Trump Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Private sector corporations’ first priority is to turn a profit—not to serve the public. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Shaun Richman for In These Times – Promising “cheaper, faster and safer travel,” the Trump administration announced a plan this week to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. The announcement Monday marked the first day of the administration’s “infrastructure week,” a series of publicity events around one of the only areas of the president’s agenda that has intrigued some union leaders and Democratic legislators. What they had hoped for was an increase in public spending to create good jobs and repair our nation’s transportation systems. What Trump wants is to give public assets away to corporate interests, while reducing pay and benefit standards for workers. The official justification for privatizing air traffic control is to speed the conversion from a radar-based system to a more accurate GPS one. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been converting the system, but it does not anticipate finishing the job until 2020. An actual investment in infrastructure could give the FAA the resources it needs to do it faster, but if Republican politicians have any true religion, it is belief in the magic of the “free” market.

More Biometric Scanning Is Coming Soon To U.S. Airports


By Suzy Strutner for The Huffington Post – So the government is looking for a way ― probably using facial recognition, but potentially using eye scans or other measures too ― to verify which travelers have left the country by collecting biometric data right before passengers board a flight. This isn’t a new idea: Many countries already use face scans extensively in their airports and train stations, and the U.S. has been working on its own way to track exiting travelers for more than 20 years. However, CBP is now under extra pressure to choose a method and get a system into airports, said Theresa Cardinal Brown, an immigration expert at the Bipartisan Policy Center. So yes, more face scans are coming soon, even for U.S. citizens. In 2015, CBP started piloting biometric exit programs in America’s 10 busiest airports by using fingerprint scans. But the agency chose facial recognition as one of the easiest ways to do so, Gabris said, and will move forward with that. Last year, CBP started piloting face-scanning technology on some travelers exiting Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

58% Increase In Electronic Device Searches On International Air Passengers In U.S.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers check a passenger’s luggage and documents.

By Mark Nensel for ATW – US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searched approximately 4,600 electronic devices, or 0.008%, of approximately 58 million incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of the US government’s FY 2017 (October 2016-March 2017), according to CBP statistics released April 11. The figure represents a 57.6% increase in the number of electronic devices searched during the six-month period compared to approximately 2,900 devices searched on incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of FY 2016. Compared to two years ago, the number of electronic devices searched has more than tripled. CBP said its increase of electronic device searches corresponds to how the agency “adjusted its actions to align with current threat information.” “Electronic device searches are integral in some cases to determining an individual’s intentions upon entering the US,” CBP deputy executive assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, John Wagner said. CBP said its searches have resulted in evidence helpful in combating terrorist activity, child pornography, export control violations, intellectual property rights violations and visa fraud.

TSA Warns Police To Expect Complaints From New Intrusive Searches

The Athens airport. Todd Douglas

By Justin Bachman for Bloomberg – The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has declined to say exactly where—and how—employees will be touching air travelers as part of the more invasive physical pat-down procedure it recently ordered. But the agency does expect some passengers to consider the examination unusual. In fact, the TSA decided to inform local police in case anyone calls to report an “abnormal” federal frisking, according to a memo from an airport trade association obtained by Bloomberg News. The physical search, for those selected to have one, is what the agency described as a more “comprehensive” screening, replacing five separate kinds of pat-downs it previously used.

U.S. Airport Pat-Downs Are About To Get More Invasive

A woman undergoes a pat-down during TSA security screening Nov. 19, 2010, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

By Justin Bachman for The Spokeman-Review – While few have noticed, U.S. airport security workers long had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line. Now, those have been eliminated, replaced instead with one universal approach. And this time, you will notice. The new physical touching – for those selected to have a pat-down – will be more invasive in what the federal agency describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman. Denver International Airport, for example, notified employees and flight crews on Thursday that the “more rigorous” searches “will be more thorough…

Flying From Abroad, Border Agent Questioned Me About My Work For ACLU


By Hina Shamsi for ACLU – Last week, I was flying home from a work trip and faced Customs and Border Protection questioning unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in over 25 years of travel into and out of this country, including more than 10 years of travel for my work as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups. Compared to the hardship and suffering of the tens of thousands of people impacted by President Trump’s Muslim ban executive order, it was nothing. But it said something personal to me about the tenor of these dark times. I was coming back from the island nation of Dominica, where I had gone for meetings and depositions in our torture victim clients’ lawsuit against the two psychologists behind the CIA torture program.

The New Travel Ban You Didn’t Hear About Is Against U.S. Citizens

By Shaun Bradley for Activist Post – As emotions intensify over Trump’s recent immigration ban, the State Department and IRS have quietly used it as a smokescreen to roll out a new policy that targets U.S. citizens for unpaid taxes. The passports of these individuals can now be revoked and their citizenship status undermined at the behest of one of the government’s most corrupt agencies. By granting the Internal Revenue Service control over passports, due process has been significantly undermined. The shield of protection that U.S. citizenship used to represent has transformed into an inescapable brand of ownership. The desperate financial condition of the federal government will only worsen in the future…

Fate Of Some Detained Immigrants At US Airports Remains Unclear

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Dallas-Fort Worth airport's terminal D for international arrivals Saturday, January 28, to protest President Trump's executive order barring foreign travelers and refugees from entering the country and to pressure Customs and Border Patrol agents to release nine people who were detained there Saturday night. Similar protests erupted at major international airports across the country throughout the weekend. (Photo: Garrett Graham)

By Candice Bernd for Truthout – “It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared,” President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office over the weekend about his executive order barring foreign citizens, including refugees, from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US while giving Christians from those countries preferential treatment. “You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It’s working out very nicely.” But with travel for many disrupted over the weekend — as documented permanent US residents holding authorized green cards and others holding approved visas were barred from boarding flights abroad, and with between 100 to 200 travelers finding themselves detained for hours at US airports — the exact opposite was true.

Dulles And BWI Overwhelmed With Protests Against ‘Muslim Ban’

More than a thousand people protested at BWI Airport on Sunday./Photo by Anne Meador

By John Zangas and Anne Meador for DC Media Group – Spontaneous demonstrations popped up at airports across the country after President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning nationals from Muslim-majority countries. Immigration advocacy groups slammed the move as xenophobic and Islamophobic. The sweeping order applies to nationals of seven countries, including, Lybia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen, whether they have green cards, visas or hold dual citizenship with the U.S. Issued late on Friday afternoon, the executive order caught many travelers by surprise, stranding them at international airports and making those arriving in the U.S. subject to detention and deportation.

The TSA “Academy”


By Chris Bray for TSA News – All analysis about the TSA eventually becomes the very same analysis, because the core of what the agency does never changes. Nor does the news media’s relentlessly credulous approach to covering the agency. After a while, you can just put new names into the template: 2016 is 2014 is 2012, and TSA Director Peter Neffenger is just the Dumb and Dumber sequel to Fifty Shades of John Pistole. The latest example comes from CBS News, which just offered a breathless report on the TSA’s new national training academy.

Climate Activists Lock Down At Heathrow To Prevent Expansion

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By Plane Stupid – 12 climate change activists from anti airport expansion direct action group, Plane Stupid, got onto the north runway at 03:30am this morning at Heathrow Airport by cutting through a fence, in a peaceful protest against proposals to build a new runway. The protestors say that going ahead with the recent Airports Commission recommendation that a third runway should be built at Heathrow will make it impossible for the UK to meet its climate change targets. The skies above Heathrow are already the busiest in the world, and demand for flights is driven by air fares that are kept artificially low by generous tax exemptions.

NY Airport Workers Strike, Telling Management 'Poverty Wages Don't Fly'

Airport workers calling for higher wages and union representation rallied outside LaGuardia Airport on April 23, 2015, in Queens, New York. (Photo: Matt Surrusco / Truthout)

The people who may have handled your baggage or helped you or a family member who uses a wheelchair navigate through the airport, or perhaps on or off a plane, continued their call for higher wages, more affordable benefits and union representation on April 23 in New York City. Striking baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants, joined by dozens of union members from 32BJ SEIU and a city politician, rallied outside LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal D, calling for a union contract. For two years, Local 32BJ, part of the Service Employees International Union, which is funding the nationwide Fight for $15 campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and unionize fast-food workers, has been organizing airport workers at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport, among the 12,000 subcontracted workers employed in New York and New Jersey.