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Audio files reveal 9/11 air traffic horror

Published: Thursday, September 08, 2011 @ 9:12 AM
Updated: Thursday, September 08, 2011 @ 4:19 PM

Newly posted audio files depict the horror of 9/11 unfolding in the sky, as air traffic controllers struggled to follow the faint tracks of hijacked planes, fighter jets tried in vain to chase them down and a flight attendant made a desperate appeal for help.

The sound files add a layer of emotion to previously published transcripts, as puzzlement and frustration seeps into the voices of controllers, military commanders, and even pilots watching the attacks from the sky. There are shouting and ringing phones in the background — the soundtrack, usually omitted from written transcripts, of a nation suddenly at war.

Hear the audio transcripts from New York Times

In one chilling excerpt, screaming and a shouted "Hey!" is heard over the radio as hijackers storm the cockpit of United Flight 93. That's followed by a strange, strained cry. Stunned controllers and other pilots discuss the sounds, trying to make sense of what they heard.

"No dry words on a page can capture that; you really have to hear it," said John Farmer, dean of the Rutgers University School of Law and former senior counsel to the government's 9/11 Commission.

The sound files were posted online Wednesday, just days before the 10th anniversary of the attacks, to accompany a monograph published by the Rutgers University Law Review. The release was first reported by The New York Times.

The monograph was written by Farmer and other investigators working for the 9/11 Commission but was not completed by the time the commission released its final report in 2004.

Farmer and another investigator, Miles Kara, decided to finish the document and add the audio after their draft and the original Federal Aviation Administration recordings were declassified last year.

Law school students helped review and edit the recordings.

Most of recordings come from the FAA and are of controllers and the military liaisons working with them. But some come from other sources, including a phone call that Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, placed to the airline.

"Somebody's stabbed in business class, and, um I think there is Mace that we can't breathe," Ong says. "I don't know, I think we're getting hijacked."

After Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center, tapes recorded the conversation among controllers as a second plane streaked past the window of a radar control facility on its way to Manhattan.

"Another one just hit the building," someone says.

Another person responds: "Oh my God."

And then: "Another one just hit it hard. ... Another one just hit the World Trade."

It's followed by: "The whole building just, ah, came apart."

Someone utters again: "Oh my God."

Some original recordings from 9/11 still have not been made public, including military communications, discussions among White House officials, and the cockpit voice recorder from Flight 93.

Farmer listened to the cockpit voice recording during the 9/11 Commission investigation. He said it is a stirring record of the hijacking and of the passengers' attempt to retake control of the plane before it crashed near Shanksville, Pa.

Much of the audio released Wednesday has been previously documented in hearings, lawsuits and various government reports. Farmer himself included many of the transcripts in a 2009 book, "The Ground Truth."

But the actual voices of confused controllers and pilots underscores the chaos in the sky that morning, especially in the first minutes after the hijackers swung their airliners off course and turned off the aircrafts' transponders, making it difficult for radar to track them.

The military learned about the hijacking of Flight 11 nine minutes before it crashed into the World Trade Center, and was never notified about the other hijackings before those planes crashed.

"The confusion on that day is something that we sometimes forget about," said Andrew Gimigliano, editor-in-chief of the Rutgers Law Review. "The idea that hijacked planes would be used in that manner just was not something that people were thinking about, and this is really illustrative of what the real tenor was on that morning."

___

Associated Press writer Kiley Armstrong in New York contributed to this report.

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Romney releases tax docs, pays $1.9m last year

Published: Friday, September 21, 2012 @ 2:17 PM
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 @ 2:17 PM

Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, paid $1.94 million in federal taxes on last year's income of $13.7 million, for an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, his campaign said Friday.

That's slightly above the 13.9 percent rate the couple paid in 2010. Most of the 2011 income was from investments.

Campaign officials said the couple filed the return Friday with the Internal Revenue Service, after receiving an extension. They were to publicly release their full 2011 returns late Friday.

Romney's taxes have emerged as a key issue during the 2012 presidential race with President Barack Obama. Romney released his 2010 tax returns and a 2011 estimate in January, but he has declined to disclose his returns from earlier years.

His vast fortune and his long association with Bain Capital, the private equity firm he cofounded, have been much discussed this year.

His campaign earlier estimated that Romney would pay about $3.2 million in taxes for the year, an estimate well above the $1.9 million actually paid. He paid about $3 million in federal income taxes in 2010 — an effective rate of 13.9 percent.

Critics, including Obama, have urged Romney to release more than just the two years of returns and follow his father's model. When George Romney ran for president, he released 12 years of tax returns.

Mitt Romney's campaign did put out a summary Friday by Brad Malt, the trustee of the couple's blind trust, saying that over the 20-year 1990-2009 period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes and paid federal taxes at an effective annual rate of 20.2 percent

Obama's own tax return for last year showed that he and his wife, Michelle, paid $162,074 in federal taxes on $789,674 in adjusted gross income, an effective tax rate of 20.5 percent. Their income plunged from $1.7 million in 2010, with declining sales of the president's books. In 2009, the Obamas reported income of $5.5 million, fueled by the best-selling books.

The Romneys' exact totals for 2011 were federal taxes of $1,935,708 and on income of $13,696.951.

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Aggressive driver caught with ghoulish carpool ‘passenger’

Published: Thursday, January 05, 2012 @ 3:14 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 05, 2012 @ 3:14 PM


            A driver who was stopped on I-5 in Kent in January 2012, had a skeleton strapped into the passenger's seat.
            Washington State Patrol
A driver who was stopped on I-5 in Kent in January 2012, had a skeleton strapped into the passenger's seat.(Washington State Patrol)

A man police say was speeding and driving aggressively was also discovered to be using a plastic skeleton as a passenger while he drove in the carpool lane.

 

 The Washington State Patrol said that on Dec. 20, a trooper pulled over a silver Mazda for driving at 82 mph and making several unsafe lane changes on northbound Interstate 5 near 272nd Street. 

 

When stopped, the trooper said he noticed that what he originally believed was a passenger was actually a seat belted plastic skeleton wearing a sweatshirt.

 

The WSP said one of the lanes that the driver had used as he aggressively worked through traffic was the high occupancy vehicle lane.

 

Police said the driver did not have any comment concerning his “passenger” and received a ticket for speed, unsafe lane change and the HOV violation.

 

The WSP uses marked patrol cars and unmarked or unconventional police vehicles equipped with mobile video cameras to detect and apprehend aggressive drivers.

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MythBusters stunt sends cannonball flying through Bay Area home

Published: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 @ 8:15 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 @ 8:15 PM

A reality television stunt that went awry sent a cannonball careening into a residential Dublin, Calif., neighborhood late Tuesday afternoon, punching holes through the front door and a wall of a home and smashing a minivan's window, but luckily leaving area residents unharmed.

The cannonball was fired as part of an experiement for the Discovery Channel show MythBusters.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Department confirmed that at around 4 p.m. a cannonball was "misfired" from the Alameda County bomb range at Camp Parks and struck a home blocks away on Cassata Place.

"This cannonball was supposed to pass through several barrels of water and a cinder block wall to slow its inertia," said J.D. Nelson of Alameda County Sheriff's Department. "When the shot was fired, it misfired. The cannon lifted."

The cannonball apparently hit something that caused it to shoot over the hillside that protects the neighborhood below.

The projectile bounced in front of the house on Cassata Place, through the front door and up through the second floor before it finally exited through the back wall.

Then it flew over Tassajara Road and ricocheted off the roof of another house before smashing through the window of a minivan where it came to rest.

"I kind of looked inside and seen a big old cannonball. And I had just got out of the van five minutes earlier," said Jasbar Gill, the owner of damaged van. "I'm glad my kids weren't inside the van. So lucky."

The sheriff's office spoke with the Discovery Channel which airs MythBusters.

"They're very sorry that this happened. And they have safety measures that are in place," said Nelson, who works as a consultant for the show, managing the tests run at the county bomb range. "They did have a misfire. And they have insurance for these kinds of things."

Remarkably, no one was hurt in the incident.

In fact, the family whose home sustained the most damage was asleep at the time and didn't realize anything had happened until the dust started to settle.

Nelson said the TV crew responded by sending a senior producer to the home and to the home of the car owner. The producer arranged to meet with their insurance carriers, Nelson said.

Nelson said the television show has used the county's bomb range more than 50 times for experiments and filming.

"We never even had any kind of an incident let alone anything this terrible," Nelson said.

Pratima Dsouza, who lives next door to the house that was hit, said she heard a loud noise and later saw police responding to her neighbor's home but thought there had been some sort of accident inside the house.   

It wasn't until she saw it on the news that she learned what had  happened.   

"Nobody came to our door and told us there was a cannonball that went through our neighbor's house," Dsouza said.

She said the bomb range where the cannonball came from is some distance from her neighborhood.   

"We can hear the sounds but we've never had an experience like that before," she said.

She said a family lives in the home that was struck.   

Another resident, Mark Hawthorne, said the cannonball bounced off of Cassata Place, leaving a dent in the concrete before crashing into his neighbor's house.   

He said neighborhood kids -- including his own -- often play outside in the cul-de-sac around where the cannonball landed.   

"It's a little scary," said Hawthorne, who has watched MythBusters on occasion. "It's easy to laugh at after it's done and no one's hurt."

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A look at Joe Paterno's legacy

Published: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 @ 11:19 AM
Updated: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 @ 11:19 AM


            Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno (left) and Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban greet each other after the game.
            Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE
Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno (left) and Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban greet each other after the game.(Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE)

Joe Paterno's contract was set to expire at the end of the season.   He is a legend in happy valley and the world of college football. 
  •  889 coaches have been hired in division one football since Paterno was hired in 1966.
  • He has 408 wins throughout his tenure, which is the most victories in division one history.  
  • He has two national championships under his belt.  
  • He has more bowl appearances than any other coach, more bowl victories than any other coach. 
  • Paterno has 5 undefeated seasons. 

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