Tag: 9.11.01

Interview with Brendan I. Koerner: Love and Terror in ‘The Skies Belong to Us’

Interview with Brendan I. Koerner: Love and Terror in ‘The Skies Belong to Us’ Photo by Will Star

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, hijackings in American skies were routine. Eva Holland talks to the author of a new book about one young couple's wild long-distance heist.

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Detained in the Sahara

It was night. Soldiers ordered Bill Donahue from the vehicle. Would they administer primitive justice?

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A World Hum Story is Novelized

David Raterman drew from his 2002 World Hum story Down by the Buskaschee Field about Tajikistan while writing “The River Panj,” described as “the first thriller to open in Afghanistan on 9/11.”

From a press release:

On Sept. 11, 2001, ex-Notre Dame football star Derek Braun is doing relief work in Afghanistan when his fiancée and elderly colleague are kidnapped along the border with Tajikistan. With no one to help, he goes in search. On this dangerous journey, he faces Islamic terrorists, heroin smugglers, corrupt Russian soldiers, Iranian spies and helpless CIA agents, witnessing an assortment of terrible acts that culminate in his own kidnapping.

The novel, which promises to be the first in a series, is available in paperback for $10.99 here and as an e-book for $2.99 on Amazon and iTunes.

By the way, you have to love a writer who devotes a section of his website to publishing rejections. They’re enough to give any aspiring novelist serious pause.


U.S. Issues Travel Alert for Americans in Europe

The State Department alerted U.S. citizens in Europe yesterday to “the potential for terrorist attacks.” From the alert:

Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.

The government suggests U.S. travelers in Europe register their travel plans, but not cancel them. The Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy added some context in a teleconference:

We are not, repeat not, advising Americans not to go to Europe. That is not - this is an alert, and we put out an alert, as you said - as I’ve said, and I think you’ve noted, to ensure that American citizens are aware of the possible incidents.

Now, we tell them that - basically, to use common sense if they see unattended packages or they hear loud noises or they see something beginning to happen that they should quickly move away from them. These are common sense precautions that people ought to take - don’t have lots of baggage tags on your luggage that directly identify you as an American, know how to use the pay telephone, know how to contact the American embassy if you need help.

And very importantly, as it says in the Travel Alert that we put out today, register - and you can do that online and the website tells you how to do it - register with the American embassy or consulate in the location you’re visiting so that if you need help, we might be able to find you, and if anyone inquires about your welfare and whereabouts, should there be, tragically, an incident, we would know how to reach out to you.

The vagueness of the alert has baffled and frustrated some travelers.

In follow up stories, however, some news organizations are noting specifics. CNN points to intelligence chatter about “Mumbai-style attacks,” referring to the “commando like attack featuring small units and small firearms” across the Indian city in 2008. ABC reports several European airports are among potential targets.


Post-9/11 Airport Security: Do You Know Where Your Dignity Is?

On the intersection of place, politics and culture

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Links We’ve Loved: The Post-9/11 Kindness of Gander, Newfoundland

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, several trans-Atlantic flights were diverted from their U.S. destinations to airports throughout Atlantic Canada. The hospitality and kindness of the town of Gander, Newfoundland, has become legendary. Here’s one story I loved, the Savvy Traveler’s 2001 tale of the passengers of Delta Flight 15 and the residents of Gander, who hosted them for “four long, yet special, days.”

Here’s our original blog post.


Interview With Rose Hamid: Flight Attendant, Hijab Wearer

Interview With Rose Hamid: Flight Attendant, Hijab Wearer Photo courtesy of Rose Hamid

How does she navigate the tensions between her profession and her faith in a post-9/11 world? Andrea Cooper learns more.

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A Trip to Battery Park City

Photo by Rob Verger

I live not far from the Hudson’s shore in upper Manhattan, and on Friday last week after US Airways Flight 1549 ditched successfully in the river, I took the subway down to Battery Park City, where the plane had been secured at a pier. It was a sunny but cold day, and I wandered the area. It was quite a scene: the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker and police boats in the Hudson, emergency services equipment and personnel, and parts of the plane’s tail and left wing (seen here, in this picture I took) sticking up out of the water.

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Remembering 9/11, Seven Years Later

We can’t let the day pass without noting the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. In Washington, D.C., President Bush dedicated the Pentagon Memorial, which the Washington Post called “the nation’s first major Sept. 11 remembrance site.” Esquire looks at the slow-moving Freedom Towers project at Ground Zero.

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Tags: 9.11.01

Air Couriers: A Dying Breed

Veteran air couriers have no doubt been painfully aware of this for some time, but it seems the once-attractive budget travel option has all but disappeared. A story on MSNBC.com —and co-authored by World Hum contributor Alexander Basek —reports that air courier services are struggling to stay afloat, largely as a result of post-9/11 security restrictions and the growing availability of budget air fares. “Today, documents route seamlessly via the Internet, while physical cargo (and travelers with one-way tickets) are scrutinized more closely than ever,” the authors write. “Both these facts of modern-day life make for tough times at courier companies.”

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Interview With TSA Chief Kip Hawley

Today security expert Bruce Schneier posts the last piece of a five-part interview with Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the Transportation Security Administration Kip Hawley. The TSA chief has taken some public flogging during his tenure, and perhaps in an effort to rehabilitate the TSA’s poor image among travelers, he traded e-mails with Schneier. For his part, Schneier asked some tough questions. His first includes this: “Can you please convince me there’s not an Office for Annoying Air Travelers?” Let us know if you think Hawley’s answers should cause us to drop or raise the World Hum Travel-Terror Fatigue Level.

Related on World Hum:
* Man Detained by TSA for Writing ‘Kip Hawley is an Idiot’ on His Clear Plastic Carry-On Bag
* Security Expert: New Passports Vulnerable to Cloning, Sabotage
* Passports and Privacy: Here Come the RFID Chips


A ‘Dry Run’ by Terrorists or TSA Confusion?

The threat of more terrorist attacks involving planes in the United States couldn’t be more real. Public trust in the Transportation Security Administration is obviously critical. Which is why new conflicting reports about those so-called possible “dry runs” noted in a recent a TSA bulletin are so troubling.

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Tons of Goods Confiscated by TSA Equal Thousands for State Coffers

We touched on this early last year, but who knew it would become a big bucks business? Turns out all those outlawed items TSA agents take from air passengers at security checkpoints have become a solid source of revenue for states. From a story by Paulo Prada in the Wall Street Journal: “Pennsylvania, which collects goods at 13 airports including New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, says it collects a total of 2.5 tons of TSA goods a month and that the items, sold on eBay, since 2004 have raised $360,000 for state coffers, as of June.”


Frommer: America’s ‘War on Tourists’ Waged with Red Tape

Foreign tourism to the U.S. is down 10 percent since 2000, costing the U.S. billions of dollars in revenue. Why? “The overwhelming consensus of the WTTC [World Travel & Tourism Conference in Lisbon] was that we have made it extraordinarily difficult for most foreign tourists to obtain visas for travel into the United States,” writes Arthur Frommer in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. “In some countries, it requires several weeks simply to make an appointment to apply for such a visa at a U.S. consulate. Let me repeat that: Not only is the application process a time-consuming procedure, but it requires a several-week wait for an appointment to apply for the visa!” Now, he adds, further delays are being proposed. The nation’s inability to improve the system, he concludes, is a “catastrophic oversight.”


Flight Attendants’ Rep: ‘We’re Back to Pre-9/11 Passenger Attitudes’

Translation: “[T]ension between airline employees and passengers is rising, and passengers are ruder and more volatile than in the past,” according to a USA Today story by Gary Stoller. Some statistics support the assertion. The Federal Aviation Administration “cited 1,738 ‘unruly’ passengers for illegally interfering with the duties of a flight crew during the seven years ended in 2006, or an average of 248 a year. From 1995 to 1999, there were an average of 198 per year,” Stoller writes. Reports of passenger misconduct from flight attendants and other airline workers to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System are also high, according to the story, and could be higher because many employees are not aware of the system.

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Overseas Travel to U.S. Down 17 Percent Since 9/11 Attacks

The cost to the U.S.? More than $15 billion in lost taxes and nearly 200,000 jobs, according to a study released today.


‘Itís Not Easy Being a Comic on the Airport Security Line’


L.A. Comic vs. the Transportation Security Administration

Oh TSA, why do you seem to torment so many travelers, even funny people? U.S. Army veteran Tom Irwin, who performs the one-man stage show 25 Days in Iraq, had little trouble getting cleared to visit the White House last summer. But somehow, he wound up on the TSA’s security radar. As a result, the Los Angeles Times reports today, Irwin has had a tough time checking in for flights, encountering one mysterious and frustrating delay after another.


The 9/11 Anniversary: World Hum Looks Back

Five years ago, on the morning of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and the air near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, World Hum was barely four months old. I was living in San Francisco, and Jim was making his way through Southeast Asia. “This isn’t the way you’re supposed to feel when you travel abroad,” Jim wrote in Terror in America: A Letter From Thailand, which we posted the following day. “You’re supposed to be immersed in the exotic, pleasantly buzzed, delightfully lost, happily, if temporarily, in exile. You’re supposed to shuck off your old self, lose track of the news back home and try on an utterly foreign way of life.”

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World Hum Raises Travel-Terror Fatigue Level

That’s right. Based on the recent foiled terrorist plot in England and the ensuing sighs from travelers around the globe, we’re taking the extraordinary step of raising the World Hum Travel-Terror Fatigue Level from Really Annoyed (level 3) to Totally Sick of This (level 4). For those keeping score, that’s just below the highest level on the World Hum Travel-Terror Fatigue Index, Enough Already. Don’t be alarmed. The index simply reflects widespread terror-fatigue levels among business and leisure travelers. While we’re obviously relieved the horrific plot was averted, we can’t believe our ginger-lime shampoo is now under scrutiny. (Remarked one frustrated but well-groomed female traveler on CNN: “I don’t think you can blow up a plane with blush.”) Let’s hope we can one day drop back to level one—Margaritaville. We can dream, right?