Security scanners invasive? Too damn bad...Big tourism #'s for the Big Apple
The news is coming that Ottawa will outfit major Canadian airports with 44 new scanning machines that can see through people's clothes to try to determine if they're smuggling illegal material onboard. Already, some folks are labelling the machines "naked scanners" and suggesting they're an invasion of privacy.
YOU KNOW WHAT I SAY? TOUGH LUCK, FOLKS.
You wanna fly? Then you gotta be safe. And you have to make people around you feel safe. I'm no fan of Transport Minister John Baird's Tories, but if they can invest a few million bucks and make people safer in the skies and, also an important factor, make us FEEL safer in the skies and keep travelling and help the hotel and restaurant and airline industries survive, then this is the cost of doing business.
Okay, these machines produce a three-dimensional body image. It seems you might be able to make out the vague outline of someone's genitals. Might, that is, if you're that hard up for amusement that you're an airport worker and you wanna get your jollies by looking at faint outlines of some insurance salesman from Belleville.
Do you really think airport workers are gonna spend time on this when they can walk to the terminal and pickup an adult magazine that leaves NOTHING to the imagination? Are these people that low-life?
These aren't x-ray glasses, folks. Nothing about the images I've seen resembles anything from an adult magazine; or even a non-adult magazine or your average television show or movie.
People's lives - and livelihoods - are at stake here, so if we have to have a machine take a quick scan at our bodies as we go through the airport that's the way it is. So bring them on, and the sooner the better.
“We’ve got to stay ahead of the terrorist elements,” Transport Minister John Baird said Tuesday in announcing plans to buy 44 of the $250,000 machines.
Other countries, including the U.S. and the United Kingdom, have announced similar plans to boost the number of full-body scanners at their airports. The scanners will be used for now only on flights to the U.S. and Transport Minister John Baird said passengers will be given a choice of going through the scanners or being subjected to a full-body physical search.
A survey found that 95 percent of the passengers who underwent the scan preferred it to a physical search, said Rob Merrifield, Canada’s minister of state for transport.
"I think for many Canadians the idea of going through an electronic machine is far more comfortable and less invasive," Baird told reporters.
While I say bring on the machines, I will sound a cautionary note: Sun Media says it obtained a CATSA report on the Kelowna pilot study and found that authorities felt the scanners took more time to process travellers than a regular pat-down. More important, they said the machines left blind spots over the head and feet. Which is pretty disturbing...
Anyway, today's news from Ottawa isn't just about scanners. Officials also say they'll set upan airport watch system to look for suspicious passengers and tab them for enhanced screening.
U.S. President Barack Obama met with American security experts and then launched a few broadsides. Obama said U.S.officials had enough information to foil the attempted Christmas Day bombing near Detroit but that the intelligence community "failed to connect the dots."
He said such a failure is not acceptable and added, "I will not tolerate it."
Meanwhile, there appears to be a lot of confusion overseas. (SURPRISE!) I read a report out of Lebanon that said things are absolutely normal there and that there were no visible changes in screening. Ditto for Syria and Libya; countries the U.S. has expressed concerns about.
The U.S. on Sunday outlined 14 nations for new security measures: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Those countries are deemed to be "state sponsors of terrorism," and the U.S. wants heightened security on flights from those countries, as well as for anyone with passports from those countries.
Some Canadians have expressed alarm because they were born in one of those 14 countries or have passports from those countries and, therefore, may undergo more invasive security checks.
It's all changing pretty quickly, so I'll be trying to keep an eye on things over the next couple days.
NEW YORK NUMBER ONE?
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that NYC was the most popular tourist destination in the U.S. in 2009; the first time it managed the feat since 1990.
I haven't been able to find firm figures from U.S. tourism folks, but Bloomberg said the Big Apple received 45.25 million visitors last year. That's a decline of just 3.9 per cent from the year before; well ahead of the expected 10 per cent drop.
NYC officials say they expect a 3.2 per cent hike in tourism this year; to 46.7 million in all.
New York finished behind Orlando in 2008, but officials said it was NYC in the number one position for last year and Orlando in the silver medal spot. I haven't been able to find Orlando numbers for 2009 just yet....
NYC, meanwhile, has kicked off its Real Deal Winter promotion, with more than 200 special offers for hotels, museums, theatres and other attractions. For information on the program, which runs through Feb. 28, go to www.nycgo.com/realdeal.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY