The System Worked… Again

May 10, 2011

Yet another “Allahu Ackbar”-shouting terrorist wannabe was prevented from damaging a plane full of passengers coming in for final approach to San Francisco on Sunday night. But it wasn’t the TSA who prevented what could have been a tragedy. No, the TSA allowed Rageh Almurisi, carrying a Yemeni passport to board American Airlines flight #1561 from Chicago.

No, it was the flight crew and the passengers who subdued Mr. Almurisi after he began screaming and pounding on the door of the cockpit. HotAir reports:

[One passenger] recalled that she and other passengers on the plane were stunned when they saw Almurisi walking down the aisle. She said a woman in a row across from her who speaks Arabic translated that Almurisi said “God is Great!” in Arabic…

“There was no question in everybody’s mind that he was going to do something,” Marty said.

A male flight attendant tackled Almurisi, and other crew members and passengers, including a retired Secret Service agent and a retired San Mateo police officer, helped subdue him as he banged on the door, police said. The flight attendant put plastic handcuffs on him.

Or as our distinguished Secretary of Homeland Security likes to say, “The system worked.”

The time is rapidly approaching–if it hasn’t already passed– for us to start taking full responsibility for our own safety (wherever we are), because those we have hired to protect us surely aren’t doing their jobs. As the old saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

The good people on Flight #1561 understood this and took appropriate action. And I think that the crew and passengers acted in a remarkable restrained manner in making their surroundings secure. In fact, it would have been completely understandable had Mr. Almurisi suffered, oh, say a few broken ribs during the “incident.”

Each of us must decide just how much we want to contribute to our own safety, especially when traveling by air. Flying is one of those experiences in which passengers are trapped together in relatively uncomfortable surroundings; outside them is an environment hostile to human life, inside are passengers and crew, mostly trying to coexist peacefully enough to get back safely on the ground at the destination.

I don’t travel much by air these days. But now, when I do, I will be doing a constant threat assessment throughout any flight I’m on. And that includes scanning the passengers as we wait to board, and eavesdropping on conversations. I will be prepared to shout, distract, throw things, join an attack on a would-be terrorist, and in short, do whatever it takes to make sure any plane I’m on lands as safely as possible.

The long and short of it is this: We the People are the system now. We’d better work.


Everyday Heroes: Paying Homage To 1st Responders

October 4, 2010

This past week,  Congress passed (and President Obama signed) H.R. 3978 which is also known as the “First Responder Anti-Terrorism Training Resources Act.” It is essentially, “… An act to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to accept and use gifts for otherwise authorized activities of the Center for Domestic Preparedness that are related to preparedness for a response to terrorism, and for other purposes.” Source:

The new law expands the ability for first responders to train under more realistic conditions so that in the event of such an attack, they are better prepared to successfully provide critical care at a time when desperately needed.

However, mention the term “First Responder” to many people and you might just be surprised at the look of confusion in their eyes. It’s not a term we use every day. And, sadly, it seems that the only time we pay much attention to first responders is when a tragedy befalls one (or more) of them. Our friend, Canadian Singer/Songwriter Dave Carroll (of United Breaks Guitars fame) has set out to change all that in a big way. More on that in a moment. But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page:

Who are “First Responders?”

They are the men and women of our local communities who put their lives on the line for each of us on a daily basis by responding to emergency (911) calls. They are Firemen, Police, EMTs and others who have promised each of us that no matter what the emergency, they will be there for us. And it’s a promise they keep every day of their (and our) lives.

Dave Carroll knows a lot about this from first-hand experience. He’s been a volunteer fireman in his home town of Waverly, Nova Scotia while building his musical career. His brother Don (who shares singing roles with Dave in the band, “Sons of Maxwell“) is a full-time fireman in that same town.

Over the past two years, I’ve written several articles about tragedies that have taken the lives of a number of these hometown heroes. Fortunately, these are not every day occurrences. However, the emergencies in our communities that expose first responders to the danger of accidents, fires, violence, disease (and now, sadly, terrorism) happen on a daily basis. While writing this article, there have been several separate occurrences of sirens screaming past my home. The first was a police car and, later another police car followed by a firetruck and ambulance. None of these first responders know what awaits them, yet they respond without hesitation when needed.

It’s important that we never allow ourselves to forget how fortunate we are that whenever someone is in peril, there are men and women who are our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters professionally trained in emergency procedures  keeping that promise to “be there” when needed.

Even though the heroes are the first responders, YOU and I play an important role as well: Whenever you’re driving, if you see an ambulance, fire truck or police car with emergency lights flashing in the rear-view mirror, pull over as soon as possible to let them pass. Someone’s life is in the balance and, most likely, seconds count.

Dave Carroll has written and recorded a new song in tribute to First Responders. Appropriately entitled, “Everyday Heroes,” it’s sponsored by Intrado Inc., in Longmart Colorado. For over 30 years, Intrado has been a pioneer in the development of enhanced 911 services used throughout the United States and, now, Canada.  While the song speaks for itself with Dave’s usual musical excellence, the story of how Intrado got involved with him is a fascinating one, best told by Dave himself.

So in another Grand Rants First, here’s Dave Carroll to introduce his tribute, “Everyday Heroes”:

And here’s the video:

Dave’s project to help spread awareness and to pay homage to First Responders is just beginning. Stay tuned for more on this as it develops throughout the US and Canada.

Gerry Ashley

Bipartisan Commission Gives Obama “F”

January 26, 2010

 Obama Gets “F” For Failing To Protect U.S. From Bio-Terror 

"It's Not About Me..."

 President Obama’s failure as POTUS is now documented by a bipartison commission. In an article published today on  Fox News,  Judith Miller writes:

 In a 19-page report card being published Tuesday, the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, chaired by former Senators Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, and Jim Talent, a Missouri Republican, gives the new administration the grade of “F” for failing to take key steps the commission outlined just over a year ago in its initial report.

Say, isn’t that a rather important part of his job? Maybe if he wasn’t spending so much time:  

  • Picking Czars and Czardines in order to bypass those pesky Senate confirmation hearings 
  • Trying to spend us into oblivion with a pork-riddled stimulus package nobody read before signing 
  • Nationalizing banks and automakers
  • Scheming behind closed doors how to force-feed us a Health Care Reform program the vast majority don’t want
  • Attempting to shove Cap and Trade down our throats
  • Traveling around the world embarassing us with the SAY WHAT tour (Symbolic All-Year World Healing Apology Tour)
  • Reminding us in speech after speech that it’s not about him…

 …perhaps he’d have had time to follow the recommendations that were provided to him last year: 

Specifically, the commission concludes that the Obama administration… has failed to pay consistent and urgent attention to increasing the nation’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to a germ attack that would inflict massive casualties on the nation. 

In fairness, the commission faults the past three administrations (Both Bush administrations and the Clinton Administration) for having “failed to pay consistent and urgent attention to increasing the nation’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to a germ attack that would inflict massive casualties on the nation.”

  But Obama’s administration was the first to have the benefit of a report with recommendations to be followed. None of the recommendations were acted on.

 In, perhaps, the most chilling condemnation of the report, the commission states:

“[U]nless nations acted decisively and urgently, it was more likely than not that a WMD will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013, and that the terrorists’ weapon of choice would be biological, rather than nuclear.” 

The commission cited how the Obama administration’s delayed response to the H1N1 virus demonstrated that the U.S. was “woefully behind in its ability to rapidly produce rapidly vaccines and therapeutics, essential steps for adequately responding to a biological threat, whether natural or man-made.” 

The report also mentioned that, even though Obama’s administration had time to prepare, the epidemic peaked “before most Americans had access to vaccine.” Considering that a bio-terrorist attack would likely provide no warning, this is not very comforting.

 I doubt we’ll hear POTUS address this during his State of the Union message. 

 Several days ago, while addressing a jobs and economic town hall meeting in Elyria, Ohio, President Obama insisted, ‘It’s not about me, folks…” as he repeatedly referred to himself throughout what amounted to just another empty campaign speech. 

 Well, when it comes to failing to protect our country, it IS about you, Mr. President.  Read the report. And this is one failure you can’t try to palm off on George W. Bush. That dog just won’t hunt anymore.

 This report is all about you, Mr. President.

 Gerry Ashley

Breaking News: “Mass Casualty Event” – Two Metro DC Trains Collide

June 22, 2009

This just in: Confirmation has been received that two Washington DC Commuter Trains have collided on the Red Line between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations. It happened close to the Fort Totten station, a Metro spokesperson said.

According to D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Alan Etter, one train ended up on top of another and this is “developing into a mass casualty event.” Etter added, “We’re expecting a number of injuries. We’re not aware of any fatalities at this point.”

Check the ABC 7 News web site for latest breaking details.

Grand Rants Team

Update:  11:52 PM EST, 6/22/09…  6 killed, 70 injured

Consumer Warning: Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Danger

January 22, 2009

Don’t know how widespread this is… But Mission Control, we have a very serious fire hazard.

One of our CFLs outlived its functionality, and almost caused a fire. No joke… Smoke, the whole deal… Take a look at the pic below (particularly the charred/melted base where the glass tubes meet the plastic housing).


Looks like I’m not the only one who’s had this problem… (In my situation, I was dealing with a MaxLight 15W EconoMax bulb)

Regardless, this is a real fire hazard… Be aware and be safe.

Alan Speakman