A3 Monday, September 19, 2016
Feds test bomb remnants of NYC blast By JAKE PEARSON and ALICIA A. CALDWELL Associated Press
NEW YORK — The bomb that rocked a bustling New York City neighborhood contained residue of an explosive often used for target practice that can be picked up in many sporting goods stores, a federal law enforcement official said Sunday, as authorities tried to unravel who planted the device and why. The discovery of Tannerite in materials recovered from the Saturday night explosion that injured 29 people may be important as authorities probe whether the blast was connected to an unexploded pressure-cooker device found by state troopers just blocks away, as well as a pipe bomb blast in a New Jersey shore town earlier in the day. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, touring the site of the blast in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, known for its vibrant arts scene and large gay community, said there didn’t appear to be any link to international terrorism. He said the second device appeared “similar in design” to the first, but did not provide details. “We’re going to be very careful and patient to get to the full truth here,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday. “We have more work to do to be able to say what kind of motivation was behind this. Was it a political motivation? A personal motivation? What was it? We do not know that yet.” Cell phones were discovered at the site of both bombings, but no Tannerite residue was identified in the New Jersey bomb remnants, in which a black powder was detected, said the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to comment on an ongoing investigation. Authorities said the Manhattan bombing and the blast 11 hours earlier at the site of a 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors in Seaside Park, New Jersey, didn’t appear to be connected, though they weren’t ruling anything out. The New Jersey race was cancelled and no one was injured. Officials haven’t revealed any details about the makeup of the pressure-cooker device, except to say it had wires and a cellphone attached to it.
The Associated Press
Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carry on investigations at the scene of Saturday’s explosion on West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on Sunday. An explosion rocked the block of West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials said more than two dozen people were injured. Most of the injuries were minor. Technicians in Quantico, Virginia, were examining evidence from the Manhattan bombing, described by witnesses as a deafening blast that shattered storefront windows and injured bystanders with shrapnel in the mostly residential neighborhood on the city’s west side. All 29 of the injured people were released from the hospital by Sunday afternoon. On Sunday, a team of five FBI agents searched an Uber driver’s vehicle that had been damaged in the Manhattan blast, ripping off the door panels inside as they examined it for evidence. The driver, MD Alam, of Brooklyn, had just picked up three passengers and was driving along 23rd Street when the explosion occurred, shattering the car’s windows and leaving gaping holes in the rear passenger-side door. “It was so loud,” the 32-yearold Alam said. “I was so scared. There was a loud boom and then smoke and I just drove away.” Alam said he hit the gas and
tried to take his passengers to their destination in Queens, but pulled over along Madison Avenue and 39th Street. He went to a local police precinct to file a report for his insurance company and police contacted the FBI. The explosion left many rattled in a city that had marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks only a week earlier and where a United Nations meeting to address the refugee crisis in Syria was scheduled on Monday. “People didn’t know what was going on, and that’s what was scary,” said Anthony Zayas, an actor who was in the Chelsea neighborhood Saturday night when the bomb went off. “You didn’t know if was coming from the subway beneath you, you didn’t know if there were other bombs, you didn’t know where to go.” Tannerite, which is often used in target practice to mark a shot with a cloud of smoke and small explosion, is legal to purchase and can be found in many sporting
goods stores. Experts said a large amount would be required to create a blast like the one Saturday night, as well as an accelerant or other ignitor. Police and federal spokespeople wouldn’t comment on the presence of explosive material recovered at the scene. The bomb in Manhattan appeared to have been placed near a large dumpster in front of a building undergoing construction, another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, told the AP. The second device, described by the same official as a pressure cooker with wires and a cellphone attached to it, was removed early Sunday by a bomb squad robot and New York City police blew it up in a controlled explosion Sunday evening, authorities said. Homemade pressure cooker bombs were used in the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013 that killed three people and injured
more than 260. Officials solicited tips from the public, telling reporters at a news conference in the New York Police Department’s headquarters that they didn’t know who set off the bomb or why. An additional 1,000 state troopers and members of the National Guard were placed at transit hubs and other points throughout New York City and extra police officials were patrolling Manhattan, officials said. Members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force were investigating the blast along with New York Police Department detectives, fire marshals and other federal investigators. Meanwhile, a law enforcement official said federal investigators had discounted a claim of responsibility on the social blogging service Tumblr. Investigators looked into it and didn’t consider it relevant to the case, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
agreement, but was mistakenly billed for 2014 property taxes and mistakenly paid the taxes. The remaining complaints were filed in the MTT’s Small Claims Division. Council member Josh Jones asked Tuesday if Negro would be able to represent the city in upcoming AMAR review and asked about the pending issues with the Tax Tribunal. “I know we have some things pending with the State Tax Commission,” Jones added. “How is this going to impact any of that?” Jamo said the city had to make sure they were covered. Members of the city council and Jamo were all given information in May about the pending Tax Tribunal cases from attorney Joe Jones, who pulled city records from the 2016 assessment and formulated a series of spread sheets to show the changes Negro made to the taxable values. Jones of Jones Law PLC of Menominee, represents the remaining property owners who questioned changes made to the tax assessments. “ Currently I am representing petitioners in eight of the twelve appeals before the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Since these are ongoing cases, I cannot comment on them in detail,” Jones said when contacted by the
EagleHerald Wednesday. He said the information he shared with council members and Jamo is available to the public on a website he created at www. joneslawplc.com/assessment . It includes a searchable database. Much of the information Jones shares deals with changes made by Negro since she was hired in October 2015, including creation of new Economic Condition Factors (ECFs) and neighborhood boundaries and removal of Land Adjustment values to a number of properties. Jones couples those changes with the 2016 Vacant Land Sales Study as being responsible for increases seen in some taxable values ranging from 10 percent to as high as 912 percent in one case. Negro’s March report indicates she removed a number of the existing ECFs “to a more manageable number.” That number is not listed in her report, and a copy of the new ECFs descriptions and mapping has been requested by the EagleHerald under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. While the documents were requested Sept. 1, Jamo requested an 10-day extension beyond the five business days set by the FOIA law for compliance or rejection. Negro also reported in March that she had removed Land Adjustment Values on a number of parcels after the 2015 AMAR questioned those entered without explanation.
In her report, she wrote, “During the AMAR review the State of Michigan sited over 600 parcels that had land adjustments without reasons or with invalid reasons. It was impossible to justify or defend those adjustments and therefore, without prejudice, they were removed. This caused some adjustments to go up and some to go down. It did not and will not affect taxable values unless the property became or becomes uncapped or if the adjustment made was a high enough percentage that the removal caused the assessment to go lower than the taxable (amount).” Jones states on his website that the problem will come for those properties that saw significant increases in assessed value from 2015 to 2016 when they are sold, since “a sale would likely result in a double or triple digit increase in the tax bill. For potential buyers of property, it is important to make note of the assessed value to determine the likely future tax bill; not the previous tax bill. Unfortunately for those currently looking to sell property, unchecked, the 2016 changes will likely hinder many properties and their respective values for the foreseeable future,” he wrote. Jamo was called Friday by the EagleHerald to answer questions about the ECF and land value adjustments, but did not return the call by the end of the day. The city council has not
publicly discussed reported problems with the 2016 assessments until Negro announced her resignation. Jones, who has been dealing with these issues since taking them to the Board of Review in March without success, said, “ In brief, there appears to be a systemic problem with regard to the 2016 assessment roll. Without correction, the effects of the current situation will likely result in further cost and continued non-compliance with the General Property Tax Act. Though the City of Menominee was made aware of these issues in early May, the response to date has been what I can only describe as indifference. This is truly a disservice to the property owners, but I am confident the Michigan Tax Tribunal will see the city’s error. “ JL/PL Committee Chairman Bill Plemel said Tuesday he wanted the city to contact the Michigan Assessors Association “to put out a proposal seeing if we can hire someone from them to straighten this mess out,” and Mayor Jean Stegeman suggested Peg Bastien, a public works employee with assessor certification, as a possible hire. The council will meet in regular session at 6 tonight, and the committee-of-thewhole meeting will be held afterward. The meeting is held in the council chamber at city hall.
to approve a document aimed at unifying the U.N.’s 193 member states behind a more coordinated approach that protects the human rights of refugees and migrants. “It’s very interesting because if we are able to translate that paper into a response in which many actors are going to participate, we will solve a lot of problems in emergency responses and in long-term refugee situations like the Syrian situation,” Fillipo Grandi, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees
told The Associated Press. That may prove an uphill struggle, however, as the document is not legally binding and comes at a time that refugees and migrants have become a divisive issue in Europe and the United States. A number of countries rejected an earlier draft of the agreement that called on nations to resettle 10 percent of the refugee population each year, something that has led a number of human rights groups to criticize the document as a missed opportunity. The U.S. and a number
of other countries also objected to language in the original draft that said children should never be detained, so the agreement now says children should seldom, if ever, be detained. “Instead of sharing responsibility, world leaders shirked it. The U.N. summit has been sabotaged by states acting in self-interest, leaving millions of refugees in dire situations around the world on the edge of a precipice,” Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement.
U.N. holds first-ever summit on refugees, migrants
By MICHAEL ASTOR Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS — The issue of what to do about the world’s 65.3 million displaced people takes center stage at the United Nations General Assembly today when leaders from around the globe converge on New York for the first-ever summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. With more people forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II, leaders and diplomats are expected
him as Dahir A. Adan, 22. Speaking to the newspaper through an interpreter, Ahmed Adan, whose family is Somali, said his son was born in Africa and had lived in the U.S. for 15 years. A spokesman for St. Cloud State University confirmed that Adan was a student there, but has not been enrolled since the spring semester. Spokesman Adam Hammer said Adan’s intended major was information systems, which is a computer-related field. Ahmed Adan said police told him around 9 p.m. Saturday that his son had died at the mall, and that police had raided the family’s apartment, seizing photos and other materials. He said police said nothing to him about the mall attack, and that he had “no suspicion” that his son had been involved in terrorist activity, the newspaper reported. Anderson said police had had three previous encounters with the attacker, mostly for minor traffic violations. According to Anderson, the attacker, dressed in a security uniform and wielding what appeared to be a kitchen knife, began attacking people right after entering the mall, stabbing people in several spots inside the building, including corridors, businesses and common areas. Five minutes after authorities received the first
911 call, Jason Falconer, a part-time officer in the city of Avon, shot and killed the attacker. Anderson said Falconer fired as the attacker was lunging at him with the knife, and continued to engage him as the attacker got up three times. “He clearly prevented additional injuries and potential loss of life,” Anderson said. “Officer Falconer was there at the right time and the right place,” he said. Anderson earlier said the man reportedly made at least one reference to Allah and asked a victim if he or she was Muslim before attacking them. Leaders of the Somali community in central Minnesota united to condemn the stabbings. They said the suspect does not represent the larger Somali community, and they expressed fear about backlash over the attack. Minnesota has the nation’s largest Somali community, with census numbers placing the population at about 40,000. But community activists say the population — most of it in the Minneapolis area — is much higher. The immigrant community has been a target for terror recruiters in recent years. More than 20 young men have left the state since 2007 to join al-Shabab in Somalia, and roughly a dozen people have left in recent years to join militants in Syria.
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