Anxious to thwart future terror attacks in the early stages while
plotters are casing the airport, LAX security patrols have begun using
a new software program called ARMOR, NEWSWEEK has learned, to make the
placement of security checkpoints completely unpredictable.
The goal is to make it harder for would-be terrorists to detect patterns in the security routines that they can exploit.
Typical plots start when would-be attackers begin watching their target
"18 months to four years prior to an attack" to look for security
weaknesses, says James Butts, deputy executive director of law
enforcement at Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX and other
city-owned airports. "Part of it is to look for patterns in the
deployment of assets. We're trying to block the surveillance cycle" by
making the security patrols appear in unpredictable places at
Doesn't routine provide opportunity? Think of every bank heist or
prison escape movie you ever saw; doesn't the plan start with an analysis of the guards' routines, looking for security cracks that can be exploited? Wasn't that the first thing the 9/11 plotters did?
So why have we settled on a security system that is so heavily dependent on routine? Why don't we put some unpredictability into the system, some complexity, by shaking the routines up? At the very least,
why don't we break the routines into sub-routines, and mix and match those at random so there's no telling which security configuration you're going to run into on a given day?
So, after several long years of blogging, we have at last found an instance in which I was both right and ahead of the curve.
With every poll taken indicating that the Democrats are going to clean-up in next year's election, I've been waiting for the moment when the party goes off on a tangent so insane that it will make Republicans seem like a reasonable alternative. I always kind of figured it would be slavery reparations; I was, once again, wrong:
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that every child born in the United States should get a $5,000 "baby bond" from the government to help pay for future costs of college or buying a home...."I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down-payment on their first home," she said.
This is an almost unfathomably stupid idea, a perfect mixture of economic ignorance and the kind of lollipop policymaking one might expect of someone who just smoked their first joint. (Having the government borrow money to give to citizens to invest in government bonds is the economic equivalent of imagining that each atom is an individual solar system, and our solar system is an atom in a really gigantic universe...) Clinton has, lately, seemed a bit giddy -- exhibiting a tendency to laugh at inappropriate moments -- so maybe that's the explanation: She's high.
One might hope that Clinton's idiocy would send other, more clear-thinking Democrats running. I fear it won't. In fact, one eyewitness to Clinton's proposal, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, gushed:
"I think it's a wonderful idea. Every child born in the United States today owes $27,000 on the
national debt, why not let them come get $5,000 to grow until their 18?"
Wonderful? We borrow $5,000 more so the kid is born with $32,000 in debt, and we force the kid to hold the money in a government bond guaranteed to pay a lower rate than we had to pay to borrow the money in the first place, so every day of the kid's life he's losing ground. Why don't we go all the way and just give every child a couple of thousand in high-interest credit card debt?
Despite all that, I, personally, am fully prepared for the Democratic Party as a whole to embrace the idea and even "improve" upon it by making the number even bigger. Expect this as a Democratic campaign theme:
TalkLeft has a short posting on Phil Specter's mistrial, which is fine, but what's worth a visit is the blog's illustrated history of Specter's various hairstyles during the trial. He must have driven his lawyer absolutely bonkers. Visit here.
According to the New York Times, Verizon has decided it can control the text messages that Verizon subscribers can request on their cell phones.
Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon
Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the
abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a
The other leading wireless carriers
have accepted the program, which allows people to sign up for text
messages from Naral by sending a message to a five-digit number known
as a short code.
Text messaging is a growing political tool in the United States and a dominant one abroad, and such sign-up programs are used by many political candidates and advocacy groups to send
updates to supporters.
Verizon is a common carrier. That means it provides the wires -- metaphorically -- and has no control of over what travels over them. Clearly, Verizon is under the impression that it should have the power to tell grown-ups in a free society what they're allowed to communicate over the cell phones they pay for.
Thus is Verizon an enemy of your freedom. If they're allowed to block one kind of message, they're allowed to block any kind of message.
As it happens, my family's cell phone contract with Sprint is up this month. What do you think the chances are that I'll consider Verizon for even one second?
UPDATE: Verizon takes enough heat in the marketplace that it decides to let NARAL communicate with those who request communications. However, the issue of whether common carriers can decide for their subscribers what messages to let through remains:
But legal experts said private companies like Verizon probably have the legal right to decide which messages to carry. The laws that forbid common carriers from interfering with voice transmissions on ordinary phone lines do not apply to text messages.
In reversing course today, Verizon did not disclaim the power to block messages it deemed inappropriate.
Linda Malone is the Marshall-Wythe Foundation Professor of Law and Director, Human Rights and National Security Law Program at the College of William & Mary School of Law. She has degrees of increasing importance from Vassar, Duke and the University of Illinois. She has written or co-written 12 books, most recently Defending the Environment: Civil Society Strategies to Enforce International Environmental Law.
When former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is awaiting sentencing on felony dog fighting charges, recently tested positive for marijuana use in a court-mandated drug test, the Associated Press''s reporter went looking for an expert who could put into perspective Mr. Vick's transgression. After a no-doubt exhaustive search, the reporter found Professor Malone, who took the case under advisement, wracked her wildly over-educated brain for implications and precedents, and came up with this nugget of insightful, expert commentary on Vick's pot smoking:
Sometimes when I'm traveling on business I just can't bring myself to eat dinner alone in a restaurant. On those nights, I buy simple food at a market and a bottle of wine at a liquor store and eat and drink in my hotel room.
So tonight I'm in one of those mid-sized cities where the Chamber of Commerce always looks at the bright side, right in mid-America. Having something of a history of discomfort in chain "concepts," and
with no sign of local flavor to be seen, I decided to cruise the
commercial strip in search of wine and a market. The strip I headed down was the traffic-clogged dividing line between gated communities and downtrodden 30-year old apartment sprawl.
I found a liquor store in a stripmall, parked out front, and approached the door. A dirty, emaciated man came out, held the door for me, and smiled a brown smile. I nodded a thank you for his courtesy and went in.
The liquor store was small, the wine selection inexpensive and colorfully branded. I was the only customer. The place was manned by a big, burly truck-drivin' sort of guy and a hard-looking little woman with stiff, artificially dark hair. The woman was looking at a shelf.
"I think the sonovabitch took it," she said, her voice slightly slurred.
There was a pause. I tried to be inconspicuous, going to the nearest bottles and picking an Australian that looked like it wouldn't kill me. I'm capable of spending hours in a decent wine store; this choice took 30 seconds. I headed toward the counter.
"I'm telling you," the woman continued. "There's one missing. The sonovabitch."
The counter had two cash registers. I stepped up to the closest one. The man stayed leaned against the far end of the counter, silently gazing out the window.
"Shit!" the woman blurted. "That sonovabitch!" She ran out the door.
The man stepped up to the cash register farthest away from me, still without speaking. After an uncomfortable few seconds I moved down and put my bottle in front of him. He rang it up without saying anything. The woman came back in.
"He's halfway across the fucking parking lot," she said. "I know he took one."
The man handed me my wine. I said "thank you" and headed for the door.
"I see that asshole in here again I'm gonna break his neck," the woman said.
The man went back to his position at the end of the counter, staring out the window.
I went out the door, got in my car, and decided to get a pizza delivered to my hotel room.