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Thu, 27 Jan 2022
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TSA agent: 'We laugh at your nude images, dear passengers'

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© AFP Photo / Kevork Djansezian
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents screen passangers at airport
If you were ever hesitant to walk through TSA's nude scanners at an airport, you had good reason: A former TSA employee has revealed that fellow officers frequently laugh at the sight of passengers' naked bodies.

The former Transportation Security Administration agent exposed the disturbing behavior on his blog, Taking Sense Away, after a reader asked him what goes in in the agency's private rooms. The agent, who responds to questions anonymously, said he never heard of anything illegal or inappropriate going on in private screening rooms, but often witnessed agents acting improperly in the image operator (IO) rooms, which is where TSA agents review nude X-ray images.

No surveillance cameras or recording devices are placed in these rooms, making it impossible for private conversations between the officers to be exposed.

Magnify

Buyer beware: Toyota pays more than $1bn over car faults

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© Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Largest settlement in US history involving car defects must now be approved by a judge

The Toyota car company has agreed to pay over $1bn to settle claims that its cars could unintentionally accelerate out of control. A judge must approve Toyota's offer of $1.1bn (£683m) which was filed in a Californian court on Wednesday.

Toyota was taken to court by owners of its cars who claimed there was an electronic fault in the acceleration system. Toyota said any accelerator problems were caused by driver error, pedals sticking or badly fitted mats. The settlement means Toyota does not admit blame and avoids a lengthy trial.

Arrow Down

JFK conspiracy theorists ask for inclusion in 50-year ceremony

John Judge
© Melissa Golden for The Wall Street Journal
John Judge says Dallas is preventing conspiracy theorists a permit to gather at Dealey Plaza, the assassination site.
Dallas - Officials in the city where President John F. Kennedy was gunned down Nov. 22, 1963, want to observe the 50th anniversary of that day with a celebration of his life.

The city plans a ceremony that would include readings from Kennedy speeches by historian David McCullough and military jets flying over Dealey Plaza, where the 35th president was shot.

But some who believe the assassination was a conspiracy involving high-ranking U.S. officials say their views shouldn't be excluded from the commemoration.

"It's absurd to move the discussion of his death to another moment," said John Judge, executive director of the Coalition on Political Assassinations, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that studies 1960s murders of public figures. "Our First Amendment rights are being violated."

Mr. Judge, 65 years old, said conspiracy-theory proponents have gathered at Dealey Plaza every Nov. 22 since 1964. Next year, he added, will be the first that Dallas hasn't granted a permit for the meeting, which usually involves a moment of silence and a few speeches.

He said the city should move its ceremony elsewhere, adding that his group's members would find a way to disseminate their theories during the city event, possibly even dropping protest banners from nearby buildings.

"The world and the nation turned against Dallas," Mr. Payne said.

Bizarro Earth

Giant aquarium bursts, injures 15 at Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall

A large, 33.5-ton aquarium burst late yesterday in a busy shopping center on the pedestrian mall on Nanjing Road E., injuring 15 people, including customers and shop staff.

One male customer, in his 30s, was hit by falling glass and had broken bones in his leg. Others had cuts and bruises.

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© http://www.sina.com.cn/
Three sharks raised inside the 7-meter-long, 3-meter-high aquarium, on the first floor of the Orient Shopping Center, died in the incident about 7:50pm.

Local police and work safety authorities said the cause of the accident was under investigation.

Eight of the injured were believed to be customers while the rest shop assistants and security staff. The aquarium was built about two years ago.

Several cosmetics counters along the aquarium on the inside of the center were damaged and water flooded the pedestrian street. Wreckage of the aquarium and the dead sharks, about 30 to 40 centimeters long, remained until staff picked them up.

"It just suddenly broke and fell off," said an injured man, surnamed Li. He was hit by a falling metal frame.

Crusader

New petition urges U.S. to keep Piers Morgan 'because UK doesn't want him'

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© Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP
Piers Morgan, who became the subject of an online petition after lambasting the pro-gun lobby.
Following a groundswell of support in America for demands to expel Piers Morgan from the country and deport him back to the UK over his views on US gun controls, it seems that any return home for the chatshow host would not be greeted warmly by everyone.

The White House has yet to respond to an online petition calling for the TV presenter to be marched to the nearest American exit, but it has not stopped UK citizens from launching a pre-emptive strike against any such move.

The petition to "Keep Piers Morgan in the USA" had nearly 600 signatures by Wednesday night, far from the 25,000 signature threshold necessary to prompt a White House response.

It was created in response to the petition "Deport British Citizen Piers Morgan for Attacking 2nd Amendment", which had attracted more than 73,000 supporters. "Kurt N" in Austin, Texas, created the petition following Morgan's repeated calls for increased US gun control in the wake of the Newtown shootings.

On 14 December, the day of the primary school shooting, Morgan used his nightly broadcast to lambast the pro-gun lobby, shouting down John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, in an angry exchange.

In a subsequent blogpost on CNN.com, Morgan wrote: "The senseless killing has to stop," and called for a ban on high-powered assault rifles and high-capacity gun magazines.

Beaker

'Misidentified man' mistakenly locked up in psychiatric hospital, injected with powerful antipsychotic drug

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A man was given anti-psychotic drugs after he was mistaken for an escaped Graylands patient, having been picked up by police and detained at the hospital.

The shocking incident occurred earlier this month and authorities did not realise they had made the blunder until after they gave the innocent man a cocktail of powerful drugs.

The man fell ill after being given the drugs and needed hospital treatment.

An investigation into the incident is now underway.

The series of events started after a patient at the hospital left without permission in mid December.

Police were called to help locate the patient and several days later, a man with the same description of the escapee was brought back to Graylands by police where he was wrongly identified by hospital staff as the runaway patient.

Light Sabers

Twin swords of Damocles over the 'Heads Of All Humanity'

During the 1950s I grew up in a family who rooted for the success of African Americans in their just struggle for civil rights and full legal equality. Then in 1962 it was the terror of my own personal imminent nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis that first sparked my interest in studying international relations and U.S. foreign policy as a young boy of 12: "I can do a better job than this!"

With the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964 and the military draft staring me right in the face, I undertook a detailed examination of it. Eventually I concluded that unlike World War II when my Father had fought and defeated the Japanese Imperial Army as a young Marine in the Pacific, this new war was illegal, immoral, unethical, and the United States was bound to lose it. America was just picking up where France had left off at Dien Bien Phu. So I resolved to do what little I could to oppose the Vietnam War.

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson gratuitously invaded the Dominican Republic, which prompted me to commence a detailed examination of U.S. military interventions into Latin America from the Spanish-American War of 1898 up to President Franklin Roosevelt's so-called "good neighbor" policy. At the end of this study, I concluded that the Vietnam War was not episodic, but rather systemic: Aggression, warfare, bloodshed, and violence were just the way the United States Financial Power Elite had historically conducted their business around the world and in America. Hence, as I saw it as a young man of 17, there would be more Vietnams in the future and perhaps someday I could do something about it as well as about promoting civil rights for African Americans. These twins concerns of my youth would gradually ripen into a career devoted to international law and human rights.

Smoking

St. Paul soda fountain busted for selling candy cigarettes

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© candy.com
It’s illegal to sell candy cigarettes in St. Paul.
A back-in-the-day soda fountain in St. Paul has been busted for selling cigarettes -- made of candy.

Lynden's, on Hamline Avenue near Cretin-Derham Hall High School, said a city inspections official came in last week and gave the shop a warning and added that a misdemeanor citation -- with a $500 fine -- would be next if the cancer-free confectionery continues to be sold.

"We got busted [Dec. 19] by the City of St. Paul. Oops," the shop Tweeted.

Candy cigarettes, bubble gum cigars and bubblegum made to look like chewing tobacco have been among a host of vintage sugary treats that Lynden's has kept in stock since it opened in April.

"We had no idea," Tobi Lynden said Wednesday, lamenting that she can no longer sell the white candy sticks with the red tips, her best-selling candy item. "We don't want to get on the bad side of St. Paul."

Lynden said nearly all of the candy cigarette purchases were made by adults.

" 'Oh, I had these when I was little,' " she said she would often hear. "We weren't trying to promote smoking or tobacco use of any kind."

Rocket

Surprised? Villagers join al-Qaeda after deadly U.S. strike

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© AP
An unmanned US Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field

A rickety truck packed with 14 people rumbled down a desert road from the town of Radda, which al-Qaeda militants once controlled. Suddenly a missile struck flipping the vehicle over. Then a second missile hit the truck. Within seconds, 11 of the passengers were dead, including a woman and her seven-year-old daughter. A 12-year-old boy also died that day, and another man later died from his wounds.

The Yemeni government initially said that those killed were al-Qaeda militants and that its own Soviet-era jets carried out the September 2 attack. But last week US officials acknowledged for the first time that it was an American strike and that the victims were civilians.

Arrow Up

On children whose murders don't make the news

Dead Children
© Corbis
Twelve days ago, America experienced one of the worst school shootings in history. Twenty children and six adults were killed when Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and opened fire with guns and rifles. The massacre shocked the world and caused the country to ask how and why it happened.

The children of Sandy Hook are the highest-profile murder victims, but they are not the only ones. According to figures released by UNICEF, over the past decade more than 20,000 American children have been killed in their own homes by family members.

America has the worst record of child abuse in the industrialized world, and more children die each week in America than died in the school shooting on that day: Twenty children died on Dec. 14, and it, quite rightly, outraged the world. Twenty-seven children died the week before and the week after and nobody noticed. Americans and the news media pay little attention to children murdered every day across the country.

A small sample of children killed (or nearly killed) by parents making news in the weeks before and after the Sandy Hook killings: Camilia Terry of Cleveland was arrested for killing her three-year-old son Emilliano; she claimed he'd been kidnapped but after his body was found in a trash bag at a landfill, her story changed. Nicole Fitzgerald of Baltimore stabbed her two-year-old son to death. Jennifer Lynn Emerick of Huron, Michigan, suffocated her 23-month-old son. Jessica Elizabeth Rhodes of Pennsylvania beat and shook her 14-month-old son so badly it nearly killed him; he suffered brain bleeding and swelling, and eye hemorrhaging.

Kristine Davis of New Hampshire poisoned her seven-month-old son. Veronica Herrera of Boise, Idaho, killed her 2-year-old daughter and burned her body in a barrel in the back yard of her home. Lashay Patterson and her live-in boyfriend, both of Philadelphia, beat and burned her five-year-old son to death.

It's a national tragedy when one man with a gun kills 20 children at once, but when parents do it one at a time every single day in this country it barely makes the local news or raises an eyebrow. Why?

Part of the reason is that the Connecticut shooting perfectly fits the typical "Stranger Danger" social narrative: an evil male preying on other people's innocent children. It's the stereotypical murder, something we can all recognize and fear. But when it's a mother (or, less often, a father) killing her own child, it's often ignored because, after all, as horrific and tragic as the crime is, at least it's her own child, not someone else's.