HACKENSACK, N.J. – A stun gun that looked like a cellphone was found aboard an empty JetBlue plane that landed at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday night, raising questions about how the concealed weapon made it past security checkpoints.
The FBI is investigating the apparent security lapse, authorities said Monday. The thin, rectangular device was found in a seat pocket by a worker cleaning the airplane after it arrived from Boston’s Logan International Airport. Authorities said it was probably left behind by a passenger.
The passenger assigned to the seat where the stun gun was found said Monday during a brief phone interview that it was not hers.
Authorities said the stun gun was most likely not intended as an in-flight weapon.
“We know who the passengers were, and based on preliminary information, it does not appear that an attack was imminent,” said Bryan Travers, spokesman for the Newark FBI office. “This was more of a case of someone bringing something on a plane that they shouldn’t have brought.”
Lawmakers look to reroute money
WASHINGTON – Congressional Republicans this week are sidetracking $1.5 billion in high-speed-rail funds already awarded to several states.
In an adroit maneuver, GOP lawmakers propose shifting the high-speed-rail dollars to pay for Midwestern disaster relief. The move would help ease the federal deficit while it underscores Republican resistance toward the Obama administration’s rail plans.
“The flooding in the Midwest has been devastating,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., adding that “we must be serious about controlling the deficit.”
If House Republicans succeed, California would lose $368 million. The Amtrak Northeast corridor would lose $795 million, and a Midwestern high-speed rail corridor linking Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis would lose $404 million.
The high-speed-rail grants were announced by the Transportation Department in May, after Florida had rejected the money. The checks, though, have not yet been sent.
“They’re taking after this because it’s sponsored by the president,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., complained Monday, adding that “I think it’s a real slap at California.”