Anxious to avoid another Sept. 11, the US government has moved toward creating a controversial airline passenger screening system designed to filter out potential terrorists and prevent them from boarding planes. \nThe Transportation Security Administration notified carriers on Tuesday that it intended to proceed with a test of its Secure Flight program sometime in late November or early December and released a draft order compelling carriers to deliver personal information on their passengers. \n"This is an important moment in aviation security," Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Rear Admiral David Stone said in a statement. "We are advancing a vital tool to combat terrorism and checking off another recommendation from the 9-11 Commission." \nThe proposed order directs domestic US airlines to provide data on all their passengers who flew last June. That would include full names, addresses, telephone numbers and other information usually requested when reservations are made. \nIf the test goes ahead as expected, the data will be checked against a giant database compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, an operation that, according to a department document, will allow to winnow out "individuals known or reasonably suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism." \nThe government will also be able to make use of databases compiled by banks, mortgage and credit rating agencies that contain extensive information on transactions by individuals and their financial situation, officials said. \nThe release of the draft initiates a 30-day consultative period, during which the airlines will be able to provide their comments and suggestions. \nBut the administration made clear the final order will be issued in late October, to be followed by a test of the entire system in November. \nThe Secure Flight program is expected to be become fully and permanently operational early next year and replace watch lists used by individual carriers. \nStone said the advance posting of the order was testimony to the government's "commitment to maintaining an open and transparent environment for the development of this important security tool." \nThe administration also assured the airlines it intended to stick to the strictest privacy protection standards. \nThe American Civil Liberties Union urged Congress late last month to use extreme caution in expanding passenger profiling systems, saying they could unnecessarily intrude upon the privacy of Americans while doing little to make the skies safer.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications