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TSA officer faces dismissal over ‘get your freak on, girl’ note October 29, 2011

(CNN) — An airplane baggage screener faces dismissal for leaving a note in a passenger’s bag that said “Get Your Freak On, Girl” after discovering a vibrator.

The Transportation Security Administration “has initiated action to remove the individual from federal service,” an agency spokesperson said. “Like all federal employees, this individual is entitled to due process and protected by the Privacy Act. During the removal action process, the employee will not perform any screening duties.”

The agency randomly selects checked baggage for screening on flights originating in the United States. Lawyer and writer Jill Filipovic tweeted a picture of the note Monday and later blogged about it on Feministe.

“This is what TSA will do when they inspect a bag you checked and find a, um, ‘personal item,’ ” she wrote. “Total violation of privacy, wildly inappropriate and clearly not OK, but I also just died laughing in my hotel room.”

The TSA identified and removed the employee from screening operations, the TSA said Wednesday on its blog. After completing an investigation, action was initiated to remove the individual from federal service.

“TSA views the handwritten note to be highly inappropriate and unprofessional and apologizes for this unfortunate incident,” the spokesperson said. “TSA has zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior by our employees as occurred in this instance. When this is brought to our attention TSA takes swift and appropriate action.”

An agency official reached out to Filipovic to apologize personally, the agency said. At this point, though, she said she wishes the story would go away.

“It’s easy to scapegoat one individual here, but the problem with the note is that it’s representative of the bigger privacy intrusions that the U.S. government, through the TSA and other sources, levels every day,” she wrote Wednesday after learning of the employee’s suspension.

“As much as this is a funny and titillating story, when I put the note on Twitter for what I thought was a relatively limited audience, I was hoping it would open up a bigger conversation about privacy rights (or lack thereof) in post-9/11 America. It unfortunately hasn’t done that, and instead has turned into a media circus,” she said.

“The note was inappropriate, the agent in question acted unprofessionally when s/he put in my bag, there should be consequences and I’m glad the TSA takes these things seriously. But I get no satisfaction in hearing that someone may be in danger of losing their job over this. I would much prefer a look at why ‘security’ has been used to justify so many intrusions on our civil liberties, rather than fire a person who made a mistake.”


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The column formerly known as grab bag | Ana Marie Cox October 28, 2011

I’ve been dipping in and out of the comment community, trying to figure out the best way to harness the hive mind without getting stung by it (this may be impossible). One suggestion that’s stuck out has been the idea that there should be at least some “whatever” in a blog that’s about “politics and … whatever”. I agree! I have interests beyond Herman Cain! (You are going to suffer through that book club with me, though. I AM DOING IT FOR AMERICA, you know.)

For a while, we were throwing link collections up and call them “grab bags” but maybe something more specific, and more fun, is in order. “Hanging Chads” captures the “here’s some stuff left over from my surfing” part of the process. “Down Ballots” is sort of fun. “Super Pack”? “Third Rails” is my current favorite – though it does imply that my non-politics interests are somehow dangerous. Keep in mind that this how it would look – the title, with a description of that day’s link collection following: “Third Rails: Kittens, the Star Wars Trilogy and Training for Triathlons.”

Whatever we call it, here’s today’s, and please speak up in the comments about this pressing issue of international importance.

• It’s true, Zachary Quinto has brought weirdly believable creepiness to “American Horror Story”, the weirdest show ever to feature Dylan McDermott’s rear-end-parts.

• The truly shocking thing about how 28% of television programming is “LGBT-inclusive” is that it’s only 28%.

• Or maybe this is why I like American Horror Story: “If we have a relatively calm, uneventful lifestyle, we seek out something that’s going to be exciting for us, because our nervous system requires periodic revving, just like a good muscular engine.” (This should not prevent show makers from showing more naked Dylan.)

• And at least we’d get Austin: “IF AMERICAN LAND WAS DISTRIBUTED IN THE SAME WAY AMERICAN WEALTH IS.”

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The daily grab bag #4 | Ana Marie Cox October 7, 2011

• Joe McGinniss chooses country before self: “I’ll gladly sacrifice a few sales to have the country rid of Sarah Palin forevermore.”

• Get ready for a long campaign. “The strategy is to: ‘win ugly.’ This may be the president’s best option, because as he demonstrated this week, it’s impossible to give a satisfying answer to the question Ronald Reagan posed in 1980: Are you better off?”

A favorite Jobs obit, and why he matters to you, personally, dear reader: “And by making devices an extension of ourselves, he helped change our understanding of media; it would no longer be just a system you got information from, but a system you contributed information to.” (Also, I just bought this.)

• Unfortunately, Zombie Hank Williams Sr is not on Stereogum’s list of “10 Possible Monday Night Football Replacements for Hank Williams Jr”.

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The daily grab bag #3 | Ana Marie Cox October 1, 2011

• Helmets are for tools of the state! (Ron Paul puts his tiny noggin at risk on a bike ride.)

• Remember how Rick Perry said his ideal candidate (that isn’t him) would be a Cain/Gingrich “blend”? And Romney said he wouldn’t be able get that image out of his head? For Mitt: how to get the taste of vomit out of your mouth.

• “I now pronounce you Marine and Marine.” Military chaplains to perform same-sex unions.

Reporter finds Twitter does not replace reporting. I feel like I read about that somewhere.

Hot men and cats.

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California farm recalls lettuce over contamination concerns September 30, 2011


(CNN) — A California lettuce grower has recalled 2,498 cartons of chopped or shredded romaine lettuce shipped to wholesale food service distributors in 19 states and Canada over concerns the produce may be contaminated with the same bacteria that caused 13 deaths in an outbreak traced to tainted cantaloupes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and True Leaf Farms initially reported the recall of 90 cartons of chopped and shredded romaine lettuce on Thursday, saying a random sample detected listeria monocytogenes in one bag pulled from a lot shopped on September 12 and September 13. Later Thursday, True Leaf issued a statement saying the FDA asked the company to expand the recall.

No illnesses have been reported, the FDA said.

The affected lettuce was available for direct purchase at Cash Carry Smart Foodservice warehouses in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, It also shipped to food service distributors in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont. It also was sent to a distributor in Alberta and British Columbia.

Listeria victim’s wife: It’s ‘pure hell’

Bad cantaloupes kill 13 people

The recalled lettuce carries a use by date of “9/29/11″ and the bag and box code B256-46438-8. The FDA said anyone who has the lettuce should destroy it or contact the company to come pick it up.

Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems. It usually causes only mild illness for healthy people, but it can be extremely dangerous for older adults, people with weakened immune systems, newborns and pregnant women, in whom listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The listeria bacteria recently was blamed in a multi-state outbreak associated with tainted cantaloupes. At last count, 13 people had died and 72 had been made ill in 18 states after consuming cantaloupes grown by a Colorado farm.


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