Archive for July, 2009

Will Courts Rein In TSA?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has become increasingly aggressive in expanding its responsibility from simply searching passengers to ensure no weapons or explosives are brought on board commercial aircraft.  The agency, housed in the federal Department of Homeland Security, has moved in recent years to assume for itself the role of “behavioral cops,” by training and allowing its employees to spot “suspicious behavior” on the part of passengers and then subjecting those so tagged to additional scrutiny and questioning. 

In some instances of such “behavioral searches,” in which the government then finds contraband on the persons thus singled out for searches, or outstanding warrants for matters completely unrelated to aircraft or airport security, people are arrested and prosecuted.

Now, as such cases are working their way through the court system, the TSA is running into difficulty in sustaining its self-appointed power to search people for anything it finds …

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Cap-and-trade’s a lot of hot air

Americans inclined to support President Obama’s health care overhaul might want to first look at the so-called “cap-and-trade” legislation passed by the House of Representatives with the president’s support.

Its 1,200 pages must rank among the most complex and convoluted pieces of legislation ever devised, making old, Soviet-style government edicts appear streamlined by comparison.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the last formal effort Washington undertook to mandate comprehensive energy usage, was a novice compared to the heavy-handed, global-oriented approach by Obama and his Democratic colleagues in the House. Where Carter, a generation ago, was content to turn down the thermostat and lecture the country while wearing a cardigan sweater in front of a warmly glowing fireplace, Obama uses 21st-century communications tools and offers to change not just America’s energy system, but the entire world’s — with taxpayer dollars by the trillions.

The regulatory behemoth …

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Privacy Advocates Win Round Against Bozeman, MT

It isn’t often that we can report here in the Barr Code, or anywhere else for that matter, that citizens advocating for privacy rights have won a round against the government — any government.  But, the citizens of Bozeman, Montana, in solidarity with people all across the country, have done just that.  Based on public outcry against a Bozeman policy to demand job applicants surrender to the city all their passwords to Internet social networking organizations, the city has backed down and rescinded its ill-advised policy.

When the city of Bozeman implemented the privacy-invasive policy in mid-June, it defended it by claiming the detailed information giving its bureaucrats access to applicants’ personal Internet passwords would be used only “to verify application information,” and that refusal to supply the information would not be held against an applicant.  Thankfully, such disengenuous explanations failed to stem the tidal wave of negative comment the city …

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NyQuil Survives Nanny State Police, For Now

It was touch and go for NyQuil’s manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, yesterday while a panel of experts met to decide its fate.  The panel was considering whether to recommend the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pull the popular, over-the-counter cold medicine from the market because a relatively small number of consumers ingest too much of the product which contains the pain medicine, acetaminophen.  Overdoses of acetaminophen can cause liver failure in some persons (an estimated 458 fatal cases per year in the U.S. in the 1990s), and the FDA has been considering further limits on drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, that contain this widely popular and highly effective pain medicine.

In typical nanny-state fashion, the FDA-empaneled experts were voting on whether the fact that .0000015 percent of the consuming public suffered fatal liver failure possibly related to acetaminophen overdoses, should justify inconveniencing the entire population of Americans that use …

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