By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"There's a learning curve for all of us," he said, as a shot of the exploding twin towers filled a large screen at the front of the auditorium. Underneath ran a caption that may become the understatement of the new millennium: "So much for the 'It will never happen here' mentality." Lee's best PowerPoint slide, however, was the now-famous shot of George W.'s blank expression after he was first told of the World Trade Center attacks while at a Florida school. That caption read: "Embarrass our government."
Sergeant Heidi Clark gave the crowd an education in the mindset of suicide bombers. Clark, clearly the most animated and interactive of all the day's speakers, walked the audience through the strategies used by Israeli communities to thwart suicide bombers. "Raise your level of consciousness and awareness," Clark intoned, repeating a phrase that was joining the words vigilance and preparedness as the most overused words of the day. She noted that "suicide bomber" is rapidly becoming an outdated misnomer, and preferred the term "homicide bomber," since the goal of the young men and women blowing up buses in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is to take as many innocent people as possible along with them. "These groups have people with Ph.D.'s studying the effects of the bomb, telling bombers to face a certain way, and that way you'll kill the most people," she warned.
So how do you pick out a homicide bomber? Clark said it's not easy, but instructed those in attendance to look out for people who sweat profusely, wear overly bulky jackets or coats, mutter nervously, pull at wires on their clothing, and are overly perfumed or recently shaved. "How many of you ever knew something was wrong but didn't know what it was?" she asked. "You are our first line of defense."
For some reason neither Lee nor Clark took questions from the audience, so I decided to ask Jane Riach, a white-haired Sheriff's volunteer from Carson, what she wanted from the seminar. Turned out Riach was looking for information she might need to help the nearly 200 people living in the mobile-home park she manages. Although she liked all she heard about "vigilance" and "preparedness" and being aware and homicide bombers, she had some specific concerns that went far beyond the plenty o' batteries and three-day-water-supply reminder from the Red Cross area director's spiel.
"I have a lot of older people and a lot of people who are disabled and all," she said of her mobile-home charges. "We're close to the refineries. I want to specifically find out about emergency evacuation plans. Medically, I have a lot of people on oxygen. If we lose power I need some kind of backup."
Unfortunately for folks like Riach, the daylong seminar stuck to the general, and more pointed audience questions weren't entertained, at least not until the last 15 minutes of the program, which were set aside for Q and A. Until she finds someone with an answer, Riach will just have to remain "vigilant" and "prepared."
We Have Our Issues
LOOKING BACK AT
25 YEARS OF L.A. WEEKLY
33 THINGS TO DO INSTEAD OF WATCHING THE WAR ON TV
1) Make love.
7) Buy a plane ticket to Europe and don't even think about canceling it.
14) Plant a tree.
21) Cruise Mulholland Drive at night. Look down at the Valley lights glittering like diamonds on black velvet. Ponder what this thrilling view tells you about American energy policy.
26) Slug anyone who says it's great how the '60s are back; otherwise, remain non-violent.
32) Form a local chapter of War Addicts Anonymous.
—John Powers, January 2, 1991
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