Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Passengers Attack....

All the news that fits, we print:

Those good hands people at the TSA are back in the news again. And
once again it involves the agency’s “enhanced” security procedures.

I am a frequent customer of the TSA because I have a couple of knee
replacements and the bells and whistles go off when I approach. It’s
a hassle but after a couple of waves of the wand, and a pat here and
there, away you go.

But last month was my first encounter with the new, improved
pat-down. It felt like the agent had accidently dropped his Rolex
down the front of my pants and was trying to retrieve it.

On a later flight, I went through the scanner which was quicker and
simpler. Of course, you have to get past the fact that a reasonable
facsimile of you naked to the world will appear on a screen somewhere
to the howls and/or whistles of those observing.

Now, we learn that the TSA will be installing software that will
allow agents to see objects hidden under clothes without seeing you
in the altogether. Or as a TSA bureaucrat remarked in a classic
understatement, to “improve the passenger experience at checkpoints.”

And not a moment too soon.

Just this past week, it seems that Yukari Miyamae, a 61-year-old
Colorado woman, was charged with groping a TSA agent.

Miyamae was in Phoenix's Sky Airport en route home to Colorado when
the incident occurred.

According to the arrest report, Miyamae is accused of groping TSA
agent Barbara O'Toole's "left breast through her clothing and
squeezing and twisting it with both hands without the victim's

I can only guess why.

For all I know, Miyamae may have been a full-blown Taliban operative.
But if not, there is such an inescapable turnabout-is-fair-play irony
to all this that I am prepared to be a character witness on her

I’m not the only one. Five Facebook pages dedicated to her have
sprung into existence, four of them offering her support. Some have
dubbed her the "21st century Rosa Parks."

Fortunately, it appears that technology will soon rescue us from the
ugly prospect of groping wars at our airports.

Speaking of technology, cell phones may be the greatest
communications advancement since, well, the telephone.
But like many gifts, it comes with a curse.

It can be annoying, rude and, most importantly, distracting and

That’s why many states and municipalities have banned hand-held cell
phone use while driving.

And it’s why everyone believed it recently when it was reported that
the city of Philadelphia would ticket and fine anyone texting while

Makes sense. Who wants to get head-butted by some idiot texting his
girlfriend. Or watch as some dufus walks into an 18-wheeler while
checking the baseball scores.

But the city mothers and fathers in Philadelphia, in fact, passed no
such law. What they did do is encourage police to crack down on
dangerous and distracting cellphone use.

That development was misunderstood by some TV types and bloggers and
the misinformation spread like wildfire via the Internet.

Imagine that.

It’s ice cream season. And parlors across the land are responding
with more and more inventive flavors to attract customers.
According to Newsweek, lip-smacking offerings this season such as
Brown Bread, Rice and Beans, Balsamic Strawberry, Feta Cheese and
Basil, Brown Ale With Bacon, Lobster and Wasabi Coconut Banana are on
the menu.

Vanilla, anyone?

What do Mike Eng, Edward Hernandez, Bob Huff, Curt Hagman have in

They are all elected officials from the San Gabriel Valley. And they
all accepted contributions from tobacco interests.

Indeed, the tobacco industry spent a total of $9.3 million on
campaign contributions and lobbying in California during the
2009-2010 election cycle and have spent nearly $100 million over the
last decade, according to a new report by the Center for Tobacco
Policy & Organizing, a project of the American Lung Association in

Of the 122 state legislators (more than 120 due to vacancies and
special elections), tobacco interests made campaign contributions to
59 members, or 48 percent, similar to the total from pervious
election cycles.

Maybe we were naive enough to think that the scourge of tobacco was
becoming a thing of the past. Apparently it’s still as close as your
local legislator.

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