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10451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 20, 2010, 02:46:52 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20005566-10391695.html

A new government report released Thursday reveals that federal officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who are tasked with the job of spotting terrorists at airports have little training.

As CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian first reported on Wednesday the TSA's behavior detection officers have never spotted a terrorist. Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office discovered that at least 16 known terrorists travelled through 8 different U.S. airports 23 times where the program had been implemented.

The GAO report says the TSA implemented its behavior detection program, which now costs taxpayers about $200 million annually, without first determining if there was any scientific valid basis for using it.

Read the GAO Report

As part of the program, specialized TSA officers watch passengers waiting in lines at select U.S. airport checkpoints and are supposed to be able to recognize anyone who is a security threat based on an analysis of facial expressions and body language.

According to the GAO, the TSA's behavior detection officers typically work in teams of two and "training includes 4 days of classroom courses, followed by 3 days of on-the-job training."
10452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 20, 2010, 02:43:17 PM
Doug,

I'm pointing out that there are people in the US with positions in society that seems to be model citizens that could potentially be recruited to do things that could cause a catastrophic attack. Israel has a large domestic intelligence agency that does things not done in the US, this and their ethnically based profiling system are not things that can be done here under our legal system.
10453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 19, 2010, 09:04:46 PM
Before Maj. Hasan went on his shooting spree, he was a US Army officer with a DOD ID and a secret level security clearance. Exactly what sort of security screening should he have gone through before flying?
10454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dutch government attempts to ban sale of marijuana to tourists on: November 19, 2010, 08:54:02 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/8144369/Dutch-government-attempts-to-ban-sale-of-marijuana-to-tourists.html

Dutch government attempts to ban sale of marijuana to tourists
The new conservative Dutch government wants to force the country's marijuana cafés to become "members only" clubs, in a move that would effectively block foreigners from buying the drug.
Coffee shop in Holland
Marijuana has been sold openly in designated cafés in the Netherlands for decades Photo: REUTERS
7:36PM GMT 18 Nov 2010

If the idea ever becomes reality – it would be legally complicated and politically divisive – it would be the latest of the country's liberal policies to be scrapped or curtailed as the Dutch rethink the limits of their famed tolerance.

While marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been sold openly in designated cafés for decades, and police make no arrests for possession of small amounts.

Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said that in the future, only residents of Dutch cities will be allowed to purchase cannabis. "Not tourists. We don't like that," he said on state television in remarks broadcast on Wednesday.
10455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 19, 2010, 08:42:01 PM
http://www.tsa.gov/press/releases/2002/press_release_0104.shtm

Items permitted in aircraft cabins:

    * Pets (if permitted by airline check with airline for procedures)
    * Walking canes and umbrellas (once inspected to ensure prohibited items are not concealed)
    * Nail clippers with nail files attached
    * Nail files
    * Tweezers
    * Safety razors (including disposable razors)
    * Syringes (with medication and professionally printed label identifying medication or manufacturer’s name)
    * Insulin delivery systems
    * Eyelash curlers
10456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 19, 2010, 08:31:27 PM
BBG,

Yes, and that small country has a domestic intelligence agency that allows it to assemble a dossier on every passenger and then profile. Are you advocating that we duplicate that here?
10457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 19, 2010, 03:45:03 PM
Let's see, the Whiskey Rebellion was put down by a paramilitary force armed with the latest in weapons technology, lead by one George Washington. Alert Radley Balko!
10458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 19, 2010, 03:40:59 PM
Nail clippers aren't a prohibited item.
10459  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Body Language on: November 19, 2010, 03:38:27 PM
"Barney Miller", "Homicide, life on the Street" and "The Wire" are cop shows that people in law enforcement tend to like. I've seen season 1 and 2 of The Wire, and loved it.
10460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 19, 2010, 03:33:59 PM
Ok, so stop screening anyone that doesn't look "muslimy". Jihadists would never use children, or the disabled or the elderly in their plots, or jihadis that don't a middle eastern appearance. Perhaps the US could force every muslim to register their religious affiliation so as to facilitate the screening process?
10461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 11:21:46 PM
Pilots leading less than legal lifestyles become vulnerable to blackmail.

"Take this package past the security checkpoint, or your wife, your boss and the FAA get a tape of you doing a line off the flight attendant's ass at the Hilton. Don't look inside.*
10462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 10:35:21 PM
(08-10) 04:00 PST Washington — 2002-08-10 04:00:00 PST Washington -- The Transportation Security Administration has warned airlines to be on the lookout for impostors wearing stolen uniforms trying to gain access to planes or airports, citing a series of recent thefts from flight crews.

Agency officials would not comment on the confidential warning, which was issued July 22 -- a week after burglars took airline uniforms, keys and identification tags from the New York apartment of two Delta Airlines flight attendants.
10463  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Body Language on: November 18, 2010, 10:29:20 PM
Tapping out at the 27 min mark. Geeze, can't they at least put the Captain's bars on right?
10464  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Body Language on: November 18, 2010, 10:17:54 PM
Based on reading this I'm trying to watch the "Mentalist". Ugh.  rolleyes

Nothing like watching scripts written by screenwriters who only know police work from watching earlier police shows written by people who also knew nothing about police work.
10465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 09:42:51 PM
PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - An off-duty Northwest Airlines pilot was suspected of driving under the influence of cocaine when he headed the wrong way on an interstate to avoid the U.S.-Canada border and led deputies on a chase, authorities said Sunday.

Investigators said Walter L. Dinalko, a veteran pilot of 20 years, had flown to Detroit Metropolitan Airport Saturday afternoon and then rented a Hummer that he drove about 70 miles to Port Huron.

Dinalko turned around three times on the Blue Water Bridge, apparently changing his mind about heading into Sarnia, Ontario, said St. Clair County sheriff's Lt. A.J. Foster.

He then drove on the wrong side of the bridge and Interstate 94, Foster said.

U.S. Customs agents alerted sheriff's deputies, who closed down the expressway and gave chase, Foster said.

Deputies laid down stop sticks, which flattened the Hummer's tires. Dinalko stopped but refused to surrender to deputies, Foster said.

"He started giving them a hard time, and a tussle ensued," Foster said. Deputies subdued him and found suspected cocaine on the floor of the vehicle and in Dinalko's pocket, the lieutenant said.

Dinalko, 50, of St. Paul, Minn., was taken to a hospital for a drug test before he was taken to jail, said sheriff's Lt. Jim DeLacy.

"He appeared to be highly under the influence of narcotics," said DeLacy, who was on the scene of the arrest.
10466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 09:32:16 PM
United Airlines pilot charged with flying drugs to Shelby
By Tony Burbeck
NewsChannel 36
Posted: Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010

SHELBY - A United Airlines pilot based in San Francisco is charged with flying 173 pounds of marijuana to the Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport.


Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/08/28/1648027/united-airlines-pilot-charged.html#ixzz15hBjmwlM
10467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 18, 2010, 07:42:06 PM
http://www.city-journal.org/html/7_2_a1.html

It is of course true, but only trivially so, that the present illegality of drugs is the cause of the criminality surrounding their distribution. Likewise, it is the illegality of stealing cars that creates car thieves. In fact, the ultimate cause of all criminality is law. As far as I am aware, no one has ever suggested that law should therefore be abandoned. Moreover, the impossibility of winning the “war” against theft, burglary, robbery, and fraud has never been used as an argument that these categories of crime should be abandoned. And so long as the demand for material goods outstrips supply, people will be tempted to commit criminal acts against the owners of property. This is not an argument, in my view, against private property or in favor of the common ownership of all goods. It does suggest, however, that we shall need a police force for a long time to come.

In any case, there are reasons to doubt whether the crime rate would fall quite as dramatically as advocates of legalization have suggested. Amsterdam, where access to drugs is relatively unproblematic, is among the most violent and squalid cities in Europe. The idea behind crime—of getting rich, or at least richer, quickly and without much effort—is unlikely to disappear once drugs are freely available to all who want them. And it may be that officially sanctioned antisocial behavior—the official lifting of taboos—breeds yet more antisocial behavior, as the “broken windows” theory would suggest.

Having met large numbers of drug dealers in prison, I doubt that they would return to respectable life if the principal article of their commerce were to be legalized. Far from evincing a desire to be reincorporated into the world of regular work, they express a deep contempt for it and regard those who accept the bargain of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay as cowards and fools. A life of crime has its attractions for many who would otherwise lead a mundane existence. So long as there is the possibility of a lucrative racket or illegal traffic, such people will find it and extend its scope. Therefore, since even legalizers would hesitate to allow children to take drugs, decriminalization might easily result in dealers turning their attentions to younger and younger children, who—in the permissive atmosphere that even now prevails—have already been inducted into the drug subculture in alarmingly high numbers.
10468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Time to end the war on illegal immigration on: November 18, 2010, 07:28:24 PM
We've spent billions every year, and yet we still have illegal aliens. Time to shut down the Border Patrol and ICE. The virtual border fence wasn't working anyway. What's the worst that could happen?
10469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 18, 2010, 06:27:53 PM
I'm at least as warm and cuddly as a pile of rusty nails, if not more.
10470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 04:51:46 PM
If pilots are exempted from screening, then you have to worry about pilots willing to bring in threat items and those posing as pilots, who are not.
10471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 03:10:38 PM
And what of the "cleanskin" homegrown terrorist with a shiny new Nat'l ID card?

I've worked for DHS, Chad. You give them way too much credit.
10472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 18, 2010, 02:31:04 PM
Yeah, some cops suck at H2H and shooting, sometimes it's beyond embarrassing to think of what i've seen. I'll note that despite that, most of those men and women do not hesitate to run towards the sound of the guns when called to do so.

We are a nation of laws. Some laws are better than others. The fact that marijuana is a schedule I drugs makes no sense, still it is the law until changed or negated. I've worked as a law enforcement officer in a state where marijuana under an ounce with no intent to distribute was less than a misd. It's not generally worth the time/cost to bother citing someone into court for it. I've had more than a few people approach me to give information about drugs being dealt. I dutifully have passed the information on to the applicable Narcs. I can tell you that if it's marijuana and we aren't talking about kilos or a major grow operation, they don't even pretend to sound interested.

I'll remind you that one of the key concepts for this nation was a moral people who regulated their own behavior. We increasingly are a post-modern, post-moral people with very destructive results. This does not mean that we should be enforcing dietary laws or beating unmarried couples with sticks, but there has to be a secular code of conduct that is enforced. A otherwise law abiding taxpayer who covertly smokes their homegrown weed while watching a movie in their bedroom is right around the person who unlawfully tears a tag off a mattress on my list of priorities as a law enforcement officer.

I'm obligated to intervene if someone wants to shove a shotgun in their mouth and pull the trigger, but if someone wants to slowly kill themselves with Big Macs, grain alcohol and cigarettes, I could care less, so long as I don't have to subsidize it.

Once upon a time, there wasn't a 70% + illegitimacy rate amongst blacks, as a result, there wasn't the violent crime/death rate for that population we see today. Guess where whites are heading? Same path. So what will the violent crime rate look like when whites have a 70% illegitimacy rate? Societies change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Hard drugs with no legal controls would be immensely destructive to our society.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/country-matters-let-us-never-go-the-way-of-the-ik-1384655.html

"consider the plight of the Ik, the African tribe memorably portrayed by Colin Turnbull in his book The Mountain People.

When this first appeared in 1972, it caused outrage - so revolting, so inhuman was the behaviour which it described. Now republished as a paperback, it remains just as shocking and a salutary warning against the breakdown of social values which we are now beginning to witness in our own country.

A peripatetic anthropologist, who died only a few weeks ago, Turnbull studied primitive communities in Africa, India, Tibet and Polynesia. In 1992, he was ordained a Buddhist monk by the Dalai Lama. Yet never did he endure more rebarbative companions than during his time with the Ik, among whom he lived in north-eastern Uganda between 1964 and 1967.

Principally hunter-gatherers, who moved about the country in their perpetual search for food, the Ik also lived for some of the time in villages of grass huts, each surrounded by stockades of grass and reeds. So harsh was their struggle for survival that they had abandoned what we think of as basic human values: they had lost all use for love, kindness, sentiment, honesty or altruism, and were motivated entirely by individual self-interest.

This manifested itself in the most brutal forms. Food being their greatest necessity, they fought for it, stole it from each other, lied about it, and when they got some, stuffed themselves until they vomited, so that they could cram down everything available.

Even in times of famine, men who returned to their village after a successful hunt would creep back laden with meat and then slip out before dawn to sell it at the police post, without having given their starving wives or children a mouthful. On one occasion, during a season of particular hardship, a young man who had been away for months reappeared so fat from heavy eating that the author hardly recognised him; but he brought nothing with him except three gourds of honey, which he took straight to the police post for sale.

Along with love, the Ik had long since rejected all notion of family. Children were thrown out at the age of three, and formed themselves into gangs, which raided crops, fought each other, and generally competed for survival. The aged - that is, those over about 25 - were similarly disregarded and cast out. As Turnbull remarked bitterly, this made good biological sense: 'The children were as useless as the aged, or nearly so; as long as you keep the breeding group alive, you can always get more children. Anything else is racial suicide.'

One dreadful episode concerned a girl called Adupa who was, even by local standards, slightly mad. Driven out by her family, tormented by other children, she clamoured for some sort of affection, until in the end her parents shut her into their compound and went away, promising to bring food. 'When they came back she was still waiting for them. It was a week or 10 days later, and her body was already almost too far gone to bury.'

Cruelty was endemic. Adults and children alike found the sight of others suffering pain highly amusing. Turnbull described how men would watch 'with eager anticipation' as a child crawled towards a fire, 'then burst into gay and happy laughter as it plunged a hand into the coals'.

Once, a woman dumped her baby on the ground while she was working out in the fields, and a leopard carried it off. The mother was delighted, because 'she was rid of the child and no longer had to carry it about and feed it'. Still better, it meant that the leopard must be somewhere close, sleeping off its meal, and would offer the hunters an easy kill. 'The men set off and found the leopard, which had consumed all of the child except part of the skull: they killed the leopard, and cooked it and ate it, child and all.'

The question which Turnbull never solved was of how his subjects had descended to such depths. He felt sure that they had once been far less vicious than when he knew them, and he attributed their decline at least partly to the reduction of their old hunting grounds, much of which had been taken as a national park. With their nomadic movement restricted, and their whole existence constrained, the Ik's hardship became such that 'the family simply ceased to exist'.
10473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: on: November 18, 2010, 12:58:45 PM
Note that Ibn Warraq is a pseudonym, as lots of muslims have expressed a desire to kill him for his writings.
10474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 12:47:38 PM
Could you spot a chechen muslim in a crowd?

The hard truth is there are no simple answers to this problem. There is no viable technical panacea and aside from the legal issues related to profiling, without a massive domestic intelligence infrastructure, I don't think it's the answer either.
10475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 12:43:30 PM
Many muslim converts adopt an arabic name, but do not legally change their name, so someone born Keith Maurice Ellison might later call himself "Keith Hakim" or "Keith X Ellison" or "Keith Ellison-Muhammad", yet his driver's license would still say "Keith Maurice Ellison", unless he had legally changed it.
10476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 12:18:16 PM
Jihadists have access to razors. The "crotch bomber" bought a round trip ticket, so I think we can safely assume that AQ is aware of the one way ticket selectee criteria we have in the US. Jihadists will not be so kind as to wear obvious muslim garb or "I *heart* jihad" t-shirts when going to board aircraft. So what does a muslim look like in the US? Can you imagine a scenario where a lebanese christian is getting tossed by TSA whilst a chechen, white convert and uighur pass by to wage jihad?
10477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 10:51:30 AM


Donald Stewart- Whyte, a UK passport holder. Tell me how you'd profile him.
10478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 10:43:51 AM
http://www.justice.gov/crt/split/documents/guidance_on_race.php

II. GUIDANCE FOR FEDERAL OFFICIALS ENGAGED IN LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES INVOLVING THREATS TO NATIONAL SECURITY OR THE INTEGRITY OF THE NATION'S BORDERS

In investigating or preventing threats to national security or other catastrophic events (including the performance of duties related to air transportation security), or in enforcing laws protecting the integrity of the Nation's borders, Federal law enforcement officers may not consider race or ethnicity except to the extent permitted by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the President has emphasized that federal law enforcement personnel must use every legitimate tool to prevent future attacks, protect our Nation's borders, and deter those who would cause devastating harm to our Nation and its people through the use of biological or chemical weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, suicide hijackings, or any other means. "It is 'obvious and unarguable' that no governmental interest is more compelling than the security of the Nation." Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280, 307 (1981) (quoting Aptheker v. Secretary of State, 378 U.S. 500, 509 (1964)).

The Constitution prohibits consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement decisions in all but the most exceptional instances. Given the incalculably high stakes involved in such investigations, however, Federal law enforcement officers who are protecting national security or preventing catastrophic events (as well as airport security screeners) may consider race, ethnicity, and other relevant factors to the extent permitted by our laws and the Constitution. Similarly, because enforcement of the laws protecting the Nation's borders may necessarily involve a consideration of a person's alienage in certain circumstances, the use of race or ethnicity in such circumstances is properly governed by existing statutory and constitutional standards. See, e.g., United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 886-87 (1975). (6) This policy will honor the rule of law and promote vigorous protection of our national security.

As the Supreme Court has stated, all racial classifications by a governmental actor are subject to the "strictest judicial scrutiny."Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña, 515 U.S. 200, 224-25 (1995). The application of strict scrutiny is of necessity a fact-intensive process. Id. at 236. Thus, the legality of particular, race-sensitive actions taken by Federal law enforcement officials in the context of national security and border integrity will depend to a large extent on the circumstances at hand. In absolutely no event, however, may Federal officials assert a national security or border integrity rationale as a mere pretext for invidious discrimination. Indeed, the very purpose of the strict scrutiny test is to "smoke out" illegitimate use of race, Adarand, 515 U.S. at 226 (quoting Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469, 493 (1989)), and law enforcement strategies not actually premised on bona fide national security or border integrity interests therefore will not stand.

In sum, constitutional provisions limiting government action on the basis of race are wide-ranging and provide substantial protections at every step of the investigative and judicial process. Accordingly, and as illustrated below, when addressing matters of national security, border integrity, or the possible catastrophic loss of life, existing legal and constitutional standards are an appropriate guide for Federal law enforcement officers.

    * Example: The FBI receives reliable information that persons affiliated with a foreign ethnic insurgent group intend to use suicide bombers to assassinate that country's president and his entire entourage during an official visit to the United States. Federal law enforcement may appropriately focus investigative attention on identifying members of that ethnic insurgent group who may be present and active in the United States and who, based on other available information, might conceivably be involved in planning some such attack during the state visit.
    * Example: U.S. intelligence sources report that terrorists from a particular ethnic group are planning to use commercial jetliners as weapons by hijacking them at an airport in California during the next week. Before allowing men of that ethnic group to board commercial airplanes in California airports during the next week, Transportation Security Administration personnel, and other federal and state authorities, may subject them to heightened scrutiny.

Because terrorist organizations might aim to engage in unexpected acts of catastrophic violence in any available part of the country (indeed, in multiple places simultaneously, if possible), there can be no expectation that the information must be specific to a particular locale or even to a particular identified scheme.

Of course, as in the example below, reliance solely upon generalized stereotypes is forbidden.

    * Example: At the security entrance to a Federal courthouse, a man who appears to be of a particular ethnicity properly submits his briefcase for x-ray screening and passes through the metal detector. The inspection of the briefcase reveals nothing amiss, the man does not activate the metal detector, and there is nothing suspicious about his activities or appearance. In the absence of any threat warning, the federal security screener may not order the man to undergo a further inspection solely because he appears to be of a particular ethnicity.
10479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 18, 2010, 10:07:30 AM
"Passengers are categorized at the outset as to whether they are Israeli Jews, foreign-born Jews, and so forth, with Arabs and certain other foreigners most likely to be profiled."

 - These strategies are illegal here(?)

**Yes they are. The DOJ makes it very clear they will take action against anyone using the kind of profiling as described above.**
10480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / El Al on: November 17, 2010, 09:08:38 PM
http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/tucker-israel.html

Commercial Aviation Security

Israel’s expertise in aviation security is legendary, and this area remains a top priority because the stakes are so high. Large passenger aircraft are attractive targets for terrorists because once in the air, they are extremely vulnerable. A small explosion that might kill only a few people on the ground can bring down a jumbo jet, killing hundreds. Such a disaster would also attract extensive media coverage, magnifying its psychological, political, and economic impact.

El Al, the Israeli national airline, has a security budget of roughly $80 million, covering Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv and the airliners themselves. Terminal security has been a major concern for Israel since 1985, when Palestinian terrorists attacked the check-in counters at the airports in Rome and Vienna with guns and grenades, killing 18 people. Ben Gurion airport is protected by a defense in depth that begins with a checkpoint on the single access road, where armed guards examine vehicles and question suspicious-looking drivers or passengers. Additional plainclothes security officials monitor the entrances to the terminal, continually scan the crowds inside, and frequently check wastebaskets for explosive devices.

El Al’s passenger screening system, established in the early 1970s, relies on psychological profiling techniques backed up with high-technology equipment. This system has been highly effective: the last successful hijacking of an El Al jet was in 1968, when Palestinian terrorists diverted a flight from Rome to Algiers.34 Whereas the United States gives priority to screening baggage rather than people, Israel’s security model aims at ferreting out individuals with terrorist intentions. This profiling process relies on access to intelligence and careful observation of would-be passengers.

The main reason for Israel’s primary emphasis on human factors is that advances in explosives technology have made it increasingly difficult to find bombs hidden in luggage. Plastic explosives can now be disguised in almost every conceivable form, including shoe soles, toys, cell phones, and clothing. Moreover, the 11 September terrorists did not carry guns or explosive devices but used small, easily concealed weapons (box-cutters) to hijack four airliners and transform them into flying bombs. Although scissors and box-cutters are now banned from carry-on bags, determined terrorists could employ seemingly benign objects, such as the stiletto heel of a woman’s shoe or a man’s belt, to seize control of an aircraft in flight.

According to David Harel, an aviation security specialist with Shin Bet, some type of profiling system is essential because it is impractical to subject every passenger to a high level of scrutiny. Travelers on El Al are told to arrive at the airport three hours before a flight to go through preliminary screening. Passengers are categorized at the outset as to whether they are Israeli Jews, foreign-born Jews, and so forth, with Arabs and certain other foreigners most likely to be profiled. The fact that the El Al security system is owned and operated by the Israeli government facilitates the use of intelligence and law-enforcement databases to help identify the small minority of passengers who may have criminal or terrorist intent.35
10481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shin Bet on: November 17, 2010, 09:03:39 PM
http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/tucker-israel.html

Israeli experts contend that beyond a vigilant citizenry, intelligence is the essential foundation of any systematic effort to combat terrorism. According to Gen. Dagan, “Investments in intelligence are invisible, whereas increased security is visible but often wasteful. The first priority must be placed on intelligence, then on counterterrorism operations, and finally on defense and protection.”16 To support its war on terrorism, Israel has developed a highly coordinated and efficient intelligence apparatus. Drawing on human and technical means, Israeli government agencies work continually to identify terrorist operatives and cells. Threats are categorized into those that appear imminent and require immediate attention, those that are less probable but could emerge later on, and those that are unlikely but still possible.17

In contrast to the infamous rivalry between the CIA and the FBI, Israeli foreign and domestic intelligence agencies cooperate well in collecting and sharing terrorism-related information. The Israel Security Agency, known as Shin Bet, reports directly to the Prime Minister and is responsible for domestic intelligence, counterespionage, internal security, and the prevention of terrorist acts. The Arab Affairs Division of Shin Bet conducts political subversion and surveillance of Arab terrorists, while the Protection and Security Division safeguards Israeli government buildings and embassies, defense contractors, scientific installations, key industrial plants, and the national airline El Al.18 Israel also has a foreign intelligence agency, Mossad (Hebrew for “institute”), and a military intelligence service, Aman. Shin Bet works closely with Mossad and Aman to prepare an annual terrorism threat assessment for the Prime Minister.

Israeli government agencies gather human intelligence on terrorism by deploying undercover agents in the Palestinian-controlled areas and by recruiting local informants inside or close to terrorist organizations. Several factors may lead Palestinians to collaborate with the Israeli authorities: cash incentives, non-monetary benefits such as a building permit or a cab license, and psychological factors such as a desire for revenge, ideology, or adventure.19 (Still, spying for Israel is extremely risky, and suspected collaborators are often executed or lynched by Palestinian mobs.) Israel also engages in frequent police operations in which large numbers of suspected Palestinian militants are rounded up and interrogated. Only rarely do such operations yield tactical warning of an imminent terrorist attack, however, and apparent tips obtained during interrogation may be disinformation designed to deflect attention from the real target.

In addition to human intelligence, Israel has developed sophisticated technologies for detecting explosives and arms at a distance, electronic eavesdropping and signals intelligence, and visual intelligence with unmanned aerial vehicles. Nevertheless, Israeli intelligence agencies give priority to human intelligence over high-tech methods and contend that the United States has placed too much emphasis on the latter at the expense of the former. Although a satellite image can reveal the location of a terrorist training camp, it cannot provide insights into the thinking of operatives planning an attack.
10482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 17, 2010, 08:48:55 PM
http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/world/israel/shin_bet.htm

Israel Security Agency
Shin Bet
General Security Service
Sherut ha-Bitachon ha-Klali

Israel Security Agency (the ISA-formerly the General Security Service) -- Shin Bet, the Israeli counter-intelligence and internal security service, is believed to have three operational departments and five support departments.

    * Arab Affairs Department is responsibile for antiterrorist operations, political subversion, and maintenance of an index on Arab terrorists. Shin Bet detachments, known as HENZA, worked with Aman undercover detachments [known as Mista'arvim (Marauders)] to counter the uprising. This Department has also been active in countering the military wing of Hamas.
    * Non-Arab Affairs Department, formerly divided into communist and noncommunist sections, concerned itself with all other countries, including penetrating foreign intelligence services and diplomatic missions in Israel and interrogating immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
    * Protective Security Department is responsibile for protecting Israeli government buildings and embassies, defense industries, scientific installations, industrial plants, and the El Al national airline.

Shin Bet monitors the activities of and personalities in domestic right-wing fringe groups and subversive leftist movements. It is believed to have infiltrated agents into the ranks of the parties of the far left and had uncovered a number of foreign technicians spying for neighboring Arab countries or the Soviet Union. All foreigners, regardless of religion or nationality, are liable to come under surveillance through an extensive network of informants who regularly came into contact with visitors to Israel. Shin Bet's network of agents and informers in the occupied territories destroyed the PLO's effectiveness there after 1967, forcing the PLO to withdraw to bases in Jordan.

Shin Bet's reputation as a highly proficient internal security agency was tarnished severely by two public scandals in the mid-1980s. In April 1984, Israeli troops stormed a bus hijacked by four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Although two of the hijackers survived, they were later beaten to death by Shin Bet agents. It appeared that the agents were acting under orders of Avraham Shalom, the head of Shin Bet. Shalom falsified evidence and instructed Shin Bet witnesses to lie to investigators to cover up Shin Bet's role. In the ensuing controversy, the attorney general was removed from his post for refusing to abandon his investigation. The president granted pardons to Shalom, his deputies who had joined in the cover-up, and the agents implicated in the killings.

In 1987, Izat Nafsu, a former IDF army lieutenant and member of the Circassian minority, was released after his 1980 conviction for treason (espionage on behalf of Syria) was overturned by the Supreme Court. The court ruled that Shin Bet had used unethical interrogation methods to obtain Nafsu's confession and that Shin Bet officers had presented false testimony to the military tribunal that had convicted him. A judicial commission set up to report on the methods and practices of Shin Bet found that for the previous seventeen years, it had been the accepted norm for Shin Bet interrogators to lie to the courts about their interrogation.

In 1987, the Israeli government-appointed Landau Judicial Commission condemned torture but allowed for the use of "moderate physical and psychological pressure" to secure confessions and obtain information. In addition, although the Israeli Penal Code prohibits the use of force or violence by a public official to obtain information, the GSS chief is permitted by law to allow interrogators to employ "special measures" that exceed the use of "moderate physical and psychological pressure" when it is deemed necessary to obtain information that could potentially save Israeli lives in certain "ticking bomb" cases. The GSS first permitted interrogators "greater flexibility" in applying the guidelines shortly after a bus bombing in Tel Aviv in October 1994 that killed 22 Israelis. The Government has not defined the meaning of "greater flexibility" or what might constitute a "ticking bomb" case. At roughly quarterly intervals, the Government has approved the continued use of "special measures." On August 22, Israel's ministerial committee on GSS interrogations authorized the continued use of "special measures," including shaking.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) declared in 1992 that such practices violate the Geneva Convention. Human rights groups and attorneys challenged the use of "special measures," especially shaking, before the Israeli High Court a number of times during the year. In each case the court either rejected the petition or ruled in favor of the GSS. Israeli authorities maintain that torture is not condoned but acknowledge that abuses sometimes occur and are investigated. However, the Government does not generally make public the results of such investigations. Israel conducted two official investigations into the 35 complaints received in 1997.

Shin Bet's reputation was further compromised by the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in November 1995 by a right-wing Israeli extremist. In the aftermath of the ensuing scandal, the head of Shin Bet [Karmi Gillon] resigned in January 1996 and was succeeded by Rear Admiral Ami Ayalon.
10483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 17, 2010, 05:53:37 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8VGOUA00&show_article=1

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's renowned airline security faced a legal challenge Wednesday from a civil rights group charging that its practice of ethnic profiling is racist because it singles out Arabs for tougher treatment.

At a Supreme Court hearing, civil rights lawyers demanded an end to the policy, which they say violates Israeli law. Such profiling is illegal in the U.S., where passengers must be singled out for security checks on a random basis.

But some terrorism experts say Israel's measures are effective precisely because they take ethnicity into account—and warn that equality at the airport could cost lives.

Israel is considered a prime target for hijackers and other attackers because of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Despite that, there hasn't been a successful attack on an Israeli airliner in decades, and experts point to Israel's security procedures as a key factor.

Many of the measures are kept secret, but known precautions on Israeli airliners include armored luggage compartments, armed sky marshals and reinforced cockpits. But a key to preventing attacks, experts say, is the screening process on the ground.

Israeli Jews and Arabs get dramatically different treatment when boarding Israeli planes.

Hanna Swaid, an Israeli Arab, remembers being strip-searched by gruff security guards and having his luggage taken apart piece by piece 20 years ago before he flew from Israel to London, where he was a post- doctoral student.


Today, Swaid is an Israeli Arab lawmaker, and he regularly receives complaints from Arab citizens about similar treatment.

The court appeal by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel—and any public debate of the policy—are hobbled by the government's refusal to discuss any of the policy's details.

In court, the government's attorneys would not reveal the screening criteria or acknowledge that ethnicity was one of them. They agreed to divulge the information only in a closed session that excluded everyone but the judges and themselves.
10484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 17, 2010, 05:36:34 PM
So Crafty, does this mean you are an advocate for adopting the Shin Bet model of domestic intelligence gathering, thus allowing for El Al-like aviation security?
10485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 17, 2010, 05:28:30 PM
You should spend sometime working with the children who parents were "embracing freedom", BBG. Your fond reefer madness memories are pretty distant from the reality I've seen. I recall one young girl, born with spina bifida. Were that her only problem, see her mom was one of those "freedom embracers", living that non-puritanical lifestyle who brought home another "freedom embracer" that was also unencumbered by that puritanical concept that adults shouldn't rape children,. This girl has serious trauma related to that and a case of Hep C as well. So she engages in self mutilation and me and other jack booted thugs have to intervene many times, because we don't recognize her freedom to destroy her body, being the forces of oppression and all. I know the medical personnel were concerned that if she kept injuring her feet, they'd have to be amputated. I guess that's just society trying to push their "footist" morality on her, right?
10486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 17, 2010, 04:49:08 PM
Tangent:  Speaking of major operations in Mexico, I am reminded of the Chinese national with a business pharmaceutical background who purchased a Mexican citizenship.  Authorities found a home filled with IIRC $250,000,000 in CASH.  Hotly pursued by narco hit squads, he fled.  An American LEO that I have trained was the man who put the cuffs on him here in the US-- just ahead of the hit squads closing in.

Larger point, the operations in Mexico can get REALLY big.

That was the one that was a major whale in Vegas, right?
10487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A quick reminder how we ended up with the TSA on: November 16, 2010, 09:03:00 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A5088-2001Nov9?language=printer

While Argenbright has tended to take the brunt of the public blame for recent security failures — it had screeners working at two of the three airports the terrorist hijackers flew out of on Sept. 11 — the problems go beyond any one segment of the system. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta has warned airlines not to put convenience ahead of security and urged Federal Aviation Administration agents to be more aggressive in enforcing safety guidelines.

Dan Boelsche, a former Argenbright operations manager at Dulles, suggested that the problems go even further. “The public has some fault in it. They didn’t want good security [before Sept. 11], they wanted speed. They wanted a passenger’s bill of rights.”

Argenbright said it would invest a “substantial” amount of its own money to carry out the changes in its operations, though it also is trying to get its airline clients to kick in funding, and it will need help from government agencies to conduct more thorough background checks of its employees.

An official with the Department of Transportation said Argenbright’s proposals were a good first step. “We’ll see,” the official said. “We’ve heard promises before. We’re looking for results.”

Argenbright’s repeated involvement in airport security breaches has created increasing political problems for the company. One came this week, when Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) publicly objected to the decision to hire Argenbright for security at BWI.

On Wednesday, three Argenbright baggage screeners were fired at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for letting a man through their checkpoint with a bag filled with knives. Federal officials recently accused the company of continuing to hire people with criminal convictions despite a court order prohibiting the practice. They also found that seven out of a group of 20 baggage screeners at Dulles could not pass a basic skills test, and they arrested seven screeners at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for being illegal aliens.
10488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 16, 2010, 08:58:20 PM
I'd expect that if any footage of anyone's body parts end up on the net from a TSA employee, that employee will trade in their TSA uniform for a BOP inmate uniform.
10489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 16, 2010, 08:56:15 PM
There are harsh realities related to this subject. The Libertarian sloganeering imagines that every man is an island, and that the hard drug addict with peacefully self-destruct with no collateral damage. Even if drugs are decriminalized and/or legalized, then there will still be drug related crimes and search warrants. Alcohol is legal, and most every state has an agency specifically charged with enforcing alcohol laws. Most every local level law enforcement agencies does lots of cases related to alcohol.  Letting the genie of hard drugs out of the bottle will have a serious impact that I'd estimate we'd all feel.
10490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 16, 2010, 01:20:56 PM
If someone is protected by a law enforcement executive protection detail, they are exempt from checkpoint screening on commercial flights. Pelosi has been flown on "Air Force Pelosi" and not even flying commercial since she has been speaker.
10491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: War on Drugs, Meth Labs, Meth Orphans on: November 16, 2010, 01:15:00 PM
A Meth Lab in a residence would still be a violation of local zoning ordinance in any municipality I know of, like having an oil refinery or nuclear waste storage site (as I have offered to do for money) on your property.  If there isn't a local ordinance against it because it is already against state law, then there will be. 

If meth were legalized - and it won't be - child protection laws would be unchanged.  If authorities wouldn't remove the meth; they would remove the children.

Regarding meth orphans, I have been inside of foster homes and I have been inside meth homes.  The children are doing far better in the former. 

So then law enforcement would be enforcing those laws with search warrants, yes?
10492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 16, 2010, 01:12:42 PM
Another question you can answer yourself. But the kids wouldn't be raised among the volatile chemicals needed to make meth.

Meth doesn't require poppies from southwest asia or coca plants from south america. You only need household chemicals from local stores for the various methods to make it. So legal meth wouldn't mean people don't make their own. Especially if it's taxed, like alcohol is.

10493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 16, 2010, 08:24:20 AM
So if meth were legal, then their parents would be Ward and June Cleaver?
10494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Infrastructure on: November 15, 2010, 08:58:39 PM
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-04/gp_intro

Filthy coal-fired power plants spew carbon into the air. A mish-mash of 9,200 generators streams vital electrons along 300,000 miles of aging, inefficient transmission lines and one untrimmed tree in the wrong place could plunge a quarter of the country into darkness. This is our electric grid. A whopping 40 percent of all the energy used in the US—be it oil, gas, wind, or solar—is converted into electrons that travel over these wires. Any attempt at energy reform must begin here.

But this keystone of our 21st-century economy has yet to advance much beyond its 19th-century roots. Considering how wasteful, unresponsive, and just plain dumb the grid is, it isn't surprising that outages—which have been increasing steadily over the past quarter century—cost us $150 billion a year. The real shock is that the damn thing works at all.

Now consider what we will ask the grid to handle in the near future: Demand for electricity is expected to increase by as much as 40 percent in the next two decades—more than twice the population growth rate. To meet that need, we will have to generate an additional 214 gigawatts, a feat that would require the construction of more than 357 large coal plants. We also want to plug in dozens, if not hundreds, of gigawatts of wind and solar power harvested from the most remote corners of the country. And we will want to recharge millions of electric vehicles every night, without fail.

That is why we must fix the grid—reinvent it to be reliable, efficient, responsive, and smart.


Read More http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-04/gp_intro#ixzz15PVmTild
10495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Infrastructure on: November 15, 2010, 07:23:41 PM
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/video/blog/2008/10/crumbling_us_bridges_threaten.html

Summary

The aging infrastructure of roads and bridges in America was in the spotlight last year when a bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 commuters. Most of the country's transportation infrastructure of roads and bridges was put in place in the first half of the 1900s, but upkeep and rebuilding has been sporadic.

Ray Suarez traveled to Pennsylvania, the state with the most structurally problematic bridges in the country, for this report on what is being done, and needs to be done to prevent future catastrophes.

States face difficult decision over how and when to make expensive repairs - Pennsylvania's bridge repairs would cost a total of $14 billion. The state is calling on the federal government to help with the costs.

Quotes

"States and local governments in this country pay 75 percent of the cost of maintaining our infrastructure. That's unlike almost any other developed nation, where the federal government pays the lion's share of the cost." Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell

"According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 72,000 bridges across the country are in some sort of trouble." Ray Suarez, the NewsHour

"The interstate system is looking at the end of its useful life with literally trillions of dollars required to reconstruct that system." Timothy Carson, Vice Chair, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

"The American infrastructure, our transportation system was the envy of the world for decades and decades. Now it's laughable." Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell
10496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Infrastructure on: November 15, 2010, 07:19:47 PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/huge-leaks-in-aqueduct-threaten-new-york-water-crisis-653774.html

New York's water supply is being threatened by huge leaks in an ageing underground aqueduct that travels 85 miles from the mountains upstate to feed the taps and shower-heads of the city's eight million residents.

Alarm bells about the tunnel are being sounded just as the city and surrounding areas brace for what some experts warn could be its worst drought emergency in decades.

Much of the north-east of the United States, from Georgia to Maine, is experiencing one of the warmest and driest winters on record.

The concrete-lined tunnel, known as the Delaware Aqueduct, was opened in 1945. On average it supplies about half of New York City's water needs. In some seasons, 90 per cent of the water consumed in the five boroughs arrives through the tunnel. It hasn't been drained for repairs since 1958.

City engineers have known about the leaks for more than 10 years but they have largely kept quiet about the situation. The extent of the problem became public when a private group, Riverkeeper, obtained city documents through freedom of information laws. Details have been reported by The New York Times.

Preparations are under way to send a tiny, unmanned submarine along a 45-mile stretch of the tunnel equipped with cameras and other sensors to seek out the worst of the leaks.

Already, teams of deep-sea divers have been going down into the tunnel in a 12ft diving bell. The work involves descending the equivalent of 70 storeys in a 13ft shaft and is highly hazardous.

"It's been 12 years they've been aware of it," said Marc Yaggi, a lawyer for Riverkeeper. "And they've done virtually nothing about it except find out how much it's leaking. They need to get started fixing it immediately. It is just too great to let this go on much longer without taking really aggressive measures."

Not that there is anything that can be done fast enough to relieve the immediate drought pressures. New York City has had roughly half its normal rainfall this winter and drought restrictions will be implemented shortly, officials say. Already, restaurants cannot serve water unless customers ask for it. Car washing and watering gardens have been banned in neighbouring New Jersey.

Some of the water seeping from the aqueduct, meanwhile, can be seen rising like natural springs along the route of the tunnel. The most recent finds suggest that as much as 36 million gallons could be escaping from the tunnel every day.
10497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Infrastructure on: November 15, 2010, 07:14:49 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/21/eveningnews/main3192116.shtml

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 21, 2007
Levee Failure Has Disastrous Consequences
Aging Earthen Levees Leave Flood-Prone Area Of California In Danger Zone


By Michelle Singer


      Failure of flood barriers can cause immediate and disastrous results. Who will pay to repair the more than 100 U.S. levees deemed at risk? John Blackstone reports.

(CBS)  When wind rain and high water start battering the levees, it's too late to think about repairs.

But when the weather is sunny and dry, it's easy to forget how crucial these flood barriers have become to millions of American homeowners.

The levees in West Sacramento, Calif. are more vulnerable than Phil Hinkle and his wife Natalie thought when they bought their house three years ago.

"If water can find a way, it will," Phil Hinkle tells CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

When levees fail, as they did along the Missouri River at the town of Big Lake in May, the results are immediate and disastrous.

    Blackstone Blogs: Levee Failure
    Only On The Web: More On West Sacramento's Levees

"This one was just a whoops — all of a sudden we've topped the levees," levee manager Glen Dieckmann said.

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected some 2,000 levees this year, 122 were deemed “at risk of failure;” 19 of those are on the Sacramento River.

    Click here to see the entire list (PDF).

From the air, Stein Buer, the head of the Sacramento flood control agency, sees plenty to worry about.

“If this levee below us broke, these houses would be under 20 feet of water?” observes Blackstone.

" Approximately, yeah,” says Buer.

In Sacramento, two of California's great rivers come together — the Sacramento and the American — and that means trouble right here in River City as a huge new population growing up behind aging crumbling levees.

"So these creaky old levees are being asked to do things they were never designed to do a 100 years ago," says geologist Jeffrey Mount of U.C. Davis.

Mount says these earthen levees were often built haphazardly by farmers. Now its not crops that are at risk, but homes and lives.

"Somebody has just dumped rock here. You have to put in engineered rock in order to make this a strong levee,” he says.

"You've got junk holding the levee up here, and a hundred yards that way, millions of dollars worth of homes,” observes Blackstone.

"Funny how that works,” says Mount.
10498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Infrastructure on: November 15, 2010, 06:53:37 PM
http://seekingalpha.com/article/219599-3-etfs-to-play-america-s-crumbling-infrastructure?utm_utm_medium=twitter

With pathetic levels of job growth and declining consumer confidence, many investors worry that the economy is dangerously close to falling into a double dip recession. This concern over the immediate future has led many to overlook a long-term problem that is getting worse every year and could eventually stand as a significant hurdle to economic growth; much of the infrastructure in the U.S. has aged considerably, and is in desperate need of upgrades.

Although there have been recent plans for high-speed rail and road improvements, as well as continued investment from the recent stimulus bill, some believe there is still a long way to go. The United States currently has one of the worst infrastructure systems for a developed country, and needs to quickly ramp up spending in order to continue to be able to easily transport goods and people around the nation. According to the Infrastructure Report Card put out by the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure grade is a “D,” and we would need at least $2.2 trillion over the next five years in order to get this grade up to an acceptable level. According to a recent report, this large gap can largely be attributed to the nation’s lack of spending on the sector in favor of social programs and increased military spending; the U.S. is quickly falling behind other countries both developed and developing:

    Infrastructure spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has declined by 50 percent since 1960. The United States is currently investing less on infrastructure as a percentage of GDP than Europe, China, and many emerging economies. In total, emerging economies alone are likely to spend $1.2 trillion on infrastructure in 2008. America spends only about 2 percent of GDP per year on infrastructure investment (this includes federal, state, local, and private-sector spending). By contrast, that number is about 5 percent in Europe and between 9 percent and 12 percent in China. In developed economies, the average is about 3 percent of GDP, and for developing economies it is around 6 percent. While the United States is trying to make a dent in its massive repair bill, other countries are lapping us in new investment — further shrinking the competitiveness gap between America and the rest of the world.

According to the Report Card, among the worst sectors of America’s infrastructure are drinking water, inland waterways, levees, roads, and wastewater, all of which are given a grade of “D-” by the site. If the U.S. hopes to remain competitive globally–especially against rising powers who have put a premium on infrastructure development and now have boast some of the most modern airports and rail networks in the world–an increased focus on infrastructure is a must.
10499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 15, 2010, 05:54:00 PM
IMHO, our crumbling infrastructure should have it's own thread.
10500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Balance the U.S. budget? I did it in under a minute on: November 15, 2010, 03:47:49 PM
http://blogs.reuters.com/james-pethokoukis/2010/11/15/balance-the-u-s-budget-it-did-it-in-under-a-minute/

So I took a crack at the budget simulator cooked up over at the NYTimes Web site. It starts out with a projected 2015 deficit of $418 billion and a projected 2030 deficit of $1.355 trillion. My goal was to do it through 100 percent spending cuts.

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