Ethnic Element Of Boston Bombing Complicated By Geography Skills

bombingKilled and captured, Boston marathon suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are understandably a trending topic across social media platforms. That’s no surprise. Perhaps now some reasons behind the bombing will surface and we can begin to categorize the event, learn from it, vow to never forget and move along, albeit with a bit less of a secure feeling.

Also no surprise is that most of us have no idea where the Tsarnaev’s are from. Chechnya? Dagestan? The Czech Republic? The fact that nearly a third of U.S. young adults cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map comes back to bite us again.

To many Americans, where they came from is of little interest. But to others, where the bombing suspects came from does matter – a whole lot.

“The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation,” said Petr Gandalovič, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in a statement.

More importantly, the Czech Republic is committed, just as is the United States and many other nations, to fight terrorism. “We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect; there is no doubt about that,” adds Amb. Gandalovič.Chechnya, on the other hand, has a long and violent history of terrorism-like activities stemming back to the first Chechen war between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

The Los Angeles Times writes, “Chechen fighters have traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan and neighboring Caucasus regions for military and explosives training, joining their cause to a worldwide jihad.”

But the Tsarnaev brothers came to America at a very young age, were not known to associate with militants and looked very much like thousands of other students in the Boston area.

Out of cyberspace and off the airwaves, talk of the Boston bombing is right down on street level too. It’s the kind of topic that can be discussed with a perfect stranger as though continuing a conversation.

On Friday it was:

“…so they got one of them.”
“…they’re closing in on the other one.”
“…what I can’t figure out is why they did not plant the bomb(s) then get on the next plane out of town.”

I was at our local Apple Store in the afternoon. Talking to one of the sales people, the conversation was very much like the above. Safe, current, trending.

Then our chat took a different direction, highlighting just how dangerous our challenged knowledge of geography can be.

“This is going to be just like after 9-11,” said the Lebanese Apple employee. “I was in high school then and got hater looks and stares for years after that.”

She is not alone either. Anyone who looks to be even remotely Muslim will no doubt be on the receiving end of that suspicion, much like anyone who looked even remotely Asian was after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


[Photo credit – Flickr user ToastyKen]

Photo Of The Day: Boston Running Shoes

Photo of the day: Boston running shoes

Hello from Boston, my hometown and location for the week. I arrived Tuesday, just about 24 hours after the horrific Marathon bombings, and found the city somber but also kinder and gentler than usual (hardly any cars honking). My first stop was Boston Common, for a walk through the park and gardens. Though the streets were lined with news trucks, and there were more than a few police officers out on patrol, the city felt like any other spring afternoon. On Beacon Street, where thousands of spectators watched Monday’s race, I spotted this house with some special decorations on their window boxes: running shoes, left out to support Marathon runners. This is a tradition that locals do each year, but it felt especially poignant now, along with hundreds of runners still wearing their Marathon jackets around the city. Boston is tough, Boston is resilient, and Boston is open for business; come visit and show your support.

Share your Boston memories with us in the Gadling Flickr pool or on Instagram for another Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Meg Nesterov]

American Airlines Flights Snarled By System Outage And Airport Shutdowns

It’s a bad day to be flying with massive closures and flight delays across the country due to a series of technical problems and security breaches.

First up, American Airlines announced that all of its flights would be grounded until at least 5 p.m. CT. An FAA spokesperson said the system-wide outage is the result of computer problems. The airline, which has been besieged by complaints via twitter, says it’s working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile in New York, part of LaGuardia Airport has been evacuated after a suspicious package was found in the central terminal building. According to Bloomberg, emergency services and the city’s bomb squad are on the scene but there are no further details regarding the incident at this point.

And finally in Boston – where security has been tight ever since yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon – an aircraft is under investigation. US Airways Flight 1716 has been stopped at Boston Logan Airport because of security concerns, although the exact nature of the threat is unclear.

All of this adds up to gridlock across the nation, with hundreds of flights grounded and passengers delayed, stranded, stuck on planes or unable to make flight reservations. The series of airline troubles come at a bad time for a country already on edge following yesterday’s tragedy on the east coast.

Update: 4:04 ET: NBC News reports that a suspicious package at Dallas Fort Worth has been investigated and determined to be a small tire.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Simon_sees]

Fees Waived, Heightened Security At Boston Airport After Bombings

The world was shocked and saddened to hear about the Boston Marathon bombings yesterday, but what does it mean for people flying in and out of Boston’s Logan International Airport? Two things: flexible rebooking schedules and increased screenings.

USA Today is reporting
several carriers have instituted flexible rebooking policies for those scheduled to pass through Boston. American, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, United and US Airways have all instituted exceptions, most of which cover customers flying through Boston between Monday, April 15 and Wednesday, April 17. Although exact rules vary by airline, the waivers generally allow fliers to make a change to their itinerary without paying the customary fees or resulting fare differences.

Thomas Glynn, CEO of the Massport agency that operates the airport, told the news outlet there is also heightened security on surrounding roadways, on the airfield and in terminals – which means travelers should plan for longer security lines at the airport. According to ABC News, FlightAwaredelays reported 30 to 45 minute delays on Boston departures Tuesday morning.

[Photo credit: Joseph Williams / Wikimedia Commons]

Airlines try for more edible food options

Let’s not even bother with the jokes – we all know airplane food is awful. But these days, with most carriers looking for new sources of revenue, several of the major airlines have been stepping up the quality and taste factor of their on-board food offerings.

The days of free (and terrible) airplane meals are coming to an end. With Continental, the last carrier to offer complimentary in-flight meals, discontinuing its free service this fall, the in-flight meal industry is ramping up to better serve customer demand. Airlines ranging from Air Canada to United and American are shuffling their food offerings, realizing that if customers have to pay for it, it better bear some resemblance to something edible. Air Canada is introducing healthier food options like veggie sandwiches and yogurt, American Airlines is partnering with Boston Market and United Airlines will be letting customers pre-order in-flight meals before the end of 2010.

So will customers find these new in-flight food options more enticing? Not necessarily. Many frequent travelers have given up finding food on board, opting instead for the array of food options in the terminal like Cibo Express, Wolfgang Puck Express and the ever-popular fast food vendors. But for those looking for tasty, quality food to go with their air travel, keep looking. A top-notch meal on the plane or even at the airport remains a fantasy.