TSA, Four Loko Respond to Critics

Courtesy of CBS

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced two months ago that full-body scans at U.S. airports would be paid for through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Since the announcement, 68 airports now utilize these devices, including most recently Orlando, Dulles, and JFK airports. While the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokespeople claim they have received “minimal complaints,” perhaps they are only referring to officially filed complaints (which include two lawsuits). Advocacy groups, including labor unions for pilots and flight attendants, are advising their members to refuse the scans.

Websites such as Nudeoscope.com, DontScan.us, StopDigitalStripSearches.org, wewontfly.com , and optoutday.com are already getting media attention for their protests of the scanner. While TSA says it does not store the body scans, Gizmodo already obtained 100 leaked scans from U.S. Marshals in Florida.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee met with TSA Administrator John Pistole at 10:00a.m. this morning to address concerns, as well as the effectiveness of full-body scanners.

The body scanners undoubtedly raise serious legal concerns about privacy issues, particularly timely as it is the week before millions of travelers take to the skies for the Thanksgiving holiday. The TSA is no stranger to reputation hits, as our post-9/11 security gets criticized for doing both too much and too little to protect its citizens. It is an imperfect system, indeed. However, the complaints from consumer and political entities speak to the power of assembly and grassroots action – the fact that the TSA is evaluating the scanners is a step in and of itself. Let’s hope for a swift and reasonable resolution – asking yourself whether you want a full-body scan or a pat down is not something you want to contemplate.

Four Loko Responds to Complaints

Courtesy of Joe Raedle/Getty Images


The controversial alcohol and caffeine-infused beverage, Four Loko, is dropping three ingredients from its drink, including caffeine, in what NPR calls a “preemptive PR strike.” (The FDA is likely to take action against Phusion Projects, the company that makes the product). Four Loko has endured much criticism as four states (Michigan, Oklahoma, Washington, and Utah) have banned the drink, and Massachusetts made moves to restrict sales this week.
Four Loko said in a statement on their website, “”We are taking this step after trying – unsuccessfully – to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels.”

Lawmakers, consumers and parents of college students protested the drink heavily, and as a result – Phusion Projects was forced to respond. While they are eliminating the caffeine, the company is defending the drink and have made no plans to stop production. “[W]e don’t agree with the notion that mixing caffeine and alcohol is inherently unsafe,” the company wrote in a press release. “Our company has submitted a ‘Generally Regarded as Safe’ (GRAS) study in which an independent panel of scientific experts found that adding caffeine to alcohol is safe.”

The company is being sued by the parents of a student who accidently shot himself, and the parents say the drink is partially to blame. From a reputation standpoint, Four Loko appears defiant and defensive, though they say they will cooperate with regulations. It remains to be seen what happens to sales figures and the company itself, but Phusion Projects isn’t doing much to protect its reputation or express concern for its effects on people. While that may be because of legal reasons, Phusion isn’t doing itself any favors by taking a standoffish approach.

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