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‘Homeland’ security coming to hotels, malls

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WASHINGTON – The United States is stepping up security at “soft targets” like hotels and shopping malls, as well as trains and ports, as it counters the evolving Al-Qaeda threat, a top official said Sunday.

A year after a foiled plot to bomb a US-bound passenger plane, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that other places and modes of transportation must now be scrutinized.

“We look at so-called soft targets — the hotels, shopping malls, for example — all of which we have reached out to in the past year and have done a fair amount of training for their own employees,” Napolitano said.

Since an attempted bombing on a packed Saturday night in Times Square in May, New York, for example, has installed hundreds of security cameras as part of a plan to triple the number of cameras to 3,000.

In September, the city activated some 500 new surveillance cameras at its three busiest subway stations — Times Square, Penn Station and Grand Central.

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“The overall message is everything is objectively better than it was a year ago, particularly in the aviation environment. But we’re also looking at addressing other areas,” Napolitano said.

As extremists struggle to circumvent tighter security at airports and search for new avenues, she said US officials were looking to step up broader measures.

“What we have to do is say, well, what other ways are they thinking to commit an act, because our job is not only to react, but to be thinking always ahead, what could be happening,” Napolitano said.

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“And so we have enhanced measures going on at surface transportation, not because we have a specific or credible threat there, but because we know, looking at Madrid and London, that’s been another source of targets for terrorists.”

Suicide bombers killed 52 people aboard a bus and three London Underground trains in 2005.

And in Europe’s worst terror attack, 191 people were killed and nearly 2000 injured in Madrid in March 2004 when 10 backpacks filled with nails and explosives went off on four trains during morning rush hour.

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“It means, as we make the land borders harder to cross from a land border crossing standpoint, that we need to be looking out into our coasts and to the waters,” said Napolitano.

Last Christmas, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian who claims to have been trained by Al-Qaeda operatives in the Yemen, failed to detonate explosives concealed in his underwear on a packed transatlantic airliner as it came in to land in Detroit.

The US authorities responded by installing new screening machines and initiating draconian body searches at airports.

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Napolitano said international travelers in the United States also face tight intelligence screening even before they reach the boarding gate.


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Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t even a competent investor: report

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There can be no doubt that high-powered hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein would rather the public know him for his prominence and success as an investor than for the allegations of child sex trafficking, for which he has now been indicted and faces life in prison. And there has for years been mystique surrounding Epstein's business — his wealth fund is so exclusive that it reportedly requires a billion dollars up front from clients.

But according to the Dow Jones' periodical Barron's, Epstein may not even be good at that.

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Jon Stewart blasts ‘abomination’ of Rand Paul trying to ‘balance the budget on the backs of’ 9/11 responders

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On Wednesday's edition of Fox News' "Special Report," comedian and activist Jon Stewart slammed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for blocking unanimous consent for a bill to support health care for 9/11 first responders.

"Pardon me if I'm not impressed in any way by Rand Paul's fiscal responsibility virtue signaling," said Stewart to anchor Bret Baier, who appeared on the show with first responder and activist John Feal.

He added that Paul's complaint, that the bill was unfunded, rings hollow given that he "added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit" with the GOP tax cuts for billionaires. He castigated Paul for trying to "balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community."

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Trump supporters chant ‘send her back’ as president hurls racially-charged accusations at Rep. Omar

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At a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) of anti-American sentiments and speech. He said that she belittled 9/11, along with a slew of other accusations that were racially charged.

One-by-one, his rally supporters booed each thing he claimed she did or said. Then the booing turned into a chant: "Send her back! Send her back!"

Omar is an immigrant from Somalia who emigrated along with her parents when she was just 12-years-old. Her family claimed asylum from their war-torn country.

Trump said on Twitter that he believed she, along with three other Congresswomen of color, should be sent back to the countries they're from. Trump's campaign and Republicans proceeded to spend the days that followed claiming that Trump simply wanted them to leave the U.S. if they didn't like it.

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