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The mystery of the Indian intruder at the Opening Ceremony

Chris Chase Sun, Jul 29, 2012

The Indian delegation marched into the Opening Ceremony just like the other 203 countries at the Summer Olympics. A flag bearer led the procession and was accompanied by a female sign holder and a young child ambassador. Behind them, the nation’s athletes marched; India’s team wore yellow saris and turbans. Someone else was there too, an unexpected intruder in the procession. She wasn’t part of the lead group and wasn’t an athlete. She was dressed in a red sweater and teal pants and was waving and cheering like she was supposed to be there. She wasn’t.

Who was she? And why was she there?

The identity of the Indian Intruder became a major mystery in the country. “Who’s That Girl?” blared the headline on the front page of The Hindustan Times. Another newspaper ran an editorial blaming London security for allowing a security risk to march with the team.

London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe revealed her identity on Sunday. “She was a member of the [Opening Ceremony] cast who got slightly overexcited,” he said. “We had suspected she was probably a member of the cast, but she clearly started in that venue and we will be speaking to the Indian delegation about that.”

The country’s Deccan Chronicle newspaper said she was likely Madhura Nagendra, a graduate student from the southern city of Bangalore who had been living in London. If she thought her stunt would be greeted with a sense of humor, she severely overestimated India’s Olympic chief, Muralidharan Raga.

“She had no business to walk in with the Indian contingent and we are taking up the issue with the organizers,” he said. “We don’t know who she is and why she was allowed to walk in. It is a shame that she was with the athletes in the march past.”

All right, all right: Let’s not get out of hand here. The woman was trespassing and shouldn’t have been allowed on the track to march with athletes who earned their spots in London. “A shame,” though? A shame is the fact that India has been competing in the Olympics for 112 years and have only earned four more medals than Michael Phelps. This was a mysterious nuisance. And the case is closed.–oly.html

Detroit Stadium Bomb Threat

7/18/12, Sports Illustrated

DETROIT (AP) — As they watched a Detroit Tigers baseball game, 40,000 sports fans were unaware that dozens of police, security guards and federal agents were swiftly searching the stadium for a possible bomb after someone phoned in a threat to 911.

Authorities made no announcement over the public address system. Ushers said nothing to the crowd.

Jason Miller, a suburban Detroit rabbi, left the game against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night and didn’t learn about the threat until the following day.

“I immediately started thinking `What if?”‘ he said. “What if they had to evacuate?”

Miller’s concerns highlighted a vexing question for organizers of major public events: Should large crowds be informed about unconfirmed threats to their safety? Or is better to keep the matter quiet until investigators can check into it?

If authorities “evacuate every time there is a bomb threat, there will be a lot of empty places,” said Steve Layne of Layne Consultants International, a Denver-based firm that specializes in the protection of libraries, museums and other cultural institutions and public facilities.

“You can’t just pull a fire alarm and yell run. An evacuation in the middle of a ball game does cause some problems. You’re running the risk of causing injuries.”

The threat at Comerica Park was the third bomb threat to a Detroit landmark in less than a week. On Monday, someone claimed to have placed a bomb on the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit with Windsor, Ontario, in Canada.

And on July 12, a similar threat forced the closing of the Detroit Windsor international tunnel beneath the river. In each case, emergency procedures went off without a hitch, and no bombs were found.

But Miller wasn’t satisfied, saying fans “had a right to know what happened.”

He said the park or the Tigers “could have in a very safe calm manner informed the crowd, if it was indeed a serious threat.”

After the other threats, the tunnel and bridge were cleared of traffic while police and bomb-sniffing dogs searched for explosives.

In Detroit, police followed the stadium’s security protocols, and a decision was made not to evacuate, said Donald Johnson, an inspector in the police department’s Homeland Security unit.

“We don’t make a decision to evacuate unless an actual device is found,” Johnson said. “We don’t panic. We go step by step. The thought was to find out what we actually had.”

In a statement, the Tigers insisted the safety of fans, employees and players was the primary concern.

The team “worked closely and collaboratively with law enforcement officials and followed firmly established protocols,” spokesman Ron Colangelo said.

The goal is not to create a panic, according to Lou Marciani, director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety at the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg.

“You don’t want to get the spectators involved,” he said. “Protocol is to do the search. Do it quickly, efficiently.”

If the search had turned up a real bomb, an entirely different scenario would have unfolded, he said.

The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety is beginning to keep records of unclassified incidents at all stadiums worldwide. But no one knows how often stadiums receive bomb threats, Marciani said.

“Professional sports and many of the major colleges have evacuation plans,” he said. “They do tabletop exercises and refine them all the time. There are pregame processes, in-game processes. If the protocol calls for the movement of people, it would have been done very efficiently in Detroit.”

If a bomb is found “the decision to evacuate is made for you,” Layne said. “Then you have to think about if there is staff available to assist moving crowds away from the device, if you have a safe assembly area.”

It’s not uncommon for sports stadiums – college and professional – to receive bomb threats, but few are evacuated, and the threats are rarely publicized for fear of inspiring copycats.

“You are not going to see it discussed unless it’s a significant issue,” Layne said.

A few thousand people were ushered out of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington D.C., during a 2004 band competition after a bomb threat. A search of the stadium found nothing.

The announcement was made over the public address system.

Two years ago, some stands behind home plate and in front of the press box were cleared at the New York Mets’ Citi Field after a suspicious bag was found under an empty seat during a rain delay.

No public announcement was made.

On Wednesday, authorities in Detroit were trying to determine if the Comerica Park threat was linked to the earlier threats at the bridge and tunnel. No one has been arrested.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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London 2012: G4S Chief Admits Olympic Security ‘a Humiliating Shambles’

London 2012: G4S Chief Admits Olympic Security ‘a Humiliating Shambles’
By William Lee Adams | @willyleeadams | July 17, 2012

As chief executive of a security firm, Nick Buckles ought to be used to hostile encounters. But the embattled head of G4S looked startled, and at times confused, as he faced questions before Parliament in London on Tuesday morning, in the aftermath of revelations that his company has failed to train sufficient security personnel for the London Olympics.

Members of Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee didn’t attempt to bite their tongues. With just 10 days to go before the Olympics, they seemed to channel the embarrassment of millions of Britons and their leaders, who have had to call in 3,500 troops to fill the security gap. Here’s one exchange.

“It’s a humiliating shambles, Mr. Buckles,” David Winnick, a Labour MP, said.

“It’s not where we want to be,” Buckles replied. “That’s for certain.”

“It’s a humiliating shambles for the country, yes or no?” Winnick asked again, this time a bit louder.

“I cannot disagree with you.”

Of course, onlookers would have expected a degree of friction at that point in the hearing. Keith Vaz, the head of the committee, had already set an adversarial tone with his rather pointed opening question: “Why are you still in your post?”

G4S has lost around $1 billion in market value since it admitted that it could not fulfill its contractual obligation to supply 10,400 security guards with just two weeks to go before the opening ceremony. The company’s stock tumbled 6% on July 17 alone, reaching its lowest price since December last year.

Buckles did his best to shift the blame. Despite having 18 months to prepare for the Games, Buckles said he was not made aware of personnel problems until July 3. He was on vacation in the U.S. Rather than admitting he should have monitored the contract more closely, he suggested the “management chain” had failed him. “There are three levels between me and the contract, and they should be bringing issues to me,” he said. He agreed that the company’s reputation “is in tatters,” but said that he is the best person to help the company emerge with its reputation intact. And what’s more: the firm still intends to collect its £57 million ($89 million) management fee for the Olympics. “We have had a fantastic track record of service delivery over many years in many countries,” he said. “But clearly this is not a good position to be in,” he told an astonished Vaz.

The Olympics fiasco is only the latest in a series of high-profile slipups committed by the firm. Last October, G4S guards misplaced the keys at Birmingham Prison in England; prisoners were locked in their cells for nearly 24 hours. In August the firm had to fire two employees who fitted an electronic monitoring device to a man’s prosthetic leg, which he proceeded to remove in order to break a court-imposed curfew. And in October 2010, an Angolan deportee died while in G4S custody on board a British Airways flight. (After an investigation authorities did not press charges.)

But Buckles isn’t the only one left looking like his house isn’t in order. Questions had already arisen as to why the British government decided to outsource security in the first place. For days Labour politicians have maintained that Theresa May, the British Home Secretary, should have known earlier than July 11 about staff shortages. According to Buckles, officials within the Home Office did know a situation was brewing, even if G4S didn’t officially state that it couldn’t meet its obligations until that July 11 date. Buckles said he began holding daily meetings with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, also known as LOCOG, and the Home Office on July 3. Buckles refused to comment on whether Charles Farr, director general of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, should have referred the problem to ministers sooner.

Regardless, Tuesday’s trial by fire was likely just a prelude of what Buckles and the top brass at G4S can expect in the days ahead. In the hours after the hearing, Vaz, of the Home Affairs Select Committee, called upon the firm to give up its £57 million management fee. As for Buckles, he’s also confirmed that the firm is no longer in the running for the security contracts for the next soccer World Cup and Olympic Games, which both will take place in Brazil.

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Colorado Movie Theater Shooting: 71 Victims The Largest Mass Shooting


Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four weapons’ full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.

The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, a graduate student at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of “The Dark Knight Rises” audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said this afternoon.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including a AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle. Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was “The Joker,” referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, “The Dark Knight.” He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Police Chief Dan Oates said today that police and bomb squads have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes’ apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

Read More: One Victim Had Narrowly Escaped Toronto Shooting

“The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped,” police said outside of the apartment complex today. The “flammable and explosive” materials could have blown up Holmes’ apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and staff members, residents tell ABC News.

Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today recalled the real-life horror of the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” in Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting audience.

“People were running everywhere, running on top of me, like kicking me, jumping over me. And there were bodies on the ground,” Ramos said. “I froze up. I was scared. I honestly thought I was going to die.”

“The image in our heads is stuck in there. I still have the ticket right here and honestly, I’m never going to forget this night at all. Because it was the first time I saw something that was real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of,” Ramos told ABC News today.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told “Good Afternoon America.”

Photos: Shooting “Dark Knight Rises” Screening in Aurora, Colorado

“You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going,” one witness told ABC News.

“I’m with coworkers and we’re on the floor praying to God we don’t get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding,” another theatergoer said.

The suspected shooter will face his first court appearance next week, according to district attorney Carol Chambers.

Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado medical center, living just blocks from the hospital in an apartment that police say is now laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams.

Federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, slipped out of the theater once it began and propped open the emergency exit before gathering his weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he opened fire.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.

“You have the right person,” she said.

“I need to call the police,” she added. “I need to fly out to Colorado.”

The woman and her husband later released a statement saying their “hearts go out to those who involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.”

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman trilogy opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman’s motives and the movie.

Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley saying that “as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is playing.”

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. “Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time,” the movie’s producers said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.

Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting

“The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting,” said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. “It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running.”

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.

“We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,” witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. “I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.”

A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, “They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people,” he said. “The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything…we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.”

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.

Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man’s background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital “an absolutely terrifying scene all night.”

“The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, “Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”–abc-news-topstories.html

Lawsuit filed for girl injured by foul ball at Braves game

By Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The line drive sliced over the visitor’s dugout and into the crowd before anyone could get of the way.
The foul ball, struck at the Aug. 30, 2010, Braves-Mets game at Turner Field, slammed into the head of a 6-year-old girl, fracturing her skull, damaging her brain.

This week the child’s father filed a lawsuit against the Braves, its owner, Liberty Media Corp., and Major League Baseball Enterprises, alleging that they were negligent for failing to provide proper protection for his daughter.

Neither the Braves nor Major League Baseball would comment on the lawsuit, but scores of suits are filed each year around the country by spectators struck by balls and bats at all levels of competition.

“It’s a very, very dangerous situation that can be easily remedied,” Mike Moran said Wednesday. “They can make it a safer place for the fans, in particular the children, who go to games. … The easy remedy is to put up more netting.”

The suit, filed Monday in Fulton County State Court, does not disclose the identities of the girl and her father to protect the girl’s privacy, Moran, said. The suit seeks unspecified damages for the girl’s pain and suffering, punitive damages and compensation for the family’s medical expenses, which are expected to exceed $100,000.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution knows the identity of the girl but is withholding her name at the family’s request.

Braves spokeswoman Beth Marshall said the team is aware the lawsuit has been filed but, because it is a pending legal matter, the organization, “will be withholding comment at this time.”

Patrick Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said the league does not comment on pending litigation. He did note that it is each team’s decision as to how much netting is to be installed at individual stadiums, depending on local laws and a ballpark’s configuration.

About 200 lawsuits are filed each year by spectators hit by wayward bats and balls at all levels of competition down to Little League, said Gil Fried, who chairs the University of New Haven’s management and sports department.

The lawsuits rarely succeed. “It’s the baseball rule: Tough luck. When you come to the ballpark, you assume the risk,” Fried said.

The back of all major league baseball tickets includes the warning: “The holder assumes all risk and danger incidental to the game of baseball, whether occurring prior to, during or subsequent to, the actual playing of the game, including specifically … the danger of being injured by thrown or batted balls, thrown or broken bats.”

The Braves also flash warnings on the scoreboard during games, reminding fans to stay alert.

Kevin Jones, a Braves season ticket holder from Vinings, calling the case “devastatingly sad,” also observed, “It says point-blank on the tickets that you assume the risk. That’s as iron clad as Tom Cruise’s pre-nup.”

Jones, whose seats are on the lower level between home plate and first base, said he is at full attention when a batter is up. This is particularly true, he said, when the hitter is right-handed hitter and late swing will foul a shot off in Jones’ direction.

Fried, who has written extensively on the history of foul ball litigation, said his studies show that the most vulnerable seating areas at baseball stadiums are behind the dugouts. He noted that many major league teams have netting in front of the dugouts to shield the players. “But they don’t have any netting a few feet above that to protect the fans.”

Fried said MLB should study the issue to determine the most high-risk places at ballparks and, if necessary, provide netting to protect them.

It used to be that fans who flocked to ballparks did little more than watch the game. Now they gaze at flashy scoreboards, take kids to play areas and, increasingly, have their eyes glued their smartphones while texting, tweeting or scanning the Internet.

Just this month, a fan at a San Diego Padres game was struck in the chest by a foul ball as he updated the status on his Facebook page.

Only one spectator has been killed at a major league game by a foul ball — 14-year-old Alan Fish at a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 1970. Two years ago, a 39-year-old woman seated behind the third base dugout was killed by a foul ball at a United League Baseball game in San Angelo, Texas.

Robert Gorman, co-author of “Death at the Ballpark,” which chronicles fatalities at baseball games, estimated that 100 or more spectators have been killed by foul balls, from sandlot games to the majors. Lawsuits seeking compensation for injuries rarely succeed, he said.

“If I were a parent I would not take my kid to sit down near the field level,” he said. “I think you’d be taking a real risk.”

Moran, the lawyer who filed suit against the Braves, said the team was well aware of the problem, particularly after Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar was hit in the face by a foul ball at a spring training game. The damage was so extensive Salazar’s left eye was removed.

The lawsuit cites comments Braves’ third baseman Chipper Jones gave The AJC in May 2011 after Salazar was injured.

Jones said his four sons either sit in his luxury suite or occasionally in the SunTrust seats directly behind home plate, protected by the screen.

“You throw 90 to 100 miles per hour and you have a guy up there swinging 90 or 100 miles per hour and it’s just a recipe for disaster,” Jones said. “What if that ball that hit Salazar hit a 5-year-old little girl in the front row over the top of the dugout? It would have killed her.”

One of the most common complaints about adding netting around the first- and third-base lines is that it obstructs the fans’ views.

“That’s a red herring,” Moran countered. “Where are the most expensive seats? Behind home plate. Behind the screen.”

Concerts and Hospitals

A recent article in the Hartford Courant (July 14, 2012) examined the increased number of hospital visits by concert goers. The article highlighted that a typical concert at the Comcast Theater could result in 70-90 ambulance transports to local hospitals. The June 15th Rascal Flatts concert resulted in 158 emergency responses. This could result in some hospitals getting a crush of 30 patients added to their typical patient load and the Rascal Flatts concert produced 62 hospitalizations. This situation is exasperated by the fact that almost half of those seeking emergency assistance have no identification and at some concerts the average age of those being transported was 15. The article mentioned that there is no treat and release for those brought in for significant intoxication which increases the number of people brought to hospitals. The Hartford Police Department has stepped up a crackdown on underage drinking, but one of the biggest problems is private off-site parking areas where numerous individuals drink for hours-without having tickets for the concerts. I thought the article was a very good piece (not a hatchet job) looking at the alcohol and safety concern from the medical side rather than just the law enforcement or promoter perspective.

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