Sunday, August 24, 2008

WTC beam taken to Pennsylvania site

NEW YORK | The roar of 1,000 motorcycles accompanied a steel beam from the World Trade Center on Saturday as it traveled to Pennsylvania, where it will be part of a memorial to those who died there in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Hundreds of current and retired members of the New York Fire Department escorted the beam from Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field to Shanksville, Pa. In a new memorial being built next to a volunteer fire company, the 2-ton, 14-foot long beam will sit on a base shaped like the Pentagon.

“It’s a great thing to honor the people on Flight 93 by putting together all three attack sites - the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and Pennsylvania,” said Eugene Stolowski, a New York firefighter who was along for the trip.

United Airlines Flight 93 was brought down by hijackers just outside Shanksville, about 40 minutes into its flight from Newark, N.J.

Organizers planned to unveil the steel beam in the new memorial during a ceremony Sunday morning. Relatives of some Sept. 11 victims are expected to attend.

Animal researchers to get protection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | Animal researchers should be protected from violence and publishing of personal information on the Internet, California lawmakers have decided.

Legislation tentatively approved Friday included a new misdemeanor charge for entering residential property of an academic researcher with the intent to intimidate or interfere with research.

Another law also would make it a misdemeanor to publish information online that either describes an academic researcher and family members, or gives their residential location with the intention of assisting violence or threats, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Assembly Bill 2296 still requires some final procedural steps and a signature by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It comes after recent firebomb attacks on University of California-Santa Cruz animal researchers and vandalism at a University of California-Los Angeles professor’s home.

“After the number of violent incidents against researchers, it seems to me they do need some additional protection over and above what the criminal law provides now,” said state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, Santa Monica Democrat.

Error gives worker $850,000 bonus

OKLAHOMA CITY | Oklahoma officials say a typo resulted in a state employee receiving a bonus of $850,000 - but it was only temporary.

Jo Harris was supposed to receive an $850 longevity bonus for working at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission for seven years. But a misplaced decimal point turned that into a six-figure windfall.

Officials say they caught the error before the $850,000 left state funds.

Ms. Harris’ original paycheck issued in February was canceled and a new one was issued with the correct bonus. Officials told her about the mistake and asked her to watch her personal bank account.

She said she would let state officials know right away if the extra money entered her account because “I don’t go to jail for anybody.”

Geologists find New York faults

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. | An analysis of recent earthquake activity around New York City has found that many small faults believed to be inactive could contribute to a major, disastrous earthquake.

The study also finds that a line of seismic activity comes within two miles of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, about 25 miles north of New York City. Another fault line near the plant was already known, so the findings suggest Indian Point is at an intersection of faults.

The study’s authors, who work at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory, acknowledge that the biggest earthquakes - in the 6 or 7 magnitude range - are rare in the New York City area. They say a quake of magnitude 7 probably comes about every 3,400 years.

But they note that no one knows when the last one hit, and because of the population density and the concentration of buildings and financial assets, many lives and hundreds of billions of dollars are at risk.

DIA expanding use of polygraphs

The Pentagon’s intelligence arm is adding more polygraph studios and relying on outside contractors for the first time to conduct lie detection tests in an attempt to screen its 5,700 prospective and current employees every year.

The stepped-up effort by the Defense Intelligence Agency is part of a growing emphasis on counterintelligence, detecting and thwarting would-be spies and keeping sensitive information away from America’s enemies.

The increase in lie detection at the DIA is three years in the making. In 2005 the agency’s director announced plans to test every prospective new DIA hire, whether a permanent federal worker or contract employee.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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