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January  13

Oh Yeah, We Feel A Lot Safer Now

The headline in today's Star Ledger, "Montclair is Getting Safer"  seems to contradict what we've been hearing here at Baristanet over the last year. There was that rash of home burglaries over the holidays. Then, multiple break-ins on Christopher Street, as recently as this week. Baristanet is also still waiting for a call back from police departments for confirmation of an alleged car theft on Valley Road, and two alleged muggings near Bloomfield High. But if we believe the lies, damn lies and  statistics for 2005, the overall crime rate has fallen 8%.

"Burglaries .......fell from 250 to 214, a 14 percent reduction. Yet it's the second year of decline from 2003's break-in count of 282.  That represents a 24 percent decline in two years."

Well that's a relief....

January 13, 2006 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (13)

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October  21

Meningitis Scare In Baristaville

Update: While an email was sent home to parents of Glen Ridge high school students detailing how the Montclair Board of Health had identified a high school student as diagnosed with meningitis, we've just learned from Montclair BOE's Laura Federico that the student is not from Montclair, but from Glen Ridge. Despite any confusion the memo's wording may cause, if you have a high school student who might be friendly with kids from different schools, here's some good info regarding the disease and signs to watch out for:

The chance of your child also becoming ill with this disease is very small, however, in order to protect the health and safety of all students and staff, please read the following information carefully. Meningitis is an infection. The disease is spread by prolonged, close contact with someone who has the illness. The disease is spread by coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing cups, bottles, or eating utensils with the ill person. Even after exposure to the infection, it is very unusual to get infected, and it takes 2-10 days before symptoms appear. Symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, and a rash. These symptoms need immediate medical attention. Diagnosis can be made by laboratory tests of blood or spinal fluid. Early treatment is important. Vaccine is only used for some forms of meningitis, and is only used during an outbreak when there is more than one case of the disease. To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, common sense should be used. Frequent hand washing is important. Cover nose and mouth with tissues when coughing or sneezing. Avoid sharing eating utensils, toothbrushes, cups, drinking glasses, or water bottles. If you need more information on meningitis, please contact your family doctor or the Montclair Department of Health at 973-509-4980. Please do not call the school for information on the illness, or for an update on the infected student’s condition. School administrators will work closely with public health officials to keep you informed of the situation as necessary.

October 21, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (1)

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October   6

Worried?

News broke during this evening's rush hour of a "specific threat" against the New York City subways. Commuters, what did you see on the way home? And what do you plan to do tomorrow?

Subway Threat
Will you change any plans?

Yes
No


View Results

October 6, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (14)

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October   5

What, Us Worry?

At a family Rosh Hashana dinner last night, the Barista's son reminded us that, back in 2001, we wouldn't let him open or eat any of his Halloween candy until a week after Halloween -- a precaution based on the hysteria following 9/11 and the anthrax scare. With the miracle of Google, we just found the source of that particular bit of paranoia on the Hoaxbusters site. Of course, the Barista had forgotten the whole incident, but we can reconstruct our reasoning: let all the other kids eat their Halloween candy and if nobody dies within a week, it's probably safe for mine.

Well, that's just history. But if your paranoia needs any freshening up, here are two real news headlines today that can get you going.

  • Counter-terrorism coup.  This one's like something right out of an episode of "24." You know Jack's the only guy who can save the world, but the bureaucrats kick him out of CTU, or better yet, handcuff him and throw him in holding cell. In the real-world case, the story just broke of a major squabble over New Jersey's Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT). It involves a turf war between Acting Governor Codey and state attorney general Peter Harvey, and apparently stems from a charge of racial profiling by counter-terrorism agents. Yesterday, Codey signed an executive order bitch-slapping the Department of Law and Public Safety and adding members to the counter-terrorism effort.
  • Also on Codey's agenda yesterday, appointing a new Gang Land Task Force to root out street gangs that plague not just cities, but the suburbs. Members of the task force include Essex County Prosecutor Paula T. Dow and Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura. Consider this sentence in the governor's news release: "Police now report that there is gang activity taking place in 37 percent of municipalities that reported no street game presence during a similar survey done in 2001." Sheesh. And we thought we were worried then.

October 5, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (3)

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September  29

Sorry, We're Part of the Michael Brown School of Disaster Preparation

Local realtor Roberta Baldwin scares the bejesus out of us in her latest internet newsletter, with a link to a story about what documents every family should have ready in case the big one hits.

The story, found at bankrate.com, asks:

What would you do if you had five minutes to clear out of your house?

Five minutes to grab every crucial financial document before the house crumbles -- property titles, wills, insurance records, Social Security cards -- and you need to do it, even with all the chaos surrounding you.

Property titles? We don't know if we could find our property title (whatever that is) if we had a month to deal with a really slow-moving crabgrass infestation. Add property titles and insurance papers to the list of everything else we're supposed to have ready at all times: Power Bars, gallons of water, extra medications, flashlights.

Meanwhile, here's a list of things that FEMA forgot to have ready before Hurricane Katrina hit.

By the way, what's in your emergency kit? Wedding pictures? Or reading material for when you get stuck on I-80 going to Pennsylvania?

September 29, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (25)

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September  23

Creeps in Montclair?

Is it more urban legend hype or something that actually happened? We're waiting to hear back from Deputy Police Chief Roger Terry, but meanwhile, here's what's got us wondering. From a tipster parent...

Have you heard about this? During the Renaissance Back to School night, Principal Cobb announced that he had just got a call from the principal from Mt Hebron who asked him to share with the parents the following: Several students who walk home had been followed and approached by an individual who tried to engage the students. I approached Cobb later and asked for additional info and he said he didn't have any, and in fact was reluctant to share the little info he had because it was so vague.

September 23, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (3)

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September  15

Don't Read This at Bedtime

Three_blind_mice We all make mistakes, but losing three mice infected with deadly strains of the plague???

According to today's Star Ledger, that's exactly what happened just a few miles away at UMDNJ's bioterror research facility in Newark.

Officials said the animals could have been stolen from the center or simply misplaced in a colossal accounting error at one of the top-level bio-containment labs in the state.

The incident occurred more than two weeks ago and was confirmed only yesterday after questions were raised by The Star-Ledger.

The research lab is located on the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. It is run by the Public Health Research Institute, a leading center for research on infectious diseases, now participating in a six-year federal bio-defense project to find new vaccinations for the plague -- which federal officials fear could be used as a biological weapon.

(Props to the Prop for pointing us to the spilled beans).

September 15, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (30)

This is Only a Test

Glen Ridge plans to debut its reverse-911 calling system today, which will blast phone calls to residents in case of an emergency. This time, just a test. If you've registered on any Do Not Call lists, you need to register with the town here.

September 15, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (4)

Not What We Wanted to Be First In

News out today that Essex County has the highest per-capita cancer rates in the state of New Jersey. Nearly 40 of every 100,000 residents in Essex County die of cancer annually, compared to 33 of every 100,000 statewide.

The complete state profile on Essex County is here. (PDF)

(Thanks A.M. Korotkin.)

September 15, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (9)

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September   7

The Rumor That Won't Die

Barringer_high_school What's the scariest word in the language for people who live in Bloomfield? Apparently it's Barringer.

The rumor that Newark's Barringer High School is sending students to Bloomfield is hardier than crabgrass. It's a regular staple of the NJ.com Bloomfield message board and we even heard it last night, while standing in line at the West Orange Staples to buy school supplies.

Not only does school board member Ed Zilinski assure us it's not true, but we called over today to Barringer to see if they're sending students to Bloomfield. The answer: no.

September 7, 2005 in Paranoia Beat | Permalink | Comments (11)

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