Nov 30, 2010

Twitter Feed Workin'

Now I'm posting a post about our Tweet which will then become another tweet about a post. Damn this is confusing stuff.

When To Have That Talk To Your Kids

Deaf beauty queen was text-messaging when hit by train

Deaf beauty contest winner Tara McAvoy was walking along the railroad tracks from her Austin, Texas, text-messaging family and friends, when a train struck her and killed her.

The 18-year-old was going to represent the Lone Star State at the Miss Deaf America Pageant in Palm Desert, California, this July.

It was one of many pageants McAvoy had entered, "both in the hearing community and in the deaf community," said Claire Bugen, superintendent of the Texas School for the Deaf, on Wednesday. McAvoy was a 2005 graduate of the school, where she played sports and acted in theater.

"She was a beautiful, bright, young deaf woman," said Bugen.

The Austin Police Department received a 911 call from Union-Pacific, which owns the train, at 2:18 p.m. Monday, said Laura Albrecht, spokesperson for the Austin Police Department. (Watch as witnesses describe accident -- 1:33)

"Our understanding is that she text-messaged the family, and yes, the family members were going to pick her up," Albrecht added.

McAvoy was walking northbound along the railroad ties, with her back to the train as it approached, said Austin Police Department detective David Fugitt. "We have information that she was text-messaging family and friends" at the time, he added.

A horn sounded, but "they weren't able to get a response" from her, Fugitt said.

"At that point, they activated their emergency braking system, but they weren't able to stop in time."

A snowplow -- commonly referred to as "cattle-guards" for pushing items away from the tracks to avoid train damage -- was what struck McAvoy, who was estimated to be "no more than a foot" from the tracks, Fugitt said.

"The snowplow extends approximately 16 inches on each side from the train," he said, and was mounted to the front engine of the train.

McAvoy died at the scene from "multiple traumatic injuries," Fugitt said.

Fugitt said there were witnesses who had heard the horn sound and that the police department was actively seeking anyone who had seen the accident occur.

"She will be sorely missed," said Laura Loeb-Hill, director of the Miss Deaf Texas Pageant, in an e-mail Wednesday. "Tara represented Texas with dignity and pride."

Nov 29, 2010

All that and a bag of chips

St. Louis Police say they will not press charges against a storeowner who shot a teen-ager in the ass. The woman caught three teens trying to steal potato chips, and when she told them to put them back, two complied, but the third one pulled a gun - so she pulled her own gun and shot him, police said.

The Second Amendment observing shop owner shot a would-be thief in the buttocks.

Myrtle Dunn, owner of Myrt's Northland Market, was justified in shooting the boy, who ran out of the store and then collapsed at the corner, police said. The boy was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Police said they will seek robbery charges against the teen. One of the other teens will face a petty theft charge. The other teen left the area on a bus before police arrived.

He fled - on a bus.

Unusual Godless Pass

You don't usually see God blamed for losing a game...

Stevie Johnson blames God for his mistakes.

Stevie Johnson was reluctant to accept responsibility for the gaffe, posting on his Twitter account post-game that it was in fact God's fault.


Nov 28, 2010

Wikileaks Releases More Truth

Wikileaks has released 250,000 secret messages sent by US embassies which give an insight into current American global concerns.

They include reports of some Arab leaders - including the Saudi king - urging the US to attack Iran and end its nuclear weapons program.

Other concerns include the security of Pakistani nuclear material that could be used to make an atomic weapon.

The widespread use of hacking by the Chinese government is also reported.

The leaked US embassy cables also reportedly include accounts of:

  • Corruption within the Afghan government, with concerns heightened when a senior official was found to be carrying more than $50m in cash on a foreign trip.

  • Bargaining to empty the Guantanamo Bay prison camp - including Slovenian diplomats being told to take in a freed prisoner if they wanted to secure a meeting with President Barack Obama.

  • The extraordinarily close relationship between Russian PM Vladimir Putin and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi.

  • Alleged links between the Russian government and organized crime.

  • American and South Korean officials' discussions about the prospects for a unified Korea should North Korea collapse as a viable state.

  • Sharply critical accounts of UK military operations in Afghanistan.
Everyone already knows that the Saudis, Jordanians and, hell, everyone else, are deeply suspicious about Iran's intentions. That's nothing new. What has not been known until now is how strongly they have been pressing for American military action.

The leaks do not tell the Iranians anything they did not suspect, maybe, have already figured out on their own. If anything, this opens up more discussion on the Iranian nuclear threat, and whether the US or the Israelis will have a green light to be the policeman of the Middle East.

Sure the leaks are embarrassing for the Americans, and will infuriate Arab leaders whose remarks have been quoted. But, they're out there now....

Despite the By DDoS Attack Just as Its Newest Leak is Leaked Early.

Sunday Comics: Week in Review

Somehow we made it through Thanksgiving. It wasn't easy. There were TSA agents greeting weary travelers... when they bothered to turn the scanners on. It's fairly easy to claim victory over opt-outers when you don't bother to follow your own rules.

We covered this a lot, but, well, it might be one of our last stands for the 4th Amendment.
There have been reports of a tad bit of a double standard going on. Apparently women in Burkas are exempt from screening. And mom always has good advice when it comes to your underwear.
Meantime, 9 years later, a conviction for something that happened before 9-11. And even as justice was finally being doled out - the media missed a couple points about the perp.
And here's a gem of a cartoon explaining why, today, there isn't peace in the Middle East. One of ten thousand reasons...
The Irish are now officially broke.
And speaking of broke, now we have a new poverty index - the Potter Index.
Between that and slaughtered turkeys and 20% off television sets that people camped out in freezing temperatures and slaughtered their neighbors for... not a terrible week. Hope to have the electricity to see you next week.

Nov 27, 2010

Tree Lighting Entrapment in Oregon.

Congratulations to the FBI! They have thwarted a bomb plot in Portland, Oregon! Yea! That they created... boo.

Because of the FBI's efforts, Mohamed Osman Mohamud was prevented from igniting a bomb at a Christmas Tree-lighting celebration. However, it was because of the FBI's efforts, that Mr. Mohamud, thought he was going to ignite that bomb in downtown Portland. There were explosives packed inside his van.

The public was never in danger, however, since the "bomb" had been provided to Mr. Mohamud by the FBI. I don't even know if Mr. Mohamed owned the van. That might have been the FBI's too. For all I know it said Flower's By Impulse.

We do know that the FBI did help him test a real bomb once - not at a tree lighting ceremony.

This is called entrapment.

Just like the case in Florida where they 'fooled' a group of morons to bomb the Sears Tower, and another ding-dong into leaving a wringer next to Wrigley Field a couple months back.

As the FBI builds their case by making an angry idiot into a pretend jihadist - are they just securing their job security?

They have given the citizens of Portland Oregon some Performance Art that will encourage them to waive off more of their rights, privacy, and property in the name of public safety.

In the words of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, "The system worked."

Everybody knows the dice are loaded.

Meanwhile in London

The kids are revolting... and it's over a tuition increase.

A Dark Anniversary

U.S. Now In Afghanistan Longer than the Soviets

The last Red Army troops left in 1989, driven out after nine years and 50 days by U.S.-backed fighters known as mujahedin. Despite contrasts, the U.S. and Soviet wars have common narrative elements.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Moscow — As wartime days go, Friday was a fairly quiet one in Afghanistan. Helicopters skittered across the sky; convoys rumbled along desert roads; soldiers in mountain outposts scanned the jagged peaks around them.

But one thing set the day apart: With its passing, the U.S. military's campaign in Afghanistan matched the Soviet Union's long and demoralizing sojourn in the nation.

Read more ....

In a completely unrelated note...

Afghanistan discovered an oilfield containing an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of crude in the north of the country, a Mines Ministry official said.

If proven, the resource would be more than 10 times the size of the country’s oil reserves, assessed at more than 150 million barrels by the U.S. Geological Survey. By comparison, Saudi Arabia had proven reserves of 264.6 billion barrels at the end of 2009, according to BP Plc data

“A huge oil resource, which looks like a triangle, with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil, has been discovered by Afghan geologists in cooperation with international geologists between Balkh and Sheberghan provinces,” Jawad Omar, a spokesman for the ministry, said.

The field is a new discovery and was not among those found by Russian exploration companies, Omar said. Further research will be carried out in the next six months and the field will be tendered once all investigations are completed.

The U.S., which has spent $27 billion since 2002 training Afghan forces, is promoting development of Afghan resources in an attempt to stabilize President Hamid Karzai’s government, U.S. Deputy Under-Secretary of State Paul Brinkley said earlier this year. Back in August U.S. President Barack Obama and Karzai discussed the need to jointly keep the pressure on the Taliban and to build Afghan capacity.

The country itself lacks local knowledge to get the oil itself, according to Sayed Masood, an economics professor at the University of Kabul .

“Lack of capacity, lack of capital, lack of skilled people means that Afghanistan cannot extract the reserves itself."

If only there was a country that had the military and the capacity to extract that oil and buy it to fuel their infrastructure?

Nov 26, 2010

12 Stitches

The White House says President Barack Obama has received 12 stitches in his lip after being hit during a pick up basketball game.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says the president was inadvertently struck by someone's elbow Friday.

Read more ....

Black Friday Maddness!

Two years ago, a temporary employee working at a Wal-Mart in New York was killed when frenzied Black Friday shoppers trampled, and then suffocated him. A crowd of 2,000 shoppers stormed the locked doors of the store, broke through, injured the workers trying to hold the shoppers back and killing Jdimytai Damour. The subsequent OSHA investigation resulted in $7,000 fine to Wal-Mart because although there exists no OSHA standard on crowd control, employers have a general duty to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards that could cause serious injury or death, and, OSHA argued, Wal-Mart should have been aware of the hazards present in a riled-up, bargain-hungry crowd and should have provided adequate crowd control measures. They had created the mob, and then were unable to anticipate a mob - or then control that mob.

Wal-Mart has spent millions of dollars fighting the citation, arguing that this is an expansive reading of OSHA’s general duty clause. The case is currently before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), and a decision is expected soon. Not in time for this Black Friday, though.

Retailers and the media actively whip up consumers with early store openings, “doorbuster deals” for the first customers, and news stories (and don't forget all that awesome free publicity on local and national news outlet) about people camping outside of stores days ahead. This atmosphere creates a deal-crazed mob that endangers employees and consumers. Recognizing this, OSHA has sent a letter to major retailers detailing security measures that they should take to avoid a similar tragedy. Suggestions include setting the waiting area back from the entrance to control entry, as well as including breaks and turns in the waiting line to avoid crowd swells and pushes from the rear. You may recognize this type of line from your bank or Disney World. OSHA also suggests removing carts and other instruments that could be used as a battering ram. Come on, people?

If you are planning to participate in Black Friday events, be safe, be respectful, and remember that it’s just a goddamned laptop. Why don't you morons who are whipped up into this murderous frenzy go and get some internet access? I casually found the Target Toy Story 3 DVD for the same price as the 'doorbuster' on Amazon. Triple bonus - not standing outside, waiting in line, or paying taxes.

Nov 25, 2010


"As we express our gratitude,
We must never forget that
the highest appreciation is not to utter words,
But to live by them."

~John Fitzgerald Kennedy
We wish
You and your loved ones
A Happy· and Thoughtful Thanksgiving.

Nov 24, 2010

4th Amendment Underwear


Now there's a way to protest those intrusive TSA X-ray scanners without saying a word. 4th Amendment Metallic ink-printed undershirts and underwear.

Assert your rights without saying a word. [click to order yours].

It should also add, "This message brought to you by the First Amendment. See Rear."

Optional: Have 1st amendment printed on back.

Maybe the 2nd as well? Oh, wait, that's what they're looking for in the first place.

DeLay Guilty

Tom DeLay, Ex-House Majority Leader, Found Guilty in Money-Laundering Trial

A Texas jury Wednesday found Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader and Texas political powerhouse, guilty in a money-laundering trial involving contributions to political campaigns. The verdict was the latest chapter in a long legal battle that forced Mr. DeLay to step down. The trial also opened a window on the world of campaign financing in Washington, as jurors heard testimony about large contributions flowing to Mr. DeLay from corporations seeking to influence him and junkets to posh resorts where the congressman would rub shoulders with lobbyists in return for donations.

[Read More]

Yes that's the Jack Abernoff - SIX YEAR trial.

So Here's The Deal...

It seems that anyone who is against having their three year old daughter or self to be either 1) photographed naked or 2) given an aggressive pat down by government agents - is to be considered a threat to the Patriot Act. And, anyone speaking out on the issue is a "moron." I actually read on the Facebook this morning...

"Prudes & paranoids exacerbate the stress of travel by getting in the way of angry people trying to see their families."

The response below was a pile of 'likes' and "ha ha... stupid people are stupid."

It seems it's all just a non issue anyway as the TSA has declared that 'Opt-Out Day' is a Bust. According to the TSA's "Blogger Bob," basically nobody is choosing to opt out of the advance screening at airports across the country despite "National Opt-Out Day". Some airports report zero opt-outs. So much for the uprising. []

So it seems Americans are shouting,
"Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death -- unless I have a plane to catch..."

~ Random American in line 2010.

Well, let me tell you why I'm jumping on this particular bandwagon. Yes, I know it's just playing into the hands of the fear mongers who want their buddies to get a government contract. I pointed that out earlier today... It's just that we're running dangerously low on "last" straws. If you look in-between some of those needles, you can probably count the straws that are left on one hand. The straw is what's left of the 'freedom' that the United States is not allowed to take away from you without due process.

We've already given up a lot of liberties with the Patriot Act. With the stroke of a pen, the Big Brother paranoid delusion got much more tangent and better funded. That's the day or two after the Towers Fell.

Prior to that, to anyone paying any attention, the government had already decided to trample their citizen's liberties and rights when they went to Ruby Ridge and attacked the Koresh Compound at Waco. Further liberties where whittled away after Timothy McVey and his unknown supporters responded to the government attacks on it's citizens with violence of their own. All that accomplished was an excuse for Mr. Clinton to sign both the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act [1994] and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. There's also that nasty little "Three Strikes" provision sandwiched in there somewhere. The forth amendment was handcuffed to the radiator while the ATF looked for evidence - without a warrant, just good faith - found none, and the 4th had no recourse to complain. Haven't heard much about the 4th standing up for itself much lately after that.

Warrant-less wiretaps and cameras on every intersection came next. A nifty side benefit, those cameras can actually pay for themselves if you make a right turn on red. Seriously, next time you're at a stoplight in a major city look carefully at the hardware on the line. I was casually told by a fireman that most of Chicago intersections are streaming a video feed.

Then we had the shoe and Christmas panty bomber attempts - both of these fine human beings boarded internationally. Both were thwarted by their fellow passengers - our true last line of defense. Justification for the "porno-scanners" even though security screening missed them and also the original 9/11 attackers? You bet.

Never mind the no-board list. That's a computer terminal hooked up to make it look like we're safer. Oh and those Air Marshals? All 4,000 Air Marshalls make 4 arrests per year. Not 4 per Air Marshall, 4 total. That's roughly $200,000,000 per arrest. Good job, men. Oh, and guys, please don't leave loaded weapons or full clips on the planes.

In the meantime - since America has Bi-Polar Disorder - Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was acquitted Wednesday of all but one count of conspiracy-related charges in a landmark civilian trial involving the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court. One count. Well, because if the prosecution had used certain evidence against him - it would have violated his Fifth Amendment rights.

So, a non-citizen, who was convicted of conspiring to kill 248 people - and the bomb he conspired to set off that 'accidentally' killed 248 people - was given Constitutional rights, and murdered 248 people... er, no, conspired to -- While a three year old natural born citizen of the United States is flagged to either be photographed or molested because a computer flagged him as a threat to national security on a domestic flight to see his grandma?

A non-citizen terrorist was given Constitutional rights,
while citizens are losing theirs.

The bad guys have made their point, their attack, and they are winning. They are killing the West with 1000 cuts -- and even boasted exactly that point the other day in a press release! With a mere $4,200 dollars in three BOTCHED attacks, they are bankrupting the West while we run the Constitution in the shredder so that they'll love us.
"To bring down America we do not need to strike big, with the security phobia that is sweeping America, it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch." Of the cargo attacks, the AP reports that the target was economic: "We knew that cargo planes are staffed by only a pilot and a co-pilot, so our objective was not to cause maximum casualties but to cause maximum losses to the American economy."
We're hemorrhaging our freedom. Our lifeblood. The Al Qaeda even called their new strategy "OPERATION HEMORRHAGE!"

But, hold on a tick - they're taking the credit for the Mortgage Crisis now? That's a little bold. It's not like they've got a Weather Dominator or - wait, maybe they'll take credit for Katrina too. Frankly, why are we afraid of these morons?

The bigger enemy is ourselves - and what we're allowing our government to take away from us, with nary a peep of discontent or displeasure.

If we don't pick a final straw and stand on it with all our might, we should just throw in the towel called Bill of Rights and just pay our taxes and die like we're supposed to.

Korean War Games

U.S. Carrier Heads For "War Games" In Korean Waters

The U.S. and South Korea prepared to hold joint war games this weekend following North Korea's shelling of a South-held island near their disputed border that ratcheted tensions on the peninsula to new highs.

The aircraft carrier George Washington was headed to Korean waters to join U.S. and South Korean vessels for previously scheduled military exercises to begin Sunday. The carrier left Japan and streamed toward the Yellow Sea, between the Korean peninsula and the Chinese coast.
[Read A Lot More]

How about we 'accidentally' smack the leadership with a couple of Tomahawk missiles? Not enough to re-ignite the Korean conflict, but enough to show them that we're getting tired of their behavior? I feel that the entire world has been treating North Korea like a 2 year old. China likes the rattle - saber rattle - that they shake every so often, and likes to show off how good they are with children by picking the monster up and giving it a sucker. Never mind it was China who gave her the matches to play with just two minutes before when no one was looking.

Everyone else in the world doesn't want to punish or spank North Korea - because if you think re-building Iraq and Afghanistan were expensive... North Korea is also a humanitarian disaster. And if we wanted to deal with that, we'd devote more resources to Haiti.. wouldn't we?

Most likely, we'll put them in a time-out again... and they'll do something stupid to get attention again... and then we'll just sigh, and threaten them with a long lecture and then they'll do it again.

When will we, the Koreans, China, or Japan put their foot down and teach them a lesson? I guess not until people die - oh, what, they were shelling civilians? And how many men died in that submarine sinking in April? 46 souls? Either the Koreans are very, very patient - or they're bad parents.

P.S. Ever wonder why the Iranians want nuclear weapons? Hell yeah, they see the North Koreans being little brats that get away with everything - and no one even bats an eye. They see this behavior and say, yeah, No fair! I want to act like that too!

TSA Outrage - Follow The Money

TSA Scanner Outrage

Follow the money. Who's making it, now?

Michael Chertoff, while he was the Head of Homeland Security under Bush, advocated and pushed for installation and implementation of the full-body scanners.
Once he was out of "public service", Chertoff's consulting company (Read: Lobbying Company) landed as a client, Rapiscan, the company that makes the scanners. There are multiple links to info about Chertoff and the scanner company. [Read more]

Don't act surprised when you see these things pop up at court houses, jails, and then museums and sporting events. Think I'm kidding? I wish!

The next step in tightened security could be on U.S. public transportation, trains and boats. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for U.S. vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary.

“[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,” Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on "Charlie Rose."[Read]

TSA Scanner Outrage - Who's beating the war drum to piss people off and make a big deal about it? Incoming House Transportation chief Rep. John Mica (R-Fla. [Full Story and his letter to Airports] Why? He wants private companies to be running the functions of the TSA. Why would he want that? Most likely, if you followed the money trail - I'm going to go on a wild guess and suggest that maybe he knows someone who - just maybe - would get the contract if some high powered new Transportation Chief could make the case that private security firm goons are only slightly less scary than government goons. Why else would he tell folks not to stage their protests on the day before Turkey Day?

My solution: Fly naked.

The Case Against the TSA

I was writing my own version of this - when I came across a much more in depth and thought out (his grammar was much more better than mine)

Here's the quick recap of the article:

1. The Fourth Amendment

2. Sexual Assault and Homeland Terrorism

3. Health Concerns of the Scanner technology. The Old Radiation King was never really tested...

4. Costs of the Scanners, the TSA agent training to use the scanners, and the TSA Agents Union.

5. Corruption. Who owns the company and the lobby agency trying to get these things everywhere?

6. Flying is safe (well, safer than driving) And the author points out you are eight times more likely to be killed by the police than by a terrorist.

7. Security Theater

8. The Procedures Make Us Less Safe.

Enough is enough.

A worthy read. [The full article: The Case Against the TSA]

Nov 23, 2010

Meanwhile In Iran...

Assembly Pushes to Oust Iran President

Iran's parliament revealed it planned to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime.

Lawmakers also launched a new petition to bring a debate on the president's impeachment, conservative newspapers reported Monday.

The reports of challenges to Mr. Ahmadinejad were intended as retorts to a powerful body of clerics that urged Mr. Khamenei to curb the parliament's authority and give greater clout to the president.

Read more ....

Philosoraptor on Terrorists

Jedi Thwarts TSA

The following story was sent to me from a reader... and after reading the story of the mother who had her child taken from her for 10 minutes, I thought this one to share. It comes from Matt from the blog Noblasters

He pulls a Jedi Mind Trick on the TSA on his way OUT of the Airport... By using Vulcan Logic. Please read, and also check out Matt's blog.

You Don’t Need to See His Identification

On November 21, 2010, I was allowed to enter the U.S. through an airport security checkpoint without being x-rayed or touched by a TSA officer. This post explains how.

Edit: Minor edits for clarity. I have uploaded the audio and it is available here.

This past Sunday, I was returning from a trip to Europe. I flew from Paris to Cincinnati, landing in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

As I got off my flight, I did all of the things that are normally requested from U.S. citizens returning from abroad. I filled out the customs declarations, confirmed that I hadn’t set foot on any farmland, and answered questions about the chocolates that I had purchased in Switzerland. While I don’t believe that these questions are necessary, I don’t mind answering them if it means some added security. They aren’t particularly intrusive. My passport was stamped, and I moved through customs a happy citizen returning home.

But wait – here was a second line to wait in.

This new line led to a TSA security checkpoint. You see, it is official TSA policy that people (both citizens and non-citizens alike) from international flights are screened as they enter the airport, despite the fact that they have already flown. Even before the new controversial security measures were put in place, I found this practice annoying. But now, as I looked past the 25 people waiting to get into their own country, I saw it: the dreaded Backscatter imaging machine.

Now, I’ve read a fair amount about the controversy surrounding the new TSA policies. I certainly don’t enjoy being treated like a terrorist in my own country, but I’m also not a die-hard constitutional rights advocate. However, for some reason, I was irked. Maybe it was the video of the 3-year old getting molested, maybe it was the sexual assault victim having to cry her way through getting groped, maybe it was the father watching teenage TSA officers joke about his attractive daughter. Whatever it was, this issue didn’t sit right with me. We shouldn’t be required to do this simply to get into our own country.

So, since I had nobody waiting for me at home and no connecting flight to catch, I had some free time. I decided to test my rights.

After putting all my stuff through the x-ray, I was asked to go through the Backscatter. I politely said that I didn’t want to. The technician quipped to his colleague, “We’ve got an opt-out.” They laughed. He turned back and started to explain.

After he finished, I said, “I understand what the pat-down entails, but I wanted to let you know that I do not give you permission to touch my genitals or the surrounding area. If you do, I will consider it assault.”

He called his manager over, who again informed me of the policy. Throughout this event, this happened quite a few times. After raising my concerns regarding the policy to an officer, they often simply quoted back the policy. For the sake of brevity, I will simply say “Policy restatement.”

I said, “I am aware that it is policy, but I disagree with the policy, and I think that it is unconstitutional. As a U.S. citizen, I have the right to move freely within my country as long as I can demonstrate proof of citizenship and have demonstrated no reasonable cause to be detained.”

Policy restatement. “You have two options – the Backscatter or the pat down. It is your choice, but those are the only ways you can go through security.”

I asked if I could speak to his manager.

“I’m the supervisor here.”

“Do you have a manager?”

“Yes, but he’s very far away at the moment. And he’ll say the same thing I am.” Policy restatement.

At this point, I took out my iPhone, activated the voice recorder, and asked The Supervisor, “Per my constitutional rights, I am not allowed to be detained without reasonable cause for arrest. Now, am I free to go?”

He answered, “If you leave, we will call the APD.”

I asked, “Who is the APD?”

“The Airport Police Department.”

I said, “Actually, that’s probably a good idea. Let’s call them and your manager.”

The Supervisor turned and walked away without saying anything. I stood and waited, chatting to The Technician about how they aren’t allowed to wear radiation badges, even though they work with radiation equipment. He said, “I think I’m a couple steps ahead of you regarding looking out for my own health.”

I stood and waited for 20 minutes. Two cops showed up. Big ones. I admit, I did not want to be handcuffed by these guys.

One cop was older than the other, but they were still clearly partners. Neither of them took the lead on answering my questions, and neither of them told the other what to do. They came over to me and asked me to explain the issue. I first showed them the iPhone. After I explained my position, they restated the policy to me.

I said, “Yes sir. I understand the policy, but I still disagree and I still don’t think that I can be made to do these searches in order to go home. Now am I free to go?”

They didn’t answer.

I repeated the question. “Since you are actual police officers and not simply TSA, I am sure you have had much more training on my rights as a U.S. citizen, so you understand what is at stake here. So, am I free to go? Or am I being detained?”

Young Cop answers, “You aren’t being detained, but you can’t go through there.”

“Isn’t that what detaining is? Preventing me from leaving?”

“You can leave if you want, but it has to be that direction.” He points back towards customs. Young Cop asks, “Why are you doing this?”

I explain that I’m worried that the Backscatter has unproven health risks. And that for all he knows, I might be a sexual assault victim and don’t feel like being touched. I say that the policy is needlessly invasive and it doesn’t provide any added security.

He asks, “But didn’t you go through this when you left on your flight?”

“Yes,” I say, grinning, “But I didn’t want to miss my flight then.”

The cops leave, and I stand around and wait some more. It should be noted that throughout this time, no fewer than 10 TSA officers and technicians are standing around, watching me. I was literally the only one still waiting to go through security.

The cops, The TSA Supervisor, and another guy were standing behind the checkpoint deliberating about something. I explained this to my iPhone and The Supervisor shouted, “Does that thing have video?”

“No sir. Just audio.” I was telling the truth – I’m still on an iPhone 3G.

After a while, Young Cop comes and asks me for my papers. My passport, my boarding pass, my driver’s license, and even a business card. I give him everything except the business card. He told me that he was just gathering information for the police report, which is standard procedure. I complied – I knew that this was indeed standard.

He left, and a Delta Airlines manager comes over and starts talking to me. He is clearly acting as a mediator. He asks what I would consent to, if given my options. I explain that I want the least intrusive possible solution that is required. I say, “I will not do anything that is not explicitly stated on recording as mandatory.” He leaves.

Let me pause and clarify the actors’ moods here, because they will soon start to change:

  • The Supervisor: Very standoffish. Sticking to policy, no exceptions.
  • The TSA Officials: Mainly amused. Not very concerned otherwise.
  • The Cops: Impartial observers and consultants. Possibly a bit frustrated that I’m creating the troubles, but being very professional and respectful regardless.
  • The Delta Supervisor: Trying to help me see the light. He doesn’t mind the work - he’s here all day anyway, so he’d rather spend it ensuring that his customer is happy.

After another wait, Old Cop returns, and asks me what I want. I tell him, “I want to go home without going through the Backscatter and without having my genitals touched. Those are my only two conditions. I will strip naked here if that is what it takes, but I don’t want to be touched.”

He offers as an alternative, “What if we were to escort you out with us? It would involve a pat-down, but it would be us doing it instead.”

“Would you touch my balls?”

“I don’t want to touch your – genital region, but my hand might brush against it.”

I clarify, “Well, like I said, I’ll do whatever you say is mandatory. If you tell me that you have to touch my balls—“

“—I said no such thing. You’re putting words in my mouth.”

“OK. I apologize. If you say that a pat-down is mandatory, and that as a condition of that pat-down, I may have my genitals brushed against by your hand, even though you don’t want to, I will do that. But only if you say it is mandatory.”

“I’m not going to say that.”

“OK. So am I free to go?”

“You are free to go in that direction.” He points back towards customs. Then he walks away to commune with the others.

My iPhone is running out of battery, so I take out my laptop, sit in a corner, and plug it in. I have some work to do anyway, so I pull up Excel and start chugging away for about 20 minutes.

This is where the turning point happens.

The cops come back and start talking with me. Again, they are asking why I’m doing it, don’t I have a connection to make, etc. They are acting more curious at this point – no longer trying to find a contradiction in my logic.

I eventually ask what would happen if I got up and left, and just walked through security. They shrugged. “We wouldn’t do anything on our own. We are only acting on behalf of the TSA. They are in charge of this area.”

“So if he told you to arrest me, you would? And if he didn’t, you wouldn’t?”

“That’s right,” Young Cop says.

“OK well then I think it is best if we all talk together as a group now. Can you call them over?”

The Supervisor returns, along with the Delta Manager. The Supervisor is quite visibly frustrated.

I explain, “The police have explained to me that it is your call on whether or not I am being detained. If I walked through that metal detector right now, you would have to ask them to arrest me in order for them to do anything.”

He starts to defer responsibility to the officers. They emphasize that no – they have no issue with me and they are only acting on his behalf. It is his jurisdiction. It is policy. They won’t detain me unless he tells them to.

So I emphasize the iPhone again, and ask,” So, if I were to get up, walk through the metal detector, and not have it go off, would you still have them arrest me?”

The Supervisor answers, “I can’t answer that question. That is no longer an option because you were selected for the Backscatter.”

“Well you can answer the question because it is a yes or no question. If I got up and left, would you have them arrest me?”

“I can’t answer that question.”

The moods have changed. The cops are now frustrated with him because he’s pawning off his decision-making responsibility to them. He’s stopping what is clearly a logical solution to the problem. Meanwhile, the Supervisor is just growing more and more furious with me.

In another deferment of responsibility (which he probably thought was an intimidation factor), “Well then I guess I’m just going to have to call the FSD.”

Unphased, I ask, “What’s the FSD?”

“The Federal Security Director.” And he walks away.

I can see him talking on the phone to the FSD – a man apparently named Paul – and I can only catch parts of the conversation:

  • “No, he’s been perfectly polite…”
  • “We tried that…”
  • “All he said was … Constitutional rights”

He walks over to Old Cop and hands him the phone. I can hear similar sound bites. They hang up, deliberate some more, and then wait some more.

Meanwhile, I’m typing away on my computer. Answering emails, working on my Excel model – things that I would have done at home regardless.

The Supervisor walks over and stands uncomfortably close to me. After typing for a bit more, I look up. His voice shakes, “I don’t know if I ever introduced myself.” He pulls out his badge. “My name is XXX XXX. Here is my badge. Now, I’ve shown you my credentials.”

Ah – he’s gotten the Miranda talk. I hide my smile.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to escort you out of the terminal to the public area. You are to stay with me at all times. Do you understand?”

“Will I be touched?”

“I can’t guarantee that, but I am going to escort you out.”

“OK. I will do this. But I will restate that I still do not give you permission to touch my genitals or the surrounding area. If you do, I will still consider it assault.”

“I understand.”

And then came the most ridiculous scene of which I’ve ever been a part. I gather my things – jacket, scarf, hat, briefcase, chocolates. We walk over to the staff entrance and he scans his badge to let me through. We walk down the long hallway that led back to the baggage claim area. We skip the escalators and moving walkways. As we walk, there are TSA officials stationed at apparent checkpoints along the route. As we pass them, they form part of the circle that is around me. By the end of the walk, I count 13 TSA officials and 2 uniformed police officers forming a circle around me. We reach the baggage claim area, and everyone stops at the orange line. The Supervisor grunts, “Have a nice day,” and leaves.

In order to enter the USA, I was never touched, I was never “Backscatted,” and I was never metal detected. In the end, it took 2.5 hours, but I proved that it is possible. I’m looking forward to my next flight on Wednesday.

You can email Matt here.

Korea Heating Up

North Korea Shells South In Fiercest Attack In Decades

INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) – North Korea fired scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing two soldiers, in one of the heaviest attacks on its neighbor since the Korean War ended in 1953.

The barrage -- the South fired back and sent a fighter jet to the area -- was close to a disputed maritime border on the west of the divided peninsula and the scene of deadly clashes in the past. South Korea was conducting military drills in the area at the time but said it had not been firing at the North.

Read more ....

Nov 22, 2010

Nothing to Fear, Citizen.

Government agent gets to second base by skipping first... and the movie and meal.

TSA Gone Wild

Trying to figure out exactly when this whole TSA security thing took your 4th Amendment rights away? Here's a handy graphic chart for you to follow. Click the image to see the full graphic.

Click here for full graphic!

Source: Criminal Justice Degree

Me, not only am I not planning on flying - which seems to be what the government wants: It's a massive conspiracy to make Americans get back on the Amtrak rails - I'm refusing to go through security, and will be hunkered down in the bunker.

I also think that profiling needs to make a strong, racist, comeback... Instead, for some reason, Napolitano my actually exempt Muslim women from ANY security screening. And children ought to get a handheld wand... not get molested. And using a private contractor instead of a government agency is like choosing to eat at Taco Bell instead of Burger King to get a 'balanced' diet.

Instead TSA now threatens $11,000 in fines against anyone refusing to submit to humiliation at the airport.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~Ben Franklin.
Here's the bottom line - it's called Security Theater. The real and actual last line of defense is the passengers themselves. The game changed on 9-11, and the passengers of United 93 recognized their hijacking wasn't a run of the mill use the hostages as collateral. The passengers were just collateral damage. They knew they were going to die in a fireball - and fought back. They should be remembered as patriots.

The shoe bomber and the panty bomber were both thwarted, not by the security screeners, but by the passengers on their flights.

Let's ditch the scanners and the theater. We either fly naked, or take our chances with freedom.

Nov 21, 2010

Suburban Collapse

Arcade Fire collaborated with Spike Jonze to create this weird, moving portrait of suburban life slowly going to hell as the military rounds people up. I've never seen anyone successfully create a wistful apocalyptic tone the way Jonze does here.

Arcade Fire's indie rock soundscape perfectly compliments Jonze's images of bored, innocently destructive teens in the suburbs riding bikes and play-fighting. But the tone begins to darken as we see smoke in the distance, and armed guards everywhere. Then we start to get flashes of people being rounded up at night by people with guns, while our teen protagonists try to lead normal lives - still playing with bikes, still working at a fast food joint.

It's an intense, emotional snippet, and I wish I could see a feature film that captured this same mix of teen aimlessness and social apocalypse. The best part? You never know if there really is some massive social breakdown going on, or if these trucks full of military guys and cops are just an ordinary part of the suburban landscape.

Contact Annalee Newitz, the author of this post, at

Sunday Comics: Week in Review

We made it. Finish line. It wasn't easy... but here we are. Smoke break, if you can handle the graphic images on your cigarette pack.

Earlier in the week, 82 year old re-elected Harlem Representative Charlie Rangle angled that he was a patsy, an idiot, and not as corrupt as everybody knows he is.
Didn't work out. He was censured.
In other Democrat news, Mr. Obama went all over the world and got his ass handed to him by the G20, NATO, South Korea, and China. Oh, and North Korea now has a 'shockingly sophisticated' uranium enrichment facility.
The Ben Bernank is under fire, rightfully, for his shortsighted pissing match with China because of his QE2 policy.
Ah, government, is there anything you can't do? I particularly enjoy the following cartoon. It kind of sums it up... The USA Bi-Polar Disorder.
But before I go on and on about how the Founders would have wanted it... or imagined it, you really kind of have to get back into their kind of thinking.... which is a spider infested pot of yuck.Oh, and you fans of reality show television - World Championship GoldDigger Competition had it's Finale this week. Congratulations to the winner. She must be very happy!
Hope to see you next week!

Nov 20, 2010

Daisy 2010

It’s from the American Values Network, a hard-left progressive faith group:

Burns Strider, the group’s founder, was a former aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and was a faith advisor to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. In other words, this is a Democratic ad blitz using the most outlandish fearmongering imaginable. The original “Daisy Girl” ran at the height of the Cold War. It came in response to Barry Goldwater’s bellicose comments on the use of nuclear weapons against the Soviets. There’s little of that kind of rhetoric in today’s GOP — and we’re not on the brink of a nuclear holocaust — and the ad’s claims on inspections under the new START are entirely dependent on Moscow’s compliance and transparency. When Obama signed the treaty in April, our Czech allies dissed it as “appeasing Russia.” “Trust Russia on START?”

Now, in case you missed it, here's the original scare the hell out of you ad from LBJ's camp against Barry Goldwater.


Tony Hawk!? More like Tony Parakeet!

Did you know that Tony Hawk was once known as the Birdman? Hmmm?

Nov 19, 2010

Poop and where to put all that poop

So I heard that LA County Board of Supervisors was going to ban the plastic bag .

Made me wonder - what are dog owners going to do with all that poop?

Specifically, dog poop?

Yes, I'm aware of the greatest irony that a non-bio-degradable petroleum product is used to encase the most bio-degradable product and then shipped and encased in a landfill where it most likely will bond to create some type of super virus capable of killing us all -- but, golly, they are really good at getting dog poop off your neighbor's lawn.

So one would expect that there will be bio-friendly poop bags popping up in LA stores and other pet supply establishments. More likely much more expensive than we're accustomed to. Sure, dog owners could purchase reusable wood and metal pooper-scoopers on long sticks, that last for years and don't involve handling warm poop with one's hands, albeit through plastic. These may not be as convenient as the disposable bags but they are worth it. And, then, I guess folks will either curb that s#*t or put it in their manicured lawns?

Once again, some county government group, with good intentions are training their constituents to unlearn bad behavior.We can't do this without the nanny government to forcing the issue? Now, can we talk about something besides poop? Doesn't LA government have a couple more pressing issues on their schedule right now?