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01/28/2004 Archived Entry: "More on airlines"
Cartoon Fix: Stuart Carlson US Eating Disorder; Russmo's Clamping Down on Terrorism; Clay Bennett's "Mission to Mars"; and, Chan Lowe's "Moon Vision Thing". Also for a chuckle, check out The Grannie Awards for best performances in the N.H. Primary. For example, The I Can Spin the World Award went to Joe Lieberman who called his fifth-place, single-digit New Hampshire finish a victory. Referred to it as a "split decision for third place." This guy is good. Or spooky.
CAPPS II -- the data-mining, screening, and color-coding of every passenger travelling on a U.S. airline -- seems slated to go into force this summer, come hell or high water, and especially since there has been little vocal opposition from mainstream America. What happened to the spirit of '76? Why do people allow themselves and their families -- their small children! -- to be lined up like cattle to be prodded and pushed around by airport thugs who assume an air that's 1/2 righteous warrior, 1/2 cell warden in a bad B movie. Rather than backing down in any manner on CAPPS, the advocates of a police state are expanding CAPPS II by linking it to US-VISIT -- a program that records the fingerprints and digital photos of visitors to the United States, then compares names to terrorist and criminal watch lists. (The comprehensive database on visitors and resident aliens will be kept for 100 years. Gee, do you think that's long enough?)
In 08/13/2002 I first blogged about airports in which passengers are no longer customers with civil rights but are being treated like criminal suspects in a Soviet system. Brad and I have boycotted the airlines ever since. Altho' an argument can be made that the airlines are being compelled to systematically rape the dignity and privacy rights of their customers, I don't have much sympathy for them. The airlines are still pulling in mega-handouts from the feds and, besides which, they have business reasons to disrespect your civil liberties. They *wanted* to hyper-inspect ID in order to eliminate the selling and transfer of tickets that had become a booming industry. They *wanted* to hyper-restrict and discourage baggage because they lost money on the "free" weight they shipped. Moreover, they are not only co-operatng but also lying to passengers about that co-operation. Both Northwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways secretly handed over confidential information on millions of passengers for a secret U.S. government air security project. Then they both lied about it! For example, in September '03, Northwest -- the U.S.'s nation's fourth-largest carrier -- publicly swore that it "did not provide...information to anyone." By Janury '04, it fessed up to providing precisely that to the government; the information included passenger credit card numbers, addresses and telephone numbers. Other airlines, like Delta, openly co-operate by unilaterally turning over to the State records on law-abiding citizens against whom no allegations of wrongdoing had been made. Delta screened passengers by accessing and evaluating personal data from such sources as bank records and credit reports. The data was then matched to a "terrorist watch list" and the unsuspecting passenger was assigned a green, yellow, or red color code. (Green is neutral and receives standard security screening; yellow is suspicious and gets unspecified special treatment; red is refused the "privilege" of flight). The color system is a core aspect of CAPPS II.
Since when is a citizen convicted of no crime refused the right to travel within his or her own country? And don't argue that they are only refused air travel. Air travel is the *only* way it is possible to conduct certain types of business; thus, people who cannot travel are barred from making a living in those ways. Air travel is virtually the *only* way many families who live on different coasts can see each other without taking time-consuming, expensive and extraordinary measures. Without the "privilege" to travel, speakers and participants in conferences etc. are de facto denied access to those gatherings -- a convenient manner by which the State can control e.g. anti-war activists. And this Orwellian scenario of government control -- of government-created second-class travellers -- presumes competence on the part of bureacratics and the minimum wage lackeys who function as their minions. What about those misidentified as threats? And, note, I haven't even addressed the possibility -- I believe, the inevitability -- of abuse both by criminals who access bank records etc. and by government officials who can mine this data for multiple reasons...none of them good for the innocent schlub just trying to live his or her life.
Boycott the airlines whenever possible. People cannot reasonably be asked to forgo the business opportunities that allow them to make a living or the travel that enables them to see loved ones....that's too much to ask for any political cause. But, whenever possible, show respect -- if not for your own privacy and civil liberties, then for the privacy and civil liberties of everyone else, including today's children who may grow up believing that having "soldiers" with guns eye them suspiciously is just a part of normal air travel, like having your choice of Coke or 7-Up from the drink trolley. BOYCOTT the airlines....not just Delta...ALL airlines.
LIFE ON THE FARM...
...continues, despite several days of storms and cold -- I'm talking COLD -- weather. The dogs demand in, with their breathe proceeding them, and they give us accusing glares as tho' we could pull a Heinlein if we *really* wanted to...and open up a door that leads to summer. Sam -- our 100 lb Black German Shepherd -- had a run-in with (what I think was) a raccoon. (A family of them is wintering over in our barn.) It must have been cornered and fighting for its life -- at least, judging from the vicious slashes it inflicted on Sam's head. There are three deep wounds: over and below his right eye; one to the side of his left eye. The latter bled so much that I was throwing on warmer clothes to rush him into the vet when I noticed him staring at my frenzied activity. The key word is "staring." Insight dawned: if an attack had damaged his eyes, then he wouldn't be sitting there with both of them white and wide-opened. So, despite blood dripping on the floor, I figured the big Doofus was okay and just cleaned him up.
Best to all,