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Posts tagged ‘2014 Winter Olympics’

Airlines Warned of New Shoe Bomb Threat.


The Homeland Security Department has warned airlines that terrorists could try to hide explosives in shoes. It’s the second time in less than three weeks that the government has issued a warning about possible attempts to smuggle explosives on a commercial jetliner.

Homeland Security said Wednesday it regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, but it declined to discuss specifics of a warning sent to airlines.

“Our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by the latest intelligence and as always DHS continues to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment,” the department said in a statement.

A U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that DHS released a notice to airlines reiterating that liquids, shoes and certain cosmetics were of concern, all of which are covered under existing Transportation Security Administration security policies.

The latest warning was focused on flights headed to the United States from abroad.

The official said “something caused DHS concern, but it’s a very low threshold to trigger a warning like this.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Earlier this month Homeland Security warned airlines with flights to Russia to be on the lookout for explosive devices possibly hidden inside toothpaste. The Transportation Security Administration then banned passengers from bringing any liquids in their carry-on luggage on nonstop flights from the U.S. to Russia. That warning became public just days before the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It is unclear if the latest warning, first reported Wednesday by NBC News, is related to the earlier threats to Russia-bound flights.

Air passengers in the United States have had to take off their shoes at airport security checkpoints since shortly after Richard Reid tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes on a Miami-bound flight in late 2001. Reid pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and is serving a life sentence.

The traveling public has grown increasingly impatient with expanding security checks at airports.

TSA in recent years has changed some security procedures to allow young children and passengers 75 and older to keep their shoes on. The security agency has also launched a fee-based program that allows willing flyers to submit to background checks and avoid having to remove their shoes, jackets and small amounts of liquids packed in carry-on luggage.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Journalists Tweet Tales of Woe About Sochi Hotel Rooms.


Western journalists who have descended on Sochi, Russia for the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics have taken to Twitter regaling followers with tales of unfinished and substandard hotel rooms and posting amusing photos.

Tens of thousands of tweets have been sent using the hashtag #SochiProblems, and the Twitter account @SochiProblems has more than 61,000 followers.

One journalist tweeted, “My hotel room has no internet, no hot water, no curtains and no furniture. On the plus side, three of the four lights work.”

Another Twitter user posted a photo of orange-colored tap water, adding, “Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like.”

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams addressed the issue at a news conference.

“It’s a bit premature to say it’s been a failure. They have delivered 24,000 rooms,” he said, according to NBC News. “Surely there have been some issues, but we are really doing our best.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

NBC: Americans Hacked, Monitored in Sochi.


Thousands of athletes and visitors to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are having their phones and computers hacked, NBC News reports.

Nightly News host Brian Williams revealed on Tuesday night that the private information on tourists’ electronic devices is being stolen by the Russian network the moment they turn on their devices.

“As tourists and families of athletes arrive in Sochi, if they haven’t been warned, and if they fire up their phones at baggage claim, it’s probably too late to save the integrity of their electronics and everything inside them,” said Williams. “Visitors to Russia can expect to be hacked…and it’s not a matter of if, but when.”

LIGENT Exclusive: Insider Series Reveals Putin’s True Ambitions at Winter Games 

Reporting from the Russian coastal resort of Sochi, Richard Engel said that the State Department has warned that travelers should have “no expectation of privacy,” even in their hotel rooms.

“And as we found out, you are especially exposed as soon as you try and communicate with anything. One of the first thing visitors to Russia will do is log on. Hackers here are counting on it, ” Engel said. “Malicious software hijacked our phone before we even finished our coffee, stealing my information, and giving hackers the option to tap and record my phone calls.”

Hundreds of U.S. athletes competing in the games are likely to have their phones hacked, along with their coaches and training staff, as well as family members and friends who arrive to watch them compete.

The spectacular opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is being held on Thursday night, with the first events starting on Friday.

LIGENT Exclusive: Insider Series Reveals Putin’s True Ambitions at Winter Games

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

Olympics City Mayor: We Have No Gay People Here.


Image: Olympics City Mayor: We Have No Gay People Here

 

By Cathy Burke

The mayor of Sochi, Russia, says there’s no gay people in the Winter Olympics’ host city.

Anatoly Pakhomov told BBC Panorama that homosexuality is “not accepted here in the Caucasus . . .  We do not have them in our city.”

The mayor later conceded to Panorama that he wasn’t certain there were no gay people living in Sochi, but added, “I don’t bloody know them.”

The mayor said homosexuals were welcome at the Olympic Games — so long as they “respect Russian law” and “don’t impose their habits on others.”

One resident disputed the mayor’s demographical assessment.

“There are very many clubs for gay people in Moscow. In Sochi, we have two gay clubs as well,” the resident, identified as drag queen Madame Zhu-Zha, told Panorama. “In some places, there’s serious prejudice against gay people. In other places, it’s not as bad.”

Last June, Russia passed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality to minors, legislation that was viewed as an attack on gay rights.

But two weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the law is meant to protect children, ABC News reported. He insisted that “individuals of non-traditional orientation cannot feel like second-rate humans in this country because they are not discriminated against in any way.”

“I couldn’t care less about their sexual orientation,” Putin added. “We will welcome all athletes and all visitors to the Olympics. None of our guests will have any problems.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Peter King: No Guarantees on Olympic Safety.


Image: Peter King: No Guarantees on Olympic Safety

With Russia’s refusal to fully share intelligence there is no way to ensure people attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will be safe from terrorism, says Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

“I cannot give a 100 percent guarantee,” King said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” 

The Sochi Olympics are going to be more threatened than any in the recent past, King said, including Greece, London and China. And those countries were all much more willing to co-operate with U.S. intelligence.

The U.S. government has told American athletes not to wear USA gear outside the Olympic venues to avoid being targets of terrorists.

“There are real threats there,” King said.

Two terrorist bombs have already killed 31 people in a city visitors will have to go through to reach the Olympics, and separatists from the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan have vowed to hit the games set for Feb. 7-23.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has put up a “ring of steel” around the resort town near the North Caucasus, but fears exist that a group of women known as “black widows” may already have infiltrated the area before the so-called ring was set up.

The area is near where the Tsarnaev brothers, who are believed to have bombed the Boston Marathon, are from. The area is a hotbed of terrorism.

“Hopefully, things will work out, but it’s nowhere near ideal,” King said.
King was much more confident about security in a major sports event slated to take place nearer his home: Super Bowl XLVII.

Weather is the biggest threat concerning organizers of the first outdoor Super Bowl in a winter climate set for Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

But the first “mass transit Super Bowl” does present some security concerns, King said. Many people will be coming to the game by subway, and with the cold weather, people can conceal things under clothing, he said.

“To the extent that any athletic event can be safe, the Super Bowl will be,” he said, explaining that, unlike the Olympics, law enforcement is cooperating at all levels.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

FBI to Help Boost Security at Sochi Olympics.


Image: FBI to Help Boost Security at Sochi Olympics

By Melanie Batley

The FBI will be sending several dozen agents to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to help boost security amid concerns about threats by extremists.

According to The Washington Post, FBI director James Comey told reporters Thursday the agency will be working with Russian intelligence services, and agents and personnel will have a presence in Moscow as well.

“Securing any Olympics is an enormous task,” Comey said, according to the Post. “I think it’s particularly challenging in Sochi because of its proximity to areas of unrest and sources of terrorist threat.”

Russia has already received credible threats from extremists who said they intend to target the Games opening Feb. 7, according to the post. Terrorists carried out two bombings last month in the city of Volgograd that killed 34 people and injured dozens.

During a wide-ranging interview with reporters at FBI headquarters, Comey also said that the bureau has become increasingly concerned about security at large venues and events generally, as the incidence of attacks on “soft targets” has increased.

He pointed in particular to the terrorist attack in September on Nairobi’s Westgate mallthat killed more than 70 people.

“We are taking a lot of steps with the Department of Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement, and the retail industry to train, to anticipate, to drill,” Comey said, according to the Post. “It was going on before Westgate, and that effort was given renewed energy by the Westgate tragedy.”

Comey also said there is growing concern that extremists who have been involved in the Syrian conflict could return to their home countries, including the United States, and carry out terrorist attacks.

“It is one of my greatest worries in the counterterrorism area. The conflict in Syria has attracted so many people from so many places of so many motivations, including Americans, that it is an enormous challenge for all intelligence services, including the FBI, to identify the ones of bad intent, to figure out where they’re going, why they’re going and keep track of them,” he said.

“As long as people are flowing in, learning how to kill other people and meeting really bad people, it’s going to be a big worry.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Bolton: Americans Should Be on Guard After Terrorism in Russia.


Terrorists could target sporting events in the United States before the Sochi Olympics in Russia in February, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton warned Tuesday.

“I suspect that law enforcement and intelligence in this country are focused on the risk that Chechen terrorists might try to one-up the Boston Marathon bombing in this country, as a prelude to the Sochi Olympics,” Bolton said on Fox News’America’s Newsroom.”

Story continues below video.

Terrorists struck twice in Russia over the weekend, hitting targets in the southern city of Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad.

More than 30 people died in separate attacks at a train station and on a trolley bus. Officials suspect Islamic militants from Chechnya were responsible.

Bolton said Americans should bring “situational awareness” of the potential for terrorist attacks to any sporting events that draw large numbers of people, either in the United States or abroad.

He said the Winter Olympics next month are especially vulnerable because events are spread out over a wide area.

“There still will be tens of thousands of spectators all over the area. If you secure one area, if you make the skiing venue safer, it simply means that other targets may end up being softer, more attractive to the terrorists — bus depots, hotels, that kind of thing,” he said.

Bolton explained that the animosity between the factions fighting in Russia “goes back centuries.” Russian extremists would view the Olympics as a “real opportunity to get their message out worldwide,” he said.

“When the entire world’s attention is focused on Sochi, it’s a perfect opportunity for Chechens and other terrorists to use it to attack.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

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