Apparently the only way for a terrorist to plant a bomb on any of the thousands and thousands miles of completely unsecured railroad track in this country is to actually be a passenger on a train — specifically an Amtrak train. Thus, Senator Chuck Schumer of NY has figured out a way to keep our entire rail system safe: A “no-ride list.” [More]
If you’ve ever wondered why some federal court jurisdictions refused to allow cell phones on the premises, the answer lies partially in the potential threat of your technological doohickies. [More]
Like it or not, advanced imaging technology (AIT)–capable of producing highly detailed pics of your naked body–is expanding rapidly throughout U.S. airports. Last month, there were at least 142 AIT units deployed in eleven airports, but by the end of the year that will jump to more than 450 nationwide, spread across at least forty airports (see full list below). The TSA has tried to downplay privacy issues by saying that the units won’t save images, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t. In fact, the U.S. Marshals Service in Florida says they’ve got over 35,000 AIT scans of people saved. They also say that an AIT unit tested in the Washington, D.C. federal courthouse was sent back to the manufacturer with images still stored on it. [More]
Over at JoeSugarman.com, Joe writes that on his way home from a seminar in Austin, he settled into his first class seat–he’s what United Airlines calls a 1K traveler because he flies over 100,000 miles with them every year–and asked the flight attendant, “Are you serving any meals during our flight?” A few minutes later, he writes, “two armed Austin police officers boarded the plane, looked at me and said, ‘Sugarman, follow us.’” [More]
Good news, people who are in the unfortunate position of having to do business with an airline in the near future: the TSA’s embarrassingly reactionary new “security rules” have been eased as of this afternoon. Now it is up to the captain whether they’re enforced on each flight, reports CBS News. [More]
We know how you feel; telemarketers suck. But no matter how much they’re in the wrong, please don’t threaten to burn down their place of business and then kill them and their families—even if they call you a jackass—because they may report you to the police. Then, if your police are anything like the ones in St. Louis, Missouri, you’ll likely be arrested and charged for making terrorist threats, like poor Charles Papenfus.
REI’s Director of Corporate Communications contacted us with an official statement about the recent showdown between two Loomis security guards and a customer with an iPhone at one of their Seattle stores. She says despite the document Shane says he was forced to sign at the police station, he is not banned from their stores. Below is REI’s official statement.
While Shane was standing in the customer service line at a Seattle REI, he watched two Loomis employees open and change out the cash in an ATM machine. Shane took a photo of them with his iPhone. This apparently freaked out the Loomis guards, the REI security staff, and then the Seattle police, who put handcuffs on Shane, drove him to the police station, and then made him sign a statement that he wouldn’t return to a REI store for a year. You might have noticed in that summary that they didn’t actually bring any charges against him, which should make it clear to anyone who wants to side with the faux Po-Po that what Shane did wasn’t illegal, that the rent-a-cops should be fired, and that REI and Loomis owe Shane a big apology.
Is there a worse place to have sudden diarrhea than on an airplane? Well, yes, and that would be on a water slide, but let’s stay with the airplane for a bit. Joao Correa was on a Delta Airlines flight from Honduras to Atlanta last week when something bad happened down below, and he had to immediately use the bathroom. Unfortunately, there was a drink cart blocking his way and the flight attendants wouldn’t let him by.
In 2006, Raed Jaer, an Iraqi-born U.S. resident, was forced by TSA officials and JetBlue to cover his t-shirt—it read, “We Will Not Be Silent” in both Arabic and English—before he could board a flight. The airline and the two TSA officials (TSA was not named in the suit) settled out of court last week for $240,000, although JetBlue still denies they did anything wrong, and the TSA says they don’t “condone profiling in any way shape or form.” [More]
AirTran removed a Muslim family and their friend from their flight, had them questioned by the FBI, and then refused to re-seat or rebook them after they were cleared by the FBI.
In our post earlier today about the 65-year-old doctor who tried to use the bathroom on a recent Southwest flight and was subsequently arrested, we noted that the airline sent him an apology letter and a $100 voucher. That seemed kind of inappropriate for the situation, right? It turns out the letter was never meant for Dr. Madduri and was sent to him by mistake. According to our reader RedwoodFlyer (Sockatume also picked up on it), the letter was actually about him and was sent to all the other passengers on the flight; he was never meant to see it.
A 65-year-old urologist, born in India but living in the United States for 38 years now, was flying from his home in Missouri to a medical convention in Las Vegas on June 26th, 2008. Did you notice that “born in India” detail? Apparently his attempts to go to the bathroom angered and frightened a flight attendant, who wouldn’t tell Dr. Sivaprasad Madduri why he couldn’t use the lavatory (the pilot was using it) and who wouldn’t listen to Dr. Madduri’s explanation that he was taking a medicine that acts as a diuretic. When the plane landed he was arrested, spent the night in jail, and was told the next day to plead guilty and pay $2500 if he wanted a quick resolution.
Make of this what you will, as the story comes from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s church-owned Washington Times and may be more fiction than fact, but “a senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser.” Yes, the EMD Safety Bracelet from Lamperd Less Lethal is designed to make flying a fun experience once again. Just check out everything it can do:
- Take the place of an airline boarding pass.
- Contain personal information about the traveler.
- Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage.
- Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes.
A PR hack sent us a stupidly long press release a few hours ago about Clear, the company that—for an annual $100 fee—will pre-authorize you with TSA to speed up your passage through security. Clear started operating in select airports over a year ago, and this month will add Reagan National and Dulles International airports to its list. So, is the service worth it? We guess that depends on how much you’re willing to spend to be able to jump ahead of all the poor people waiting in line like the common criminals they surely are. We wanted a slightly more objective way to evaluate it, though, so we started looking around online for first-hand experiences of what exactly happens when you flash your Clear card.
The TSA is testing a new crowd management system at two airports in Denver and Salt Lake City that they hope will make the security process less troublesome. No, the new system isn’t less invasive or more security-sensible, but it does give families with kids/strollers/bags their own lane, both for their sanity and for ours. Early reports indicate families are happy with it but too many casual travelers think they’re experts and head to the black diamond lane, which is only for people who walk briskly and frown a lot.