Flight Sim enquiry raises terror alert
By Andrew Orlowski in Las Vegas
Posted: 08/01/2004 at 22:39 GMT
A mother's enquiry about buying Microsoft Flight Simulator for her ten-year-old son prompted a night-time visit to her home from a state trooper.
Julie Olearcek, a USAF Reserve pilot made the enquiry at a Staples store in Massachusetts, home to an earlier bout of hysteria, during the Salem witch trials.
So alarmed was the Staples clerk at the prospect of the ten year old learning to fly, that he informed the police, the Greenfield Recorder reports. The authorities moved into action, leaving nothing to chance. A few days later, Olearcek was alarmed to discover a state trooper flashing a torch into to her home through a sliding glass door at 8:30 pm on a rainy night.
Olearcek is a regular Staples customer and schools her son at home. The Staples manager simply explained that staff were obeying advice. Shortly before Christmas, the FBI issued a terror alert to beware of drivers with maps, or reference books.
At one time it was rare to find US citizens, in the safest and most prosperous country in the world, jumping at their own shadows. Now we only note how high.
Company tests anthrax antidote
Recent developments reveal that a certain group of Harvard Grads took over 5% of the company!
I wonder if it could be because of this...
Company tests anthrax antidote
Scientists believe they may have found a more effective way to protect people from anthrax.
Avanir Pharmaceuticals (AVN) www.avanir.com "says it has successfully developed a human antibody that neutralises the potentially deadly toxin.
They hope the discovery will lead to a new vaccine and drugs to fight anthrax.
It comes just days after scientists revealed they had cracked the gene code for the strain of anthrax used in the letter attacks in the US in late 2001 .
That discovery is expected to boost efforts to develop more effective drugs to fight the toxin.
A vaccine and drugs to treat anthrax already exist. However, the vaccine must be administered through a series of injections over a number of months before it becomes fully protective.
In the US and the UK, it has generally only been offered to those in at risk groups such as military personnel.
The drugs are generally only effective if they are taken swiftly after infection.
Scientists at Avanir Pharmaceuticals in San Diego believe their antibody could overcome this problem.
Laboratory tests have shown that it neutralizes the bacterium and stops it from infecting cells from where it causes most damage.
"The potency this antibody exhibits is extremely high," said one its researchers Phillip Morrow.
He said the company is now planning to test the antibody on guinea pigs. If these tests prove successful, they will then use the antibody to develop drugs to fight anthrax.
"We are very encouraged by this data and plan to develop this antibody for use as a prophylactic and therapeutic drug to prevent and treat anthrax infections," Mr Morrow said.
Dr Gerald Yakatan, the company's chief executive, said: "Currently there is a gap in treatment for individuals that could be or are exposed to anthrax spores," he said.
"Because of the long immunisation timeframe of the vaccine currently available, there are groups of individuals for whom vaccination is not possible or effective and for whom alternative therapies need to be developed.
"Our research is aimed at developing human antibodies that can neutralise the anthrax toxin after exposure has occurred."
Many companies around the world are working on potential anthrax antidotes.
Anthrax is considered to be the number one weapon of choice for bioterrorists.
Recent studies have suggested that a kilogram of anthrax spores dropped on a city of 10 million people would result in more than 100,000 deaths - even if every infected person was given antibiotics "
It isn't driving down their stock, their stock is on the up and up. This guy is a clown. Every single time I go to an office supply store, Staples offers the best service, and The best selection. I am not worried, lets drop it here...
Interested in the whole story?
(didn't think so)
Question about flight simulator brings visit from police
By VIRGINIA RAY
COLRAIN - An innocent inquiry to a Staples store clerk about a computer software program that teaches how to fly an airplane by instrumentation brought a surprise visit this holiday season to a local family from the state police.
"At first, I felt a little angry and violated" about someone telling authorities about her inquiry, said Julie Olearcek, a 15-year Air Force Reserve pilot. "But now that time has gone by, I realize it may take someone like that, who's a little nervous, who may save the day." Olearcek's husband, Henry, is also a flier, currently on active duty, and frequently away from home these days.
About a week before Christmas, Olearcek said the couple's 10-year-old son, who has flight simulation software and is keenly interested in learning to fly like his parents, commented that he'd have to wait until his dad retired to learn to fly by instruments. She went to Staples soon after and took her son to the office supply store, where he looked through the available software.
"He was disappointed because there was military stuff, but it was all fighting stuff, so I asked the clerk, and he was alarmed by us asking how to fly airplanes and said that was against the law," Olearcek said. "I said I couldn't imagine that, but, because (the clerk) was a little on edge ... I left." But "what saves us, is people are paying attention," she said.
Olearcek said she and her husband both were well aware that the Office of Homeland Security had raised the threat level during the holiday and of the generally increased terrorism alert following the Sept. 11 plane attacks.
"And rightly so, this puts people on edge," she said.
But she was taken aback by what happened next.
"By 8 p.m., a state trooper was at my house," she said. "At first, it was a little unnerving because it was pouring rain and my husband had just left ... My son said he heard someone walking around outside and it startled him. We had put our Christmas tree in front of a sliding glass door and the trooper ended up tapping on the glass of that door and putting a flashlight in and it scared us."
But Olearcek said she doesn't believe the trooper was intentionally trying to frighten her family. Nor does she blame the clerk for erring on the side of caution.
"We all have to be aware," she said, not really even wanting to speak of the incident on the record, but wanting to keep the record straight. "It's not just the people in uniform who have to be looking after this country. So when people see something out the ordinary, they pay attention. Maybe by the way we worded the question - who knows? - it triggered the individual. Still, if they had done their homework (at Staples) they would see I home school my children and am a frequent customer and have a teacher's ID on file."
Olearcek said the trooper asked her if she had inquired about the software, and she said she had and showed him her military identification.
"He was totally understanding, but protocol means he has to follow through," Olearcek said. "I immediately gave him my military ID and I had no problem giving it to him. At first I felt like, 'Wait a minute, this is America.' But we also have to understand it takes everybody to pay attention. At first I was a little frazzled with someone knocking on my window at 8:30 at night, but the bottom line is this is a civilian who has tried to do his best."
Sgt. Donald Charpentier of the Shelburne Falls State Police barracks said police received a telephone call from the Staples manager "that a person had been looking for instructional videos regarding flying planes."
"Those programs are quite common for entertainment and training, but he felt it was suspicious enough to warrant a call," Charpentier said. "We responded, and it turned out to be innocent enough; a person looking to buy a Christmas gift."
Staples' spokesperson Sharyn Frankel said the employees were doing what they have been told to do.
"After 9/11, our store associates were instructed that if they see something suspicious or out of the ordinary, they're to contact their managers and local authorities," Frankel said. "It's all about keeping our associates and customers safe and this was out of the ordinary and kind of raised a red flag and they did what they thought was right."
"Bottom line is we've all got to look out for each other, and I wasn't harmed," summed up Olearcek. "And what if it were the other way around? It's going to take everyone in each town to look after one another."