Saturday, February 5, 2011

Karate chopped where?

A woman who claims: "I am neither for nor against the scanners, but as a frequent flier, I think I will stubbornly keep opting out." wrote up her recent experience with the invasive airport pat-down. First, the TSA agent tried to talk her out of it. Then, she used the humiliation tactic: shouting "Opt out!" for no apparent reason. Finally, the "professional" custody search began:
...somewhere during that pat down, she honestly karate chopped my, ahem, lady parts. Hard. Not just once or twice, but four times. I was so thrown off the first time that I actually let out a little yelp.
It's so obvious that the point of all of this is not security, but submission.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Activism in Austin

Keep Austin Free is starting a radio campaign opposing the TSA scanners coming to their airport.

A student's take on security theater

A student named Micah Green at Mississippi State University has a sarcastic article in the school newspaper. I'm happy to see a little activism on a college campus. Keep it up, Micah!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Private" scans

They've been talking about it for awhile, and I fear this will work to calm the masses over the privacy invasions of the scanners: The TSA is testing scanners that use software that creates avatars instead of actual nude images. Basically, you are still irradiated, you are still virtually strip-searched, but the software blocks the image of your naked body from human eyes. Instead, the software shows the viewer a (clothed) cartoon image and highlights areas of anomalies.

Well, would it be okay with you if someone set up a hidden camera in your bathroom, but "protected your privacy" by having software automatically convert the images to stylized cartoons? Your privacy is still being violated. And the data to re-create your naked image still exists. It's just that the voyeur promises that he won't actually use that data.

No thank you. I still won't fly.

(Note: It goes without saying that these scanners will not be as effective and still pose the same health risks.)

TSA Infographic

Check out this amazing infographic on airline safety:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Great coverage at the Guardian

Jennifer Abel summarizes the TSA controversy so far, saying, "Desperation is when once-proud and free Americans like me are reduced to pleading, 'Save us, Jesse Ventura, you're our only hope.'"

Israel's model

I repeatedly heard a line of argument last fall when the TSA scanner controversy erupted: We should do as the Israeli's do. I think it is naive to expect that if only the right people and/or policies are in place in a government bureaucracy, that everything will be fine. It is the nature of bureaucrats and bureaucracies to be inefficient, ineffective, and power-grubbing.

But... It turns out that Israel's airport did install the scanners last fall. At the same time that people were quoting an Israeli security expert ("That's why we haven't put them in our airport"), Ben Gurion Airport installed and began using the scanners (apparently only as secondary screening).

Last week, the scanners were used to catch a woman smuggling iPhones. Last fall they caught a man smuggling pills. Sounds like Israeli "security" is about enforcing smuggling laws, not about protecting airline passengers from harm.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nothing coming of Mica's fascist dream

Pistole is drawing a line in the sand, protecting his bureaucracy and the labor unions. He has slowly granted approval for "private" security at additional airports since Rep Mica started promoting this corporatist "opt-out." But, now Pistole has refused one airport's request and is halting the process of allowing future opt-outs. I don't know how this will play out long term, but, either way, I won't fly! The feds need to be out of airport security entirely, or our rights will never be respected.

Dangers of millimeter wave scanners

It's much easier to understand the potential dangers of x-ray radiation backscatter scanners, but it has been difficult to know if the millimeter wave scanners pose any health dangers. There is some talk about breaking DNA, but I have not been able to find any sources that confirm the energy at which this happens and compare it to the energy of the scanners.

Now there's a report of a woman with a pacemaker dying minutes after passing through one of these scanners. It wasn't at an airport (it was at the Gaza-Egypt crossing). Maybe it was a rare occurrence, but that is precisely the point of the public health experts who point out that using the scanners as primary screening means that very rare incidences will occur because of the large volume of people screened.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Refusing a search on public transit

The Metro system of buses and rail in Washington, DC, started implementing random bag checks last year. Right now, the checks appear to be limited to bags and only for detection of explosives. Of course, if you're heading towards a station or stop and see a table set up to do the checks, it's not that hard to turn around and walk to the next one. Or, you could hope that your not selected for the check. But what happens if you refuse? You immediately become a suspect (but you must already be suspect if you undergo a search, right?) and will be surveiled.

If you think this fight is only about cancer-causing radiation, or only about the luxury of air travel, or only about preventing the next 9/11, you are mistaken. This is about our rights as individuals being stripped from us.

H/T Bruce Majors

More on the Seattle acquittal

Here is Phil Mocek's website with information on the trial and more. Also, see his interview with Judge Napolitano from last night.

UPDATE: Video link fixed - Phil's story starts at 9:50.

Seattle acquittal

This got very little coverage, but a man who was arrested last year for not showing his ID to the Albuquerque TSA (and then video-recorded them (see below)) was just acquitted of all charges. This is good news, but it is risky to rely on the judicial system to save you from the consequences of civil disobedience. Good for Phil Mocek for standing up for his rights and keeping his calm!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jesse Ventura suing the TSA

Ventura doesn't like the new custody search and will not fly commercial anymore.

H/T Graham Dugas

Obama's disgusting joke

I can take a joke, even a sick joke sometimes. And good jokes have something to do with the truth. But when the person making the joke about the misery of others is the same person who is causing that misery, it's not funny. And when that person's partners in crime find the joke funny, they reveal their true colors as reptiles.

If you haven't seen it yet, watch this clip from the State of the Union speech last week. If a comedian made the same joke to an audience of average Americans, it would be funny. But coming from the executive and legislative branches, who are responsible for the so-called pat-downs (aka custody searches), this is no joke. This is the elite laughing at what they inflict on the masses.

via David Kramer