Woman fined $500 after taking free snack apple off Delta flight

Delta airlines gave a passenger a free apple as an on-flight snack. She took it off the plane, failed to declare the agricultural contraband, and was fined $500 by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol when they found it in her bag.

She said the customs agent pulled out the apple in the plastic bag with Delta's logo on it.

Tadlock said she had just received the snack from the airline and asked if she could throw it out or eat it. She said the agent said no, and handed her a $500 fine instead.

"He had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, 'Yeah.' I didn’t really get why he was asking that question, and then he said 'It’s about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500,'" Tadlock said.

The sheer malicious smugness really makes it. Read the rest

There is no record of US mass surveillance ever preventing a large terror attack

CIA Director John Brennan wants you to think the Paris attacks were Snowden's fault -- the "hand wringing" over mass surveillance has ended his agency's ability to "thwart" terrorists attacks "before they're carried out." There's only one problem with that: there's no evidence that the US's mass surveillance programs have ever prevented a major terrorist attack. Read the rest

Gatwick airport took away my belt buckle: "I stick to what they've told me. I'm not going to speak to you anymore. Not if you're going to publish it. I'm not speaking to you."

Back in 2008, I bought one of 686's belt buckles, which has a clever set of snowboard-binding-adjusting tools built into it, including a small flathead and Philips head screwdriver tips on the buckle's tongues, as well as a socket wrench-head built into the tip-keeper.

At the time, I wasn't sure whether it would survive airport security, but it has -- with flying colors. I've taken that belt buckle on hundreds of flights, almost all originating in the UK, where I live, through dozens of countries. At one point early on in 2008 or 2009, I even called the consumer advice lines for the TSA and the UK Department for Transport and confirmed that these were allowed. I was even allowed to keep the belt in Hong Kong airport, where they took away my eyeglass screwdriver. A week ago, I flew with the belt from Heathrow Terminal 4 on a Delta flight to NYC.

But I've just had it confiscated by security staff at Gatwick North Terminal. The guard who confiscated it had this explanation for why the belt buckle was being confiscated here when all the other UK airports I'd flown out of it with had let me keep it: "I stick to what they've told me. I'm not going to speak to you anymore. Not if you're going to publish it. I'm not speaking to you."

At that point, a supervisor, Pete Sutherland, the security leader for Gatwick North, gave me a copy of Dangerous and restricted items: what you cannot take on board a flight, which lists, under "work tools," "screwdrivers." Read the rest