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Car-go or Car-stop?
March 10, 2011 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday Air Canada said it would stop shipments of all cargo to the U.S.A. due to an "emergency change to US security"

Apparently today, March 10, is the date a number of new, TSA security measures are supposed to be implemented. Unfortunately, details about the new measures seem a bit vague.

The article linked to above includes this passage: "The TSA would not go into the specifics of its security directives, however, it released a formal statement saying it has tightened existing air cargo security for flights to the US due to last year’s terrorist attempt to ship explosives aboard an aircraft.

“'We are working closely with the air cargo industry and intelligence community to institute measures to keep the traveling public safe,' the statement said."

A different article had this to say about the new regulations:

"Although [TSA assistant administrator of Transportation Sector Network Management John] Sammon would not disclose the requirements in the public forum of the House hearing, he acknowledged air carriers have voiced some confusion with the new rules. TSA would continue to work with all carriers to make certain they understand their obligations, he promised...

"TSA disseminated the new security protocols, developed in conjunction with US intelligence authorities and the air carriers, in legal documents that may be confusing at first glance, Sammon confessed. In addition, they may generate some confusion because they contain a separate set of rules specifically for cargo planes carrying mail only, as requested by shippers such as the US Postal Service."

Now [and this is pure conjecture] one of the reasons (besides the very real possibility of just plain confusion about the rules) Air Canada may have run into some difficulties is because the question of jurisdiction.

"One of the key difficulties the TSA faces is the lack of authority to inspect shipments overseas, along with other regulatory headaches like mail treaties that prevent suspicious mail bags from being opened in interim countries."

Of course, even with with today's changes, the TSA may still not make Congress happy.

"The Transportation Security Administration might not meet the deadline set by Congress to screen all air cargo for bombs or hazardous materials, a government watchdog report released Wednesday said..."

"In his testimony, GAO official Stephen Lord warned that the TSA currently has no way to verify data from air cargo screenings.

He stated the belief that around 80% of inbound air cargo is now being screened, but that along with the 100% of outbound cargo being screened, doubt could creep in that the screening is being carried out to TSA standards if data from air carriers and certified cargo screeners cannot be verified."

Since this still seems to be breaking news (at least to some degree) I'm sure that more details about the Air Canada issue will come to light as soon as I hit post.
posted by sardonyx (60 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
FoB & CNF charges will shoot through the roof, what impact on the import and export industry, freight forwarders, air cargo and international trade?
posted by infini at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2011


Shouldn't this post wait until we have more facts?
posted by misha at 1:24 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


This will, of course, work out splendidly for us here in the USA, because we don't import any quality products from Canada whatsoever, and the Canadians have been living off our generous hamburger exports for decades.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:24 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


The oil does move by pipeline after all.
posted by bonehead at 1:31 PM on March 10, 2011




This will, of course, work out splendidly for us here in the USA, because we don't import any quality products from Canada whatsoever, and the Canadians have been living off our generous hamburger exports for decades.


It's easy:

Stop buying things from outside of America. And stop selling things to people outside America.

Anything else is unpatriotic anyway, what are you, a terrorist?
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


We must invade Canada to save its bacon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on March 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


Well, that seems like a nice little way to impose a tariff.
posted by maryr at 1:36 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


For people who have better access than I do, they could possibly look up the proceedings from the Subcommittee hearing:The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security Wednesday held a hearing focused almost exclusively on the threat to air cargo security. Subcommittee members expressed concerns about the screening of international air cargo in the wake of the attempted Yemeni cargo attack of last year.

The committee link is here.

And yes, I would have loved more details, but at this point I doubt we'll be seeing any. Or at least I doubt there will be any coming in the foreseeable future. This is a story that has (so far) been overlooked by mainstream media outlets. The links I've supplied have mostly been from trade publications.
posted by sardonyx at 1:39 PM on March 10, 2011


> "One of the key difficulties the TSA faces is the lack of authority to inspect shipments overseas, along with other regulatory headaches like mail treaties that prevent suspicious mail bags from being opened in interim countries."

Damn that sovereignty thing.
posted by ardgedee at 1:41 PM on March 10, 2011 [18 favorites]


the only way for americans to be absolutely, guaranteed, positively safe is to ensure that we are all already dead.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:41 PM on March 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


Stop buying things from outside of America. And stop selling things to people outside America.

It used to be pretty much our policy, and an important part of how we built a Middle Class of workers doing what foreign workers can do for a fraction of the pay. I'm mildly surprised that our Middle Class has shrunk as little as it did.

Well, that seems like a nice little way to impose a tariff.

Bingo!
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:45 PM on March 10, 2011


When distant powers start screwing with things that we previously took for granted, it gives me indigestion. So does this mean that we currently have no way to ship packages by airmail to the US? Or does it mean that Air Canada is screwed, but American owned companies like FedEx are still good?
posted by Kevin Street at 1:48 PM on March 10, 2011


BP: We must invade Canada to save its bacon.
I'll tell ya another thing: their beer sucks!
posted by k5.user at 1:51 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much air freight there is between the two countries, not much I'd guess(in spite of the fact they are the two biggest trading partners on earth.) I would guess the Air Canada portion of what I already suspect of being a very small amount is virtually nil. And if FedEx and UPS are operating normally, the net effect is nil.

Now if this was ground...whoa.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:52 PM on March 10, 2011


From the first link:

"James Anderson, FedEx senior communications specialist, confirmed that the TSA had put amendments in place, but wouldn’t comment further on the issue, saying only that FedEx operations had not been impacted."

So it woud appear that FedEx has a better grasp on the changes.
posted by sardonyx at 1:53 PM on March 10, 2011




It used to be pretty much our policy, and an important part of how we built a Middle Class of workers doing what foreign workers can do for a fraction of the pay. I'm mildly surprised that our Middle Class has shrunk as little as it did.

I know what you mean, but that argument walks a razor edge.

Consumers didn't start shopping outside of America because they were unpatriotic or selfish. Jobs left America because corporations were able to relocate or outsource to other countries with weaker labor laws, and continue to sell the products in an American market at a lower production cost than they could previously have. It's not really feasible for Americans to "buy American" anymore, and arguments that they should are usually more about patriotism than labor laws, and therefore miss the point entirely.

More importantly, I was just being snarky. ;)
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:53 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


We must invade Canada to save its bacon.

Canadian bacon ≠ bacon.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:57 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, they must be REALLY upset about the Chara hit on Max Pacioretty.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:59 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Time to start hoarding maple syrup.
posted by mecran01 at 2:01 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I read this that came to mind for me too, zephyr_words--it's like someone at Air Canada has just HAD IT WITH YOU PEOPLE! all of a sudden.
posted by Hoopo at 2:01 PM on March 10, 2011


I wonder how much air freight there is between the two countries, not much I'd guess(in spite of the fact they are the two biggest trading partners on earth.) I would guess the Air Canada portion of what I already suspect of being a very small amount is virtually nil. And if FedEx and UPS are operating normally, the net effect is nil.

Now if this was ground...whoa.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:52 PM on March 10


Some relevant StatsCan data here.
posted by sardonyx at 2:02 PM on March 10, 2011


What you yanks call Canadian bacon isn't what we Canucks consider to be bacon. Canadian bacon = great breakfast ham. Only bacon = bacon!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:03 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


We must invade Canada to save its bacon.

I fucking dare you.

We won't even fight back.

But each province is going to get 2 senators.

And this is what a (good) Canadian Senator looks like. So as long as we have that hanging over y'all I'm pretty sure no Republican will ever agree to such an event.
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Shouldn't this post wait until we have more facts?

Can't. Our facts are all outsourced these days, but no one can afford to import them anymore. So we're forced to rely on lies and innuendo. Like this.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:05 PM on March 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


And by "this," I meant my comment, not this post.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:06 PM on March 10, 2011


Why would you smuggle explosives into the US to start with? Surely it would be easier to run down to Mill and Feed or your local gun store and just buy some?
posted by fshgrl at 2:15 PM on March 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


What you yanks call Canadian bacon isn't what we Canucks consider to be bacon

Let me gently explain this joke to Canadians by first saying that we aren't literally saving back bacon from annihilation.

Just kidding, from one Canadian to another.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2011


It's nice that mail treaties, which you kind of have to imagine have probably existed basically since day 2 of this whole American enterprise, are now viewed as "regulatory headaches."
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:22 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the US views a lot of treaties are headaches: The Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Treaty of Westphalia and now, mail.
posted by GuyZero at 2:29 PM on March 10, 2011 [21 favorites]


I hope this doesn't affect my ability to receive shipments of fragile usb gadgets from China.
posted by fuq at 2:46 PM on March 10, 2011


It's not just between the US and Canada we have to worry about, it's stuff that goes through Canada. My company ships our systems via air freight and, yes, it often goes through Canada, sometimes even on Air Canada flights, on its way to other countries (or on its way back to us). Our equipment is too large and heavy to go via FedEx or UPS; it goes through specialized freight shipping companies. So this is a problem, not just for us but for many organizations that do more than ship books and goodies from Amazon or send bacon back and forth.
posted by olinerd at 2:47 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the wake of 9/11, I expected that a large percentage of ocean, air, truck and rail and cargo would be inspected from then on. I expected that a telling metric of this would be a huge increase in the number of drug seizures and a huge increase in the price of illegal drugs.

I was pretty naive.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:54 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I travel internationally and see our security theater being played out in other countries, with the sole aim of making us happy, I always wonder how long it will take for the rest of the world to just opt out of us. And so it begins, I guess.
posted by clarknova at 3:05 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Uh, Air Canada's taken this notice down, per your main link.
posted by klangklangston at 3:14 PM on March 10, 2011


Maybe they're just missing the ashtrays.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:27 PM on March 10, 2011


Uh, Air Canada's taken this notice down, per your main link.
posted by klangklangston at 3:14 PM on March 10

Yes, the notice was taken down. But that doesn't actually say anything other than they removed the notice from the Internet. It doesn't say that shipments were resumed or when the shipments were resumed or how many shipments were delayed (if any).

What is amounts to is that there is/was yet another issue with American security and international trade. Over the past number of months, most of these issues have been with land-based border crossings (specifically truck traffic). Now the problems seem to be reaching into the air cargo business. As to what's going on with train cargo, I personally have no idea, but it wouldn't surprise me if issues started to crop up there as well.

Beyond simply cargo transportation, there have been issues about what information American security can and will collect on Canadian passengers flying both internationally and domestically. Yes, domestically.

The movement of cargo and passengers between the U.S.A. and Canada is really becoming a big, big problem and that problem isn't going away any time soon. What makes it worse is that, for the most part, Americans (or more accurately American politicians) don't care, and any issues or complaints Canadians have aren't even heard, let alone acted upon.
posted by sardonyx at 3:37 PM on March 10, 2011


One of the key difficulties the TSA faces is the lack of authority...

Those poor TSA people. What can we do to help?
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:42 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The situation will be resolved when Canadiacs have more Pastors to bless the cargo in the name of Jesus and Freedom.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:58 PM on March 10, 2011


Maybe tangentially related: the FAA recently ordered the removal of oxygen masks in airplane bathrooms. Apparently they decided that a passenger could use the oxygen system to start a fire.
posted by Nelson at 4:07 PM on March 10, 2011


Time to start hoarding maple syrup.

Why? That's one thing that's still produced domestically.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:27 PM on March 10, 2011


According to my sources, the FAA has also proposed new regulations that would ban oxygen from airplanes altogether, for similar reasons. Other proposed new regulations include zero tolerance for potential dangers like petroleum distillates and electricity.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:28 PM on March 10, 2011


I think the US views a lot of treaties are headaches: The Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Treaty of Westphalia and now, mail.

Don't forget the Treaty of Ghent. I think they might still have a problem with that.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:39 PM on March 10, 2011


We must invade Canada to save its bacon.

I fucking dare you.

We won't even fight back.

But each province is going to get 2 senators.

And this is what a (good) Canadian Senator looks like. So as long as we have that hanging over y'all I'm pretty sure no Republican will ever agree to such an event.


Yeah, because then we'd have socialized medicine! And...and polite people!

Could ya'll maybe invade us? Please?
posted by misha at 4:40 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the US views a lot of treaties are headaches:

I wonder how many people who dislike treaties--especially those who have sworn (or affirmed) to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States"--realize that treaties are "the supreme law of the land" along with the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

It's nice that mail treaties, which you kind of have to imagine have probably existed basically since day 2 of this whole American enterprise, are now viewed as "regulatory headaches."

I also wonder what Ben Franklin, Founding Father and the first Postmaster General, would've thought about mail treaties.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:49 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


We must invade Canada to save its bacon.

Our record isn't that good; we're at least 0-2.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:55 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really loving the fact that no one will reveal the requirements that are causing all the fuss. If security by obscurity says anything is says we are doing something completely useless and asinine like putting a system in place that detects det cord, but not gelignite, semtex, C4, black powder, fuel oil soaked fertilizer or acetone peroxide or are only inspecting blue packages or something equally pointless.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:33 PM on March 10, 2011


People sending small parcels (500 grams and up) from Australia to the USA are now charged an extra $9 for "security fees". I don't know what these fees pay for, but it's an extraordinary amount of money.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:44 PM on March 10, 2011


Kid Charlemagne : I'm really loving the fact that no one will reveal the requirements that are causing all the fuss.

You won't find many people who detest the TSA more than I do, but in this case, all the spoooooky secrecy seems to come from the media, not the TSA themselves*:

What are the CCSP Requirements?

Certified Cargo Screening Facilities must meet the rigorous security requirements for their physical location, personnel, and screening.

Security: CCSP participants must have processes in place to screen prospective employees and contractors to TSA standards. Routine reviews of employees with access to cargo after screening must be conducted. Security threat assessments must be conducted on all employees as described in CCSP regulatory documents. Specialized training is also required for all person who will conduct screening, handle cargo, or have access to designated screening areas.

Screening: CCSP participants must have procedures in place to prevent unauthorized access to cargo facilities where cargo is screened, prepared, or stored. Physical barriers must be in place at cargo handling and storage facilities as well as designated screening areas.

Chain of Custody: Supply chain participants are required to maintain chain of custody standards for screened cargo. The standards must include all of the following:
* Documentation: Information must be documented and included with the shipment
* Methods- must be employed to ensure the cargo is secure and maintained throughout the shipping process
* Authentication- documentation and methods must be authenticated upon receipt by each party and at each point in the supply chain

Key Considerations: Each business should carefully examine the options and determine which method of screening program is right for their entity. Some factors to consider:
* Are your shipments carried on passenger aircraft?
* Will your shipments be comprised if opened for screening?
* What will screening cost?
* Are you products sensitive to shipping delays?
* Are you participating in other supply chain programs? (C-TPAT, cGMP, TAPA or other)
* Does the amount of shipping justify in-house screening?


Not exactly a manual on how to sneak explosives through, but pretty much covers the major points involved.

* Slightly edited and reformatted for space considerations.
posted by pla at 6:07 PM on March 10, 2011


The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security

It's weird how a phrase can bring up a sense of dread and the expectation of stupidity at the same time. It's hard to relate to something so draconian and yet apparently moronic.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:10 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's definitely a beef with the Treaty of Ghent. I mean, if they'd just had telephones, maybe we could've somehow landed both Virgin Islands.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:13 PM on March 10, 2011


Joe in Australia: "People sending small parcels (500 grams and up) from Australia to the USA are now charged an extra $9 for "security fees". I don't know what these fees pay for, but it's an extraordinary amount of money."

!!!

That's just skyway robbery. And that's what I (and probably a lot of other people) am really afraid of here, the possibility that these "emergency changes to US security" will end up costing us a lot of money. Or they might not, but some other change will. Once the fees start piling up, they'll never stop.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:20 PM on March 10, 2011


It's hard to relate to something so draconian and yet apparently moronic.

The Draconian is always moronic.
posted by clarknova at 6:47 PM on March 10, 2011


Let's kill trade with our economic partners. Then we can become an Autarky.
posted by ovvl at 7:17 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, we're looking at moving our overseas freight business from Fedex and UPS to Air Canada so that we don't have to go through the US with all its security apparatus.
posted by No Robots at 9:03 PM on March 10, 2011


Oh America, you never miss an opportunities to shoot yourself in the foot. Unfortunately you're using a semi-automatic machine gun without a firm grip on it, and we neighbouring countries tend to catch a few of the stray bullets.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:15 AM on March 11, 2011


Keith Talent writes "I wonder how much air freight there is between the two countries, not much I'd guess(in spite of the fact they are the two biggest trading partners on earth.) I would guess the Air Canada portion of what I already suspect of being a very small amount is virtually nil. And if FedEx and UPS are operating normally, the net effect is nil. "

From the link posted above in 94 it was 4200 tonnes valued at $599,270,000. Probably fair to guess it has doubled in that time.

Nelson writes "the FAA recently ordered the removal of oxygen masks in airplane bathrooms. Apparently they decided that a passenger could use the oxygen system to start a fire."

Aren't passengers allowed to bring personal oxygen on board?
posted by Mitheral at 7:01 AM on March 11, 2011


The TSA is great. It is the only jobs program that will continue to be funded by the so-called conservatives here in the USA. The more rules and regulations, the more jobs created. Of course soon those will all be out-sourced to other countries without labor laws, but for now, yay jobs!

(Yes I'm kidding, but have you seen the number of TSA workers it takes to man one of the naked ghost machines?)
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 7:37 AM on March 11, 2011


It looks like the Air Canada shipments resumed today.

On March 11, Air Canada sent another bulletin informing customers it had lifted the embargo.

“We [Air Canada] have been in contact with the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] and are pleased to advise you that we fully resume our cargo operations while maintaining a heightened level of security as required by these new measures…We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers and are very pleased to have arrived at a rapid resolution.” the bulletin said.


More details here about the story here.
posted by sardonyx at 6:39 PM on March 11, 2011


1. Repack real, American bacon in metric packages
2. Offer to Canadians on the web
3. Ship in styrofoam boxes with dry ice
4. Profit!
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:34 PM on March 11, 2011


In other TSA news: TSA Admits Bungling of Airport Body-Scanner Radiation Tests
posted by homunculus at 10:18 AM on March 16, 2011


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