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Hitachi Develops Boarding Gate With Built-In Explosives Detector 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-in-one dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Hitachi, in collaboration with Nippon Signal and the University of Yamanashi, have successfully prototyped a boarding gate with built-in explosives detection equipment as part of efforts to increase safety in public facilities such as airports. The prototype boarding gate efficiently collects minute particles which have affixed themselves to IC cards or portable devices used as boarding passes, and can detect within 1-2 seconds the presence of explosive compounds using internalized equipment. With this method, it is possible to inspect 1,200 passengers per hour."
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Hitachi Develops Boarding Gate With Built-In Explosives Detector

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  • by zippo01 (688802) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:40AM (#41556717)
    Anything would be better then getting karate chopped in the crotch by the poorly trained TSA guy, every time I fly and refuse the body scanner.
    • Re:Cup check! (Score:4, Informative)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:35AM (#41556915)
      The obvious solution is to stop flying to / from the USA. Obviously it's difficult if you need to fly for work, but then again I suppose some people's principles do have a price.
      • by isorox (205688)

        The obvious solution is to stop flying to / from the USA. Obviously it's difficult if you need to fly for work, but then again I suppose some people's principles do have a price.

        Yes, you can try the UK, where they'll irradiate you with no option to opt out (Manchester for example). Or go for the grope in Amsterdam. How about Moscow? I believe Bangkok has them now too. I believe you need to sell your soul in Seoul too. Erez will be busy scanning you and that's not even an airport!

        I've not done much travelling in the last few months, but Singapore's still safe, as is Jakarta, Delhi and Tel Aviv, but the corporate welfare program that are these scanners stretches across the world.

        • Yes, you can try the UK, where they'll irradiate you with no option to opt out (Manchester for example).

          Small detail: Backscatter x-ray scanners are banned in the EU. Those are mm-Wave scanners, which are as safe as your phone. Essentially, it's your privacy you should be worried about, not your health.

          • It's not quite as simple as that, because it has been know for the UK Transport Secretary to put their fingers in their ears and shout "La la la la" while you mention that particular round of EU legal requirements.

            Right now, the best hope for the UK seems to be that no matter how much the government shouts about security and terrorism the fact is that no-one likes having their privacy invaded, and the airports know that it probably does reduce the number of people willing to fly by some amount, and since th

            • by isorox (205688)

              the airports know that it probably does reduce the number of people willing to fly by some amount, and since the airports are in it for the money they don't seem to be reinstalling a lot of these scanners even if they're not prevented from doing so by UK law. Unless the government decides to mandate putting them back in again, of course...

              Manchester don't give a stuff. They're a ryanair class airport that somehow also has real airlines (including flights to New York and Washington)

          • by isorox (205688)

            Yes, you can try the UK, where they'll irradiate you with no option to opt out (Manchester for example).

            Small detail: Backscatter x-ray scanners are banned in the EU. Those are mm-Wave scanners, which are as safe as your phone. Essentially, it's your privacy you should be worried about, not your health.

            I found out this week that Manchester airport is finally planning on removing the backscatter xray machines, which have been illegal since December, however the UK government has so far ignored the EU regulation in the case of Manchester (my local airport)

            The backscatter machines were still irradiating my fellow passengers on my last trip through MAN on September 14th. No opt out, but at T3 you only get assaulted if you set the metal detector off.

            All the other examples are MMW though. I couldn't give a stuf

          • by kmoser (1469707)

            Those are mm-Wave scanners, which are as safe as your phone. Essentially, it's your privacy you should be worried about, not your health.

            Right, because your phone couldn't possibly cause brain tumors.

            • I'll just ask you my standard question: By what physical or chemical mechanism would a tumor develop due to low-energy RF transmissions?

        • by mgcarley (735176)

          You can't even get in to an airport in India without having (at the very least, your e-ticket) printed out - even the small ones - making it impossible to book at the counter if you need to fly somewhere on short notice (been there, done that) or don't have a printer (more likely) because you're a tourist (been there done that too, but even though I live here now, I still don't own one, and yes, I could pop down to any one of the misspelled shops with the word "Xerox" spelled incorrectly and print the thing

          • by isorox (205688)

            I find a printed itinery is fine for Delhi, thats with a uk passport. Islamabad's worse.

            Tel aviv want a printout too. Moscow search on entry to the terminal at DME, I suppose the bomb a couple of years ago was responsible.

              Explaining a netgear switch in Delhi was tough. My first trip through involved 2 Searches before checkin. they confiscated my gaffer tape too.

            Cairo want printouts as well.

    • Question is, will this new gate satisfy the TSA agents? No more nudie pics, no more gropings? Something tells me this gate doesn't detect metal and the gropings will continue.
      • by isorox (205688)

        Question is, will this new gate satisfy the TSA agents? No more nudie pics, no more gropings? Something tells me this gate doesn't detect metal and the gropings will continue.

        If only there was some form of gate which could detect metal. Perhaps it could beep when you went through, and they could use a hand held detector to find out you're wearing steel toe-caps.

        • by tqk (413719)

          If only there was some form of gate which could detect metal.

          Including alyoominium?

    • by flyneye (84093)

      They should try my hot new idea.
      Nude flights! Let the TSA worry about the baggage. Nude travelers get the fast-track onto a jet.
      It could start with Sandals and French Riviera vacation flights and expand to tropical get-aways.
      You gotta be O.K. with natural humans of any age, but, this should speed up the poking and prodding segment of consumer abuse.
      What a conversation starter, imagine the people you'd meet with nothing to hide! How refreshing.

      • by morgauxo (974071)
        Then the TSA perverts would probably grope even more!
      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        They should try my hot new idea.
        Nude flights! Let the TSA worry about the baggage. Nude travelers get the fast-track onto a jet.
        It could start with Sandals and French Riviera vacation flights and expand to tropical get-aways.
        You gotta be O.K. with natural humans of any age, but, this should speed up the poking and prodding segment of consumer abuse.
        What a conversation starter, imagine the people you'd meet with nothing to hide! How refreshing.

        With an obesity epidemic in the US, you really want nude flights?

        • by flyneye (84093)

          Well I did say you gotta be O.K. with natural people.
          I suppose we could alter the baggage law for spare tires and ass handles.

    • by isorox (205688)

      Anything would be better then getting karate chopped in the crotch by the poorly trained TSA guy, every time I fly and refuse the body scanner.

      What makes you think this will be instead of the grope?

      And if "anything" is better you'd be happy to get irradiated by the xray machine operated by a monkey that doesn't know how it works

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      Anything would be better then getting karate chopped in the crotch by the poorly trained TSA guy

      What makes you think the rough handling is unintentional?

  • Soooooo... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jamstar7 (694492) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:48AM (#41556745)
    I skimmed the link, looked like typical marketting pitch stuff. I didn't see any error rates on this marvelous new device. I'm curious as to how many false positives it's going to generate, and how often it will miss carry-on explosives. I'm also wondering how many days I'll need to stay away from the rifle range before I won't show any particulate explosives at one of these checkpoints.
    • Re:Soooooo... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:57AM (#41556781)

      Relevant comment. Contrary to what most people think, the false positive rate is far more important than the false negative rate. If it has a false negative (i.e. missing real bombs) rate, it will still succeed in its main task, of deterring would be bombers, because they will not take a 95% chance of detection. (Assuming, of course, the false negatives are random). On the other hand, if it has a false positive rate of 0.1%, that is a false alarm for about one in four aircraft boardings, which it totally unacceptable, And, as you say, a recent visit to a rifle range would be highly likely to trigger a false positive. They need to tune the false positives down to less than 0.001% while still keeping false negatives to just a few percent. Which may not be easy.

      • by neokushan (932374)

        Why should the false positive rate be so low? Most airport scanners (be they metal detectors, X-rays or the body scanners) have a fairly high false-positive rate - all that happens is the security staff take people aside for a friendly grope and a more thorough check. False positives aren't an issue.

        The point of systems like this isn't to be perfect, it's to make getting through security faster and more secure. The impact on a certain unlucky few will be offset by the thousands that can get through faster a

        • by AlecC (512609)

          Because, rather than "more metal than expected", which is nearly always innocuous, it say "EXPLOSIVES!". If your X-Ray showed something explicitly gun shaped, as opposed to something just not understood, I bet the grope would be a lot less friendly. If there are explosives, the security staff would be in reasonable fear that they themselves are at risk if a suicide bomber blows himself up on detection, whereas a gun strapped to the back is not yet a danger.

          • by neokushan (932374)

            Well surely that's down to how the machine alerts and how the staff have been trained to deal with it? If they've been trained correctly, then ANYTHING suspicious should be treated the same anyway.
            Besides, I very much doubt it's going to display a screen saying "EXPLOSIVES! EXPLOSIVES!", rather it'll probably say "Found high concentrations of particle x, which COULD indicate a dangerous substance - please check further" or whatever.

        • Multipliers (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          > Why should the false positive rate be so low?

          Because it's multiplied by the millions of innocent passengers the gate will encounter.

          The false negative rate, by contrast, is multiplied by the handful of terrorists.

        • by SirGarlon (845873)

          The false-positive rates should be low because it's a waste of time and money to search non-terrorists. Seriously.

          I could also make the "freedom" argument but I suspect that might fall on deaf ears.

          • I could also make the "freedom" argument but I suspect that might fall on deaf ears.

            And you might be tagged for further 'investigation'. Civil rights, and the mention thereof is verboten.

        • by kasperd (592156)

          Why should the false positive rate be so low?

          Because if every time the alarm goes off, it turns out to be a false positive, then it won't be treated with the respect it needs to. If one out of every 100 million people going through the gate is carrying a bomb, and if one out of every 100 thousand people going through the gate without explosives is triggering a false alarm, then once the alarm does go off, there is 99.9% probability that it is a false alarm.

          I'm not saying the probability of a false alarm

          • by neokushan (932374)

            How often do you expect that the X-ray machine or metal detector goes off versus how often it's "legitimate"?

        • What happens when a metal detector has a false positve? You step back, take off your belt, and try again. 10 minutes possibly even up to an aborted flight.

          In other words, a false positive, if you actually believe the sensor, is going to require a real thorough search.

          If you don't believe the sensor, then you won't perform the full search, but then that raises the question: If you aren't going to treat your sensor as if you believe what it reports, what is the use of the sensor?

          • by jamstar7 (694492)
            What happens if an explosive detector has a false positive? Most likely, a pistol in the face, possibly a bullet in the head, depending on how jumpy the guards are. After all, they don't know for sure if you're wired, but they have to act as though you are, and are about to go off at any second. As has been pointed out, if you are wired, they have no idea what can and will trigger the explosives. They have to assume you're more volitile than a bottle of nitroglycerine or they're wasting everybody's time
        • Well, it looks like something bugged and it stripped out the middle part of my comment.
          What happens when a metal detector has a false positve? You step back, take off your belt, and try again. less than 10s

          When this device has a false positive, you don't KNOW it's a false positive, it just says "I DETECTED EXPLOSIVES ON THIS GUY". Where are the explosives? Well, it doesn't tell you that, so now you have to check everything about this guy, including his luggage, which is probably already on the plane.

        • Why should the false positive rate be so low?

          This is a boarding gate, not an item at the security checkpoint. A false positive 15 minutes before takeoff is a pretty big deal because you might miss your flight or the flight might be delayed as a result.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        it will still succeed in its main task, of deterring would be bombers, because they will not take a 95% chance of detection.

        Why exactly do terrorists need to make it past airport machines? Is getting a bomb on a 'plane really the only way they can attack us? Isn't blowing up the line of people waiting for the scanner just as effective? (Assuming they have to attack airports, which they don't...)

        Even if it was the only possible attack they could still put C4 up their asses and the TSA wouldn't find it by groping/scanning. The bomb detector probably won't even beep so long as they don't fart on the way through.

        • by AlecC (512609)

          Spectacle is what they want. Exploding a bomb in a queue kills four or five, seriously injures the same number. Blowing up an airliner in the air kills hundreds, splashes bent metal across the countryside, and dominates the news for days.

          There is not enough space up the human backside to hold a decent bomb, as proved experimentally. Someone tried to kill a Saudi prince with a bomb up the jacksie, exploded while embracing him. The prince escaped with moderate injuries.

          I agree that the attention shown to airp

          • by Anonymous Coward

            > and dominates global politics for at least 11 years

            FTFY. Get the fuck over it, America.

          • by dgatwood (11270)

            Exploding a bomb in a queue kills four or five, seriously injures the same number.

            Only if it is a very small bomb.

            Blowing up an airliner in the air kills hundreds, splashes bent metal across the countryside, and dominates the news for days.

            Only if it is a very large bomb.

            See the problem with that logic? A bomb big enough to actually take down a plane—not just rip a hole in the side—planes have landed safely with large chunks of their cabin wall missing (e.g. Aloha Airlines Flight 243 [wikipedia.org])—is

      • by morgauxo (974071)
        Random? Yeah right! They probably will have a concealed foot pedal for that. Hot blonde coming, step here to get to grope her.. oh wait.. this is the TSA I'm talking about.. pre-pubescent boy coming, stomping hard on that button!
    • I'm curious as to how many false positives it's going to generate

      Interestingly, one can significantly increase the false positive number if one goes to an airport an sprays around these tiny particles (one only needs little of them).
      Therefore I hope they close the airport if the false positive rate goes up, instead of assuming the equipment is at fault.

      • Or they could just, you know, blow up the detectors?
      • by petes_PoV (912422)
        Yes. On the assumption that the goal of a trrrist is not to blow stuff up, but to create an environment of fear, then anything that makes it easier to create false positives is simply playing into their hands.

        The only effect this would have would be to create an "OMG, there are several baddies a day trying to blow up aircraft" which would increase the demand for security and restrictions. That in turn makes it easier for the bad guys (and the security companies - sometimes it's difficult to tell who's bene

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        So all a terrist has to do to create terror is to infiltrate one o' them there bathroom spray factories...

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      " I didn't see any error rates on this marvelous new device. "

      Somebody with a bit of of explosives or just components could dilute it in water and drop it at one of the entries during a rainy day, so that thousands walk the residue throughout the airport, to check the error rates.
      That could be fun.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Seeing as it was developed in Japan it is probably assuming that guns are not widely available to the public.

      If it works and speeds up boarding them I welcome it. We really don't need the level of security we already have, especially the nude scanners and ban on liquids. The only types of explosive that can't be detected by other means are difficult to detonate, meaning you need to bring a complicated and easily detectable detonator. If you don't bring one you end up in the situation recent would-be bombers

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "The only types of explosive that can't be detected by other means are difficult to detonate, meaning you need to bring a complicated and easily detectable detonator."

        Easily detectable? The new 'naked' scanners don't detect detonators if you put it where the sun doesn't shine.

    • The false-positive/false-negative (false alarm/miss) tradeoff is going to depend on what the criterion for detection is set at. The measurement you want to look at really is how well this scanner can segregate "individual with dangerous explosive chemical" from background noise. These sorts of measures are considered secret, and I imagine the company publishing them for this device would be a great way to have nobody able to buy it.
    • by wganz (113345)

      OK, so what about walking through my workshop where I also reload?
      It is going to go bonkers over my shoes.

      All this does is reinforce my opinion that the TSA has destroyed what is left of the airlines. Interesting tidbit is that the overall airline industry has never shown a profit. Individual airlines may make money, but overall it is a financially suck industry.

      This is why my Jeep now has 200k miles on it. If I cannot drive there, I ain't a going.

    • by c (8461)

      I'm also wondering how many days I'll need to stay away from the rifle range before I won't show any particulate explosives at one of these checkpoints.

      Wait until a few months after they're installed, then ask a terrorist. I'm sure they'll have it figured out by then.

      On a compeltely unrelated note, has anyone considered the entertainment value of dusting a boarding pass printer with gunpowder?

    • by drjzzz (150299)

      "I'm also wondering how many days I'll need to stay away from the rifle range before I won't show any particulate explosives at one of these checkpoint."

      Simple: just don't carry your BOARDING PASS to the RIFLE RANGE.

      • by j-beda (85386)

        "I'm also wondering how many days I'll need to stay away from the rifle range before I won't show any particulate explosives at one of these checkpoint."

        Simple: just don't carry your BOARDING PASS to the RIFLE RANGE.

        Oh yeah, and don't touch your boarding pass with your hands.

        The whole point of this type of thing is to be sensitive enough so that it can detect the person who assembled a bomb and put it into his luggage and then picked up his boarding pass from the ticket agent, walked across the airport and handed that boarding pass to the gate attendant. It needs to be able to work even if the bad-guy took a shower after packing the bomb away and before touching the boarding pass.

        • So you're saying you'd need someone to make the bomb and another completely different person to carry it to the airport? There's no way a terrorist organization could pull off that kind of complex operation! I feel safer already.

          • by j-beda (85386)

            So you're saying you'd need someone to make the bomb and another completely different person to carry it to the airport? There's no way a terrorist organization could pull off that kind of complex operation! I feel safer already.

            Hey, I'm not saying I think it would actually improve safety to any meaningful extent. I'm just saying that not bringing your boarding pass to the rifle range probably won't help much.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        Simple: just don't carry your BOARDING PASS to the RIFLE RANGE.

        Why? Why should I stop a perfectly normal behavior, just because someone wants to make some money?
        Next thing is you'll tell me not to eat a Big Mac before taking a drug test.

  • Multipass (Score:4, Funny)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:04AM (#41556805)

    I though that just read "Hitachi Develops Boarding Gate With Built-In Explosives" for a moment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:18AM (#41556863)

    Doesn't look intrusive enough, so I guess it will not be used.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:31AM (#41556899) Homepage

    You've been though the perv-scan or the finger-rape, your carry on baggage has already been nuked, and you're at the boarding gate with only Sally Swipe-n-Smile between you and the 'plane.

    Then the machine goes "ping" and the siren goes off. What now? How does that play out?

    If it's a false positive (and it will be) then Sally asks you politely to step aside, and it's just another piece of minor inconvenience for the airline, and probably a missed flight and some more TSA probing for the traveller.

    But let's pretend for a second that it's a true positive - which is surely the only scenario that we're actually interested in. What then?

    Does Sally throw herself onto the passenger in slow motion, screaming "Nooooooo!" in order to save everyone else? And how does she know that this is the one time that it's a real threat, rather than the false ones that she's become used to, day after day?

    Really, how does Sally react to the real threat, and what will be the results of that reaction?

    • You know the answer as well as I do; Firstly, this is a tech demo. There's no plan to roll these out. Secondly, this is just another company trying to muzzle their way into the government pork barrel. They won't catch anything with these machines, because if they do they undermine everything the TSA, RapiScan et al have attempted. That will either mean a massive enquiry into public spending (hahaha) or more money to the TSA and contractors for R&D.

      I don't see a winning situation here, except maybe shel
    • by shilly (142940)

      What you've described is just a specific instance of the general problem of effective guards. As the other poster says, what happens is that the detector flags you for extra screening when you're a positive (true or false still to be determined). You go stand to one side. If you're the evil terrorist and you're actually carrying the explosives at this point, you can blow 'em up and affect a few dozen to a few hundred people. The overall impact is likely way less than it would be if you were on the plane and

    • Imagine the IRL DDOS of an airport.

      Can you see it?

      Bring a small aerosol canister of basically liquid shit and spray it inconspicuously on people's luggage. For better results bring a few cans with you with slightly different composition, mix powder traces of real explosives as well.

      Do it as a flash mob across the globe and shut down the entire airline industry.

  • zippo01 +1. Friend, I full agree with you!
  • Priveless (Score:4, Funny)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:39AM (#41556929)

    Chemical sniffing boarding gate: $10,800,000

    Government contract for the U.S. air travel system: Billions

    $4 bag of potassium nitrate fertilizer sprinkled on sidewalk ice by a terrorist instead of salt: Priceless

    • by mitcheli (894743)

      NICE! ;)

      In Other News Today: Chicago O'Hare was closed today as officials were simply baffled by the fact that EVERY turn-style detected explosive residue. Bomb squad technicians were simply stumped after their dogs spun circles in mass confusion.

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      You, sir, get the "Awesome Idea of the Day" award.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I made the mistake of going to the range before flying once. Despite washing my hands, I still had gunpowder residue on them and my clothing.

    Missing my flight and 4 hours of coerced interrogation later (CPS and Phila PD showed up and threatened to take my kids away if I didn't talk, and they wouldn't allow me to call a lawyer), I was finally allowed to leave and go home, since I was put on the no-fly list.

    Unsurprisingly, the ACLU did not want to take the case, seeing as how they are a staunch opponent of gu

    • So you're saying the solution is to get /all/ of the US into shooting regularly so as to dilute the tactic of detecting explosives residue into uselessness? Got it.

    • Didn't think to call the NRA? Not much sympathy then.

      Sure, the ACLU is supposed to represent all civil liberties. But the NRA focuses on a specific one, so in reality it's the NRA that should be up in arms (figuratively) over stuff like this, which has broad implications on their membership. If they aren't, then something's missing from this story.

      • by EmagGeek (574360)

        Why would the NRA be interested in the OP's situation since it did not involve actual possession or carrying of a firearm? I think this is much more a problem of civil liberties in general than gun rights specifically. I could see the same thing happening to me after handling oil or spilling gasoline on my hands at the gas pump (if they look for those kinds of compounds).

        If the OP's story is true, it's horrifying, and I would think the ACLU could look past their own bias (which I agree with the OP they have

  • This is an area where companies should co-operate towards combining all these variious detection tech into one machine, if at all possible. I realize this may be a pie in the sky thought, profit rules, of course.

    -------------

    Eskimos. God's 'frozen' people.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:00AM (#41557239)
    It doesn't conform to the TSA paradigm, so they will reject it.

    1. It is not intrusive enough.

    2. It replaces sullen TSA uniformed personal with hardware.

    3. It reduces the DHS conditioning intended to make the general public accept arbitrary behavior by the government.

    4. It is not as dangerous as full body radiation from scanners.

    There are a few things that might make the TSA like it.

    1. It is really expensive.

    2. It doesn't actually work.

    3. It will interfere with people for no discernible reason.

    On the whole, it's reducing the number and visible presence of the TSA uniformed types that will keep it from being adopted. They are already so expensive, intrusive, arbitrary, and incompetent that they don't need that level of automation.

  • static electricity is bad for explosives. why dont they just force everyone to go through a long hallway full of balloons before boarding? much cheaper than making robot snifferdogs
  • I suppose the terrorists are going to have to plant their bombs without boarding the plane, now. Oh, wait! They already figured that out [guardian.co.uk].
  • Skimming the front page, looking for a headline that looks interesting.

    "Hitachi Develops Boarding Gate With Built-In Explosives"

    Hey! That looks promising! Oh, wait...

  • How many people have carried on bombs to airplanes in the past 20 years? Far fewer than were struck by lightning.

    This seems to be just another way for a large corporation to make money off the infinite budget of Homeland Security. We would save many more lives using this money on cancer research or to fight drunk driving.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, right.

    Next thing you know, Hitatchi will make some kind of 'magic wand' security can wave ..

    • Next thing you know, Hitatchi will make some kind of 'magic wand' security can wave ..

      Hitachi does in fact make a 'magic wand' [wikipedia.org], but I doubt that the security folks would be waving it at you

  • My understanding is that the purpose of a terrorist explosive device is to create as much graphic damage as possible. If they've got as far as a crowded terminal, isn't it already too late?

  • So I hit the firing range then take a flight. Just like today, they check for nitrates and of course find them. All they know is that I have nitrates on me. BECAUSE I WAS PRACTICING A PERFECTLY LEGAL HOBBY! Testing for nitrates is like looking for cocaine on money - all you know is that there's cocaine on the money. You don't have any clue why it's there. Terminally Stupid Administrations wasting our money.

  • Oddly enough, I can see how Hitachi's experience in particular with building hard drives would lend itself to developing devices that can detect explosives.

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