News from around the state related to the terrorist attacks

By The Associated Press
Saturday September 29, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden Gate Bridge will reopen to pedestrian and bike traffic Monday, but for reduced hours. 

The bridge’s walkways and bike lanes will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. said Mary Currie, a bridge spokeswoman. she said it will remain closed during night hours for security reasons, as it has been since the this month’s terrorist attacks. 

Patrols by the California Highway Patrol and Coast Guard will continue, Currie said. The bridge will also keep running a bike shuttle service when the span is closed to bikes and pedestrians. 

Also reopening will be Vista Point on the bridge’s north side, as well as the southeast lot. 


SAN FRANCISCO — The FBI has requested the records of all 736 foreign students at Fresno State University, said California State University spokeswoman Colleen Bentley-Adler. 

Colleges and universities statewide have been approached by federal agents for records of specific students who are believed to be tied to this month’s terrorist attacks. 

At least one man, Ramez Noaman, has been taken into custody, Bentley-Adler said. Noaman was a student at California Polytechnic State University at Pomona since 1999 and also was taking business courses at San Diego State in fall of 2000. 

In the Bay Area, at least three schools — California State University at Hayward, Chabot Community College and the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo — have turned over students’ records. 

Seven of the 23 California State University campuses — Hayward, Maritime Academy, Fresno, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Pomona and San Diego— have been asked for student records. 

At most of the campuses, aside from the blanket request for records at Fresno and a request for records on 17 students at the Maritime Academy, the FBI asked for records for only one or two students, Bentley-Adler said. 


SARATOGA — Hundreds of South Bay residents awoke early Thursday morning to the sound of an aircraft that many feared was a terrorist attack. 

The plane was harmless, performing an annual check of electrical emissions from utility lines. The yearly check is mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. 

But emergency switchboards were inundated with 911 calls starting about 3 a.m. 

“We thought for sure it was a crop duster because it kept dipping and popping up, dipping and popping up,” said Lori Fox, a Saratoga resident. “We all started closing our windows and thought, ’This is it.”’ 

Chris Duros, owner of Flight Trax since 1989, said the airplane was flying at night because air space is far less congested. 

The plane covered an area in the South Bay that included Saratoga and neighboring cities. 

Fox said residents should have received prior notice of the flight. 


EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE — The military has canceled next month’s open house and air show due to safety, security and workload requirements. 

“While it’s important to provide American taxpayers demonstrations of current air power capabilities, conducting an open house safely at this time would divert critical resources from the war on terrorism,” base commander Maj. Gen. Doug Pearson said. 

The open house and air show were scheduled for Oct. 20-21. It annually draws up to 500,000 weekend spectators. 

The air show is among more than half a dozen others that have been canceled since the Sept. 11 attacks. 


INDIO — Rep. Mary Bono told elementary school students that the United States war on terrorism was genuine and the government is committed to “bring the bad guys to justice.” 

Bono, R-Palm Springs, on Thursday praised President Bush for building an international coalition to fight terrorism and his plan to beef up airport security while pushing Congress for a $15 billion bailout package for the cash-strapped airlines. 

“The most important thing is to tell these bad people that this is going to stop, and we’re going to make them stop,” Bono told about 40 students, teachers and parents gathered at Mountain Vista Elementary School. 

Principal Ann Reinhagen said parents are alarmed about reports that the terrorists may be considering chemical weapons in their attacks. Bono said officials were “starting to look at where we might be vulnerable and how we can protect our water and the air we breathe.” 

“I think our preparation has been lacking in the past,” Bono said. “I think we all knew terrorism would rear its head on American soil in the next 20 years. It just came a little sooner than we were prepared for.” 


LOS ANGELES — Firefighters have been selling up to 20,000 aluminum bracelets each day in a fund-raising effort for fallen heroes in New York. 

When city firefighter Kevin Lowe and Orange County firefighter Ray Hoffman initially ordered 3,000 bracelets, they wondered if they would be able to get rid of all of them. 

“That turned out not to be an issue at all,” Lowe said. 

Just days after word spread about the fund-raising effort, Lowe and Hoffman were selling 20,000 bracelets a day and by Thursday they had raised $300,000. 

“Our mail order is astronomical; we are receiving phone calls from all over the country,” Lowe said. “Our current manufacturer is producing 20,000 a day, and it’s not enough to deal with the demand.” 

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Hoffman telephoned Lowe to remind him about a Newport Beach police officer shot and killed a few years ago. Fellow officers had bracelets made, which were then sold to raise money for the fallen officer’s family. 

The brief brainstorming session soon led to the order for red, anodized aluminum bracelets, which are inscribed with two crossed axes, and the words: In Memory of our Fallen Heroes F.D.N.Y. 9-11-01. 

Money raised goes directly to the wives and children of the New York firefighters who died. 

“Fire departments and other agencies are like one big family,” Lowe said. 


SANTA BARBARA — Muslim students are heading home. 

Santa Barbara City College student Sari Asiri, who was beaten unconscious last week by two strangers, is returning to Saudi Arabia on Saturday. College officials said he was leaving at the urging of his parents, who fear for his safety. 

The 21-year-old was slashed and knocked out in as he walked on Calle Real on Sept. 17, a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. There were no arrests. 

The beating led other area foreign students to leave. 

Mesfer Alkaltham, a 26-year-old Saudi Arabian in the University of California, Santa Barbara, Extension-International Program, said he was cutting short a scholarship from his government to go back home. 

“Before, my family was happy for me to be here to get a higher education. But first you have to have the essential things in life, such as food, shelter and safety. Now we miss the basic things,” Alkaltham said. 

At City College, four students — two from Kuwait, one from Jordan and one from Saudi Arabia — are also leaving, said Derrick Banks, director of the international students support program at the school. There are still about 20 Middle Eastern students at City College. 

In addition, about 15 Middle Eastern students from Chico State University have withdrawn. Another five students from non-Arab countries have also withdrawn, including a Brazilian student whose mother was afraid. 


LONG BEACH — It turned out legendary flag-waver Thomas “Ski” Demski’s giant Old Glory was a poor fit at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport event featuring President Bush. 

Demski, known for his massive American flags that have flown at monuments and stadiums across the United States, traveled to Chicago late Tuesday after he was asked to bring one of his flags for display at O’Hare. 

Created in honor of the release of American hostages from Iran in 1981, the flag measures 47 feet by 82 feet and weighs 127 pounds. Demski said organizers didn’t provide a big enough space for the flag. 

“We were only able to unfurl the field, and maybe one stripe,” Demski said. 

He later packed up his flag and returned to Long Beach. 

“I guess I’m back to being a Democrat,” he laughed. “But it’s not the president’s fault.” 

Demski still plans to take the flag to New York, where he is arranging to have it fly at ground zero on Oct. 11. The New York Islanders contacted Demski asking him if they could use the flag for their opening game on Oct. 13.