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Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Fly or Not in the Face of Terrorism--- That is THE Question

After a long absence from being creative in my all too sparse blog, I thought that rather than start off rambling I would get to the highlights and data first:

POINT ONE:

The number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines in September 2009 increased by 0.8 percent from September 2008, growing by 0.5 million to 54.7 million, the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today reported (Table 1). September was the first month with an increase in passengers from the previous year since March 2008 following 17 consecutive months of decreases (Table 2).

BTS, a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, in a release of preliminary data, reported that U.S. airlines carried 1.2 percent more domestic passengers than in September 2008. International passengers on U.S. carriers decreased 1.7 percent (Tables 7, 13).

For the first nine months of 2009, the number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines declined by 6.8 percent from the same period in 2008, dropping to 533.3 million, 38.8 million fewer than a year earlier, and the lowest January-to-September total since 2004 (Tables 1, 2). For historic numbers, see Traffic.

U.S. airlines carried 6.7 percent fewer domestic passengers and 7.6 percent fewer international passengers in the first nine months of 2009 than during the same period in 2008 (Tables 7, 13).
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics

--------------------------
POINT TWO:

Census Bureau Projects U.S. Population of 308.4 Million on New Year’s Day (2010)

AND POINT THREE:

Murder Victims--Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death (2007)
14,831

And NOW I get to ramble:

During the first nine months of 2009, the total number of people moving across this planet INTO the United States exceeded the population of the country to the tune of almost 173%.

Two years ago, over 14,000 people were MURDERED in this country with both feet planted firmly on the ground.

Since the horror of 9-11 triggered America's "War on Terrorism" and Homeland Security became an insidious, albeit necessary intrusion quietly in some cases and not so quietly in others on our daily lives, there has not been one single successful domestic airline bombing. But, at the same time more than 14,000 were murdered in this country IN ONLY ONE YEAR. Multiply that number and the number of passengers moving into this country since 9-11 and do some simple, though not statistically solid math, you have over 100,000 people murdered in this country ONLY, and people flying with landings within the United States that comes very close to exceeding the estimated population of the entire planet.

Not particularly surprising, everyone top to bottom in the government, the news media, and dare I say Americans in total are screaming with one voice, that one single idiot with a major extremist view on the evils of America managed not only to enter the country, but actually ignite a device that should have blown a plane up.

And yet in the face of raw statistics, the fact that there has not been a successful domestic bombing of a passenger flight since September 11, 2001 is in its own way a breathtakingly remarkable statistic, or like the passengers sitting on Northwest Flight 253 has just not been our day for disaster. Take your pick.

Don't misunderstand me here. The fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the Bloomer Bomber; I like it so much better than the news media's attempt to call him the "crotch bomber" which was shut down mysteriously after just one day of labelling) was able to board a plane and make it from Nigeria to the United States before attempting to blow up Flight 253 and get the explosives on board at some point in his travels, is fundamentally disturbing.

However, the realities are that the BB's bombing attempt was inevitable and while we would like to think totally avoidable it simple is not a truth and it is time that Americans realize that fact. The phrase "To him that will, ways are not wanting (proverb first accounted in1640)", was not some arbitrary utterance, but a statement of fact. It doesn't matter that in hindsight screening technologies are being challenged, not does it matter that representatives from Homeland Security are going to travel to foreign airports to review security measures to prevent this from happening.... it is merely a matter of time that it will.

Complacency is not the answer and that is not the intent of my ramblings. What is the intent is that Americans in every form must acknowledge the simple truth that we are NOT nor ever have been immune from the kinds of events that are considered daily realities in other parts of the world.

Plane bombings in Russia, suicide bombers at soccer events in Pakistan, daily suicide bombings in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, and throughout Europe, all hit the news and leave the news in this country in one day without anyone in this country thinking "there but for the grace of God...".

And yet it is not but for the grace of God, it is plain and simply put just dumb luck. The security efforts in this country have reached epoch proportion and are an economy of scale that has taken on a life of its own. It is a fine line walked, protecting our country's borders and it's citizens abroad, without letting it be known that everyday once taken for granted freedoms are being nibbled away at by every agency assigned to protecting us from terrorism. And it is time for Americans to understand and recognize that this is the life we will live from day one of our war against terrorism that began on that awful day in September 2001.

Even worse is the fact that sooner or later despite every human effort to prevent it, catastrophic events will happen in this country. So for the sake of raising the level of paranoia you dear reader should have answer the following:
  1. You are driving to drop off your daughter and son-in-law at the airport. How many cars are in line in front of you... or behind you... or alongside you? Which one has the potential to have a terrorist in it?
  2. You are walking downtown in Anywhere USA. How many cars are parked neatly with their parking meters fully paid, empty of people and just 'parked?
  3. A van pulls up the main entrance of your favorite shopping mall, ostensibly to pick up someone. Who or what is inside?

There is no real safety from someone who wants to do harm, ask 14,000 plus people murdered in this country.

What can be done is being done to protect us from extremism of all kinds, but the realities are there is no, nor ever will or can be total protection. I for one would love to believe there is a way, but it is just a matter of time. And the clock has been ticking in our favor for way too long for anyone sincerely deep in their hearts of hearts, and souls of souls to believe otherwise.

So...... that's my rambling.

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