: Frightening stats from USA Today on the still-miserable state of airport security. Read it and shiver:
In the months after Sept. 11, airport screeners confiscated record numbers of nail clippers and scissors. But nearly half the time, they failed to stop the guns, knives or simulated explosives carried past checkpoints by undercover investigators with the Transportation Department’s inspector general.
In fact, even as the Federal Aviation Administration evacuated terminals and pulled passengers from more than 600 planes because of security breaches, a confidential memo obtained by USA TODAY shows investigators noticed no discernable improvements by screeners in the period from November through early February, when the tests were conducted.
At screening checkpoints, the memo reads, “only the opaque object (such as a film bag) were routinely caught.” Guns passed through in 30% of tests, knives went unnoticed 70% of the time, and screeners failed to detect simulated explosives in 60% of tests.
Perhaps just as troubling, investigators “were successful in boarding 58 aircraft” at 17 of the 32 airports tested. “In 158 tests,” the memo says, “we got access to either the aircraft (58) or the tarmac (18) 48 percent of our tries.”…
“We still have the same people doing the same jobs they did before Sept. 11,” says Reynold Hoover, an expert on counterterrorism who conducts screening seminars.
Towers? What towers?
: I’ll tell you what pissed me off about the Academy Awards last night: The movie industry has suddenly decided that the World Trade Center towers are politically incorrect. They think we shouldn’t show the towers; we shouldn’t talk about them; it would be wrong.
They have Woody Allen come to show how Hollywood loves New York and give us clip after clip of New York from many great movies but what’s most noticable is what they do not show: The World Trade towers.
And we constantly hear Hollywood fret about whether they should edit movies to edit out the towers.
Stop. The Towers were part of the life of New York; they defined our skyline; they now define our history. We are not ashamed of the towers. We are not so tender that we want to act as if they were never there. We are proud of our towers as a symbol of New York’s greatness.
If they had shown the towers last night, I guarantee that the audience would have given them a bigger ovation than Woody got.
But Hollywood has no good sense. Hollywood has a tin heart.
A watched blog never boils
: First Will Vehrs threw in the blogwatch towel; he was doing a great job but he needed to pay attention to his real job. Then Tim Blair — who started this, didn’t he? — quietly abandoned blogwatching. Now Kathy Kinsley has run out of NoDoz and is claiming exhaustion (too bad on two counts: she was a great blogwatcher … and she was watching me). Blogwatching was a good idea but, like the Internet, it had one problem: there’s no money in it. I know somebody who may be working on a solution but I can’t talk about that now….