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Magda Hassan
02-11-2009, 10:15 AM
When I flew home from Washington, DC after a business trip last week, the TSA agent asked to test my laptop. I politely asked what they were testing for. It was just routine she told me. And she’s right, it has become routine, a much too routine standard operating procedure designed to make us believe that the usurping of our privacy and human rights is normal and necessary if we are to be secure and free. The obvious irony is that we are not secure and free if government agents have a right to violate our privacy and deny our rights without cause. I considered protesting but I figured that the best outcome of that would be missing my flight, the worst case being detained incommunicado in an undisclosed location. The likelihood of a plausible explanation for this sudden interest in my laptop was undoubtedly nil. In otherwords, whatcha gonna do and TSA knows that. My youngest son barely has a memory of when you could get on a plane without having to take off your shoes first. He was in 4th grade on Sept. 11, 2001 and within days his school was decked out in American flags and “I Support President Bush” signs appeared everywhere. For him this is normal, the way things are supposed to be. And that is no accident. What is particularly disturbing about the normalizing of this notion that it is unpatriotic to question measures that supposedly defend us from acts of terror is the use of entertainment to hawk the message. In addition to the Disney-owned ABC’s Homeland Security reality show, there is now a Homeland Security television channel on the internet that bills itself as, (T)he world’s first online, on-demand television network dedicated to homeland security and global development. HSTV is a 24/7 interactive television channel dedicated to producing broadcast-quality video programs on all aspects of homeland security and the role of global development in fighting terrorism. HSTV is also dedicated to facilitating rapid awareness of new technologies and services, and assisting in the transfer of those technology solutions to the government and critical infrastructure marketplace. And the U.S. military has spared no expense giving kids every opportunity to play sanitized military video games that helpfully provide links to military recruiting sites. In addition to video games such as “America’s Army“, the Army recently opening the $12 million U.S. Army Experience Center at the Franklin Mills shopping center outside of Philadelphia where kids can play sanitized military video games.” The Philadelphia center lures recruits with a separate room for prospective soldiers to “fire” from a real Humvee on enemy encampments projected on a 15-foot-high (4.5-meter-high) battleground scenario that also has deafening sound effects. In another room, those inclined to attack from above can join helicopter raids in which enemy soldiers emerge from hide-outs to be felled by automatic gunfire rattling from a simulator modeled on an Apache or Blackhawk helicopter.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41G9WA5NRDL._SL500_AA280_.jpg

Most insidious however are the toys marketed to preschool and elementary school age children that exploit the war on terror mantra. Playmobil has several toys that fit that bill, including Playmobil Security Checkpoint (for ages 4-7) and Playmobil Police Checkpoint (for ages 10 and up). http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31WG41KB3ML._SL500_AA150_.jpg
The only thing that gives one hope are the product reviews on Amazon where you can buy these propaganda for profit gems. Here is one of the reviews of the Security Checkpoint toy: Finally a toy that gets our kids used to living in a police state. Benjamin Franklin said that those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. But then again, he lived in France for awhile, so what did he know about anything. Before this toy came out I was afraid my son would not know how to cope with the new reality of American life; how to prepare him to the future, I was wondering. Boy am I relieved; so many lessons learned! Now he knows that: 1) Some people can make a decent living treating others like cattle, and the best part: the cattle is paying their salaries. 2) You only have the rights that the government gives you; you can move around the country only if you comply with government regulations, no matter how frivolous they might be. No liquid you say? except if in a ziplock bag? Check. Lighter ok because the cigarette lobby fought the no-lighter rule? Swell. All passengers searched but cargo mostly un-scrutinized? No problem. 3) You should always bow to people in uniforms, even though they might be in this job because they could not qualify for police work (because of the rap sheet or the drug abuse). Unfortunately, this toy comes short in a few areas: 1) It does not show that if you’re rich, you don’t have to wait in line for hours. If you can travel first class, you get your own fast-track screening. Too bad the terr’ists have plenty of Saudi and Pakistani cash and can easily travel first class should they want to. They should have included another screening set in the box. 2) It does not come with the 300 tired-looking playmobils you would need to show the passengers waiting in line behind the screening area. However, it does some things very well: for instance, the screening apparatus is not actually functional. This represents faithfully the actual TSA system, which, every time it is tested or audited, fails to catch anything (weapons, even bombs). So, thank you Playmobil. I hope they will expand their product offering and give us more toys that can help our children prepare for the new reality of a much safer America; specifically, I am eagerly waiting for the Staline-style Guantanamo American gulag set, the North-Korean-style CIA water-boarding set, the KGB-style NSA phone-tapping set. Some people will whine about the loss of their civil liberties, but my son knows that the North-Korean are some of the safest people in the world. They had virtually no fear of terrorists. Quite honestly after falling out of my chair laughing at a whole slew of reviews in that vein, I began to think that never mind that I was reading this on Amazon, perhaps these were spoofs. However queries to both Playmobil and Amazon confirmed that both products, sadly, are for real. As difficult as it sometimes seemed to raise sons during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Ranger years, clearly teaching children the difference between right and wrong has become far more challenging as the toys and games pitched at them become blatant police state propaganda.
http://www.feministpeacenetwork.org/2009/02/09/hey-kids-wanna-play-security-checkpoint-the-terrifying-marketing-police-state-normalacy-to-children/

David Guyatt
02-11-2009, 11:57 AM
An easy mistake to make, I guess. But I don't recall a similar response to thousands of gang members driving around the nation who are known to be armed and dangerous.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1140943/Operation-toy-pistol-Police-swoop-Wild-West-theme-party-guest-mistaken-gunman.html

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/02/10/article-1140943-035F5780000005DC-30_468x351.jpg

Operation toy pistol: Police swoop on Wild West theme party after guest is mistaken for gunman
By DAVID WILKES
Last updated at 7:49 AM on 11th February 2009

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The Wild West party for the Worthingtons' silver wedding anniversary was getting into full swing.

Guests dressed as cowboys were heading from the church where the couple had renewed their vows to a hoedown booked at the pub.

But the local lawmen headed them off at the pass.

Acting on a report that a gunman was on the loose, armed officers in four squad cars swooped while a police helicopter hovered overhead.

A passer-by had dialled 999 after mistaking the revellers for real-life gunslingers.

In fact, none of the 80-strong posse was carrying anything more deadly than a cap gun or a water pistol.

Although the misunderstanding did not stop the party going ahead as planned, Val Worthington accused the police of going 'over the top'.

She said she had warned officers well in advance of the party in Castle Donington, Leicestershire.

'Because of the gun laws, I phoned them in November to tell them we were having this themed do,' said the 47-year-old mother of three. 'I didn't think any more about it.

'On the day about 80 people turned up in costume. Some were dressed as saloon girls, others Indians, Mexicans, all ready for a good party.

'We were walking from the church to the pub just before lunchtime when we noticed the helicopter. Then we saw the armed police by the pub.

'There were four police cars parked outside. An officer approached me and said they had had a report of someone walking around with a gun.

'But ours looked nothing like real guns. Most of them were blue and white and made from plastic, and some people even had water pistols.

'To be fair, I suppose they have to respond. The officer said to me: "I can see it's just a bit of fun. We'll leave you to it. Enjoy the party."

'But I just couldn't believe what happened. It was so over the top. Maybe one police car going round the village would have been enough.'

Her husband Roy, a courier, chose the Wild West theme because he is a fan of cowboy films. 'I can't believe anyone who saw us walking around would have thought we were a danger to the public - I was carrying two cap guns,' said the 47-year-old.

'When I looked up in the air and saw the chopper I said to Val as a joke: "Oh, you've bought me a helicopter as an anniversary present".

'We just laughed and carried on walking, and then all of a sudden four cop cars pulled up. No one seemed to know what was going on. I can see the funny side now, but it was just a total waste of money by the police.

'At the end of the day it was just people having a bit of fun.'

Tina Whiting, landlady of the Moira Arms, the pub the police swooped on, said: 'I'd have thought they might have investigated exactly what was happening a bit more before they got the helicopter out.'

A police spokesman said: 'We have a duty to treat all reports of firearms as genuine.'

He said the force helicopter was already in the area when the report was received.

Peter Lemkin
02-11-2009, 11:59 AM
By the way, TSA now has permission not just to turn-on your laptop, but to confiscate it [without providing reason] and/or making an instant copy of entire Hard Drive contents! So much for Freedom in America. Children in the USA have long been trained in school, religions, TV, other media, society-at-large to trust and 'respect' police and police-like-entities of all kinds. I was brought-up by my unusual parents to NOT trust any figures of authority or their police agents of all types. [needless to say they had FBI files.] Ditto the ultra-rich. Such a start in life from family is rare in America - way less than a few% I'd hazard to guess....and most from the oppressed.