Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big ratings for Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

The annual “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” on CBS delivered its largest audience since 2002 and its best performance ever in the key demographic of adults 18-49.
The show was seen by 10.3 million viewers Tuesday night, EW reported. You can watch the full special online at CBS.
For fans of the show, a great resource is VSholic, which has photos and videos of the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows starting with 1998. Also check out Victoria Secret’s own news site called VS All Access.
You can check out photos from the 2011 show at Popoholic, the Superficial, E Online, the Fab life and CBS News.

Photo: Model Candice Swanepoel at the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Victoria’s Secret lingerie models like smartphones, social media

When Victoria’s Secret taped its annual fashion show earlier this month in New York City, I had the chance to interview some of the models about their use of social media.

Chanel Iman

U.S. model Chanel Iman, 20, is hooked on Twitter. She uses the microblogging service “all the time every day” to express herself, she says.
“I love Twitter,” she said. “I use Twitter just to get out my thoughts and opinions on my life … I really do it for my fans. But sometimes I’ll go through all my different tweets that I have tweeted and it’s like memory. It’s almost like a journal. It’s documenting my life and the different points that intrigue me.”
Iman has nearly 103,000 followers on Twitter.
Iman has avoided joining Facebook. Twitter satisfies her urge to share and it’s so darn simple to use, she says. “It’s easy, just a few words and a picture and you’re done.”
Iman also uses Tumblr, which has become a hot platform of late.
“Social media is a big part of our generation and how we connect,” Iman said. “I think it’s a great way to connect with people. I use it every day.”
On the go, Iman uses a touch-screen smartphone from Vertu, a maker of luxury mobile phones based in Church Crookham, England. Vertu is a unit of Finnish cell phone giant Nokia.

Behati Prinsloo

Behati Prinsloo, 22, of Namibia uses social media more for keeping in touch with friends than building her personal brand and interacting with fans.
“I’m not a really self-promotional person,” she said. “Facebook I use more to keep in contact with my friends back home because I’m so far away … I try to keep it for friends and people I know.”
She started using Twitter at the suggestion of Victoria’s Secret officials.
“At first, it was really weird,” Prinsloo said. “I was like – what do I say? ‘Hey, I’m walking down the street going to work.’ But you can use it for good. I hate on Twitter when people just say, ‘Hey, have a great day.’ I mean, use it good. Don’t fill up space on my BlackBerry. Give me something. I think it’s a great thing. If you use it right. It can be an advantage.”
Research In Motion’s BlackBerry is her smartphone of choice because she likes the physical keyboard. Prinsloo says she’s more comfortable with hard buttons than touch-screens.
Prinsloo also has a Tumblr page, which she uses to post personal photos.

Liu Wen

Liu Wen, 23, of China has used a Twitter-like service in her home country called Weibo for about three years. Weibo is hugely popular in China and owned by online media company Sina.
She says she only started using Facebook a week before the Nov. 9 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show taping. “We can’t really use Facebook in China,” she said.
She is using Facebook to connect with her friends and fellow models in the East and West. Like Prinsloo, Liu isn’t much interested in using social media for self-promotion at this point.
As for mobile devices, she has both an Apple iPhone and a RIM BlackBerry.

Photos from the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Musicians take limelight off Victoria’s Secret models, fashions at apparel maker’s 2011 show

The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show airs Tuesday night on CBS and it’s sure to be a slick, entertaining production, as always.
For the second year in a row, I attended the show in New York City when it was taped on Nov. 9 at the 69th Regiment Armory. It was a very entertaining production, but a slight letdown from prior years.
I felt that the live musical performances by Kanye West, Jay-Z, Maroon 5 and Nicki Minaj took over the show and pushed the fashion aspects into a supporting role.
The gorgeous Victoria’s Secret Angels should be the stars of the show. The musical guests are a nice treat, but the centerpiece should be the models and their fantasy bedroom apparel.
I can only hope that when the show is edited for broadcast that the focus will return to the Victoria’s Secret Angels. Because the live show belonged to the guys and they weren’t even dressed up for the occasion. In their performances, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Kanye and Jay-Z were wearing street clothes when they should have been in formal wear, even if that’s not their normal style.
I appreciated the music selections more in prior years. Usually they’d include one or two cool club mixes of hit songs that would blow me away. But not this year.
Personally I think bouncy dance music goes better with supermodels strutting the runway than rap or rock.
Kanye performed “Stronger” and was joined by Jay-Z for a version of “That Shit Crazy.”
Maroon 5 performed “Moves Like Jagger,” with Levine performing all vocals, including the verses done by Christina Aguilera on the radio track.
Nicki Minaj performed her hit “Super bass.” More like “Superb ass,” given the stunning models walking the stage in lingerie. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Recorded music for the show included “Make Me Wanna Die” by The Pretty Reckless, “California King Bed” by Rihanna, and “Secrets” by OneRepublic. The encore featured snippets of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce and “S&M” by Rihanna.
Two songs by Rihanna. Come to think of it, she would have been perfect for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Rihanna is sexy, fashion-savvy and has topped the pop music charts all year. But she was probably booked.
My favorite ensemble of the night was Adriana Lima wearing a Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Corset and Matching Panty, black boots and lacy gloves, topped off by huge black feather wings. Love those angel wings.

Photo: Supermodel Candice Swanepoel wearing Victoria's Secret lingerie and wings.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Celebrities vs. the TSA, a new blog documenting TSA absurdities

Instead of trying to identify real security threats, federal airport screeners waste their time treating everybody as a suspect.
They pat down children and senior citizens for weapons and explosives, even though they represent almost zero threat.
And they do the same for celebrities and other well-known public figures. Like that makes any sense.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration would rather take the politically correct and inefficient approach of frisking everyone, rather than look like they’re discriminating against certain people, especially Muslims.
What they should be doing is employing information technology systems that tie airline ticketing systems and boarding pass kiosks with criminal and Homeland Security databases. That way they can flag suspicious ticket holders. They should use behavioral screening, which would target mostly single males, including Muslims.
To me, nothing highlights the absurdity of the TSA screening procedures more than agents frisking public figures.
The paparazzi and the general public have snapped photos of hundreds of celebrities going through TSA checkpoints and getting frisked or having to stand in the full-body scanners to check for weapons or explosives.
Is the TSA keeping the skies safe from terrorists or performing security theater when it gives model Anna Kournikova a pat-down? Maybe today will be the day she pulls out a box cutter and tries to hijack the plane, right?
Or when they frisk actor Ryan Gosling, do they think he might want to blow up a plane rather than try to win an Oscar or date some hot starlet?
It’s ridiculous, of course.
So I’ve created a Tumblr blog called Celebrities vs. the TSA. It aggregates photos of celebrities and other public figures begin groped, disrespected and inconvenienced by the TSA.
With photographers snapping away, TSA agents show the world that celebrities are just like the rest of us. That is, they’re treated as criminals like anyone else going through the TSA screening process.
Click on the tags for photos of celebrities being felt up, forced to dump their liquids, raise their hands or walk barefoot through the security area.

Celebrities speak out about the TSA

Many celebrities have taken to Twitter, YouTube or blogs to complain about how the TSA treats passengers.

Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian compared TSA pat-downs to rape, according to US Weekly and the Huffington Post.

“Baywatch” beauty Donna D’Errico believes she was pulled aside for a “naked” scan at Los Angeles International Airport just because she is attractive, according to CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post.

Former Miss USA 2003 Susie Castillo was left in tears by her invasive TSA pat-down and posted a video to YouTube immediately afterward to complain, according to the Raw Story.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” actor Wil Wheaton wrote on his blog that he felt violated and humiliated by a TSA pat-down.

Country singer Miranda Lambert tweeted “Dear Airports. You suck,” after she was subjected to a pat-down on Oct. 24, according to Taste of Country.

“Dancing with the Stars” pro Cheryl Burke tweeted that she got “fingered” by a TSA agent, according to TMZ.

Speaking at a travel conference, actor Sean Penn said he isn’t a fan of TSA X-ray machines. “I’m not so interested in having my genitalia X-rayed,” he said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Former professional wrestler and ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said the U.S. is turning into the “Fascist States of America” with the TSA’s heavy-handed security at the nation’s airports, according to Infowars.
Ventura sued the federal government over its invasive pat-downs and full-body scans, but lost the case, according to the Star Tribune.

On Nov. 11, actor Alec Baldwin took to Twitter and wrote, “Flying used to be fun. Then pleasant. Now it’s awful. #solvetheTSAscreeningproblem.”

Reality TV star Jenni Farley, a.k.a. JWoww, of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” said on Twitter that she was singled out for a pat-down and “treated like a criminal,” according to the Associated Press. She said it was an abuse of authority, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Photos (top to bottom): Socialite Paris Hilton, former NFL coach Mike Ditka and actress Eva Longoria get searched by TSA agents.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Women’s sports reaches nadir with Rick’s Basketball Association

First came the Lingerie Football League, where attractive athletic women were given a chance to show off their gridiron skills.
That led to the Lingerie Basketball League, where athletic skills were much less important than beauty, sex appeal and skimpy outfits.
Now the trend reaches a low point with Rick’s Basketball Association, where strippers play basketball in high heels.
The new sports league is the brainchild of Rick’s Cabaret International, a publicly traded group of 23 upscale gentlemen’s clubs. The teams will be made up of topless dancers from Rick’s clubs in New York, Miami, Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
The league debuted on Nov. 1 with strippers from Rick’s New York City club showing off their sexy uniforms for the press.
On Tuesday Nov. 29, Rick’s has scheduled a press conference to announce the coach of the New York City team. A press release describes him as a “former National Basketball Association superstar.”
Not surprisingly the mainstream media has ignored the upstart league. But plenty of blogs have taken up the slack, including Total Pro Sports, Coed Magazine, Crossover Chronicles, Xbiz, and Leopardman Studios.
Details about the new sport are as skimpy as their uniforms. A league schedule is expected to be announced in January.

Photo (top): The women of Rick’s Cabaret in New York City announce the formation of Rick’s Basketball Association. Photo by Total Pro Sports.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

TSA worker hall of shame, part 2: Thieves and other miscreants

There’s no shortage of examples of bad TSA hires. The other day I wrote about 10 TSA workers arrested on sex-crime charges ranging from child porn to rape.
Today I’ll focus on thieves, violent criminals and other miscreants working for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

TSA agent accused in stabbing murder of coworker

TSA worker Ruben Orlando Benitez, 45, of Jackson, Miss., was charged with murder in connection with the Sept. 18 stabbing death of coworker Stacey D. Wright.
Benitez worked as the assistant federal security director for screening in Mississippi, according to the Sun Herald.
Wright, 43, had recently been promoted to supervisory transportation security officer at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, the Sun Herald said. She was murdered in her apartment in D’Iberville, Miss., according to ABC affiliate WLOX.

TSA officer flashes badge, harasses other driver

An off-duty TSA agent was charged with driving a vehicle to harass or intimidate after he allegedly tail-gated, blew his car horn and flashed his badge at a woman who was driving too slowly for him, Reuters reported.
Donald Eichler, 63, was arrested July 26 in South Windsor, Conn., after the incident. The frightened woman called 911 and remained on the line until a police officer arrived. Eichler worked at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., NBC reported.

TSA baggage screener dismissed for hate-filled rants on Facebook

The TSA fired Roy Egan, a baggage screener at Chicago O’Hare Airport who reportedly railed against Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and homosexuals on his Facebook page, the ABC affiliate in Chicago reported Nov. 15.
Egan openly identified himself online as a TSA officer, posting comments such as, “filthy Muslim,” Muslims “need to be exterminated”, “burn Islam”, and “Does anything at all make you smile more than a Muslim burning by his own hateful hand?,” according to the Huffington Post.

TSA agent arrested for erratic behavior

A TSA agent was arrested on Jan. 3, 2010, in Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport, according to NBC LA. He had just gotten off duty and was behaving erratically, saying things like, “I am God. I’m in charge.”

Two TSA agents at JFK stole $40,000 from checked baggage

Two former TSA officers who worked at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York pleaded guilty Oct. 27 to stealing $40,000 from a piece of checked baggage, NBC and Queens Chronicle reported.
Coumar Persad, 44, and Davon Webb, 31, were convicted of third-degree grand larceny, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and official misconduct. (See also a New York Post story about their February arrests.)

TSA officer caught with stolen iPad in his pants

A TSA worker at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida was arrested in July on charges of stealing about $50,000 worth of electronics over the prior six months, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
Nelson Santiago, 30, was caught by a Continental Airlines employee taking an iPad out of someone's luggage and stuffing it into his pants, police said.
After being arrested on two counts of grand theft, police say Santiago admitted to stealing computers, GPS devices, video cameras, and other electronic gadgets from baggage he was supposed to be screening, the paper reported.

Memphis TSA agent guilty of theft

A former TSA screening agent at Memphis International Airport was found guilty of theft and making a false statement on Oct. 6.
The agent, Ricky German, was convicted of trying to steal a passenger’s laptop computer last December, according to CBS affiliate WREG.

Houston TSA officer charged with theft

A TSA agent at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston was arrested on theft charges in June.
An undercover officer gave the agent, Karla Morgan, a wallet he said he found with a thousand dollars inside. Morgan put the wallet in her backpack and walked out of the airport. She was arrested in the parking lot, according to ABC affiliate KTRK.

Newark TSA agent busted for theft

A lead TSA officer at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey pleaded guilty in February to stealing money from passengers’ bags as they underwent security screenings.
The officer, Al Raimi, admitted that he and his supervisor regularly stole money from travelers. Prosecutors say Raimi gave a cut of the cash to his supervisor, Michael Arato, who also pleaded guilty, according to Raimi stole between $10,000 and $30,000 cash over nearly a year.

Two TSA agents at LAX arrested for theft

Police arrested TSA officer Paul Yashou in June on suspicion of taking $30,000 worth of items from suitcases at Los Angeles International Airport, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The arrest came on the heels of TSA officer Ryan Driscoll being arrested in May on suspicion of stealing from a suitcase in another terminal at LAX.

Airport baggage screener sold stolen goods on eBay

In July 2009, Pythias Brown, a TSA screener at Newark Liberty International Airport, was sentenced to three years in prison for theft.
Brown used his position as a baggage screener to steal items from passenger luggage. He stole an estimated $200,000 worth of items, including jewelry, laptop computers and cameras.
As of May, about 500 TSA officers had been fired or suspended for stealing from passenger luggage since the TSA was created in November 2001, according to New York Press.

Los Angeles TSA agent aided pot smuggling ring, police say

Police broke up a marijuana smuggling ring at Los Angeles International Airport in October.
TSA employee Dianna Perez, 28, of Inglewood, Calif., was arrested on charges of accepting bribes to allow the smuggling of marijuana on flights, Fox News reported.
Millage Peaks IV, the son of a former Los Angeles fire chief, was charged with bribing the TSA officer at LAX to help him smuggle about 14 pounds of marijuana past security on nine separate trips, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Peaks told FBI agents he and his associates paid $5,000 to $6,000 in bribes to avoid detection, the LA Times stated.
TSA agents also have been arrested at airports in N.Y. and Connecticut for aiding drug smugglers.

Art: Screenshot of "Saturday Night Live" TSA parody from November 2010.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TSA employee hall of shame: 10 airport screeners accused of sex crimes

With over 65,000 employees, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is bound to have its share of bad apples. And we’re not talking about the usual ill-tempered, power-abusing airport security officers.
No, we’re talking about criminals and hate-spewing sociopaths, according to the charges against them. Here’s a list of 10 TSA screeners charged with sex crimes, including rape and child pornography.
Remember, these are the types of people the TSA thinks are suitable for touching our children in security pat-downs at the airport.

TSA worker allegedly rapes woman after flashing badge

A TSA officer was arrested near his Manassas, Va., home for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman after he flashed his badge while wearing his work uniform.
Harold Glenn Rodman, 52, was charged Monday with aggravated sexual battery, abduction with intent to defile, forcible sodomy and object sexual penetration, according to CNN, Fox News and WJLA. Rodman worked at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C.

Former TSA agent sentenced to prison on child porn charges

A former TSA agent at Philadelphia International Airport was sentenced to 11 years in prison Monday on child porn possession and distribution charges.
As an airport security screener, the 46-year-old defendant, Thomas Gordon Jr., was in close contact with flyers of all ages, including kids, according to the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. (Also see article by the Daily Mail.)

TSA officer busted on child porn charges

An Orange County, Fla., man was charged Nov. 1 with possession and distribution of child pornography while working as a TSA officer at Orlando International Airport.
The suspect, Paul David Rains, 62, was arrested after a search warrant was executed at his home, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Md. TSA agent charged with child porn

A TSA officer was charged Oct. 10 with possession and distribution of child porn after police searched his Perry Hall, Md., home.
The suspect was identified as Michael Scott Wilson, 41, according to Baltimore TV station WBAL.

TSA officer arrested for lewdness with a child

A TSA officer was arrested Aug. 24 on six counts of lewdness with a child.
David Ralph Anderson, 61, of Spring Creek, Nev., was accused of having sexual contact with a girl younger than 14, according to the Elko Daily Free Press.

Former TSA employee charged with sexual assault

A TSA employee who worked at Manchester Boston Regional Airport was arrested March 18 on five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, the Eagle Tribune of North Andover, Mass., reported.
Dwayne Valerio, 44, was accused of victimizing a juvenile.

Ex-TSA agent charged with child porn possession

A former TSA employee was arrested on charges of possessing child porn after a search of his Beverly, Mass., home last December.
Andrew W. Cheever, 33, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, according to Fox News in Boston.

TSA worker accused of kidnapping, rape

Police say a TSA employee kidnapped a young woman in Atlanta, took her to his Hogansville, Ga., home and sexually assaulted her on Nov. 17, 2010.
Randall Scott King, 49, attempted suicide after the incident, according to CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
King worked as a behavior detection officer for the TSA at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

TSA worker accused of raping 14-year-old girl

A TSA worker at Logan International Airport was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, Boston’s WHDH reported March 9, 2010.
The suspect was identified as Sean Shanahan, 45, of Winthrop, Mass.

TSA agent tried to keep girl as sex slave, police say

A TSA agent was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor after police say he tried to keep a juvenile girl as a sex slave.
Charles Bennett, 57, of Winter Garden, Fla., was arrested on Jan. 29, 2010, according to Fox News in Orlando.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 11 TSA scandals, second-half 2011

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is the source of frequent scandals and outrages.
In August, the National Review compiled its “Ten TSA Outrages.” They included accosting the ill and disabled, giving full-body pat-downs to children, and groping pretty women.
The same month, Lew Rockwell printed “The 12 Scariest TSA Stories of All Time.” They included arresting citizens who question the TSA’s procedures, feeling up little old ladies, exposing a woman’s breasts during a pat-down, and removing another woman’s nipple piercings with pliers.
Here are some more recent TSA outrages:

Manhandled breast cancer patient

Breast cancer patient Lori Dorn was subjected to a TSA pat-down, despite having a medical ID card that explained her condition.
Dorn had a bilateral mastectomy and tissue expanders placed in her chest for later reconstructive surgery. A TSA agent wanted to give her a pat-down after seeing the expanders on a full-body scan. Dorn resisted. The agent refused to look at Dorn’s medical ID card.
Dorn was then humiliated in front of fellow passengers with a public pat-down at the checkpoint at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 29.
(See Dorn’s blog post and news coverage by the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and Laughing Squid.)

Roughed up India’s former president

Two TSA officials who frisked former Indian President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam at New York’s JFK airport on Sept. 29 were fired for “exceeding their brief,” according to International Business Times.
The two officers made Kalam, who is also an eminent scientist, face a second security check after he boarded his aircraft. He had already gone through a private screening procedure.

Left ‘freaky’ note in passenger’s luggage

A TSA officer was fired for leaving a “highly inappropriate” note in a passenger’s suitcase.
After a trip, New York blogger Jill Filipovic found a TSA form with a handwritten note saying “GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL,” apparently referring to the sex toy she had stowed. Filipovic wrote about the Oct. 24 incident and generated significant media coverage.
(See coverage by ABC News, Forbes, Boing Boing and Time.)

‘Vile touching’ of sex organs

Columnist Amy Alkon reported that she was subjected to a rough pat-down that involved “the vile touching of my sexual parts.” The TSA agent groped her breasts and her vaginal area.
Her boyfriend tried to videotape the assault, but was ordered to stop by the TSA, a violation of First Amendment and the TSA’s own rules, according to Mediabistro.
After she blogged about the July incident, which she described as rape, the TSA agent got a lawyer and threatened Alkon with a defamation lawsuit and $500,000 in damages, TechDirt wrote.

Blamed in death of teen stowaway

The House Committee on Homeland Security blamed the TSA in the death of a 16-year-old boy, who allegedly was a stowaway in the wheel well of an airplane, WHDH in Boston reported Sept. 16.
Delvonte Tisdale fell to his death from the plane as it descended into Boston. Officials said Tisdale hopped a fence at an airport in North Carolina and climbed into the plane’s wheel well.
The case showed the TSA was inattentive to securing airport perimeters.

28 fired over improper luggage screening at one airport

In September, the TSA fired 28 employees – in addition to three who resigned or retired – following an investigation that revealed bags were allowed onto planes at Hawaii’s Honolulu International Airport without being properly screened, CNN reported. Fifteen other TSA workers were suspended.

Woman arrested for protesting pat-down of young daughter

A Tennessee woman was arrested in July at Nashville International Airport after protesting the pat-down of her 14-year-old daughter by TSA agents.
Andrea Abbott was just trying to protect her daughter and was “basically arrested for giving her opinion,” her attorney told a CBS affiliate.
In October, the disorderly conduct case was bound over to a grand jury after a preliminary hearing, according to News Channel 5 in Nashville.

TSA agent took cash to speed passengers through security

New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick witnessed a TSA agent taking cash tips to speed travelers through the security checkpoint at the Newark, N.J., airport. She offered to push people in a wheelchair to the front of the line for tips of around $10, according to TechDirt.
The TSA claims Mushnick mistook a skycap for a TSA agent, according to Security Management. Mushnick stands by his story.

Harassed woman with afro-style hair

An airline passenger who had already been through airport security was left in tears after TSA agents insisted on scouring her afro-style hair for concealed explosives, according to the Daily Mail.
Hairdresser Isis Brantley was stopped at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta in September, after she had already gone through a scanning device.

TSA reneges promise to check safety of scanning gear

Earlier this month, TSA administrator John Pistole promised the Senate that he would get an independent safety review of the agency’s backscatter X-ray machines. On Nov. 15, he backtracked, saying such a review wouldn’t be necessary because earlier tests proved they were safe.
Meanwhile, the European Union banned the same type of equipment because of concerns it might cause cancer.
(See articles in the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Mail, Prison Planet and Gizmodo.)

Raising ticket fees to pay for TSA screenings

President Barack Obama has proposed tripling the security fee on airline tickets to pay for TSA screening, according to Politico.
The federal government currently tacks on a security fee of $5 for a round-trip flight. Obama wants to gradually increase that to $15 by 2017.

Photos: Playmobil airport security play set available on

Saturday, November 19, 2011

TSA mission creep turning into mission leap

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration was formed to protect our nation’s airlines from terrorist attacks. But now the blue-gloved thugs of the TSA are showing up at train stations and on highways to hassle citizens under the guise of national security.
The agency’s mission creep – some say “mission leap” – is alarming from a number of angles.
As a fiscal conservative, I’m disturbed at how much we’re paying just for the TSA to perform its “security theater” at the nation’s airports, especially in these times of huge budget deficits.
A congressional report out this week says the U.S. government has spent nearly $57 billion over 10 years on TSA airport security described as wasteful and ineffective. (See earlier Tech-media-tainment post as well as new articles by Reason, Forbes, the New American and the Daily.)
And the TSA’s expenses are growing as it adds more questionable technology and seeks to expand its purview.
The agency acts like the U.S. government has bottomless pockets and citizens and their elected representatives will always pay more just to feel safer.
Some legislators are calling for the dismantling of the TSA, but that may be wishful thinking. Once created, government agencies are hard to kill. They take on a life of their own. And politicians like to play it safe, with none of them wanting to appear soft on domestic security. In Washington, it’s easier to say yes to more spending than it is to say no.
The TSA has a budget this year of $8.1 billion, compared with $1.3 billion in 2002. Its employment ranks have swelled to over 65,000 workers from 16,500 its first year.
I’m also concerned about what the TSA is doing to the civil liberties of Americans. The agency has trampled on citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures with its invasive full-body pat-downs and confiscating of benign items like perfume, shaving cream, beverages and grooming scissors.
TSA agents routinely tell people that they can’t be photographed or videoed doing their jobs, even though it’s entirely lawful.
In addition, the TSA has a disturbing record of lying to the public about its intentions. For instance, it continued to pat down children under 12 after it said it would stop the controversial practice. It also lied about privacy and health issues concerning its full-body scanners.
The TSA is notoriously secretive. It has refused to release its security record, the document embodying its enhanced screening procedures and other information.
Finally, the TSA is expanding its reach beyond airports into other modes of transportation.
In October, TSA agents harassed truckers on highways and travelers in bus stations in Tennessee. It was part of the TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, which has conducted operations in other states as well, according to the Washington Times, the Sacramento Bee and Infowars.
In addition to airports, highways and bus terminals, the TSA is reaching its tentacles into train stations, subways, ferries, ports and tourist attractions. In a sign of how ridiculous things have gotten, the TSA even checked out a 296-foot-long funicular railway in Dubuque, Iowa, for security threats, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) said the TSA’s expansion wasn’t mission creep, but “mission leap,” in a column in the Daily Caller.
The TSA is taking on the appearance of a secret police force like the Stasi or KGB. On the path it’s headed, it won’t be too long before TSA agents can walk up to anyone on the street and demand to see their “papers.”

Art: Parody poster showing actor Don Knotts, best known as bumbling deputy sheriff Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” in an airport security uniform inspired by the German Gestapo. Photo from Free Republic, Angry White Dude and other websites.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10-year anniversary of TSA no time to celebrate

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration was created 10 years ago this week. But it’s not an occasion worth celebrating.
The TSA was founded in reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. You can’t fault legislators for trying to stop future plane hijackings like the three orchestrated by Al-Qaeda. But they’ve created an ineffective, costly bureaucracy with an alarming mission creep and a penchant for trampling constitutional rights.
A congressional report issued Wednesday gave a scathing indictment of the agency.
Here are some highlights of the media coverage about the report and the TSA’s 10-year anniversary:

Congressional report calls TSA ‘bloated’ (USA Today; Nov. 16, 2011)

According to the report, “A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform,” TSA is:
•A bloated bureaucracy with 65,000 workers, including nearly 4,000 at headquarters and 9,656 administrators in the field.

•An ineffective agency, with 25,000 security breaches in the last decade.

•A sponsor of inadequate technology, including 500 advanced-imaging technology machines costing $122 million that are “easily thwarted” and $39 million wasted on explosive-detection “puffer” machines that were unreliable.
GOP report: TSA hasn’t improved aviation security (Washington Post; Nov. 16, 2011)

After a $56 billion federal investment in airline security, flying is no safer than it was before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the bare hands of passengers might be the best defense once a terrorist gets on board, two members of Congress said Wednesday.
Deriding the Transportation Security Administration as a bloated bureaucracy that recruits security personnel with ads on gas pumps and pizza boxes, the two House Republicans said it needed to undergo almost a dozen reforms.
GOP to TSA: Happy 10th Birthday, Now Get Your Act Together (Transportation Nation; Nov. 16, 2011)

The TSA turns 10 today. In the past decade it has given the perennially maligned IRS a run for the money for most complained-about government agency.
House report slams 10-year-old TSA (Government Executive; Nov. 16, 2011)

“TSA needs a vision and purpose that goes beyond throwing expensive equipment and invasive searches at passengers who do not pose a security threat,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which signed off on the report along with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Airline Travelers Say TSA Screening Still A Hassle 10 Years After 9/11 (Huffington Post; Nov. 15, 2011)

“It’s a sign of how low the bar is set that we celebrate when 5-year-olds can keep their shoes on” at an airport checkpoint, says Geoff Freeman, vice president of the U.S. Travel Association

Of the five most cited frustrations of flying, four involved airport security, according to a passenger survey. Those complaints included the wait time at checkpoints; the need to take off belts, jackets and shoes; and the attitudes of TSA employees.
TSA Watch: 10 things the TSA should do on its 10th anniversary (Elliot; Nov. 6, 2011)

No one was surprised by this week’s report that the Transportation Security Administration glossed over the health risks of its airport X-ray scanners.
The investigation found that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines — a hazard critics have warned about ever since the devices were quietly deployed in many airports almost two years ago.
Photo: Logo from humorous fake TSA Twitter account Agent Smith.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Return of the pocket watch

Many people today don’t wear wristwatches. When they want to know the time, they just check their cell phones.
Without realizing it, they’ve brought back the pocket watch.
I’m one of those people who don’t wear a watch. I did up until three months ago when my watch broke. I just haven’t gotten around to getting a new one.
In the meantime, I’ve gotten used to my modern-day pocket watch, an Apple iPhone 4.
Everything old is new again.

Photos: Time and date displayed on my iPhone 4 (top); a pocket watch from Orient Japan as featured on

Monday, November 14, 2011

NBC announces midseason schedule, but ‘Awake’ missing

NBC announced its midseason schedule today, but one show I was looking forward to seeing is nowhere to be found.
“Awake,” starring Jason Isaacs (who played Lucius Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” series), was slated as a midseason replacement series. But NBC either couldn’t find a slot for the show or lost confidence in it, like it did last season’s “Day One.” The network’s website lists the show’s premiere as “TBA.”
The Hollywood Reporter on Oct. 26 said the show shut down production for a month after filming its sixth episode to give writers time to hammer out scripts for new episodes.
“Awake” is a drama about a police detective who finds himself living reality-bending double life. Here’s the official synopsis:

When Detective Michael Britten (Isaacs) regains consciousness following his family’s car accident, he is told that his wife Hannah (Laura Allen, “Terriers”) perished but that his teen son, Rex (Dylan Minnette, “Saving Grace”), has survived. As he tries to put the pieces of his life back together, he awakens again in a parallel reality in which his wife is very much alive – but his son Rex died in the accident. In order to keep both of his loved ones alive at one time, he begins living two dueling realities in parallel worlds, which churns up confusion – in one moment, Michael and his wife debate about having another child to replace their son, while in the other reality, he is attracted to his son’s tennis coach, Tara (Michaela McManus, “The Vampire Diaries”), to fill the void from the loss of his wife. Trying to regain some normalcy, Michael returns to police work and solves crimes in both worlds with the help of two different partners – Detective Isaiah “Bird” Freeman (Steve Harris, “The Practice”) and Detective Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama, “That ’70s Show”). Also starring are Emmy Award winner Cherry Jones (“24”) and BD Wong (NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) as therapists in each respective world.
The series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television. Kyle Killen (“Lone Star”) and Howard Gordon (“24”) are executive producers. David Slade (“Twilight: Eclipse,” “30 Days of Night”) also serves as executive producer and directed the pilot written by Killen.
Hopefully NBC will find a place for this show. It sounds intriguing.

Photo: Jason Isaacs as Det. Michael Britten in a scene from NBC’s “Awake.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photographer scores LFL wardrobe malfunction photos

Photographer Eric Lynch of Bingme Photography took a terrific series of photos at the Nov. 4 Lingerie Football League game featuring the Seattle Mist vs. the Las Vegas Sin.
Lynch did a great job capturing the on-field action, including a couple of obligatory wardrobe malfunctions.
Shooting LFL games is difficult because of the indoor lighting and fast motion, but Lynch was up to the task. Check out his Flickr set. Also, check out a recap of the game.


Top: Seattle Mist wide receiver Jessica Hopkins eludes a Las Vegas Sin tackler for a touchdown.

Bottom: Las Vegas Sin running back Tracee Thomas has her pasty-covered breast exposed by Seattle Mist linebacker Natalie Sutey.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show raps, then wraps up; Will air on CBS Nov. 29

As a member of the press, I had the priviledge of attending the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City. It was taped tonight at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. The video will be edited for a one-hour prime-time special to air Nov. 29 on CBS.
It was another great production for Victoria's Secret, a unit of Limited Brands. This year's show was highlighted by musical performances by Maroon 5, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj. Rapper Jay-Z made a surprise appearance to perform a number with West. Cee Lo Green was on the bill to perform but backed out and was replaced by Minaj.
The show boasted a bevy of beauties modeling Victoria's Secret's sexy garments. They included supermodels Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Miranda Kerr and Chanel Iman.
I'll have more to say about the show later.

Photo: Ticket to the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Facebook needs a new search function pronto

As people store more things online, having a way to sort and search through those things is critical.
Google and Yahoo figured that out early with their e-mail services. People don’t want to have to sift through hundreds of e-mails looking for a particular message when they can just do a keyword search.
Social media is the next frontier for search.
Millions of people are actively using Facebook and Twitter and building up thousands of posts in their message streams. But they can’t search their postings easily on either of those sites.
I recently wanted to show my son some funny videos based on the Angry Birds video game. I had shared links to those videos on my Facebook wall, which I’m using now in place of Digg and separate bookmarking services to save weblinks to interesting sites or articles.
Long story short, I couldn’t find those videos quickly because Facebook lacks a search tool specifically for users’ postings. Same goes with Twitter.
Those services need such a search tool pronto. Its need is going to be more important over time.
I eventually found those Angry Birds-themed videos, but not before sifting through months worth of my posts. Not great. You can see a compilation of those videos at One Stop Video.

Photo: Photoshopped image of a National Geographic cover featuring a red bird from Angry Birds. (See Laughing Squid.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tech-media-tainment turns 3 with another LFL wardrobe malfunction

You don’t get to 622,000 page views in three years without appealing to the prurient interests of Web surfers.
I started Tech-media-tainment on Nov. 6, 2008, to give my thoughts and opinions on a range of topics from entertainment and technology to politics and liberty. But it’s my occasional articles on wardrobe malfunctions in the Lingerie Football League that drive traffic to this silly blog.
On that subject, here’s another LFL wardrobe malfunction.
On Oct. 14, Los Angeles Temptation wide receiver Chloe Butler exposed her backside in a touchdown catch when a tackler missed her. Butler’s score capped off the Temptation’s 28-7 victory over the Minnesota Valkyrie. (See above screen grab and game summary.)
A video of the incident (embedded below) is available on YouTube (starting at the 3:33 minute mark).
Read about Butler at Fox Sports Australia and the Courier-Mail of Queensland, Australia.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bloggers managing more blogs

Technorati’s annual survey of bloggers found that bloggers today are juggling an average of three different blogs, up from two last year.
I blame Tumblr. The upstart blogging platform is a breeze to use. Setting up a Tumblr blog is quick, easy and fun. I recently started a Tumblr blog and will be publicizing it shortly. With that blog, I’ve moved from managing two blogs to three blogs.
Once again, based on the Technorati survey, I’m your typical blogger.
Bloggers are mostly hobbyists (61%), just like me.
Only 11% of bloggers post on a daily basis. Guilty again. I seem to post every other day.
Bloggers are mostly male (59%), educated and married parents. Ditto, ditto, ditto.
Technorati surveyed 4,114 bloggers in 45 countries for the latest survey, released Nov. 4.

LOL Cats photo from I Can Has Cheezburger?