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Wed, 21 Feb 2018
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Amid airport anger, GOP takes aim at screening

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© Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
TSA Transportation Security Officers, in blue uniforms, screen airline passenger as they check-in at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010. U.S. officials are defending new anti-terrorism security procedures at the nation's airports that some travelers complain are overly invasive and intimate.
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."

Laptop

One Hundred Naked Citizens: One Hundred Leaked Body Scans

At the heart of the controversy over "body scanners" is a promise: The images of our naked bodies will never be public. U.S. Marshals in a Florida Federal courthouse saved 35,000 images on their scanner. These are those images.


A Gizmodo investigation has revealed 100 of the photographs saved by the Gen 2 millimeter wave scanner from Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc., obtained by a FOIA request after it was recently revealed that U.S. Marshals operating the machine in the Orlando, Florida courthouse had improperly-perhaps illegally-saved images of the scans of public servants and private citizens.

We understand that it will be controversial to release these photographs. But identifying features have been eliminated. And fortunately for those who walked through the scanner in Florida last year, this mismanaged machine used the less embarrassing imaging technique.

Attention

Geraldo Realizes 9-11 Could Be an Inside Job

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© Fox News
Has Fox News Talkshow host Geraldo seen the light?
Comment: You know you're in the Twilight Zone when Fox News sheds light on the most taboo topic in the US media. Watch as one of America's most famous talkshow host throws some crumbs of truth to the starving US masses...


Whistle

Singer James Blunt: I disobeyed order from NATO Commander Wesley Clark to 'destroy' Russian troops in Kosovo

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© Unknown
James Blunt
James Blunt refused an order to attack Russian troops when he was a British soldier in Kosovo.

Kosovo, June 1999. Serbia has withdrawn from the campaign. Hundreds of thousands of refugees wait over the border to return to their homes. A column of 30,000 Nato troops is advancing towards Pristina airfield - a crucial strategic position.

Unexpectedly, the Russian forces, reach the airfield first; Russia, Serbia's patron, is hoping to stake a claim in the occupation. The soldiers are pointing their weapons at the incoming Allied troops. "Destroy!" orders the US general over the radio - instructions from the very top. World War Three is on the cards. Enter crooner James Blunt. Crisis averted.

Blunt was then 25, a captain in the Life Guards and the lead officer at the front of the Nato column. He risked a court martial by refusing to obey those orders from General Wesley Clark to attack the Russian forces.

In a BBC radio interview last night, Blunt said: "I was given the direct command to overpower the 200 or so Russians who were there. I was the lead officer, with my troop of men behind us... The soldiers directly behind me were from the Parachute Regiment, so they're obviously game for the fight.

USA

The Stench of American Hypocrisy

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Ten years of rule by the Bush and Obama regimes have seen the collapse of the rule of law in the United States. Is the American media covering this ominous and extraordinary story? No the American media is preoccupied with the rule of law in Burma (Myanmar).

The military regime that rules Burma just released from house arrest the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The American media used the occasion of her release to get on Burma's case for the absence of the rule of law. I'm all for the brave lady, but if truth be known, "freedom and democracy" America needs her far worse than does Burma.

I'm not an expert on Burma, but the way I see it the objection to a military government is that the government is not accountable to law. Instead, such a regime behaves as it sees fit and issues edicts that advance its agenda. Burma's government can be criticized for not having a rule of law, but it cannot be criticized for ignoring its own laws. We might not like what the Burmese government does, but, precisely speaking, it is not behaving illegally.

In contrast, the United States government claims to be a government of laws, not of men, but when the executive branch violates the laws that constrain it, those responsible are not held accountable for their criminal actions. As accountability is the essence of the rule of law, the absence of accountability means the absence of the rule of law.

Ambulance

Israel & South Africa: Netcare coughs up about illegal organ trafficking

transplant operation
© Unknown
The biggest health care provider in South Africa has been involved in illegal kidney transplant operations.
After seven years of obfuscation and denial, South Africa's largest private healthcare group, Netcare, finally confessed to its role in a cash-for-kidneys scheme and to benefiting from associated international trafficking of living donors.

Immediately after Netcare admitted to having illegally profited from the scheme, Richard Friedland, Netcare's chief executive, publicly apportioned blame to St Augustine's hospital management and transplant coordinators acting in cahoots with surgeons and others -- basically every­one involved in the scheme, except Netcare itself.

See here for graphic describing the scheme.

Netcare's conviction in the Durban commercial crimes court is said to be a world first -- no other hospital group has been found guilty of supporting an organised trafficking scheme dealing in organs.

The scheme, dubbed the Israeli Transplant Programme, recruited living kidney "donors". They were flown to South Africa for harvesting and transplant operations at Netcare's facilities in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Sherlock

Report: U.S. Doctors Still Too Cozy with Drug Industry

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© cbsnews.com
A study estimates drug companies pay doctors $57 billion a year in fees and services, causing some to worry that decisions on prescription are being unduly influenced.
Doctors in the United States are still too cozy with drug companies, although they have managed to break some of those ties, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The team at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital did a national survey of 1,900 primary care doctors in 2009 about their contacts with drug companies.

They found 84 percent reported some type of relationship with drug companies, compared with 94 percent in 2004.

Attention

Another Gaza aid mission sabotaged: Ken O'Keefe and Road to Hope humanitarian aid activists abducted, now facing terrorism charges!

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© Road to Hope
Irish Gaza aid activist Ken O'Keefe has been abducted along with companions and a dozen Libyan policemen by the captain of their chartered ship (which was supposed to transport the activists and their cargo of humanitarian aid to Al-Arish port in Egypt, from where the convoy would continue their journey by land to the besieged people of Gaza). The captain apparently pulled out of port in such a hurry that mooring ropes were snapped and one of the convoy's vehicles was left stranded at a 45 degree angle on the ship's loading ramp. Somebody, it seems, got to him at the last minute. The 'Road to Hope' organisation had paid $75,000 to the captain to sail their cargo of humanitarian aid to Egypt. Below O'Keefe speaks to Hasan Ghada of Press TV about the incident.

According to Ken's facebook updates, the aid workers are now being held by Greek authorities on suspicion of terrorism, even though it was THEY who were abducted from Libya!


Comment: UPDATE: As of 01:30 CET, Sunday November 14, all the charity workers have been arrested, handcuffed and imprisoned by Greek port police.

UPDATE 2: Ken O'Keefe sent the following message to his Facebook page at 07:30 CET:
We are free in Greece. It has been trying, but the Greek government has done the right thing in the end.
UPDATE 3: Monday November 15 - The Road to Hope crew have released this video footage of the bizarre moment when the Ukrainian captain of their chartered ship went bezerk and deliberately ran his own vessel into the pier at the port of Derna in Libya, before abducting them to Greece:




Bad Guys

McDonald's and PepsiCo to help write UK health policy

burger
© Murdo Macleod
McDonald's and other food companies will help write policy on obesity and diet-related diseases.

Exclusive: Department of Health putting fast food companies at heart of policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease

The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald's and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, the Guardian has learned.

In an overhaul of public health, said by campaign groups to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five "responsibility deal" networks with business, co-chaired by ministers, to come up with policies. Some of these are expected to be used in the public health white paper due in the next month.

Video

The Story of Electronics

Why "designed for the dump" is toxic for the people and the planet.


The Story of Electronics employs the Story of Stuff style to explore the high-tech revolution's collateral damage - 25 million tons of e-waste and counting, poisoned workers and a public left holding the bill.