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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Texas House Passes TSA Anti-’Groping’ Bill

From the TIME NewsFeed:
In another bout of tough press for TSA, the Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Friday that prohibits 'intrusive touching' when people are seeking access to public buildings and forms of transportation.

The bill, sponsored by Republican House member David Simpson, comes after some very viral stories about airport security checkpoints. First there was the pat down of a six-year-old that spread across the Web, causing outrage among Washington lawmakers. A few weeks later there was a former Miss USA, Susie Castillo, who opted out of the screening at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and posted a video about how 'violated' she felt during her pat down, saying, through tears, that the woman touched her vagina four times. Simpson told MSNBC that his bill was meant to outlaw all 'indecent groping searches,' which is precisely the practice many people feel these stories represent, and the bill went on to the Senate yesterday.

How Safe Are TSA's Porno Scanners?

From Mother Jones:
An interesting new round in the airport scanner wars: Why won't TSA make its scanners available for independent scientific assessment—the same kind of assessment required for medical imaging machines?

That's the question asked of White House science adviser John Holdren by five researchers at UC San Francisco and one at Arizona State University in a letter titled, There is Still no Rigorous Hard Data for the Safety of X-Ray Airport Passenger Scanners.

Supremes Say Police Can Create Conditions To Enter Home Without A Warrant

From Techdirt:
We've been discussing various ways that our government and the courts have been slowly chipping away at the 4th Amendment, what with warrantless wiretaps, searching laptops, TSA agents groping people, etc. And the Supreme Court just took a huge chunk out of the 4th Amendment in saying that police can raid homes without a warrant if there are 'exigent circumstances' -- even if those 'exigent circumstances' are created by the police themselves.

The law, to date, had been that police cannot enter a home without a warrant unless they had both (a) probable cause and (b) "exigent circumstances" in which getting a warrant would not make sense. In this case, police were searching for a drug dealer who had gone into an apartment complex. Outside of one apartment, they smelled marijuana -- which created probable cause. At this point, they should have obtained a warrant. Instead, they banged on the door and shouted police. At which point they heard a scramble inside, and busted in the door, claiming that they believed the scramble was the possible destruction of the drugs. The argument then was that this noise -- even though it was entirely created due to police action -- represented exigent circumstances that allowed them to bust in the door without a warrant. The Kentucky Supreme Court said that while the noise might be exigent circumstances, since it was illegally created by the police, it could not be used.

Tragically, the Supreme Court -- by an 8-to-1 vote -- has now disagreed, saying that this is perfectly consistent with the 4th Amendment.

Calorie Camera: Should Children's Lunch Choices be Recorded?

From That's Fit:
Childhood obesity is definitely a current health hot topic. In the United States, where obesity among kids has increased exponentially in the last 30 years, much of the discourse has centered around the nutrition that children receive while at school. As many schools alter their lunch menus and even debate banning cafeteria staples such as chocolate milk, Texas elementary schools are taking a different approach.

Using federal funding, elementary schools in San Antonio have begun installing 'calorie cameras' which photograph the lunch trays of every student that passes by them. The images are then analyzed and each child's calorie-intake is tracked. Students are aware that they are being monitored and all data is given over to the parents, as well as being used by researchers.

A new Ohio law could be an invasion of privacy for charged felon

From WTOL.com:
Certain civil rights groups say a new state law in Ohio could violate your civil rights.

Taking effect July 1st, law enforcement will now take a DNA swab upon a felony arrest. Right now, police can only request a sample or a judge can order someone give a sample if that someone has been convicted of a felony.

'How far do we allow law enforcement to go without the individual's consent or without a court order?' asked Toledo defense attorney Jerry Phillips. 'You can't legislate away your constitutional rights.'

The idea behind the law is to possible match a suspect's DNA to other crimes by using the state's DNA database. With a match, police could have the opportunity to keep their suspect in custody for a longer period of time.

Secret service questions a Tacoma seventh grader for a Facebook comment about President Obama and suicide bombers

From KCPQ:
A Tacoma seventh grader faced federal interrogation at school for what he posted on his Facebook page. His mom said it all happened without her knowledge or permission.

Timi Robertson said she had just finished lunch with a friend Friday when she got a phone call from her son's school.

"I answered it, and it's the school security guard who's giving me a heads up that the Secret Service is here with the Tacoma Police Department and they have Vito and they're talking to him," Robertson said.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, 13-year-old Vito LaPinta posted an update to his Facebook status that got the Feds attention.

"I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers," says LaPinta.