Daily Archives: June 27, 2011

TSA defends decision to make 95-year-old cancer patient remove adult diaper for strip search

A woman, not pictured, was forced to remove her adult diaper to be screened at the airport. Lori Van Buren/Albany Times Union – FILE PHOTO

DAILY NEWS | Jun 26, 2011

BY Meena Hartenstein

The Transportation Security Administration doesn’t think its agents did anything wrong in asking an elderly woman with cancer to remove her adult diaper during an aiport security screening.

The agency came under fire after Florida woman Jean Weber claimed her 95-year-old mother was forced to take off her diaper for a pat down at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport last weekend.

“It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” Weber told the Northwest Florida Daily News.

“While every person and item must be screened before entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner,” the agency said in a stement Sunday. “We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure.”


The problem began when Weber and her mother were going through security and a TSA officer told them he had “felt something suspicious” on the elderly woman’s leg that needed to be checked in a private room.

During the private patdown, Weber says, the agent came out of the room to tell Weber that her mother’s adult diaper had been soiled and couldn’t be checked properly, and they needed her to change it to finish the search.

Weber says watching her mother, who is battling leukemia, be subjected to the security screening drove her to tears.

“My mother is very ill,” Weber told CNN.”She had a blood transfusion the week before, just to bolster up her strength for this travel.”

Weber, who who says her mother is now doing “fine,” is dedicated to making sure no one else’s mother suffers the same treatment.

“Nobody should feel the way I felt that day,” she told the Detroit News. “I’m not angry. The rules need to be changed.”

Greece forced to auction off beaches, casinos, palaces, airports and marinas to pay off debts

Prince Philip’s family at Mon Repos, Easter 1922

A Royal palace on Corfu where the Duke of Edinburgh was born will this week emerge as the focus point of protests on the Greek islands against the sale of the national heritage to pay off the country’s debts.

Prince Philip’s birthplace centre of Greek heritage sale row

Daily Mail | Jun 26, 2011

By Fiona Govan, Corfu

Islanders are preparing to join mainland industrial workers in protests against government plans to raise 50 billion euros fron the sale of state assets.

Residents of Corfu, one of the largest of the Greek islands and a popular holiday destination, are furious at the idea of the state auctioning off its prime locations to the highest bidder.

“Greece may be on the verge of bankruptcy but surely it’s not a good idea to sell off the family silver,” said Spiros Avramiotis, a local olive oil producer, seated in a cafe on a cobbled square in the Venetian quarter of Kerkyra.

“We have to stand up and send a message to the politicians in Athens — Corfu is not for sale, not one inch of it. Full stop.”

Mon Repos Palace in Corfu, where a museum records the site as the birthplace of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, 90 years ago, is one of several state-owned properties included the package. The firesale will beaches, casinos, palaces, airports and marinas auctioned off around Greece.

A suggestion by German MPs last year that Greece should sell off some of its islands or even the Acropolis to pay its debt infruiated Greeks. Rumours that Qatari sheikhs and Russian oligarchs were being lined up to buy on Corfu has incensed the locals.

“The fear is that places such as this will be sold off to private foreign buyers and closed off forever to the public,” explained Harry Tsoukalas, 47, a local entrepreneur. “But it belongs to the people of Corfu and should be preserved for future generations.” There are those who argue that the sites should be turned over to Corfu itself to be run as profitable concerns.

“For decades since tourism took off here we have been subsidising the rest of Greece and got nothing in return,” argues Nikos Palavitinis, 59 a property developer and head of the newly formed “Ionian League Organisation”, a movement that calls for greater autonomy for the archipelago from Athens and that plans to field candidates in the next elections.

Mons Palace is a regency style villa set in 250 acres of lush grounds atop a hill overlooking the Ionian Sea was once used a summer residence by the Greek Royal family who fled Greece after the military coup in 1967, but now contains a small neglected museum charting the long and turbulent history of the island.

But George Nikitiadis, Greece’s Deputy Minister for Culture and Tourism insisted that the government would not go to such extremes.

“We are not selling off the islands” he told the Daily Telegraph. “There isn’t enough money in the world that can pay for even our smallest island.” “But we would welcome international investors to come and invest in our treasures, to profit from our islands, it could be beneficial for them and for us.”

Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government must pass the latest round of unpopular austerity measures in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday to secure the release of the next tranche of the 110 billion rescue package from the EU-IMF.

The programme combines spending cuts and tax increases with a privatisation plan aimed at raising 50 billion over the next five years through selling off stakes in state owned industries including energy, telecoms, banks, transport and the postal service.

“E-Uterus” building a “gilded cage” for EU bureaucrats

This organic looking “urn” shape has already been nicknamed the “E-Uterus” by Council of the EU officials who will be working in the new building. The complex will be focused around a womblike central structure providing a home for summits and meetings of Brussels officials or diplomats.

With its “humane gathering place”, “diversity carpet” and £280m cost it is perhaps apt that it has been heralded as the building that “houses the heart of Europe”.

EU president unveils new £280m ‘gilded cage’

telegraph.co.uk | Jun 24, 2011

By Bruno Waterfield, Brussels

While Herman Van Rompuy, the EU president, has described his “Europa building” as a “jewel box”, David Cameron has been less enthusiastic dubbing it a “gilded cage”.

But perhaps even more unfortunate is the moniker the edifice, which will house Mr Van Rompuy’s presidential office and be home to future Brussels summits from 2014, has earned from EU officials.

Built as a state of the art glass and wood wing to an existing Art Deco building, the complex will be focused around a womblike central structure providing a home for summits and meetings of Brussels officials or diplomats.

And it this organic looking “urn” shape has already been nicknamed the “E-Uterus” by Council of the EU officials who will be working in the new building.

“It looks like a womb and, I am sure, many grand visions of Europe will be birthed from there,” quipped one official.

The building was unveiled to EU leaders by Mr Van Rompuy in a 14-page slick colour prospectus, produced at a cost of £100,000, when they sat down to a Brussels summit dinner on Thursday night formally dedicated to imposing a savage austerity programme on Greece.

Before discussing the Greek debt crisis that has threatened the existence of the euro, Mr Van Rompuy surprised EU leaders, who were tucking into a starter of scallops with artichoke vinaigrette, by trumpeting the venue, due to open in 2014, which will come complete with a “colourful woven carpet” to represent “European diversity”.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, expressed his anger at the promotion of a grandiose Brussels project at a moment when EU leaders were supposed to be taking tough decisions that would lead to painful austerity measures imposed on millions of people.

“When you see a document being circulated, a great glossy brochure about some great new building for the European Council to sit in, it is immensely frustrating. You do wonder if these institutions get what every country, what every member of the public, is having to go through as we cut budgets and try make our finances add up,” he said.

“I do think it’s important as we do that that the politicians aren’t sitting in some gilded cage asking everyone else to take responsibility.”

Bill Cash, chairman of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee said: “We need an investigation into the extravagance and the cost of this Aladdin’s palace. It is a cross between the bonfire of the vanities and Kafka’s Castle.”

Over the last 14 years, EU leaders, ministers and diplomats have been meeting in a building called the Justus Lipsius which is regarded as too cramped and drab to represent a body that has grown from 15 member states to 27.

The complex of buildings will also house the offices of Mr Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, a job created by the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Cameron, who had dined the night before with other leaders on black cod with onion ragout washed down with a 2009 Sancerre wine, said that he regretted that the decision, taken seven years ago, to build a new EU venue could not be reversed.

“I’ve only been to this building seven times in the last year but it seems to me to be to do a perfectly good job. The microphones work, there is plenty of room and the food isn’t bad either,” he said.

With almost 27,000 sq metres of floor space, the new edifice is the latest development in a burgeoning post-Lisbon Treaty euro quarter in Brussels.

It will be a new environmentally friendly addition to the existing Residence Palace, built in the 1920s to houses luxury apartments for officials, commercial offices, a private theatre, swimming pool and restaurants.

The palace was requisitioned in 1940 as the headquarters of the German army during the Nazi occupation of Belgium during the Second World War.

Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “We’re cutting back at home and we can’t afford more ludicrous spending by Eurocrats. This is yet more evidence that we shouldn’t hand any more money to Europe, they’re already wasting the millions we give them each day.”

Al Fayed: The Queen is a ‘gangster in a tiara’ and Prince Philip is a ‘Fred West-style psychopath’

Anger: Mohammed Al Fayed watches on as the four royal crests that once adorned the walls of Harrods go up in flames

Mohammed Al Fayed burns the Queen’s coat of arms from Harrods for ‘cynical’ documentary

Daily Mail | Jun 26, 2011

Mohammed Al Fayed has burnt the royal crests that used to adorn the wall of Harrods as part of a TV documentary on the death of Princess Diana.

Al Fayed also brands the Duke of Edinburgh a ‘Nazi’ in the film, which will not be shown in Britain because it is far too libellous,

In the controversial scene Al Fayed is pictured standing in the grounds of his country estate near Oxted in Surrey.

As the royal warrants burn in the background, he says: ‘I am destroying these royal crests as a tribute to my son Dodi.

‘I feel that he is looking down on this today.

‘There was a clear verdict of unlawful killing, so why has nobody been arrested? What is at the core of all this is racism.

‘Powerful people in this country — my country — don’t want to hear me talking about Prince Philip’s Nazi background, but I have to, because it is 100 per cent true.

‘They wouldn’t accept me or my son, and when he fell in love with Diana, they murdered him.’

Entitiled Unlawful killing, it was directed by actor Keith Allen, father of the pop singer Lily Allen.

It has already provoked outrage for showing a sickening close-up photograph of Princess Diana just moments after the crash in Paris in 1997.

It was shown at a private viewing at the Cannes Film Festival last month where it was roundly panned and described as ‘ludicrous’, ‘cynical’ and ‘cruel.’

In one scene the Queen is labelled a ‘gangster in a tiara’ while Prince Philip is described as a ‘Fred West-style psychopath’.

In 2000 Al Fayed removed the four royal coats of arms that had adorned the exterior of Harrods; those of the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Queen Mother.

Hugo Vickers, the royal historian and author, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘It does seem vindictive and in very bad taste to burn the warrants but I suppose it’s up to him. He was the shopkeeper.’

Al Fayed funded the €2.4m production himself. It reportedly would have required 87 cuts before it could comply with British libel laws.

It is due to be screened in public for the first time at the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland on July 6.

Distribution deals have also been secured in Russia, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland, and there is also interest in the US.

An inquest in 2008 ruled that Diana and Dodi Fayed were unlawfully killed, but blamed their deaths on their driver, Henri Paul, and the paparazzi.

Mr Vickers added: ‘It is a great pity that Mohammed Fayed persists in peddling these myths when the inquiry into Diana’s death has proved all the allegations were complete nonsense.

‘It is rather sad. I had seriously hoped he had given up on this after the inquest’s final verdict.’

Director Keith Allen has defended the documentary saying there was something ‘extremely fishy about what happened in the Alma tunnel in 1997 and in the Royal Courts of Justice a decade later’.

Writing in the Daily Mail last month, he defended the decision to publish the controversial picture.

He said: ‘The photo is not used in the film for the purpose of shock. It is included as evidence, because it shows clearly that, although Diana had been injured in the crash, she was alert and very much alive. I repeat: it is not a picture of a dying woman.

As medical evidence presented at the inquest confirmed, if Diana had been taken promptly to hospital by Dr Jean-Marc Martino, she could well have survived.

Instead, due to a series of delays that have never been properly explained, it took one hour and 43 minutes to get her to a hospital just a couple of miles away, by which time her life was ebbing away.

We briefly use one photograph as part of a sequence which asks: why was she not taken to hospital more quickly? What took place within Dr Martino’s ambulance (inside which she remained for well over an hour)?

Why is Dr Martino’s evidence greatly at variance with the known facts? And why did no official inquiry ever interview (or even name) most of other people in the ambulance?