New York once again safest city in U.S.

New York was once again the safest city in the United States last year, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics Michael Bloomberg. Well, in fairness, the mayor did cite stats from the FBI. And, he wasn’t shy about pointing out that crime fell another 12 percent in the first five months of 2009. New York is tops among the 25 largest cities in the country.

Stretch the standard to cities with populations of over 100,000 (261 in all), and 245 cities have higher crime rates. So, a city of more than 8 million people compares with Torrance, California and McKinney, Texas.

Last year, murders fell 21 percent (43 fewer slayings), and rapes declined 17 percent. 491 fewer cars were stolen, and there were 1,415 fewer robberies. The city’s murder count in 2008, 523, was the second lowest since 1961 … when New York started keeping track.

So, come to New York. Crime is down, and hotels and flights are cheaper than ever!

More on Muslim family kicked off of AirTran flight for questioning

Yesterday, not long after Scott posted about the American family who are Muslim were removed from an AirTran flight at the Ronald Reagan International Airport in Washington D.C., I heard an interview on NPR with Atif Irfan, one of the family members.

Irfan explained in more detail what happened to create the misunderstanding. Because there were nine of them, the family had booked the last rows of the plane so they could all sit together. As they were walking down the aisle, he and a sister-in-law were discussing which part of the plane was the safest. His wife recalls that a “couple of girls” who heard their conversation thought they were talking about doing some sort of terrorist act. Federal marshals escorted them off the plane for questioning.

As Irfan explained, the men in the family have beards and the women have head coverings, but other than that they were wearing western style dress. He also said they had three small children with them. Usually, he is very careful about what he says as to not alarm people, but this time they weren’t thinking much about their conversation.

What amazes me about this story is not that the family was questioned, but that after the FBI cleared the family and asked AirTran to allow the family to fly, AirTran refused. Who did AirTran think the FBI were? Certainly the FBI had badges and obvious credentials. If the FBI aren’t listened to, that’s startling? Maybe there was a snafu in communication.

Irfan, by the way, has nothing but good things to say about the FBI who did get the family on a US Airways flight. AirTran has since offered restitution in a free flight home and reimbursement for the family’s US Airways flight and an apology.

After listening to Irfan, I was reminded about the importance of civility. For the family who, from what I can tell, stayed calm and collected throughout their experience, bravo. I’m wondering just how many other passengers would have behaved so well? It’s also a reminder that passengers do listen to conversations. What you say could be held against you.

By the way, Atif Irfan was born and raised in Detroit and now is a lawyer who lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Paranoia strikes again – Muslim family kicked off their Airtran flight

Here we go again. Another family traveling for the holidays has been kicked off their flight after a fellow passenger observed them mentioning the word “safety”. That’s right, not “bomb”, “terrorist” or “hijack”.

Just your average family of 9 trying to figure out where they wanted to seat.

Someone on board managed to get the attention of 2 federal air marshals, who then contacted their superiors in Washington. The family was then kicked off the plane, questioned by the FBI and of course, cleared of any wrongdoing.

The TSA then decided that the threat was so credible, that all 104 passengers would have to be re-screened, and that all their bags would have to be inspected again. To me, this means that they admit they may have done a crappy job during the first screening.

As if that wasn’t enough, Airtran then refused to transport the 9 passengers and simply refunded their tickets. It took some effort by the FBI to find alternative flights for the family.

Good job Airtran, keeping us safe from people trying to find a decent seat on your flights. In their defense, AirTran did let the family know that they were free to fly with them in the future, which I’m sure they are really thrilled to hear.

(Via: NBC Washington)

Man charged with bomb parts in luggage

In a way, it is good to know that they actually screened those checked bags. I was always skeptical about how many they honestly scanned.

Yesterday, the FBI arrested a 32-year-old Jamaican man because he allegedly tried to board a plane at Orlando International Airport with pipe bomb components and instructions in his checked luggage, Reuters reports. Agents found two galvanized pipes, end caps, two small containers of air gun pellets, batteries, two containers of an unknown liquid, a laptop computer and bomb-making literature.

Bomb-making literature? Is that a part of the “self-help” book genre?


The 6 dumbest hijacking attempts ever:

Click to read the bizarre stories

Frisky Passenger Faces Prison

Ever take a trip with your spouse or significant other, and suddenly find yourself “in the mood” at 20,000 feet? You may want to keep that affection in check. Some guy from California might go to jail for getting it on with his girlfriend in the air.

Carl William Persing has been convicted of interfering with flight attendants and crew members after he and his girlfriend “made other passengers uncomfortable” by “kissing” and “embracing.” After they asked him to take his tongue out of his girlfriend’s mouth, Persing got miffed, threatened the attendants — twice — and found himself in an awkward conversation with FBI officials upon arrival in North Carolina.

Sounds like he was acting like a jerk, so fair enough. I know I wouldn’t want to watch anyone suck face — let alone when I’m stuck with them for a cross-country flight. But because it all happened on an airplane, Persing was breaking federal law, and has thus been convicted of a federal felony — which means he’ll probably serve jail time.

Wow. I can only imagine the conversation with other inmates while he’s in the slammer.

“Why are you in here?”
“I robbed a bank. What about you?”
“I. Uh. Made out with my girlfriend on an airplane.”

Doesn’t exactly make him sound like a force to be reckoned with.