Category Archives: Social Responisibility

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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United States, United Kingdom to Close Yemen Embassies

Al Qaida in Yemen

Al Qaida in Yemen

Shortly after learning that CIA Forward Operating Base Chapman had been rocked by a terrorist attack, killing agents and contractors alike, and the Yemeni connection to a foiled terrorist attack on an airliner in Detroit, both the United States and the United Kingdom have decided to close their embassies in Yemen. The French, as if they really matter much, have done the same.  The reasons behind the closures also include several attacks on UN workers living in, or near, United Nations’ compounds in the Middle East.

The US and Britain are keeping the embassies closed for a second day due to threats from a local branch of the al-Qaida terrorist network. There’s no news as to when the embassies will reopen. Both al-Qaida, and the Taliban have stepped up their terroristic attacks against their own people, targeting those that haven’t supported, or have shown defiance, toward the terrorist regimes.

The U.S. President, still on vacation, sent his top counter-terrorism man, John Brennan, to handle the press. Brennan, according to a CNN news report, stated that the embassy had closed due to evidence that that al-Qaida is is planning an attack in Sana’a against a diplomatic “target.”

Langley

CIA in Langley

This is the second time the U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been a target for al-Qaida; in 2008, two car bombs rocked the front gates. Gunmen then attacked, leaving 16 dead between the attackers and Yemeni soldiers.

The Yemeni government has their hands full, fighting a two-enemy front on their own soil; on one extreme, al-Qaida, the terrorist organization allegedly run by Osama bin Laden (allegedly only due to the fact that many of the attacks seem to be carried out without his knowledge) and Shi’ite Muslim fighters who are attacking along the Yemeni border with Saudi Arabia.

While there’s not been any retaliation of any sort from the United States, it should be said that since Obama’s on vacation, it’s quite possible won’t happen until he returns at the end of the day, today.

Hopefully the terrorists won’t realize that we don’t take any action while our current  Pres. is on vacation…

We can only hope that the CIA goes rogue and begins to retaliate against their enemies without approval. After all, there’s really nothing to lose since the armed forces surge has yet to start and there doesn’t seem to be much of a plan. The CIA has typically committed its best work “off the books” and it seems high-time we get back to cold-war tactics to fight a war that is just beginning to heat up.

While I may not be the only forecaster among bloggers nationwide, but I predict that we’re going to take some heavy loses in 2010 unless we put both al-Qaida, and the Taliban, on the run.

By the way, we should probably get that New York terrorist trial underway and execute the men responsible…by taking off their heads and sending them back to their families. Mob rules, American-style. It’s better than waiting to be attacked, sitting on our hands.

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Was Heene Crazy, or Did Reality TV Drive Him There?

Heene Family

Heene Family

Children seldom misquote. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn’t have said. ~Author Unknown

C’mon…you’ve got to be kidding me. Another story of a family where children are used  by off-kilter parental figures working an angle to snag their 15 minutes. This family was already on Wife Swap, so didn’t anyone tell them that theirs was up?

Guess not.

Must be a slow news day, because Balloon Boy is all over the place, and now, Richard Heene, the so-called Patriarch of the Heene clan, along with his wife, Mayumi, may now be facing felony charges. Depending on the charges, this faux drama may cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, their freedom, and their children.

That’s a lot to risk to be on a TV show. That’s a lot to risk, period. I feel like shaking Mr. Heene and repeating after my father: What in the world were you thinking? Don’t you ever think about the consequences? I didn’t, but I was still a kid. Mr. Heene, and his wife, are supposedly capable adults, although they seem to be bent on some wilder pursuits, like extreme experiments and of storm chasing…

The whole story is troubling, especially with Jon & Kate literally coming apart on national TV, a spectacle played-out in front of the entire cable-viewing world. I’ve long believed that TV, and especially reality TV, is risky for those that seek the spotlight because it destroys the truth and fabricates a pseudo-life, tossing the “stars” into the spinning blades of fame and celebrity long before they’re even close to being prepared, or equipped, to handle the pressure of life on camera, 24/7.

Of course, there’s the cost of lying, which seems to be affecting the six year-old boy more than anyone:

The story, as it broke, in a chronological sequence:

  1. Falcon Heene, age 6, is reported to be in a mylar balloon that has been untethered by his family. After Richard realizes that Falcon is gone, he runs after the balloon. It is all caught on videotape, presumably by Mayumi Heene.
  2. Heene makes calls. First is to the media. Second is to the police.
  3. Search and rescue efforts are launched…helicopters, police cars, etc.
  4. The balloon lands, no Falcon.
  5. Falcon mysteriously appears at home, supposedly in the garage the whole time because his dad yelled at him.
  6. Later, child innocence comes into play when he is asked why he had hidden in the garage, “You said it was for the show.”

…and a little child shall lead them (ISA 11:7)

Which is when everyone, including the police, were let in on the scam, albeit accidentally. Unfortunately for the Heene’s, this leaves the family exposed and in jeopardy financially and criminally, and may split the family apart.

Again, the shaking, the words, “What were you…?”

Criminally, Heene and co. are facing up to $500K in Felony criminal fines and 6 years in prison in addition to the bill for the Search and Rescue operation. However, according to reports, there’s not much money to cover the S&R tab, let alone the criminal fines.

A Reality TV Conspiracy?

As of early this morning, reports have surfaced that the hoax was months in the planning, purportedly to gain exposure for a reality TV deal that had been sketched-out, but wasn’t final, as of late last week. This morning, Heene’s friends are slated to go on national morning shows to answer questions regarding information that he had a theme song, and a name for his show, Psyience Detective, already laid-out.

The Larimer County Sheriff, Jim Alderden, who is leading the investigation is quoted:

“There’s a pretty clear indication from what we’ve seen so far that there are others who had planned a publicity stunt involving a spaceship,” Alderden said.

The sheriff speculated that some members of the entertainment media could have been involved. At least one show, he said, had already paid the Heenes since the balloon launch. He refused to identify it.

Ah, the joys of reality TV. Pulling in the ratings without airing a single episode.

To see Heene prior to his stunt, check out some of his YouTube vids. Yes, the Heene’s had a YouTube series.

The really cracked part of all of this is that he’ll probably end up with a show…

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Filed under Culture, Ethics, Life, Misguided, Morality, Morals, Social Responisibility, State of the Nation, State of The World, Stupidity, The American Dream, 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

Blowback: Neda’s Death, Iran’s Future (Part II)

Historical Perspective

**Please note that historical events have been reconstructed as accurately as possible. Every event in Iran’s timeline is important; however, “lesser” events have been  left out for the purpose of  brevity.**

iran-map1I was twelve when the Iranian people revolted against The Shah. The details are murky; as most boys, there were far more important things happening right in my own backyard. The poignant memory for me is in that general time-period, a yellow ribbon was tied around a tree in our front yard. A yellow ribbon, hung in protest, for American citizens being held as prisoners. In 1979, Iranian extremists stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, seizing the Embassy as well as fifty-two Americans hostages. They were held for 444 Days. The assault on our embassy occurred roughly within a year of the revolution that ousted the Shah of Iran. The same Shah that was put into power by joint US-British intelligence in 1953.

It’s vital to note that Hollywood “good guys” & “bad guys” do not exist in this political mashup; the Iranian government and people mistrust and dislike Americans for reasons easily forgotten by US citizens. Time tends to erase the memory of “insignificant” events, and to the American people, our government was acting righteously, fighting the rise of Communism in the world. In 1950, the US entered into the Korean Conflict (The Korean War) on the side of the non-Communist South. Korea had been divided since the end of World War II, when the Japanese, who had been ruling Korea since 1910, surrendered to both the Soviet Union and United States simultaneously. To avoid conflict, the US and USSR divided Korea along the 38th Parallel. A Communist faction took control of North Korea in 1946, while South Korea set up a rival republic. The United States and Soviet Union, once allies against Adolf Hitler’s Germany, squared-off as adversaries.

In the last hundred years, Iran’s history, much like our own history a century earlier, has been heavily Image_AFPimpacted by the British. Without going into overt detail, the British have had a presence in the Middle East since the early 1900’s. In a region constantly afflicted with change, The Ottoman Empire (Turkish Empire) held much of the land now known as the Middle East prior to World War I. There was no sovereign state of Israel…the Jewish people were scattered across the globe, just as foretold in the Bible. Iran was known as Persia, and Mesopatamia was still a place on the map. Due to some Ottoman military defeats and the borrowing of money from western nations, foreign powers were granted “zones of influence.”  Britain was in Egypt, the French held Lebbanon and Syria, and the Russians were interested in Armenia. Italy and Austria-Hungary also had territory. Ruled by a Sultan, the Empire’s population was around 25 million when a group known as the Young Turks ousted the Sultan and resisted his attempt to re-establish power in 1908/1909.

Enter Germany. Turkey had requested that Germany aid in the reformation and modernization of it’s army following the Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913 due to the army’s poor abilities at fighting and sustaining itself. Fearful of Russian expansion, when World War I broke out, Turkey sided with Germany, against not only Russia, but Britain as well.

This history would not have much significance if it weren’t for the discovery of vast quantities of oil around the same period. Concessions were granted to other nations to extract the oil, and the capitalization of the Middle East had begun. There were other periods of unrest, turmoil and war ( including World War II) that affected all present-day nations in the region, but for our intent, fast-forward to 1950.

Iran was led by Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq, a democratically-elected Prime Minister. Seeking to nationalize Iran’s oil industry from the British, and with heavy leanings toward Communist Russia, Mosaddeq concerned both the British and US governments. As the the world’s superpowers entered into The Cold War period, intelligence agencies such as the CIA, MI6, and Russian KGB were formed and covert operations that would forever alter the future were launched. Mossadeq succeeded in reclaiming Iran’s vast natural resource, an act which nearly resulted in open war between Britain and Iran. (The British company drilling in Iran became known as British Petroleum, or BP.) Instead, Britain labored to enlist the United States in an early coup of Mosaddeq. President Truman, already in committed conflict with Russian-backed North Korea, declined. Two years later, President Eisenhower was elected and Operation Ajax, a joint MI6 and CIA effort, aided (and funded) one of Mosaddeq’s former Generals, Fazlollah Zahedi in the overthrow of the Iranian governement. It was the CIA’s first covert operation against a foreign adversary.

The year was 1953, and the United States of America, supposed champion of fairness and Democray, staunch foe to Socialist and Communist regimes, had overthrown the ruler of a Democratic nation, propelling Iran back to it’s former state of government: Tyranny. Although it wasn’t realized at the time, the impact of this single event would ruin the United States’ credibility in the Middle East. Worse, an infection feeding on the living flesh of religious belief would spread, poisoning the entire body. Fundamental extremists, like white blood cells, would rise up to fight the source of the infection, and tear the fabric of the world.

NOTE:
I started writing this series for two reasons: The first being that I saw the video of Neda’s death and was profoundly impacted. The second was the realization that, in regard to Iran, my perceptions were formed by sound bytes.

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Iran Elections Show Social Media User Mistakes

hand2After watching the Iranian revolution fall into the hands of “We, The People” on a global scale, a somber air of seriousness has settled across the online pages of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, MySpace, YouTube, Hulu, TwitPic, and a plethora of similar social media sites. It’s almost the same as the days following 9/11, when the imagery, stories, and video shocked the American people into stunned, introspective silence. The footage making its way from the country once known Persia is both brutal and graphic, threatening to rend your heart in grief. For the first time since before Iran shifted power in 1979 to Ayatollah Khomeini, there seems to be a tenuous kinship between the people of the two nations rather than the fear & hatred that once permeated the air.
Iranian.Flag

The compassion of America, once aroused, can be powerful, far-reaching, and effective. Yet, in our effort to “help others,” there are precautions that we must take so as not to harm those we are working to help. On the sidelines, we have very little to fear; for the Iranian citizens, a mistake will most likely lead to their execution.

Today, the Cyberwar Guide for Iran Elections was posted on the site Boing Boing with “rules” on how we might help the most while causing the least harm. As the protests and killings continue, Iranian security forces have begun to use Twitter to spread disinformation, making it vital to not only clearly understand the gravity of the situation, but to take extreme care to ensure the “sources” being retweeted are valid. The worst mistake someone outside of Iran could make would be to give away a protester’s position…

Sometimes our well-intentioned acts lead to disastrous results for those in perilous fight for their lives.

Below is the Cyberwar Guide For Iran Elections in it’s entirety. Please read the “rules” listed closely.

“The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through Twitter.

1. Do NOT publicise proxy IP’s over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.

2. Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.

3. Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don’t retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.

4. Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.

5. Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don’t signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind…

6. Denial of Service attacks. If you don’t know what you are doing, stay out of this game. Only target those sites the legitimate Iranian bloggers are designating. Be aware that these attacks can have detrimental effects to the network the protesters are relying on. Keep monitoring their traffic to note when you should turn the taps on or off.

7. Do spread the (legitimate) word, it works! When the bloggers asked for twitter maintenance to be postponed using the #nomaintenance tag, it had the desired effect. As long as we spread good information, provide moral support to the protesters, and take our lead from the legitimate bloggers, we can make a constructive contribution.

Please remember that this is about the future of the Iranian people, while it might be exciting to get caught up in the flow of participating in a new meme, do not lose sight of what this is really about.”

Digital Pivot Editor Jon Leung wrote a blog warning of similar pitfalls a few days ago. He also included relevant information on the importance of determining sources, avoiding biased views, and the author’s intent.

WhereisMyVoteAs Social Media enthusiasts, users, and experts, we often do not have the luxury of fact checkers or knowing if our sources are valid. We also, in many cases, do not have the benefit of receiving first-hand information, which means that it is our ethical and moral responsibility to print facts, check our sources for credibility, and neither add, nor detract, information that would alter the intent of the story.

Thinking back to 9/11 and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, Twitter might have been used to aid the rescuers that searched for survivors. Remember that one of the major criticisms from the 9/11 Commission was the fact that the EMS services, police, National Guard, Coast Guard, etc. were unable to communicate with one another. Twitter certainly could have played a major role in coordinating rescue efforts.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Account Coordinator. His passion is writing. If you would like to get in touch with Jeff, please leave a reply or follow the links: www.linkedin.com or www.twitter.com.

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