NEW YORK — There was a brief scare Sunday afternoon after two workers became sick after opening a package in a mailroom at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Initial reports said the two men were exposed to a dangerous nerve gas, but thankfully that wasn’t actually the case.
Two Customs agents were forced to seek medical treatment and the airport’s central mail facility was locked down by the Port Authority officials, with an assist from the FBI “out of an abundance of caution,” Sunday after opening a package from China. There was an initial scare after ABC News and the New York Daily News reported the package that caused two workers to get sick initially tested positive for a dangerous potential weapon. “The package from China tentatively tested positive for VX nerve gas, which can be used as a weapon of mass destruction, according to a law enforcement source,” the Daily News reported, while ABC News was much more cautious: “Field tests showed an initial finding of nerve gas, though authorities believe it’s a low likelihood that it’s actually nerve gas,” they said. Terrifying, right? Everyone’s still on edge because of the terror threat situation, and this played right those fears.
But after the FBI performed more tests on the package, tension subsided when it was revealed there was no nerve gas at all. “There were initial reports that the package contained nerve gas, but officials have said it’s unlikely that the substance is the chemical weapon,” CBS New York reports. It turns out what made the two men sick was actually organophosphate, an ingredient in soda pop. “Phosphoric acid is a colorless liquid with a syrupy consistency used as an acidifying agent to give colas their flavor,” CNN explains. Newsday reports Port Authority officials dropped the package into a 55 gallon drum, just to be safe.
The two men are fine and receiving treatment at Franklin General Hospital. The other mail area employees are still being screened by the authorities to make sure they weren’t infected, too. Soda pop is still delicious, nerve gas is still scary, and everything is alright with the world. And the good news: the scare didn’t delay any flights.
Reprinted with permission from the Atlantic Wire. The original story can be found here.
What We're Following See More »
Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 drug offenders on Thursday. Most of the convicts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs or possession with intent to distribute. Many of the sentences were commuted to expire next year, but some will run longer. Others are required to enroll in residential drug treatment as a condition of their release.
The Department of Justice announced today it's charged "61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States through fraudulent schemes that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."
Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."