Friday, February 19, 2010

Passengers who flew with accused underwear bomber speak out

The weeks have passed and, in most cases, their nerves have calmed. What began as shock, that they were almost victims of an in-flight terrorist attack, has morphed for many into contemplation. There are those who are still talking about what happened to them on Christmas Day, and there are others who are determined to put the incident behind them.

The passengers of Northwest Flight 253 may have been one faulty explosive away from disaster.
The suspect in that incident, Nigerian-born Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, 23, pleaded not guilty in January to six federal terrorism charges. And he has been talking to authorities, thanks to help from his own family members.

But what if the passengers could be part of that conversation? What would they want to know or say to AbdulMutallab, the government, the world? CNN reached out by phone and e-mail to find out.
More than anything, if they could sit down with AbdulMutallab they would simply ask: Why? How did a young man who grew up with privilege, education and exposure to the greater world end up accused of attempting a terrorist attack?

"For me, these are the burning questions," said Roey Rosenblith, 27, who co-founded Village Energy, a company in Uganda that hopes to help bring solar electricity to the 80 percent of Africans who have no electrical power. "I've never had someone try to murder me, much less someone I didn't even know. So I'm very interested in finding out more about [his] motives so that we might possibly figure out how to avert others from traveling down the same path."

Could the fact that AbdulMutallab is talking to officials signal he has regret, Rosenblith wonders. If not, if he is a "lost cause," Rosenblith said he wouldn't care to waste breath speaking to him.
Interactive: Hear passengers on plane

"I don't spend a lot of time seeking out conversations with Holocaust deniers, Islamic fundamentalists or religious fanatics of any stripe," he said. "I guess I've decided that people that are beyond the pale of reason are simply that and nothing I say will convince them otherwise."
Melinda Dennis, 31, was sitting about an arm's length from AbdulMutallab when he was taken up to first class after the incident. She stared at him, and his blank expression. Now she says she'd rather speak to others considering the path he is accused of taking.

"No matter what nationality we are or religion we choose, we are still people. I am a human being, a person that faces each day trying to make myself better and enrich the lives of people who know me," said Dennis, who's lived the past year-and-a-half in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where she works as a manufacturing project manager. "Whether I live or die should not be decided on the whim of a person that wishes to brand all Americans as evil people. I am not defined by my nationality, but I believe in the goodness that resides in the people of every country."


2001 Anthrax attack was work of lone nut says FBI.

Washington (CNN) -- The FBI announced that it has concluded its investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings, saying Friday that a biodefense researcher carried out the attacks alone.
The anthrax letters killed five people and sickened 17 shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The letters, filled with bacterial spores, were sent to Senate Democratic leaders and news organizations.

"By 2007, investigators conclusively determined that a single spore-batch created and maintained by Dr. Bruce E. Ivins at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was the parent material for the letter spores," said a report released Friday by the FBI.
"Evidence developed from that investigation established that Dr. Ivins, alone, mailed the anthrax letters."

In September and October 2001, at least five envelopes were mailed to Sen. Patrick Leahy and then-Sen. Tom Daschle, as well as to news organizations in New York and in Boca Raton, Florida.

Each envelope contained a photocopy of a handwritten note.
The five who died included two Washington postal workers, a New York hospital worker, a supermarket tabloid photo editor in Florida and a 94-year-old woman in Connecticut.

The investigation into the anthrax mailings, code-named "Amerithrax," was one of the largest and most complex in the history of law enforcement, according to the FBI.

Ivins, 62, committed suicide in July 2008 as federal agents were closing in on him, police said.


"Beast of Kandahar" spotted in Korea?

By Bill Sweetman.AVWK

The Beast of Kandahar gets around. The hitherto-classified Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned air vehicle (UAV), its existence disclosed after our enquiries in December, has been sighted outside Afghanistan.

A Korean newspaper report - overlooked when it appeared in December - has now surfaced and states that the UAV had been flying for several months from a South Korean base - probably Osan, where the USAF currently operates U-2s - before it was disclosed.

This revelation points directly to an answer to one of the puzzling questions about the Beast: why would you use a stealthy aircraft to spy on the Taliban? The answer is that you don't, but Afghanistan and South Korea have a common feature: they are next door to nations with missile development programs.

Most likely, therefore, the Beast's current tasking is to gather intelligence on missile launches and (possibly) to test missile-tracking equipment. It's possible - although the photos seen so far are inconclusive - that one or both of the top-mounted fairings carries an electro-optical sensor system. One fairing could cover a satcoms antenna. Alternatively, the aircraft could be gathering telemetry intelligence (TELINT).

There is also the possibility that the Beast's debut has to do with more than ISR. The Missile Defense Agency disclosed last summer that it had been working - under its "black" budget - on airborne infrared missile tracking, using two platforms and stereoscopic techniques to provide interception-grade tracking without radar. The MDA has now issued a request for information covering an Airborne Infrared (ABIR) sensor on a UAV.


North Korea bent on being destroyed in future nuclear holocaust.

(CNN) -- North Korea vowed Friday not to dismantle its nuclear program -- not even in exchange for economic aid -- as long as the United States continues a "hostile policy."

"It was none other than the U.S. that pushed [North Korea] to acquiring nuclear deterrence and it is, therefore, wholly to blame for the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
North Korea will never abandon its nuclear program, "even if the earth is broken to pieces unless the hostile policy towards [North Korea] is rolled back and the nuclear threat to it removed," the agency said.
The United States believes that North Korea has enough weapons-grade plutonium to build a half dozen nuclear bombs.

The reclusive Communist nation last year cut off six-party talks involving the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, in anger over international criticism of its nuclear and missile tests.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton previously said the United States was willing to meet bilaterally with North Korea but only within the framework of the six-party talks. She also has warned that the United States will not normalize ties with Pyongyang or lift sanctions unless North Korea takes irreversible steps toward dismantling its nuclear program.
North Korea has made it clear it is no rush to resume the stalled talks aimed at persuading the country to give up its nuclear weapons arsenal, according to Lynn Pascoe, the U.N. envoy to the country.

Speaking after a recent visit to Pyongyang, Pascoe said he and North Korean officials had "a frank and open discussion back and forth on a variety of issues." But, he said, "They are not eager to return to the six-party talks."
Pascoe said the North Koreans said they do not like the United Nations sanctions slapped on their nation.
Observers have said that the North Korea's dire economic conditions, including a severe food shortage, could bring it back to the bargaining table.

But North Korea said Friday that it feels no obligation to barter based on food, fuel or funding.
"Those who talk about an economic reward in return for the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons would be well advised to awake from their daydream," KCNA said.

Iran Launches New Destroyer.

(CNN) -- Iran has launched a new guided missile destroyer Friday, Iran's state-run news agencies reported.
The announcement comes at a time when nuclear watchdogs have accused Iran of working to develop a nuclear warhead for a missile.

The new vessel, called Jamaran, has the capacity to carry about 120 people and is armed with surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes and modern naval cannons, Iran's Press TV reported.

The ship is constitutes a major leap in Iran's naval technology and is the first in a class of ships that are being constructed, Press TV reported.

The announcement comes a day after the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency said Iran may be working secretly to develop a nuclear warhead for a missile. The assertion was part of a draft report

Editors Note: In news of the future - "Israel sinks Iranian Guided Missile Destroyer." ; )

Another Skyquake - this time East Coast.

Mystery in the air in Pelham, New Hampshire

Updated: Thursday, 18 Feb 2010, 12:21 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 18 Feb 2010, 12:21 PM EST

PELHAM, N.H. (FOX25, myfoxboston) - A mysterious noise in one New Hampshire town has residents confused.

A startling sound has been waking some Pelham residents up from sleep since November. Others have reported hearing the loud boom in the afternoon.

Police have received reports from neighborhoods around Mammoth and Nashua roads.

The New Hampshire National Guard said they are not holding training missions. The Department of Transportation, Raytheon and BAE said they do not have any middle of the night projects going on.

Meanwhile, police say the will continue to investigate calls from concerned residents.


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