Airport security and common sense (5×8 – 11/17/10)


Maybe it’s time for the airlines to pay us to fly.

A three-year-old girl in Tennessee started screaming the other day when security officials at an airport made her put her Teddy Bear onto the X-ray machine. She set off the metal detector, so she got the “pat down” treatment. Her father is a TV reporter.

Update: The Tribune Company has been pulling this video down whenever it pops up on YouTube.

“You feel like they are feeling up your crotch. I read about this in the newspaper and thought, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Now I get it,” Michal Kisilevitz, 43, of Washington, D.C, told the Star Tribune.

Earlier this week I passed along the story of a San Diego man who gave up trying to fly rather than be groped or be scanned. The Department of Homeland Security said it may prosecute him for leaving the airport, citing a federal law requiring anyone who starts a security review at the airport to finish it. Yesterday, I asked the Transportation Security Administration for a copy of the law. It refused to provide it.

More aviation: Few mainstream media will likely pick up this story, but a highly-regarded aviation blogger has detailed why you should perhaps think twice about flying the Airbus A380.


Being poor and less educated may make you better at empathy, new research says. “This is fascinating,” Vladas Griskevicius, a University of Minnesota psychologist who was not involved in the study, told Livescience.

“Most researchers would expect that people from higher-SES (socioeconomic status) backgrounds would be better at reading other people,” Griskevicius said. “But this research finds that people from lower-SES backgrounds are more attuned to what others are thinking and feeling.”


There were a few stories about exit polls but the American Enterprise Institute has put them all together. Here’s the one I find most interesting:

Homosexuals were 3 percent of voters, about what their share of the electorate has been in recent elections. But this year, self-identified gays, lesbians, and bisexuals looked more Republican than they did in either 2006 or 2008. In those years, 24 and 19 percent, respectively, voted for GOP candidates. This year, 30 percent did. Forty percent of voters in House races checked the box saying that same-sex marriages should be legally recognized. Fifty-four percent said they should not be.

Find the full article here.


A man who killed an elderly Mahnomen County couple says he was off his meds when he killed them. But he had the meds. He said he stopped taking them because he feared the state medical insurance plans would change and he’d run out of them. So he stopped taking them and stockpiled them.


The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched a series of TV ads to convince people not to drive while talking on their phones. One features a woman from Rudolph, Wisconsin (just this side of Stevens Point):

In the Chicago area yesterday, a judge denied Lori Hunt’s request to get out of jail more often. She already gets out during the day to go to her job, even though she killed a motorcyclist. She was painting her nails at the time.

“We’ve lost my mom forever, and (Hunt) gets to see her family and friends every day of the week because someone is always giving her a ride home,” the motorcyclist’s son said. “She’s never been in jail at all for killing my mom. She’s never had to wear the jail uniform.”

Bonus: Today is National Unfriend Day.


Republicans in Washington have stepped up their campaign against earmarks, the process that allows members of Congress to direct funds to particular projects. Is doing away with earmarks a good idea?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: America’s soaring deficit is the focus of much debate in Washington, and the New York Times is tapping into the collective wisdom of its readers to help solve the problem.

Second hour: San Francisco takes aim at McDonald’s Happy Meals by requiring restaurant meals to meet certain nutritional guidelines in order to include a toy with the food purchase. Will these types of actions change our children’s health? Should parents or the government police the quality of meals?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Congressional expert Norman Ornstein previews tomorrow’s meeting of the president and the congressional leaders.

Second hour: Another debate from the Intelligence Squared series: Should terrorists be treated like enemy combatants or criminals?

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: NPR political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Minnesota organizations in west central part of the state have received a grant to increase number of geriatric nurses. In the next five years, 3,000 additional nurses are necessary and now programs at technical schools are gearing up. MPR’s Dan Gunderson reports.

Minneapolis’ Children’s Hospital is holding its grand opening today following a $230 million dollar renovation. It’s one of three new or expanding hospitals for kids in the region. MPR’s Lorna Benson tours of all of them.

Minnesota is so water-rich, most of us don’t worry about preserving or protecting our water. But a new study from the University of Minnesota says some parts of the state are in danger of running out of water. The report also says many of our water rules are inadequate; some others are ignored; and in general we need a more comprehensive approach to water. MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill will have the story.

New Flyer officials hold their regular conference call with investors amid signs that the stimulus isn’t paying the dividends once forecast for the maker of energy-efficient buses. Ambar Espinoza is monitoring.

  • I get the feeling that the ghosts of the Stasi bureau in East Germany are looking on in envy right now.

  • Bob Collins

    I’m so glad my kids are grown and I don’t have to explain to a 3-year-old the concepts of “bad touch,” except for the creepy guy at the airport.

  • Heather

    I want to see what the underwear bomb would actually look like on one of these scans. I am not at all convinced that subjecting people to this level of search — scan or pat-down — will have a real payoff. What good has it done for us all to take off our shoes? ANY?

    And re: Lori Hunt, isn’t the point of jail that you don’t get to leave? Ugh.

  • On my facebook, a friend of mine joked that if TSA employees were former Hooters waitresses, there would be no complaints.

    I pointed out to him that if a TSA employee of any gender tried to touch my friends’ 7 year old daughter in an extensive pat down, my friends AND I would all be arrested.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding Homosexual Voters: Bob, homosexuals are mostly just like heterosexuals. (OK, maybe they’re better dressers. And dancers.OK. Maybe they’re more creative in general). We must grant homosexuals the right to make the same stupid mistakes that we grant heterosexuals. Like the right to want to get married. And join the military. And vote republican.

  • Ben Chorn

    So a TSA agent cant use a glove on the outside of you clothes, or see a scanner image of your body, but you will easily remove you pants for a medical physical every year for hernia or gynecological exams? C’mon now people, have some sense!

  • Suzanne

    Now we’re comparing TSA agents to medical doctors? That is the most senseless analogy I have heard yet. This TSA “groping in the name of security” is outrageous.

  • Sarah

    Regarding your first item, I don’t think there is a statute that say you must complete a security screening once it is started, but it is the law under a 9th Circuit court opinion.

    This Wired article from 2007 summarizes it well. The main point being if you could refuse to complete the screening, a potential terrorist would have unlimited chances to breach security.