Archive for May, 2008

Woman Arrested for Airport “Joke” Responds

Posted on May 28, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime.

I wrote a post on April 22 highlighting the illegality of making a bomb joke at airports by discussing the arrest of a woman, Rosalinda Baez, for doing just that at JFK. A JetBlue flight attendant denied Baez access to the plane carrying her luggage, and she asked: “What if I had a bomb in my bag?” She was then arrested for falsely claiming there was a bomb in her suitcase. She has written in to this blog, explaining that she wasn’t joking at all:

I actually was NOT joking. I was asking a very serious security question after being denied boarding onto a flight I’d checked in for, with a bag, 96 minutes prior to departure. I was denied boarding because the gate agent decided to “close the flight early” (evidently to try and make a jump in the queue at JFK so that Jetblue wouldn’t miss it’s ‘on-time departure status’ quota). The agent closed that flight KNOWING that there was a bag on board for a passenger who had not yet boarded. I asked her: “Isn’t it a security risk to allow a bag to fly without a passenger? What if there was a bomb in the bag?”

As a frequent world traveler, it struck me as (more than) odd that policy in post-911, fear-mongering, check-in your shampoo unless if it’s even 3.1 OZ would ALLOW this OBVIOUS security flaw. It is LAW in over 19 developed nations to remove the bag of a passenger if said passenger does not board the flight. But, evidently NOT in the USA. And as a result, my life is being balanced by some over-zealous FBI agents who don’t want to allow the obvious question asked by me to become public question……….hmmmmm….

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Govt Officials: Stop Helping Survivors!

Posted on May 27, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under International.

Burmese government officials handed out leaflets this weekend ordering people to stop donating to survivors of the cyclone. The UN estimates that 2.5 million people are still in need of help. Yet the junta wants Burmese people to stop donating aid directly to survivors in order to “save the prestige of Myanmar people.”

(more…)

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Obama Crashes My College Reunion

Posted on May 26, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics.

Check out my column on the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus today about Sen. Barack Obama coming to Wesleyan this weekend.

Wesleyan University, my alma mater, is a small liberal arts school that gets a disproportionate amount of media coverage, usually for its uber-liberal ways. It has made the press for having a naked dorm and co-ed rooms. This time we made the headlines, and we didn’t have to take our clothes off. Sen. Barack Obama veered from the campaign trail to give Sunday’s commencement address for Wesleyan’s class of 2008.

I happened to be going to the campus this weekend to celebrate my five-year reunion. I flew in to Connecticut from Los Angeles; others came from as far as Madrid and Buenos Aires. We left behind spouses, fiances and at least one baby so we could focus on each other and our memories. We love our Wesleyan.

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Obama Speaks at Wesleyan

Posted on May 26, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics.

Sen. Barack Obama veered from his campaign trail to give the commencement address at Wesleyan University this weekend. I was there for my five-year reunion. Here are some pix:

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Saving Face, Not Lives

Posted on May 21, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under International, Media.

The Burmese junta continues to be more concerned about its image than about the safety of roughly 2.5 million people affected by Cyclone Nargis.

Homeless people and beggars have been kicked off the streets in preparation for visits to cyclone-hit areas by the dictator, Sen. Gen. Than Shwe.

The Irrawaddy reports that soldiers arrested eight Burmese journalists Monday night for trying to cover the disaster in Laputta Township in the Irrawaddy delta. The soldiers arrested the journalists at their hotel and interrogated them all night. They released them the following morning, but only after the reporters signed an agreement that they wouldn’t return to cyclone-affected areas without permission.

A source in Rangoon also told the Irrawaddy that the junta has stepped up its strict censorship policies.

Only positive stories are allowed. Photos about refugees, victims and children are always rejected..The censorship board will only allow propaganda stories and photos, such as reconstruction projects, to be published.

The censorship has led to the growth of “cyclone DVDs,” which show images of dead bodies and destroyed villages - scenes the government has tried to control.

This is reminiscent of last fall when the junta tried to control news on the nation-wide protests and subsequent military crackdown on democracy demonstrators. Then people also responded to the censorship by producing illegal DVDs featuring the protests and ones showing monks - symbols of resistance - giving sermons.

The difference between last fall and now is that this time there are 2.5 million people in need of food, water, housing and medicine. Thousands of corpses remain in the delta water. Save the Children warns that thousands of children could starve to death in the next two to three weeks if they don’t receive aid. People in Western Burma were safe from the cyclone but now struggle to pay for basic food that has tripled in price because the storm destroyed rice fields and killed livestock and farmers.

The junta should be coordinating aid and relief, not arresting beggars or looking for sneaky reporters.

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Occupation Diplomacy

Posted on May 20, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under International, Politics, Religion.

Check out my latest blog on the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus.

One thing is certain about the outcome of this November’s presidential election — whoever wins will have the monumental job of improving America’s standing around the world. He or she (I’m one of the few who won’t pronounce Hillary Clinton’s campaign dead until it’s official) should start by loudly proclaiming his (or her) anger and repugnance at the American soldier in Baghdad who used a copy of the Koran for target practice.

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‘Please, Please Stop’

Posted on May 19, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, Immigration, International.

South Africans have killed at least 22 foreigners and terrorized many times more in the past week as a wave of xenophobia washes over the country. See photos here. Anger against immigrants is not new to South Africa, but the violence rarely reaches this level.

Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu condemned the attacks: “Please stop. Please stop the violence now. This is not how we behave. These are our sisters and brothers. Please, please stop,” he said, as quoted in the Cape Times.

The violence has been targeted at refugees and immigrants who fled Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Somalia and other African nations to find safety and jobs in their new home. But South Africa itself has been struggling with 40 percent unemployment and rampant crime. Marketplace reporter Gretchen Wilson has a powerful story on how the violence is tied to the country’s economic problems.

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About Time

Posted on May 18, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under International.

More than two weeks after Cyclone Nargis hit, Burma’s dictator, Sen. Gen. Than Shwe finally climbed out of his cave and visited survivors. He left his new, remote capital Naypyidaw to tour refugee camps in the outskirts of Rangoon.

The New Light of Myanmar reports in junta-propaganda jargon:

Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Than Shwe accompanied by General Thura Shwe Mann of the Ministry of Defence, member of SPDC Lt-Gen Tin Aye, Commander-in-Chief (Navy)Vice-Admiral Soe Thein, Commander-in-Chief (Air) Lt-Gen Myat Hein, Deputy Minister for Health Dr Paing Soe, senior military officers and officials of SPDC Office flew to Yangon from Nay Pyi Taw by special flight to inspect storm-hit areas of Yangon and Ayeyawady Division this afternoon.

Than Shwe still has not gone to the Irrawaddy River delta, where the vast majority of damage was done and dead bodies still float in the water. A well-known Burmese blogger, Nyi Lynn Seck, has recent photographs from his relief work in Laputta, one of the worst-hit areas.

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Lovers Trapped

Posted on May 18, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under International.

There’s a beautiful story in Monday’s New York Times about a married couple trapped together for 28 hours after the earthquake in China.

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Blossoms Over Burma

Posted on May 16, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under International, Politics.

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