Tag: Politics Travel

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Yes, It's True. TSA's Old Body Scanners are Now Being Used in Prisons.

May 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM | by | Comments (0)

We saw this story break two weeks ago on the insidery Federal Times, which is a place where DC bureaucrats go for hour-by-hour updates on all the things they've broken that day. At the time we hoped the news wouldn't get wide traction, partly because it's not actually that interesting but mostly because we knew that Internet conspiracy theorists would blow it completely out of proportion (actual email sent around Jaunted HQ in case it became a thing: "Suggested hed for scanner/prisons post: TSA scanners first tested on sheeple, now used on convicted felons!").

Anyway here we are. You can now read all about how the government yanked TSA's full-body scanners out of airports and then sent for use in prisons. The story is on Slate and at TIME and posted to the LA Times or on The Blaze and screw it here's the Google News Search. As we read on one conspiracy theory forum, it all proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the government was trying to break the will of its citizenry in preparation for giving our children school lunches loaded with GMO tomatoes (give/take).

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The FAA Crash That Shut Down Southern California Could Have Been Much Worse

May 13, 2014 at 4:47 PM | by | Comments (0)

Sorry. We know that we're beating this thing into the ground, but it's one of those travel news things that begins as an off-beat story and evolves into a bona fide airplane security firestorm. Of course we're seeing more and more of those stories, but this one is kind of special. Without giving away any details, the most recent Reuters expose includes the phrase "the same vulnerability could have been used by an attacker in a deliberate shut-down," where the thing getting "shut down" was a part of America's air traffic control system. There's a reason people are still talking about this incident.

Just to catch folks up. Two weeks ago something caused the FAA to issue a ground stop across four airports across the greater Los Angeles area, including at LAX, for about an hour. Reporters asked the agency to explain the order, and got more or less nowhere. Another way of describing that move: the FAA shut down most of Southern California's airspace and declined to explain why. Later journalists found out that the military was flying a U-2 spy plane in the area, and that its flight plan caused the FAA's flight tracking server to crash. Cue the batshit crazy conspiracy theorists, who declared that alien signals from the U-2 had beamed autism-filled vaccines into their kids (or something; we didn't read very closely).

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Chinese Police to Patrol Paris This Summer

Where: Paris, France
May 7, 2014 at 10:09 AM | by | Comments (0)

In response to a number of muggings and attacks against Chinese tourists, it was announced today that the French government has called upon the Chinese police force to help patrol the streets of Paris this summer. According to reports, at least ten Chinese police officers will help strengthen the security at popular tourist spots and public transportation hubs. They will also help translate between Chinese tourists and local police offers.

We cover a lot within the travel industry, but this has to be one of the most significant stories we've seen in a long time. The implications and fallout of this industry first are absolutely huge, and it goes to show how far countries are willing to go in order to get a piece of the world's largest tourism market. Reading between the lines, it seems like this is a move by France to appease China and keep the tour buses coming. Last year, 1.5 million Chinese tourists visited France, and that number is expected to increase by 40% this year after France relaxed its visa process.

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The Convoluted Tale of a US Spy Plane and an FAA Ground Stop

May 6, 2014 at 6:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

When last we left off, the FAA had just gotten over imposing a ground stop on four Southern California airports - LAX, Burbank, Ontario, and John Wayne - because of unnamed "technical issues." Or maybe it was because of mysterious "computer issues." Or maybe because of "the system" that managed the airspace for a particular air traffic control center. The agency wasn't exactly being helpful or clear on why they decided to ground, delay, or divert hundreds of flights. That frustrated at least one local outlet to the point where they kind of snarked that the FAA was sending journalists to functionally useless websites.

We'll remind you that a ground stop is a big deal. It's not just that planes get frozen on the runway at whatever airport gets slapped with the stop. It's that any plane anywhere in the country bound for the ground-stopped airport also gets grounded. These things cascade very, very quickly.

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Why the US Department of State is Taking Travel Tips to Google Plus

Where: Brazil
May 6, 2014 at 12:24 PM | by | Comments (0)

Wow—Google+ may actually be useful for something! Tomorrow (Wednesday, May 7) at 3:30pm EST, the US Department of State will host a Google+ Hangout on the topic of World Cup Travel to Brazil. As you're likely aware, the World Cup soccer championships begin June 12 and last an entire month, drawing millions of international fans to one country.

Brazil is the host for 2014, and already over 150,000 Americans hold tickets to the games. For most this will be a first visit to Brazil, and perhaps even South America in general, and news headlines from these destinations haven't always inspired confidence. With this in mind, the Department of State is calling upon experts to quell fears and appropriately prep travelers for the energetic adventure to come:

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This Wasn't Exactly a Banner Week for the FAA and TSA

May 1, 2014 at 4:46 PM | by | Comments (0)

What is it about the various government agencies charged with overseeing American travel, do you think, and how they're gratingly bad at what they do? We assume there are parts of the federal government where bureaucrats get things done roughly as well (or not) as they would if they were working anywhere else. But hot damn, do the FAA and TSA screw things up occasionally.

The FAA is an agency that is - literally and metaphorically - standing in the way of the future. It's not just that it took them two years to even draft a policy on in-flight electronics, to the point where the FCC had to initiate a formal procedure to ask them what the hell was taking so long. These are people who are so incompetent that they might end up delaying futuristic private spaceflight just because, hey, they're not sure what they think about all that yet. But at least they keep the planes in the air, right?

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The Latest TSA Scandal Sweeping the Internet is Hardly a 'Scandal'

April 29, 2014 at 12:10 PM | by | Comments (0)

How is this nonsense still a story? How - after it broke more than a week ago, and was already hopelessly tired back then - are journalists still producing new copy about "outrage" and "fury"? What details remained unexplored through the first three dozen articles, such that we needed more information a week later?

If you don't troll conspiracy theory forums or have a Google Alert set up for TSA, you might not know about video documented barbarism under discussion. You'd be the only one though, since the YouTube upload has been viewed by over 200,000 people in the last 10 days. It's at the bottom of this post too. You're welcome.

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Investigation: Report on TSA Scanning Technology Was Secretly Altered

April 24, 2014 at 5:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

This story goes way beyond travel politics - it's likely to reignite a long-simmering national scandal - but there's enough travel news in it that we figured we'd put it on your radar.

For the last year Congress has been conducting a bipartisan investigation into whether a previous inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, Charles K. Edwards, modified or delayed his investigations at the behest of administration officials. Edwards's job during his tensure, which went from 2011 to the 2013, was to keep DHS honest.

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Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: The Museums and Monuments of Washington DC

April 24, 2014 at 11:26 AM | by | Comments (0)

Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

If the tax refund gods were kind to you this year then you’re probably feeling friendly when it comes to the folks that do all of that paper pushing and spreadsheet filtering down in Washington, DC. That’s why we suggest making a visit to Uncle Sam’s backyard with all those refund dollars to pay back the government for all it does for us—haha—with a visit to the nation’s capital and the Capitol.

The cherry blossoms have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that taking in the views along the Potomac still isn’t worth your time. As far as getting to “the District,” it’s pretty darn easy thanks to Reagan National Airport and its proximity to all the city has to offer. Easy connections thanks to the area’s awesome Metro will have you downtown before you know it—no need for a taxi.

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Government Study Proves TSA Behavior Profiling is Useless, TSA Expands It Anyway

April 17, 2014 at 3:43 PM | by | Comment (1)

Last fall the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a study showing that TSA's behavior profiling program - creatively named "SPOT" - was useless. The technical language was that the project succeeded in catching bad guys at a rate only "slightly better than chance," but that's GAO code for "worthless."

Naturally people assumed that the program would be scaled back. Instead - per a Washington Times report from last week that made its way around the Internet - TSA has expanded the program to BWI. Because why should a failure, especially a failure that members of Congress blast as "an intrusion into the privacy of the flying public," prevent programs from steamrolling forward?

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Notice Anything New About Airport Rail Security?

April 11, 2014 at 1:08 PM | by | Comments (0)

This is a downer of a Friday story, but it's already getting some traction on travel sites. Plus it's going to be airport security news for the next few weeks. Plus it's probably going to affect your actual, physical airport experience. So you might as well get it on your radar now.

The short version - and you can read longer takes with details and videos here and here - is that the spring issue of Al Qaeda's lead magazine Inspire had a picture of the SFO AirTrain, which they captioned "Stand up, pack your tools of destruction, assemble your bomb, ready the detonation." You can understand why some people are talking about this.

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Hey, Who's Up for Another Round of New Taxes on Airline Tickets?

March 13, 2014 at 6:35 PM | by | Comments (0)

Last May we gave you the heads up on a particular grating travel politics story, where the Obama administration was trying to use the budget process to hike taxes on airline tickets.

The justification was that increasing how much people paid for airline tickets would increase the number of people who purchased airline tickets. The reasoning went as follows: right now, people don't purchase airline tickets because it takes too long to get through airports; new taxes could pay for more airport workers, which would decrease the amount of time it takes to get through airports; therefore, more taxes would make more people would purchase airline tickets.

We were not kind. In between words and phrases like "giggle-worthy logic" and "stupid," we pointed out that TSA had once floated the exact same theory, except they were going to raise the fees outside the normal budget process. It was shot down despite being trotted out in 2010 and 2011 and then again later in 2011, because it was moronic.

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