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Today we remember the lives lost during the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
While crowds and ceremonies will likely restrict access to the 9/11 Memorial at the actual World Trade Center (which requires advance tickets anyway), there are a variety of other sculptures and remembrance parks within the area deserving of a little attention.
Here are seven other NY/NJ area September 11 memorials to visit year-round:
· Jersey City, NJ "Empty Sky" (above)
One of the newer memorials, it's also our personal favorite for the modern design and poignant placement just across the harbor from where the Twin Towers once stood. "Empty Sky," opened in 2011, sits in Liberty State Park and consists of two 30-foot-high rectangular towers, etched with the names of the 746 New Jersey-resident victims. The negative space between the monuments is oriented to highlight the area on the Manhattan skyline where the actual buildings once were.
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It's that time of the year again, when two powerful lights take up their brief residence in lower Manhattan to remember the thousands of lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This year marks the twelfth anniversary of the attacks, but the tenth for the lights themselves. Officially the installation is called "Tribute in Light," and it takes 88 searchlights to form the seemingly never-ending beams. Nearly every year they've appeared was said to be the last, but here they are still.
Tomorrow and through this upcoming weekend, expect lower Manhattan to be heavily policed, and hordes of visitors to descend upon the area around the 9/11 Memorial.
If you just want to see the lights, however, they're perfectly visible from popular tourist sites such as the Staten Island Ferry and Empire State Building visitor deck. Also, search the #TributeinLight hashtag on Instagram for hundreds of images.
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It's August. We're traditionally supposed to be talking about baby animals and the zoos where you can visit them, perhaps during "brew at the zoo" events. Instead there's this global terror alert that the United States issued last week, and one scenario is that Al Qaeda has figured out an "ingenious" new way to attack passenger airliners.
Let's run through this terrifying (and, for TSA critics, frustrating) scenario. ABC News outlined it yesterday.
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A photo from the Boston Marathon scene earlier this week
As a manhunt takes place for those responsible in the bombings of the Boston Marathon of earlier this week, the entire city of Boston is on lock-down (subway "T" service and the Amtrak between NY and Boston is suspended), airlines continue to help out travelers trying to travel to and from the city.
Boston-Logan International Airport is still open and flights are operating as normally as possible, though travelers can expect very high security within the terminals.
Current waivers, which allow customers to switch their flights and travel days at no extra charge, are available for most of the US carriers, plus some international ones. Here's the list, complete with links for more details:
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This afternoon, as the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon was under way with approximately 27,000 runners, two explosive devices detonated in the vicinity of the Finish Line, near the downtown Boston intersection of Boylston and Essex Streets. Initial reports state that the bombs were in trash cans within a block of each other (we've pinpointed the locations on a map below) and the explosions caused storefronts to explode as well as serious injuries for bystanders.
· 10pm: American Airlines is also offering a change waiver for flights to/from Boston. The Wall Street Journal tweets: "Officials found what they believe are 5 additional, undetonated explosive devices in Boston area."
· 8pm: One of the two confirmed dead is an 8-year-old boy.
· 7:15pm: The London Marathon is scheduled for this upcoming Sunday. Organizers are working with US authorities to review security and the potential for a copy-cat crime. The London Marathon is expected to have 37,000 runners. [Source: NBC News]
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The Center for Investigative Reporting's CaliforniaWatch project just posted an article about companies that are benefiting from the switch to new full-body scanners. Jaunted readers will be familiar with the broad outlines of the story: first there was a huge influx of money into pro-scanner lobbies working in DC, then TSA spent hundreds of millions of dollars on scanners that weren't ready for prime time, then they had to spend all that money again on Gingerbread Man scanners that were more acceptable to the public. And throughout everything scanner companies pocketed the spending.
But as outrageous as all that isand make no mistake, it's totally infuriatingthat's not what this post is about. Instead what caught our eye was something toward the very bottom of CaliforniaWatch's report, in the second to last paragraph. Apparently the companies that make technology for the full-body scanners can kind of do magic. For instance American Science and Engineering, a company that works on full-body scanners, also makes another kind of mobile x-ray machine that "can reveal hidden items inside passing vehicles."
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In recent months counter-terror officials have broken up plots to murder Israeli tourists in Cyprus and Egypt and Bangkok and Tunisia and India. Warnings were also issued to Israeli tourists regarding possible plots in Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Today a bomber managed to slip through the net and carry out an attack at the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, killing at least six Israeli tourists and injuring more than 20 others, including an 11 year old boy and two pregnant women.
The details of the blast are still changing, to the point where no one even knows what kind of bomb exploded. Eyewitnesses describe a female suicide bomber who leaned into a tour bus filled with Israelis and detonated, while Bulgarian officials have reportedly told the Israelis that it was a suitcase bomb loaded into the luggage carriage. Whatever it was, the bomb was powerful enough to blow the front off the bus and set two nearby buses (also filled with Israeli tourists) on fire. Photos are here but please observe a strong content warning.
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When a blogger figured out how to defeat TSA's million-dollar scanners and posted the proof to YouTube, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that she literally hadn't heard about it. When a report by DHS's inspector general uncovered systematic TSA security breaches and issued a report, officials from the airport security agency told Congress that fixing things would take a while.
But spill one dead guy's ashes all over security at the end of a very bad PR month, and suddenly there are new rules on top of damage control on top of new rules. And to think, some critics suggest that TSA responds faster to public relations issues than they do to security issues!
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This was quite the eventful weekend for air travel in the Northeast. First, severe thunderstorms struck their lightning bolts for a few hours on Friday, delaying and diverting flights. This was immediately followed by a damaging fire at an FAA air traffic facility in New Jersey that caused airport, aircraft and ATC communication issues.
It only got worse on Saturday when a West Palm Beach-bound JetBlue flight had a bird strike on one engine and returned (safely) to Westchester County Airport. Finally, to cap off the weekend, an x-ray machine started smoking at the security check at one of the terminals of LaGuardia Airport, forcing the evacuation of all passengers for a few hours and further delaying and mixing up flights.
WHEW. Welcome to summer travel, eh?
Amidst all that breathless breaking news, the local broadcasting stations briefly glazed over what we thought was really the most intriguing story of allthat of a massive terror drill at JFK Airport.
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You'll recall that last April we gave you a heads up on TSA's new ID scanners, which are designed to speed up security and close a notorious and well-known loophole in American airport security. The so-called "CAT-BPSS" (Credential Authentication TechnologyBoarding Pass Scanning System) scanners were supposed to bust fakes more quickly and efficiently than humans could. That was supposed to be "fantastic" for getting people through checkpoints.
We complained that it wouldn't really speed things up since security bottlenecks happen at the metal detectors and scanners, and not at the ID checks. But we assumed that the scanners worked, and they plugged a hole that needed plugging, so overall we were pretty positive about the roll out. You know what they say about assuming, right?
We can't quite decide whether this storywhich involves a traffic stop in Connecticut but which we'll connect to airport security in just a secondis quietly reassuring or deeply creepy. The things that police officers and security officials can do, and the different ways they can do them, are becoming harder and harder to catalog.
Stratford firefighter Mike Apatow was driving along a Connecticut interstate when he found himself getting pulled over for no discernible reason. It turns out that Apatow has high blood pressure, and just that morning he had been to the hospital for a medical stress test. Doctors had injected him with just a tiny amount of radioactive material so they could track what was going on with his blood. Hours later, the leftover isotopes in Apatow's body were still enough to light up his car as it drove by a state police vehicle equipped with a mobile radioactivity detector.
Keep in mind that he was on an interstate. That means he was either driving 65mph+ or stuck between a lot of other cars. Either way, the sniffer still picked him right out. Hmmm.
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Would TSA scanners have caught the non-metallic underwear bomb at the center of the latest Al Qaeda plot? That was the discussion late last week and over the weekend, after the public learned of the planned attack via the Associated Press, which learned about it from an anonymous leaker who now may well go to jail.
The ex-TSA chief who bought the scanners says yes, because of course he does. A Congressman who routinely bashes TSA says no, because of course he does. But "candidly, no" was also the answer given by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who would know. And the consensus of experts also seems to be that scanners would have missed the bomb.
Meanwhile there are good reasons to believe that more underwear bombs are in the wild and that a "wave of plane attacks" might be on the horizon. Happy Monday!