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The Reconstruction Wars Begin
3 hours ago
A short history of airport security: We screen for guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and corkscrews, so they put explosives in their sneakers. We screen footwear, so they try to use liquids. We confiscate liquids, so they put PETN bombs in their underwear. We roll out full-body scanners, even though they wouldn’t have caught the Underwear Bomber, so they put a bomb in a printer cartridge. We ban printer cartridges over 16 ounces — the level of magical thinking here is amazing — and they’re going to do something else.
It’s not even a fair game. It’s not that the terrorist picks an attack and we pick a defense, and we see who wins. It’s that we pick a defense, and then the terrorists look at our defense and pick an attack designed to get around it. Our security measures only work if we happen to guess the plot correctly. If we get it wrong, we’ve wasted our money. This isn’t security; it’s security theater.
As The Edge explained it, whether you're an arena-packing rock star or a science nerd bitten by a radioactive spider, you still have to deal with everyday life. "[H]e's a superhero; he can do loads of stuff, but when he comes home, he's put back in his place," the guitarist said. "There's nothing that he does out in the world that means anything when he's with his loved ones."
Mr. Nielsen, the white-haired actor who had a serious dramatic career before he revealed himself in "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" as a talented comedian with a genius for deadpan delivery, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84.
President Obama plans to announce a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers later Monday morning, according to an administration official, the latest White House move intended to demonstrate concern over sky-high deficit spending.
The president’s proposal will effectively wipe out plans for a 1.4 percent across-the-board raise for 2.1 million civilian federal government employees in 2011 and 2012.
Retirement hasn't been kind to the Battleship Texas, the only remaining U.S. battleship to survive World Wars I and II.
Once touted as the most powerful weapon on the planet, the nearly century-old battlewagon has endured some 60 years as an historic relic moored in the brackish Houston Ship Channel, corrosion from water outside and inside munching at its steel and patchwork repairs.
"Our boat's been sitting in the water and rusting away, so we get it out of the water," says Andy Smith, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's manager of the battleship site east of Houston.
That's the goal as work finally is beginning to permanently remove the Texas from water by constructing a unique dry berth for the 573-foot-long, 34,000-ton vessel. It's the most complex project ever for the parks agency and isn't likely to be complete until late this decade.
"You're dealing with a metal artifact sitting in a brackish environment in high humidity," Smith said. "How do you treat an artifact? Traditionally we put it in a climate controlled space where you control for temperature, humidity and light. You can't do that with an almost 600-foot-long ship."
DEA: U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Drug Tunnel Bust Yields 30 Tons of Marijuana
The Drug Enforcement Administration says it has busted a significant cross-border, drug-smuggling tunnel and netted about 30 tons of marijuana seized at two warehouses in the United States and Mexico.
The 1,800-foot underground tunnel linked a warehouse in Otey Mesa, Calif., with a similar sized building in Tijuana, Mexico. Agents and officers with the Tunnel Task Force, including the DEA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, had been conducting surveillance in the area when the officers noticed suspiciousactivity around a tractor-trailer truck being loaded and parked at the warehouse in Otey Mesa.
After the truck departed the warehouse, a police check-point was established so the truck could be searched. Border Patrol agents and officers discovered 10 tons of marijuana stuffed into large cargo boxes, according to law enforcement officials.
Singer Willie Nelson was reportedly pissed.
Living country music legend Willie Nelson was charged with possession of marijuana after six ounces were discovered aboard his tour bus in Texas, according to a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman.
Nelson's tour bus pulled into a routine checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas -- approximately 85 miles east of El Paso -- around 9 a.m. on Friday. When an officer noticed a suspicious odor coming from the bus, a search turned up the marijuana, police said.
Mickey Raphael, Nelson's longtime harmonica player,said "It's a damn good thing they didn't check behind the wood paneling of the bus. I mean, that thing will hold four or five kilos right there, and another six in the cargo area. Then there's all the weed we stash in our instrument cases. It's a little-known fact that we don't carry instruments with us - only the cases. Wink wink, nudge nudge."
The TSA points out that even if an airport decides to use a private firm for security, the screeners still must follow TSA guidelines. That would include using enhanced pat-downs and the full-body scanners if they are installed at the airport.
Did you know that the nation's airports are not required to have Transportation Security Administration screeners checking passengers at security checkpoints? The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.
Mica, one of the authors of the original TSA bill, has recently written to the heads of more than 150 airports nationwide suggesting they opt out of TSA screening. "When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees," Mica writes. "As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided by law."
In addition to being large, impersonal, and top-heavy, what really worries critics is that the TSA has become dangerously ineffective. Its specialty is what those critics call "security theater" -- that is, a show of what appear to be stringent security measures designed to make passengers feel more secure without providing real security. "That's exactly what it is," says Mica. "It's a big Kabuki dance."
While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.
That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.
Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?
"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.
The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?
"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.
Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.
"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"
Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.
Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.
"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.
You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?
"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.
Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.
At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate — what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?
"I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is 'Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, 'What would you do?' And he said, 'Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, 'Oh. My. God.'
"Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, 'Two days.'"
A screener at Ben-Gurion has a pair of better options.
First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.
Second, all the screening areas contain 'bomb boxes'. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.
"This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.
Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.
"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.
"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has the “overwhelming support” of fellow Democrats in her bid to become minority leader in the next Congress, and says she’s not to blame for the Democrats’ mid-term debacle.
“We didn’t lose the election because of me,” Ms. Pelosi told National Public Radio in an interview that aired Friday morning. “Our members do not accept that.”
Instead, the California Democrat attributes the loss of at least 60 seats to high unemployment and “$100 million of outside, unidentified funding.”
“Any party that cannot turn (9.5% unemployment) into political gains should hang up the gloves,” she said.
The creator of the widely syndicated comic "Garfield" has apologized for a strip that ran on Veterans Day that some critics saw as making fun of the holiday honoring those who served in the U.S. military.
Although some others said they doubted creator had such intentions or that they didn't read the strip the way the critics did, Davis issued a statement apologizing.
"Please accept my apologies for any offense today's Garfield may have created. It was unintentional and regrettable," the statement said.
After seven months of unchallenged prominence, Apple's hot-selling iPad now has its first credible competitor in the nascent market for multitouch consumer tablet computers: the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The Tab is being introduced over the next week by three major U.S. wireless phone carriers at $400 with a cellular data contract, or at $600 with cellular capability but no contract. The iPad starts at $499 for a Wi-Fi model with no cellular-data capability or contract, and is $629 for the least expensive model with cellular data capability but no contract.
The Tab has a 7-inch screen versus the 9.7-inch display on the iPad. That may seem like a small difference, but the numbers are deceptive, because screen sizes are always described using diagonal measurements. In fact, the actual screen real estate on the Tab is less than half of the iPad's.
The mysterious vapor trail spotted off the southern coast of California was “more likely caused by an airplane than anything else,” a senior military official told Fox News Channel Tuesday, though another official said authorities continue to investigate to rule out a possible missile launch.
The contrail caught on video by a news helicopter “was more likely caused by an airplane than anything else, because the other possibilities of rockets or missile are turning up negative,” the senior military official said.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, issued a statement jointly with the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, saying that the contrail was not the result of a foreign military launching a missile. It provided no further details.
"We can confirm that there is no threat to our nation, and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military," the statement said. "We will provide more information as it becomes available."
Green marketing, a movement so hot that not even a deep recession could kill it, is starting to show signs of consumer revolt. At the very least, it's a signal that green alone isn't enough of a marketing proposition; at most, it could signal consumers simply aren't buying the benefits of environmentally positioned products and brands.
President Obama announced on Monday in New Delhi that the United States will back India's bid for a permanent seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council, a major policy shift that could aggravate China, which opposes such a move.
AARP's endorsement helped secure passage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Now the seniors' lobby is telling its employees their insurance costs will rise partly as a result of the law.
In an e-mail to employees, AARP says health care premiums will increase by 8 percent to 13 percent next year because of rapidly rising medical costs.
And AARP adds that it's changing copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that takes effect in 2018 under the law.
President Barack Obama will not be protected by a vast armada of 34 US warships when he visits Mumbai this weekend, officials said, calling reports from India on security preparations "comical."
The claim that many of the 288-ship US naval fleet would be deployed to waters off Mumbai was "absolutely absurd," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters on Thursday.
US officials usually decline to discuss details about security precautions for the president, but the media accounts circulating out of India were so off the mark that press officers at the Pentagon and the White House said they felt compelled to speak up.
"I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the
Navy -- some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier -- in support of the president's trip to Asia," Morrell said.
"That's just comical. Nothing close to that is being done," he said.
Communications set-up and nuclear button and majority of the White House staff will be in India accompanying the President on this three-day visit that will cover Mumbai and Delhi.
He will also be protected by a fleet of 34 warships, including an aircraft carrier, which will patrol the sea lanes off the Mumbai coast during his two-day stay there beginning Saturday. The measure has been taken as Mumbai attack in 2008 took place from the sea.
The US would be spending a whopping $200 million per day on President Barack Obama's visit to the city.
"The huge amount of around $200 million would be spent on security, stay and other aspects of the Presidential visit," a top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit said.
About 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists would accompany the President.
Demi Lovato is currently seeking treatment for "emotional and physical issues," and the promoter behind her tour with the Jonas Brothers is sending her the best.
The reason Miley Cyrus' parents are splitting after 17 years of marriage: Mom Tish had an affair with rocker Bret Michaels, reports the new Us Weekly (on newsstands Wednesday).
When Billy Ray learned of it — as well as at least one other fling — he filed for divorce Oct. 27, sources tell Us Weekly.
Michaels, 47, "became close to the entire family" this past February when he and Miley released the racy duet "Nothing to Lose," an insider tells Us Weekly.
Nowhere will Nancy Pelosi's loss of the House speakership be felt more acutely than here in the Bay Area, where her power - and the power of fellow local Democrats in Washington - has been used to help steer hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure projects.
"Just look around," said Jim Lazarus of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "The $400 million for the Transbay Terminal project, the Doyle Drive rebuild, the Hunters Point Shipyard cleanup. If she wasn't there, I'm not sure we would have gotten the funding, and we certainly wouldn't have gotten it as fast as we did."
And there are projects still on the table, such as the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail project that is just getting off the ground and looking for big federal money.
Surprise! NASA's having money problems. Republican gains in the midterm elections will likely make matters worse for the agency. After a review called it underfunded and overambitious, Obama opted to end to the Constellation program last February. In its place, the administration said it wanted to reallocate that money for new technologies and private spaceflight. The problem? Congress balked. In late September, it passed another act actually requesting funds for projects initiated under Constellation, but also granting less than half of the administration's request for private spaceflight. Now, with Congress in recess and still unable to get a revised budget, NASA is locked into its current funding level. In essence, that means the agency has to keep spending on programs that it's going to have to kill anyway, and can't start new ones. It's thought that if Democrats retain control of the Senate and House, they'll probably pass an appropriations bill to allocate additional money for NASA. And if the Republicans prevail? Well, negotiations will likely be deferred until January, when the party would take over the appropriations subcommittee.
Net Neutrality is hardly neutral. This kind of title is just what George Owell was talking about in 1984. When you come upon a bill or project with such a specific name, and find it is the opposite of that name, how can you be for it? Net Neutrality is about forming a club of companies that get what they want and the government sanctions that. Vote Republican so that the free market will remain the internets rule of law.
Obama killed all of NASA’s manned space flight. The congress has an overwhelming amount of Democrats in the majority. Constitutionally the President DOES NOT spend the money nor allocate its spending. It is congress and congress alone that spends the money. Any change of Obamas proposals has been done by DEMOCRATS in congress.
Global warming due to human activity is a hoax. Everyone is starting to understand this. It was not helpful that the core temperature data that has been used in all such research has been uncovered to have been intently corrupted by the folks who have the most to gain from this hoax. The folks who did this have in fact left their posts at the University of East Anglia when their emails about this were reveled.
Lowering the tax to a proposed 5% would bring massive amounts of jobs and money to the USA. As it stands now that money and all the jobs it would bring are held overseas because the tax rate for it is the highest in the industrialized world. Putting off this transfer just makes good sense, why not wait to see if our government will change its ways and prefer jobs and some tax money rather then significantly more money then any other country.
Just as in Holland, if prop 19 should pass, and it does not look likely, the folks of California will repeal it within ten years. It might pass, but it will have the effect of strengthening our war on illegal drugs. Will it be worth a few years of pot smoking to get much harsher laws in a few years? If it should happen, enjoy it while it lasts and don’t complain that it was directly responsible for a crack down you cant even imagine.
Who is not for the miracles of our bio science industry from coming up with solutions to any disease or human malady? But what are the facts? You don’t need stem cells from dead babies to pursue this line of research, umbilical cord cells and other cells are an equivalent solution to cells from dead babies. Why are there no great breakthroughs in this research overseas where there are no restrictions? Its simple, this line of medical research is filled with mystery, it is unknown whether anything will come of it. There has been lots of talk, and I am hopeful, but, there is no there there yet. If it were proved that the cells from dead babies could actually be the key to solving just one major medical problem I think we would all choose some nebulous middle ground to help this on its way. We are not there yet and no country outside the USA has any such restrictions, so, where is the miracle?
Regarding that picture, I guess Republicans are bad in your view. Is this picture a way of starting a level headed discussions? Is there nothing wrong with this photo in your view, when connected to a discussion on political issues?
Three of the elected officials in the photo have been out of office for years and one is dead. So you had to reach back that far to find a photo you thought was a reasonable representation of Republicans in power? Senator Frist was one of the most middle of the stream Republicans in office in his time, Stevens was in love with Demarcates because they would fund anything he wanted as long has he just voted with them enough.
1. NASA Budget: Democrats were the ones who defunded NASA, not Republicans. Because of them we don't have any plans within the next 2 decades of landing on the moon. Privatized? A corporation can't reach the moon without being accused of harming the environment and poluting the air. There's very little for a corporation to gain from attempting moon colonization. It just isn't easy, this isn't a Bond movie where an individual with enough wealth could accomplish military-like precision of reaching the moon.
2. *sigh* Really? How many times do I have to explain that not ALL stem cell research is embryonic and there's a good reason people oppose government funding of it. I've proven here: [gawker.com] that embryonic stem cell research is very far behind adult stem cell research, so why fund it when it shows very little promise to the medical community?
The 84-year-old brand has been moribund since GM decided to kill it last year as it collapsed into bankruptcy and was in decline for years before that.
It was undone by a combination of poor corporate strategy and changing driver tastes.