February 2004 (v6 i4)
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Giant asteroid to eventually impact Earth
Terror alert system raised to "severe"
by J.J. Hermes, Design Director

WASHINGTON, DC — Tom Ridge announced Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security has raised the terror alert system from "Elevated" yellow to "Severe" red, citing evidence that an impending asteroid could cause cataclysmic damage to America and its interests abroad. The move marks the first time the terror level has been elevated since last December, when America was placed on a higher alert as a result of the holiday season.

"Sources within the government are citing a statistical certainty that the Earth will eventually be struck by a giant asteroid," said Ridge. "As a result of this mounting evidence, I am placing America on a higher alert, asking citizens to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local authorities."

The announcement came at a press conference in the White House that drew much media attention, a move appreciated by the 24-hour news channels suffering from a streak of slow news days.

"Although we do not know of the specific magnitude or location of this threat, we feel that its danger is imminent and Americans should remain on their guard," said Ridge. NASA leaders then added their professional assessments of the situation.

"Much like the disaster unleashed upon Jupiter by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, or the likely impact of an asteroid in the Cretaceous period that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, extraterrestrial debris has a high probability of doing extensive damage to Earth," said NASA's Senior Cosmic Hazard Advisor Ray Macallion. "Although there do not appear to be any asteroids heading in our direction at this exact moment, the possibility always exists that one could fall under our radar, so to speak, and bring the world a terrific and cataclysmic disaster."

Another NASA scientist presented a different scenario.

"I think it is a little too soon to jump into a panic about an asteroid headed towards us," said NASA engineer Nathan Jones. "It's a definite possibility, but it is highly unlikely to affect our generation."

"A direct consequence of the vastness of space—"

"Is that locating specific asteroids on a potential collision course with our planet is quite difficult," finished Ridge, while Jones was escorted off stage by administration officials.

Ridge then responded to questions concerning the changes Americans should expect. "The new threat index is likely to bring about some minor changes in passenger screenings and public surveillance. But Americans should be fully willing to cooperate for their own safety to keep their country strong and secure from impending attacks."

Ridge concluded the conference by urging Americans to go out and live their days like any other, advising Americans "not to waver in the face of this looming threat, but to come together and stand as one."
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