A disturbing photo was posted on Twitter of a baby getting a pat-down from a security officer at Kansas City International Airport. It’s the latest in a growing number of publicized incidents involving airport security agents who have screened children under 12.
In the most recent incident, the baby stroller set off a security alarm, which requires that Transportation Security agents pat-down all family members. According to a TSA statement, their security officers “followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family, who were very cooperative and were on the way to their gate in no time.”
The Twitter pic, showing the baby pat-down, was taken by Kansas City pastor Jacob Jester, who said it was an “extreme measure.” In an MSNBC.com article, the pastor said, “I wasn’t trying to embarrass the TSA, but believe there has to be a line drawn. I do not believe that an 8-month-old constitutes a security threat.”
This recent baby pat-down comes on the heels of highly publicized complaints about airport security screenings, including a 8-year-old boy who received a pat-down at the Portland International Airport, and parents who were upset after their 6-year-old daughter was frisked in New Orleans.
Photo: Getty Images
Spaceport America will open its doors to the public starting this Friday, May 13. In case you didn’t know, the taxpayer-funded facility spaceport will be the hub for Virgin Galactic to take tourists on short trips into space. Other commercial spaceflights are also planned.
The 3-hour tours, conducted by Follow The Sun Inc., will give visitors an up-close look at the spaceflight facilities before the space travel kicks into high gear and the spaceport become fully operational later this year.
Tours are scheduled each weekend and will cost adults $59 and $29 for children under 12.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced four major changes to airline regulations that will affect frequent fliers. Under the new regulations, airlines will be required to refund bag fees if they lose luggage.
Currently, airlines are required to compensate passengers for the value of lost bags, regardless of whether a fee was paid to check them. According to Associated Press, airlines mishandled 2 million bags last year, although that number also includes damaged and delayed ones. The new regulation would not force airlines to pay travelers for delayed luggage.
New airline guidelines will also affect the amount of time passengers spend on an airport tarmac. U.S. regulators have put a 4-hour limit on the tarmac for international flights after last December when passengers were stranded on the tarmac for more than 10 hours at New York’s JFK airport. Some airline trade groups say the new tarmac regulation will force airlines to cancel more international flights to avoid the $27,000 per passenger fine that comes with breaking the rule.
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The Federal Aviation Association will add air traffic controllers to 27 towers after another air-traffic controller fell asleep on the job. This time it was at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.
After several attempts to contact the air-traffic controller, the pilot of an air ambulance, carrying a critically ill patient, was forced to land at the airport early Wednesday. Federal transportation officials said the controller could not be reached for 16 minutes.
In the last two months, there have been 4 other incidents where an airplane pilot was unable to reach a sleepy air-traffic controller at a U.S. airport, including Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport and Seattle’s Boeing Field-King County International Airport.
The FAA has demanded that additional controllers staff overnight shifts where only one controller works. The National Transportation Safety Board and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have announced investigations of these recent air traffic control incidents.
A TSA agent’s pat-down of a child at the Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans has caused a major uproar. This video, posted on YouTube, shows a female TSA agent explaining the security procedure to the child’s mother Selena Drexel, and then subjecting 6-year-old Anna to an intense pat-down. Todd Drexel, Anna’s father, says Anna started to cry afterwards.
Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned why the child wasn’t taken to a private area and whether the screening was necessary. A TSA spokesman says after reviewing the incident that the agent did follow proper procedures.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, thinks a modified pat-down for children 12 and under may be necessary after a string of similar incidents. There’s no word yet if there are efforts underway to change airport screenings for children.
Japan was rocked by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake today, near the same location of the 9.0-magnitude temblor on March 11. Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a tsunami warning for places on the coast. Miyagi is the primary area that will be affected.
NPR’s Greg Dixon reports that Japan’s NHK is urging anyone along the coast in the region near the epicenter to head for higher ground. Lesser tsunami advisories cover Aomori, Iwate, Fukushima and Ibaraki.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says workers have evacuated the Fikushima Daiichi nuclear plant despite no signs of new problems after the strong aftershock. Officials say the quake hit 25 miles underwater off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. Buildings as far as Tokyo shook for a minute, according to Associated Press.
Japan’s last quake, in March, set off a tsunami that struck the country’s North Central coast, leaving 1000s dead or missing.
Photo: News photographers huddle around the damaged piece of the Southwest Airlines
flight 812 at NTSB headquarters in Washington (Reuters)
Four Southwest planes, repaired for cracks, will likely return to service by Saturday. Airline officials say the 5th plane with cracks in the skin will be held back for additional, previously schedule maintenance.
Southwest grounded 79 of its older Boeing 737 aircraft for inspections after a hole opened in the roof of a similar plan over Arizona last week, forcing an emergency landing. The defective plane will be flown to a maintenance center for permanent repairs until Boeing determines how to fix the problem.
Boeing has already provided instructions on how to fix the cracked planes, which is usually a 2-day job.
The orca responsible for his trainer’s death last year is performing at SeaWorld Orlando again. The killer whale Tilikum was back in the pool performing for crowds last week. The whale will also be part of the “One Ocean” show at SeaWorld, which debuts April 22.
You may recall that SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau drowned to death last year after Tilikum bit her ponytail and held her underwater. Now a year later and with mixed emotions, Dawn’s family says their OK with whale’s return to public performances at the theme park.
SeaWorld has plans to dedicate the Dawn Brancheau Educational Complex in honor of the trainer. Despite their goodwill, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has slapped the theme park with a $75,000 fine that is currently in dispute.
SeaWorld has taken steps to improve their trainers’ safety. The theme park no longer allows trainers in the water with orcas. Plans are also underway to build an escape hatch that trainers can activate with the press of a button. A false bottom of the pool would raise the whale and trainer above the surface of the water, ideally separating the trainers from danger.
LivingSocial has expanded its portfolio to offer hotel deals. A few months ago, the daily-deal maker launched LivingSocial Escapes, a travel division that offers 1- or 2-night travel experiences. The company provide its members with deals on a few hotels within driving distance and a few choices that would require a quick airplane trip. The airline tickets are not included in the deal.
So here’s how it all works. LivingSocial sends its members a weekly email that touts several hotel deals. The deals are available for purchase for 7 days. The time frame for use varies, but it generally expires after 1 year. “Once you make your purchase, you have to set up your trip, which gives the hotel a chance to sell you an extra night or 2,” said LivingSocial exec Doug Miller in a recent USAToday.com interview. But wait there’s more, members can get a free escape if he or she shares a deal with friends and 3 of them buy it.