In news that is both disturbing and not at all surprising, the Department of Homeland Security is currently asking private contractors to bid on a system that would create a National License Plate Recognition database that could allow various forms of law enforcement to track the movements of drivers, whether they are suspected of a crime or just going to buy a Big Gulp at 7-Eleven. [More]
The brave, chilly athletes representing the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia certainly need their protein. That’s why Chobani, maker of tasty strained yogurt products, was sending a large shipment of the stuff to Team USA in the Olympic Village. U.S. officials and Chobani lost their standoff with Russian bureaucracy, though, and the yogurt will not be allowed to enter the country. [More]
Going through customs after an international flight can sometimes be a hassle, but the line for passengers arriving back home in their country of residence usually moves much faster than those visitors from other nations. Try telling that to American travelers landing at DFW International in Texas, where some have spent hours and hours waiting in line just to clear customs. [More]
In general, we support complaining to a company when you didn’t get what you paid for, no matter how small the amount. It’s only fair. Even we have to admit, though, that a California man might have been better off not calling to check on the whereabouts of the packages he sent through FedEx to the Philippines. Law enforcement is glad that he did, though. Prosecutors say that the boxes contained three kilograms of methamphetamine and one hundred grams of cocaine. [More]
A family of four weren’t too pleased when they got off their flight from Israel to New Jersey to find that they had to pay a fine of $300 for five pieces of fruit — three cucumbers, an apple and a tomato — stashed in a backpack, even though the Customs agent could have chosen to just destroy the food. [More]
Customs agents at JFK International Airport in New York City have seized $9 million of pure opium hidden inside a shipment of acrylic cats. [More]
The American traveler who wouldn’t answer the questions of the passport control officer upon re-entry to these shores beyond the legally required minimum has posted a 10-point response to the over seven-hundred comments his story received. Long-story short: “The only absolute and unqualified right of citizenship is to residence within the territorial boundaries of the United States; a citizen cannot be either deported or denied reentry.” U.S. v. Valentine. [More]
If you love our recurring posts about people who won’t comply with stores demanding to see their receipts, you’ll go Lady GaGa over the American citizen who refuses to answer customs cops’ questions beyond the legally required bare minimum. [More]
Homeland Security’s dossier on all your the travel you’ve ever taken looks something like this.
Hank went on a cruise with his family to celebrate his grandmother’s 75th birthday. Because of a change in his work schedule, Hank had to leave early to return home to California. But when you’re a guest of Celebrity Cruises, YOU ARE A GUEST OF CELEBRITY CRUISES. There is no “return home” for you! Be quiet! Eat waffles!
Some visitors and citizens of the United States may be shocked to learn that their computers, cell phones and data devices are now subject to search and data retrieval upon entry into the U.S., even without cause or suspicion. On April 19th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that all computers and data devices are the same as luggage in that they can be searched without cause, and that all collected data may be stored indefinitely. More, inside…
Customs seizes 4,300 items each day from unsuspecting travelers, so read up on their regulations before jaunting off on vacation or they’ll seize your tasty goat when you return. Customs regulations aren’t as arbitrary as they seem, but they can’t be deciphered by common sense alone.
A few months earlier in the same airport, a tech engineer returning from a business trip to London objected when a federal agent asked him to type his password into his laptop computer. “This laptop doesn’t belong to me,” he remembers protesting. “It belongs to my company.” Eventually, he agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited, said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of calling attention to himself.
Inspections will not keep Americans safe from potentially dangerous foreign imports, according to a Presidential working group representing 12 federal agencies. The working group believes that the sheer number of products arriving at our ports – goods worth $2 trillion, last year – make the development and deployment of an inspection regime impossible. The alternative inspires little confidence.
The card, which allows computers to connect to a local area network, experienced a partial failure that started about 12:50 p.m. Saturday, slowing down the system, said Jennifer Connors, a chief in the office of field operations for the Customs and Border Protection agency.
Jim traveled to Miami to pick up a car he was importing from abroad. He booked stays at several hotels through Priceline and Hotels.com for the drive home, but when customs wouldn’t clear his car on schedule, Jim needed to change his plans. Priceline didn’t help, but Hotels.com did.
Ginger from customer care took my call. I explained my situation and let her know that I was aware that these cancellations were last minute, but asked if there was any way to cancel or get a voucher or possibly reschedule. Right away she told me that booking for the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel had a no cancellation policy, but offered to see what she could do. *Bonus* Before putting me on hold she let me know that it may take a long time, but reassured me that if I hung on she would be back. She was back about 5 minutes and told me that she was able to cancel the Sheraton and give me a full refund. She put me on hold again to look into the booking for today. A few minutes later she came back to let me know that she was able to cancel and refund that booking as well.
Jim’s full story, after the jump…
“It started out so innocently…”