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What Passengers Can Learn PDF Print E-mail
Written by asunsun   
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 20:50

Since 2001, airline passengers — regular people without weapons or training — have helped thwart terrorist attacks aboard at least five different commercial airplanes. It happened again on Christmas Day. And as we do each and every time, we miss the point.

Consider the record: First, passengers on United Flight 93 prevented a further attack on Washington on 9/11. Then, three months later, American Airlines passengers wrestled a belligerent, biting Richard Reid to the ground, using their headset cords to restrain him. In 2007, almost a dozen passengers jumped on a gun-wielding hijacker aboard a plane in the Canary Islands. And this past November, passengers rose up against armed hijackers over Somalia. Together, then, a few dozen folks have helped save some 595 lives. {See the top 10 inept terrorist Plots.}

And yet our collective response to this legacy of ass-kicking is puzzling. Each time, we build a slapdash pedestal for the heroes. Then we go back to blaming the government for failing to keep us safe, and the government goes back to treating us like children. This now familiar ritual distracts us from the real lesson, which is that we are not helpless. And since regular people will always be first on the scene of terrorist attacks, we should perhaps prioritize the public's antiterrorism capability — above and beyond the fancy technology that will never be foolproof.

Instead, we hear this blather from President Obama: "The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season." He forgets that Americans have never really wanted the government to do "everything in its power" to keep us safe. That would make this a terrible place to live. And yet, after eight years of paternalistic bluster from President George W. Bush, we have grown accustomed to the cycle of absurd promises followed by failure and renewed by fear. Bush liked to say that the authorities have to succeed 100% of the time and terrorists only once. The truth is, authorities never succeed 100% of the time at anything. And they never will. {See a report card on Obama's first year.}

By definition, terrorism succeeds by making us feel powerless. It is more often a psychological threat than an existential one. The authorities compound the damage when they overreact — by subjecting grandmothers to pat-downs and making it intolerable to travel. Even though the Christmas bombing suspect had been stopped, stripped and cuffed before the plane landed, we still talk like victims. "[This] came close to being one of the greatest tragedies in the history of our country," New York Congressman Peter King said on CNN, criticizing Obama for not holding a press conference sooner.

When Obama did speak, three days after the incident, he first listed all the security reviews to be conducted while the rest of us sit tight. Only then did he briefly acknowledge reality: "This incident, like several that have preceded it, demonstrates that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist."

Here are some things Obama did not say: He did not propose that we find ways to leverage the proven dedication and courage of the public. He did not call for Congress to cut spending on homeland-security pork and instead double the budget of Citizen Corps — the volunteer emergency-preparedness service that was created after 9/11 and that most Americans have never heard of. He did not demand that the government be more open with us about the threats we face. He did not discuss the government's obligation, as homeland-security expert Stephen Flynn puts it, to "support regular people in being able to withstand, rapidly recover and adapt to foreseeable risks."

Karen Sherrouse was a flight attendant on the jet that Richard Reid tried to blow up. When one of her colleagues tried to stop Reid, Sherrouse rushed to help. But she couldn't get down the aisle because so many passengers had already joined the melee. "They were instantly on him," she remembers. "It was a group effort." And so it should be. The flight attendants can't be everywhere at once. Nor can TSA officers or the FBI.

After the passengers of Flight 253 deplaned in Detroit, they were held in the baggage area for more than five hours until FBI agents interviewed them. They were not allowed to call their loved ones. They were given no food. When one of the pilots tried to use the bathroom before a bomb-sniffing dog had finished checking all the carry-on bags, an officer ordered him to sit down, according to passenger Alain Ghonda, who thought it odd. "He was the pilot. If he wanted to do anything, he could've crashed the plane." It was a metaphor for the rest of the country: Thank you for saving the day. Now go sit down.

Antasari stumbles on a pebble, not a mountain PDF Print E-mail
Written by asunsun   
Saturday, 09 May 2009 16:54

Antasari stumbles on a pebble, not a mountain

Soeryo Winoto ,  Jakarta   |  Thu, 05/07/2009 2:29 PM  |  Opinion

A mountain cannot trip someone up, but a stone or a pebble can.

This old Chinese saying may describe the trial impacting the career of the reputable Antasari Azhar, the chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), who started his detention on Monday.

Police have accused Antasari of masterminding the murder of Nasruddin Zulkarnaen, the former director of the state firm PT Putra Rajawali Nusantara Banjaran.

Don’t give up now, KPK! PDF Print E-mail
Written by asunsun   
Saturday, 09 May 2009 16:51

Don’t give up now, KPK!

The Jakarta Post   |  Wed, 05/06/2009 10:02 AM  |  Opinion

Lately the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has been looking like a dizzy boxer,  struggling to beat the count after a big blow sent him to the floor.

The arrest of KPK chairman Antasari Azhar on Monday for his alleged involvement in a murder case puts the KPK onto a list of key (new) state commissions that have had to fight to retain their credibility after criminal cases implicated their members.

Say hello to Generation F PDF Print E-mail
Written by asunsun   
Sunday, 19 April 2009 19:21
We've already passed the eras of Generations X and Y, but there's no Z on the horizon. Rather, the next generation will probably be affiliated with F, for - yup, you guessed it - Facebook.

"I finally have a Facebook account!" Naufal Alifian shouted gleefully, on coming home from an Internet caf* with his father.

So what? Almost everyone with Internet access has one.

Earth Hour 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by asunsun   
Sunday, 05 April 2009 13:01
Earth Hour 2009
Started in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour quickly grew into a global observance. More than 1,000 cities in over 80 countries observed Earth Hour 2009 on Saturday March 28th, as homes, office towers and landmarks turned off their lights for an hour starting at 8.30 pm local time to raise awareness about climate change and the threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions. Collected here are a series of before-and-after photographs - which (starting with the second one below) will fade between "on" and "off" when clicked. Let me state that again, since I know not everyone reads the whole intro here - starting with image #2 below, click on the image to see an animated fade between "on" and "off". This effect requires javascript to be enabled. (17 photos total)

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