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Time to make big changes with air travel

It is amazing, the narrow box which elected officials, security officials, and the media use to evaluate what should be the response to a terrorist nearly blowing up another airplane. It is mystifying that when such a big, dangerous, longstanding problem exists, they all still return to the most simple problem solving model: “There are terrorists on planes, how do we  increase security on planes?”

It would be much wiser and more useful to see the problem in wider terms, with less conclusions drawn. For instance: When people are trying to travel from one country to another, they are experiencing random acts of violence. How can we change the entire scenario?

Under that more meaningful frame, we might include: How can America rely less on air travel? How can people be encouraged/allowed to assemble in smaller and like-minded groups which are less likely to include terrorists who would do the group harm? How do we reduce the injustices in the world that cause some people or groups to turn to terrorism?

I am just amazed that the terrorist–the person who was truly a threat, and truly tried to harm people–was on the Watch List, and the Watch List did no good. Many good people — especially political activists and peace people — are on Watch Lists and No Fly lists, and their civil liberties are constantly violated, with the reason given that it will prevent terrorists from slipping through. Oh, well, that plan doesn’t work.

I think this incident proves it  is time to scrap the whole Watch List system. Or, reform the Watch List from the inside out. Throw away the fake, “Who-are-our-political-competitors/enemies watch list?” from our status quo, Democratic-Party-and-Republican-Party-controlled-government and create a useful Watch List, based on good intelligence (instead of politics) now. Create a real list, which does what it means to do, before more people really do get blown up.

For now, here are some ideas about how individuals and governments can be proactive in causing less incidence of terrorism in the air…

How a person can avoid being on a plane with terrorists:

-Fly less. It will decrease your chances of encountering a terrorist on an airplane. Do not fly and travel about for pleasure and at whim. It harms the environment, anyway. Only travel when necessary.

-If you don’t like all the new restrictions on air travel, travel by train or by sea. There are still some hazards, but you are not trapped thousands of miles above the earth with a potential terrorist.

-Realize that in all human relations, smaller is always better. When you travel, go in a smaller, cozier plane, train, boat, or bus.

-In addition, there are safety in numbers. Instead of using your energy finding the best deal, use your energy to find a group of family or friends who might travel with you. If you are surrounded by cousins and friends, at least you will know something about the people you are allowing into your personal space.

-And, a p.s.: A person could also work for justice in general. And, you might want to figure out what is making people in Nigeria upset and donate to a charity to help them.

How our US elected officials could respond more holistically to the threat of terrorism and air travel:

-Stop the foreign wars that create enemies for the United States and its citizens. End the Afghanistan War. End the Iraq War. Start closing down US military bases overseas.

-Stop the use of US state-sponsored terrorism and war crimes, such as bombs and predator drones which kill civilians. Killing civilians creates very angry and righteous relatives who may turn to terrorism for revenge.

-Stop violating all of our humanity: Stop using torture. The US use of torture on any human being creates incredibly bad karma, and incredible anger towards our government, our culture, and ourselves.

-Overall, create more justice in the country and world, so less people are inspired to violence.

-Find out what is making people frustrated in Nigeria, and quietly use charity and diplomacy to start tackling the issues.

-Build better infrastructure of roads, bridges, and train tracks so that air travel — which, evidently, involves greater security risks — is less necessary.

-Acknowledge the value of people being rooted to their own place. For example: Encourage using communication rather than travel for professional conferences; Give companies tax credits for having more local meetings; Stop supporting or encouraging the travel tourism industry, so that it becomes less of an excessive, overly-used, luxury item; Do not do things to encourage people to have more than one residence in more than one state; Allow for laws that create community and encourage local economies.

-Scrap the old Watch List–the core of which is probably political enemies of the Bush administration (and, by the way, probably includes decisions to not list any members of the Bin Laden family, which Bush Sr. is cozy with.) Create a new, useful watch list based on intelligence, not politics.

Background stories:

(excerpt from) Wall Street Journal blog
Terrorism Attempt: What’s Ahead for Air Travelers

Frightening, isn’t it? A sophisticated incendiary device made it through airport security in Lagos, Nigeria, which just passed a U.S. security assessment in November, and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The U.S. terrorism watch list apparently may have had the name of the 23-year-old Nigerian man, identified as Abdul Mudallad Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but didn’t trigger secondary screening.

The Christmas Day attempt to bring down a wide-body jet also raises questions of whether full-body scanners will ultimately be needed for effective airport security, despite privacy concerns about security officials getting a revealing look at our bodies. [KW writes: What! I am not traveling by plane if there is some full body search scanner. Forget that. I’ll swim, or stay home for the holidays.] In several instances around the world, terrorists have used their bodies, not their bags, to transport explosives…[KW: Yeah, but as the watch list failure just showed us, all of our regular-person civil rights will be violated, and the system will fail when it is truly needed anyway!]

(excerpt from) Boston.com

Airports tighten security after attempted attack on flight to Detroit

NEW YORK – Extra pat-downs before boarding. No getting up for the last hour of the flight. More bomb-sniffing dogs…

“They patted you down really well,’’ said Allen, 41, an automotive engineer from Shelby Township, Mich. “They went through everything in your bags, went through the pockets in your pants, the pockets of your coat.”…

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