2007-03-23 / Community

Beachcomber

In the September 3, 2004 edition of The Wave we ran a front-page story about a Canadian intelligence report that said a shoe bomber might have brought down American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001. Most people laughed and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reiterated its belief that the first officer ripped the tail off the plane by overuse of the rudder system. "We have seen no evidence of anything other than an accident," said a spokesperson for the NTSB at the time. "It appears from the evidence that we have that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin." According to the Canadian report, a captured al Qaeda operative said that man named Abderraouf Jdey carried a shoe bomb into the plane and committed an act of suicide by bringing the plane down. The source of the information was Mohammed Mansour Jabarah who worked closely with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said that KSM (as he is widely now known) told him directly that Jdey brought down the plane. Now, KSM is on trial and on Wednesday, he admitted that he was "responsible for the shoe bomber operation to down two American airplanes. In one, the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, was captured by the crew and passengers as he attempted to light the bomb in his shoe. What was the other? Could it be American Airlines Flight 587? The government still won't admit the possibility. By the way, Jdey is on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list and has been missing since November of 2001.

A number of state legislators, including Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, have issued a Legislative Resolution calling on Governor Eliot Spitzer to proclaim March, 2007 as "Irish American Heritage Month" in New York State. Sounds like a "ground ball" after all the contention that's been going around between the Governor and legislative leaders lately.

With everything else they have to worry about, you would think that the last thing the City Council would need is a controversy over whether high school baseball players should use wooden or metal bats. Baseball is not the most dangerous game in the world, but the random collisions in the outfield or with a wall can create lasting concussions and batted balls can always be a threat to pitchers and fielder alike. Just ask Herb Score. Those of you who are old enough to remember the incident where a ball off the bay of Yankee great Gil McDougal struck the young Cleveland Indian pitcher right between the eyes and Score, a phenom, was never the same again. That ball was hit with a wooden bat, by the way. Does the ball come faster off a metal bat than a wooden one? Yes. Does that make them more dangerous? There is no evidence to prove that contention and there have been all sorts of studies. The ban on metal bats may well mean the end of some high school baseball programs because the wooded bats are so expensive and they break so easily. That's why the metal bats were developed in the first place. The City Council should stay out of areas that they know nothing about. How about naming some streets and then going home?

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have joined forces to tell the world that "documents the excesses of the policing operation in New York City's public schools and the penalties that students have paid as a result of those operations." In its press release, the two civil liberties bastions decry the fact that "every day, more than 93,000 New York City school children cannot go to class without passing through a gauntlet of metal detectors, bag searches and pat downs administered by police personnel who are inadequately trained, insufficiently supervised and often belligerent, aggressive and disrespectful." We wonder again what world these people live in. The searches and the metal detectors are necessary because students often try to bring weapons to school, weapons which they use to terrorize and kill other students. Without the metal detectors, the body count would rise spectacularly. It is clear to anybody with a rational bone in their body that the metal detectors and bag searches do not negatively impact our students. In fact, they often save their lives.

There are many in Rockaway who continue to push for a reopening of "White Pot Junction," a rail line that ran directly from Rockaway through Forest Hills and into Manhattan. The rails still exits, albeit in a deteriorating condition and central Queens residents would rather see the right of way used as a bike path than a refurbished rail link. Jim Trent, a transportation expert, recently sent out an Email that makes sense to us. "It is a waste of time to come up with new subway projects when the ones already approved are not fully funded," he says. "The MTA won't consider a subway connection to the Rockaways when it is panicked that it might be forced to cover cost overruns for the # 7 extension, which they will build but never agreed to pay for."

The State Education Department is beginning to rival the city's Department of Education as "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight." The state DOE recently purchased on the cheap 1.1 million protractors for students to use on the state's standardized Mathematics test. Teachers preparing for the test quickly realized the errors as soon as they opened their testing envelopes and they notified the state in reportedly large numbers, because the error was readily apparent. The problem was that the protractors are missing 1/16 of an inch from the four-inch ruler along the bottom of the measuring device, making it difficult to use. In addition, the state sent out 1.6 million plastic rulers that had improper markers that made it difficult to measure anything. Teachers complained to the state that the mis-markings made it frustrating for their students and made it more difficut to pass the test. A state official, who admitted that the measuring devices were off and might impact test scores, said, "[The protractors and rulers] were the best plastic measurement tools that the Department was able to procure at such a large volume required at a reasonable cost." So what if they don't work, they're cheap.

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