• The health effects of airport security scanners

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun to use whole-body imaging scanners as a primary screening measure on travelers passing through airport security checkpoints; one type of scanner employs millimeter wave technology, which delivers no ionizing radiation; the second type of scanner currently deployed at airports, however, uses backscatter X-rays that expose the individual being screened to very low levels of ionizing radiation; what are the health implications of these scanners? Two prominent radiologists offer answers

  • Alaska Airlines sorry for detaining passengers over tefillin

    Alaska Airlines flight attendants, concerned by the prayers of three Orthodox Jews being said aloud in Hebrew and the unfamiliar tefillin — the boxes with leather straps hanging from them, which orthodox Jews wear when praying — locked down the cockpit and radioed a security alert ahead to Los Angeles International Airport

  • Dignity preserving undies under development

    New undergarments aim to protect air travelers’ privacy and dignity; the underwear is covered with a special paint made from a mixture of barium sulphate, aluminum, ground glass, and other materials that work to reflect and scatter X-rays; the undergarments block out passengers’ privates, while still allowing operators to see dangerous objects such as guns, knives, and explosives

  • Another ATF program in Mexico comes under fire

    The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has launched several program aimed at slowing down the flow of American weapons into Mexico; some of these programs are more successful than others; the latest program to come under fire is Operation Fast and Furious; Mexican lawmakers charge that under the program, American weapons were allowed into Mexico, where the ATF lost track of them; some of these lost weapons are responsible for 150 killings

  • New technology allows detection of nuclear materials from a mile away

    New detection technology would allow illicit nuclear material to be detected from up to a mile away; the technology, developed by the Idaho National Laboratory, will help protect the United States against the smuggling of nuclear materials into the country; field tests will begin this summer

  • On bangs and whimpers

    Yesterday was the first day of the congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization in America; it is already clear that the hearings will not become important and memorable like the Army-McCarthy Hearings of the early 1950s, the Fulbright hearings of the late 1960s, or the Church Hearings of the mid-1970s; in today’s political climate, nothing can bring a conversation to an end more quickly than accusing a public figure of engaging in stereotyping ethnic or religious minorities, of ethnic profiling and scapegoating — whether or not such accusations have any merit; the Democrats on the committee went on the offensive, painting the hearings as illegitimate and making the hearings themselves the focus of attention and debate; the tone and body language of many of the Republicans on the committee showed that they grasped that this was a no-winner for them; yes, they denied charges by Democrats that this was a case of witch hunting and stereotyping, but they acted as if they were simply hoping to ride out the hearings without doing anything too disastrous

  • Arrest of Saudi student prompts questions on visa security

    The FBI’s arrest of Saudi national Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari for allegedly trying to purchase bomb-making chemicals, plotting to smuggle a bomb into a nightclub, and planning to plant explosives in toy dolls; the case of Aldawsari, a student of chemical engineering at Texas Tech on a student visa, has ignited a debate among House lawmakers over whether further steps need to be taken to screen or monitor people in the United States on visas

  • Attack in German airport reveals airport security gaps

    The second terrorist attack at an international airport in two months has further revealed gaps in airport security; a gunman boarded a U.S Air Force bus at Germany’s busy Frankfurt International airport and killed two airmen and injured two others; following 9/11, governments have primarily focused their efforts on screening passengers and bags, and largely left baggage claim areas, ticketing booths, and parking lots unprotected; in the aftermath of the suicide bombing in Russia last month, the United States has begun to deploy “unpredictable” security measures throughout its airports; some security analysts are skeptical of these additional security measures believing that they are impractical and advocate for increased cooperation between TSA and local law enforcement

  • Viagra aficionado's hardly concealed "weapon" makes it past TSA

    John Hargrave, an advertising executive with penchant for off-beat humor decided, an hour before heading to the airport, to take not just one maximum strength Viagra pill, but three, with the reasoning that “—- you only get fondled once”; Hargrave also took Viagra whilst attending a Catholic Church, synagogue, and a Church of Scientology in hopes of disproving the claim that Viagra helps men only when they feel sexually excited

  • EU plans to sabotage US airport liquid regulations

    U.S. airport officials are worried about a European Union plan to partially lift a ban on passengers carrying wine, perfume, and other liquids purchased at duty-free shops in airports; the new security gap may confuse and frustrate passengers who travel thousands of miles with expensive items only to be told they must trash them on connecting flights to the United States

  • Adidas offers TSA-friendly sneakers

    Adidas cashes in on airport security by offering the SLVR S-M-L Concept shoes; the shoes are TSA-friendly, with a stretchy upper and expandable sole which makes it easy to slip them off when going through a security line; the $140 per pair shoes also have fake laces on top so you do not look like you bought them on the over-60s shopping channel

  • Man boards plane with three box cutters at New York's JFK

    On Saturday 26 February 2011, a man slipped passed TSA security screeners at New York’s JFK Airport and boarded a plane with three box cutters; the box cutters were only discovered after a flight attendant saw them fall out of his bag; two TSA agents and their supervisor did not see the blades as they passed through an X-ray machine; the flight was grounded for three hours as the plane’s passengers and crew members were evacuated and searched while the plane was swept for bombs; the two agents and their supervisor “will all be disciplined and undergo remedial training”; the passenger was not charged with any crime

  • TSA and ICE to cut down on alien flight lessons

    Several months after immigration officials arrested Thiago DeJesus, an immigrant owner of a flight school in Stow, Massachusetts, and thirty-three of his Brazilian pupils for being in the United States illegally, officials have not instituted new safeguards to prevent something similar from happening again

  • TSA Puffer machines pulled from service

    The high-tech $150,000 Puffer machine was designed to blast passengers with a puff of air and then analyze the particles it shook loose searching for any sign of explosive materials; the dirt, debris, and humidity commonly found in most airports rendered the units useless and were determined to rarely work; after spending nearly $30 million to buy and maintain 94 Puffers, TSA last year retired them from service

  • New DHS budget includes more money for airport scanners

    As lawmakers are trimming the budgets of many programs and agencies in an effort to reduce the deficit, funding for airport scanners has increased; overall discretionary funding for DHS has grown 0.7 percent to $43.2 billion, and includes more funding for full-body scanners; the Obama administration’s budget request allocates $77 million for the purchase of 275 additional full-body scanners; each scanner costs $280,000 and the additional order will bring the total number of scanners deployed at U.S. airports to 1,275; the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has introduced new software that projects a non-gender specific image to ease concerns over privacy issues that sparked a backlash last year