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The Download: Eternal vigilance in Boston and beyond

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The death of Osama bin Laden changed little for Boston’s Logan International Airport, the launch point for the September 11 attacks almost ten years ago. Gov. Deval Patrick advised “an excess of caution,” and Boston police and transit officials stepped up security measures at the airport, the metro transportation network, and large sports and entertainment venues.

"Terrorism has many heads,” outgoing Massport CEO Thomas Kinton told The Boston Globe. Though terrorism experts disagree on timing, discussions at Logan have focused on the possibility of retaliation by Al Qaeda and its sympathizers in the wake of the Navy Seals’ textbook assault on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan.

The Berkshire Eagle calls Al Qaeda “a particularly dangerous wounded animal” and the Cape Cod Times sounds a similar note. The toughest challenge for aviation officials and local police forces is fighting the complacency that could creep in with the demise of the Al Qaeda leader who topped the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.

No specific threats have been made public, but police in most major cities have stepped up patrols and surveillance of tourist attractions and other possible targets. In an interesting move just two weeks before the Pakistan mission, the US Department of Homeland Security discarded its much-lampooned, color-coded security alerts for a simplified two-level threat alert system. Threats are either “imminent” meaning that a “credible, specific, and impending” danger has been identified or “elevated,” a lower designation.

Revenge is “part of the culture” of jihadists, according to Tawfik Hamid, who studies Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute, a Washington think tank. In an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, Hamid says that a terrorist attack causing “the maximum level of pain” could occur in the US “within the next two or three months.”

With Al Qaeda having connections to up to as many as 40 known terrorist groups, Gary LaFree, of the University of Maryland, says that the notorious terror group is “more like a franchise. And they are not going away.”

                                                                                                                                                                        --GABRIELLE GURLEY



BEACON HILL

The Globe previews the newest round in the gambling debate, which kicks-off with a State House hearing today. The latest line: a bunch of factors seem to be working in proponents’ favor, but, as always, it’s no sure thing.

Jury selection was completed yesterday in the corruption trial of former House speaker Sal DiMasi. Opening arguments are scheduled for tomorrow.

Governor’s Councilor Thomas Merrigan worries that the council’s behavior could bring about its demise. Sen. Brian Joyce, a longtime foe of the council, says its recent antics are “very helpful to my efforts to abolish this body.”

WBUR’s website has an AP story about Senate President Therese Murray’s call for performance-based budgeting.

Gov. Patrick, speaking on Radio Boston, reiterates his call for labor being at the table as municipal health care cuts are negotiated.

Rep. Donald Wong, a Saugus Republican, tells the Lynn Item he’s interested in cutting the state’s gas tax to reduce the cost of fuel, although he says he has to research what the gas tax is used for first.

A Boston Herald editorial backs Senate President Therese Murray’s effort to cut dead weight out of state government, but doubts anyone will actually put Murray’s bill to use.

The House says no cigar to Tom Menino’s efforts to say no cigar clubs in Boston.

More than one-quarter of all House members filed financial disclosures before voting on a municipal health care overhaul because they had family members who could be affected by the changes.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua dismisses “distractions” and says progress is being made in his troubled city, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The Globe covers his speech as well.

Salem School Superintendent William Cameron is stepping down to take a similar job in western Massachusetts, the Salem News reports.

Volunteers and anonymous donors have built a new community basketball court on the grounds of the Abington police station but National Grid wants $18,000 to relocate three power lines that hang over the new court.

Falmouth police ask town officials to cancel the July 4th fireworks display since the force doesn’t have the manpower to handle the event.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

You can bet this will be in the campaign literature: US Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who held a controversial congressional hearing on Islam and terrorism in his Homeland Security committee, pulled President Obama aside Monday after a briefing on the killing of Osama bin Laden and told him “I was proud he was the president.”

George W. Bush won’t join Obama at Ground Zero.

Pew’s fiscal think tank publishes a chart showing how and why the federal budget swung from surplus to the brink of catastrophe.

Oh, and it didn’t take too long for Congress to start bickering again.

ELECTION 2012

Sen. Scott Brown chides the League of Women Voters in a Herald op-ed column. The League recently launched television ads chiding Brown for voting against legislation that would allow the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide. The Salem News, in an editorial, sides with Brown, criticizing the League for departing from its traditional nonpartisan stance. Meanwhile, Boston magazine’s Paul Kix calls Brown’s recent announcement about going to Afghanistan “tacky pandering.”

The poll numbers are in, and Obama is enjoying a nine-point bin Laden bump. The Atlantic examines how that gain compares to other presidents’ foreign policy bumps.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The master developer at Southfield, the mixed-use project at the former Weymouth Naval Air Base, has signed a fourth deal for housing construction, a 226-apartment complex in three buildings.

EDUCATION

MIT grad and audio pioneer Amar Bose has donated the majority of his stock in his privately held Bose Corp. to his alma mater.
 
HEALTH CARE

James Mongan, the former president of Partners HealthCare and a major player in health care policy at the state and national level, died yesterday at 69.

US Rep. Paul Ryan’s anti-Obamacare budget contains the same type of freedom-squelching mandates it’s supposed to combat.

TRANSPORTATION

MBTA ridership was up 5 percent in March over the previous year, Universal Hub reports. A cheeky commenter asks “...is this more people? Or people trapped from the previous commute being counted again ... ;-).”

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Making official a 180-degree shift that has been in the works and has cheered environmentalists and rankled some in the renewable energy sector, state officials proposed new regulations yesterday that will make it much harder to license wood-burning “biomass” energy plants.

A youth soccer field in Salem is closed after the discovery of elevated levels of lead and cadmium, the Salem News reports.

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, at an NStar-MIT clean energy forum in Boston, says renewable energy needs price supports, but he’s not optimistic the government can develop a coherent strategy. “I’m kind of over the stage of arguing for a comprehensive energy policy,” Immelt says on NECN. “I’m back to just keeping my head down and working.”

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A woman hired to clean houses in several towns near the Rhode Island border has been charged by Mansfield police with cleaning out her clients’ jewelry boxes and other valuable items and selling them to pawn shops.

The Springfield Republican bemoans the fact that the Springfield police are frustrated in their efforts to curb outbreaks of gang violence since witnesses are reluctant to come forward.

The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams is considering arming campus police.

The MetroWest Daily News still has questions about a SWAT raid in Framingham that left one person dead.

MEDIA

Dan Kennedy parses the latest circulation numbers for the Globe and the Herald and the news isn’t good for the dead tree editions. One bright spot for newspapers is that tablets and smartphones are having a positive effect on luring paying customers as digital subscriptions for the top 25 newspaper publishers rose 20 percent, according to paidContent.org, a site that tracks industry trends.

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