TSA Checkpoint Screeners Concerned About High Cancer Rates

 Gadget, Technology  Comments Off on TSA Checkpoint Screeners Concerned About High Cancer Rates
Jul 122011

Well, I won’t say, “I told you so, but…” The New York Times is reporting on email exchanges between TSA employee representatives and Department of Homeland Security officals about concerns over increased cancer rates.

According to the article, airport screeners in Boston and Atlanta were concerned about growing numbers of co-workers ‘falling victim to various forms of cancer,’ which they suspected might be caused by radiation exposure from the machines. ”

The e-mails and other documents were obtained by the privacy center under the Freedom of Information Act as part of its own lawsuit against use of the scanners. Ginger McCall, the center’s open government counsel, said the documents also showed that the T.S.A. had denied employees’ requests for dosimeters, safety devices that measure radiation exposure. “There is still a need for independent safety testing of these devices and for greater transparency on the part of T.S.A.,” she added.

This comes as no surprise to me. These things are unleashing x-ray radiation in a wide open environment. They claim the does is too low to matter, but I’m not sure that DHS is qualified to make that call, nor am I sure any level is a good idea beyond what might be medically necessary. Field testing back in March showed they were giving off ten times the radiation expected, and TSA steps into the fray to proclaim it was all just a simple math error (by several technicians at different sites mind you).

If I go to the hospital or even the dentist’s office and get an x-ray, it can be performed only by a person with a certification. I’ve yet to find one single TSA goon with a radiological certification of any kind.

And if the dose is so low it doesn’t matter, then why wouldn’t the TSA prove it by allowing TSA people to wear dosimeters for a while, and just clear up this whole matter? I’ll tell you why, they don’t want you to know just how much radiation really is being emitted. I’ve seen leaked images where people waiting in line were showing up in the x-ray, and if it doesn’t go any deeper than the skin, why do people with joint replacements have to carry a card showing a medical x-ray of their joint…according to DHS the TSA machines should not be able to see anything that deep, but it apparently does.

I opt-out. They can have someone come over and feel me up if they want to, but until they start having people who are certified and wearing dosimeters running their x-ray machines, I’m not letting them x-ray me. I’ve found you actually get through the feel-up, rub down, pat down pretty quick. Once the person starts going through their little explanation about what all they will be feeling, rubbing, patting, I just tell him that as a gay man I’m used having other guys feel me up, so he should just go ahead and enjoy himself. They usually wrap it up pretty quick.

Jan 222011

OK, so here’s how to avoid all the headaches of the TSA checkpoints. Just get one of these.

I loved the takeoff procedure, but I can see where landing could get a little complicated depending on your speed. Kind of reminded of Fred Flintstone, but it could be a lot of fun.

I’m just not sure where I’d land near our offices in Reston, VA. I’m pretty sure Dulles isn’t an option.


TSA Bumper Stickers

 Constitution, Featured, Politics, Travel  Comments Off on TSA Bumper Stickers
Dec 012010

Well, you knew it would be just a matter of time. I think I want one of each. My personal favorite, the one about the Freedom Pat. I can see some Congressman startting to use that to justify TSA.

Can’t See London, Can’t See France, Unless I see your Underpants

If We Did Our Job Any Better, We’d Have to Take You To Dinner First!

Don’t Worry, My Hands are Still Warm from the Last Guy

Wanna Fly? Drop Yours!

It’s Not a Grope. It’s a Freedom Pat.

We are now free to move about your pants.

We Handle More Packages Than UPS.

How to Shorten Your TSA Rub Down

 Constitution, Crime, Featured, Politics, Society, Technology  Comments Off on How to Shorten Your TSA Rub Down
Nov 202010

The man making money off machines which are supposed to keep you safe.

Finally people seem to be waking to the craziness of the TSA’s “security theater” at the airport gates, just not before Micheal Chertoff, former head of Homeland Security, got to sock away a nice retirement package from selling us taxpayers the bogus x-ray machines.

As a frequent flyer, I’ve given some thought to this whole security issue. Let’s take a brief walk back into time. Airplane hijackings used to be almost common. It seemed easy to sneak a gun/s or explosive device on a plane. Passengers knew their best way to survive was to sit quietly, endure a day or two in Cuba and try to avoid attracting attention to oneself. We implemented some common sense security to detect and eliminate the ability to easily get guns and bombs on-board planes in the passenger compartment. Then 9/11 happened, and things on the plane itself changed a lot. Passengers were no longer going to sit quietly, and cockpit doors were finally hardened and locked for the flight. This will pretty much end another 9/11 style attack.

But notice I didn’t bring up anything about the changes that have resulted at the security gates as having an impact on eliminating 9/11 style attacks. Frankly, that really changes nothing. We had the shoe-bomber, so now we take off our shoes, then we had the claim of the chemistry set bomb, so now we have the ridiculous 3 oz and a baggy requirement. I would note here that most experts say it would be near impossible to get the right chemicals in the right quantities mixed in the right way to take down a plane while on the plane. Yet still we suffer on. Then along came the underwear bomber, so now we’re basically asked to strip for our porno scan x-ray.

Now how many of you believe the terrorists are going to try another shoe bomb or underwear bomb on a plane? Of course not, they’ll find something else. Most recently they did the toner cartridge trick, and made some progress. But here’s what interests me, it was right after that TSA implemented stricter rub-down procedures, but they still are checking only about 20% of cargo. No changes there. What kind of clown car do they ride to work in? They just keep reacting, always a day behind the newest threat, and put no emphasis on where the real threats arise, or how to get ahead.

Oh, but don’t forget, the TSA gate agents recently got “real badges.” The claim for this expenditure of our tax dollars was so they would enjoy more respect. Well, I’ve got a clue for the TSA managers. The best way to get to respect is to extend respect. I was on my way to D.C. Monday morning and had just stepped up to the security person in the main terminal to show my ID and boarding pass. Some plain clothes TSA Agent literally elbowed himself in front of me flashing his credentials to the security person. We rode out to the concourse on the same tram, and when he got there, all he did was stand around looking. So there was clearly no emergency. Think I have a lot of respect for him, and it unfortunately further lowers my respect for the other agents of that group. So really guys, get a clue. Try extending a little courtesy and respect, and you might get some back. Having a tin badge ain’t gonna cut it.

All that said, what’s this about my new found way to get more quickly through a TSA Rub Down? Coming into the security gates at Dulles, I see Chertoff has lots of his x-ray machines sold to them, so everyone was expected to go through them. I said, “No, sorry, not going through an x-ray machine. You can do the pat down.” So of course the guy gets on his radio and says he has a “non-compliant.” They send an older big guy over, the supervisor, obviously for some kind of intimidation factor. I waited until he got there and explained I was not “non-compliant,” that it was my understanding everyone had a choice of getting an x-ray by an uncertified x-ray technician, or get a pat down, and that I had clearly said they could do a pat down.

Well, the supervisor leads me over to pickup my stuff, and has some younger guy come out to do the rub down. The supervisor stands by scowling with arms crossed, again clearly going for the intimidation factor. The agent goes through  his little spiel about how he’s going to be touching me, and then starts the rub-down, at each point telling me what he’s going to touch next. Finally, very matter of factly, I just said, “Dude, just do whatever it is you have to do. As a gay man, I have no problem having another guy feel me up.”

The pale creamy complexion of the old guy went from bright red to nearly purple in seconds. I thought he was going to have a stroke right there, and amazingly, I got a very quick pat down, and was sent on my way.

Nov 162010

As I picked up my rental car here at Dulles Airport Monday morning, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, was on C-Span Radio trying to defend TSA’s ridiculous and overly intrusive pat downs and use of the prono-x-ray machines. I noticed she kept talking about people who opt out of the backscatter machines can get a “same-gender” pat down. She kept saying “same-gender” over and over.

It occurred to me that we could help get the right wingnuts on the side of good to help oppose this overly aggressive intrusion on the Constitution if we pointed out they might be getting groped by a gay person. Well lo’ and behold, it took Porno Pete (Peter LaBarbera, head of “Americans for Truth about Homosexuality) no time at all to catch on. So he quickly published this screed:

CHICAGO, Nov. 16 /Christian Newswire/ — Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) today questioned the propriety of “same-gender’ TSA (Transportation Security Administration) “pat-downs” — if the TSA agents doing the ‘patting down” are homosexual, lesbian or bisexual.

Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano went out of her way yesterday to stress that the TSA pat-downs are “same-gender” — mostly to reassure women that men will not be groping them at airports in the name of safety.

“But what about homosexual TSA agents?” AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera responded. “Isn’t it just as inappropriate for a ‘gay’ male TSA agent to pat down male travelers as it is for a normal, heterosexual male TSA agent to pat down female travelers?

“The reality is, most traveling men would not want Barney Frank to pat them down at the airport security checkpoint,” LaBarbera said. “Neither would it be fair to assign Ellen DeGeneres to pat down female travelers. (In the same vein, the Army should no more force normal male soldiers to shower and bunk with homosexual male soldiers than it would force females soldiers to bunk and shower with their male counterparts.)”

The TSA, as a federal agency, is barred from discriminating on the basis of “sexual orientation,” thanks to a pro-homosexual Executive Order signed by President Clinton in 1998.

Said LaBarbera: “Obviously Napolitano wants to assure the public that sexual tension will be taken out of the equation. Hence, we must take seriously the self-identified desires of homosexuals. ‘Gay’ men define themselves as being sexually attracted to other men. Lesbians are sexually attracted to women. And bisexuals are attracted to both.” Some observations:

Perhaps some common-sense, healthy “discrimination” is in order: the TSA should put conditions on employment for self-acknowledged homosexuals — that they not be assigned to pat down travelers so as to avoid being put in sexually compromising situations;

It would not be workable to assign, say, gay male TSA agents to pat down female travelers — as the latter — thinking the agents to be normal men — would protest that they are being patted down by males. Chaos would ensue;

Does the TSA know which of its employees are homosexual, anyway, and how? If not, is it fair to travelers who may end up getting “groped” by homosexual TSA agents who are secretly getting turned on through the process?

Could the TSA be subjected to a sexual harassment lawsuit if the agent who engages in an overly aggressive “same-gender pat-down” — and gets sued — turns out to be homosexual?
LaBarbera said that even if it could be assumed that most TSA agents — regardless of their sexual proclivities — would act professionally, that is not the issue. Male TSA agents — no matter how “professional” their conduct — cannot frisk female travelers.

“To allow homosexual agents to conduct same-gender pat-downs is tantamount to a new form of discrimination that must be recognized and prevented,” he said.

It just doesn’t get any crazier than this. For those who don’t know Porno Pete, he loves attending leather fetish conventions and taking lots and lots of photos, and apparently has an office full of “toys.”

Apr 122008

In Florida
Well, we already had the “shoot first, ask questions later law” passed here. Now your employer can’t ban you from taking your gun to work. I guess at least it has to be in a locked car. The Senate passed the measure last week, and it’s on it’s way to Gov. Crist for signature. So along with take your daughter to work day, we can have a take your gun to work day.

Durell Peaden, a State Senator says it’s all about protecting the Constitution.:

The second thing they wrote about in that constitution was the right to bear arms,” said Sen. Durell Peaden, a Republican from Crestview, Florida. “It was what was dear in their hearts.”

If that’s the case, why doesn’t Durell take the matter to the Supreme Court. Oh, they do exempt Schools, Nuclear Power Plants, and Homeland Security offices. Let me explain something to you Durell, if you claim to have passed it because of the Constitution…well, the Constitution doesn’t exempt certain locations. You just shit and fell back in it. Liar.

On Airplanes
Feel safer knowing the pilot of your commercial jet might be packing? Well you shouldn’t. On March 22, pilot James Langenhahn was stowing his Heckler & Koch USP .40, issued to him by the Department of Homeland Security under the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, while his co-pilot prepared to land the plane. As he was placing the pistol, locked in its holster, into his flight bag, it discharged a single shot which exited the left side of the plane, doing little damage.

Now what the Reuters report doesn’t go on to tell you is that this was caused by another idiotic policy developed by someone at Homeland Security who clearly knows nothing about gun handling safety. The policy requires that pilots remove the guns from their belts and lock them up using a government-provided combination padlock before leaving the cockpit with a ring through the key guard, a requirement that pilots say creates unsafe conditions.

“The pilot was trying to lock his gun and remove the holster in an airplane going 300 miles per hour in preparation for landing and the padlock depressed the trigger,” said a federal flight deck officer who declined to be identified. “TSA knew this could happen but didn’t get rid of the requirement.”

…Said David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance. “TSA’s got these pilots taking off and putting on their guns 10 times a day. It’s a recipe for disaster and that’s why no other agency does it.”

Our friends at Homeland Stupidity found out that:

Pilots have been unable to criticize this arrangement publicly because the TSA had classified it; however, a group of federal air marshals met with the TSA last year to recommend that pilots carry their pistols in the same way that air marshals do, not to mention everyone else who carries a firearm safely. “We said, “Just use the same procedures you use for your own air marshals,” said one federal flight officer. “How hard is that to understand?” The TSA took no action on the recommendation.

Mackett goes on to say that the TSA’s requirement has also resulted in numerous guns being lost or stolen. “But, TSA can’t continuously ignore standard procedures pr oven over thousands of other law enforcement officers and then blame the pilot when it goes wrong.”

Feb 012008

99 Fake IDs – TBO.com
It seems some guy from Chicago and a lady friend got caught at the airport after stealing three credit cards from the purse of another traveler. In the course of investigating, police found a bag with 99 fake IDs. I wonder if the police ever really determined the guys true identity?

Fake Bomb Sneaked by TSA Screeners in Tampa – CNN
CNN was allowed to follow a TSA tester as he slipped a fake explosive device, concealed in a back brace, past screeners at the Tampa Airport. I have my ID in a little flip open folder, but now you have to take it out so they can catch the fake ones, but as noted earlier, a guy got through with 99 fake IDs. I guess I wouldn’t mind the security hassles, if I thought for one minute that most of them actually had some value.

107 Busts at Gasparilla – Tampa Tribune
The Tribune reports there were 107 arrests during Gasparilla Sunday. 11 felonies and 96 misdemeanors including 9 charges of boating while intoxicated. Given that about 400,000 people attend, that’s not bad.

Brain Vaccum – Wired
Nope, not the title of a new B-Grade Sci-Fi movie…It seems researchers have developed a tiny vaccum that be sent up arteries to the brain for stroke victims and suction out the blockage. It seems the challenge is determining which patients will benefit. According to doctors, in some cases, it is best to leave the blockage.

Chocolate Going Up – MSNBC.com
MSNBC is reporting that Hershey is raising the price of chocolate bars by 13% due to the increasing cost of energy, milk and cococoa.

Airport Security Follies

 Crime, Culture, Society, Travel  Comments Off on Airport Security Follies
Dec 302007

The New York Times has a great Op-Ed about the foolishness of the TSA security screenings at airports. It points out, as most thinking people have to come realize that this is mostly feel-good theater that does no actual good at preventing another terrorist attack.

They point out the fallacy of our fearless leaders’ claims that the planes of 9/11 were hijacked “using box cutters.” I’ve said all along, as does the article, that the hijackers took advantage of the hijacking template created in the past, where passive resistance was the approach to end a hijacking, and the pointy objects they used as weapons really didn’t matter. Today’s hijackers would face a very different sort of reaction from the passengers and crew.

The article addresses the silliness of the 3 oz. container rule.

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and “unfortunate.” The plot’s leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as “speculative” and “exaggerated.”

You see, the point is that terrorism needs to be handled by law enforcement and intelligence activities (as it was in the London case). As the authors note, once a terrorist has reached the airport, it’s usually too late. Not only have most of us inadvertently passed through security with “banned” items, but a deadly sharp point can be fashioned from any number of things available once one is on the plane. (Just watch one of these prison documentaries on MSNBC sometime.)

Unfortunately, the government has crafted the system to protect itself and be self-perpetuating. If one protests, you are usually marked for questioning and additional screening, and could wind up on the no-fly list…so no one protests. Recently, they’ve announced silly rules relative to taking along spare batteries. Who knows when the stupidity will end.

Letter to Congress About Marines on No-Fly List

 Congress, Crime, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Letter to Congress About Marines on No-Fly List
Apr 132006

After reading of a Marine Reservist placed on TSA’s no-fly list because gun powder was found on his boots, I wrote the following to my congressional delegation. I would invite you to take action as well.

I am reading the morning news and come across to this story on MSNBC. Apparently, a Marine reservist had served a two month tour in Iraq. Then, this past June, while boarding a plane in Minneapolis to go to training (before another tour in Iraq), TSA found traces of gun powder on his boots. (Whoa! I guess they were expecting the fragrance of the flowers we all were promised the Iraqi’s would be throwing at our troops.)

He was detained then, and that resulted in his name being added to the infamous, no-fly list. That resulted in his not being permitted to board a recent flight from Los Angeles to Minneapolis AS HE WAS RETURNING HOME WITH HIS UNIT FROM IRAQ.

So, Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel Brown joins the illustrious list with the likes of known terrorist Sen. Ted Kennedy.

How long is it going to take for you all in Congress to realize the absurdity of this list, and put an end to this? Please tell me that you all are as incompetent as the people at TSA? Do you not, by now, realize that no list maintained by the federal government has ever been of any significant value, and is typically a detriment? Please do not send a form letter with no real answer to my question. I want you to explain to me why I am, through my taxes, paying salaries to clearly incompetent people to maintain a completely ineffective program? And as noted above, I’d like to know when you will take action to end this absurdity?

I look forward to your response.