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Articles and Essays from our Contributors

Thomson quits, Slipper stands down

29 April 2012 | Permalink | comments: 0
By Hereward Fenton

Breaking News
Embattled Thomson quits Labor party
PM moves on Thomson and Slipper, saying a 'line has been crossed'

Whether or not you believe in our representative democracy, I hope you can see that we need an election now, and that, if this occurs (as it should from the numbers against the government and the scandals over MPs), Abbott must uphold his promise of fully repealing the carbon tax, on pain of creating an even greater popular backlash than we are seeing now.

Thomson's resignation from the ALP is purely for show, and has no bearing on his tenure as member for Dobell, or on how he will vote in Parliament. It is a further insult to the very concept of democracy that a sitting MP can play with his role in such a manner. This is a fraud against the Australian people.

If we believe in democracy at all, we must be prepared to take action to ensure restoration of the basic values of a free society, otherwise we will only slip deeper into tyranny. The government, according to current polls, enjoys a 29% popularity rating. They don't have a mandate to govern.

Are you prepared to hit the streets to let them know how you feel?

DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field

29 April 2012 (Original: 2012-04-28) | Source | Permalink | comments: 1
By B. S. Alexandrov, V. Gelev, A. R. Bishop, A. Usheva, K. O. Rasmussen

Categories: [ Full Body Scanners ]

A scientific study on the effects of terahertz radiation (used in some body scanner imaging systems).

ABSTRACT

We consider the influence of a terahertz field on the breathing dynamics of double-stranded DNA. We model the spontaneous formation of spatially localized openings of a damped and driven DNA chain, and find that linear instabilities lead to dynamic dimerization, while true local strand separations require a threshold amplitude mechanism. Based on our results we argue that a specific terahertz radiation exposure may significantly affect the natural dynamics of DNA, and thereby influence intricate molecular processes involved in gene expression and DNA replication.

Subjects:  Biological Physics (physics.bio-ph); Computational Physics (physics.comp-ph)
Journal reference:  Physics Letters A, Volume 374, Issue 10, 2010

Download PDF | Other Formats

Sweaty armpits could trigger airport scanners

24 April 2012 | Source | Permalink | comments: 1
By Annabel Hepworth

Categories: [ Full Body Scanners ]

FULL-BODY scanners being introduced at Australia's eight international airports could be triggered by sweaty armpits and a passenger's posture, a counter-terrorism unit has warned.

In German trials of the body-scanning technology, false alarms were recorded and sweaty armpits were among the culprits, slowing down departure lanes, according to Tasmania's Department of Police and Emergency Management.

"There are already long delays at airports, so this issue needs to be addressed," the unit says in a submission to a Senate committee inquiring into the millimetre-wave body scanners.

Germany ditched the scanners after too many false alarms but they are in use in some parts of Europe and the US.

The Australian Airline Pilots Association has raised similar concerns about the potential for false positives and has said it wants screening with the machines to be voluntary.

A spokeswoman for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese defended the technology.

Article Continues »

Are airport body scanners safe? Radiation expert Dr. John Moulder to give lecture

24 April 2012 (Original: 2012-04-17) | Source | Permalink | comments: 0
By UW-Milwaukee

Categories: [ Full Body Scanners ]

An expert in the health risks of human exposure to radiation will speak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) about airport whole-body scanners on May 4.

Hosted by the UWM Department of Physics, Dr. John Moulder of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) will address the considerable public concern about possible health effects posed by the backscatter X-ray and millimeter-wave radar whole-body scanners that are used at many airports.

The free event begins at 8 p.m. in the Physics building, 1900 E. Kenwood Blvd., room 137.

As the summer travel season begins, Dr. Moulder will discuss the research showing that these scanners pose only negligible radiation risks if used as intended. However, he will also outline the difficulty in proving their safety using publicly accessible data that shields information on the machinery’s specifications and methods of measurement.

He makes the argument that more openness is needed, as is independent review and regulation. Publicly accessible, and preferably peer-reviewed, evidence is needed that the units (not just the prototypes) meet widely accepted safety standards.

Moulder is professor and director of radiation biology at MCW, and holds two advanced degrees from Yale University. There will be time for discussion and questions after the presentation.

Target offers 3D body scanner to measure customers

24 April 2012 (Original: 2012-04-23) | Source | Permalink | comments: 0
By Amy Wilson-Chapman and Anna Vlach

Categories: [ Full Body Scanners ]

TARGET has a new employee - a 3D body scanner - charged with making sure clothes fit better.

TARGET body scanner

The national retailer is spending $1 million on the technology that will measure the dimensions of 20,000 men and women as part of a national survey to update their designs.

Perth shoppers will be able step into the scanner from May 25 to 29 in the company's Whitfords store.

Target managing director Dene Rogers said customers were frustrated and confused by inconsistent sizing. It was the main reason clothes were returned.

"By taking 60 seconds to come and be scanned consumers will not only find out their exact measurements, they'll be helping Target find out what size Australians really are today so that we can make clothes that really fit," Mr Rogers said.

Article Continues »

How Full-Body Scanners Work – and Fail

24 March 2012 (Original: 2010-11-16) | Source | Permalink | comments: 2
By Hans

Categories: [ Full Body Scanners ]

TSA has been introducing full-body scanners to perform a virtual strip search of air travelers. Although technically travelers have the right to opt out, the TSA discourages this behavior with aggressive and invasive pat-down searches. Initially, TSA denied punitive pat-down searches. Then they acknowledged testing a “more aggressive pat-down technique.” TSA began a more widespread implementation of this tactic at the beginning of November, and TSA agents have reportedly been quite open about that fact that the “enhanced” pat-down searches are specifically aimed to be so offensive as to coerce passengers into the scanners. In a blog post otherwise bluntly supportive of full-body scanning (the title, “Shut Up And Get In The Scanner,” gives a good idea of the tone of the writing), one former TSA screener writes:

It is a terror tactic by TSA to get you to walk through the more thorough body scanner.  I can’t defend TSA on this one.  I have talked to the TSA officers and it is no more effective than the old pat down procedure.  They tested it out with trainers and each other.  It is purely a terror tactic by TSA.

Other bloggers (with sharper tongues and stronger stomachs than I) have exhaustively documented the steaming mass of epic fail that is the TSA’s new policy. The aim of this post is to explain how full-body scanners work – and fail.

There are two kinds of full-body scanners: those based on backscatter X-ray technology and those based on millimeter wave technology.

Article Continues »

Total Body Scam? — Taking your money and freedom, (and coming to Australia too)

24 March 2012 (Original: 2012-03-23) | Source | Permalink | comments: 1
By Joanne Nova

Categories: [ Full Body Scanners ]

Was it just me? Was I the only one who noticed a tiny announcement in February that Airport Scanners were coming to Australia, the land where terrorists haven’t landed (yet), and … wait for it… there would be no (NO!) — opt — out– clause. Did I hear that correctly?

And the crowd roared (about the cricket), nobody said a word about the scanners, and the ten libertarians left who can bear to watch the ABC were too busy trying to save the nation from nastier threats. Australia is getting millimeter wave scanners at International Airports, and if you don’t want to be scanned, you need to leave the country… by boat. (Either that or swim with the crocs across the Timor Sea.)

Body scanner blind spotWith no opt out clause, what happens when the first person facing deportation refuses to be scanned? Well that’s all right then, we’ll just book them on a cruise to Kandahar? Civil Liberties Australia was one of the few to speak up. Maybe those scanners are safe? Maybe? But at least one man with a pacemaker says Australia is off his holiday list now. Can someone find the peer reviewed research showing there are no long term effects on the unborn?

There’s also the catch that if any terrorist has a computer with an internet connection, they probably know how to get guns past the scanners.

Then a nice man named Tony wrote to me asking if I liked his graphic (below), and I did. Do admire the powerful communication tool here (it’s worth a look). The only thing it lacked was to tell us non-US folk that the TSA stood for the Transportation Security Administration.

Once upon a time it took months to get to Australia, the ships had no GPS, sometimes not even an engine, and the in-non-flight food gave you scurvy. People died, no one had travel insurance, and before WWII even a blister could kill you.

Brace yourself, how things have changed. Travel in the satellite era is so dangerous now, it takes 62,000 employees to make it safe (just in the USA). Of those, nearly 4,000 are based in the Washington DC headquarters of the TSA. The average salary of those desk-based public servants in the regulating class is … $104,000. That’s average?

Here in Australia our airport scanning scheme is supposed to cost $28 million.

Article Continues »

Pay the TSA $100 protection money to avoid scanning and pat downs

21 March 2012 | Source | Permalink | comments: 1
By SCOTT MCCARTNEY, WSJ

Categories: [ Full Body Scanners ]

Hate the full-body scans, pat-downs and slow going at TSA airport security screening checkpoints? For $100, you can now bypass the hassle.

The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out expedited screening at big airports called "Precheck." It has special lanes for background-checked travelers, who can keep their shoes, belt and jacket on, leave laptops and liquids in carry-on bags and walk through a metal detector rather than a full-body scan. The process, now at two airlines and nine airports, is much like how screenings worked before the Sept. 11 attacks.

To qualify, frequent fliers must meet undisclosed TSA criteria and get invited in by the airlines. There is also a backdoor in. Approved travelers who are in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's "Global Entry" program can transfer into Precheck using their Global Entry number.

"It's a completely different experience than what you're used to," said Matt Stegmeir, a platinum-level Delta Air Lines frequent flier who was invited into Precheck when it opened at his home airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul. Besides zipping through security screening quickly and easily, Mr. Stegmeir noticed another difference: TSA agents at the Precheck lane are usually smiling.

"It's really a jarring contrast. It reminds you just how much of a hassle the security procedures in place really are," he said.

Global Entry has been extremely popular with frequent international travelers. Approved travelers get to use a kiosk to enter the country rather than waiting in often-long lines to get their passports stamped and go through Customs inspection.

Consider that in January at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the average wait in line was 35 minutes between 4 and 5 p.m., and the longest wait was 137 minutes. The wait at Terminal 1 at New York's Kennedy International Airport averaged 44 minutes in January for people arriving between 10 and 11 a.m. Enrolling requires a $100 application fee for a background check, plus a brief interview with a Customs officer.

For domestic travel, Global Entry pays off because it gets you into Precheck. Once TSA announced in the fall that enrollment in Global Entry and CBP's other "trusted travel" programs (Nexus for frequent travel across the Canadian border and Sentri for frequent travel across the Mexican border) would get you into Precheck, applications for Global Entry took off.

In February, for example, 26,602 people applied, more than triple the number of applications in February 2011, according to CBP. And February applications were up 42% from January as more and more travelers catch on.

"We want as many people as possible in the program," said John Wagner, CBP's executive director of admissibility and passenger programs.

TSA says it also wants as many people as possible in Precheck, which is still in pilot-testing phase. Both agencies say the programs can enhance screening of people they know nothing about if they can move low-risk people who submit to background checks out of the main queues.

"We can reduce the size of the haystack when we are looking for that one-in-a-billion terrorist," said TSA Administrator John Pistole.

Mr. Pistole, an FBI veteran who took over TSA in 2010, said that by studying frequent-flier histories as well as conducting background checks, he's confident the U.S. now has the technology and the intelligence information to make less-rigorous, faster screening work. TSA has been trying to move to more "risk-based" security—something critics have suggested for many years.

Once in Precheck, TSA still checks names against terrorism watch lists before every flight, just as it does for other travelers. If a passenger is cleared for Precheck screening, a code is embedded in a traveler's boarding pass.

Article Continues »

Stop CSG Rally video report - Government fails people of NSW

17 March 2012 | Permalink | comments: 0
By Hereward Fenton

Categories: [ Coal Seam Gas ]

Truth News covers the stop CSG Rally at Parliament House NSW, 15 March 2012.

In the morning a motion was put to the NSW Upper House by Jeremy Buckingham of the Greens – to place a moratorium on all coal seam gas (CSG) projects in the state, other than the Camden production field. It was lost 16-19, with the Coalition, Shooters and Fishers and Christian Democrats against; and Labor and The Greens in favour.

In the afternoon a petition with over 20,000 signatures was presented in Parliament.

Protesters assembled outside Parliament at 4:00pm, then entered the building to continue their peaceful protest. After barely 10 minutes, the protesters were ejected from Parliament, allegedly because of the wording on their T-shirts.

Report from Stop CSG Illawarra follows:

Thursday March 15 2012 was a big day for the coal seam gas issue in our state parliament.

In the morning a motion was put to the NSW Upper House by Jeremy Buckingham of the Greens – to place a moratorium on all coal seam gas (CSG) projects in the state, other than the Camden production field. It was lost 16-19, with the Coalition, Shooters and Fishers and Christian Democrats against; and Labor and The Greens in favour.

In the afternoon it was the turn of our petition, YOUR petition, to be debated. Over 20,000 signed, calling on the Government to put in place an immediate moratorium on all CSG projects; a royal commission into the full impacts of CSG; and an immediate ban on fracking. Gareth Ward and Lee Evans spoke against, and Ryan Park and John Robertson spoke in favour. You can view the “debate” video (including its descent into chaos) in full online.

In both Houses Coalition members showed absolute contempt for the people of NSW. The Coalition called a moratorium irresponsible, saying that the Government must wait for more facts. But it is completely irresponsible to develop an industry before getting the facts.

Gareth Ward spoke against the petition – defending Coalition plans as adequate. Lee Evans spoke against the petition, then admitted to signing it. But he can’t have it both ways. He either stands with his community, and the 74% of people in NSW who support the call for a moratorium, or he tows the Coalition line and acts on behalf of the CSG industry. Yesterday, he chose the latter.

Actions speak louder than words. The Liberals opposed the petition. The Coalition voted down a moratorium. Barry O’Farrell did not even show up. CSG wells are being drilled in our drinking water catchment and the Government is not stopping it.

Yesterday, the vital role of community campaigns could not have been clearer. The Government is failing to act for the people of NSW; so we must. As the Coalition scrambles to defend the indefensible, we must launch a people’s moratorium and lock the industry out of our communities.

See you at the CSG Community Conference on Sunday March 25.

 

How Facebook is exterminating communities

15 March 2012 | Permalink | comments: 16
By Hereward Fenton

Categories: [ Crony Capitalism, Facebook ]

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been struggling (unsuccesfully) to get the new facebook timeline features to work in a reasonable way which suit the needs of this website, and I just want to let you all know that I've had enough!

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!

I've come to the conclusion that the Facebook ruling elite have decided to quietly exterminate their community pages, by forcing everyone (including fan pages and groups) over to the new publishing format which gives THEM more control and YOU less control.

Of course, this is sugar coated as such draconian changes always are, with superficially "nice" features such as a wider tab and a few token settings which give you the illusion of control.

But here is the bitter pill: as an admin of the TNRA page I can no longer control what users see - this is now managed by Facebook. THEY now decide is appropriate for each of us to see, based on our friends, our "likes" and our previous browsing choices.

They call this "personalizing" our user experience.

Don't be fooled! In reality they are CONTROLLING our user experience, under the cover of tailoring our view to a vacuous commercial construct of "personal preference".

Hyper "personalization", which facebook is forcing on us, is anathema to the very essence of community, which is about shared experience. It is more in keeping with modern consumer marketing practices, which use all kinds of psychologically manipulative tactics to get people to become attached to a BRAND.

Indeed, personalization is a great way of DESTROYING communities because it forces everyone into a scenario where all interactions are mediated by "Nanny Facebook", who "personalizes" what we see based on an involuntary algorithm which determines what is best for each of us.

Folks, it is time to LEAVE Facebook!

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Re first hour that I have just enjoyed listening to.  Hereward Fenton’s wrap-up of diverse reported facts on the recent spate of unexplained airline disasters is a gripping tale. His integration of these facts into speculation about repercussions leading to a push for new pilotless technology (elimination of ‘human error’) is interesting IMO, but where will it all lead?  Such questions are valid reflection, not ‘conspiracy theory’.  Mainstream media don’t want ordinary people to reflect too deeply and so try to nip this in the bud through their mantra of “conspiracy theory”.  My subscription to TNRA is well worth it, because I am receiving a good “reflection service” by a commentator who is able to think the unthinkable unlike most people pacified by escapist free to air TV.  And the most unthinkable event in our lives to date is that 9-11 was an orchestrated event engineered by secret and unaccountable government agencies for obvious political and military purposes. Like, fascism.  Mainstream media won’t even entertain that thought!  But, to quote Aristotle, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”.  And another quote from Aristotle for you Hereward.  It is about the human capacity for reflection, that you possess in abundance.  I remember learning of Aristotle’s idea that the most noble thing a man (as in hu-man) could do, was to reflect.  I think it comes from this of his quotes “The ultimate value of life depends on awareness and the power of contemplation rather than mere survival”.  I get paid for provision of ‘engineering services’ but this robs me of time for researching and reflecting on news stories like the ones on which you comment here. So I am very happy to subscribe. You are providing ‘reflection services’ and that is a noble profession in which you excel. thanks for the show!

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