Saturday, 22 June 2013

Why The Threat of TSA Scanners Is Still With Us

TSA ProVision Xray machine screening ..Good.
English: TSA ProVision Xray machine screening a person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Discontinued in USA, may be found elsewhere BAD
English: Backscatter Unit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In May 2013 John Pistole the head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wrote a letter to the US Congress, confirming that the 1st of June deadline, for all its airport body scanners to be privacy compliant had been met. All airport scanners in the US will now use Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) software which only shows a generic image. While this may be great news to many who hated the pervy naked scanners it is not the end of the story, especially if you travel outside the United States.

Legislation requiring all airport scanners to comply with privacy concerns was passed by the US Congress in January 2013. The TSA through its partnerships with Rapiscan and L3 Communications had till June 1st to make their machines compliant. L3 Communications was the only company able to produce software to satisfy the privacy requirement. As a result the Rapiscan Secure 1000 machines have been removed and the L3 Communications Provision Millimetre wave machines are their replacement.

The first hint of a problem is that the TSA is still adamant that the Rapiscan backscatter scanners are completely safe! The sole reason for withdrawing them they say is because they are not privacy compliant. Some of the reports in the media seem to suggest that if Rapiscan can solve the software issue we could see the return of the backscatter technology. While it is only inferred, it is not hard to see that if you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on machinery and you can recoup your investment by fixing the software glitch you may favour that option. Hence we may nt be out of the woods yet.

The second cause for concern is that these Rapiscan backscatter machines were fitted in other countries around the world who do not have a robust government to implement the changes like the United States has. Frequent fliers are left to fend for themselves in these cases. They have to deal with the breaches of privacy and the ionising radiation they are subject to. Often times the airport workers are not knowledgeable enough to understand the legitimate concerns of the traveller. In these instances the choices are comply and subject yourself to these violations or remain trapped in the country until you do, which is no choice at all. For this reason the dangers of backscatter technology may still be with us for a while longer yet.

Some reports online confuse the issue of scanners more than it needs to be.
Know your scanners and know which ones to avoid.
All scanners are Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners.
Rapiscan Secure 1000 ( 2 Metal Blue Boxes you stand between) BAD.
L3 Communications Provision Millimetre Wave scanner ( Glass tube you stand in) GOOD.

See this helpful diagram if in doubt.

- Christopher Babayode

Monday, 10 June 2013

What Frequent Fliers Must Know About Hydration - Part 2

One of the complaints frequent fliers have about flying is the dehydration the cabin atmosphere creates. Although planes do not carry an infinite amount of drinking water, supplies are rarely exhausted because drinking glass after glass of water just isn't as sexy as a glass of Zinfandel or Pinot Noir. We seem to have a love hate relationship with drinking water even when it would benefit our health on arrival. In this article we are going to look at our relationship with water.

Periodically since 1958, The World Health Organisation (W.H.O) has continually revised the standards by which water purity fit for human consumption is measured. From a lay perspective there is only one measurement that matters; Does the water you consume regularly increase structured water in your body?

I hinted in the previous article that structured water supports organisation which is another word for growth and health in this context. As humans we are made up of complexes of organisation. Structured water slots into place and supports this system by aiding better function at the cellular level. Before we were physical and biochemical beings we were electrical beings, structured water plays an integral part in this function.

There are 2 ways to get structured water into your body, they are through eating and drinking. Fruit and vegetables naturally contain structured water in their juices. Eating and drinking the juices of raw fruit and vegetables is the simplest way to make sure you are getting enough, there is still debate as to whether cooking destabilises structure. If you consider that most of us consume less fresh fruit and vegetables than we once did you begin to see how this nutrient can become deficient.

The amount of water you drink comes under similar scrutiny. Are you drinking enough water and is the quality of the water you consume up to standard? Most drinking water is treated water. Treated water lends itself to being de-structured through the treatment process. If you consume spring water this can be marginally better depending on where and who bottled it. Other factors like inorganic mineral content, water hardness and turbidity also count.

Do you know how many glasses of water you drink a day? The habit of drinking water instead of soft drinks and other beverages is worth cultivating as a means to improve our relationship with water. As simple as it sounds making a ritual out of drinking water is a sure way to increase consumption and if you are a frequent flier it is a necessity.

Another reason to increase your water intake as a flier is because it indirectly serves as a protector against cosmic radiation. A NASA website article demonstrates the use of hydrogen as a shield against cosmic radiation when incorporated into a spacecraft polymer material. Water, H2O which is two part hydrogen and one part oxygen offers this same benefit to hydrogen rich fliers!

In a nutshell you have to eat more and drink more water, the better the quality the greater the benefit. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and their juices. Invest in a juicer and find out where the nearest juice bar to your hotel is. If you want a long term solution consider investing in home water system that cleans and restructures water fed in from your mains supply.


WHO -  Previous editions of the Guidelines for drinking-water quality WHO

NASA - Space Technology Mission Directorate - High Hydrogen Content Nanostructured Polymer Radiation Protection System NASA
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