Airport security may be fast scan

first_imgIn 2003, TSA cut most of its $75 million research budget to try to address a deficit. Its research office was later consolidated into DHS’s research arm, which has failed to spend $200 million from past years, leading lawmakers to rescind the money this summer. “The TSA is groping around, moving money,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, a senior Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee. “They don’t have enough money to have enough employees, and they can’t buy new equipment.” Even as the recent British terror plot was unfolding, Homeland Security quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new technology for detecting explosives. There will never be enough money or improvements in technology, said Richard Lanza, senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We’re always faced with this unpleasant and nasty fact: People are going to come up with new explosives which won’t be detected by this,” Lanza said. “You’re just trying to make it harder for the bad guys.” Among the newer technologies, the puffer is a tall, clear cylinder that looks like a Star Trek transporter. Passengers chosen largely at random are hit with quick blasts of air – not quite enough to ruffle the hair – to dislodge trace particles of explosives or narcotics from a passenger’s skin and clothing. An instant microscopic analysis determines whether the passenger has been exposed to illicit substances. In the future, luggage will be “sniffed” for minute traces of explosives or bombarded with neutrons, subjecting it to CT scans, which differs from traditional X-rays in that they take hundreds of pictures of an object from a variety of angles. Passengers at San Francisco’s international terminal can glimpse a “Checkpoint of the Future” as envisioned by GE Security. The company has set up camp next to the checkpoint of today, a working security zone where plastic bins clatter and passengers shuffle through metal detectors. The GE “lab” is a nonworking checkpoint where the company is researching and tweaking its gear in hopes of winning government approvals and ironing out technical glitches. Much of that gear is mock-up equipment where company officials can demonstrate the dream: a half-minute process, starting with a device that scans a passenger’s finger for explosives and drug particles. A conveyor belt would use CT to peer at carry-on items. A body scan would look through clothing for knives, guns and bombs. A shoe scanner would end the need to kick off footwear. GE Security said it has spent more than $100 million over the past five years in developing next-generation aviation screening technologies and products. The government is particularly interested in developing the ability to quickly analyze what’s inside liquid containers after the recent discovery of a London-based plot to bring down airliners using explosives disguised as common household items, said Jennifer Peppin, a spokeswoman for the TSA’s Western region. Rapiscan Systems Neutronics and Advanced Technologies of Santa Clara is trying to perfect a device that can peer into bottles, books and shoes and identify explosives inside. The scanner, slightly larger than a tipped-over phone booth, hits the object with neutrons and analyzes the gamma rays that bounce back, telling the machine which elements are present. One recent afternoon, Pat Shea, Rapiscan’s chief operating officer, placed a bottle of wine in the machine’s drawer and started the analysis. A whirring sound followed for about 40 seconds, followed by an analysis: The bottle indeed contained wine. Despite all the years and dollars his company has poured into research and development, Shea cautions against an over-reliance on technology. “No one device is a silver bullet,” he said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN FRANCISCO – At the airport check-in of tomorrow, “getting through security” should take 30 seconds. Passengers breeze through a series of scanners that probe for explosives, weapons, even drugs. Shoes stay on feet, laptops in cases. A machine confirms that a bottle of wine is wine, and not a disguised cocktail of bomb ingredients. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks prompted a clampdown at the nation’s airports and a new era of aggravation at security checkpoints. They also accelerated a race to develop better screening technology, research that has advanced with each thwarted terrorism plot. Some of these devices are already snooping through your luggage as part of a 2002 congressional mandate that all checked baggage be scrutinized for explosives, but technical glitches and funding problems stand in the way of other technologies. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleKey questions remain: Are these ready to handle thousands of passengers per hour, and their belongings? “Some things are imminently deployable. Some things are further off,” said Steve Hill, spokesman for GE Security, the unit of General Electric Co. that makes transportation security equipment. “We are not light years off.” Although one futuristic device known as the “puffer” already is in use at San Francisco International and 36 other airports, the government halted its continued rollout recently because of concerns about reliability. The Transportation Security Administration declined to elaborate. Critics also question whether the Bush administration is investing enough, even as it spent nearly $1 billion in fiscal 2006 on explosive-detection equipment for checked luggage and checkpoint screening. TSA and the Department of Homeland Security have repeatedly failed to spend tens of millions of dollars that Congress earmarked for new airport security equipment. last_img read more

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India in 1996: Major events and happenings

first_imgWatching failure is one of the grandest spectator sports in the world, second only to tracking success.1996, though it had more than its fair share of both, is largely an annus of annihilation, the year the mighty fell from public grace-from former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao to god man,Watching failure is one of the grandest spectator sports in the world, second only to tracking success.1996, though it had more than its fair share of both, is largely an annus of annihilation, the year the mighty fell from public grace-from former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao to god man Chandraswami, and former CEC T.N. Seshan to super-cop K.P.S. Gill and a handful of other big names in between.Then again, itwas a year when India’s brightest stars raised a toast or two in celebration of Bollywood’s centenary. And halfway between the gutter and the stars, slaved the country’s remaining 936 million inhabitants, battling galloping inflation, a slowed economy, an uncertain budget and a shaky government, including one for just 13 days.Anything, just anything, is possible in Indian democracy. But, then again, it was also the year the Indian flag took a place of pride at the Olympic games.Purulia incident, the first known illegal air dropping of lethal armsStory of the year November 1996Purulia Arms DropStraining Credibility: It was apparent that the Purulia incident, the first known illegal air dropping of lethal arms in India’s history of airspace management, happened because of a series of lapses by various wings of the government. The paper trail which INDIA TODAY has access to points to our inability to rise to the challenge of meeting such a serious breach of security. It is clear that the system lacked both accountability and a clear chain of command required to handle a crisis of this nature. – Harinder BawejaFIGURE IT OUTA 1996 study revealed that more than 40,000 people die prematurely every year because of air pollution in India.INS VikrantDid you Know?That the Grand Old Lady of Khulna, INS Vikrant, was finally decommissioned this year. The first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, commissioned in 1961, which carried out the famous strikes on Khulna and Cox’s Bazaar during the 1971 war, was to be scrapped, all 16,000 tonnes of it. History junked.Karishma KapoorOomphKARISMA KAPOOR: “I’m overwhelmed by a sense of relief,” says the actor, lounging in her duplex apartment. After five years of ifs and buts and 22-hour shift days, 1996 seems to be the year of winning and the dark horse is galloping towards the finishing line with seven releases of which three are hits. – Nandita Chowdhury, December 1P.Ramar PillaiOopsP. RAMAR PILLAITake a school dropout and a nation’s dream for cheap fuel, add some H20 and a little media hysteria and what do you get? Fraud. For a few weeks Pillai had India believing he could coax fuel out of water. If he inevitably tripped, so did a few gung-ho scientists and ministers. – Newsnotes, January 1Leander PaesHigh PointAn Olympic BronzeForty-four years India has been without an individual Olympic medal. How heavy a burden is that? Heavy enough to force a 23-year-old into offering gentle lies. Asked about the enormity of his bronze medal winning match, Leander Paes replied poker-faced: “It’s just another match.” Then he gets on court against Fernando Meligeni. – Rohit Brijnath, August 31CBI raids on HawalaLow PointHawala ScamWhile the CBI insists that its recent charge-sheeting of 10 politicians-including three cabinet ministers-in the course of its continuing investigations of the Jain hawala case has established its credibility and independence, critics and legal analysts have raised doubts. The scandal surfaced following CBI raids on hawala operators in Delhi in 1991. by Charu Lata Joshi, March 15advertisementGodman Chandraswami after his arrestGodman Chandraswami arrested”It’s the wheel of fortune. These are bad times. They will pass soon.””Main aur jail? Kabhi nahin. Kis liye? Maine koi galat kaam nahin kiya (Me in prison? Never. Why? I have not done anything wrong),” countered India’s most controversial godman to a sensitive question regarding his possible arrest in an interview with INDIA TODAY in October last year.Reclining in his favourite velvet-upholstered armchair in the air-conditioned living room of his plush, 2,100 sq yard ashram in Delhi, Nemi Chand Jain alias Chandraswami, teller of fortunes of VIPs across the world, had perhaps then never anticipated that his personal prognostication could be so off the mark. Last fortnight he completed a month in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.Arrested on May 2 by the CBI from his follower Pratap Reddy’s Sindoori Hotel in Madras for allegedly cheating UK-based NRI Lakhubhai Pathak of $1,00,000 in January 1984, this has been Chandraswami’s longest spell in prison.The irony? The most protected guru in the country, once provided round-the-clock vigil, now sweats it out in jail. Not quite over the trauma of arrest yet, a redeyed Chandraswami remarked to aides in the district court: “Sab Kaalchakra hai… bura samay hai, kuchh dinon ki baat hai (These are bad times. They will pass).” – Charu Lata Joshi, June 30advertisementlast_img read more

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Multan Test: When a fuming Sachin prefered to be left alone

first_imgRahul Dravid and Sachin TendulkarStranded on 194 when stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid declared the Indian innings in the 2004 Multan Test, Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has spoken about the anger and shock he felt by the decision which “did not make any sense”.In his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’, Tendulkar reveals how hurt he was at the declaration and he told Dravid to “leave him alone” so that he could come to terms with his disappointment of missing out on a double century.”I assured Rahul that the incident would have no bearing on my involvement on the field, but off the field, I would prefer to be left alone for a while to come to terms with what had happened,” Tendulkar writes in the book.However, the batting legend said that the incident didn’t have any adverse effect on his relationship with Dravid.”Despite this incident, I am glad to say Rahul and I remained good friends and even on the field, our camaraderie remained intact until the end of our careers. We continued to have some good partnerships and neither our cricket nor our friendship was affected.”In the book, published by Hachette India, Tendulkar has narrated the entire story of the Multan declaration and what happened behind the scenes after he was back in the dressing room.Tendulkar writes, “At tea-time, I asked stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid, who was in charge because Sourav was out with a back injury, and coach John Wright what the plan was. I was informed, we were looking to give Pakistan an hour to bat, so would put them in with 15 overs left on the second day. It was perfectly sensible and I went about my business after tea with this plan in mind.”advertisementTendulkar said that he paced his innings in a manner that he could reach double century in time to give Pakistan 15 overs to bat as per plan.”But then, a little more than half an hour into the post-tea session, Ramesh Powar, who was substituting in the game came on the field and asked me to accelerate. I even joked with him, saying I was aware that we needed quick runs but with the field totally spread out, there was only so much we could do”, he writes.”A little later, when I was on 194, he came out again and said I should try and get my double hundred in that over itself because Rahul had decided to declare. I was startled to say the least, because in my mind I still had 12 balls in which to score the remaining six runs before 15 overs were left for the day”, Tendulkar writes.But as it happened, Tendulkar did not get to play a single ball in that over.”As it happened, I did not get to play a single ball in that over with Yuvraj on strike against Imran Farhat.He blocked the first two balls before picking up two runs off the third ball. He once again blocked the fourth ball and was out to the fifth ball.”Then just as Parthiv Patel, the next batsman started to come out, I saw Rahul gesturing us to go back to the pavilion.He had declared the innings with me stranded on 194 and with 16 overs left for the day — one more than we had agreed.Tendulkar admitted that he was indeed “shocked” at Dravid’s decision.”I was shocked as it did not make any sense. It was Day 2 of the Test match and not Day 4, as it had been in Sydney, a month earlier.””Disappointed and upset, I made my way back to the dressing room and could sense that the whole team was surprised at the decision (Rahul Dravid declaring with me stranded at 194). Some of my team-mates perhaps expected me to throw my gear about in the dressing room in disgust and create a scene. However, such things are not in me and I decided not to say a word to anyone about the incident.””I calmly put my batting gear away and asked John Wright for a little time before I went out to field because I was feeling a little tight after batting for so long. Inside, I was fuming. Just as I was washing my face in the bathroom, John walked up to me and apologized. He was sorry about what had happened and said he had not been party to the decision. I was surprised and said to him that as coach he was one of the decision-makers and there was no reason for him to be sorry if he believed in what had been done.”advertisementTendulkar told coach Wright that what has happened can’t be reversed now.”I also said that what was done could not be reversed and it was best to leave it alone. Finally, I couldn’t help reminding him that the declaration was contrary to what had been discussed at tea and it was strange that I was not given even one ball to get to my double hundred after a message had been sent out asking me to get there as quickly as possible”.Tendulkar recollects that after Wright, even regular skipper Ganguly came into “apologise” for the decision.”Soon after my exchange with John, Sourav came to me and said he was very sorry at what had happened and that it wasn’t his decision to declare. This was a little surprising, as the skipper, was part of the tea-time discussion and was also present in the dressing room at the time of declaration.””I said to him (Sourav) that there is no point going over it anymore.”Tendulkar didn’t hide his displeasure at the voluntary opinion given by his one-time teammate Sanjay Manjrekar.” Sanjay Manjrekar, who was a commentator in Pakistan, turned up in my room. Sanjay said, it had been a brave decision to declare and it was a good sign for Indian cricket. He carried on in that vein until I asked him if he really knew what he was talking about.”I explained to him that he was not aware of what had transpired in the dressing room and arrived at his judgement without knowing the real facts of the matter. I made it clear that I didn’t appreciate his opinion, which I thought was a deliberate attempt to be different.”Tendulkar said that he told Rahul that “he was indeed upset and can’t pretend otherwise.””Rahul said that the call was taken with the interests of the team in mind. It was important to demonstrate that we meant business and were keen to win. I wasn’t convinced. First, I said to him that I was batting for the team as well. The 194 was meant to help the team and it was my individual contribution to the team’s cause.”Tendulkar reminded Dravid of the Sydney Test match, held less than a month ago.”When we had both been batting on the fourth evening and Sourav had sent out two or three messages asking when we should declare and Rahul had carried on batting. The two situations were comparable and, if anything, the Sydney declaration was far more significant and may have cost a Test match and series victory. If Rahul was so keen show intent in Multan, he should have done the same in Sydney.”last_img read more

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