U. S. State Department Holding Special Passport Acceptance Fairs

The U. S. State Department will be hosting special passport fairs across the United States to help U. S. citizens apply for passports. Most events are for first-time customers and children using Form DS-11 to apply. The State Department recommends those that are eligible to renew their passport should do so by mail. 

Upcoming events

Broward County Clerk of CourtFt. LauderdaleFLSat, Jun 58am-2pmNo
Cedar County Recorder’s OfficeTiptonIATue, Jun 810am-5pmNo
Visalia Main Post OfficeVisaliaCASat, Jun 199am-2pmNo
Lyndhurst Community Center (Tontine & Riverside Ave.)LyndhurstNJMon, Jun 2110am-2pmNo
Cedar County Recorder’s OfficeTiptonIATue, Jun 2210am-5pmNo
Broward County Clerk of CourtFt. LauderdaleFLSat, Jun 268am-2pmNo
Fort Lee Recreation Center (1500 8th St.)Fort LeeNJMon, Jun 2810am-2pmNo
Special Passport Acceptance Fairs Locations and Dates

Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office Releases Video of Rail Station Shooter

On 05/26/2021 at approximately 06:34am local time, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Deputies were dispatched to an Active Shooter call, located at 101 West Younger Ave, San Jose – a rail yard. The video depicts deputies and officers responding to the incident. The suspect was later pronounced deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. There were a total of 10 casualties as a result of this tragic incident, one of them was the suspect.

Video TW: Gun Violence

Returning to the United States on an Expired U.S. Passport Possible in Temporary Exemption

The Biden administration is allowing U. S. citizens with expired passports to return to the U. S. Citizens with recently expired passports will be able to return until the end of the year. There were more than usual due to the pandemic.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will accept for admission certain expired U.S. passports, thereby assisting U.S. citizens who have been affected by appointment backlogs at embassies and consulates overseas caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” a notice issued early this week said. “Recently expired passports cannot be used to travel from the United States to an international destination or to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.”

Not all expired passports will be eligible for the temporary waiver. All travelers should check to see if they are eligible before firming up travel arrangements.

To qualify for this exception you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • Flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • The expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • The expired passport is undamaged.
  • The expired passport is unaltered.
  • The expired passport is in your possession.

More information is available on the U. S. State Department website.

Shooting at San Jose, California Rail Yard Leaves Eight Dead

An employee who worked for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority opened fire killing eight people and injuring others, most employees of the V.T.A. on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. That worker, Samuel Cassidy, had been employed there for at least 10 years. The shooting caused chaos as buildings were evacuated and the light rail service suspended. The area was swept for explosives. Nearby, at the shooter’s home, a fire erupted at the time of the incident. Police responded to the shooting and upon their arrival, the shooter allegedly turned his gun on himself.

The shootings took place in the rail yard where maintenance, storage and dispatch is conducted for rail transport that services Silicon Valley. “It begs the damn question, what the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press conference shortly after the event.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

The entire area around the facility was being searched for explosive devices that may have been left in or around the buildings.

VERIFLY’S Digital Wallet to Accept Vaccine Health Credential Globally

VeriFLY, a digital wallet created to help travelers and event attendees quickly meet their destination’s COVID-19 requirements, is now offering the ability to upload vaccination cards as part of their secure digital health credentials.

“VeriFLY is committed to establishing digital interfaces to global sources of verifiable clinical information, including proof of vaccines, as they become available,” said Daon CEO Tom Grissen. “To ensure the equitable inclusion of all travelers in meeting their current COVID-19 requirements, VeriFLY is immediately offering the ability to upload vaccination cards as part of their secure digital health credentials to ensure a digital divide does not exacerbate health inequities.”

The VeriFLY app continues to grow in popularity around the world. Now with more than 800,000 active users departing from more than 60 countries on six continents, VeriFLY provides clear information in one place that customers and governments can trust. It enables customers to complete all travel requirements in one simple app while securing data and safeguarding confidential information.

“We are gratified that travelers and event attendees around the world have turned to VeriFLY to assist in their life journeys as we begin to see a return to normalcy,” Grissen added. “The VeriFLY app will help not only with air travel, but also at conventions, sporting events and concerts. We envision a world where your VeriFLY digital wallet will provide access to the places you and your family want to visit. And the ability to accept a vaccine health credential will accelerate opportunities to resume activities we’ve all dearly missed.”

Starting today, American Airlines – the first airline to offer VeriFLY to its customers – will provide travelers the option to use the VeriFLY app to securely upload their vaccine documentation for travel to El Salvador, Guatemala and the Bahamas. Travelers can simply upload a photo of both sides of their COVID-19 vaccine record into the app. The VeriFLY team will review that all documentation meets the destination requirements.

Grissen noted that Daon has trained professionals that can analyze vaccination cards prior to a customer arriving at the airport, giving them a streamlined travel experience.

“Daon’s design team is using digital comparative analysis in combination with human review to help guard against the use of fraudulent documents,” Grissen added. “As more and more travelers upload vaccination cards and test results our algorithms will only get more accurate and effective. We believe we can train our algorithms to help combat fraud at scale, however, the ultimate goal should be for government and other parties to come together and create sources of verifiable credentials. As an industry leader for more than 20 years, we feel Daon can play a role in bringing these parties together.”

Press Release

Allied Universal Seeks to Hire 35,000 Security Professionals in US Over the Next Two Months

Global security and facility services company, Allied Universal, is seeking to hire more than 35,000 security professionals, administrative and managerial staff to fill positions over the next two months. Recently, Allied Universal joined forces with London-based global security provider G4S and is now the 3rd largest employer in North America. The company’s goal is to seek security professionals to support its local operations in communities across the nation. Allied Universal is offering hiring bonuses to new employees in select states across the United States.

“It’s an exciting time to join Allied Universal as the sky is the limit in terms of career opportunities and growth,” said Don Tefft, Jr., chief human resources officer, Allied Universal. “Our security professionals play a pivotal role in serving and safeguarding our customers and communities in our ever-changing world.” 

Allied Universal is offering regular and temporary, full-time and part-time opportunities, and these open positions include security professionals, client and account managers, site supervisors, and other functional roles within human resources, sales, finance and IT.  
     
Allied Universal employs a virtual interview process where applicants can complete the company’s online application from the comfort of their home through highly advanced video interviewing technology. The company is looking for individuals who are dependable and trustworthy and offer superior customer services skills. 

“Allied Universal offers so much more than just a job — we offer careers,” said Tefft. “We have countless examples of employees who began their career as security professionals and today, are members of our senior management team, working in all facets of the organization.”

Veridos Reaches Mid-Point and First Results in D4FLY Project

Two years ago, the EU-funded “D4FLY” project started, with the aim of improving document and identity verification techniques at border-crossing points. One of the objectives is to speed up the border control process for travelers while ensuring high verification accuracy and security. In addition to contributing to several work packages, Veridos is the overall coordinator of the project. At the halfway point of the project, D4FLY has achieved its first positive results, despite challenges due to the ongoing pandemic.

Passport control can be a time-consuming and stressful process for travelers and border control officers alike. The D4FLY project, which is funded by the EU research framework program Horizon 2020, is therefore researching new solutions for innovative identity verification at border crossings.

Integrated identity solutions provider Veridos has been coordinating the project since 2019, working with 18 partners, including representatives from border control authorities, universities, research institutes and industrial companies. The vision is a seamless on-the-fly border control solution that allows faster identity verification with high accuracy. 

One focus area covers the evaluation and advancement of biometric technologies such as iris verification “on the move,” 3D face image verification and somatotype analysis based on a full-body image. In combination, such methods support rapid identity verification with a very high level of accuracy and security – without the need for the traveler to stop in front of a device.

Multi-biometric verification and biometric fusion technologies form the design basis of a secure “biometric corridor” that can significantly speed up border controls. The process for travelers is simple and fully compliant with EU data protection and privacy regulations. Before starting their journey, passengers register at special enrollment kiosks to verify their identity and capture the required biometric characteristics. Then, as travelers approach the checkpoint at their destination, they can simply walk through a biometric corridor. There, multiple sensors are installed to check the captured data against the previously captured reference data, for a secure and very fast verification. 

The first prototype of such a biometric corridor has been designed and initial promising results have been achieved, however, the technologies must be continuously developed to prevent misuse and manipulation. D4FLY is therefore also investigating techniques for the detection of presentation attacks, in which, for example, face masks are used to circumvent biometric verification technology.

“Veridos has implemented many state-of-the-art border control solutions around the world. With D4FLY, we strengthen our knowledge in the latest verification technologies and guarantee the delivery of future-proof-solutions,” explains Andreas Räschmeier, CEO of Veridos. He continues: “For instance, within D4FLY Veridos is leading the research into the use of iris recognition on the move. The iris has proven to be a great biometric feature because it does not change throughout a person’s lifetime, it is unique, and it allows touchless verification even while the person is moving.”

The project is initially scheduled to run until August 2022. In a future phase of the project, research and development around the authentication of travelers and document verification will be further advanced. 

27 Dead after Metro Infrastructure Fails in Mexico City

At least 27 people were killed and more than 65 others injured when part of the infrastructure of an overpass failed and train cars fell from it. The incident occurred Monday, May 3, near the Los Olivos metro station in Mexico City.

First responders worked all night to free passengers trapped by the incident. Train cars were hanging in mid-air. The overpass collapsed onto a road below. Reports say a support beam gave way, leading to the collapse.

“What happened today with the metro is a terrible tragedy. My solidarity with the victims and their families,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City’s former mayor and current foreign minister said. “Of course, the causes must be investigated and responsibilities defined. I reiterate I am at the disposal of authorities to help in whatever is necessary.” Ebrard was mayor when the metro was built.

The current mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum said, “We are in agreement to get to the bottom of this and work together to find the truth and know what caused this incident.”

The Sheinbaum and Ebrard are both touted as potential candidates for the presidency of Mexico.

Pair Were Charged with Interfering with Safety on Railroad Tracks

Two people arrested on the BNSF Railway tracks near Bellingham, Whatcom County, were charged with terrorist attack and other violence against a railroad carrier, and appeared in federal court today, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  Samantha Brooks, 27, and Ellen Reiche, 23, both of Bellingham, Wash., were arrested Saturday night in Bellingham as they allegedly placed a ‘shunt’ on the tracks.  A shunt disrupts the low level electrical current on the tracks and can disable various safety features. 

“Since January there have been 41 incidents of shunts placed on the BNSF tracks in Whatcom and Skagit counties—causing crossing guards to malfunction, interfering with automatic braking systems, and, in one case, causing the near-derailment of tanks of hazardous chemicals,” said U.S. Attorney Moran.  “These crimes endanger our community.  I commend the agents from Customs and Border Protection, FBI, BNSF Police, and state and local partners who prioritized stopping this criminal conduct.”

According to the criminal complaint, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has been investigating the placement of shunts on the BNSF tracks since January 19, 2020.  The shunt is comprised of wire and magnets that are stretched between the tracks, disrupting the systems that indicate a train is on the tracks.  On ten occasions, shunts were placed in areas that disrupt the crossing guards where the tracks cross streets, so vehicles could have tried to cross the tracks unaware of the oncoming train.  On the night of October 11, 2020, multiple shunts were placed in three different locations in Whatcom and Skagit Counties.  The shunts triggered an automatic braking system on a train that was transporting hazardous and combustible material.  The emergency braking then caused a portion of the train to decouple from the engine.  Decoupling has the potential to cause a derailment—in this case—of tanker cars of flammable gas in a residential area. 

Shortly after the first shunts were discovered in January, a claim of responsibility was published on an anarchist website.

On Saturday night, November 28, 2020, BNSF Police observed video surveillance of two people kneeling on the tracks near a crossing in Bellingham.  Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.  The defendants were detained for trespassing, and a shunt was found on the tracks near where they had been observed on surveillance.  The defendants had a paper bag containing wire, a drill with a brush head, and rubber gloves.  The wire was similar to the wire used in the shunting incidents.  The shunt that was placed on the tracks would have interfered with the railroad crossing guard at Cliffside Drive in Bellingham.

Terrorist attack on a railroad facility is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes agents from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in connection with the BNSF Railway Police.  Critical investigative assistance is being provided by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods.

Former TSA Administrator Joins WhiteFox Advisory Board

WhiteFox Defense Technologies, Inc., the global leader in drone airspace security, adds Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger, former head of TSA, to its Advisory Board. Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger (USCG retired) enjoyed a distinguished career in the U.S. Coast Guard. He served as the 29th Vice Commandant until June 2015 when the U.S. Senate confirmed him to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a position he held until January 2017. He was named one of the 25 most influential business travel executives of 2016 by Business Travel News after leading a complete TSA transformation.

Admiral Neffenger holds an MPA from Harvard University, an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, an M.A. in Business Management from Central Michigan University, and a B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University, from where he recently received an honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Public Service).

He is a two-time recipient of the Department of Homeland Security’s Distinguished Service Medal; Distinguished Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative; Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center; Distinguished Senior Fellow at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute; and member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.

“Remotely controlled consumer drones are becoming ever more capable and available, heightening concerns about airspace safety and security. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the innovative, unique, and cost-effective solutions the WhiteFox team has brought to the challenge of real-time tracking, identifying, and cataloging of drones operating in critical airspace. WhiteFox is a true game-changer for air domain awareness with respect to drones,” says Neffenger.

“Admiral Neffenger has a long and distinguished career protecting against emerging threats. As WhiteFox scales the successes it has across the transportation industry, Admiral Neffenger offers deep insights into supporting military and commercial airports, seaports, railways, and other points of entry into countries.” shares Luke Fox, CEO of WhiteFox. “On behalf of WhiteFox, we welcome Admiral Neffenger to the team as he furthers our mission to safely and securely integrate drones into sensitive airspace worldwide.”

Headquartered in California, WhiteFox’s mission is to keep the sky open for responsible pilots by creating solutions that advance drone technology for a better world. As the global leader in pioneering the safe integration of drones into society and offering worldwide drone airspace security solutions, WhiteFox is securing trusted autonomy through transparency and accountability in our skies. Find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.