Saturday, April 9, 2011

Will Texas copy New Hampshire? I hope so!

Legislation is Texas would make TSA pat-downs equal to sexual assault. Go! Go! Go!

6-year old "pat down" in New Orleans

This is one of the most upsetting things I've seen in awhile, and it renews my resolve to continue to speak out about the criminal organization known as the TSA. Watch for yourself:

H/T Bill Fisher

UPDATE: The original video has been taken down, but you can find at least one other person who re-posted it by searching YouTube. I've updated the link to one that's working.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The next invasion of privacy

No doubt, travelers will rejoice at the "convenience" of being allowed to keep their shoes on once the TSA develops a "Shoe Scanning Device." But will your bunion be an anomaly, triggering a close-up inspection of your foot?

Terrorists have already moved on - as if they ever were seriously trying to implement shoe-bombs. They won't use a shoe bomb and they won't target an airplane. It will be something else and we'll gladly give up our rights to prevent the last attack next time, too. (If that last sentence didn't make any sense, it's because the TSA is confused, not my English.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What does "safe" mean?

As I start this post, let me re-iterate that the primary argument against TSA scanners is that it infringes on our basic human rights, which were specifically protected in the US Constitution.

A new study is out that concludes that the radiation from TSA scanners is "trivial." What exactly does this mean?
“Trivial’’ means only six additional cancers over the lifetimes of 100 million people who represent 750 million boardings a year in the U.S.
So, very few people in the general population will get cancer from the scanners. But that's not zero. Trust me: if you are one of the people who get the "additional" cancer, this is not trivial. This argument is not new. We've seen many people say that - yes, the risk is low, but it's not zero. So using this as primary screening is irresponsible.

Furthermore, there are many caveats to this conclusion that we can also predict from statements from other scientists. A biggie:
In addition, the study’s authors note they had to rely on TSA’s claims about radiation dosage from the machines. “Alas, the TSA has not made the machines available for researchers to make direct measurements,’’ Dr. Smith-Bindman said in an email.
So, we're still just taking the TSA's word on how these machine's work. Feel safer, yet?

Another one, pointed out in the original UCSF letter of concern last spring:
But other researchers have questioned the long-term safety of the machines, suggesting that radiation doses may be more harmful than previously reported because the X-ray machines concentrate radiation on the skin rather than penetrating the whole body.
The new study likely won’t put all the questions to rest, largely because models don’t exist to calculate incidence of most cancers based on skin-concentrated doses rather than whole-body organ penetration.
 I don't mean to criticize this study. We need scientists to help bring this issue to light. They're doing the best they can with the means available.

Disgraceful treatment of an autistic man

In response to this story, a TSA rep says that "TSA's policy is to treat everybody with respect." That's balogna, but it's true that this man was treated with the same (dis)respect as all travelers are by the TSA. His rights were violated and he was humiliated. The only difference is that he is probably more sensitive to this type of (mis)treatment than many other travelers. How incredibly sad and infuriating that this happened.

Read the story or watch the video:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why fly?

With service like this, why  give the airlines hundreds or thousands of your hard-earned cash? It will only get worse, and you are giving up your rights at the same time. Keep your dignity and boycott flying!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The problem with public policy

A Law professor from Indiana University, Fred Cate, testified before Congress last month about the scanners. While his argument is factual, the effectiveness of the scanners is purely a peripheral issue (but one that Rep Mica no doubt wants to hear). I am surprised this is coming from a lawyer, but then, law may be all about pragmatism and safe policy, not - oh, I don't know - based on written law and the classical liberal principles that this nation is based on.

Also testifying, as I noted earlier, were Alaska State Rep Cissna, who just doesn't like the pat-down, but doesn't see the TSA in general as perpetrating rights violations.

Dr. David Brenner from Columbia lambasts the health risks of the backscatter, while not acknowledging any possible risks for the millimeter wave scanners. 

Doctors on scanners

CNN finds some docs who are worried and some who aren't.

via LRC

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Radiation: Japanese vs American

I couldn't have said it better myself:
There isn't a whole lot Congress can do about a wind-driven nuclear cloud that spreads over the northwest, but there is something Congress can do about the proliferation of inconclusively tested, but lucrative X-ray body scanners.
Although this comment is silly:
Not a peep about popping a potassium pill before flying, or before entering a federal building from anyone either, only more concern about inhaling radiation from thousands of miles away.
The author is referring to Potassium Iodide pills. But these only protect you from radioactive iodine, not from any other sort of radiation.

The author redeems herself in the end, pointing out Congress' culpability in this assault on our freedoms:
Congress will be derelict in its duties if it fails to demand accountability from any government agency that holds not only the public's trust, but the public's health in its hands.