So… a week or so ago, an American Airlines flight attendant, screaming like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” kicked approaching passengers and tried to get in the cockpit of a Dallas to Chicago flight before being restrained and carted off of the airplane in a “medical emergency.” Today, a captain…”the” captain on board a Jet Blue flight from New York to Vegas had to be tied up in belts after going nuts after being locked out of the cockpit for strange behavior. A police officer and an off-duty airline pilot subdued a JetBlue captain Tuesday morning aboard a Las Vegas-bound flight when the captain started pounding on the cockpit door after the flight’s co-pilot asked him to leave and subsequently locked him out, a federal official told CBS News.
The captain became incoherent during JetBlue Flight 191 from New York’s John F. Kennedy International, prompting the co-pilot to get him to leave the cockpit, the official said. JetBlue said in a statement to CBS News that the flight was diverted to Amarillo, Texas, “for a medical situation involving the captain.” Grant Heppes, a 22-year-old passenger from New York City, told The Associated Press that a man in a JetBlue uniform walked from the cockpit to the back of the plane, but that he started to become disruptive when he was barred from getting back inside. “Once he got back to the front of the plane I heard him scream, ‘Let me in!’” Heppes said.
Tony Antolino, a 40-year-old executive for a security firm, said the captain walked to the back of the plane, that he seemed disoriented and agitated, then began yelling about an unspecified threat linked to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. “They’re going to take us down, they’re taking us down, they’re going to take us down. Say the Lord’s prayer, say the Lord’s prayer,” the captain screamed, according to Antolino. Heidi Karg, a passenger on the flight, told CNN that she heard a lot of commotion. She said a man she thought was the captain was trying to get into the cockpit, shouting “I need the code, gimme the code, I need to get in there.” The pilot urged for someone to restrain him, she said. “We heard the word ‘bomb,’” Karg said. “We didn’t know exactly what was going on.”
Gabriel Schonzeit, who was sitting in the third row, said the captain said there could be a bomb on board the flight. “He started screaming about al Qaeda and possibly a bomb on the plane and Iraq and Iran and about how we were all going down,” Schonzeit told the Amarillo Globe-News. The captain “looked like he was having a panic attack” and was screaming during the incident, a passenger told CBS News in a telephone interview. Another passenger said in text messages to CBS News that the captain was restrained on the ground until the plane landed. The passenger wrote that at least four other passengers helped subdue the captain.
A different federal official told CBS News that the incident doesn’t appear to be related to terrorism but the FBI is investigating. The police officer, who works for the New York Police Department, was travelling as a passenger. The “ill crew member” was taken to a local medical facility after the plane landed in Amarillo, JetBlue said. Shane Helton, 39, of Quinlan, Okla., said he saw emergency and security personnel coming on and off the plane as it sat on the tarmac at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. “They pulled one guy out on a stretcher and put him in an ambulance,” said Helton, who went to the airport with his fiancee to see one of her sons off as he joined the Navy. Helton said the ambulance then sat on the tarmac next to the plane for more than 30 minutes.
The passenger who spoke to CBS News said that authorities were questioning passengers in the Amarillo airport. JetBlue said a different plane was dispatched to Amarillo from Long Beach, Calif., to transport the passengers to Las Vegas. Later Tuesday, the FAA issued a statement: “Preliminary information indicates that after landing, it was learned that the co-pilot became concerned that the captain exhibited erratic behavior during the flight. The captain had exited the cockpit during the flight, after which the co-pilot locked the door. When the captain attempted to enter the locked cockpit, he was subdued by passengers. After the flight landed safely, local law enforcement secured the pilot without incident, and he was transported by ambulance for medical evaluation.”
Apparently, the American Airlines flight attendant was bi-polar and off of her medication. That honestly does not do much to make me feel safer at 30,000 feet. Now, a captain, the man in charge of the plane, is foaming at the mouth in another “medical emergency” that, once again, does little to make me feel safer at 30,000 feet. This also makes me wonder that the TSA will now do to keep us safer. CAT scans for every passenger or perhaps requiring all passengers and crew to submit a list of prescription medications or perhaps require a doctors certification that we are ALL OK to fly.
If it seems like be we have been down this road before, the one where North Korea is promised food and aide and then proposes to do something stupid like test a nuke or launch a rocket it’s because we have…time and again. North Korea says it will press ahead with its plan to launch a satellite into orbit next month, rebuffing President Obama and other world leaders who told the country to cancel the launch or face additional sanctions and the loss of food aid.
The North’s announcement came shortly after Mr. Obama and other leaders attending the nuclear security summit in Seoul condemned the North’s planned launch not only as a provocation and violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution but also as a waste of millions of dollars that could be used to buy food for the North’s hungry people. On Tuesday, North Korea called Mr. Obama “confrontational,” duplicitous and insulting. “We will never give up the launch of a satellite for peaceful purposes,” said a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry in a statement carried by its state news agency, K.C.N.A. The spokesman advised the Obama administration to “drop the confrontation conception” and “make a bold decision to acknowledge that we also have a right to launch satellites.”
Washington and its allies believed that by launching rockets — regardless of their payload — North Korea was developing intercontinental ballistic missile technology and the know-how to equip them with nuclear warheads. After the North’s last satellite launch, in 2009, the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that the North refrain from “any launch using ballistic missile technology.” Japan and South Korea warned they might shoot down debris from the North Korean rocket if it violated their air space. Japan on Tuesday ordered interceptor missile units to prepare for the North Korean launch.
Washington insists that during the negotiations for the February deal, under which North Korea agreed to suspend nuclear weaponstests and uranium enrichment among other things and the United States agreed to give food aid, its officials clearly warned the North against a satellite launch. Some analysts said the North Korean diplomats who negotiated the February deal may have been upended by government hard-liners who insisted upon launching a satellite to celebrate the 100th birthday of the North’s revered founder, Kim Il-sung, on April 15.
The lack of policy coordination raised questions about the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s policy control and “diplomatic maturity,” said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at Sejong Institute. On Sunday, Mr. Obama said, “It’s not clear exactly who’s calling the shots” in the North Korean government. The K.C.N.A. has heaped scorn on Mr. Obama in the past two days, accusing him of “provoking” and “maliciously slandering” the North Korean people. It advised Mr. Obama to mind his own business.
From the Cape Verde Islands to the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic, DMNEWSI has the tropical weather season covered.
We are still a couple of months away from the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season but already, there are a couple of notes of interest from the National Hurricane Center. On May 1, the new and improved Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale will debut, just in time for the start of the 2012 hurricane season which begins on June 1. The change to the scale is very minor but important in order to resolve awkwardness associated with conversions among the various units used for wind speed in advisory products.
The new scale will be as follows:
Category 1: 74-95 mph
Category 2: 96-110 mph
Category 3: 111-129 mph
Category 4: 130-156 mph
Category 5: >156 mph
According to NOAA, because of the inherent uncertainty in estimating the strength of tropical cyclones, the National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center assign tropical cyclone intensities in 5-knot (kt) increments (e.g., 100, 105, 100, 115 kt, etc.). Some advisory products, however, require intensity to be given in units of miles per hour and kilometers per hour (km/h). For these products, the intensity in knots is converted into mph and km/h and then rounded to 5-mph and 5-km/h increments, so as not to suggest that the intensity of the storm can be known to unrealistic precision (e.g., 127 mph!). Unfortunately, this conversion and rounding process doesn’t work well at the Category 4 boundaries.
Category 4 has historically been defined to be 131-155 mph (with corresponding ranges in other units given as 114-135 kt, and 210-249 km/h). A hurricane with an assigned intensity of 115 kt, therefore, is a Category 4 hurricane. However, when 115 kt is converted to mph (132.3 mph) and then rounded to the nearest 5 mph (130mph), the result falls in the Category 3 mph range. In order for the hurricane to appear as Category 4 in both kt and mph, NHC is forced to incorrectly convert 115 kt to 135 mph in its advisory products. A similar problem occurs when the Category 4 intensity of 135 kt is converted to km/h. To solve these rounding issues, the new SSHWS broadens the Category 4 wind speed range by one mph at each end of the range, yielding a new range of 130-156 mph (113-136 kt, 209-251 km/h). With this change, a 115-kt Category 4 hurricane can have its intensity properly converted to mph and rounded to the nearest 5 mph (130 mph) – and remain within the Category 4 mph range.
This is not the first time the Saffir-Simpson scale has undergone change. As recently as 2009, the surge portion of the scale was dismissed because of the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ike which was ”only” a category 2 hurricane. For example, Hurricane Ike in 2008 was a very large storm that made landfall on the upper Texas coast (Houston/Galveston) as a Category 2 hurricane with a peak storm surge of 15 to 20 feet. In contrast, Hurricane Charley struck Southwest Florida in 2004 as a Category 4 hurricane, but produced a peak storm surge of just 6 to 7 feet.
Herbert Saffir, a consulting engineer, and Robert Simpson, who was director of the National Hurricane Center from 1967 through 1973, developed the original scale which was a useful tool to convey the threats of tropical cyclones. Changes were made to the Saffir-Simpson Scale because storm surge values and associated flooding are dependent on a combination of the storm’s intensity, size, motion and barometric pressure, as well as the depth of the near-shore waters and local topographical features. As a result, storm surge values can be significantly outside the ranges suggested in the original scale.
Officials with the National Hurricane Center had a message Tuesday for residents living in hurricane-prone areas: Don’t tape your windows. Center officials are joining with a consumer advocate group at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Fla. this week to encourage residents to skip taping their windows when a hurricane is heading their way. They believe it leads to a false sense of security and actually increases danger.
Instead, residents should use proven methods such as hurricane shutters or impact-resistant windows, Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center, told hundreds of meteorologists and emergency management officials at the weeklong conference. Attendees are going to seminars on insurance policy and emergency communications as well as hawking hurricane-related wares such as canned food and building-hardening materials. “Our goal is to break this myth,” Read said, referring to taping. “It does not protect your windows. At best, it’s an inconvenience. At worst, some people have the illusion that they’re safe … and people can get severely hurt.” The myth may be a tough one to bust.
An online survey conducted last January by Harris Interactive for the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, a consumer advocacy group, found that seven out of 10 homeowners nationwide believe that a home’s windows should be taped in preparation for a hurricane. The survey’s sample size was 1,292 adults over age 18. Taping windows can create larger and deadlier shards of glass when winds blow through a home, said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. “The shards can become bigger because they’re being held together,” Chapman-Henderson said. “You’re wasting your time. You’re wasting your money and you’re potentially increasing the danger to your home.”
Even some disaster management officials are guilty of advising residents to use tape on their windows. Read said when he started working in the 1970s, taping windows was still advised in hurricane brochures. That advice was eliminated from brochures in the 1980s, “but it still persists today,” he said. Hurricane Irene’s devastation last year in Vermont and upstate New York was an impetus for the campaign, said Chapman-Henderson, because thousands of residents in the northeast taped their windows. Her group is enlisting local TV meteorologists to tell viewers “Go Tapeless” at the start of the coming Atlantic hurricane season, which starts in June.
Irene, which barreled up the Eastern seaboard last August and caused the most damage in upstate New York and New England, also reinforced the notion that hurricanes are not just about damage from winds and storm surges but also from rainfall and flooding and spinoff tornadoes, said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Irene caused $1.5 billion in damage in New York and $515 million in damage in Vermont. Last season’s 19 tropical storms, seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes tied for the third busiest season since records have been kept, officials said. “If nothing else, Irene reminds everyone that hurricanes are all hazards,” Fugate said. “Who would have thought that some of the heaviest damage would occur in Vermont and upstate New York?”