TIME Accidents

Electrical Fire Ignited Christmas Tree in Fatal Mansion Blaze

16,000 square-foot home near Maryland's capital reduced to ruins on Jan. 19

(MILLERSVILLE, Md.) — An electrical fire that spread to a 15-foot Christmas tree prompted a blaze that reduced a 16,000 square-foot riverfront mansion near Maryland’s capital to ruins, killing a couple and four of their young grandchildren, investigators said Wednesday.

The fire ignited combustible material and tore through the massive, castlelike structure in the early morning hours of Jan. 19.

Anne Arundel County Fire Chief Allan Graves said in a statement Wednesday that the tree had been cut more than 60 days before the blaze and was in a “great room” of the house with 19-foot ceilings.

“The involvement of the Christmas tree explains the heavy fire conditions found by the first arriving fire crews,” Graves said.

Investigators on Wednesday identified the victims as Don and Sandra Pyle and their grandchildren: Charlotte Boone, 8; Wes Boone, 6; Lexi Boone, 8, and Katie Boone, 7. Don Pyle, 56, was chief operating officer of ScienceLogic in Reston, Virginia.

The fire was reported about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 19 by an alarm-monitoring company, reporting smoke had been detected inside, and a neighbor who spotted flames. Officials said it is unclear whether an alarm sounded inside the 16,000-square-foot home, which could have alerted anyone inside. Some 85 firefighters from several jurisdictions fought the four-alarm fire, which burned for three hours before it could be contained. Because there was no hydrant in the area, firefighters shuttled tankers to the site and stationed a fire boat at a pier nearby.

Investigators brought in dogs to search for bodies and evidence, such as accelerants, and conducted more than 50 interviews.

A spokeswoman for the children’s parents said that the day before the fire, the doting grandparents bought the children costumes before taking them to dinner at a medieval-themed restaurant.

Charlotte and Wes Boone were sister and brother. Lexi and Katie were sisters; they had a newborn brother who was home with his parents, Randy and Stacey Boone, the night of the fire. The cousins’ fathers, Randy and Clint Boone, were the sons of Sandra Pyle, 63. The four children were students at the Severn School in Severna Park.

The Boone family said in a statement Tuesday, following the discovery Monday of the sixth body at the house that they were “relieved that our loved ones have all been recovered.”

“Though we are grieving deeply, this has brought us some small sense of closure,” the statement read. “We take comfort in that they are now together, and we can begin to mend our hearts.”

The Pyles built the home in 2005, four years before the county began requiring sprinkler systems in new homes.

The $6 million property once boasted turrets, spiral staircases, lion statues, a sprawling lawn and forested land. All that remains resembles a colonial ruin: a brick wall with windows missing and a mountain of burned debris.

As investigators from the fire department; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the state fire marshal’s office probed the scene, members of the community brought notes and teddy bears for a small memorial just outside the property. On brick columns that flanked an iron gate, Christmas decorations were still displayed.

TIME Education

Colleges Pit Music Against Math as Funding Dries Up

Music Class Students
Getty Images

Limited money is causing state schools to choose among subjects with the most demand

Bob Marley once sang that when music hits you, you feel no pain. But the music department at the University of Alaska at Anchorage could soon end up bruised, bloodied and down for the count.

That’s because music is being pitted against other subjects with stronger demand, such as business and engineering, as the public university cuts its budget in response to lower oil prices that have resulted in a drop in state tax revenue.

This is not happening only in Alaska. Colleges and universities across the country are going through the same painful process of winnowing their offerings to show students, lawmakers, and taxpayers they are serious about saving money. And what was once a theoretical conversation about the value of the humanities versus the sciences or business is now a very real debate over which academic programs will survive and what jobs will be lost.

Advocates welcome the chance to weed out costly programs with hardly any students, or force them to attract more and do a better job of graduating them. Critics say the budget-minded process threatens to preserve more popular departments that churn out employable graduates, such as biotechnology and nursing, at the expense of less pre-professional degrees like philosophy and history.

“That could be a very dangerous, unintended outcome,” says Sandra Elman, president of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the accreditor for Alaska and other northwestern states. “If this is going to be looked at in terms of a financial bottom line, you don’t have to be the head of Microsoft or Nike to know that the programs that graduate the most students might end up on top,” she says. “Faculty have the right to be concerned.”

Indiana State University was among the first schools to undertake a comprehensive review of its offerings, from 2006 to 2008, which resulted in the elimination or suspension of 48 academic programs, including art history, German, and journalism as it sought to trim a bloat of offerings that had led to 8,000 empty seats in classes.

The process was painful, says Robert Guell, an Indiana State economics professor and chairman of the campus academic senate, but it was a way of “culling the walking dead. Your perspective on this depends on whether you’re the organ donor or the organ recipient,” Guell says. “The body may be healthier overall, but it still doesn’t feel good for the donor.”

To save $6 million, the University of Southern Maine is cutting French, geosciences and applied medical sciences, and consolidating six other majors: English, philosophy, and history will be combined into one department, and music, art and theater will be grouped into another. Though French is still widely spoken in Maine, the French Department had graduated an average of 4.8 majors per year for the last five years.

Other institutions have adopted a model that ranks departments according to productivity and divides them into five groups, with the bottom 20% eliminated or reorganized.

Boise State University, for instance, over the summer instructed programs in the bottom one-fifth to plan for “significant change,” says Provost Martin Schimpf. Among those slated to be cut are bachelor’s degrees in bilingual education and geophysics and a master’s degree in physical education pedagogy.

Schrimp says the process, ordered by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, will help the public university consolidate programs that were teaching the same subjects and save $2 million a year.

“We create and eliminate programs all the time,” he says. “There’s a lot of overlap and interdependence. By having a universitywide conversation, these things pop out. That’s the value of the process itself.”

But prioritization can create its share of problems, especially at schools where faculty members have been cut out of the process. Critics point to the University of Northern Iowa, which in 2012 announced it would eliminate one-fifth of its academic departments.

A December 2012 report by the American Association of University Professors derided Northern Iowa’s eliminations as “created solely as a device for laying off members of the faculty whom the administration no longer wished to retain.”

In addition to music instruction, the proposals in Alaska could doom several other programs, including the respected Alaska Quarterly Review, a literary journal.

“It’s very difficult,” says Bill Spindle, a University of Alaska Anchorage vice chancellor who has helped lead the process, which aims to save about $7 million per year. “We want to prune, we don’t want to break off branches.”

The university has ranked its programs into categories including one that calls for “further review” of departments about which questions remain and that may not have long to live. A final decision is expected to be released this week, and Spindle says cuts will be even deeper than originally expected because of a state budget shortfall.

Among those most at risk include Chinese (“[T]his program should stop creating new courses and contemplating new programs when it has only part of one faculty position,” according to the university prioritization report) and two music programs (“This is a very expensive and relatively non-productive program, and there are serious opportunity costs with putting so many resources into something that produces only four graduates in three years”).

Music Department chairman Christopher Sweeney says the actual number of graduates over those three years was closer to seven for each of the two at-risk music degrees, but he acknowledged that even this number was lower than he’d prefer.

“As much of a nightmare as it was,” said Sweeney, “it was a good wake-up call on how to serve our population better.” But he added: “We are not going down without a very, very severe fight.”

The at-risk list also includes some surprises. Chemistry is on it (“The number of graduates is very troubling”) and a graduate certificate in nursing (“This program has weak student demand”).

Also surprising are the subjects that were rated as successful—art, for instance (“an impressive level of student-centric discussion”), and medical laboratory science (“Alumni survey data indicates grads are finding employment, mostly in Alaska”).

The university urged departments to explain their value by demonstrating proof of learning, but some didn’t take the hint, says Diane Hirshberg, a professor of education policy who helped lead the prioritization study. “We had programs provide evidence,” she says. “Then we had others that said, ‘Our students know this and this,’ without providing any evidence. It’s frustrating.”

Even professors who hate the thought of universities cutting programs acknowledge it needs to happen occasionally. Schools tend to grow more than they shrink, and some departments outlive their usefulness as employment trends change.

The key to avoiding problems is transparency and communication, says Jack Maynard, the Indiana State provost who led his campus’s prioritization.

“By doing that, you take away a lot of the weapons people would use: speculation and rumor,” says Maynard, who came out of retirement recently to return as the school’s interim provost. He says Indiana State used the process to transform its identity into a stronger campus focusing on rural health care.

At other schools, however, some fret that a change in identity would be the wrong outcome. New York City’s Lehman College, for example, is undergoing a prioritization process some professors worry could shift the school away from the humanities and toward science and engineering.

“A college needs to have a philosophy department,” says Duane Tananbaum, a Lehman history professor, “even if it’s not overflowing with students.”

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news website focused on inequality and innovation in education.

TIME Courts

Supreme Court Delays Executions for 3 Oklahoma Inmates

The Supreme Court
James P. Blair—Getty Images

State is temporarily barred from using controversial sedative

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed the execution of three Oklahoma death row inmates who are part of a case that could decide the future of lethal injections nationwide.

The court’s order prevents Oklahoma from using the sedative midazolam to execute Richard Glossip, John Grant and Benjamin Cole, who are challenging the state’s current lethal injection protocol. The trio claims that the use of midazolam, which has been criticized by some anesthesiologists as not properly inducing unconsciousness, violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Glossip, who was convicted of having his boss murdered, was set to be executed Thursday. Grant, who was convicted of stabbing a co-worker to death, was scheduled to be executed in February. And Cole, handed a death sentence for killing his 9-month-old daughter, was initially set to be executed in March.

MORE: Justices Will Review Use of Midazolam as Execution Drug

Because the Supreme Court’s order specifically prevents Oklahoma from executing the men with midazolam, it’s possible but unlikely that the state will try to use a different drug to carry out their death sentence before the court rules in their case.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last week, making it the first time the court will consider whether a specific method of capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment since Baze v. Rees in 2008. That decision upheld Kentucky’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. Since then, drug shortages have forced states to use different drugs, including midazolam.

All eyes have been on Oklahoma’s execution protocol since last April, when the lethal injection of a convicted killer went awry. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by the end of June.

Read more: Ohio Abandons Controversial Drug Execution Cocktail

TIME Military

Military Chiefs ‘Prep the Battlefield’ for Biggest Pentagon Budget Request Ever

Leaders of US military branches testify on military budgets before Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington
General Raymond Odierno (Army), Admiral Jonathan Greenert (Navy), General Mark Welsh (Air Force), and General Joseph Dunford (Marines) warned a Senate panel Wednesday of the dangers they see if their services' budgets are cut. Gary Cameron / Reuters

They're seeking more than a half a trillion dollars

The White House will be seeking $534 billion to run the Pentagon next year when it sends its 2016 budget request to Congress on Monday.

That would be—despite the cries we keep hearing from assorted generals—the largest Pentagon budget in history.

That’s because President Obama is ignoring the budget caps imposed by the legislative legerdemain known as sequestration: he will ask Congress (which, along with the President, imposed those caps in 2011) for $34 billion more than sequestration allows (there’s another $51 billion in the request, exempt from the caps, for waging ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria).

The Pentagon finds itself on the horns of a dilemma: a growing number of congressional Republicans have been more eager to tame spending than fund the military. If the military can’t succeed in loosening sequestration’s grip on the Pentagon’s coffers, across-the-board cuts in personnel, procurement and training are certain.

For four years, the Pentagon and its allies in Congress have fought the budget caps. Their inaction has kept the Defense Department from learning to live within them, and the retooling and reforms such an acknowledgement would require. Their fight continues, which is why the service chiefs trekked to Capitol Hill Wednesday for the umpteenth time to plead with the Senate Armed Services Committee to relax sequestration’s strictures.

The guys on the ground say they’re losing the edge. “The number one thing that keeps me up at night is that if we’re asked to respond to an unknown contingency, I will send soldiers to that contingency not properly trained and ready,” Army General Ray Odierno said. “We simply are not used to doing that.” His Marine counterpart concurred. “I think I probably speak for all the chiefs, none of us want to be part of, on our last tour on active duty, want to be a part of returning back to those days in the 1970s when we did have in fact a hollow force,” General Joseph Dunford said.

The guys on the water and in the sky—where technology pays its biggest dividends—warned the bad guys are catching up. “We’re slipping behind,” Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said. “Our advantage is shrinking very fast.”

“We currently have 12 fleets of airplanes that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia,” General Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said. “The capability gap is closing…the people trying to catch up with us technologically…have momentum. If [they] get too close, we won’t be able to recover before they pass us.”

But the chiefs were preaching to the wrong audience: the armed services committee, packed with lawmakers with major defense installations or factories back home, has long been a bastion of pro-Pentagon lawmakers.

How draconian are sequestration’s budget cuts? It’s tough keeping track of how much the U.S. spends on its military, in part because there are several yardsticks to keep track. If you want to boost spending, you use one yardstick; if you want to cut it, you use another.

The U.S. military budget has been creeping steadily upward since World War II, even after the fall of the Soviet Union. Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

For example, simply using dollars (adjusted for inflation) shows U.S. military spending jumped by 61% from 1998 to 2010. U.S. defense spending in 2010 eclipsed the peak of the Reagan-era defense buildup, designed to defeat the Soviet Union. Military spending has fallen 12% from 2010’s crest. And when you fold in the added funding the Pentagon got to wage the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the drop is a steeper 21%.

This is a problem of the Pentagon’s own making. It routinely took defense dollars that were supposed to be used to fight the wars and used them to buy new hardware and for other, non-war-related expenses. Like any addict, it got used to this easy access to spending euphoria.

That makes withdrawal from such easy money all the tougher: if war funding had been only used for wars, ending the wars would end the need for that money. But seeing as much of the funding bought what should have been paid for by the Pentagon’s so-called “base” budget, weaning itself from its war-fattened budgets is proving painful.

Then there’s another way to measure Pentagon spending: what share of the national economy is dedicated to defense? Since World War II, the nation has spent about a nickel of every dollar created by the U.S. economy on its military, or 5%. It’s now down to about 3.5%. If sequestration remains the law, the Pentagon’s share of the national economic pie will fall to 2.5% by 2019, the smallest slice since the end of World War II.

The share of the nation’s economy dedicated to national defense has been on the decline since World War II. Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Those who want to spend more on the Pentagon cite this decline as proof the nation is starving the military. That’s only true, of course, if one assumes the enemy is the Gross Domestic Product.

Many Pentagon advocates would like to earmark a fixed percentage of the GDP for the military—4% is often cited— even though the economy has boomed since World War II and there is no link between GDP and the threats facing the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The challenge for the U.S. military is obvious. The lawmakers, obligated “to raise and support Armies” under the Constitution, are concerned with global instability and terrorism.

But the 13 years, nearly 7,000 American lives and three trillion American dollars spent in Afghanistan and Iraq weigh heavily on their minds. It’s obvious most of them don’t feel that more military money is the answer.

TIME Local Politics

Rapper 2 Chainz is Serious About Running for Mayor

2 Chainz, Tauheed Epps
This Aug. 31, 2013 file photo shows 2 Chainz performing at the 2013 Budweiser Made in America Festival in Philadelphia, Pa. Charles Sykes—Invision/AP

2 chainz: rapper, fierce debater, champion for felon voting rights, and, now perhaps, mayor?

Rapper Tauheed Epps, better known by his stage name 2 chainz, is apparently mulling a run for mayor of his hometown, College Park, Ga. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Epps—whose hits include “I Luv Dem Strippers” and “No Lie”—Epps said that he was seriously considering a run.

“I am looking forward to running at the end of this year or next year. [I’m] waiting to see if I meet all of the qualifications!” the Grammy-nominated artist told the paper.

Interest in Epps’ political ambitions peaked earlier this week after he told XXL Magazine about his potential run.

“I’m supposed to be running for mayor in College Park. I got everybody wishing,” Epps said. “I’m really gonna do this little mayor thing in College Park. I’m just trying to make sure I have the right qualifications.”

2 chainz wouldn’t be the first rapper to dabble in local politics. In 2011, Luther Campbell, formerly known by his rap name “Uncle Luke” of the 2 Live Crew ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County in South Florida. Campbell lost.

Though Epp is known musically for rhyming booty with itself and rapping about selling crack (though the author is particularly partial to the line “Pull up to the scene with my roof gone/when I leave the scene bet your boo gone”), Epps knows about more than just money, women and clothes.

The 37-year-old attended Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship and reportedly received high marks while he was there. Though a convicted felon, Epps is a champion for restoring felons’ voting rights. He also recently made headway for going toe-to-toe with HLN host Nancy Grace over the legalization of marijuana, and arguably, besting her in a fierce debate.

If qualified to run for office, Epps could prove a worthy contender for incumbent College Park mayor Jack Longino. Longino, however, isn’t worried. The 20-year mayor told the Daily Beast recently he doesn’t believe Epps is a College Park resident. But if he does and decides to run, Longino said, “we’ll let the people decide.”

TIME U.S.

Watch How the AK-47 Came to Be ‘Made In America’

In early 2015, a U.S.-based company got the green light to start producing what is perhaps the world's most recognizable assault rifle

TIME Research

These Are the Cities With the Most Bed Bugs

530019917
Getty Images

The cities with the most cases of bed bugs in the United States are Chicago, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio, according to a recent promotional study released by the pest control company Orkin.

Orkin calculated the number of bed bug treatments it performed between January to December 2014, and ranked the cities based on how often they were called in. Having bed bugs doesn’t mean a living place is especially dirty, and any home or workplace is susceptible if bed bugs travel on clothing or in luggage.

Citing data maintained by the pest control industry, Orkin says Americans spent around $446 million getting rid of bed bugs in 2013. The bed bug business increased 18% last year, Orkin says.

Here’s the full list of cities ranked from most to least cases of bed bugs:

  1. Chicago
  2. Detroit
  3. Columbus, Ohio
  4. Los Angeles
  5. ClevelandAkronCanton, Ohio
  6. DallasFt. Worth
  7. Cincinnati
  8. Denver
  9. RichmondPetersburg, Va.
  10. Dayton, Ohio
  11. Indianapolis
  12. Houston
  13. SeattleTacoma
  14. Washington, District of ColumbiaHagerstown, Md.
  15. Milwaukee
  16. San FranciscoOaklandSan Jose
  17. RaleighDurhamFayetteville, N.C.
  18. New York
  19. CharlestonHuntington, W.Va.
  20. Grand RapidsKalamazooBattle Creek, Mich.
  21. Omaha, Neb.
  22. Louisville, Ky.
  23. Nashville, Tenn.
  24. Lexington, Ky.
  25. Atlanta
  26. Buffalo, N.Y.
  27. SacramentoStocktonModesto, Calif.
  28. Syracuse, N.Y.
  29. BostonManchester
  30. Charlotte, N.C.
  31. Baltimore
  32. PhoenixPrescott
  33. MiamiFt. Lauderdale
  34. Knoxville, Tenn.
  35. Cedar RapidsWaterlooDubuque, Iowa
  36. MinneapolisSt. Paul
  37. HartfordNew Haven, Conn.
  38. ChampaignSpringfieldDecatur, Ill.
  39. San Diego
  40. LincolnHastingsKearney, Neb.
  41. Kansas City, Mo.
  42. Honolulu
  43. AlbanySchenectadyTroy, N.Y.
  44. Colorado SpringsPueblo, Colo.
  45. Myrtle BeachFlorence, S.C.
  46. St. Louis
  47. GreenvilleSpartanburg, S.C.Asheville, N.C.
  48. Bowling Green, Ky.
  49. Ft. Wayne, Ind.
  50. Toledo, Ohio

 

 

TIME

Former Stanford Swimmer to Be Charged with Rape

Two students saw the alleged assault of an unconscious woman and intervened

A former Stanford University student will be charged with rape after he allegedly assaulted an unconscious woman on campus grounds, Santa Clara County, Cali. prosecutors announced Tuesday.

According to the district attorney’s office, two students on bicycles stopped to intervene in the early hours of Jan. 18 after noticing 19-year-old freshman Brock Allen Turner on top of a woman, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “She was lying on the ground unconscious, not moving,” Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci said, noting that the victim was not a student.

The two students called police and restrained Turner as he tried to get away. The woman is “recovering” after she was taken to the hospital, Kianerci said.

Turner, once a member of Stanford’s swim team who participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, withdrew from the university on Tuesday and is not allowed on campus, according to school officials. “Matters like this the university takes seriously,” university spokesperson Lisa Lapin told the Chronicle.

He faces five felony charges and is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 2. If convicted, Turner faces up to 10 years in prison.

[SFGate]

TIME Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama Unveiled in Saudi: A Style Statement, Not a Political Statement

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in a delegation receiving line with new Saudi Arabian King, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, right, in Riyadh, Jan. 27, 2015.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in a delegation receiving line with new Saudi Arabian King, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, right, in Riyadh, Jan. 27, 2015. Carolyn Kaster—AP

Correction appended Jan. 29

There is nothing quite as contentious as the headscarf issue when it comes to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, at least where western observers are concerned. So when U.S. first lady Michelle Obama went to pay her respects after the death of Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh with her hair uncovered, social media lit up with both praise and opprobrium. “Michelle Obama shouldve stayed in Airforce One as a sign of boycott rather than flouting rules of another country #Michelle_Obama_NotVeiled” tweeted @Random_Arora. “She was a guest in another country &culture. She should make no judgements, but show proper respect at a funeral.2 #Michelle_Obama_NotVeiled,” wrote @MonaBadah.

The thing is, Obama wasn’t really flouting any rules when she chose not to wear a headscarf. While foreign female visitors to the Kingdom are expected to wear long, loose fitting garments as a sign of respect — Obama obliged with a long coat over dark trousers — the headscarf is optional. The muttawa, or religious police, might growl menacingly, but there is nothing legally wrong with going uncovered for non-Muslims. Doing so may draw unwanted attention, and the ire of conservatives, but most Saudis treat the headscarf as a sign of piety, or at least feigned piety for public consumption.

When it comes to women’s rights in the kingdom, the headscarf is the least of any Saudi activist’s worries. She is more likely to be concerned about the right to drive, the right to vote, the right to keep her children after asking for divorce and the right to travel, marry and work without express permission from a male guardian. So maybe if Obama had driven to the funeral herself, it would have been worth a stir. Instead, she did as several other notable female visitors to the Kingdom, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice among them, have done before: dressing respectfully without compromising their own personal sense of style. It’s not like Mr. Obama decided to don a thobe and shemagh for the occasion.

Correction: The original version of this story mischaracterised Obama’s visit to Riyadh. It was to offer condolences for the Saudi King.

TIME Transportation

Fake Twitter Bomb Threats to Airlines On the Rise

An American Airlines plane is seen at the Miami International Airport in Miami in 2013.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Tweeted threats have disrupted at least sixteen flights in the past five days

Airline bomb threats on Twitter have disrupted at least sixteen flights in the past five days, prompting new concerns about aviation security — and the way pranksters can cause serious trouble with social media.

Most recently, an American Airlines flight landed in Chicago safely Tuesday after a tweet claiming to be from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) claimed there was a bomb on board, USA Today reports.

That same day, another (now suspended) Twitter account called @RansomTheThug also claimed there was a bomb aboard a United Airlines flight that had already been canceled days earlier due to blizzard concerns. “In terms of the quantity of threats we’re seeing now, you just haven’t seen it,” Glen Winn, former head of security at United Airlines and Northwest Airlines, said.

But as was the case with the 14-year-old Dutch girl who threatened American Airlines as a joke last year, not every tweet is serious. “In the history of aviation sabotage, I don’t believe there’s ever been a threat called in where there’s actually been a bomb,” Douglas Laird, a former security director at Northwest Airlines, said.

Still, all threats are taken seriously and evaluated by airline security according to confidential criteria. Airlines are also required to report threats to Transportation Security Administration.

[USA Today]

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