Archive for Airline Safety

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

You expect me to clean that up?

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Airplane cabin cleaners have set up pickets outside a LaGuardia Airport terminal over health and safety issues.

About 200 Air Serv workers who support domestic flights at Terminal D began a 24-hour strike on Wednesday night.

They say their concerns include possible exposure to Ebola.

“The whole country is shivering, worried about the problems of Ebola,” said Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ Service Employees International Union. “Airport workers are on the front line of protecting the public, to protect the public we have to protect the workers.”

The workers, who are seeking to unionize, said they’re sometimes exposed to blood, feces and vomit but are not equipped with appropriate protective gear.

I first heard about this strike yesterday, but didn’t get that it was tied to Ebola. And I can’t blame them.

The government says no, no, no, we can’t stop flights from West Africa (more accurately, passengers, as there are no direct flights from West Africa). And we expect these people to clean up the…bodily fluids of people on those flights? Without a Hazmat suit?

This is what happens when you lead from behind. Ebola will never come here, Obama assured us. It’s a JV disease. Now they’re trying to play catch-up, checking random passengers for fever. Which can be beaten with a couple of Advil or Tylenol. Imagine trying to fly with just a mild flu. You register 100.8 degrees and you get sent off to the sick ward, with who knows how many people and whatever disease they may have.

The Ebola outbreak is chaos theory in action: the butterfly wing-flap in Monrovia results in panic in Dallas and a work stoppage in Queens. So far. Good luck trying to keep up.

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Who Wants to Accompany the First Lady to China?

Whoa, don’t everybody answer all at once.

Come on, it’ll be fun!

The First Lady will travel to China from March 19-26, 2014. She will be visiting Beijing from March 20-23, Xi’an on March 24, and Chengdu from March 25-26. During her trip, the First Lady will meet with Madame Peng, the spouse of China’s President Xi Jinping. She will also visit a university and a high school in Beijing, and a high school in Chengdu. Additional details about the First Lady’s trip will be announced in the coming weeks. Accompanying Mrs. Obama on this trip will be her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson, and daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.

The First Lady is encouraging students and classrooms across the U.S. to follow her trip by signing up for updates throughout the visit.

Who doesn’t want to read about people you don’t know traveling around the world at your expense? It’s like credit card fraud and royalty watching combined.

You didn’t think I meant really accompanying her, did you?

You couldn’t afford it trust me:

President Obama and his family have come under heavy scrutiny for the unprecedented high travel costs during his time in office – and a week-long trip to China for four members of the First Family, members of the Secret Service and other members of the White House staff will likely cost several millions of dollars.

The president’s pricey travels have become so controversial that Judicial Watch was forced to sue the Secret Service and Defense Department to get them to turn over records on the amount of taxpayer money used to fly the First Family all over the world – in many cases for vacations or fundraisers – over the last two years of his administration.

According to Judicial Watch, it cost more than $11 million for the president and his wife to travel to Africa to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral in December of last year. According to the New York Daily News, the Obamas were only in Africa for ‘less than 13 hours.’

But that trip was nothing compared to a 2013 visit the Obamas made to the Dark Continent, which reportedly cost tax payer more than $100 million.

For two vacations the Obamas took in 2013 – one to Hawaii and one to Martha’s Vineyard – records show that it cost taxpayers a whopping $7,396,531 in flight expenses alone. That figure also includes travel expenses for the president’s trip to California to file the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

During an August trip to California, during which Obama attended a party held by Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Katzenberg and again appeared on the Tonight Show, taxpayers paid more than $2 million in travel expenses for the president and his security detail.

The president himself won’t be making the trip. He’ll be in Belgium. (Draw your own conclusions.)

Will Michelle be hectoring the Chinese about their dining habits as she does here?

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One of Guangzhou’s signature dishes, luó bó niú zá is nothing more than a stew made with beef hearts, livers, spleens, stomachs, intestines, and lungs, along with some large chunks of soft, white radish. They are all boiled together in a large drum of water with a shelf near the top for organs that are finished cooking…. When you order a bowl of luó bó niú zá, the vendor will reach a ladle deep inside to scoop up some radish pieces from the bottom of the barrel, chop up some of the offal off of the offal shelf, and dump both components into a bowl with a small amount of the broth.

Let’s move!

And what better quaff to go with cow spleen?

Got fermented camel’s milk?

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Air China

It’s a contradiction in terms:

When China set a goal to leap from being a tiny aerospace-industry player to a direct threat to Airbus and Boeing, few scoffed at the idea, given Beijing’s track record of using deep government pockets to push state-owned firms up the ladder.

But as leaders of the global aerospace industry gather in Beijing for an International Air Transport Association meeting that kicks off on Sunday, a closer examination by Reuters shows that the potential challenge from China might be greatly overblown, and that its aircraft sector is unlikely to pose any credible competition for at least a decade.

In interviews with executives from three different technology suppliers working with Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) to develop passenger jets, Reuters has learned that various tests over the past two years have identified flaws in the ARJ21’s wings, wiring and computer systems.

During a stress test in mid-2010, the wings of the ARJ21 broke, or “cracked” in one executive’s description, before the pressure applied reached regulatory norms.

In further examinations conducted last year, the avionics system — the brain of the plane — failed at times to work properly, highlighting what one of the three suppliers executives described as a “system integration problem.” Faults in the wiring were also discovered in those tests, according to the supplier executives.

“You should have seen the faces (of Comac engineers and executives)” said one of the three suppliers, who was at the 2010 test in a lab in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There was uncomfortable silence in the room.”

You mean they weren’t inscrutable? (I withdraw the comment.)

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Spiking the Nuclear Football

While President Obama was taking his victory lap a year after SEAL Team 6 greased OBL, declaring Al Qaeda as defunct as Gimbels, Al Qaeda begged to differ:

He could have breezed through security at any airport.

A terrorist wearing the latest underwear bomb would not have been caught by the TSA’s most conscientious human screeners or its highest-tech fullbody scanners, experts told The Post yesterday. But the country ducked a disaster by employing an age-old weapon: a double agent.

With the help of American allies in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the secret agent inserted himself into the terrorists’ secret inner circle, and became so trusted, the thugs accepted his offer to board a US-bound plane wearing the bomb.

Instead, the agent turned it over to the United States.

But experts said that as far as future suicide bomb attempts are concerned, current technology is not good enough to find nonmetallic explosive devices like the newest underwear bomb — despite Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s assurance that there was a “high likelihood’’ the bomber would have been stopped.
One top law-enforcement official insisted, “They would not have gotten him.”

This is one of those occasions when US security can proclaim a victory. Usually, it’s only the failures that make the news.

Which makes you wonder:

Federal investigators are conducting a probe into who leaked information about an al-Qaida plot in which an explosive device was to have been detonated on a U.S.-bound airline flight, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity about the leak investigation, which is just getting under way.

An anonymous official leaked information about a leak investigation? Typical.

The federal investigation is the latest move in an aggressive campaign by the Obama administration to crack down on leaks, even as it has supported proposed legislation that would shield reporters from having to identify their sources. The administration has already brought at least six criminal cases against people for discussing government secrets with reporters, more than under any previous presidency.

A spokesman for the AP, Paul Colford, said in a statement that the news organization “acted carefully and with extreme deliberation in its reporting on the underwear bomb plot and its subsequent decision to publish.”

“As the AP has reported, we distributed our exclusive report on the underwear bomb only after officials assured us — on Monday — that their security concerns had been satisfied and we learned that the White House would announce the news the next day,” Colford said.

I’ve got an angle for the FBI to investigate. Given Team Obama’s penchant for boasting (you would have thought Obama himself had caught Osama, with nothing but a lariat and a Swiss Army knife), maybe they leaked the news. They announced it publicly the next day anyway, and it was a national security victory—but as was also true of the OBL raid, premature jubilation can be an embarrassing problem.

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Is That a Colostomy Bag, or are You Just Glad to See Me?

I’m pi**ed-off it took so long, and I’m disappointed that a liberal weenie like Schumer is the initiator (rather than someone of a more libertarian bent), but most of what I have to say can be summed up thusly: FINALLY

Two New York politicians urged the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday to provide passenger advocates on site at airport screenings after four elderly women complained of intrusive searches by security agents in recent months.

Senator Charles Schumer and State Senator Michael Gianaris told Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole in a letter that an on-site passenger advocate would help strike the right balance between security and protecting vulnerable travelers.

“I appreciate the TSA’s work to keep air passengers safe, but passengers should not be humiliated and degraded during their travels,” Gianaris said in a statement accompanying the letter.

The call came after several elderly women came forward in the busy travel weeks around Thanksgiving to complain they were “strip searched by TSA agents”, including three at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the letter said.

On Sunday, the TSA denied on its blog that the women had been strip searched.

“TSA does not and has never conducted strip searches, and no strip searches occurred in any of these incidents,” the official statement posted by TSA blogger Bob Burns said.

Asking a government agency to be the guarantor of civil liberties is like asking a fox to police a chicken coop. If these abuses (and so, so many others) had happened under Bush, there would be calls for impeachment. And, in general, I think the solution to government intrusion is less government, not more.

But in absence of common sense or human intelligence, I guess an advocate will have to do.

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Heckuva Job, Bambi

Obama has clearly failed in his effort to bring us together—as the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party clearly show. But he’s united the world in utter contempt for his clueless leadership.

See, Israel? You’re not alone:

Weapons smuggled from Libya after the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s government are flowing through the surrounding region, the president of neighboring Niger said, a development that threatens to destabilize a swath of the continent already struggling against ethnic unrest and a regional branch of Al Qaeda.

“Arms were stolen in Libya and are being disseminated all over the region,” Niger’s president Mahamadou Issoufou said following a meeting with South African president Jacob Zuma. “Saharan countries are facing terrorist threats, arms and criminal trafficking. The Libya crisis is amplifying those crises.”

Issoufou’s remarks came days after Niger’s military clashed with arms smugglers traveling from Libya. Six smugglers and one soldier died in Sunday’s battle, he said.

Niger’s foreign minister Mohamed Bazoum said the battle was the fourth such incident since February, the beginning of the uprising in Libya that resulted in Qaddafi’s overthrow and the widespread looting of his vast armories.

We noted the story the other day that Israel is having to outfit all El Al flights with missile-avoidance technology, out of just such fears of Libyan arms reaching the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. We also mentioned then—and repeat now—the rank hypocrisy of the Liberal-Media Complex in decrying the looting of Iraqi antiquities after Shock & Awe (not by us, but by the very people we were trying to defeat), while remaining silent about this fiasco. Most or all of the antiquities were recovered; a Boeing 767 pierced by a SAM will be significantly more difficult.

What were you thinking, Obama?

PS: “Smart” people like to say that Al Qaeda has been degraded as a fighting force. This ought to help them recover, don’t you think?

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Hu-dini

A couple of choice nuggets from Mark Steyn’s weekly column:

“This plant indirectly supports hundreds of other jobs right here in Toledo,” Obama told the workers at Chrysler. “After all, without you, who’d eat at Chet’s or Inky’s or Rudy’s? Manufacturers from Michigan to Massachusetts are looking for new engineers to build advanced batteries for American-made electric cars. And obviously, Chet’s and Inky’s and Zinger’s, they’ll all have your business for some time to come.”

A couple of days later, Chet’s announced it was closing after nine decades. “It was the economy and the smoking ban that hurt us more than anything,” said the owner.

When historians look back at the fraud and hoax and mass hysteria that was the Obamenon, they will wonder how effing dumb any so-called advanced civilization could be. He was no magician, there was no sleight of hand. He just told us that the lady we saw lying dismembered on stage in a pool of her own blood was successfully sawed in half, and we believed him. It didn’t hurt that the media, in the personage of a fat, hairy-bellied, middle-aged bald guy, in fishnet stockings and a sequined leotard, mimed astonishment at the fetes of the Amazing Prezkin. Ta-da!

I will have more to say on historians in a later post, but back to Steyn:

Random example from the headlines: The paramilitarization of the education bureaucracy. The federal Department of Education doesn’t employ a single teacher but it does have a SWAT team: They kicked down a front door in Stockton, California last week and handcuffed Kenneth Wright (erroneously) in connection with a student-loan “investigation.” “We can confirm that we executed a search warrant,” said Department of Education spokesperson Gina Burress.

The Department of Education issues search warrants? Who knew? The Brokest Nation in History is the only country in the developed world whose education secretary has his own Delta Force.

A government bureaucracy with no reason to exist has quietly built itself a rapid deployment force for (erroneously) collecting on delinquent loans.

Do you hear me? Am I making myself clear? The Department of Education, an invention of Jimmy Carter, employs shock troops. When not collecting on bad debts, they are known to frisk young children for plastic forks and to wrestle peanut butter cookies to the ground.

And speaking of frisking:

A 24-year old woman has been awarded compensation of $2,350 after TSA agents exposed her breasts to all and sundry at the Corpus Christi Airport security line and provided Weineresque play-by-play commentary. “We regret that the passenger had an unpleasant experience,” said a TSA spokesgroper, also very Weinerly. But hey, those are a couple of cute bumps on the road, lady!

This happened months ago, but who can keep straight all the examples of inappropriate behavior and inexplicable selections for “enhanced techniques”?

Let’s refresh your mammary:

Murley, pictured above, charged in her lawsuit that she was “singled out for extended search procedures,” and that a TSA agent frisked her and “pulled Plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing Plaintiff’s breasts to everyone in the area.”

TSA employees, Murley added, “joked and laughed about the incident for an extended period of time.” After leaving the security line to be “consoled by an acquaintance who had brought her to the airport,” Murley returned to the line, where a male TSA worker said that he had wished he was there when she first passed through. The employee, Murley recalled, added that “he would just have to watch the video.” The incident left Murley “extremely embarrassed and humiliated,” according to her complaint.

If you’re wondering why she got only $2,350, it’s because that’s all they thought the government was good for. A bigger check would have bounced.

If you’re wondering why the abject humiliation of a young woman by irresponsible and unaccountable louts in uniform has stirred barely a whisper of outrage (poor ACLU, stricken with palsy), take a number. We should get to you by November 2012.

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Busty Busted

Ordinarily, I’d support any initiative that enables one to grope beauty queens. But I had to go shoot my mouth off and condemn from the get-go the TSA enhanced security nonsense as an appalling assault on personal liberty.

So, I’ll have to content myself with a told-you-so:

What bothered me most was when she ran the back of her hands down my behind, felt around my breasts, and even came in contact with my vagina! Honestly, I was in shock, especially since the woman at LAX never actually touched me there. The TSA employee at DFW touched private area 4 times, going up both legs from behind and from the front, each time touching me there. Was I at my gynecologist’s office? No! This was crazy!

I just kept thinking, “What have I done to deserve this treatment as an upstanding, law-abiding American citizen?” Am I a threat to US security? I was Miss USA, for Pete’s sake!

Hey, if future beauty queens can get felt up, why not washed up has-beens?

At best, it’s random. At worst, it gives pervs a gold ticket to fondle anyone they like. And it does nothing—nothing—for security. Nothing.

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Slaughterhouse 5

What’s the old expression? Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the power to reach into your pants means the power to pick you pocket:

Two agents working for the Transportation Security Administration have been arrested after stealing from passengers at New York’s JFK airport.

The New York Daily News reports that Davon Webb and Persad Coumar were ratted out by a colleague. Both have worked for the TSA for over five years.

The theft that doomed the two involved pocketing $40,000 from a passenger’s bag. After being interrogated they confessed to stealing as much as $160,000 from passengers, selecting victims’ bags at random.

A representative of the TSA told the Daily News that the agency’s 50,000 employees should not be stigmatized by the “disgraceful actions of a few.”

The “few” bad apples include Michael Arato, a Newark TSA supervisor who pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing thousands of dollars from passengers at the New Jersey airport.

Arato partnered with a subordinate TSA agent to conduct the thefts. The two agents stole tens of thousands of dollars from passengers while either subjecting them to additional screening or while screening their bags.

Yet another TSA employee was arrested on January 27 in Memphis, Tennessee for attempting to steal a passenger’s laptop from a screening area.

If you add these bad apples to the bad apples that download x-ray images of passengers in their birthday suits and the bad apples that call over their buddies to take a look at some woman’s thong and the bad apples that select passengers to screen based on the size of their rack—plus the (relatively speaking) good apples who decide that the all-American family of four is a threat to national security, requiring the application of latex gloves to sensitive areas—you have a melange of apples fit only for hog slop.

When the archives are written, the total resignation over this level of intrusion into our lives will mark a key turning point. We won’t let our government employ sophisticated identification and psychological profiling to maintain our safety—but we will allow them to have a Kodak moment with our junk. And the political Left, which screamed bloody murder at the thought of wiretapping overseas terrorist’s phone calls (recently renewed without a Leftist peep under Obama), merely drops its drawers and bends over. We’d better all get used to it.

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Travel Story

We flew to our Undisclosed Destination while I was away. Do you remember how outraged I was at the TSA’s new screening policies? How I bit off anyone’s head who said such an obvious violation of unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause wasn’t a big deal?

Guess which father and his family of four got pulled aside to have their junk x-rayed.

That’s right, moi. Curse you, Janet Incompetano, but thanks for reading.

I got my revenge, though. Let’s just say that the system didn’t have enough memory and I crashed the site. You can look, but don’t touch—and you can’t even look.

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We’re the Government, We’re Here to Help

They can put their hands all over my “junk”, but they can’t put their hands on over 100,000 airplanes:

The Federal Aviation Administration says registration records for as many as one-third of all private aircraft are out-of-date and inaccurate, and has begun the process of re-registering aircraft in the United States — a task made more urgent by the threat posed by criminals and terrorists.

Of the 357,000 registered aircraft in the United States, records for about 119,000 are believed to be out of date, with many of them believed to be junked or inactive aircraft, the FAA said.

But the inaccurate records also could conceal criminal or even terrorist activity, say some security and aviation experts, who say it is critical that the FAA restore order to its records.

If you accept that the eff-ups we know about are only the tip of the iceberg, the mind reels at how effed-up we really must be.

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WANTED

Drop dead gorgeous or alive:

A former “Baywatch” beauty is feeling overexposed after going through what she says was a humiliating body scan by Transportation Security Administration agents at Los Angeles International Airport.

Donna D’Errico, who was the Playboy Playmate in September 1995, says she got a few leers along with the scan and isn’t happy about it.

After waiting in a long line of holiday travelers, D’Errico and her son finally made it to the moving carrier where all the carry-on bags are placed. That’s when a TSA agent took her by the elbow and told her she needed to “come this way.”

Donna D’Errico says she felt overexposed at LAX airport after being forced to go through a body scan that she suspects was ordered because she was pretty and not because she was a terrorist suspect.

“I said I was traveling with my son, motioning to him, and the agent said he was to come along with me as well,” D’Errico said. “I immediately asked why we were having to go through an extra search, and no one else was being made to do so, indicating the long line of other passengers in front of and behind where we had been in line. In a very sarcastic tone, and still holding me by the elbow, the agent responded, ‘Because you caught my eye, and they’ — pointing to the other passengers — ‘didn’t.'”

Aw, come on, honey! It’s the least you can do for national security.

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