9/11 Hysteria: Feds And Kansas City Missouri Police Go All Out When Clown Walks Into Federal Building And Asks If He’s On Terrorist Watch List – Streets Closed, Daycare Evacuated, Flights Restricted, Bomb And Arson Squads Called In

September 15, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – Authorities spent Friday afternoon looking for explosives inside the vehicle of a man who walked into the Kansas City federal building and asked if he was on a terrorist watch list.

The man entered the Richard Bolling Federal Building on 600 E. 12th Street around noon, according to the FBI.

While the suspect never made any threats, authorities detained him and searched his vehicle. He was released early Friday evening.

Read more: Man at center of scare speaks out http://bit.ly/RSWa3L

The Kansas City Police Department’s bomb and arson squads were dispatched to his vehicle, located in the Fletcher Daniels State Office Building parking lot on 615 E. 13th Street. A bomb-sniffing dog then detected the presence of explosives, prompting evacuations at the state office building.

Just before 5 p.m., authorities confirmed that no explosives were found in the vehicle. A temporary flight restriction issued for downtown Kansas City was lifted shortly after. Police reopened the streets, which were closed for most of the day, just after 5 p.m.

State office employees were cleared to leave for the day. The federal building was also closed for the day for precautionary reasons, according to authorities. Earlier, children in the day care center at the federal building were evacuated to a pre-approved, off-site location.

Employees said Friday’s evacuation was unlike any they’d been through previously.

“This one may be real…I’ve been through routine, but nothing like this,” said George Kelley.

The incident in Kansas City came shortly after the all-clear was given at the University of Texas-Austin and North Dakota State University after bomb scares that evacuated their campuses.

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Electronic Cigarette In A Bag Interrupts UK Bus Schedule, Triggers Massive Response That Included Police, Fire, Ambulances, Bomb Squads, And Shuts Down Section Of A Major Highway

July 6, 2012

LONDON (AP) — False alarm: British police said Thursday that reports of suspicious activity on a bus, which set off a massive emergency response and forced the closure of a section of a major highway in central England, were unfounded.

The “culprit”? An electronic cigarette.

Armed police evacuated passengers from the bus and bomb disposal units, ambulances and fire engines descended on the Weeford toll plaza of the M6 highway in the West Midlands, 116 miles (187 kilometers) north of London, after the initial reports Thursday.

The sweeping emergency response came just weeks before the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics are due to be held in the British capital.

But several hours later, Staffordshire police said that the scene was safe and no suspects were in custody.

The force said it had received a “genuine report” from a member of the public about vapor escaping from a bag on the bus, which upon investigation turned out to be a an electronic cigarette – a device that aims to help smokers quit.

“We can now confirm that, whilst this was a genuine security alert, the significant concerns reported to us were unfounded,” the force said.

It apologized for any inconvenience caused by the security response, saying it hopes people understand its duty to ensure public safety.

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Out Of Control New York Police Officers Repeatedly Harassing Boaters On Hudson River

June 11, 2011

POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK – For Bill O’Brien, summer had meant the bliss of the Hudson River ever since he went out fishing for stripers as a boy. But last year, after he was stopped once too often by law enforcement patrol boats with armed officers, he decided he had had it. He sold his 22-foot jet boat, convinced that a once-restful afternoon on the Hudson was just becoming too stressful to enjoy.

“One time I got stopped four times in one day,” Mr. O’Brien, 45, an M.R.I. technologist from Orange County, said. “It feels like every agency and municipality on the Hudson has a boat, and they’re all out there trying to justify themselves by finding someone doing something wrong. It’s just gotten out of control.”

Ten years after the terrorist attacks downriver made security checks commonplace, a tea party of sorts is brewing on the Hudson, as boaters and marine businesses complain bitterly about being stopped too often and questioned too closely by officers wearing flak jackets and holstered pistols — many of them on the lookout for terrorists.

And as boating season begins, that vigilance has become one of those vexing flashpoints, like baggage searches and airport body scans, in the shifting definition of what is normal — post-9/11 overreaction to some, and a response to real risks to others.

A petition drive among boaters has generated hundreds of signatures and scores of angry comments.

Boat clubs are mulling strategies, and the largest boating-industry group along the river, the Hudson Valley Marine Trades Association, recently wrote the Coast Guard commander in New York to protest “an incredible increase of recreational vessel boarding.”

Boaters say the stops have multiplied in large part because they are only minimally coordinated among roughly two dozen agencies that watch the river: federal authorities, state police from New York and New Jersey, county sheriffs’ departments and a host of other organizations, familiar and obscure, including the Border Patrol and the New York Naval Militia.

But Coast Guard and law enforcement officials say much of their watchfulness reflects a bigger concern: In addition to its quiet joys and natural splendor, the Hudson is home to some potentially rich targets for terrorists — including the Indian Point nuclear power plant, West Point and the Tappan Zee Bridge — and could become a pathway for attackers to reach New York City unnoticed.

Those officials say that, yes, boaters on the Hudson and on other waterways are far more likely to be stopped than they were in the past, but that is just one way in which life has changed.

“We get a lot of complaints, but maritime safety and security has taken on a whole new direction since 9/11 — we’re more proactive, we’re more vigilant,” said Lt. James Luciano, who oversees the Westchester County Police Department’s marine unit. “Before 9/11, you could access buildings more easily than you can today. Look at airport security.”

No one compiles figures for all the agencies patrolling the Hudson, so it is unclear how much enforcement has escalated. The Coast Guard says its boardings vary from year to year, and dropped to 300 last year, from 741 the previous year.

But the authorities say increased vigilance is needed, given that antiterrorism experts cite small boats as a particular threat — as evidenced in the deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, that were begun from two inflatable speedboats. About 45,000 boats are registered in counties along the Hudson.

Lex Filipowski, a businessman and motivational speaker, said he had been furious about the situation since he was stopped four times in two days by four agencies.

“If they stopped cars on the roadways the way they stop boats on the river, there would be a revolution” he said.

As he launched his 25-foot-long boat, “Carpe Diem,” at the Pirate Canoe Club here, another boater, Frank Bergman, seemed as concerned with boating politics as with boating.

“We understand they have a job to do to keep the bridges safe and protect Indian Point, but it’s just overkill,” said Mr. Bergman, president of the Hudson River Boat and Yacht Club, which represents 36 boat clubs. “The question in my mind is, is it homeland security or boater safety or just harassment and justifying their jobs?”

Boaters, a sometimes cantankerous and self-regarding lot, have grumbled for years about the stops, which can involve being pulled over for a check of credentials and required safety gear like life vests, or a demand to board the boat for inspection.

The discontent began to escalate when Mr. Filipowski posted an angry statement and petition last June on the Web site of the magazine Boating on the Hudson. More than 250 people signed, many expressing grievances.

“I’m thinking about selling my boat, stopped all the time,” one wrote.

“We are not terrorists and criminals,” wrote another. “We are citizens who own and use boats.”

Marinas and boat sellers, their customers already buffeted by high gasoline prices, also raised alarms. “We are operating in tough economic times and cannot afford to lose customers who are discouraged by law enforcement operations,” Gabe Capobianchi, president of the marine trades association, wrote the Coast Guard last month.

It was not always this way. Before 9/11, some boaters complained of too little law enforcement. “Back then the Hudson felt like the Wild West,” said George Samalot, who has owned a sailboat repair business in West Haverstraw since 1985.

But since 9/11, security and enforcement have been transformed, aided by grants from the Department of Homeland Security that have underwritten more and better boats and manpower. Westchester County did not have a marine unit until 1999; now it has two high-tech surveillance boats that cost $250,000 and $400,000 and can patrol around the clock.

That can be a good thing. When Detectives Kenneth Hasko and C. J. Westbrook cruised from Tarrytown to Cortlandt one recent Friday, their one stop involved rescuing a couple in a new $40,000 boat with a dead battery, stuck on a sunken barge. The officers found the couple’s knowledge of marine safety somewhat lacking.

“You have your flares?” Detective Westbrook asked.

“What’s a flare?” the man replied.

They towed the couple in and made sure they got help. “They could have ended up with a new boat with a hole in the hull,” Detective Westbrook said. “And we’re the bad guys?”

Officials say that while they are sensitive to the complaints, there is no going back to the world before 9/11.

“Job No. 1 is keeping people safe,” said Charles Rowe, a Coast Guard spokesman. “Even the ones who are complaining.”

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Bandera County Texas Sheriff’s Office Issues Domestic Terror Warning Based On Their Imagination

June 11, 2011

BANDERA, TEXAS – The Bandera County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning Thursday to citizens about an anti-government movement known for acts of domestic terrorism.

The law enforcement agency said followers of The Sovereign Citizens Movement have been known to carry out violent acts, including killing law enforcement officers and other public servants.

The sheriff’s office told KSAT-12 News the warning was prompted by the recent shooting death of Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Kenneth Vann.

“We have domestic terrorism right at our doorstep,” said Capt. Charlie Hicks of the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office.

Hicks said while there’s no evidence Vann’s death had any links to the Sovereign Citizens, it’s the same type of crime followers are known for.

For example, in last May, a father and his teenage son opened fire on two police officers with an assault rifle during a routine traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark. News reports said the incident was sparked by the suspects’ refusal to present a valid driver’s license. The officers were killed in the shootout and the father and son died in a second shootout with officers a short time later.

“That’s our main concern. Citizen safety and police officer safety in this area,” Hicks said.

According to Hicks, followers of the anti-government, anarchist movement, share the belief that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution has tricked Americans into becoming citizens of the United States and has offered them privileges, such as driver’s licenses and other government benefits, which act as so-called hidden contracts through which Americans effectively have given up their sovereignty.

Hicks said followers are often very vocal about their beliefs.

“They’ve very serious in their beliefs, and very serious when they do go to violence,” Hicks said. “They’ll kill you in a New York minute.”

Hicks said while a training camp for similar anti-government groups was discovered in Kerr County in the past, there is no evidence any members are currently operating in Bandera County. But Hicks said residents should still be cautious.

“Don’t be getting into heated arguments with these people, because the potential for violence is there,” Hicks said.

The FBI considers the Sovereign Citizens Movement one of the nation’s top domestic terror threats. Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols was a follower.

Hicks said citizens are urged to report any suspicious activity to the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office or your nearest local law enforcement agency.

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Terrorists On Every Corner: “Homeland Security” Vendors Still Thriving Due To Post 9/11 Hysteria

May 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – A decade after the 9/11 terror attacks, homeland security is still a growth business.

The niche—that includes James Bond-like tools such as infrared cameras, explosive detectors and body scanners—is expected to grow 12 percent annually through 2013, according to Morgan Keegan.

“Homeland security is reactive,” says Tim Quillen, a senior equity analyst at investment banking firm Stephens Inc. “The stocks are hedges against bad things happening.”

One example: the underwear bomber, who was thwarted in late 2009. After that a bell weather homeland security stock OSI Systems [OSIS 39.11 0.04 (+0.1%) ] rocketed 30 percent within a month. “The stock went on a tear,” says Brian Ruttenbur, a research analyst at Morgan Keegan. Why? OSI makes X-ray and metal detectors used to scan people, baggage and cargo that it sells worldwide. During the past 12 months ending yesterday, the stock has popped from $25 to $40, driven by border and port growth.

Much has changed, since the government spent over $20 billion beefing up airport baggage screening nationwide with X-ray devices.

Airline security is a small business: about $1 billion. There’s 2,100 airport security lanes in the U.S., and 90 percent use X-ray scanners.

“The scanners are ten plus years old now,” says Ruttenbur and “going through an upgrade cycle.” Recently, the government has ordered another 500 scanners though.

Screening cargo going on aircraft and boats at ports is also spiking. Now, only a small percentage of all cargo is scanned. Security screening will grow ten percent to 15 percent annually in coming years, says Ruttenbur in a recent report. This driver will help OSI Systems pump out strong security earnings.

Tiny Niche, Big Clout

There aren’t any pure plays within homeland security though—neither stocks or ETFs. Some players like OSI Systems sell their screening devices to healthcare companies too, so their homeland security earnings are diluted.

“You have to spread the net wide and separate reality from hype,” says Quillen

Both OSI Systems and Flir Systems [FLIR 35.52 0.28 (+0.79%) ] are undervalued right now, says Quillen.

Flir Systems is a well-managed market leader in infrared cameras used to protect critical buildings, he says. This fast-growing market is slated to expand 20 percent annually, though only half of Flir Systems’ revenue come from government business. The stock rose from $29 to $36 in the past year. And Quillen has a 12-month price target of $43 on it.

OSI Systems is another favorite. In the first quarter of the year, OSI’s security group revenues grew 27 percent over last year’s.

“The stock is a long-term play,” says Jonathan Richton, an analyst at Imperial Capital, citing OSI’s developing cargo scanning business. Analysts peg five-year earnings growth at 20 percent. Another plus driving earnings: OSI Systems is aggressively tightening operating margins.

A third player, American Science and Engineering [ASEI 86.07 -0.11 (-0.13%) ] makes cargo and parcel search systems. But the stock is expensive right now, say analysts, since the company missed first-quarter revenue targets.

In the past year, the stock has risen from $77 to $88. Ruttenbur expects only 4-percent earnings growth this year but 10 percent to 15 percent in the next few years, as orders pick up. His 12-month price target: $94.

For investors casting a wide net, L-3 Communications [LLL 81.60 0.30 (+0.37%) ] is a homeland security monolith. It’s also the sixth largest U.S. defense contractor.

The company makes surveillance equipment for airports and checkpoint scanners. “They’re playing a meaningful role,” says Quillen, “but security revenue is only about 5 percent.”

Its stock price has been flat over the last year.

These days, homeland security niche players are a safe bet though — even after the recent death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

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Alaska Airlines Apologizes After Pilots Freak Out Over Praying Orthodox Jews

March 15, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Alaska Airlines has apologized for a weekend incident in which three Orthodox Jewish businessmen triggered security concerns by conducting a prayer ritual on board a flight to Los Angeles.

The men began praying out loud in Hebrew shortly after takeoff on Flight 241 from Mexico City. Flight attendants alerted the flight deck, which then called the tower and alerted law enforcement. When the plane arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, it was met by the FBI, Customs and Border Protection and airport police.

The men were questioned, their bags searched, and it was determined they were not a threat according to the FBI.

“Alaska Airlines embraces the cultural and religious diversity of our passengers and employees. We apologize for the experience these three passengers went through after landing in Los Angeles as well as for any inconvenience to our other customers onboard,” Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said.

Alaska Airlines said it plans to update its awareness training of Orthodox Jews and is reaching out to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle for help.

The airline issued the apology after conducting an internal review of Sunday’s incident, and said it wasn’t just the prayers that worried the flight crew.

“Flight attendants observed unusual behavior from three male passengers that continued during the four-hour flight,” Egan said in a statement issued late Monday.

“Out of concern for the safety of all of the passengers on board, the crew erred on the side of caution and authorities were notified. The crew did not realize at the time that the passengers were Orthodox Jews engaging in prayer ritual in Hebrew.”

Egan said three specific instances that went beyond the men’s prayers appeared to be unusual behavior to the crew:

Flight attendants instructed everyone to stay seated with their seatbelts fastened as the aircraft flew through turbulence shortly after takeoff. The three passengers disregarded repeated requests, however, and stood up several times to retrieve objects from their luggage in the overhead bin that the crew had never seen, including small black boxes fastened with what appeared to be black tape. The crew learned after the plane landed that these were tefillin boxes worn during the prayer ritual.

The men prayed aloud together in a language unfamiliar to the crew while wearing what appeared to be black tape and wires strapped to their forearms and foreheads and wires on their chests. Their actions and behavior made some other travelers and the crew uneasy. The three passengers responded, but provided very little explanation, to a flight attendant’s questions about the tefillin boxes and what they were doing.

Later in the flight, two of the three passengers visited the lavatories together while the third waited in the aisle and continually looked around the cabin and toward the flight deck door. Flight attendants thought he appeared anxious, as if he were standing guard.

During weekday prayers, some Orthodox Jewish men wear teflillin, or phylacteries – black leather straps wrapped around the left arm and around the forehead. The straps are connected to small boxes with tiny scrolls containing Jewish scriptures. Many Orthodox Jewish men also wear a prayer shawl called a tallit under their clothes, with knotted fringes at each of the four corners.

Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesman for Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox Jewish movement, explained the ritual further to CNN:

Tefillin are two leather black boxes with sacred parchment inside hand-crafted by a special scribe. The boxes are bound on the arm and head during prayer to spiritually align the mind and heart. I would encourage airlines to sensitize its employees to the salient effect of the tefillin ritual – and would be more than happy to put them in touch with local rabbis who can teach their personnel more about this tradition.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, this issue comes up occasionally. Last year after a similar incident, the ADL and Chabad sent a letter and a flier to all the major airlines explaining teflillin, said Deborah Lauter, ADL’s director of civil rights.

“We understand these prayer items may not be familiar. We gave them the suggestions that they do training about it. We had hoped they would include this in their training,” Lauter said.

She said she is sending a letter to Alaska Airlines again to remind them.

Lauter said there is an onus on both parties in such a situation.

“The safety of passengers is paramount, and in this age of heightened security people are on edge. I think it’s understandable why people would have this reaction. There has to be a give and take too with the passengers. If they weren’t cooperating, that’s a different problem than religious sensitivity,” she said.

“Education is a two way street. We hope airlines will include this training with their staffs,” Lauter said. “It also wouldn’t hurt for passengers who are going to be participating in this ritual to alert the staff ahead of time.”

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Hysteria: Russian Police Evacuate And Surround Post Office While Bomb Squad Defuses Sex Toy In Mailed Package

March 14, 2011

PETROZAVODSK, KARELIA – Anti-terrorist bomb squad experts were called to a post office in the northwest of Russia to make safe a package from which a strange ticking sound was coming, local police said Monday.

They found a vibrator.

The incident took place at Petrozavodsk in the republic of Karelia and followed a call from a postal worker who had identified a suspect package, a police spokeswoman told AFP by phone.

“The post building was ringed by the security forces and people were evacuated,” she said.

“In the package the bomb squad found a vibrator.”

The sex toy had apparently been turned on “by accident”.

Nerves are on edge in Russia after an attack in January on the Domodedovo airport near Moscow left 37 dead. Two suicide bombers killed 40 in March 2010 in the Moscow metro.

False bomb scares and evacuations have since affected commercial centres, stations and other public places.

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