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Thu, 28 Oct 2021
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Is Anyone Surprised? TSA Misled Public on Dangers of Airport Body Scanners

© screenshot from TSA video
A TSA employee looking at the images from an X-ray scanner at an American airport
Internal U.S. government documents show that the Transportation Security Administration, under the guidance of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, deliberately misled the public on the health risks associated with body-scanning devices.

Documents recently obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reportedly revealed that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been caught covering up a growing number of cases of cancer among TSA airport body scanner operators who conduct the screenings in close proximity to the radiation-emitting devices.

Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of EPIC, told 9News Now "We think that the Department of Homeland Security has not been forthcoming with the public about the true extent of radiation risk with the airport body scanners" after reviewing the documents. EPIC found evidence that the Department of Homeland Security failed to properly evaluate the level of risk from airport body scanners.

Some of the documents indicate that a large number of TSA workers have fallen victim to cancer, strokes and heart disease. TSA workers are concerned that they are being exposed to dangerous levels of radiation while they're conducting the screenings. Union representatives in Boston have cited rising cancer cases (PDF) in the TSA's workforce there and asked the agency to allow its members to wear radiation monitoring devices. To date, the TSA has refused requests for dosimeters.


US: Police State Unnecessary

© benfrank.net
In the near future the noise you hear in your outside trash container might not be that pesky raccoon or the neighbor's dog, but the FBI, looking for evidence to link you to some criminal or terrorist activity. That would be particularly true if you have had any contact knowingly or unknowingly, socially or otherwise with someone the bureau finds suspicious. If past experience is any guide, that could be nearly anyone.

According to recent news reports, officials of the national police force are preparing for another assault on our civil liberties. They are planning to give their agents more leeway to intrude into the lives of those they decide need further looking into by amending the domestic operations manual that sets out guidelines for conducting investigations. They would have enhanced ability to search not only household trash but also databases and could assign surveillance teams to scrutinize every aspect of American lives - shades of J. Edgar Hoover and his infamous Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).

At the risk of overstating the case, that's just plain scary.

Link that with reports of a mysterious FBI investigation into the activities of peace advocates and politically active labor organizers, and the past is not only prologue, it never went away. The Washington Post reported that the probe involving raids on seven homes and the issuance of subpoenas for 23 people last fall has triggered a major protest at the Justice Department. The investigation apparently is examining possible material support for Colombian and Palestinian groups designated as terrorists, the newspaper said.

Star of David

Israel Bulldozes Palestinian House Near Bethlehem

© unknown
Israeli occupation forces demolished Tuesday a Palestinian house in Khirbet Biet Iskaria located in the south of Bethlehem.

Awad Abu Sawi, the Bethlehem director of the local Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, said that an Israeli force escorted by three bulldozers raided the village and started the demotion after declaring the area as "a military closed zone".

The house owned by the Palestinian citizen, Mahmoud Saeed, was inhabited by 11 persons.

The house owner said that he was handed an Israeli demolition notice under the pretext of illegal construction, noting that several house in the same area are subjected to Israel's threat.

Stating that Israel used to demolish Palestinian homes in that area aiming at pushing them from their own land in order to expand its illegal settlements.

Residents are terrified of a series of demolitions as Israeli forces are still existing in the area.


Apple site hacked 'by LulzSec' - report

No suggestion of snags at iTunes, though

Hackers claim to have broken into Apple's systems before posting a list of names and password hashes online.

The FT, in a story careful to make a number of caveats, attributes the hack on what would appears to be Apple's business intelligence unit on infamous and recently disbanded prankster hackers LulzSec. None of this has been confirmed and Apple is yet to say anything about the supposed hack.

Eye 2

I Pledge Allegiance to the Pole

utility pole
© Micah Taylor
The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom...

- Maya Angelou

There is a telephone pole outside my house - seven steps down the front porch, one step across the sidewalk, and there it is - that leans only slightly enough to the right to raise concern. It does it's job tolerably well, as least as well as its sagging brethren that hover along and above my tired old Brighton sidestreet. It offers no complains. It does its duty.

Take a close look, however, and all of a sudden this simple, slightly splintered nondescript thing makes you think. There are at least three hundred nails sticking out of its old hide, and some of those nails look old enough to have held the Son and Savior Himself, in His well-documented agony, had this particular piece of pine been available on Golgotha.

Once upon a time a utility worker planted that pole in that spot, another utility worker strung the wild carnival of electrical wires that are still festooned above my house, and now I get to enjoy electricity and cable television and all the nonsense that goes along with both.

The nails in that pole will get you thinking if you look at them long enough. Hundreds of them, in spirals and straight lines and T-shapes, all over and up and down the thing. Buried deep, rusted to the quick, part of the essential wood now...and each one of them once carried a message. Lost Dog. Lost Cat. Ride Needed. Have You Seen This Girl. Concert Tonight. Strike Tomorrow.

Each message, once upon a time, was important enough to nail up, and each message is remembered now only by the nails left behind. The paper wound up in the river long ago, along with whatever message that was so important at the time, but the nails are still there for the counting in the old skin of the pole.

I feel like posting something up on that pole, you know, for the Fourth.


Writer to file attempted rape complaint against Strauss-Kahn; he counters with slander charge

Tristane Banon
© unknown
Tristane Banon
Dominique Strauss-Kahn faced a potential new sexual assault investigation Monday after a young French writer said she would formally accuse him of trying to rape her during a 2002 book interview - a dizzying turn of events just as the former IMF chief's fortunes seemed to be growing brighter.

With France debating his possible return to presidential politics, Strauss-Kahn swiftly hit back at author Tristane Banon's plans to take him to court over the attempted rape accusations, labeling her account "imaginary" and countering with his own plans to file a criminal complaint of slander.

The sordid exchange may have deep ramifications for the 2012 presidential race in France, where the surprise weakening of the sexual assault case against Strauss-Kahn in New York last week sparked a fierce debate about whether he should return to politics if the American case against him collapses completely.

Before Banon's announcement, polls showed voters were evenly split about whether Strauss-Kahn, 62, should try to revive a career that until recently had him on track to take on conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in the race to be France's next leader.

"DSK Back?" the left-leaning daily Liberation asked on its front page Monday.

Some politicians and pundits see Strauss-Kahn, who won plaudits for his stewardship of the International Monetary Fund, as a victim of overzealous American prosecutors and journalists who denied him the presumption of innocence when a maid accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex in his Manhattan hotel room.

Heart - Black

US: Fake terror, real sentence; FBI inspiration for 25 years in jail

Three men convicted of trying to blow up synagogues in New York have each been sentenced to 25 years in prison. But the case has raised allegations of entrapment, after they were actually incited by the FBI, and handed fake bombs. Critics claim it was a set-up, but the judge said her hands were tied.

For nearly a decade, the US has waged a widespread global war on terror. It has required a multi-tasking military effort overseas. On the domestic front, US officials have decided to redouble their efforts, recently announcing counter-terrorism plans that refocus resources on combating home-grown plots. "This is the first counter-terrorism strategy that focuses on the ability of Al-Qaeda and its network to inspire people in the United States to attack us from within, " John Brennan, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor declared recently. Yet in countless so-called FBI sting operations, media reports suggest the FBI operative provided the fake C4, and actually showed them the fake stinger missile.

Star of David

A July Fourth Shame on the Founders

© N/A
The tendency is to think of ourselves as "exceptional" Not just "all Americans," mind you, but all people. The Declaration of Independence was meant to be a statement expressing the "self-evident" rights of all mankind. Those principles had a universality that was a beacon to the world.

Yes, that was I standing before the U.S. Embassy in Athens on the eve of the July Fourth weekend holding the American flag in the distress mode - upside down.

Indignities experienced by me and my co-guests on The Audacity of Hope, the American boat to Gaza, over the past 10 days in Athens leave no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama's administration has forfeited the right to claim any lineage to the brave Americans who declared independence from the king of England 235 years ago.

In the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to a new enterprise of freedom, democracy and the human spirit. The outcome was far from assured; likely as not, the hangman's noose awaited them. They knew that all too well.

But they had a genuine audacity to hope that the majority of their countrymen and women, persuaded by Thomas Paine's Common Sense and the elegant words of Thomas Jefferson, would conclude that the goal of liberty and freedom was worth the risk; that it was worth whatever the cost.

Bad Guys

Mystery deepens over the flotilla on the rocks

 A Palestinian boy holds up a sign during a rally in support of the flotilla at Gaza's port yesterday
© Reuters

A Palestinian boy holds up a sign during a rally in support of the flotilla at Gaza's port yesterday

The many mishaps that have befallen 10 ships heading for Gaza have triggered accusations of Israeli dirty tricks

Muggings, alleged sabotage and mysterious fishermen loitering in oily waters: it has all the elements of an average spy novel, but jittery pro-Palestinian activists are alleging that Israel has masterminded a series of mishaps that has left their Gaza-bound flotilla in disarray.

In the latest blow to the depleted 10-ship convoy, Greece has arrested the captain of one ship and barred the departure of the other seven ships at its ports, warning that to let them leave would be too dangerous.

If this is the end of the road for the flotilla, it would seem a victory for Israel. It is, after all, a very different ending to activists' efforts to breach Israel's siege of Gaza in May last year when Israeli troops stormed the flotilla, killed nine Turkish activists and drew international opprobrium.


India Parties Pledge Anti-Corruption Law

© Reuters
Corruption has become endemic in the Indian system
India's political parties have agreed that a "strong and effective" anti-corruption law should be ready before the next session of parliament, which begins in August.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the announcement on Sunday after an all-party meeting to discuss the law.

Civil society and the government have been deadlocked over how powerful a new anti-graft ombudsman should be.

India has recently been hit by a string of high-profile corruption scandals.

Civil society members, led by activist Anna Hazare, have been pushing the government for a strong ombudsman that will have the power to investigate corruption charges against the prime minister, senior judges and MPs, among others.

The government has reportedly refused to include the prime minister and senior judiciary under the purview of the ombudsman.

But the government has said it is committed to draft a "strong and sound" Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill) by the end of June.