Another day brings more details about what happened and what our country is trying to do about it. We’re on the wrong track.
Flying has become much more difficult.
By now, everyone knows the airport drill, its inconveniences offset by its clarity: take off your shoes, pop your laptop in a tray, have your driver’s license at the ready. But in the three days since the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, the beleaguered traveler has once again been beset by a confusing and inconsistent set of rules.
Could you keep your blanket, as on Continental, or would it be snatched at the end of the flight, as it was on Lufthansa? Would security measures be visibly unchanged, as they were at the Houston airport, or would passengers be surprised by a careful swabbing of their hands and purses, like those in South Carolina? Would this week resemble Sunday, when JetBlue’s entertainment system was shut down on international flights, or Monday, when the movies began flowing on that airline once more?
“I just wish they’d have something, a list of rules, and stick to it,” said Sherri Hemmer, who made a point of using the bathroom early on her Monday flight from Phoenix to Pittsburgh and was then annoyed to learn that a prohibition against moving around the cabin in the last hour of flight did not seem to apply to her flight.
The Transportation Security Administration has been deliberately vague — and even a little random — about the security measures it has imposed in the last few days, in part to make certain that potential attackers do not know what to expect. Many passengers welcome this.
“It’s no problem,” said Eleonora Gomarasca, who traveled to New York from Milan on Monday. “It’s more control.”
But that careful unpredictability has made life far more confusing and inconvenient for thousands of travelers. After Sept. 11, 2001, stark fears were met with complicity and acceptance, but now many people seem to feel that the government measures are more about reaction than protection.
“I think the security checks on the ground are the ones that make the most difference for safety,” said Daniel Kim, 36, who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport three hours early for his flight to Frankfurt with his wife, Catherine, and their 20-month-old. “The whole one hour before thing, no getting up, what is that going to help, really? Will it get to a point when we can’t get up at all during the flight, or have to raise our hands to go to the bathroom? Where does it end?”
While the new T.S.A. restrictions seem largely confined to international travelers bound for the United States, confusion, delays and the ensuing angst seemed to spread across the nation in the wake of the thwarted attack on a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.
The slowdown appeared to be particularly intense on flights coming from Canada. Dianne Duncan’s trip to Los Angeles from Toronto, for one, involved a 10-hour security wait, four lost bags, a missed flight and rerouting, a thorough search of her belongings, and a full-body pat-down of her and her 5-year-old daughter.
“It was extremely strict,” said Ms. Duncan, who arrived at the Toronto airport at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and did not reach the screening area until nearly seven hours later.
“Take note: there was no toilet, no water and no food for purchase,” she said. “There was one man to screen the men, and one woman to screen the women. There was a full pat-down. It was as if they were specifically searching for something.”...
Inserted from <NY Times>
While it is clear that our transportation safety procedures leak like a sieve, banning passengers from relieving themselves for the last hour of flights is ludicrous. Anyone wishing to avoid that can go to the can to bomb-up ninety minutes before the flight lands. I’m not saying that we should not make flights as safe as possible, but no matter what we do, those who wish to circumvent our security will simply adapt their tactics to take advantage of whatever we don’t do. The way to stop this attack was quite simple. Abdulmutallab should never have been allowed on the plane. The Bush/GOP system still in use was designed more to create the illusion of security for propaganda purposes than to provide actual security. The focus for in flight security needs to shift from dealing with terrorists on planes to keeping them from getting on planes in the first place. It might help to have an executive in charge of the TSA, but we do not. Obama’s appointee, Erroll Summers, has not been approved, because GOP Senator DeMint has placed a hold on him. Perhaps DeMint considers unions a greater terrorist threat than Al Qaeda, because DeMint claims that he fears Summers would allow baggage handlers to unionize.
I’ve been listening to pundits debate Afghanistan/Pakistan/Somalia/Yemen center of terrorism. The GOP seems to want to attack Yemen. How absurd! Yemen’s government is cooperating with the US, bit they have no control over large swaths of their own territory, much like Afghanistan. We lack the troops to invade and occupy the country. Our last reserves, the Brownie Scouts, are already committed to defense against Iran. Here’s the problem. We’re fighting a 21st century conflict using 20th century tactics. If we could actually take control of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda would move (as they have) to Pakistan. If the Pakistanis get control of their territory, they will move to Yemen. If we occupy Yemen, they will move to Somalia, or Indonesia, or anywhere that we have not conquered. And we aren’t even talking about the center of Wahhabism, the extreme right wing beliefs AQ uses to justify their existence, Saudi Arabia. To defeat AQ using conventional means, we need to conquer the entire world. Going after the leadership won’t work. AQ is not organized top-down. They are cellular. They are not a snake we can decapitate. They are a hydra. The only way we will defeat them is to compromise their ability to recruit. At present we are enhancing it every time a drone takes out innocent civilians with or without the targeted AQ operative. We enhance their ability to recruit even more in this manner:
I don't know what to say. The United States not only permits this, we subsidize it - at great personal cost to our country. After all, why were we an Al Qaeda target in the first place?
Yes, we'll tie ourselves in knots to keep a taxpayer dollar from getting anywhere near an abortion, yet we continue to fund the slow starvation of the Palestinians.
One year after Israel launched its three-week offensive in Gaza that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and damaged or destroyed over 50,000 homes in a campaign aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire, the survivors are still living in rubble. And it is not for want of money that thousands of residents of the coastal enclave remain homeless this winter: Moved by the plight of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians who were already reeling from a two-and-a-half year economic siege imposed by Israel with help from Egypt and the U.S. even before Israel's air and ground assault had begun, international donors earlier this year pledged over $4.5 billion to repair war damages. But that aid has failed to reach Gaza, according to Palestinians and relief agencies who accuse Israel of imposing Kafkaesque rules that bar entry to vital reconstruction materials and items as bizarre as glass, most schoolbooks, honey and family-sized tubs of margarine.
Says Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations' Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), "Because the Israelis are not allowing in any reconstruction material, that $4.5 billion is just a paper figure." With over 80% of Gazans now surviving on humanitarian handouts from UNRWA, Gunness adds, "Palestinians are becoming more desperate and more extreme."
Relief officials estimate that Gaza needs 40,000 tons of cement and 25,000 tons of iron to start repairing the homes, hospitals, schools and shops destroyed during Israel's offensive. But so far, according to GISHA, an Israeli legal rights group, the Israelis have allowed only 19 trucks carrying construction material into Gaza since the war ended last January. "You could say that Israel has bombed Gaza back into the mud age," says UNRWA's Gunness, "because that's what they're building their houses out of now — mud."
Without parts to replace machinery damaged in the war, 97% of Gaza's factories have shut down, raising unemployment to over 43%. With scarce sources of income, many Gazans would probably starve if not for food handouts from the U.N. and other agencies. Over 40,000 Gazans have no electricity, 10,000 have no running water in their homes, and because Israel bans entry of the spare parts needed to run its sewage treatment plant, every day 87 million liters of sewage is dumped into the Mediterranean (which washes up on Israel's beaches, too.)
Although the international community occasionally protests Gaza's ongoing tragedy, so far no real pressure has been applied on Israel to loosen its stranglehold... [emphasis original]
Inserted from <Crooks and Liars>
As long as the US remains a party to Israeli atrocities in the region, Muslims will have just cause to believe that the US is conducting a War on Islam. As long as the US kills innocent civilians while attacking terrorists, Muslims will have just cause to believe that the US is conducting a war on Islam. As long as the US attacks and occupies Muslim countries, attempting to control their energy resources, Muslims will have just cause to believe that the US is conducting a war on Islam. As long as Republicans keep spewing hate speech, Muslims will have just cause to believe that the US is conducting a war on Islam.
Are we? In my opinion we are not, but we were while the Bush/GOP regime was in power. However, as long as our strategy appears unchanged, how are Muslims to tell the difference? Until we can convince Muslims by our actions that we are not still conducting the Bush/GOP war on Islam, they will be able to recruit Muslim teabagger types to become terrorists.