More predictable bullshit from the predictably incompetent Janet Napolitano and friends. They must be getting ready to roll out some new abusive procedure. Or mount another false flag operation à la Abdulmutallab the Crotch Bomber. And the sheeple will fall into line. Because they love it. They love being terrified and they love to lick the authoritarian boot.
UPDATE: Speaking of waste, fraud, and abuse . . . Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the TSA’s proposed budget for fiscal 2012, which raises spending 5.7 percent, to $8.1 billion. Much of the $459 million increase would go to hiring another 3,270 employees, for a total TSA work force of 58,401, most of them screeners. As I keep saying, employment in a down economy -- TSA molester, DHS spy, or soldier of fortune -- jobs, jobs, jobs -- the benefits of a permanent state of war!
Okay, okay, that's not entirely accurate. One of Milatovic’s fellow passengers complained that his bag was emitting a “suspicious noise.” But he was arrested and handcuffed for "disorderly conduct" and "interfering with the operation of an aircraft." Those are the magic words, you know, no matter what you do, whether you behave like a dick or just have a hearing problem (Milatovic's father says he has a painful nerve condition and was trying to stand for as long as possible). If you don't love, honor, and obey every command aboard an aircraft, you're outta there.
Here are three stories of the incident, so you can take your pick:
In a perfect melding of the Keystone Kops Meet O'Brien, Janet Napolitano is coming to a Walmart near you. Her video, urging "If You See Something, Say Something," is rolling out at W emporia all across the country:
The message will be continuously looped on TV monitors at the 588 Walmarts in the U.S. One can only imagine the hilarity that will ensue when one gun-buying customer doesn't like the looks of another. But then maybe Napolitano doesn't really know the People of Walmart that well, after all.
"Report suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff. If you need help, ask a Walmart manager for assistance.” Ah, yes, ask a manager for assistance! Next time you get in a tug-of-war with another customer over the last Game Boy in the store, just report that sucker to management for "suspicious activity."
Ballgame just brought this column by Naomi Wolf to our attention in another thread, but I think it deserves its own post. Excerpt (bolds mine):
. . . These two Senators, and the rest of the Congressional and White House leadership who are coming forward in support of this appalling development, are cynically counting on Americans' ignorance of their own history -- an ignorance that is stoked and manipulated by those who wish to strip rights and freedoms from the American people. They are manipulatively counting on Americans to have no knowledge or memory of the dark history of the Espionage Act -- a history that should alert us all at once to the fact that this Act has only ever been used -- was designed deliberately to be used -- specifically and viciously to silence people like you and me.
The Espionage Act was crafted in 1917 -- because President Woodrow Wilson wanted a war and, faced with the troublesome First Amendment, wished to criminalize speech critical of his war. In the run-up to World War One, there were many ordinary citizens -- educators, journalists, publishers, civil rights leaders, union activists -- who were speaking out against US involvement in the war. The Espionage Act was used to round these citizens by the thousands for the newly minted 'crime' of their exercising their First Amendment Rights. A movie producer who showed British cruelty in a film about the Revolutionary War (since the British were our allies in World War I) got a ten-year sentence under the Espionage act in 1917, and the film was seized; poet E.E. Cummings spent three and a half months in a military detention camp under the Espionage Act for the 'crime' of saying that he did not hate Germans. Esteemed Judge Learned Hand wrote that the wording of the Espionage Act was so vague that it would threaten the American tradition of freedom itself. Many were held in prison for weeks in brutal conditions without due process; some, in Connecticut -- Lieberman's home state -- were severely beaten while they were held in prison. The arrests and beatings were widely publicized and had a profound effect, terrorizing those who would otherwise speak out.
. . . I call on all American citizens to rise up and insist on repeal of the Espionage Act immediately. We have little time to waste. The Assange assault is theater of a particularly deadly kind, and America will not recover from the use of the Espionage Act as a cudgel to threaten journalists, editors and news outlets with. I call on major funders of Feinstein's and Lieberman's campaigns to put their donations in escrow accounts and notify the staffers of those Senators that the funds willonly be released if they drop their traitorous invocation of the Espionage Act. I call on all Americans to understand once for all: this is not about Julian Assange. This, my fellow citizens, is about you . . . .
No, it's not a new element in the periodic table or something out of Superman comics. It's a deadly form of insulation that was used in this country in the 1950s and '60s. According to this news report, it's still hurting people, and the EPA apparently can't be bothered to do something about it. No surprise that the purveyor involved is the W. R. Grace Company, whose motto -- trademarked, no less -- is "Enriching Lives Everywhere." You might remember Grace's name from the book A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr, an account of water contamination in Woburn, Massachusetts, and Grace's attempts to cover it up and evade responsibility. Here's an excerpt from the Zonolite article:
What puzzles so many familiar with the issue is that EPA is refusing to do something without having to pass new laws or spend millions getting the word out. No one expects the government to pick up the costly tab for cleanup, but rather just tell people that their lives may be in danger.
Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the National Resources Defense Council, constantly deals with the EPA on public health issues and admits that she's puzzled at the agency shirking its duty to protect the public from environmental harm.
"There is a nationwide rising sentiment that we don't need government in our lives, but this story proves otherwise. What we need is strong federal regulations to rein in corporate malefactors and to warn the public about harms now, before it's too late to protect our loved ones. Anything less is a deadly game of passing the buck," Sass said.
And here's a related story from the NYT on the EPA's backing down from implementing tougher emissions standards.
Ya gotta love this -- Italian Prime Minister and playboy-clown extraordinaire Silvio Berlusconi just spent a bundle of taxpayer money to add new body parts to an ancient statue of Mars and Venus:
Officials confirmed that a fake penis and hand had been added to Mars, the god of war and a fake hand had been added to Venus, the goddess of love after a consultation with Berlusconi's personal architect Mario Catalano.
Matteo Orfini, shadow culture spokesman for the opposition Democratic Left, stormed: 'This is absolute madness. It's as if we are back in the Middle Ages when the ruling regimes did whatever they wanted.'
Well, I guess it's better than adding "modesty curtains" at the Department of Justice. (Though I think one can take issue with the Middle Ages bit, as we can see the ruling regimes doing whatever they want nowadays as well.)
It's been almost three months since I wrote about my friend David Rector, and since then little has changed. The judge threw Roz a bone by allowing her to care for David for a few months, with all kinds of hand-tying restrictions applied. Roz did succeed, after jumping through more hoops than you would have the patience to read about, in taking David to a movie. The nursing home tried to prevent that, too, at the last minute, even after receiving the reams of required documentation. David chose the movie himself (though the hired guns don't, of course, acknowledge that he can choose anything for himself). He's an Anne Hathaway fan, so he chose her latest film.
I'll copy and paste one of Roz's recent updates after the jump. I only remind folks that this fate is potentially that of any of us, no matter how carefully we plan or how much we'd rather not think about it.
Periodically I've suggested that readers wander on over to Crispin Sartwell's blog, Eye of the Storm, for thoughtful, provocative, sometimes infuriating posts. Crispin teaches philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. He's an anarchist, though of which variety I can't say as I can't keep all the nuances straight; you can ask him if you want to go there. Crispin has also (rarely) commented here at the Cogblog. In my opinion, he can be quite contrarian, whether out of genuine principle or just plain cussedness. In any case, he writes thought-provoking, even poetic, stuff, such as this op-ed style piece on environmentalism.
Colorado lawyer Gary Fielder has filed for a Permanent Restraining Order in federal district court against Janet Napolitano, John Pistole, the Department of Homeland Security, and the TSA. Attorney Fielder made headlines earlier this year when he refused to go through a naked body scanner installed at a Colorado courthouse. He has now filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief to stop the naked body scanners and enhanced pat downs at our nation's airports.
In his complaint, he details his personal story of how he and his daughters were treated during an "enhanced pat down" by the TSA on a recent trip to San Diego, describing the TSA agents' behavior as "disgusting, unconscionable, sexual in nature, unnecessary, and a complete violation of his and his children’s constitutional rights."
The complaint presented in full.
In the same vein, a California District Attorney has vowed to prosecute screeners who touch travelers inappropriately. He says he'll charge them with sexual battery.
Any other oubreaks? Who knows? No word yet on whether public health people and other medical professionals care about this.
(And yes, you have the "right" to ask an agent to change into clean gloves: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has issued this statement: "If you are traveling and are going to be searched, you can request that the TSA agent change his or her gloves." Good luck with that. Nah, that won't get you further harassed.)
Well, I've been saying it from the beginning. But what the hell.
Longtime consumer advocate Christopher Elliott reports a turning of the tide: a weekend poll by the Consumer Travel Alliance indicates that 70% of air travelers now support National Opt-Out Day.
Yes, I know that doesn't mean that 70% of travelers are actually going to opt-out. When push comes to shove, I understand that many will not. But it's the support, for now, that's impressive.
****** THIS VIDEO OCCURRED AT SALT LAKE CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ON NOVEMBER 19TH AT AROUND THE TIME OF 12 PM **********
Lets get the facts straight first. Before the video started the boy went through a metal detector and didn't set it off but was selected for a pat down. The boy was shy so the TSA couldn't complete the full pat on the young boy. The father tried several times to just hold the boys arms out for the TSA agent but i guess it didn't end up being enough for the guy. I was about 30 ft away so i couldn't hear their conversation if there was any. The enraged father pulled his son shirt off and gave it to the TSA agent to search, thats when this video begins.
(I forgot to mention the trauma for sexual assault victims, the danger of absolute power, and the questionable safety of the machines, but hey, I can't remember everything. Letter sent via each rep's on-line form with appropriate salutation for each):
November 16, 2010
Dear Senator Mikulski/Cardin/Congressman Cummings:
[To Elijah Cummings only: I had the honor of meeting you during the last day of early voting in Baltimore earlier this month. I told you how proud I am of having you as my representative in Congress and how much I appreciated your work on healthcare reform.]
I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms the abuse and infringement of rights being perpetrated on us by the TSA.
First of all, the stripsearch scanners were rammed down our throats by corporations who stood to profit from them (such as Rapiscan – how appropriate a name – represented by former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff) and by our elected leaders who acted out of haste at best and cowardice at worst. Second, we now we have punitive and degrading gropefests foisted upon passengers who opt out of the stripsearch scanners.
New Republican Representative-elect Andy Harris of Maryland's First Congressional District is worried that his health care coverage won't kick in quickly enough to suit him and his family. Yet he's been a staunch opponent of health care reform from the beginning. As he once bragged:
"As the only physician in the Maryland state Senate, I know how legislatures approach health care issues," Harris wrote in an op-ed article last year for the Daily Times of Salisbury. "Politicians are usually tone-deaf to those who know the most about the issue: patients and their health care providers."
Not only is he out of touch, he's gutless, to boot:
Harris was not available for comment Tuesday. After the story began taking off on the Internet, he canceled a previously scheduled interview with The Baltimore Sun. His spokeswoman explained in an email that "Andy's orientation schedule got changed around today."
Maybe something else needs to get changed around, too -- like his mind.
For more info:
Jena Longo - Democratic Deputy Communications Director, (202) 224-8374
Nov 17 2010 - 10 AM
Russell Senate Office Building - 253
Regardless of your home state, call the chairpersons to ask whether recent TSA abuses are on the agenda for the oversight hearing. Ask to speak with the staffer responsible for dealing with issues related to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Here's a list of committee members, their homepages, and phone numbers. If one of
This beautiful article in the New York Times is eliciting, as you can imagine, dozens of comments. So far, only a few are castigating the paper for the headline or for the mere idea of discussing death in such a personal way. But most people get it.
In a world where so much talk of death is abstract -- statistics, percentages, euphemisms like "casualties" and the shameful "collateral damage" -- it's moving to read an article where people face death head on, where they try to bring comfort to loved ones and maintain dignity for themselves. My father was lucky enough to die at home, with his family around him, and lots of laughter and partying up to the very end. (The fact that this was made possible by health insurance, Medicare, and hospice help is perhaps a discussion for another time.)
Here's a comment by a reader that I think gets to the heart of the matter:
I hope hospital physicians read this article. I am fully onboard with medical science and the great work doctors do each day. I am too aware, though, of cases such as where an 84-year-old person with a terminal disease is intubated, made completely miserable, and spending their last precious days in a horrible clinical environment by thoughtless physicians influencing grief-stricken family members, instead of respecting their preference to pass on in the comfort of their own home or chosen environment.
One of the funniest things I've read in a while. (Anyone with kids or pets will get this one, whether you slept through your physics classes or not!) Christopher Niemann consistently does the most clever and ingenious little picture stories for the NYT.
I just got back from a business trip requiring me to fly through BWI (Baltimore-Washington International). BWI was one of the first airports in the country to implement the TSA strip-search scanners, but it's the most convenient airport for me. Besides, as the TSA itself tells us in several different places on its website, "advanced imaging technology screening is optional to all passengers."
Many of us on this blog have already discussed the bullshit-o-rama that is airport security, especially the pointless and invasive strip-search scanners. Costing taxpayers billions of dollars, they are the biggest boondoggle to come down the pike in a long time. Like so many of the other procedures we go through at airport checkpoints, they don't make us any safer, they just provide a showy bit of theater in which we all play our parts: we pretend we're actually doing something to protect ourselves from The Terrorists. Because The Terrorists are always On The Verge of Getting Us.
So of course I was prepared to step into my starring role along with everyone else, except that I knew I was going to decline the strip-search scanner.
I'm a person with many medical problems, none of which are doctors. As a feminist and sometimes invalid, I'm supposed to feel mistreated by the medical system. While I do have the being a freakish lady thing working against me, I also have a background in science working for me. In general, I'm a well-informed consumer of medical services, and my doctors know it. Being sick makes medicine as a subject pretty compelling, so I read a few medical blogs, including Kevin, MD. The mood around Kevin's is pretty darn anti-patient, and this post was the last straw for me. Take out the words you'd skip on a google search, and you get a title that says chronic pain patients are disobedient children. Patients with weird conditions: threat or menace? The quote from the article that really got me was
“The study of life-course influences on chronic pain is still in its infancy,” the researchers said.
This layperson is not surprised at the results, nor is she suspicious of their validity. I'll bet the researchers had a similar perspective when they put the study together. If a field is still in its infancy, why start with something you are pretty sure will make patients look bad*?
I'll give practitioners and researchers the fact that chronic pain is a sticky wicket; there are addicts out there seeking drugs from you just cuz they want 'em, and the process of sifting them out insults the people you're really trying to help. An objective diagnosis is a hard sell without blood tests or x-rays. Things get a lot simpler when you can say that the distinction isn't important to make because it's all in the "real patients'" heads. So you look for some data that support that conclusion. I respect the fact that many docs take up this challenge and treat sufferers of chronic pain, but I still feel pretty betrayed seeing this hostility laid so bare.
I don't really go in for "a few bad apples" explanations, mostly because of this talk by Dan Ariely [He talks about how almost everyone cheats a little, but there are only a few Lynndie Englands out there, so the aggregate adds up to a lot of cheating. Subtitles are available for the video]. I want a reasonably skeptical doctor. In case all this waffling doesn't make it clear, I am not willing to unequivocally condemn a whole group of medical professionals.
[I got rid of a bunch of equivocating stuff down here, because it was boring the hell out of me. Ambivalence: who cares?]
Houses buried, roofs collapsed, cars disappearing, people leaving from work and getting home three days later, 29 killed. Yet Baltimoreans bitching that streets are still being plowed. Count your blessings, people. (oh, and turn the volume on for this one)