FILE PHOTO – A TSA worker loads suitcases at the checked luggage security screening station at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn/File Photo
The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country as part of a ramped-up effort to protect against potential security threats, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Sunday.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Kelly said the United States planned to “raise the bar” on airline security, including tightening screening of carry-on items.
“That’s the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of U.S. people.”
In March, the government imposed restrictions on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on flights from 10 airports, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey.
Kelly said the move would be part of a broader airline security effort to combat what he called “a real sophisticated threat.” He said no decision had been made as to the timing of any ban.
“We are still following the intelligence,” he said, “and are in the process of defining this, but we’re going to raise the bar generally speaking for aviation much higher than it is now.”
Airlines are concerned that a broad ban on laptops may erode customer demand. But none wants an incident aboard one of its airplanes.
“Whatever comes out, we’ll have to comply with,” Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines (UAL.N), told the company’s annual meeting last week.
Airlines were blindsided in January when President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning entry for 90 days to citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, sending airlines scrambling to determine who could board and who could not. The order was later blocked in the courts.
In the case of laptops, the administration is keeping the industry in the loop. Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said in a statement it “continues to be in close contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” while Munoz applauded the administration for giving the company a “heads up.”
“We’ve had constant updates on the subject,” he said. “We know more than most. And again, if there’s a credible threat out there, we need to make sure we take the appropriate measures.”
MORE SCRUTINY OF CARRY-ONS
Among the enhanced security measures will likely be tighter screening of carry-on items to allow Transport Security Administration agents to discern problematic items in tightly stuffed bags.
Kelly said that in order to avoid paying fees for checking bags, people were stuffing them to the point where it was difficult to see through the clutter.
“The more stuff is in there, the less the TSA professionals that are looking at what’s in those bags through the monitors can tell what’s in them.”
The TSA has begun testing certain new procedures at a limited number of airports, requiring people to remove additional items from carry-on bags for separate screenings.
Asked whether the government would expand such measures nationwide, Kelly said: “We might, and likely will.” — By Toni Clarke | WASHINGTON
(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington, David French in New York and Alana Wise in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney)
Iraq seeks exemption from U.S. sanctions on Iran, PM says
Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi | Iraqi Parliament Office/Handout via REUTERS
Iraq will send a delegation to the United States seeking an exemption from sanctions against Iran that would allow it to keep importing Iranian gas, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday (December 12).
Washington gave Iraq a 45-day waiver for imports of gas from Iran when it reimposed sanctions on Iran‘s oil sector on Nov. 5. Iraqi officials have said they need around two years to find an alternative source.
Washington is seeking to roll back Iranian influence in the Middle East, including in Iraq, where Iran holds broad sway over politics and trade.
Abdul Mahdi, who assumed office in October after six months of political uncertainty following an inconclusive election, on Tuesday met U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in Baghdad.
Abdul Mahdi’s office said Perry was in Baghdad with a delegation of over 50 business people. — Reuters
Chicago mayor calls out ‘shortage of values’ as city copes with gun violence
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. REUTERS/Jim Young/File photo
After a weekend marked by gun violence, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “there was a shortage of values” as he called on people who knew the shooters to report them.
“Don’t think for a moment people don’t know who in the neighborhood” was responsible, Emanuel said at a news conference on Monday (August 6), adding that people “have a moral responsibility to speak up.”
A violent weekend in Chicago left 12 people dead and dozens more wounded, police said.
Local media reported that 66 people were shot from 6 p.m. on Friday to midnight on Sunday and 12 of those victims died.
Police said most of the shootings are connected to gang violence in the city of about 2.7 million people, the third-largest in the United States. — Reuters
Trump threatens U.S. government shutdown over immigration
U.S.President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday (July 29) he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats refuse to back his demand for a wall at the Mexican border and other major changes to immigration laws his administration wants.
“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally, go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump said on Twitter.
The Republican president has used the threat of a government shutdown several times since taking office in 2017 in a bid to get his priorities in congressional spending bills, especially funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border.
A disruption in federal government operations in the months before November congressional elections could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans, who control Congress, for the interruption in services.
Trump wants Congress to pass legislation that addresses immigration issues, including the border wall, changing the way visas are allotted and other immigration restrictions.
Although Republicans control Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix.
The Republican president has made tougher immigration laws a centerpiece of his administration, from the first ill-fated travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations to the current battle raging over the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A federal judge on Friday urged the U.S. government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents so it could reunite them with their children who remain in the United States.
Trump has requested $25 billion to build the border wall and $1.6 billion has already appropriated for the project. — Reuters