In the Media Archive - Page 893 of 893 - News @ Northeastern
Bomb Suspects Now Mysterious to Those Who Thought They Knew Them
Bloomberg -- 04/19/2013
While the younger brother has been described as good student and warm-hearted, his behavior may have been influenced by his older brother, said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University, one of the Boston colleges that remained closed on Friday. “It’s not just an anti-American or Islamic jihadist ideology, it’s the relationship between the two perpetrators,” said Fox, who was interviewed by telephone while he was locked inside his Boston home. “They brought out the very worst in each other. Individually, they may have seen like nice guys. But together they create a different entity.”…
Resilience and Complacency
Time -- 04/18/2013
Resilience is partly a matter of character, but it is also one of policy. Stephen Flynn, a scholar at Northeastern University who has written widely about this, argues that, despite the billions spent, we have never made it a priority. George W. Bush often explained, “We fight the terrorists overseas so that we don’t have to fight them here at home.” And indeed, the focus of policy in the Bush years was the fight abroad. At home we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a Department of Homeland Security that many experts agree is a disaster and should probably never have been created. And while al-Qaeda has diminished in strength, certainly in its ability to launch major attacks on military or symbolic targets, we remain unprepared for the most likely attacks, which are of the kind we saw in Boston. In written testimony given last July to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Flynn predicted that “small attacks carried out by one to three operatives, particularly if they reside in the United States, can be carried out with little planning and on relatively short notice. As such, they are unlikely to attract the attention of the national intelligence community and the attacks, once underway, are almost impossible for the federal law enforcement community to stop.”…
FBI Asks Public To Disregard Internet-Made Suspects
The Wall Street Journal -- 04/18/2013
But the rush to assist using crowdsourced, amateur sleuthing, also risked tarring innocent people, based on little evidence. A day before the FBI’s announcement, a social media research team at Northeastern University shuttered plans for a crowdsourcing investigation, amidst fears that it would be unable to prevent the wrong people from being implicated in the attack. The team planned to ask users to submit photos through a website, which was to be launched today, and plot the images on a map of the area around the attack. Users would then tag the photos, or areas within a picture, with terms that could aid the investigation, like “person of interest” or “black bag.” But the plan was cancelled yesterday after concerns surfaced that the team was too small to continually monitor the project, said David Lazer, the team’s leader and a professor of computer science at Northeastern. Without that oversight “it could be really bad, you could imagine identifying a suspect just because they had a black backpack,” Mr. Lazer said. The project was scheduled to launch today, but even if the team had decided to push it forward, Mr. Lazer would have had to gain approval from a university ethics board and counsel. But other groups may not be so constrained. As business and government explore how to harness the power of crowds they will need to decide when the potential harm of crowdsourcing is too great, said K. Krasnow Waterman, a former counsel for the FBI. “The concept of lots of eyeballs is fantastic,” Ms. Krasnow Waterman said. “But you run the risk of serious harm to someone who is wrongly implicated by untrained amateur investigators.”…
Texas fertilizer plant: Why was the blast so enormous?
The Christian Science Monitor -- 04/18/2013
Ammonium nitrate may be the more likely candidate in the explosion. In small quantities, the white pellets won’t detonate, notes Ronald Willey, a chemical engineering professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Many drugstore cold packs use the compound because, when water is also put in the packs, the mixture absorbs heat from its surroundings. But the compound begins to decompose into nitrous oxide and water when heated to temperatures above 150 degrees F. – a process that itself releases heat. If temperatures rise to about 400 degrees F. or higher, as in a fire, decomposition can become explosive.
As in Boston, Resilience Can Help the U.S. Defeat Terrorist Attacks
Bloomberg Businessweek -- 04/18/2013
The U.S. has been successful in reducing the threat of terrorism, but it has wildly overspent in a futile attempt to achieve the goal of eliminating it. “After 9/11 we put our national security apparatus on steroids and decided that we were going to try to stop another attack from ever taking place,” says Stephen Flynn, a professor of political science at Northeastern University, who has advised the government on homeland security issues. “But much less investment was made to increase our society’s ability to respond to such events.” In an age of fiscal constraints, analysts such as Flynn advocate a shift from terrorism prevention to “resilience.” The smartest and most cost-effective way of handling the threat of terrorism is “to build our capacity to cope with it” when something terrible transpires. That means, for example, de-emphasizing costly Pentagon weapons systems and steering resources toward local police, health-care providers, and first responders like those who performed so brilliantly when the bombs went off on Patriot’s Day. The dispatch with which Boston’s emergency personnel handled the crisis, transporting dozens of injured people to triage tents and hospitals in minutes, undoubtedly limited the death toll. Such heroism was no accident. Several physicians had experience working in Iraq and Afghanistan, and theWall Street Journal reported that the city has conducted simulated bombings to drill its first responders on how to react. “The military value of terrorism is to cause disruption and to get maximum bang from an attack. But if you’re a terrorist and you have reason to believe it’s going to be a fizzle, it lowers your incentive to do it,” says Flynn. “Building resilience doesn’t solve the ‘nut’ problem. What it does is change the cost-benefit calculation of a terrorist or group of terrorists and lowers the value of engaging in terrorism on U.S. soil.”…
Citizen Surveillance Helps Officials Put Pieces Together
The Wall Street Journal -- 04/17/2013
Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston formed a 10-person social-media research team to run a similar project, scheduled to launch Thursday, which would allow people to upload photos from the attack and tag clues. They said they plan to continue their project even if a suspect is found.
Boston braces for economic impact from bomb blasts
NBC News -- 04/17/2013
The annual marathon alone generates nearly $140 million in revenues for local hotels, shops, restaurants, and other businesses, according to the Boston Athletic Association, which sponsors the race. “This won’t be just affecting the marathon, it’s likely to affect events that will happen outdoors this summer,” said Alan Clayton-Matthews, a Northeastern University professor who focuses on the region’s economy. “People are going to remember that video of the bomb exploding on the sidewalk and be wary of crowds and going out and about.” The greater metro area’s $325 billion economy could also suffer if security concerns give pause to out-of-town convention planners. Boston area hotels sold 6.3 million room nights last year, generating $1.4 billion in revenues. Even before the marathon attack, convention bookings were expected to soften this year, according to the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In NYC, strains of solidarity with rival Boston
The Wall Street Journal -- 04/17/2013
Tension has bubbled between Boston and New York since the 17th century, when the Puritans, who founded Boston, and the Dutch, who founded New York, squabbled over Long Island. “We’re so small compared to New York, but we’re so powerful,” said Northeastern University historian Bill Fowler, acknowledging that Boston, with just over 600,000 residents, is smaller than the borough of Brooklyn. “On per capita basis, we’ve got you beat, it’s just that you’re bigger.”…
Teaching After Tragedy Forum
Chronicle of Higher Education -- 04/16/2013
The horrible events in Boston yesterday certainly weren’t the first tragedy of recent years. There have been many since 9/11: Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook. And those, of course, are only a sampling. If we expand our view outside the United States, that list only multiplies, and exponentially. Personally, though, yesterday’s events resonated in a way few others have. I teach at Northeastern University, an easy walk from the site of the Boston Marathon explosions. I know those roads. I knew that some of my students and colleagues were along the route, watching the event. I’m new to Boston, but have already learned much about how the city celebrates Patriots’ Day; it’s a proudly local holiday that celebrates the character of this city. And so I watched the news anxiously. I worried about my students. I worried about my newly adopted city.
Our ‘greatest day’ turns to horror
CNN -- 04/16/2013
Editor’s note: Dan Kennedy is an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston and the author of the forthcoming book “The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age” (University of Massachusetts). He blogs at Media Nation. I was going through my Twitter feed Monday morning when I came across this: “Happy greatest day of the year, #Boston!” And so it is. Or was, until about 2:50 p.m., when explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon transformed a celebration into a scene of carnage. What matters now, needless to say, are the victims — the dead, the injured and their families and friends. But if you are looking for some insight into Boston at this horrible moment, it helps to understand why our marathon matters and where it fits into our civic psyche. Why it was, until Monday, our greatest day of the year.