Sunday, April 29, 2012

LinkedIn says I should give up journalism and consider a job as a home loan officer

Recently while I was on LinkedIn, the professional networking website, a targeted advertisement popped up trying to convince me to apply for a job opening.
I know that times are tough for the journalism profession, but LinkedIn suggested a completely different field of employment. The ad (shown above) said, “Picture yourself with this new job … Loan documentation specialist” in the home loan department at Wells Fargo. The ad included my LinkedIn profile photo and name as an extra enticement.

Monday, April 23, 2012

TSA employee hall of shame growing

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has a knack for hiring criminals and miscreants.
Last November, I documented a bunch of these terrible hires in a couple of articles on Tech-media-tainment. (See “10 airport screeners accused of sex crimes” and “Thieves and other miscreants.”)
Here is a third batch of shameful hires.

TSA agent busted for stealing iPads from checked bags

A TSA baggage inspector at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is accused of stealing Apple iPad tablets from checked luggage.
Clayton Keith Dovel, 36, was charged this month with theft by a public servant after police recovered eight stolen iPads from his home, according to reports by NBC, Fox News and the Daily.
Thieving TSA agents have a thing for iPads, consumer advocate Christopher Elliott writes on the Huffington Post.
In January, police arrested a TSA worker at Miami International Airport on charges that he stuffed items from passengers’ bags into a hidden pocket in his work jacket, the Miami Herald said. Michael Pujol, 33, was arrested after an iPad he is accused of stealing was traced to a Craigslist sale.

TSA officers plead guilty in drug smuggling case

Two TSA officers have admitted to roles in a painkiller-trafficking ring.
Jonathan Best, 30, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., pleaded guilty April 17 to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone.
Authorities say Best took cash in exchange for letting narcotics through airport security without detection.
Another TSA officer, Christopher Allen, pleaded guilty on April 16 to similar charges.
(See articles by the Hartford Courant and Fox News.)
TSA agents have been arrested for similar drug-smuggling operations.
In January, a TSA behavioral detection officer at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York was sentenced to 24 months in prison for allowing narcotics traffickers to bypass security procedures. Minnetta Walker, 44, of Buffalo, N.Y., was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States, the FBI said.

TSA agent hurls hot coffee on pilot

A TSA screener was arrested at JFK airport in New York for throwing a full cup of hot coffee on an American Airlines pilot who told her and some colleagues to tone down a profanity-laced conversation in a terminal.
The pilot told the TSA workers that they should “conduct themselves more professionally in uniform and not use profanity or the n-word,” a source told the New York Post.
Lateisha El, 30, was charged with harassment and misdemeanor assault in the March 28 incident.

TSA officer moonlights as a pimp

A TSA supervisor at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia was arrested on prostitution-related charges after police broke up a sex party at a Silver Spring, Md., hotel on Feb. 15.
Bryant Jermaine Livingston, 39, of Manassas, Va., was charged with five counts of prostitution on March 16. Police say he used Craigslist to set up encounters at the hotel.
(See stories by NBC 4 Washington, Fox News and WTOP.)

More TSA agents nabbed for child porn

TSA agents being arrested on child pornography charges has become a regular occurrence.
Maybe they are attracted to a profession that allows them to legally grope children under the guise of national security.
A TSA agent assigned to Logan International Airport in Boston – Jose E. Salgado, 59, of Chelsea – was arrested on charges of possessing and distributing child porn, the Boston Herald reported April 11.
TSA screener Scott Wilson, 41, of Perry Hall, Md., was indicted on federal child porn charges last month. He had worked as a TSA agent at BWI Thurgood Marshall International Airport in Baltimore. (See articles by ABC 2 News and Prison Planet.)

TSA officers trash Miami area hotel room, shoot gun

Miami Beach police say two TSA officers trashed their South Beach hotel room and then picked up a semi-automatic handgun and shot six rounds out the window last month. The two agents were partying a little too hard, the Miami Herald reported.
The agents – Jeffrey Piccolella, 27, and Nicholas Anthony Puccio, 25 – were arrested March 27 and charged with criminal mischief and use of a firearm while under the influence.

TSA trainer admits to taking bribe

A training instructor for the TSA at Philadelphia International Airport pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to taking a bribe from a security officer.
Shannon Gilliam, 29, of Sharon Hill, Pa., said she took a $200 bribe in exchange for a passing grade on the TSA certification exam. Gilliam was responsible for training TSA passenger and baggage screeners for the airport.
(See articles at and the AP.)

Uniformed TSA screener busted in drug raid

A TSA screener at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey recently was busted in a major heroin den near her workplace while she was “still wearing her spiffy, government-issued uniform,” the New York Post reported.
Samirah Saunders, 22, was charged with heroin possession.

TSA air marshal accused of mugging Occupy Boston protestor

Boston police arrested TSA air marshal Adam Marshall on Dec. 10, 2011, after a conflict with Occupy protestors.
Police reports say Marshall argued with the protestors, called some of them prostitutes, struck one in the face, grabbed her iPhone and then fled, according to Wired.

TSA agent pretended to find cocaine in flyers’ bags

I missed this one in my last roundup and it’s a doozy.
A TSA officer was fired after pulling jokes on travelers by pretending to find cocaine in their luggage, the Consumerist reported in November 2010.
The white powder was creatine that the officer was supposed to use to test bomb detection gear.

TSA baggage screeners fired for not doing their jobs

In January, the TSA said it was pursuing disciplinary action against six baggage screeners at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport — including some suspected of sleeping during part of their shifts, the Associated Press reported.
In December, the TSA said it was seeking to remove 12 workers for improperly screening checked luggage at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, CNN says.

TSA agent steals $5,000 from passenger’s coat pocket

Police say a TSA agent stole $5,000 from a passenger’s jacket as he was going through security at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The agent, Alexandra Schmid, is accused of taking the cash from the jacket as it went along an X-ray conveyor on Feb. 1, according to the Daily Mail.
Theft is rampant among TSA workers.
CBS New York reported in March that JFK airport alone is experiencing 200 thefts a day.

Photo: TSA workers smoking in a no-smoking zone. I guess they’re above the law.
One of several photos in a series taken by comedian Chris Burns. This one is from Twitter user Rebecca, a.k.a. @Not_a_Criminal.
Here’s a second photo from Burns’ Twitter account @chrisburns and a third from legal humor blog Lowering the Bar.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Protesting the TSA through art

Protests against the U.S. Transportation Security Administration take many forms.
There are complaints to the TSA itself and congressmen, of course. But many other upset citizens chose to complain about the practices of the TSA, and even its existence, through comments on Twitter and online news stories.
Artists have a history of criticizing government policies through political cartoons and art exhibitions. Several artists have created art from items confiscated by the TSA.
Sculptor Christopher Locke has created metal spiders made out of scissors confiscated and auctioned off by the TSA. (See articles by Boing Boing and Colossal.)
Also, TSA-confiscated items like a Bambi snow globe and a water pistol are part of the “Guarded” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, according to the Daily Beast. Artists Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin, known collectively as Type A, are responsible for the exhibit.

Photo: Metal spider by Christopher Locke.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Airline passengers and crew are the first line of defense against terrorists, not the TSA

Mark Wahlberg was right.
The movie actor was criticized and ridiculed for some poorly worded comments he made in January about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But I understand the gist of what he was saying and he’s right.
In an interview with Men’s Journal, Wahlberg said, “If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’” (See articles by Salon, Los Angeles Times and Reuters.)
He apologized for his remarks, which were insensitive to the victims of 9/11. But what I believe he was trying to say is, if it were to happen now, knowing what we do about terrorists today, Wahlberg and other passengers wouldn’t sit idly by. Gone are the days when hijackers simply flew to another country for refuge. Now we know they want to use planes as weapons.
Two incidents aboard U.S. airlines last week demonstrated once again that passengers and airline crews are the first line of defense against terrorists, not the TSA.
First, on March 27, a JetBlue Airways pilot became unhinged and started running down the center aisle, yelling about Jesus, al-Qaida and a possible bomb on board. Passengers tackled him and tied him up with seat belt extenders until the co-pilot could make an emergency landing. (See AP article “JetBlue Pilot Clayton Osbon’s Unraveling Baffles Friends.”)
Also, on March 27, a female passenger aboard a US Airways flight was wrestled to the ground by an off-duty deputy after she attacked crew members. She was intoxicated and became upset when a flight attendant refused to serve her alcohol, according to the Associated Press.
These are just the latest cases of passengers and flight crews taking charge of potential threats on board airplanes since 9/11. Others include shoe-bomber Richard Reid and underwear-bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has yet to catch a terrorist after more than 10 years of operation. The TSA is a waste of taxpayer dollars and its security procedures are humiliating and an inconvenience to millions of travelers.

Photo: Actor Mark Wahlberg.