Sunday, December 27, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAHTColombia Seizes Nearly 1 Ton of Cocaine Bound for Europe.

The drugs were bound for Spain and Belgium.

The story notes “Drug enforcement agents have seized 123.5 tons of cocaine this year".”

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By Steven L. Taylor

Somehow I don’t think you can claim this:  Napolitano: “The system worked”.

When this was what saved the plane: Officials: Only A Failed Detonator Saved Northwest Flight.

Really, what system would Napolitano be referring to?

Perhaps this is some new meaning of the word “worked” to which I was previously unaware?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYTAt Least 4 Dead as Iranians Fight Police in Streets:

In Tehran, thick crowds marched down a central avenue in mid-morning, defying official warnings of a harsh crackdown on protests as they chanted, “Death to the dictator!” They refused to retreat even as police fired tear gas, charged them with batons and discharged warning shots.

The police then opened fire directly into the crowd, opposition Web sites said, citing witnesses. At least four people were killed, the Web sites reported, and photographs circulated of a man with a bloodied head being carried from the scene.

Al Jazeera puts the death toll at eight.

Among the dead:  the nephew of Mir Hussein Moussavi, the opposition leader (and losing candidate in last year’s elections),

An aide to the leader said on Sunday that Seyyed Ali Mousavi died after being shot by the police, but the claim could not be independently verified as foreign news organisations are barred by the authorities from covering street unrest.

Iranian state television, however, confirmed  that several people were killed in clashes.

The Guardian reports nine dead:  Iran protests leave nine dead, reports claim.

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By Steven L. Taylor

It would appear that, as one might expect, the governmental response to the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines Flight has been a bunch of new rules that wouldn’t have have stopped the attack in the first place, via the NYTNew Restrictions Quickly Added for Air Passengers:

The government was vague about the steps it was taking, saying that it wanted the security experience to be “unpredictable” and that passengers would not find the same measures at every airport — a prospect that may upset airlines and travelers alike.

The airlines have joined in as well:

several airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. It was not clear how often the rule would affect domestic flights.

Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines. That was already the case in some airports Saturday, in the United States and overseas.

As someone planning an overseas trip a few months from now, I can hardly wait.  Especially if by “personal item” is meant no book, no iPods, no nothing.  I would note that the fellow who attempted the attack wasn’t sitting there with the bomb materials on his lap waiting for the right moment.  Further, as many have noted in various places that I have read this morning, if the terrorists know about the one hour rule, surely they can shift their nefarious plots to any moment in time prior to T-minus 60, yes? And every time I contemplate that rule, I am taken back to a fateful return trip a Christmas trip out West in the early 1990s when I contacted an illness the day we were flying home and had to make a numerous trips to the potty on the return flight.  I don’t recall my stomach being especially responsive to the clock.

The post titles of various responses to these moves paint an accurate picture:

James Joyner:  TSA Making Flying More Miserable

Steve Bainbridge:  TSA: The Stupid Agency

Radley Balko:  TSA: Dumb as Ever

James rightly observes:

We’re simply going to make people miserable for no apparent reason.  There have been precisely three attempts over the last eight years to commit acts of terrorism aboard commercial aircraft.  All of them clownishly inept and easily thwarted by the passengers.   How many tens of thousands of flights have been incident free?  And, yet, we’re going to make hundreds of thousands of people endure transcontinental flights without reading materials or the ability to use the restroom?

The numbers here are worth focusing upon—not just the number of attempts, but that number relative to the number of flights as well as the success rate.

Radley note (along the lines of my posts from the other day):

Seems to me that what this, Flight 93, and the Richard Reid incident have shown us is that the best line of defense against airplane-based terrorism is us. Alert, aware, informed passengers.

TSA, on the other hand, equates hassle with safety. For all the crap they put us through, this guy still got some sort of explosive material on the plane from Amsterdam. He was stopped by law-abiding passengers. So TSA responds to all of this by . . . announcing plans to hassle law-abiding U.S. passengers even more.

Steve asks:  “When are we going to rebel and demand a sensible set of precautions?”

A valid question, but one wonders what the public can actually do.  If one has to fly one has no options and if one complains too loudly at the airport one might fins oneself a guest of TSA.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

To go along with my previous post, the NYT has a more detailed account of what happened on yesterday’s flight:   Passengers Took Plane’s Survival Into Own Hands.

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Friday, December 25, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

One of the reasons (if not the main reason) that the 9/11 attacks worked as well as they did (well, three of the four attacks) was that the paradigm in effect regarding airline hijackers was that hijackers want to go somewhere, so passengers and flight crews should cooperate.  That paradigm shifted quickly and violently between the two attacks on the WTC/the attack on the Pentagon and the passenger revolt on United 93.  Once it became clear that hijackers and the like on flights were a danger that required direct intervention, the ability of attackers to operate under the old paradigm was gone forever.

While the details of today’s attempted attack/whatever it was are fuzzy, I was struck by the following (via ABC News: Man Attempts to Set Off Explosives on Detroit-Bound Airplane):

Delta spokeswoman Susan Chana Elliott said that "as the plane was getting ready to land" in Detroit "a passenger caused a disturbance" by trying to ignite what was initially reported to be firecrackers.

The man was "subdued immediately," Elliott said. Northwest is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta.

"There was one guy, who sat on the other side, the right side of the wing because this was on the left side of the wing, and he jumped over the other people and he took care of it," said passenger Peter Smith.

Either the man was a passenger or an Air Marshall—either way, his actions are indicative of the paradigm shift noted above.

Also:  this sounds rather remarkably similar to the Richard Reid event from several years back.

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By Steven L. Taylor

I hope you all are having blessed days with loved ones.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

Christmas Eve Kitty

365.355 (12/24/09)

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By Steven L. Taylor

Cat Nap

365.353 (12/22/09)

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By Steven L. Taylor

Here’s the breakdown of the vote by class (i.e., when they are next up for election):

  Yes No
2010 16 17 +1 (not voting)
2012 24 9
2014 20 13
  60 40

Of the 2010 seats, 7 are to be vacated (Bond of Missouri, Brownback of Kansas,  Bunning of Kentucky,1 Burris of Illinois,2 Gregg of NH, Lemieux of Florida,3 and Voinovich of Ohio).  Additionally, Kay Bailey Hutchison (in the 2012 class) is leaving to pursue the governorship of Texas and Joe Biden’s replacement, Edward Kaufman is not going to seek to fill the remainder of Biden’s term, which is through 2014 with a special election in 2010.4

And, of course, since the vote was a party-line affair, the table above doubles as a breakdown of how many Democrats (yes) and Republican (No) seats are up to be contested in the next three cycles. 

  1. The only member not to vote. []
  2. Replacement for Obama []
  3. Replacement for the retired Mel Martinez. []
  4. If I am missing any others, please let me know. []
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