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TSA's $1 billion Program to 'Read' Fliers' Expressions Comes Under Fire After Failing to Catch Any Bad Guys

chat down, tsa
© Josh T. Reynolds/USA TODAY
A TSA agent interviews a traveler in Boston as part of Logan International Airport's pilot program for enhanced behavior detection at airport security.
Wear your heart on your sleeve if you want, but just be careful about showing your emotions when you travel - the Transportation Security Administration is watching.

The nation's airport security agency has 3,000 employees at 161 airports nationwide trained to identify terrorists simply by reading faces and body language - a glance in a certain direction, a nervous gesture.

American taxpayers have paid dearly for what the TSA called its Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT program: More than $1 billion at 161 airports.

But the record of these behavior-detection officers is disappointing, to say the least: not a single terrorist nabbed. In fact, 16 passengers allegedly tied to terror plots passed 23 times through airports - and not one was picked out of the crowd.

And a federal watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, is warning that SPOT's miserable record probably won't get any better, at least any time soon. At a hearing on Capitol Hill last month, the GAO's Stephen Lord told lawmakers that the TSA has not completely validated the science behind SPOT - or proved that it works in an airport environment - even though the program's budget has grown 15 percent in five years, from $198 million in fiscal 2009 to a requested $227 million in fiscal 2013.

Heart - Black

Bizarre Crimes in Egypt: Rape Victim's Brother Rapes Sister of Accused Rapist in Revenge Attack

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© Shutterstock
An 18-year old Egyptian girl was raped by a 31-year old Egyptian farmer with the help of his wife and his mother.

The rape was an act of revenge as the victim's brother, raped the accused's sister a year ago, reported the Masrawy web site.

The police have arrested all three.

The police investigation revealed that the brother of the victim raped the sister of the accused a year ago.

The family suffered terribly with the husband constantly being taunted about the act and not being able to protect his sister.

The man and his family then decided to take revenge lured the young girl to their home and raped her.

The police confirmed that the rape happened in front of the mother and the wife of the accused.

Shoe

Apparent Human Foot Delivered to Ottawa Conservative Party HQ

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© CBC News
Police remove a bag containing a human foot that was delivered to the Conservative Party of Canada's headquarters in downtown Ottawa.
Canada - An Ottawa coroner has confirmed a package delivered Tuesday to the Conservative Party of Canada's headquarters in downtown Ottawa contained a human foot.

Police removed the foot in a yellow bag during the early evening from the 12th floor of 130 Albert St. after a day-long investigation.

Police were called to the building at 11:20 a.m. ET after a suspicious package was delivered there. Police called for the hazardous materials unit after they noticed what appeared to be blood on the package.

The Hazmat Unit and Emergency Operations Section inspected the package and determined that there was possibly a human foot in the box, police said

Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt said major crimes investigators have taken over the HAZMAT call because if it is a human foot, "There's a body without one."

Pumpkin

Zombie Nation: Naked cannibal on LSD shot to death by Miami police as he ate homeless man's face

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Rudy Eugene
The first images have been released of Rudy Eugene, the homeless man shot and killed by Miami police as he ate another man's face.

Eugene, 31, is thought to have been high on a powerful form of LSD when he attacked another homeless man, ripping off chunks of the man's flesh with his teeth.

Both men were naked at the time of the attack.

The unidentified victim is currently fighting for his life in intensive care at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital hospital, after Eugene chewed off up to 80 per cent of his face, including his nose and eyes, in what hospital spokesperson called "some of the worst [injuries] staff had ever encountered."

Binoculars

5 Things the TSA Doesn't Want You to See

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© unknown
This is a picture of two Transportation Security Administration screeners leaving work last week.

But look closely. They're nowhere near an airport. In fact, if you've ever been to Washington, then you'll recognize the area just outside a Metro station near a congressional office building.

This is just one the images the TSA didn't want you to see last week.

How do I know? Because when I asked the agency assigned to protect America's transportation systems about the picture, its response was "off the record" - meaning that I'm not allowed to tell you what it said.

But a legislative assistant who works in a nearby office building filled in the details.

"The two agents were at the Capitol South Metro Station roughly between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday evening," he says. "They had a white table set up inside the station and were randomly inspecting purses and bags. There were also a few officers as you can see standing next to the dark blue van in the picture that were 10 yards or so past the table, standing watch."

I was able to independently confirm that the TSA agents were there and that they were working. But beyond that, not much.

The fact that TSA operates outside of airports may come as a surprise to some Americans. The agency's so-called Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams work mostly in mass transit in big metropolitan areas, but not exclusively. They've been seen at ballgames, truckstops and even reportedly got themselves banned from Amtrak stations for a short while.

Cult

Thomas Harkin, Former Catholic Priest Accused Of Sex Abuse, Now Works For TSA


A Catholic priest who was defrocked in 2002 over sex abuse allegations has a new job...with the TSA.

CBS Philadelphia reports that Thomas Harkin, who worked at churches across southern New Jersey before being removed by the Diocese of Camden because he was found to have abused young girls, now has a job as a "Transportation Security Manager, Baggage" with the TSA at Philadelphia International Airport.

The station saw Harkin working as a checkpoint supervisor between terminals D and E at the airport even as a new lawsuit has been filled against him for sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl.

Karen Polesir, a spokeswoman with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the station, "They should know who they're hiring...As the public, we are screened to our underwear getting on a plane, and yet they hire a man like that."

Phoenix

Pregnant Woman and Her Unborn Baby SURVIVE After Being Abducted, Set on Fire and Shot

  • 22-year-old had been dropping off her ex-boyfriend when she was attacked
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© ABC News
Ordeal: A 22-year-old woman was abducted, set on fire and shot in the back in Michigan
A woman who is nine months pregnant was abducted, set on fire and shot.

The 22-year-old and her unborn baby were expected to live after the horrific ordeal on Saturday morning.

The unknown attacker apparently told the woman that the abduction was linked to her pregnancy.

The child's father witnessed the attack, but did not call 911 - and police suggested the man did not want another baby.

Dollar

Cooperative Banking, Wave of the Future for a Sustainable Form of Banking

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© Fibonacci Blue/flickr
Are cooperative banks the wave of the future?
As our political system sputters, a wave of innovative thinking and bold experimentation is quietly sweeping away outmoded economic models. In 'New Economic Visions', a special five-part AlterNet series edited by Economics Editor Lynn Parramore in partnership with political economist Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative, creative thinkers come together to explore the exciting ideas and projects that are shaping the philosophical and political vision of the movement that could take our economy back.

According to both the Mayan and Hindu calendars, 2012 (or something very close) marks the transition from an age of darkness, violence and greed to one of enlightenment, justice and peace. It's hard to see that change just yet in the events relayed in the major media, but a shift does seem to be happening behind the scenes; and this is particularly true in the once-boring world of banking.

In the dark age of Kali Yuga, money rules; and it is through banks that the moneyed interests have gotten their power. Banking in an age of greed is fraught with usury, fraud and gaming the system for private ends. But there is another way to do banking; the neighborly approach of George Bailey in the classic movie It's a Wonderful Life. Rather than feeding off the community, banking can feed the community and the local economy.

2 + 2 = 4

Quebec Students, Government to Resume Negotiations

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© Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
Canada, Montreal - Quebec students and the provincial government return to the bargaining table on Monday in a high-stakes attempt to put an end to a months-long dispute over tuition hikes that has led to clashes with police and mass arrests.

The latest round of talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with thousands taking to the streets nightly in protest and Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching.

Representatives from the province's four largest student associations are scheduled to meet with the province's education minister in Quebec City.

Leo Bureau-Blouin, the head of one of student group, said Sunday the talks represent a "last chance" for the government to put an end to the conflict.

Students have called for a tuition freeze. The government has ruled out that possibility. The last round of negotiations was a marathon session that went more than 24 hours straight, ending in a government offer that was overwhelmingly rejected.

The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition - $2,519 a year - is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike - $254 per year over seven years - is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms dubbed the Quiet Revolution that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada.

Chess

Obama's Re-election No Longer Guaranteed?

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© Getty Images
Dark horse: a short while ago, the Republican candidate Mitt Romney was not given a chance in the US election, but now the picture looks different
Until recently, Barack Obama's re-election was regarded as inevitable - in the same way that summer follows spring, or a monsoon follows a hosepipe ban. The president's poll lead over Mitt Romney was strong, while the Republican's character was assassinated by a primary fight that permanently spoiled the reputation of his party. To court the GOP's conservative base, Romney was forced to adopt positions on abortion, contraception, health care and welfare that are thought to be unpopular among moderate swing voters. Obama, by contrast, is the man who killed bin Laden and toppled Gaddafi. A choice between Obama the moderate statesman and Romney the craven conservative is surely no contest at all.

But in the last two weeks, things have changed. Obama's re-election is no longer guaranteed; some pollsters think it is unlikely. Day by day, the odds are improving that Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States.

What changed? For a start, voters are getting gloomier about the economy. Joblessness remains high and debt is out of control. According to one poll released this week, only 33 per cent of Americans expect the economy to improve in the coming months and only 43 per cent approve of the way that the president has handled it. Voters think Obama has made the debt situation and health care worse. The man who conducted the poll - Democrat Peter Hart - concluded that "Obama's chances for re-election... are no better than 50-50."

Comment: Unfortunately, a change in the Oval Office is unlikely to improve things for the majority of Americans.
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