Category Archives: Self-Regulation

Can TSA Secure the Nation’s Airports? Not Anytime Soon.

It seems to me that the TSA agents aren’t the well-trained “security specialists” that we need for our nation’s security. To be a screener, the requirements are:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • High school diploma, GED or equivalent; OR
  • At least one year of full-time work experience in security work or aviation screener work; or with x-ray technician work

Flying Jet

So, if you have one year work experience in the field, you don’t have to be a U.S. Citizen? Better yet, you can be a  non-citizen who dropped out of high school, as long as you’ve got that year in the field. The sarcasm is intended. (I do realize that this is most likely a typo, with the first and one of the second being requirements.)

It’s doesn’t seem that hard a position, looking at luggage all day for bombs, weapons, etc. In most cases, the employees are able to sit as bags are scanned.  As the line of defense between a bomb and an airplane, they don’t seem very stressed or vigilant, mostly talking nonsense with one another while travelers are held hostage in lines that wind through temporary barriers like a snake that’s lost the smell of its prey.

Not all agents are hooked into their own world; some are vigilant, seemingly in-charge of the mass chaos caused by the Crotch Bomber and the Shoe Bomber.  The training program must be intense as half the agents I’ve spoken with are uneducated urbanites that can’t string sentences together. Mostly, they’re worried about the stewards or stewardesses moving through the throng. There is training, and yes, they receive it. Transportation security screener candidates must successfully complete training, including:

  • 40 hours of classroom training
  • 60 hours of on-the-job training
  • A certification examination

Whoa. Hopefully this includes some sort of hand-to-hand combat or  weapons training (baton, asp, mace, etc)? How about crowd control? A course in screening what a terrorist would look like?  While I don’t expect the TSA to be paramilitary, I do expect at least some ability to respond & react. Is the TSA capable? What if a riot, or an attack takes place at an airport?  If not the TSA, then who? The city police force?

Airport Lines

No disrespect to the police, but they don’t seem qualified unless they’re in a major metropolitan area and have worked with, or in, a JTTF unit. When I think of the police force fighting terrorism, I’m sucked back to the footage of the two Los Angeles bank robbers, armed to the teeth with automatic weapons, wrapped in Aramid armor, walking down the center of a North Hollywood street. Their automatic weapons spitting mayhem, the rounds passing through squad cars the street with weapons spitting out rounds that went through squad car engine blocks. The LAPD,  overwhelmed by the firepower, had to commandeer weapons from a local gun shop with enough power to cut the gunmen down. Still, it was 44-minutes of terror on the streets as North Hollywood turned into a war zone.

While the bank heist was 12-years ago, the police weren’t able to call for any back-up, and they needed it as the shooters were armed with military ordinance. The National Guard, the Army, or any other military entity would be the obvious choice, yet none were contacted and none responded; after all, how would the on-scene police commander call in the coordinates for an AH-64 Apache strike? The two forces, the police and the military, can’t even communicate with one another; their radios are purposely set on different frequencies.

The TSA has fallen under scrutiny in the past months for acts committed by employees:.

  1. Five employees were suspended in December (prior to the Crotch Bomber’s escapade) for allowing the TSA’s procedure manual to somehow be posted online. The document was the procedure manual for TSA’s security screening personnel, outlining those exempt for screening, those to be screened closely, what to look for on certain individuals, what security credentials look like for various Federal Law Enforcement officers, high-risk targets that will always get screened, the spacing between bag screenings, etc. Every single page was stamped with:  “WARNING: This record contains sensitive security information … No part of this record may be disclosed to persons without a ‘need to know.”
  2. A security breach at Boston’s  Logan International, a couple is going to court for selling the identities of 16 TSA workers. The IDs were stolen by the woman’s niece, a contract worker in Human Relations for the agency. The Boston man and woman then sold the names, DOB, SS, and etc for $40 each to another person that set up accounts under their names for cable, gas, and cell phones.
  3. A man walked the wrong way through a TSA security checkpoint in Newark, NJ, shutting down the entire terminal and highlighting that airport security measures are inadequate. Reviewing the camera footage proved useless; the camera’s didn’t pick up the breach.
  4. A TSA employee was nabbed illegally selling counterfeit parking passes to the TSA parking lot at LAX,  and further investigation turned up a video tape showed partying TSA screeners at the man’s residence. The tape showed the agents drinking and using narcotics. No arrests were made as the TSA quietly dismissed the employees. Not even LA’s Mayor was made aware of the breach, finding out about the incident after a speech he gave touting the airport’s security. The employee selling the parking passes was set free when no one came forward with proof he’d sold the passes.

While it’s clear that security is still a huge issue at the nation’s airports, what’s not clear is what, if anything, is being done to keep the TSA in-check. Millions rely on the agency to screen and capture terrorists but the TSA seems unable to keep the skies friendly.

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Filed under Culture, Ethics, Life, Self-Regulation, Social Responisibility, State of the Nation, State of The World, Values

Downtrodden Take Heart: Freedom Does Not Cost You At All

Chain BrokenThere is an amount of pride that comes with being an American citizen; the only way that you’ll be able to appreciate, though, is by losing it. Or, like many, begin without it. I’m proud to be an American. I was born here, not brought here. I did not flee here from somewhere else due to an unfair government, persecution, or crime. I didn’t sneak over in search of a better life,  better living conditions, or a better opportunity. I did not arrive as a war criminal a prisoner, or a prisoner of war. I’ve been able to marry since birth, was afforded the right to vote, and had the privilege of serving my country with little more than a background check. I haven’t been aligned with any group of U.S., or non-U.S. persons that have been racially or religiously profiled due to their affiliation, whether innocent or guilty, with radical groups that commit heinous crimes in the United States or against her citizens and properties in foreign countries.

Living under the auspices and freedoms of the United States of America, I was not born in the wrong city, the wrong body, in the wrong era, near the wrong neighborhood, living in the wrong house, to the wrong parents who wrongly treated me. I did not I was not sent to the wrong school, never got shot at by the wrong crowd, and never killed the wrong person while aiming for someone else. No, I went to a school where I was given the choice to get an education, or not. I applied to jobs where I chose to work, or not. I was approached by the wrong people, and I had a chance to take the easier road, or not. When I made the grades to get into a college, I had a choice to attend classes, or not.

I did not attend classes…a choice that led me to fail college within the first four months. Which caused me to get put on academic probation. I lost my housing, my funding, and my shot at college. Thus, the military.

The military doesn’t provide many choices, so my chances for success immediately improved. I received a Security Clearance, a duty station and a job. My duty station was at a Law Enforcement (LE) and Search and Rescue (SAR) Unit These privileges came with responsibility; I learned to fight, became a marksman and a sharpshooter, and had to show up at my post on-time. I also had to pay taxes and vote.

About a year and a half later, I attended “A” School for telecom installation and maintenance in California.

I spent 9 years in the military, and decided to leave when former President Clinton decided to downsize the armed forces because it meant that I would not get promoted. I was third in line to move up, and the powers that be decided that I would not make it that year, and possibly the next.  So I bailed and went back to college, graduated, and here I am today.

I suppose that in a small way, I should be understanding of all of the downtrodden groups of Americans who cry out that their rights have been violated because the American way of life that they’ve been enjoying for most, if not all, of their lives are somehow now not meeting their freedom-based, perceived needs.

Wasting our time, our money, and our attention on various propositions that, if not voted upon in the desired manner, take to the streets and cry “FOUL.” Their attitude, of course, that when Democracy does not go “their way” then it’s not fair; their God-given rights have been violated, although they do not believe for the most part in God. Well, the truth of the matter is that you really don’t have any rights unless they are given to you. Just because you live in America does not mean that America must bend to your needs, and as an American that has actually given his will to his country, maybe it would be better for all involved if you just got out…you’ve got nothing to lose, after all. America isn’t fair? Move. Leave. Go.

We have become a country that puts the needs of your tiny, meddling, superficial groups to the forefront because our leaders are afraid of being called biased. We spend a lot of time on you…and you know exactly who you are…hearing out your court cases and legal summaries as to why things should be this way, or that way, to be truly fair. Instead of seeking a new haven as so many millions have sought America, you instead use fear and hate to spread your doctrine.

It’s a doctrine that is destroying our country and our way of life. Congratulations. While you wage another protest, or sit-in, or attack, the real danger awaits outside our borders. While watching you, we’re forced to take our eye off the true danger. Move to Mexico, Canada, or the Middle East and establish your lives there…I don’t care where you go just as long as it is not here. Goodbye. Good Luck. Get Out. You say that you want freedom and equality, yet you hold the country hostage. I’ve but one more thing left to say: The World Does Not Revolve Around You.

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Filed under Misguided, Morality, Morals, Self-Regulation, State of the Nation, State of The World, terrorism, The American Dream, Time, Truth, Values

Man Dies At Lollapalooza; NBC-TV Chicago Rates Story With A Poll

NBC-TV, CHICAGO posted a poll on how a man’s death at Lollapalooza made readers feel;  The choices were:

  1. Sad
  2. BoredLollapalooza Death
  3. Thrilled
  4. Intrigued
  5. Bored
  6. Furious

According to NBC-TV, Channel 5:

A 39-year-old man suffered a heart attack at Lollapalooza and died,Chicago police say.

He was taken to Northwestern by a Chicago Fire Departmentambulance at about 1pm, department spokesman Kevin MacGregorsaid, according to the Trib.

The man was initially attended to by private paramedics at the scene. It was the department’s first and only ambulance call from Grant Park all day.

While the Cook County medical examiner’s office has not been notified of any deaths related to the festival, Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Kevin Kilmer say the man died about 2:30pm. Police are investigating.

So, how does it make YOU feel? Me? I am FURIOUS. Not only was the poll callous, but stupid. NBC TV Channel 5…Good Job at making the sad news that much worse. I certainly hope that the man’s family does not have to read your site.

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Filed under Morality, Morals, Self-Regulation, Social Responisibility, State of The Industry, State of the Nation, Stupidity, Truth, Uncategorized

NSFMJL: Not Safe For Michael Jackson Lovers

michael-jackson-maskIf you love Michael Jackson (MJ), this post is not for you.

If you think MJ is a great and shining star, full of love and good works, this post is not for you.

If you think he was a misunderstood soul, again, this post is not for you.

I have dispensed the warnings, so if you are still reading, you either defend Michael Jackson, or you think that the circus surrounding his death is a macabre tribute to the spectacle that surrounded his life. Hopefully the latter.

I wish Dennis Miller were here with me, or had something to say about the pop star, who, in death, mirrored his tabloid life…he would pound MJ with a verbal beating that would befit the “Man in the Mirror;”  today will probably become a frigging holiday…Moonwalk Day…to remind us how far we’ve fallen from the fabric known as reality and into the abyss.

I don’t even know where to start.

First, I cry for his children who have lost a father, his siblings that lost a brother, his parents that lost a son, and for his friends that loved him. I do not begrudge him the great things he accomplished and I do not question his motives or his faith.

The things I do question are his actions and our values.

Right now, at the Staple’s Center in Los Angeles, the MJ faithful are gearing up to say goodbye to a pop legend at an event that is stopping news worldwide and being broadcast across various media: TV, radio, print, mobile phones, and the internet. Yes, we have the capability. Why we are wasting it on Michael Jackson is beyond rational thought as is the fact that there commentators at his memorial. I guess we start there:

THE “NEWS” MEDIA

The News Media often giveth to those that are un-wanting or undeserving. In one breath, reporters solemnly dispense a story of loss and heartbreak surrounding a child murder. The camera angle changes, the newscaster’s face morphs,  and the next breath supports the buzz surrounding the King of Pop’s memorial. The News Media, once champions of truth and seekers of justice, is now a machine built off of ratings. The ratings determine the prices stations can set for commercials. They also determine the quality of advertisers drawn to a show. Thus, the News Media has become entertainment, forced to carry Jerry Springer-like swill to remain on the air. It’s not the newscasters, although they better be attractive or have a definitive on-air presence; it’s the program directors, the owners, the conglomerates of media corporations. The News Media is big business…just ask Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, owner of Dow Jones & Company, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and  Fox News.

michael-jackson_1Television news is in a vicious cycle, and without having detrimental economic effects, there is no real way to stop it. In a very general sense, ratings are simply percentages of people viewing certain channels or broadcasts rather than others. This is a problematic model when it comes to the news; to gain ratings, News Media has had to become Entertainment. The news has transformed to a “friendlier” format, often taking the look and feel of a talk show rather than a conventional news broadcast. Chairs and couches have replaced the prototypical news desk; in Chicago, the local NBC morning news (from 5a.m. to 7 a.m.) has taken a non-news “flavor,” incorporating items such as Dance Friday, a ridiculous segment during a time-period that is reserved to reach working adults.

The News Media is a mere shadow of what it once embodied, and as it moves toward Entertainment, stations move toward four-hour “news” shows that report crap and generate higher ratings. The best source for truth in media is Public Broadcasting; yet, the problem with Public Broadcasting is lack of resources. These stations do not accept advertising dollars and thus are not able to fund reporting teams, news vans, helicopters, and foreign correspondents.

My television is on in the background, and I have become part of the problem, listening to the hoopla surrounding MJ’s Memorial. In the larger sense, it doesn’t truly matter: The number of viewers is estimated to be in the billions and the celebration/memorial isn’t due to begin for another twelve hours.

SKEWED REFLECTIONS?

Have our current losses in security (job, economic, moral) fallen so far that we need something so blatantly depraved to celebrate? These are, without doubt, troubling times. Our trust has been compromised, our faith has been eroded, and we are in fear of what the future may bring. Yet, stop a moment and think about Michael Jackson, the man: A father of three that held his child out a hotel window; a questionable icon that’s best friend was a chimpanzee; an accused (but not convicted) child molester who beat a criminal rap and paid his way out of a civil suit (for an undisclosed amount of money); a person of questionable appetites and admitted psychological malfunctions; a grandiose dreamer who named his son Prince Michael Jackson; and an addict, living in seclusion, with things unknown taking place behind those castle walls.

The actions of the people once closest to Jackson…do they portray the attitude that should be taken toward the icon’s death? The mother his children Debbie Rowe, his ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, and his “second-best” friend Liz Taylor have all stated that they will not attend the memorial. Bubbles, Jackson’s closest and “best-friend” is not attending either, although one of Jackson’s fans offered to fly him to the funeral, all expenses paid.

If only Bubbles could speak.

REPERCUSSIONS

If this is a picture of what we’ve become, we need to re-evaluate our priorities. Not since the arrival of the Pope has an event gathered this much media attention…or so said the news. The City of Los Angeles, already over $500 million inWhAmIgoing debt, is expecting to incur a cost around $3,000,000, which is more than the $1.8 million spent last month to celebrate the Los Angeles Lakers’ Championship festivities. Who is going to pay for all of this? Right now, it seems to be LA, although they have asked for the Jackson Family and the event company (yes, there’s an event company) to help defray the cost. Not to miss an opportunity, they have also asked for fans to contribute via Pay Pal.

While the News Media covers the event, they question their own coverage in the face of public scrutiny; yet, as the ratings-game plays out, they have no choice but to be there with top talent. After all, this is one of the largest cultural events that will be seen in the lifetimes of many… drawing more sympathetic well-wishers than the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the death of Princess Diana, and the murder of Martin Luther King. Our youth will bear this stain, forever remembering where they were when Michael Jackson died.

Such is our fate.

WE’VE LOST OUR WAY

If there were a singular event that I could pin “We Have Lost Our Way” upon, it would be this one. Over the bankruptcy, theft, and corporate espionage exhibited by some of our once-famous manufacturers, banks, and insurance companies. Greater than the political scandals committed by our elected officials, our states, and Uncle Sam. More damaging than the harm created by our laws, or lack thereof. As America turns toward the death of Michael Jackson, the King, America turns away from all that made us individual, great, and sovereign.

We’ve removed our values from the priceless and placed them on the useless.

Ironically, I am reminded of a story where a great nation that had lost their way also went whoring after worthless idols.

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Filed under Morality, Morals, Self-Regulation, State of the Nation, Truth