Meet The DHS
American President George W. Bush last week combined a major policy announcement with a photo opportunity at the Kansas City, Missouri Water Works. The ancient red-brick plant is surrounded by a rusty chain link fence and signs saying "Property of KCMO -- No Trespassing." Since September 11, the plant has hired 24-hour security guards, restricted access to the vast complex and increased security patrols.
Bush has proposed merging several federal agencies, including the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Border Patrol, the Customs Service and the Transportation Security Administration, into a single 170,000-strong Department of Homeland Security. While such privacy-hating agencies as the FBI and the NSA have not yet been invited to the party, the new DHS looks like a promising early candidate for the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful civil-rights-crushing monolith that has long been prophesied by science fiction writers.
The new organization will be devoted to Border and Transportation Security; Emergency Preparedness and Response; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures; and Information Analysis and (most relevant to explorers) Infrastructure Protection.
The DHS may be the new face of the enemy, and not only to urban explorers. It isn't that the current American government doesn't mean well, but it may be creating a monster. The past record of security forces that have felt that their mandate overrides civil rights has not been good, and the new agency has more money, manpower and technology behind it than the Gestapo, the KGB and the CIA combined. (Thanks to Ninj for tackling this one.)
Frenchman Alain Robert donned a Spiderman costume last week and scaled Paris' 490-foot Franklin Tower using only his bare hands. Robert has previously scaled many famous buildings including the Eiffel Tower, the Sears Tower, and the Empire State Building. Robert chose the costume because he sees Spiderman as "a kind of new Robin Hood." Infilnews was unable to determine whether or not Le Spiderman had been arrested for this stunt.
UK Prison Needs to Change Locks
A southeast London prison will be changing all of its locks to the tune of 40,000 pounds sterling after an officer accidentally took his keys home with him at night. Belmarsh prison is one of the highest security prisons in Britain and yet has no safeguards against the removal of keys from the facility. The prison's most famous inmate is legendary train robber Ronnie Biggs.
Greenpeace Activists Climb Incinerator Tower
Three activists in chained themselves to an incinerator smokestack 26 metres above ground last week in Auckland, New Zealand, to protest the use of an incinerator that releases toxic emissions into the atmosphere. The protesters were charged and fined after being forcibly removed by police under "trying conditions".
Crazy Guy Pushes Detroit-Windsor Aerial Gondola Plan
Niles Jorgensen's plan to build a 4,049-foot gondola-way between Detroit, Michigan and the casino in Windsor, Ontario may finally be moving forward. Originally thwarted by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Jorgensen is hoping to persuade officials from both cities that the plan is just what the area needs. Jorgensen's Skylink company has scouted alternate locations for the gondola stations and proposes to finance the entire operation itself. The gondola would ride between two 365-foot towers on either side of the river, made up of 60 Swiss-made cabins that hold eight persons at a time. (Thanks to Slappy for this story.)
Double Murderer Disappears in Prison
Raymond Tudor, thought to have escaped from the Drumheller Institution in Drumheller, Alberta in March of this year, was found in May living in an air duct above the prison's wood shop. Tudor is serving two life sentences for the brutal murders of two Alberta senior citizens inside their homes. Authorities were relieved to find him still on prison property. (Thanks to Harpocrates for this story.)
Chicago Deep Tunnel in Home Stretch
Chicago's longest public works project in history, the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, or Deep Tunnel, entered the last leg of its construction earlier this month. The project, which began in 1976, involves more than 100 miles of tunnels and numerous surface reservoirs. The tunnel is intended to lessen the impact of heavy rainwaters which in the past have backed up stormwater and raw sewage into people's basements. The final segment of the project includes a 7.9-mile stretch of 15-foot diameter tunnel to be dug in Calumet City, and two enormous reservoirs, is slated to be complete by 2014.
15-year-old Christopher Watt was rescued earlier this month after being literally flushed away down an Ottawa sewer and trapped for five hours. The teen entered the 1,320-mile labyrinth of sewer pipes that run underneath Canada's capitol city and was quickly swept off in a current of human and household waste. Watt's friends called police who used inflatable boats to rescue the boy from the 9-foot diameter pipe. Dubbed "Sewer Boy" by international media, Watt has yet to sign any licensing agreements. (Thanks to Greg for this story.)
Maybe This Will Fix It
The ill-fated Taipei Financial Center is attempting to renew confidence in the building by renaming itself "Taipei 101" next month. The center's vice president claims that the change will be to a name that is "catchy and easy to remember" and will also reflect the number of floors in the facility. The building, which has been plagued with problems such as earthquake damage, crane collapses, and being in the way of Sungshan Airport's flight paths, is among the world's tallest at 508 metres.
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Infiltration #18, the "Where are They Now?" issue, is the most recent issue of the print version of Infiltration. This issue revisits many of the sites poked and prodded in earlier issues, including the Royal York Hotel, Toronto Union Station, and Saint Michael's Hospital. The issue takes a look not only at what changes these institutions have undergone on their own, but the possible effects that urban exploration (and the publicity given to such exploration) has had on security and infrastructure at these sites. You can get a copy by sending $2 (US/CDN) cash to PO Box 13, Station E, Toronto, ON M6H 4E1, Canada.
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