Tuesday, August 01, 2006


From our international correspondent
A New Zealand man who prompted a terrorist alert at JFK Airport in New York has described the incident as "a storm in a paper cup." The Moenui man, Frank Lush who regularly offers comment for the Kiwi Herald, caused the incident during an altercation over the unavailability of tea at an airport diner.
An angry Mr Lush apparently told counter staff that he would "have any kind of bloody day" he liked and that "the entire airport ought to have a bomb put under it." The latter comment prompted an alert involving armed security and a SWAT team.
According to Mr Lush who is in New York for the wedding of his son Frank Lush Junior, the trouble began when he arrived in New York after an 18 hour flight "suffering from severe nicotine deprivation."
"I get off the plane and sprint to Immigration Control full of anticipation only to find myself with a thousand and six other poor sods coralled at the US equivalent of the old Westfield Meat Works holding pens. I can tell you that after an hour and a half amongst the huddled masses I'm thinking the butchers blade can't come soon enough. What makes it worse is I'm in the middle of a bunch of folks from the Middle East and thereabouts who are goggle-eyed at this big TV screen showing breaking news of dead Lebanese kids and their weeping Mums and Dads. Watching this stuff and the faces of my fellow visitors I'm wondering 'Who is the half-wit in charge here? At the head of the queue they're trying to detect the terrorists while all the way up the terrorists are being created.' No kidding between the craving I've got and watching the news with these nice people I'm pretty well ready to join a jihad myself," said Lush.
"So when I finally get to the bloke with the stamp and discover that I have to give my fingerprints and have my photo taken for the American version of the Wanganui computer I'm not happy but I comply. Even when the man in the uniform makes smart-arse remarks about my reading skills and hands one of the forms back a couple of times because I've not filled in properly I focus on the joyful first inhale of the Port Royal roll-your-own I've got in my breast pocket and try to smile."
Lush said that once he got through Immigration Control he went to the baggage claim area only to find no sign of his luggage.
"It takes a good 45 minutes, of looking and looking and finding someone whose responsibility it is to talk to me, before I find myself at a desk labelled 'Baggage Irregularities' where I learn from a lovely young girl who speaks about seven languages that my details will be processed along with hundreds of others who have suffered the same fate in the last 24 hours: people whose lives have been sent on to Paris or Papeete or some windswept airport in Uzbekistan.
"I do not, you understand say anything negative to this woman, who looks like she wishes she was at the beach with a copy of 'Australian Woman's Weekly' (the American edition.) It is when I get through Customs and to the Diner where I plan to buy a nice cuppa to take outside with my smoke that I lose it."
"Here in the land that sent Armstrong to the Moon and bore Loius Armstrong and Martin Luther they don't do a cup of ordinary gumboot tea. They have a list of drinks as long as your arm which you need a bloody science degree to decipher but they can't make a cup of tea. Strewth. I order a cup of black coffee and then it happens. The bloke hands me a paper cup of watery coffee that scolds my hand and says 'Have a nice day.' I say with a smile, 'Thankyou but I'll have any kind of day I want.'
Mr Lush says that from that point 'things turned to custard' with the Diner owner telling him to return to Australia where it was inferred he indulged in an illegal relationship with his mother. Mr Lush replied that he had 'only been in the country for 5 minutes' but that this was long enough for him to know 'that this bloody airport needs a bomb under it and I'm just the boke to do it so hold your tongue or you'll get a Moenui mihi.'
Very shortly after this Mr Lush was escorted from the airport under armed guard.
When the Kiwi Herald spoke to him early today Mr Lush said he had been told by the NYPD Police Inspector in charge of his case that he would not be visiting Cuba and would probably be released soon. "We get on like a house on fire'" said Lush. "Seems his old man spent some time in Godzone with the US Army during WW2. Even travelled the North a bit on some R &R. It's a bloody small world. Who knows we could be related."

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