearing never to do a Godfather reference in a column, this one came to mind, following the many epitaphs of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal.

The JCPOA, signed in 2015, puts constraints on Iran’s nuclear programs in return for sanctions relief on Iran.  It was first killed, or seemingly so, back in May 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact. While the other signatories — the EU, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran — stayed in the deal, the JCPOA ceased to function. US secondary sanctions made trade and business with Iran an ‘us or them’ proposition. Not surprisingly, countries and companies chose the US over Iran, to avoid US penalties from sanctions, which Washington piled on after the US withdrawal from the agreement.

US President Joe Biden made a resumption of the Iran nuclear deal a priority, and a deal seemed close in February, but talks stalled and since March have been on “life support,” says Dan Shapiro, former US Ambassador to Israel, in Al-Monitor’s On the Middle East podcast.

But EU Iran coordinator Enrique Mora almost singlehandedly kept it alive, barely, with his shuttle diplomacy. Ali Hashem wrote that during Mora’s visit to Tehran in May, Iran presented ‘more than suggestions’ to break the impasse. “The Iranian side handed Mora a proposal with revisited ideas,” an official source in Tehran told Hashem.

Now EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell is off to Iran on June 24 to meet with Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, after huddling the night before in Brussels over dinner with Mora and US Iran Envoy Rob Malley.  

Borrell even tweeted that Malley “reiterated firm US commitment to come back to the deal.”

Ahead of Borrell’s visit, Amir-Abdollahian said on June 23 that Iran hopes “we can reach the final point of the agreement in the near future with realism from the American side,” adding that “the nuclear negotiations train has reached difficult stops as they near the end.”

After meeting with Amir- Abdollahian on June 25, Borrell tweeted that ‘we agreed on resumption of negotiations between Iran and US in the coming days, facilitated by my team, to solve the last outstanding issues.’

This column has all along contended that Raisi has wanted to close the Iran nuclear deal, but on his terms, while having to anticipate a Plan B if talks failed — not unlike Washington. 

Oil prices over $100 per barrel should be too much to resist. 

And Borrell’s “surprise visit” to Iran is perhaps no surprise, given that Iran knows it will be high on Biden’s agenda during his visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, July 13-16. A top priority of the trip will be to further integrate Israel and the Gulf into a coalition aimed at deterring Iran’s regional and nuclear ambitions.

Recovering from a near fatal blow

The Borrell mission, if successful, would signal a return from a near-death experience for the JCPOA.

In April, after the Vienna talks broke down, Iran announced it was enriching uranium to 60% purity, bringing it closer to the 90% needed for a weapon, and in violation of JCPOA constraints.

In late May, Malley told Congress that a return to the JCPOA was “tenuous at best.” In early June, the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA,  passed a resolution rebuking Iran for failing to cooperate with an agency investigation into questions about undeclared nuclear material and past nuclear research.   

In response, Iran disconnected 27 IAEA  surveillance cameras at its nuclear facilities, which Rafael Grossi, the IAEA director general, described as a  possible “fatal blow” to the JCPOA, it they were not restored within a month. 

Meanwhile US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the   breakout time for Iran to be a nuclear weapons threshold state could drop to “a matter of weeks” if Iran continues to violate the terms of the JCPOA.

Iran claims it does not seek a nuclear weapon, and that all these steps are reversible.  But the US has gone ahead with contingency planning nonetheless for a Plan B if the talks fail or, as Shapiro points out, even if they succeed.

Iran gets US message on IRGC

Another sticking point in March was Iran’s demand that the US delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization as a condition for the deal. 

The Trump administration had put the IRGC on the terrorism list in 2019 for just this purpose — to thwart a possible return to the JCPOA by a subsequent president.

Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in April that he would not delist the IRGC.  Two weeks later, the Senate passed a non-binding, bipartisan resolution opposing the delisting of the IRGC by a vote of 62-33.

Iran seemed to get the message and had to pivot away from the IRGC as a condition, if it still wanted a deal.  An official source told Ali Hashem that during Mora’s visit in May that the IRGC issue “isn’t centric in the new proposal. It’s there, but there are other issues with more priority.”

Since then, “Iran has downplayed the IRGC issue as an impediment to the deal,” Elizabeth Hagedorn and Ali Hashem report. “Mohammad Marandi, an adviser to Iran’s nuclear-negotiating team, told Al-Monitor that delisting the paramilitary organization isn’t a condition for an agreement. Marandi said there are still gaps in the talks regarding assurances and sanctions but dismissed the US rhetoric that the window for diplomacy is closing. ‘The Iranian side was never intimidated by US deadlines. They knew the US was bluffing,’ he said.”

The seeming shift in the Iranian demand on the IRGC comes as Hossein Taeb was replaced this week as head of the IRGC intelligence unit.

Speculation is that Taeb may be being held accountable for the recent killings of at least seven Iranians involved in the country’s nuclear and military programs, which Iranian officials have blamed on Israelas we reported here.

The increased tensions have played out with threats to Israelis visiting Turkey, as Ben Caspit reports.

Taeb, one of the most powerful and feared figures in Iran, was also known as an opponent of the JCPOA and in charge of the file dealing with Americans and other dual nationals held in Iran.

Why Raisi still wants a nuclear deal

While chances may still be slim, the Biden Administration continues to make the case that the JCPOA is the best, or least bad, option to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon, complemented by a Plan B focused on deterring Iranian actions against US interests and partners in the region.

For Biden and his European counterparts, the global energy crisis resulting from the Ukraine war is added incentive to get Iranian energy resources on the market as soon as possible.

Also motivating the Biden Administration is the release of the four Americans unjustly detained in Iran, as Elizabeth Hagedorn reports, which is linked to the JCPOA negotiations.

The incentives may be even stronger for Iran, even if the US cannot guarantee a deal beyond the Biden Administration, as Iran has asked.

Regularly characterized as hard line, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who took office in August 2021, never opposed the JCPOA, including during his presidential campaign. In his inaugural address he said, “Sanctions against Iran must be lifted, and we will support any diplomatic plan that achieves this goal.”

We have argued in this column that the economic incentives, especially now with oil over $100 per barrel, are too much to pass up for Iran’s flagging economy, which has lived under sanctions for decades.

And there are political incentives too, despite a stacked principlist (or conservative) parliament. The JCPOA was initially wildly popular in Iran when it was agreed in 2015; and Raisi’s victory as president was marked by voter apathy and the lowest turnout ever for an Iranian presidential election.

A revived JCPOA is hardly a done deal.  But neither side is closing off negotiations either, and diplomacy got a bump this week with Borrell’s announcement.

Shapiro, who served as senior advisor to Malley until March, and is skeptical of the prospects for a deal, told Al-Monitor he would also not be shocked if talks pick up again this summer or fall.  And summer started on June 21.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include reporting on EU Foreign Policy Chief Borrell’s meetings in Tehran on June 25.

Antichrist upends politics as summer’s heat descends

Iraq’s wild-card cleric upends politics as summer’s heat descends

Moqtada al-Sadr is characterizing his withdrawal from parliament as an indictment of a dysfunctional political system created by the U.S. invasion in 2003

BAGHDAD — The withdrawal of one of Iraq’s most powerful political figures from the thorny process of forming a new government has shattered the political deadlock and sent foes and allies scrambling under the looming threat of renewed street protests.

Eight months after Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr’s followers took the most seats in the election, Iraq’s entrenched political factions have still not formed a new government, prompting the mercurial cleric to upend the political game board and walk out, in what he is framing as an indictment of the whole system.