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TSA to exempt pilots from screenings, mulls ‘G-rated’ scanners

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Flight attendant, breast cancer survivor forced to expose prosthetic breast

Faced with a growing public backlash against its new screening procedures, the the TSA is reportedly now considering measures to soften what critics say are unnecessarily intrusive pat-downs and full body scans. But for the time being, it appears pilots will be the main group to benefit.

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The federal agency tasked with airport security says pilots traveling in uniform or on airline business will see “immediate changes” in the way they are screened. It’s not clear, however, what those changes are, and TSA head John Pistole says his agency is still working with pilots on a final agreement for screenings.

Meanwhile, ABC News reports that the TSA is testing new body scanners that will show only a “stick figure” instead of a dully detailed image of a naked traveler.

Viewers on the other end of the X-ray would see anomalies — anything from a suicide vest to a cell phone on a belt clip — highlighted on the anatomically-ambiguous figure. No images were available to illustrate what the new scan would look like.

ABC notes that “the technology isn’t there yet.”

In a Senate hearing Wednesday, TSA administrator John Pistole said the new scanners are generating too many false positives. Therefore, the TSA is hesitant to confirm a rollout date, though Boston’s TSA security director, George Naccara, told a local paper that Logan International Airport is set to be the first to get the new “stick figure” scanners by late winter.

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Pilots have been among the most vocal opponents of the TSA’s new screening measures, which involve a full-body x-ray for selected travelers, or, if they opt out, a pat-down that involves the touching of breasts and genitals.

A pilots’ union earlier this month recommended that pilots opt out of the scanners. One pilot faces career jeopardy after refusing both the scanner and the pat-down on privacy grounds. Even Capt. Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, the hero of the Hudson River crash, has come out against the new screenings.

There are at least 300 full-body scanners operating at 65 US airports. The TSA says that by the end of this year, there will be some 1,000 machines deployed.

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Stories of air passengers being traumatized by the new screening procedures continue to accumulate. A flight attendant who is a breast cancer survivor says she was horrified when, during an “aggressive” pat-down at the Charlotte, North Carolina, airport, she was ordered to expose her prosthetic breast to two female TSA staffers.

“She put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’. And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that’.”

Cathy was asked to show her prosthetic breast, removing it from her bra.

“I did not take the name of the person at the time because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”

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Flight attendants’ unions are also raising concerns about the new screening procedures, but it is unclear at this point if the new rules for pilots will apply to flight attendants as well.

A spokesman for the US Airways pilots association welcomed the TSA’s move.

“The number-one goal of any airline pilot is the safety and security of the passengers. This decision will enhance the efficiency of the security system by enabling more time for TSA personnel to address potential terrorists rather than pilots,” James Ray said.

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Mississippi Republican who lost to Democrat by 14 votes files request for state House to void the election and declare her the winner

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On Thursday, Mississippi Today reported that state Rep. Ashley Henley, who lost her bid for re-election to Democrat Hester Jackson-McCray by just 14 votes in November, has filed a request for the GOP-controlled state legislature to overturn the results of the election and seat Henley for another term.

Henley cites what she claims are several irregularities in voter signature collection, and "missing" ballots. "There were irregularities that happened, absolutely, documented, very much so that bring into question the legitimacy of the election results," said Henley said. "That is without question."

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Trump’s campaign manager mocked for proudly sharing poll that suggests Dems will keep the House in 2020

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On Thursday, President Donald Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale posted a poll that was meant to warn Democrats off of their impeachment efforts, by showing how it was hurting their prospects in a competitive House race.

Specifically, the "confidential" poll showed freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (R-OK) down seven points against a generic Republican, and impeachment opposed 52 percent to 45 percent:

Nancy Pelosi is marching members of her caucus off the plank and into the abyss.

Impeachment is killing her freshman members and polling proves it.

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Two House Democrats push a clever plan that calls Republicans’ bluff on their Biden attacks

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Democratic Reps. Katie Porter of California and Max Rose of New York introduced a clever plan this week that will expose whether Republicans’ criticisms of former Vice President Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal reflect good faith — or if, as many assume, they are just a shameful distraction and a bluff.

The lawmakers announced a bill on Wednesday called the Transparency in Executive Branch Officials’ Finances Act. It has two key components:

First, it would require all politically appointed executive branch officials, as well as the president and the vice president, to “disclose any positions they or any members of their extended families hold with foreign-owned businesses, any intellectual property they own that is protected or enforced by a foreign country, and whether any members of their families have stakes in companies that engage in significant foreign business dealings.”Second, it will “require the President and Vice President to disclose their tax returns for the previous five taxable years and prohibit political appointees from accepting payments from foreign entities.”

What’s clever about the proposal is that it latches on to two important issues, creating a wedge for Republicans. As part of the GOP’s defense of President Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal, Republicans have argued that the president’s patently corrupt efforts to get a foreign country to investigate Biden, a political rival, were legitimate because the former vice president’s son created a conflict of interest by taking part in business in Ukraine.

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