Al Qaeda leader calls for attacks inside US
by MAAMOUN YOUSSEF
CAIRO — Al Qaeda's leader on Friday marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by calling on Muslims to strike inside the United States, with big attacks or small, using any opportunity they can to ‘‘bleed'' America financially.
In an audio message released two days after the 12th anniversary of the attacks, Ayman al-Zawahri said America is not a ‘‘mythic power'' and that the mujahedeen — Islamic holy warriors — can defeat it with attacks ‘‘on its own soil.''
Al Zawahri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, used the anniversary to argue that the United States can be defeated by targeting its economy. At the same time, he also addressed the ongoing upheaval in the Arab world.
Close calls in US skies rise due to better reporting, FAA says
by Alan Levin
WASHINGTON - Documented close calls between aircraft in U.S. skies shot upward last year as the government switched on more automatic monitors to track the incidents, a new report says.
Cases in which aircraft came closer together than U.S. Federal Aviatioation Administration rules allow rose to 4,394 in the year ending Sept. 30, 2012, from 1,895 the previous year, according to agency data released Thursday.
The increase indicates there have been many more close calls in U.S. aviation than the FAA knew about when it largely relied on humans to report errors. Through better reporting, the agency can identify hazards more precisely and improve safety, according to the report.
“Collaboration is now the rule, not the exception,” David Grizzle, chief operating officer of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, said in the report. “We've gone from counting errors to identifying and mitigating safety risk.”
The most high-risk incidents, those that came closest to an accident such as a mid-air collision, declined as a percentage of total incidents. This shows that risks in the system have declined, according to a presentation Thursday by Joseph Teixeira, vice president of the air traffic unit.
The results continue a trend of increasing air-traffic controller errors logged by the FAA since 2009, when the agency began a series of initiatives to discourage cover-ups and identify cases that weren't being noticed.
In fiscal 2009, there were 1,234 errors connected to controllers who allowed planes to get too close. Near airports, planes usually must be separated by 3.5 miles or 1,000 feet of altitude.
The FAA has attributed the increase to an initiative that encourages controllers to report errors without fear of punishment. The agency also stopped basing air-traffic managers' raises in part on the number of controller errors reported at a facility.
Airlines have used similar safety-improvement measures by studying incidents that wouldn't have come to light without reports by pilots and mechanics.
At the same time, new technology at radar facilities monitoring air traffic near large airports has for the first time begun automatically identifying near-misses.
Close calls on runways also were up last year, according to the report. Incidents that came closest to a collision between two planes, or a plane and ground equipment, totaled 18 last year, more than twice the seven that occurred in 2011.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Transportation Department's inspector general have each found evidence that at least some of the increase in near-misses was due to factors other than more complete reporting.
Errors at centers guiding high-altitude flights rose 39 percent from 2009 to 2010, an inspector general report found. Those centers had the same computerized error-monitoring systems during that time frame, so the increase was due to factors other than how incidents were reported, the inspector general said.
The data released today doesn't clarify whether there are more air-safety incidents or just better reporting of what was previously occurring.
In addition to switching on automatic reporting at all FAA air-traffic facilities, the agency changed some of its definitions for counting incidents, making it difficult to compare against data from previous years.
Instead of ranking the risk of all incidents, the FAA last year identified 41 instances it called “high risk,” according to the report. That category didn't exist in previous years.
The data doesn't include any mid-air collisions or other accidents, only incidents.
The FAA is focusing on five safety hazards it identified from examining the incidents, according to the report. They include how controllers turn planes onto final approaches at airports using multiple runways, and miscommunications between controllers and pilots on altitude assignments.
Earthquake early warning system moves forward in California
by The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — The California Legislature approved a bill that would require development of an earthquake early warning system similar to what exists in Japan, Mexico and other quake-prone countries.
The bill advanced in Thursday's last hours of the legislative session and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Oct. 13 to act on it.
The U.S. has lagged behind other countries in creating a public alert system, which provides seconds of warning after a fault ruptures. For the past several years, the U.S. Geological Survey and several universities have been fine-tuning a test alert system that only broadcasts warnings to select users.
Scientists and public safety officials have urged for the creation of a system that would use a network of sensors to detect the start of a quake, the strength and provide useful seconds of warning.
While a few seconds may not sound like much time, supporters say it's enough notice for trains to slow down, utilities to shut off gas lines or people to duck under a table to ride out the shaking.
Early warning can't predict earthquakes before they happen and is useless at the quake's origin since there's no time to detect passing waves.
Researchers previously estimated it would cost about $80 million to build a statewide alert system. The bill would require state emergency officials to determine how to fund the system by 2016.
New Public Safety Video Cameras Help Keep Campus Safe
by Danny Messinger
As students return to Michigan Technological University for the new school year, the Department of Public Safety and Police Services (DPSPS) is rolling out new technological tools—all with campus safety in mind.
This year, officers have access to a set of small, wearable, digital video cameras. The cameras allow them to record their interactions with the public if they feel it appropriate, providing a new layer of transparency, safety and security for both officers and the community.
“We have two separate camera options for our officers,” said Dan Bennett, director and chief of DPSPS. “There are 16 cameras altogether—some to be worn on uniform lapels and some built into pairs of sunglasses.”
Video recording is not new to law enforcement. Police officers have been using video recorders in patrol vehicles for more than a decade.
“This technology allows us to do exactly what we did with radio technology years ago,” Bennett said. “Radios used to be confined to the patrol vehicle, but they became portable and wearable. Now, our video cameras are following the same path.”
The cameras have an eight-gigabyte storage capacity and can easily be turned on and off to record whenever an officer chooses. Then, videos can be uploaded to department computers and, if necessary, transferred to discs and stored as evidence. At $30–40 per camera, the entire batch cost DPSPS less than $650.
The new cameras are not intended to be covert; in fact, officers want members of the public to be aware that their actions may be recorded. The devices will only be used when an officer feels there may be a need to record an incident, such as during an arrest, a traffic stop or an investigation. General interactions with the public will not be recorded, Bennett said.
“There's no question in my mind that the cameras protect officers and protect the public,” said Bennett. “We had a trial run with one or two cameras last spring. Officer Marc Geborkoff came up with the idea and wore the trial camera for several months as a pilot program. The potential for positive community relations and accuracy in reporting was almost immediately recognized. We decided to move the program to the next level.”
Bennett says having the cameras available for officers at large public events like football games or the Winter Carnival All-Nighter will help officers feel more confident in their decisions.
With incidents captured on video, there will never be a question about why an officer made a certain decision. Plus, if an officer turns the camera on, both parties' actions are being recorded.
“It creates new levels of accountability that will benefit everyone,” Bennett said. “Change usually comes slowly to law enforcement, but these changes have been a long time coming. To say our new technology is worth its weight in gold would be an understatement.”
Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.