Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Airport Security & The Politics of Safety

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither freedom or safety." ~ Ben Franklin
Airport full body scanner

With security at an all time high at the airports following 9/11 - and most recently after the Christmas Day "underwear bomber" attempt in 2009 - the fear exhibited by politicians and the general public is apparently not easing anytime soon.

Currently, there are 40 full body scanners located at 19 airports nationwide, capable of a virtual strip search with low-level x-rays that show any explosive materials or contraband a passenger may be hiding on their now-visibly naked persons.

Following the Christmas Day 2009 bombing attempt by Abdul Mudallah, ("If only they had used a body scanner!") Americans can now expect the Brave New World contraptions to appear at dozens of more airports in the near future starting with Boston and Chicago next week.

But even as a somewhat embarassed President Obama admitted at the time, the 23-year-old Nigerian was already on a watch list that should have been checked before he boarded the plane.

Which brings us to an interesting question. What if, instead of putting innocent citizens under suspicion, our legislators and federal agencies actually took responsibility for nabbing the actual bombers before they got to the airport?

The narrative gets stranger, as horror stories surface of toddlers being patted down at the airport or granny's cane is confiscated under suspicion of being a lethal weapon.

No matter. A recent poll on airport security conducted by a "a non-profit group that works to increase public support for federal agencies" (biased much?) shows a majority of Americans don't mind heightened security measures as long as they keep them safe in the air.

Here on earth, meanwhile, courthouses are rolling out full body scanners, as well. So it is not a stretch to see them next in sports stadiums, theaters and colleges. But where next, and at what cost to individual liberties?

Odds are you'll find out especialy if you are one of the unfortunates stopped by a full-body scanner alerted to your left breast implant (or your hip replacement), or you are mistakenly flagged by an underpaid security officer for having talcum powder in your shoes.

So what ARE your rights as an American citizen? Say a cop on the beat decided to search your house without a warrant, or the highway patrol inspected your car trunk for no other reason than just "because we can." You would definitely have a suing case.

Putting the old-fashioned notion of just cause aside for the moment what if you missed an expensive business flight (or a family member's wedding, or funeral) following hours of interrogation because of a dumb mistake. Can you file a lawsuit for harassment? Illegal search and seizure? Lost income?

After your blood stopped boiling the answer would be: good luck with that. If you had the time and money you could probably find a lawyer to take the case, but at best you would probably lose and, at worst, face the additional humiliation of being called un-American or else put on some watch list as a low-life troublemaker.

Or you would simply decide it was just not worth the hassle.

Meanwhile, we're still waiting for the US and other governments to stop looking for things at the airport and start looking for terrorists before they get there.

More about airport security around the Web:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Congress Passes Unemployment Insurance Extension

As more Americans face weeks and sometimes months of unemployment, the loss of benefits stretches them to the limit and curtails even further their chances of looking for work - an incredibly hard slog during tough economic times.

Last week, Congress announced another 13 week extension of benefits to primarily help the hundreds of thousands in 27 states where unemployment has reached 8.5 percent or threatens to go even higher by year's end.

In addition, other states like Iowa and Pennsylvania with Insured Unemployment Rates (IUR) over 6% will also be eligible.

The bill is basically an extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation provided in the stimulus bill adopted at the beginning of the year.

States that qualify

The official announcement tags the following states where unemployment is unusually high and therefore eligible for the extra 13 weeks. They include:

Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Some States have also enacted a voluntary program to pay up to 7 additional weeks (20 weeks maximum) of extended benefits. Check out unemployment benefits by state to see if you may be eligible for extended benefits, as well.

Do I have to apply for the extended unemployment benefit?

Filling out another application is not necessary. Your state agency which handles unemployment benefits will be sending out notifications shortly announcing the extension.

The weekly benefit amount of extended benefits will be the same as the individual received for regular unemployment compensation.

In addition, those who are eligible must continue filing their weekly employment reports (in states where that applies) to tap the new extension.

More about the unemployment insurance extension around the Web:

also see in Legal Bytes:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Medical Malpractice Information

It may be a failed face lift, a injury during birth delivery, a botched operation, or other serious medical procedure that results in lasting physical harm or worse to you or a loved one.

If you think your doctor or surgeon is guilty of serious incompetence or outright criminal conduct, consider bringing a law suit against them.

Be forewarned, however, that medical malpractice cases are some of the most complex for lawyers (and harrowing for patients and families) - that puts the onus of proof squarely on complainants in a legal action against a medical professional.

What you must prove in a medical malpractice case

Simply put, it is up to your legal team to prove that your doctor made a mistake in not observing reasonable techniques, or failed to practice within traditional medical bounds.

Next, By providing evidence of how another doctor would have treated you under the same circumstances, a finer point can be put on how the mistake could have been avoided.

Finally, the legal team must show the extent of the damages made or any possible future harm that could result from the doctor's negligence.

Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer

Therefore, it's most important to hire a law firm with extensive experience in medical malpractice cases, and who can provide a complete team effort in presenting your case before a judge and jury.

This includes not only expert knowledge of medical terminology, but the necessary footwork necessary to research your particular case while they secure expert witnesses to testify at your trial.

Of course, medical malpractice suits can be time consuming, as well as an expensive proposition both monetarily and emotionally.

There are many legal firms, however, that will represent clients on a contigency basis - that is, forestall payment until the case is won - if they think your case is eminently winnable.

In contingency cases, if and only when your law firm wins the case will they accept an agreed upon percentage of the money awarded at trial.

More about medical malpractice lawsuits around the Web: