Home / General / A Number of Gas Grills in Thailand Have Exploded. Thus, We Have Decided to Ban the Importation of Canadian Grilling Utensils.

A Number of Gas Grills in Thailand Have Exploded. Thus, We Have Decided to Ban the Importation of Canadian Grilling Utensils.

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By Mail2arunjith CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36745460

If you haven’t heard yet, the Department of Homeland Security has ordered carriers to force customers to check a number of electronic devices on flights originating from a number of airports in majority-Muslim countries.

Passengers on foreign airlines headed to the United States from 10 airports in eight majority-Muslim countries have been barred from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone under a new flight restriction enacted on Tuesday by the Trump administration.

Officials called the directive an attempt to address gaps in foreign airport security, and said it was not based on any specific or credible threat of an imminent attack.

The Department of Homeland Security said the restricted items included laptop computers, tablets, cameras, travel printers and games bigger than a phone. The restrictions would not apply to aircraft crews, officials said in a briefing to reporters on Monday night that outlined the terms of the ban.

The official explanation for this policy, as a number of commentators have noted, makes little sense.

The policy seems poorly calibrated, None of the proposed causes of the destruction of Metrojet Flight 9268 would either have been stopped or necessity the ban. The Somalian incident may have been caused by a laptop bomb, but why this necessitates targeting the specific airports affected by the ban remains unclear. The Brussels attack involved suicide bombers and took place outside departure security checkpoints.

This lack of compelling logic observers to speculate about more nefarious motives. Is this an attempt to undermine competitors to US airlines?


Is it a ham-handed security effort by an administration of dubious policy competence?


Other possibilities include animus toward Muslims—or, more broadly, people who aren’t white. That is, an attempt to simply make life more difficult for students, business travelers, and others—and perhaps deter travel to the United States. This is consistent with reports of aggressive visa denials to people traveling to the United States.


This tracks with the arbitrariness of the Muslim travel ban. Indeed, these kinds of policies might be a means of forwarding the same goals—the equivalent of “self-deportation” as an approach to undocumented immigration. Another benefit of continuing to push policies with threadbare logic and justification? It forces GOP officials and conservative media to defend them. In doing so, it makes them  complicit in an increasing number of irrational administration actions.

And that’s the basic problem. Trump, his handlers, and their minions lie—and bullshit—with such reckless abandon that it’s simply impossible to trust them about anything. This is becoming a major national security threat, not simply because of the substance of these lies, but also the Executive Branch needs basic credibility with foreign leaders—and populations—in order to effectively in protect American interests.

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  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Carryon luggage gets more screening than checked luggage.

    And besides, having laptops with Lithium batteries in checked bags is a VERY BAD IDEA, and generally prohibited.

    On the plus side, travelers from those countries should leave their personal electronics at home, because otherwise CBP is going to be rooting through them.

    • Indeed this makes no sense. The Lockerbee bomb was in an electronic device, in checked baggage. In fact that’s normally where they put the bomb. The only plausible explanation is that they want to be able to look at your laptop, not that they’re afraid of bombs.

      • ASV

        But they already can look at your laptop, which is surely much easier to do when the you have the owner detained and scared enough to give up the password.

      • cleek

        yeah, “look” at it.

        i’m sure they’re not planting little CIA snoop apps on it or anything.

      • catclub

        I am on the makes no sense side, if it only applies to non-US carriers coming from these airports.

        Or is his way to try to help US carriers. I expect all carriers with direct flights to US have those special security lines, but have only flown US carriers on those routes.

    • carolannie

      I suppose Fedexing your equipment should work.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        “I suppose Fedexing your equipment should work.”

        As long as it doesn’t have one of those batteries that are “ground ship only”.

        How does that work from Malaysia, anyway?

        • catclub

          Shipping container on a ship counts as ground.

  • humanoid.panda

    One does have to note that Adam Schiff, the leading Dem on the House Intel Committee, and no fan of Trump or his ban, came out in support of this policy. Which still doesn’t mean its any good, but implies its less Trumpian innovation and more general security theater.

    • aturner339

      Much of which does share trumpian roots.

      The man himself represents a distinct break with tradition especially in regards to basic competence and statesmanship but the general disregard for the lives and property of brown people? That’s been a thing for a long time. The guardian article elaborates on this.

    • ASV

      I hope Schiff does more than put out a statement. Even if there is a specific threat, this policy makes no sense for the reasons outlined above. Are terrorists so dumb that they won’t just rebook on United?

      • humanoid.panda

        I didn’t say it makes sense to me. All I said is that Schiff’s strong support indicates this is more than Trump’s attempt to smuggle the ban trhough back door or lard American carriers. It could, and still very likely is, very bad policy.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Are terrorists so dumb that they won’t just rebook on United?

        Terrorists have been boycotting United for years:

        “Why should I want to fly again on this lousy airline that has given me nothing but the most profound of aggravation? Even for a free $500 ticket, it is not worth it,” Hanani said.

        http://www.theonion.com/article/terrorist-extremely-annoyed-by-delayed-flight-277

  • SP

    How does checking a putative laptop bomb at all increase safety? If something blows up in the cargo hold the plane’s going down just as much as if it blows up in the cabin. Good thing computers don’t have clocks so there’s no way to detonate via timer.

  • Hogan
  • Simple Mind

    What about rental devices (airport departure lounge pick-up and return kiosks)? In any case, just another angle of the Muslim ban.

  • Joe_JP

    basic point:

    Trump, his handlers, and their minions lie—and bullshit—with such reckless abandon that it’s simply impossible to trust them about anything.

    • Alex.S

      It’s the biggest thing.

      I can believe this ban is for safety reasons or a specific threat that they were alerted to.

      But that requires trusting Trump’s administration. There are other sources backing the restriction (Adam Schiff and the UK are preparing to announce a similar ban)… but I’m still left with a bit of skepticism because of how much lying the Trump administration does.

      • catclub

        I can believe this ban is for safety reasons or a specific threat that they were alerted to.

        Then it would apply to US carriers as well.

  • CrunchyFrog

    I haven’t seen anyone mention what a radical change this means in how people will occupy themselves during these very, very long flights.

    These days few people bring books and the like for such a long flight – they use their electronics for entertainment. If you haven’t flown in a while you may be surprised how much in-flight entertainment has migrated from screens in front of the passengers to devices they carry.

    Add in flying with children – it’s a given that electronics are the basis of the parent’s strategy to keep them under control during the long flight – and people flying on business who often plan to use 6 or 8 of those hours to get stuff done on their laptop.

    People can adapt. But their most likely adaptation is to not take direct flights but instead fly to nearby countries which do not have the personal electronics ban and go from there to the US.

    Now, did the Trump admin do this in order to help the US airlines and hurt the host airlines of those countries? Or did it do it just to please their racist base who enjoys any pain inflicted on dark-skinned people? Or was this just some random thing they dreamed up after Trump saw some Fox report on a laptop bomb? Dunno. But it wasn’t to improve airplane security.

    • cleek

      clearly this is a ploy by the paper manufacturers to get people to buy more books and MAGAzines.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Except it is the two bookstores at Ataturk International transit both Turkish owned that are going to benefit the most.

    • BigHank53

      But their most likely adaptation is to not take direct flights but instead fly to nearby countries which do not have the personal electronics ban and go from there to the US.

      Shortened that up for you.

      “We don’t want you here” is a message, and there are lots of ways to send it. This is one. It’s petty, and stupid, and won’t accomplish any real goals, so it’s a shoo-in for the Trump administration.

    • catclub

      I have kindle e-reader that is smaller than some smartphones.

      I once tried to use a GPS receiver (Handheld – long time ago)
      and the airline folks did not take to that. Now is there one in your smartphone?

    • catclub

      what a radical change this means in how people will occupy themselves during these very, very long flights.

      They will just spend more time with stylish people in the lounge/bar
      upstairs in the 747, right?

      • CrunchyFrog

        Boy, you really haven’t been on an international flight in forever, have you? Those were done away with in the 1980s.

        (I know, sarcasm.)

    • leftwingfox

      Last yeah, I was on a WestJet flight in Canada where the aircraft was so new, they “hadn’t installed the seatback entertainment system yet”.

      But they were renting tablet computers.

      Which to me, reeked of a test program to see if they could shift more cost to the customers by renting in-flight entertainment.

      • CrunchyFrog

        United no longer installs in-seat entertainment. Instead they’ve gone to wifi and a variety of free streamable entertainment to your device. Except for the occasional glitches everyone seems to like it better. Better screens, usually bigger, better control. I much prefer that to the older planes where we still get a 5 minute shouted advert for DirecTV on the seatback (for a price).

    • los

      People can adapt.

      Gimme a brakk, liebtars! The kid can have fun with multitouch high resolution abacus.

      People these days have no idea what it was like when we were young.
      We had to grow our own femurs before clubbing other primates with them!

  • I assume this policy can be traced to some Breitbartian conspiracy theory.

    • Rob in CT

      At this point, that should be the default, if rebuttable, presumption for everything Trump does.

  • solidcitizen

    Heard about this on Morning Edition. They reported it straight. Yes, none of it makes much sense, but the Trump administration must have some intelligence that we don’t know about. I was crying at my radio.

    • Murietta

      Seriously, it can’t be said enough: Fuck NPR.

      • los

        Fuck NPR

        Fucking is not loud enough (is it?) to block the TrumpTap listening device!

        /@! @! @!

    • los

      Trump administration must have some intelligence that we don’t know about. I was crying at my radio.

      Crying won’t work. You need a full spectrum of white noise to block the listening device.

      /!!

  • Crusty

    This is really odd. I’m picturing some kind of meeting between Trump and whoever, maybe Bannon, and it goes something like this-

    Trump: How’s the muslim ban doing in the courts?

    Bannon: Well, the lawyers are telling me its going down, you know, those damn liberal judges. But I’ve got another idea.

    Trump: What’s that? We move it down to five countries? Take the whitest one off the list? Or maybe we add another brown, but non-muslim country so we can say it isn’t muslim?

    Bannon: No. Instead of banning them, we just annoy them. In little ways.

    Trump: How do you mean?

    Bannon: Think about it- what do people do on planes?

    Trump: Well, you know me, I like to dig into a nice big bucket of kfc.

    Bannon: I mean, normal people, what do they do?

    Trump: I have no idea.

    Bannon: They use their electronic devices. They watch stuff, read stuff?

    Trump: Read stuff?

    Bannon: Yeah, some people do. Anyway, we’ll say its a safety hazard, you know, because some of them have exploded, and they can’t bring it in carry on bags, they have to check it.

    Trump: Can’t it still explode if it is checked?

    Bannon: Sure, but that’s not the point sir. The point is, they’ll be stuck, sitting there, with nothing to do. Its gonna be so boring, its gonna make traveling hell.

    Trump: Well, I guess that’s good. I still want the ban though.

    Bannon: Of course, sir.

    Trump: Russians can still bring their stuff, right?

    • los

      Bannon: I mean, normal people, what do they do?

      Trump: Oh! Yeah, no KFC. Dip the Taco Bowl into ketchup.

      Bannon: Ahhhh, OK, yes. That’s good enough. You can stop guessing.

      Bannon: Sure, but that’s not the point sir. The point is, they’ll be stuck, sitting there, with nothing to do. Its gonna be so boring, its gonna make traveling hell.

      Trump: I don’t see Tic Tacs on the list. Good.

  • I live in one of the cites affected by this moronic policy and I was going tot take my laptop back with me to NY for a repair when I go on leave this summer. Now I’m seriously reconsidering even going back until this is all over.

    • Comments go into moderation now? When did this happen?

      • los

        SOROS!

  • Wasn’t there an abortive attempt at something like this during the Obama years? I recall a regulation that you couldn’t take certain kinds of tablets and e-readers in your carry-on luggage, which led to a huge outcry and the administration quickly backing off. That was a blanket band, though, not just focused on specific airports.

  • Alworth

    I found this very plausible.

    It may not be about security. Three of the airlines that have been targeted for these measures — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — have long been accused by their U.S. competitors of receiving massive effective subsidies from their governments. These airlines have been quietly worried for months that President Trump was going to retaliate. This may be the retaliation.

    These three airlines, as well as the other airlines targeted in the order, are likely to lose a major amount of business from their most lucrative customers — people who travel in business class and first class. Business travelers are disproportionately likely to want to work on the plane — the reason they are prepared to pay business-class or first-class fares is because it allows them to work in comfort. These travelers are unlikely to appreciate having to do all their work on smartphones, or not being able to work at all. The likely result is that many of them will stop flying on Gulf airlines, and start traveling on U.S. airlines instead.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/03/21/trump-wont-allow-you-to-use-ipads-or-laptops-on-certain-airlines-heres-the-underlying-story/

    • artem1s

      this was my first thought. It was to target business travelers who work during flights.

      Also, excluding phones, why? There’s still plenty of volume there if your intent is to put a hole in the side of the plane. So, why not ban all handheld computers and phones too? Because that is how most people carry their tickets with them to check in.

  • Warren Terra

    If one approaches this announcement with a superabundance of good faith, seeking reasons it might be justified, it’s remotely possible. I can imagine three security reasons to force someone to check their laptop/tablet/e-reader:

    1) It’s a well-disguised bomb, but a weak one. To be effective, it must be positioned properly. The passenger can do this if it’s carried on, but not if it’s checked.

    2) It’s small a part of a larger bomb or other device. A passenger or conspiring passengers can assemble it in flight, but only if it’s in their carry-ons.

    3) It contains a weapon that must be used by hand (a gun or a sword or something) or must be used in proximity to victims (poison?).

    But: each of these doesn’t make a lot of sense, nor do they apply to certain airlines flying from certain airports. Taking them in turn:

    1) Let it be noted that e-readers are tiny, thin, and smaller than phones, among other permitted devices. Their inclusion is a red flag here. Also: if the device is so well hidden, why these airlines and countries?

    2) Mostly the same arguments as (1). Note that anything so cleverly disassembled could be hidden in phones or phablets, or in other non-banned devices.

    3) This is the only one that could in theory actually make sense, if there were some reason to suspect a conspiracy with security screening personnel affiliated with certain airlines and airports. Not a sword, obviously – but a canister of poison, or pieces of a gun? But, then: why laptops?

    Basically, there seems to be no rational explanation possible, except to make people this administration doesn’t like suffer.

    PS RE that Guardian story about the African trade conference: the complete refusal to give any visas to African attendees, refused at short notice, is shocking – but note 40% were refused last year, a number that seems to me to bear some investigation. Are conferences like this frequently seized upon for use in the paperwork of insincere visa applicants?

  • YosemiteSemite

    Paul Krugman, a trade expert, says it’s a “clear violation of trade rules.” (https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/844170626185203712) Another one for the courts to knock down? That’ll get The Donald in a fine froth.

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