U.S. Might Ban Laptops On All Flights Into And Out Of The Country

WASHINGTON, May 28 (Reuters) – 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, 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 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. 



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.?

(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)

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Domestic Terrorism Hits Portland — 2 Killed In Anti-Muslim Hate Crime.

Terror struck Portland, Oregon last night when two young women riding a MAX train came under verbal assault by a man making anti-Muslim slurs. Passengers attempted to intervene to protect the teenage Muslim girls.

In the end, two passengers were stabbed to death trying to lend protection to the teenagers, and another was left wounded. 35-year old Jeremy Joseph Christian is in custody. We know from reporting done by The Portland Mercury that Christian is an active white supremacist. The two young Muslim passengers were unharmed because of the heroic acts of those who stood up to bigotry.

As a minister in the United Church of Christ living just blocks from the incident, I am left sickened. Portlanders of all backgrounds are trying to make sense of the violence. Sadly, attacks such as these have become too routine, as politicians, starting with Donald Trump, have engaged in the vilification of Muslims. The United States is being torn apart across religious and cultural lines for political gain. The reality is that those who are Muslim are my brothers and sisters.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which studies hate crimes, reported tracking 1,372 reported bias incidents between the day after the election and the start of February and an astounding ?197 percent increase in total number of anti-Muslim hate groups up from 2015.?

Helping Mr. Trump and others spread anti-Muslim bigotry are Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham, a close ally of the president. This week, following the devastating attacks in Manchester, Graham wrote:

?Islam is a threat to our very way of life. There will be more stabbings, more shootings, more bombings, and more killing. Our U.S. politicians need to wake up and see the dangers,? he declared.

?We need to find ways to make our border secure so that we can know who is coming into this country and make sure they support the freedoms and liberties we hold dear.?

Islam is not evil or a dangerous religion. Fundamentalism, however, can turn any faith tradition into a violent movement. Consider the number of terrorist bombings at women?s health clinics in the United States by so-called Christians over the last several decades, and the link between white nationalist domestic terrorist groups that identify as part of a fringe movement within Christianity.

Trump, Graham, and others have helped to incite violence at their rallies and in the streets. This new normal can only be called sinful. The attack in Portland can only be called domestic terrorism.

My prayer is that every Christian body speaks out against hate crimes such as the one that occurred in Portland last night. It is vital that the interfaith movement in the United States continues to stand-up as a counterweight to those who would use religion as a tool of division. All our faith traditions, at their core, are about building just societies and freeing people from oppression. We must be about the work of bringing people together; not building walls to keep one another apart.

No child should fear for their life riding mass transportation because of their faith.

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