Monday, January 09, 2006



(and in related news)


So you spend a few hundred grand to become a space tourist, you do the training, you do some turns on the 'Vomit Comet' to get used to magnificent, face flapping Gs, you get all decked out in your space suit and you look to the stars and say, "See you soon" but, you're not going anywhere.

That's because your name might be on the no fly terrorist watch list, which now, apparenlty, extends to outerspace. All of it.

US Congress has taken it upon itself to decide who gets to fly high and who has to stay behind, which is curious because most governments of the world didn't know the US airspace now extends to outer space.

This means space tourism developer Richard Branson will find it very hard to
take no-fly listers like Cat Stevens and US senator Eward Kennedy beyond the pull of Earth's gravity to show off his space capsules and orbiting hotels.

All of this because US Congress fears that terrorists might disguise themselves as space-obsessed IT millionaires and then try and smuggle some WMD onto an outerspace bound vehicle so they can....blow it up, or something.

A report from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suggested terrorists might decide a high orbit, above the earth, might be a great place to lauch an attack on the US blowing up their tourist craft, or something.

There is no confirmation as yet to clarify rumours that Osama-wannabes have been heard excitedly chattering, "Fantastic! We didn't even think of WMD-ing those Zi0nist pigs from outer space until the FAA report came out. But that's a brilliant idea! Usually we just get our best target and deployment ideas for major terrorist attacks from Tom Clancy novels, but this idea is so much better!"

The US Federal Aviation Administration has been first out of the gate as far as getting serious about locking up access to outerspace for us ground dwellers. They've issued detailed guidelines, not so big on health issues for space tourists, but well focused on what kind of people should be allowed to orbit the earth in a freezing cold tin can.

The FAA has suggested the Department of Homeland Security's 'Terrorist Watch No-Fly List' could be a good marker of whether or not a potential space tourist might actually be a terrorist who wants to blow

"The public interest is served by creating a clear legal, regulatory, and safety regime for commercial human spaceflight," said the FAA report.

Here's a short story about how effective the No-Fly list can be. The No-Fly list, accessible by all airlines and ticket desks at all US airports, pulled up an incredibly dangerous potential 'terrorist' at an American airport only a few weeks ago.

Meet Edward Allen.

For a short while late last year, Edward Allen was America's youngest
'suspected' terrorist, or potential terrorist, in American history.

His name was on the No-Fly list so he was told, "No-Fly."
Edward Allen is four years old.

Edward and his mother tried to board a plane at Houston's Bush Intercontinenetal Airport. But Continental Airlines was having none of that, at least at first.

The boy can't fly, little Eddie's mother was told, he's name on the no fly terrorist watch list.

"Are you kidding me?" she asked in disbelief.

Like many of the tens of millions of people who have found themselves on lists over the past century, little Eddie didn't like it one bit.

"I don’t want to be on the list," he said. "I want to fly and see my grandma."

Mother Sijollie Allen had to plead with the airline, and point out the fact that at four years little Eddie surely could be no major enemy of democracy, and he was definitely no Truth Hater.

But in a stunning breach of security, there was no official security check made to see if Eddie was a carrying a Teddy Bear Of Mass Destruction.

This was the second time in two months that Eddie had been told he was not flying nowhere because he happened to share the same name as some adult male who actually was on the terrorist watch no-fly list.

Four year old Eddie was still in his mother's womb when terrorists attacked the US on September 11, 2001.

But rules are rules, and regulations are there to save American lives....from four year olds who want to visit their grandmas.

Mother Sijollie Allen was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "Common sense should play a role. I know the government is trying to protect....because of the terrorist attacks, but common sense should play a role in it. I don’t think (Eddie) should go through the trouble of being harassed and hindered."

There was a happy-ish ending.

Eddie got to fly and he did visit his grandma and now the Department of Homeland Security is thinking about putting some kind of age range alongside the names of those who make the 'No-Fly' list. You know, just to make it a bit easier to tell the....oh, whatever.

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