In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) has demanded that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policies for patting-down air travelers be immediately reviewed and a report be issued to Congress on what safeguards are in place to protect the flying public.
Camp issued the letter after reading press reports of abuses and receiving a number of complaints at the Select Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Infrastructure, which he chairs.
One report by the Washington Times had travelers equating the new procedures to sexual groping. According to the TSA, screeners are to use the back of the hand when screening sensitive body areas, which include the breasts (females only), genitals, and buttocks.
The Washington Times, however, reported that, Female passengers say the experience is humiliating and men also are complaining of unexpected checks of their private regions. When former Rep. Helen Chenoweth, Idaho Republican, was flagged as a high-risk passenger with a one-way ticket from Boise, Idaho, to Reno, Nev., she refused to be patted down and was forced to drive to her destination.
Reports of excessive tactics - especially by security personnel of the opposite gender - are extremely disturbing, said Camp, whose committee has direct oversight of the TSA.
In his letter to Sec. Ridge and David Stone, head of TSA, Camp wrote, The dangers we face as a nation and as air travelers is very real. I support TSAs renewed vigor for detecting explosives at airport checkpoints. However, I am concerned that screeners have not received adequate training with respect to conducting pat-down searches, particularly with respect to searches of the more sensitive areas of passengers bodies. To date, I have not been made aware of a serious effort by TSA management to adequately address the complaints of the public.
Santa Claus is doing his part to help out the Grand Traverse Dinner Train which has been literally stopped in its tracks after losing trackage rights from the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay Railway.
However, Santa Claus will visit with children on the Dinner Train each Friday and Saturday from 9-11 a.m. until Christmas, as planned with no charge to the customer.
The man behind the beard is Jeffery Schatzer, who has done extensive research into the history of Santa Claus. His new book, The Bird in Santas Beard, is available for purchase at the Traverse City Railway Station.
The biggest kick of all for me is to be able to relate to each child one-on-one and answer their questions, says Schatzer, who grows his own 8-inch beard for the season. Children have all kinds of concerns and its important to be able to help them be realistic but still keep the magic of Christmas alive.
On the slide
Work is progressing on the new Mountain Grand Lodge and Avalanche Bay indoor waterpark at Boyne Mountain resort in Boyne Falls.
At 88,000 square feet, the aquatic playground aims to become the Midwests largest indoor waterpark resort. Austrian streetscapes, avalanche rumblings and Boyne memorabilia will be incorporated into a maze of waterfalls, tubes, waves and pools. The park is expected to open prior to Memorial Day, 2005.