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Archive for the 'Security' Category

critical mess between bikes and drivers


I’m both fascinated and disturbed by the Critical Mass fiasco last month, in which enraged cyclists descended upon a woman and children in a minivan in the City Across the Bay. Were it on the streets of Sadr City, we could have shrugged it off, but here in the Bay Area, we had to cringe and a parade of letter writers and pundits stood up and announced, “I’m a cyclist, and I condemn such behavior.” Yes, that’s a direct quote, because I am and I do.

But don’t take my word for it, hear it from our feature writer, Candace Murphy, someone who’s pedaled her way around both sides of the Bay for way longer than I’ve been around these parts:

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, driving, Safety, Security | 9 Comments »

checking for suicide bombers on BART


Call me a cynic, but I tend to believe those dire neocon predictions that when we leave Iraq, “they” will follow us. Perhaps that’s because we Americans proved so willing to step into the role once held by the infidel Soviets in Afghanistan. When seeking martyrdom, why waste your life on a second-rate superpower when you can be fighting No. 1?

After living in the Holy Land for three years, I came to appreciate magnetometer wands and bag checks. When I entered a public place such as a mall or a restaurant, I’d be apprehensive if no one was there to wand me and ask, “Any weapons?”

Returning to California in 2005, I couldn’t help thinking how vulnerable this country was to the most basic of terror attacks: Guy gets on a bus, strapped with C-4 explosives, nuts and bolts for maximum killing Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, ferries, Funding, rail, Security, technology | No Comments »

deadly tanker control amendment introduced


As referenced in my story yesterday, Senator and presidential aspirant Joe Biden introduced an amendment calling for rerouting hazardous rail tankers that could be used sabotaged to bring terror to urban areas of this country:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-DE, introduced an amendment today to the 9/11 Commission bill (S.4) to reroute hazardous chemical shipments away from population centers and other high threat Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007
Under: rail, Safety, Security | No Comments »

vanishing act at Oakland airport


Upon hearing how someone had set off a metal detector at Oakland International Airport yesterday and promptly vanished, one of my colleagues remarked that if she ever got into trouble with the law, she’d go to the airport to avoid capture.

Kidding aside, it’s somewhat unsettling that twice this year already, someone was able to get past a federalized security system and then Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, February 16th, 2007
Under: air travel, Security | No Comments »

timing is everything. tick … tick … tick …

 AP photo

Kentucky chemical tanker train fire

Normally a post-peak commuter, I had to rush out and get on the train at dawn this morning so I could be seated with my laptop and phone in time to participate in a Federal Railroad Administration call-in press conference at 7:30 a.m., Pacific time.

I was sure I was the only participant actually riding the rails for this, the announcement of a partnership to develop a more crash-worthy Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2007
Under: Safety, Security | 7 Comments »

aversion therapy for the single motorist

Cell photo by CC

broken windshield by CC.jpg

I was driving down I-80 Monday morning when I got a call from Charlotte, who was anxious to interest me in Flexcar‘s clever exercise in car sharing promotion. It was an iffy proposition from the get-go, seeing as how the idea was clearly aimed at getting Flexcar’s name out there before the reading public.

One of my issues, I told Charlotte, was that I might be doing a Census story, and wouldn’t have time to run across the Bay to attend flexcar’s press conference.

Here’s the scheme: Flexcar had gotten 15 Bay Area residents to give up their cars for a month, in exchange for free transit and 25 free hours of access to their fleet of hybrids, sedans, minivans and sports cars.

The stunt would illustrate that car sharing provides Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), car sharing, driving, Security, Transit vs. driving | 1 Comment »

five years of living with terror

Staff photo by Greg Tarczynski

BART dog - GREG TARCZYNSKI - Staff 9-10-06.jpg

Like so many others, I was changed by September 11. Not only did I have a new reason to fear flying, but I had to confront it head-on.

Barely six weeks after the attacks, my wife was riding rickety Russian-made jetliners over the Iran in pursuit of Al Qaeda smugglers on the Afghan border.

By June 2002, I was with my 13-year-old son and our pet boxer flying into an airport in Israel a short bike-ride from the West Bank.

In deference to Palestinian suicide

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, September 11th, 2006
Under: BART, Buses, Security | No Comments »

not exactly railroaded

CC outweighs.bmpOn Friday I related the lamentations of David Francis of Wooster, Ohio and how his 15-year-old daughter, lacking ID, was rather brusquely ejected from a Capitol Corridor train by an Amtrak conductor.

This could only have been a sign from on high that I need to pay more attention to the downside of transit as I zealously attempt to keep my car parked and redeem my Commuter Checks.

But a call from Priscilla Kalugdan, the Corridor’s marketing manager, also reminded me that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, August 28th, 2006
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Security, Transit vs. driving | 6 Comments »

down and out in Berkeley

Cap Corridor in Berkeley.jpg

Photo from 

Funny that just as I’m about to write a story about the Capitol Corridor’s triumph over our limited railway network, nearly doubling its service to San Jose and adding more trips to Sacramento, I get a call from someone who’s less than pleased with the service.

In the corridor’s defense, he’s not a regular rider, but this one-time experience was a doozy.

David Francis of Wooster, Ohio, was visiting his mom in Oakland in July when he agreed to send his 15-year-old daughter to see Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 25th, 2006
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Security | 11 Comments »

the big squeeze at the airport

Staff photo by Nick Lammers


This is not a stock tip column, but you should know that I really wanted to buy Google when it was first offered. Disclaimer proffered, this week I’m recommending Johnson and Johnson.

TSA lady taking toiletries at OAK - Nick Lammers - STAFF.jpg

You should also know that last week, while this blog was getting stale, I was camping in Crater Lake National Park, with no cell signal, no radio and nary a newspaper in sight. It was glorious.

So I’m hoping to be forgiven for returning to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, August 14th, 2006
Under: Security | No Comments »