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Health Care & Environment

07.21 Greta Thunberg: ‘They see us as a threat because we’re having an impact’ [We love a sane smarty-pants! Trump, you won't understand any of this, so just go off and tweet or chant, or whatever...]

07.20 Until Emissions Drop, Nothing Has Been Accomplished: The Climate Resistance Handbook Is Here. [Trump can't be bothered as the world turns into a large cinder. His laser focus is on personal greed.]

07.20 Cargo ships are emitting boatloads of carbon, and nobody wants to take the blame [1:19 video; Governments must commission to fight deadly shipping emissions, previously omitted in climate summit agreements....]

07.20 Babies Born Near Oil and Gas Wells Are Up to 70% More Likely to Have Congenital Heart Defects, New Study Shows

07.20 Giving 'Upper Hand to Corporate Polluters,' EPA Drops Surprise Inspections

07.20 With Petition to Congress, 100,000+ People Demand Green New Deal 'That Fixes Our Food System' [Realtime proactive response to reality—now and threatening—doesn't get attention in this greed focused administration]

07.19 Trump administration won't ban pesticide tied to childhood brain damage [There is no truth to the persistent rumor that chlorpyrifos pesticide was heavily used at Trump's childhood home in Queens]

07.19 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat

07.17 ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades

07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]

07.17 Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

News Media Matters

07.19 Fox News’s star names excuse the inexcusable after Trump's latest racist attack

07.18 In Sinclair's New 'Must-Run' Segment, Former Trump Adviser Tries to Defend Racist Attacks on 'the Squad'

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.21 Of course Donald Trump is a racist – and his Wall Street enablers know it

07.21 A court ruled it was legal for guards to strip search female inmates and force them to remove their tampons in front of male officers for a 'training exercise' [The frequency and degree of immorality and degradation being reported in the media is very disturbing, as if society has been reprogrammed overnight to be more like the worst behavior of Nazi Germany]

07.21 THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS GETTING CRUSHED IN FUNDRAISING: “THEY NEED TO GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER” [Since so-called moderate Democrats will prostitute themselves in many conceivable ways (offering that special quid pro quo) they have effectively become competitively ANTI-PUBLIC, like Republicans. Whereas progressive Democrats must promise not to take corporate donations at all as an effective litmus-test. The DNC refuses to raise funds for moderate and progressives separately, and thus donations fall short. Which is it to be: 1) Will the DNC change? or 2) Must progressive Democrats become corporate whores too? or 3) Maybe you don't need corporate contributions at all if your policies are fantastic?]

07.21 State and Local Taxes Are Worsening Inequality

07.21 State and Local Taxes Are Worsening Inequality

07.21 We're no longer in Brave New World. We're back in 1984. [1:35 video; Our despicable President is at it again]

07.21 BALTIMORE'S FILTHIEST HOODS [7:38 video. Ask your governments, why are our cities so much worse than Europe's? Why is our healthcare worse and so much more expensive? And why are our Billionaires so much richer? Ask if those results of bad government are all related, and why? Are they all caused by a power-elite with greed-obsessed immorality?]

07.21 Nancy Pelosi's Dem Socialist Challenger Shahid Buttar: "We're Gonna Win" | Full Interview [5:43 video]

07.21 Jon Stewart goes viral excoriating Rand Paul after blocking vote [9:02 video]

07.21 Nicolle Wallace Refuses to Broadcast Trump Live [5:43 video]

07.21 Sassy Bernie Sanders Sh*ts on Jeff Bezos on His Home Turf... Numerous Times [17:22 video]

07.20 Puerto Rico: top US politicians join chorus calling for governor's resignation

07.20 Fact check: Trump says Puerto Rico got $92 billion. They've seen only a fraction [If he opens his mouth, Trump's lying.]

07.20 "Trump Says Go Home, Ilhan's Community Says Welcome Home": Rep. Omar Greeted With Cheers of Love and Support in Return to Minnesota

07.20 WATCH: Amid Extreme Anti-Refugee Push, Trump Displays Neither Interest Nor Knowledge of Asylum Seekers' Plight in Oval Office Meeting

07.20 Trump Denies Being at North Carolina Rally [Not sure if Trump supporters 'get' satire, but here goes....]

07.19 Are progressives working on a climate plan for 2021? You bet.

07.19 House Democrats demand Hope Hicks clarify testimony after Cohen document dump

07.19 The 51 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump's repugnant North Carolina rally

07.19 The Real Meaning of ‘Send Her Back!’

07.18 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Breaking up Homeland Security

Justice Matters

07.19 UN urged to act over 'purge' of Turkey's lawyers by Erdogan

07.19 DOJ Releases Strong Evidence of Trump’s Campaign Finance Violations But No Explanation of No Charges [The statement]

High Crimes vs. Human Rights

07.19 Conscientious objectors of first world war – their untold tales [The record proves they were morally right by avoiding violent early deaths of their cousins and themselves]

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

07.18 Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how

International & Futurism

07.21 Millions face hardship as Zimbabwe comes close to ‘meltdown’

07.21 Spain set for socialist-led government after Iglesias deal [Some loaded drama going on here...]

07.20 US to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia in face of 'credible' regional threats [Working with Osama bin Laden's godfathers, Trump wants to profit like Erik Prince (for-profit education secretary Betsy DeVos' brother) of Blackwater infamy (hurriedly renamed ‘Academi’), the U.S. taxpayer to pay inflated costs while Trump siphons off long-term emolument largesse]

07.20 Iran on 'dangerous path' with seizure of Stena Impero, says UK [Which is this, a tit or a tat?]

07.20 'Dark satanic mills': Tony Abbott continues his crusade against wind turbines [Too much CO2 air pollution makes you stupid, and turns your country into an “Idiocracy” (1:36 video clip)]

07.20 Bolsonaro declares 'the Amazon is ours' and calls deforestation data 'lies' [Lazy and willfully stupid whenever it serves his purpose, just like Trump. “And the rest of you can all go to hell.” Again, just like Trump. Has your country turned into an “Idiocracy”? (1:36 video clip)]

07.19 U.N.'s Bachelet says Congresswomen opposing Trump are 'fantastic'

07.19 Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions [Was barbaric Saudi Arabia—whose citizens were more involved in the 9-11 attacks—the wrong ally all along?]

07.19 “The Task Ahead Is Enormous, and There Is Not Much Time” [Read this and learn. Or read Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter and/or President Trump (@POTUS) | Twitter. Are you serious? Or are you in hideously criminal denial?]

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  Our Air Security Is In Shakey Hands

COMMENTARY:

Into Thin Air: The Airport Scanner Scam

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation on 4 January 2010

What will happen if the full-body scanner goes the way of the puffer? Well, there’s always the next generation of security equipment: the Body Orifice Security Scanner, or BOSS chair...

Scan, baby, scan. That’s the mantra among politicians at all levels in the wake of the thwarted terrorist attack aboard a Detroit-bound passenger jet. According to conventional wisdom, the would-be “underwear bomber” could have been stopped by airport security if he’d been put through a full body scanner, which would have revealed the cache of explosives attached to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s groin.

Within days or even hours of the bombing attempt, everyone was talking about so-called whole body imaging as the magic bullet that could stop this type of attack. In announcing hearings by the Senate Homeland Security Commitee, Joe Lieberman approached the use of scanners as a foregone conclusion, saying one of the “big, urgent questions that we are holding this hearing to answer” was “Why isn’t whole body scanning technology that can detect explosives in wider use?” Former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told the Washington Post,”You’ve got to find some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren’t easy to get at. It’s either pat-downs or imaging, or otherwise hoping that bad guys haven’t figured it out, and I guess bad guys have figured it out.”

As an alternative is being groped by airport screeners, the scanners might sound pretty good. The Transportation Security Administration has claimed that the images “are friendly enough to post in a preschool,” though the pcitures themselves tell another story, and numerous organizations have opposed them as a gross invasion of privacy. Beyond privacy issues, however, there are questions about whether these machines really work–and about who stands to benefit most from their use. When it comes to high-tech screening methods, the TSA has a dismal record of enriching private corporations with failed technologies, and there are signs that the latest miracle device may just bring more of the same.

Known by their critics as “digital strip search” machines, the devices use one of two technologies–millimeter wave sensors or backscatter x-rays–to to see through clothing, producing ghostly images of naked passengers. Yet critics say that these, too, are highly fallible, and are incapable of revealing explosives hidden in body cavities–an age-old method for smuggling contraband. If that’s the case, a terrorist could hide the entire bomb works within his or her body, and breeze through the virtual strip search undetected. Yesterday, the London Independent reported on ”authoritative claims that officials at the [UK] Department for Transport and the Home Office have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.” A British defense research firm reportedly found the machines unreliable in detecting “low-density” materials like plastics, chemicals, and liquids–precisely what the underwear bomber had stuffed in his briefs.

Yet the rush toward full body scans already seems unstoppable. They were mandated today as part of the “enhanced” screening for travelers from selected countries, and hundreds of the machines are already on order, at a cost of about $150,000 apiece. Within days of the bombing attempt, Reuters was reporting that the “greater U.S. government shift toward using the high-tech devices could create a boom for makers of security imaging products, and it has already created a speculative spike in share prices in some companies.”

Which brings us to the money shot. The body scanner is sure to get a go-ahead because of the illustrious personages hawking them. Chief among them is former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who now heads the Chertoff Group, which represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole body imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. For days after the attack, Chertoff made the rounds on the media promoting the scanners, calling the bombing attempt “a very vivid lesson in the value of that machinery”–all without disclosing his relationship to Rapiscan. According to the Washington Post:

Chertoff’s advocacy for the technology dates back to his time in the Bush administration. In 2005, Homeland Security ordered the government’s first batch of the scanners–five from California-based Rapiscan Systems.

Today, 40 body scanners are in use at 19 U.S. airports. The number is expected to skyrocket at least in part because of the Christmas Day incident. The Transportation Security Administration this week said it will order 300 more machines.

In the summer, TSA purchased 150 machines from Rapiscan with $25 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

The Washington Examiner last week ran down an entire list of all the former Washington politicians and staff members who are now part of what it calls the “full-body scanner lobby”:

One manufacturer, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is American Science & Engineering, Inc. AS&E has retained the K Street firm Wexler & Walker to lobby for “federal deployment of security technology by DHS and DOD.” Individual lobbyists on this account include former TSA deputy administration Tom Blank, who also worked under House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Chad Wolf — former assistant administrator for policy at TSA, and a former aide to Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., a top Senate appropriator and the ranking Republican on the transportation committee — is also lobbying on AS&E’s behalf.

Smiths Detection, another screening manufacturer, employs top transportation lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates, including Kevin Patrick Kelly, a former top staffer to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who sits on the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee. Smiths also retains former congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.

Former Sen. Al D’Amato, R-N.Y., represents L3 Systems, about which Bloomberg wrote today: “L-3 has ‘developed a more sophisticated system that could prevent smuggling of almost anything on the body,’ said Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., who has a ‘hold’ rating on the stock.”

In forecasting the fate of the full body scanners, we can turn to recent history, which saw the rapid rise–and decline–of the previous “miracle” screening technology. In the years following 9/11, dozens of explosive trace portals (ETPs) were installed in airports across the country, at a cost of about $160,000 each. These “puffer” machines—so called because they blow air on passengers to dislodge explosive particles–were once celebrated as the “no touch pat down.” But in a Denver test by CBS in 2007, a network employee was sprayed with explosives and then walked through the airport’s three puffers without any trouble. The machines also set off false alarms, and they frequently broke down, leading to sky-high maintenance costs.

After spending more than $30 million on the puffer machines–most of them purchased from GE–the TSA announced earlier this year that it was suspending their use. Only about 25 percent of the machines were ever even deployed at U.S. airports. A report last month from the Government Accountability Office found that the TSA had not adequately tested the puffers before buying them.

What will happen if the full-body scanner goes the way of the puffer? Well, there’s always the next generation of security equipment: the Body Orifice Security Scanner, or BOSS chair. This contraption, which has an uncomfortable resemblance to an electric chair, is used in prisons, mostly in the UK, for tracing cell phones, shivs, and other dangerous contraband that’s been swallowed or inserted into body cavities by inmates. So far, it only detects metal, but you never know.

Give me a friendly German Shepherd any day.


Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found on his web site, http://jamesridgeway.net.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on January 6, 2010.
 

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