Yet another earthquake is devastating a country, only this time it’s Chile.  Early this morning an 8.8 earthquake struck Chile, and over 120 deaths have been verified already.  Tsunami warnings have been issued around the Pacific by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center; specifically Hawaii, Japan, Russia, Philippines, Indonesia, and the South Pacific.

The country has suffered major blows like this before, including a 9.5 earthquake in 1960, and the destruction this time is no different.  Airports, roads, bridges, and ports have been shut down due to damages, and copper mining has been halted.  In many places, wide cracks and gouges have appeared, with automobiles and houses slipping in to one extent or another.  Telephone and power lines in working condition are nearly non-existent, allowing few people information about family and friends.

Aftershocks have not given any relief, many of them over 5.0, and a few being over a magnitude of 6.0.  The recent devastation brings back memories of last month’s 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti.  The damage has hit hospitals, museums, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

Hawaii’s governor has declared a state of emergency as the state prepares for the imminent tsunami produced by the immense earthquake.

American Idol star Elliot Yamin was in Chile for a music festival and sent messages to his Twitter early this morning, and has since been able to contact CNN for an interview, providing a first-hand experience of the destruction.
Two of Britain’s major airports have implemented new requirements for select passengers: full-body scans.  At the Heathrow and Manchester airports, if a passenger refuses the scan, they will not be allowed to even board the plane.  The security surge is also taking place throughout airports in other countries, now more than ever.  After an attempted suicide bombing on Christmas last year by the man who has become known as “The Underwear Bomber”, security in airports has continually increased.  Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab hid explosives inside of his underwear and boarded a plane destined for Detroit on December 25; luckily, he did not succeed.  The British government is especially uneasy because Abdulmutallab was a student in London for three years.

The full-body scanners have been introduced to U.S. airports, totaling 40 spread between about 20 airports, but only 6 are used for the main screening, the others only for back-up.  Many people find the scanners to be rather controversial because “full-body” is a literal term.  The scanners can see through the clothing of any selected passengers, which can easily be considered a violation of privacy.

Something perhaps even more controversial is the fact that the British government overturned the ruling that children under 18 would be required to pass through the body scanners.  This interferes with Britain’s child porn laws, because the images produced by the body scanners are able to be viewed by airport personnel, and it is being questioned of the possibility that the images may clearly show every body part on the people who pass through them- practically a virtual strip search.  Will this overturned ban be the incentive for other airports and countries to follow?  The possibility seems very high for that to be the outcome.  However, a Manchester official has been cited as saying that images cannot be stored or captured.

Despite the many people who find the devices to be a privacy violation, the majority of people are in favor of the use of the machines in airports, though fewer people would actually go through the scanners themselves.  Another question being considered is if the body scanners are going to go beyond just airports and to other public places, especially transportation systems.  More countries are taking higher security measures due to increased terrorism, and this seems to be one of the first major steps in security expansion.


    Melissa M: writer, blogger, reader, music listener, and much much more.


    February 2010



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