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posted by martyb on Friday February 19 2016, @11:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the blinded-by-the-light dept.

In yet another laser beam incident, crew on a flight carrying Pope Francis reported a laser beam sighting to air traffic control in Mexico City:

Alitalia flight AZ4000 was travelling from Havana with the Pope on board, and was preparing to land when the laser was spotted.
No crew or passengers were injured by the beam, the airline added.

[...] "This is yet another incident that shows how serious and widespread the issue of laser attacks on aircraft is," said Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), in response to the case involving the Pope's plane. "Modern lasers have the power to blind and the potential to dazzle and distract pilots during critical phases of flight," he told the BBC. "Shining a laser at an aircraft is illegal and dangerous and puts all those on board and on the ground nearby at completely unnecessary risk."

Aboard the plane headed from Rome to Mexico, the Pope said that contraception may be the "lesser evil" for women at risk of catching the Zika virus. In comments made on the ground, he chastised Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump for his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border.


In another story from the UK laser crime beat, Englishman Philip Houghton has been sentenced to 20 weeks in prison for admitting to shining a laser pen at a Humberside Police helicopter that was investigating a shooting.

Original Submission

Related Stories

Laser Beam Incident Causes Redirection of Transatlantic Flight 99 comments

A Virgin Atlantic flight from London's Heathrow Airport destined for New York was forced to return following a "laser beam incident":

A flight heading to New York turned back to London Heathrow Airport after a "laser beam incident", Virgin Atlantic has confirmed. A crew member is recorded saying to Irish air traffic control that they had a "medical issue with one of the pilots after a laser incident after take-off". It happened at 20:13 GMT, shortly after take-off, the company said, before flight VS025 returned as a precaution. There were 252 passengers and 15 crew on board. Metropolitan Police tweeted: "Aircraft forced to return to Heathrow after being hit by a laser strike... #laserstrike CAD4."

[...] A new law introduced in 2010 means people could be charged with "shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot".

Janet Alexander, a commercial airline pilot, said shining a laser beam into a cockpit was a very dangerous thing to do. "It's unfortunately becoming an increasingly problematic occurrence. It's very like a lightning strike in that it's very instantaneous, very, very bright light, which is dazzling basically," she said. "And of course if it's targeted in exactly the wrong way you could permanently damage someone's sight."

A total of 414 "laser incidents" in the UK were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority between January and June 2015. The highest number of them was at London Heathrow Airport - 48 were reported during this period. In 2014, there were 1,440 incidents in the UK, with 168 at Heathrow, according to the CAA.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has called for lasers to be classified as "offensive weapons" and banned in the UK, following the Virgin Atlantic flight VS025 laser incident. Members cite the frequency of laser incidents and say the 2010 legislation on lasers isn't tough enough.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

Two Billion People Live in Areas at Risk of Zika Virus Spread 17 comments

New research has found that over 2 billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread via mosquitoes:

More than two billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread, detailed maps published in the journal eLife show. The Zika virus, which is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, triggered a global health emergency this year. Last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the virus causes severe birth defects.

The latest research showed mapping Zika was more complex than simply defining where the mosquito can survive. One of the researchers, Dr Oliver Brady from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: "These are the first maps to come out that really use the data we have for Zika - earlier maps were based on Zika being like dengue or chikungunya. "We are the first to add the very precise geographic and environmental conditions data we have on Zika." By learning where Zika could thrive the researchers could then predict where else may be affected. The researchers confirmed that large areas of South America, the focus of the current outbreak, are susceptible.

To put that in perspective, a recent estimate states: "The world population (the total number of living humans on Earth) was 7.349 billion as of July 1, 2015 according to the medium fertility estimate by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. "

Related:
El Salvador Advises Against Pregnancy until 2018 over Zika Virus Birth Defect Fears
World Health Organization to Convene Emergency Meeting for Zika Virus
WHO Calls Zika Virus Outbreak an International Health Emergency
First U.S. Zika Virus Transmission Reported, Likely via Sex Rather than Mosquito Bite
Maybe “It’s Not the Zika Virus”
Pope Francis's Plane Reports Laser Incident
Zika Virus and Birth Defects


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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @11:57AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @11:57AM (#306826)

    You guys need to get better at clickbait. The article should have been titled:

    Donald Trump Develops Death Ray, Tries To Assassinate Pope After Disparaging Remarks

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by takyon on Friday February 19 2016, @12:42PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday February 19 2016, @12:42PM (#306838) Journal

      I'm pioneering a new form of bait where you have to read the whole TFS.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:36PM (#306991)

      I'm glad Don has the guts to say what he thinks instead of worrying about what people think. It is indeed refreshing. We see the good, bad, and ugly of Don as-is. The Vatican is walled in, so Don was right to call them hypocrites when they criticized his wall plan.

      I don't think he'd make a good prez, but as a commentator he fills a useful and needed role, even if it's sometimes cringe-worthy commentary.

      • (Score: 2) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Saturday February 20 2016, @01:55AM

        by fido_dogstoyevsky (131) <{axehandle} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday February 20 2016, @01:55AM (#307212)

        I don't think he'd make a good prez, but as a commentator he fills a useful and needed role, even if it's sometimes cringe-worthy commentary.

        So - a good court jester but a bad king?

        --
        It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @12:03PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @12:03PM (#306830)

    OMG is he OK? sigh

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday February 19 2016, @12:51PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday February 19 2016, @12:51PM (#306843) Journal

      Let's see what he's tweeting! [twitter.com]

      All of us must struggle so that work can become a reality of humanization and a positive future.

      Earnings and capital are not more important than the human person, but should be at the service of the common good.

      Do not forget that the mercy of God is our shield and strength against injustice, destruction and oppression.

      Tears can generate a fracture which is able to open ourselves for conversion.

      I have felt welcomed and received with affection and hope by the Mexican people. Thank you for opening the doors to your lives.

      Thank you to Mexico and to all Mexicans. May the Lord and the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe accompany you always.

      Looks like he's fine.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday February 19 2016, @12:36PM

    by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday February 19 2016, @12:36PM (#306833) Journal

    > In comments made on the ground, he chastised Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump for his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border.

    He went one better than that. He actually said that anybody saying the kind of things that Trump is saying couldn't be described as a Christian. [bbc.co.uk]
    Trump got all butt-hurt and responded that the Pope "doesn't have the right" to question somebody else's faith.

    1 - Not religious myself so I don't really have a dog in this fight, but it's fun to watch from the sidelines.
    2 - Not exactly a fan of Popes in general, but I'd pick this guy over Trump any day.
    3 - Again, not into this whole religion thing, but surely if *any* mortal human gets to say who is and isn't christian, it's the mutherfreaking pope.
    4 - I'm sure Mr Trump misspoke. I'm sure what he meant to say was "Of course his big-hattiness has the right to question my faith, just as I have the right to disagree with him and say all the pants-on-head crazy shit that I regularly spew." Because, you know, free speech. You're not an authoritarian, constitution-wiping, free-speech-hating unAmerican asstunnel are you, Mr Trump?

    • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday February 19 2016, @12:39PM

      by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday February 19 2016, @12:39PM (#306835) Journal

      Oh yeah, nearly forgot:

      5 - Trump went on to blame the Pope's remarks on Mexico. America, where the fuck did you dig this guy up from?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @03:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @03:16PM (#306938)

        In the meantime, Hillary can't make up her mind if she's a liar or not.

    • (Score: 1, Troll) by VLM on Friday February 19 2016, @01:00PM

      by VLM (445) on Friday February 19 2016, @01:00PM (#306850)

      Again, not into this whole religion thing, but surely if *any* mortal human gets to say who is and isn't christian, it's the mutherfreaking pope.

      He's kind of in hot water for how did this guy get in charge, WRT to him not even being Catholic. He's kind of a leftie political activist who moonlights in religion. I mean why be a Catholic if the pope today is basically a unitarian universalist. Not that there's anything wrong with the UU, other than pretending you aren't one when you are, or pretending the two groups are separate when they're rapidly doing some unification. So what is a standard politician response to someone questioning your authority, why, question someone elses! So its not me who's not catholic, its trump who's not christian.

      Online there's a pix making the rounds of the city walls at the Vatican with the Pope's headline.

      Luckily for Trump, its been an American tradition for decades to ignore what the pope says, and the over 70 crowd supposedly likes Hillary anyway so it doesn't matter.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:18PM (#306864)

        He's kind of in hot water for how did this guy get in charge, WRT to him not even being Catholic.

        I'm pretty sure they checked that he is, indeed, Catholic. Note that for deciding whether he is Catholic, the only thing that has to be checked is whether he was baptised by a Catholic priest. If that is the case, according to the rules of the church he is Catholic, no matter what he thinks, says, believes or does. I think even if you get excommunicated, you don't stop being Catholic, you just lose the right to take part in the rituals.

        • (Score: 2) by CortoMaltese on Friday February 19 2016, @02:57PM

          by CortoMaltese (5244) on Friday February 19 2016, @02:57PM (#306927) Journal

          You are indeed correct, "excommunication does not expel the person from the Catholic Church, but simply forbids the excommunicated person from engaging in certain activities..."

          If you want the opinion of a Catholic, in words of G.K Chesterton “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”,

          I'm of the opinion that Francis isn't any more to the left than JPII, only that American media always focused on the anti-communist side of JPII and ignored well everything else:

          "The goods of this world are originally meant for all. The right to private property is valid and necessary, but it does not nullify the value of this principle. Private property, in fact, is under a ‘social mortgage’, which means that it has an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods."
          "We are therefore faced with a serious problem of unequal distribution of the means of subsistence originally meant for everybody, and thus also an unequal distribution of the benefits deriving from them"

          Even pope Leo XIII Wrote in 1891:
          "The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government"

      • (Score: 2) by subs on Friday February 19 2016, @02:28PM

        by subs (4485) on Friday February 19 2016, @02:28PM (#306904)

        WRT to him not even being Catholic

        Citation needed.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Thexalon on Friday February 19 2016, @02:49PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Friday February 19 2016, @02:49PM (#306922)

        The Pope has never been primarily a left-wing activist type. His jobs prior to becoming a priest were:
        - Club bouncer
        - Chemist
        He was actually less political than, say, John Paul II prior to his papacy.

        What is true is that he sees a role for the Catholic Church as being in significant part a charity organization. There are two reasons for that:
        1. Most reasonable interpretations of "Love thy neighbor" imply that you should make sure that the people around you have food, clothing, and shelter. The Catholic Church has by and large taken that to heart throughout much of its history.
        2. Throughout South America and much of Africa, the Catholic Church is the largest source of charitable aid around. They often take on that role because the governments are either oppressive dictatorships (e.g. Argentina and Chile under their military governments) or simply incapable of bringing the resources to bear (e.g. Haiti).

        Also, all of his rhetoric about left-wing economics is also rooted in Christianity: When you're following a guy who supposedly said things like "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." and beat up bankers, that leads you to a fairly left-wing economic platform.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by fadrian on Friday February 19 2016, @06:14PM

        by fadrian (3194) on Friday February 19 2016, @06:14PM (#307010) Homepage

        Hey dummy, the walls around the Vatican were built ca. 800 AD. I doubt anyone's going to tear down a historical structure to make a political point. Plus, the portals to the wall have been unguarded and allow all to pass freely for at least the last couple hundred years.

        Your retarded "Trump"eting annoys me.

        --
        That is all.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20 2016, @02:13AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20 2016, @02:13AM (#307218)

        > He's kind of a leftie political activist who moonlights in religion.

        Sounds rather like Jesus doesn't it?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @03:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @03:08PM (#306932)

      The Pope fell into Trump's trap. Trump needed a diversion after the disastrous debate where he blamed 9/11 on Bush 43 and pretty much let Clinton off the hook for same, which is a major violation of GOP scripture. And the Pope isn't all that popular in the South.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:30PM (#306987)

      I can't believe I'm defending Trump here, but really?

      Regarding 3: In America, Roman Catholicism (the only denomination of Christianity that recognizes the pope's authority) is a minority sect. The Catholics, like every other denomination, have their own definition of Christianity and believe it's the one true definition. Not only do members of other denomination see the Pope as not in a position of authority, but they also see him not even using the right definition.

      Regarding 4: There's a difference between legal rights and moral rights. If we assume he meant "no moral right", we get an unremarkable statement of religious dissension; if we assume he meant "no legal right", it's a rejection of the first amendment. You've presented no evidence supporting the more outrageous interpretation, and I'm unwilling to jump to that conclusion without it. The jackass makes plenty of incendiary statements without us having to twist the ones that aren't.
       

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday February 19 2016, @12:45PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday February 19 2016, @12:45PM (#306840) Journal

    We're going to ban all lasers until we can figure out what the hell is going on!

    2016 would be a good year to pick up your lasers, before it's too late.

    Aim them at the mosquitoes.

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:49PM (#306884)

      "Aim them at the mosquitoes."

      This is fun. After a while they drop to the floor. It also takes a little skill to keep the laser targeted on them.
      I guess I need a bigger laser so I hit them once and there down.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @12:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @12:50PM (#306842)

    A "laser was sighted". Not "a laser shined into the cockpit" or "pilots eye was hit by", but simply a laser was sighted.

    If anyone was previously in doubt that this is not about safety, this should clear it up.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday February 19 2016, @12:53PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday February 19 2016, @12:53PM (#306845) Journal

      But if a laser was sighted from the plane, that means photons from the beam SCATTERED and reached THE EYES OF THE CREW!

      This isn't just a laser incident, it's a laser attack!

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      • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday February 19 2016, @01:34PM

        by Gravis (4596) on Friday February 19 2016, @01:34PM (#306872)

        This isn't just a laser incident, it's a laser attack!

        that's not a laser attack. THIS [youtube.com] is a laser attack! [youtube.com]

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:15PM (#306860)

    Seriously, how did they "spot" this laser while they were preparing to land?

    And given that it isn't exactly easy to keep a beam aimed at a moving target a mile in the sky and at an angle that would even enter a cockpit, does this mean we we really have 1000 Beavis and Butthead type assholes just sitting around everywhere pointing lasers at airplains?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:24PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:24PM (#306866)

      or you could have just one asshole, with a pair of good binoculars, sitting at the end of the runway, so the plane would practically sit still for them when it's landing.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Friday February 19 2016, @01:30PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday February 19 2016, @01:30PM (#306869) Journal

      Given that these planes usually seem to be hit during takeoff and landing, as the other AC said, it's not as hard as you think.

      As for 1,000 Buttheads, it does seem to be very common if you look at the stats. There are some in the previous article [soylentnews.org]. If you want to see what one of these Butthead types look like, look no further than here [bbc.com].

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @01:36PM (#306875)

    It isn't like you can see your laser spot reflecting back on the plane, so why the hell do people even do this? What is the jolly factor here besides just being a dick?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @04:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @04:52PM (#306973)

      It is seen as a method of celebration in some cultures, so could have something to do with that. Or they just want to see how far it reaches and don't realize there is a problem.
      http://www.buzzfeed.com/appel/egypts-green-laser-pointer-revolution-7u1x [buzzfeed.com]

      The fact they may be used as cheap weapons during a revolt explains why we are getting hyperbolic news coverage on this issue, to try to ban them. Not that I think shining lasers at aircraft is acceptable, but has a public education campaign on what it looks like to the pilots even been tried?

  • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday February 19 2016, @01:36PM

    by Gravis (4596) on Friday February 19 2016, @01:36PM (#306876)

    seriously. why does this shit still make the news when there are laser protective glasses [laserpointersafety.com]?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Friday February 19 2016, @02:08PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday February 19 2016, @02:08PM (#306894) Journal

      All the passengers are going to wear laser protective glasses (which only reduce, not eliminate risk)?

      It's not news that you got shot, you weren't wearing a bulletproof vest!

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      • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday February 19 2016, @02:35PM

        by Gravis (4596) on Friday February 19 2016, @02:35PM (#306912)

        actually, it's the opposite. it's not news if you get shot and easily survive since you were wearing a bulletproof vest. however, it is news if you get shot and die. i'm saying if you are wearing these glasses, getting hit by a laser isn't news. that doesn't make the actions of the offender any less illegal, it's just not newsworthy. frankly, we should have autonomous airplanes and lasing a plane isn't a big deal if you design the sensors with that in mind.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by nitehawk214 on Friday February 19 2016, @03:13PM

          by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday February 19 2016, @03:13PM (#306937)

          I don't know what warzone you live in, but when someone is shot around here, survival or not, vest or not, it is newsworthy.

          --
          "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
      • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday February 19 2016, @02:37PM

        by Gravis (4596) on Friday February 19 2016, @02:37PM (#306914)

        All the passengers are going to wear laser protective glasses (which only reduce, not eliminate risk)?

        the passengers aren't the ones flying the plane. they can just close their window shade.

        • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Friday February 19 2016, @03:20PM

          by Dunbal (3515) on Friday February 19 2016, @03:20PM (#306942)

          So can the pilots. That's what IFR means.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:32PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:32PM (#306988)

            You mean IFR means blind landings??

            • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Friday February 19 2016, @06:55PM

              by Dunbal (3515) on Friday February 19 2016, @06:55PM (#307018)

              For a tiny tiny part between DH and the runway, you need to be able to see the runway. And that is almost the only time an IFR pilot needs to look out the window. Congrats on focusing on just that. But be careful technology changes all the time [youtube.com].

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday February 19 2016, @05:22PM

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday February 19 2016, @05:22PM (#306985) Journal

          Note: In case of laser incident, close window shade to protect remaining eye!

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @05:38PM (#306993)

      seriously. Your solution is to have all pilots wear laser protective glasses to fly a plane? Have you ever worn laser protective glasses (I work in laboratories with lasers)? And what glasses are you going to have them wear? Ones that block green? What about those new, obnoxious blue laser pointers? What about the red laser pointers? The most effective protection would be to have them wear opaque glasses that blind people wear. That will fix the problem!

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday February 19 2016, @08:33PM

      by Tork (3914) on Friday February 19 2016, @08:33PM (#307059)

      seriously. why does this shit still make the news when there are laser protective glasses?

      Because 'this shit' is the result of people who should know better ruining it for everybody. No, you don't actually want to live in a society where everything is okay as long as technology hasn't physically prevented you from being up to no good.

      --
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      • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday February 19 2016, @10:00PM

        by Gravis (4596) on Friday February 19 2016, @10:00PM (#307100)

        No, you don't actually want to live in a society where everything is okay as long as technology hasn't physically prevented you from being up to no good.

        i'm not saying it should be reported to the authorities or that the legality should be changed. i'm asking why is it news.

        • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday February 19 2016, @10:01PM

          by Gravis (4596) on Friday February 19 2016, @10:01PM (#307101)

          should not be reported*

  • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Friday February 19 2016, @02:38PM

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 19 2016, @02:38PM (#306915) Journal

    First off: I completely accept without reservation that the shining of a ground-based laser into the cockpit of a flying aircraft can be a serious safety issue, which given that that safety issue is created up in the air, puts at risk life and limb of passengers and crew, as does any safety issue at that altitude.

    That said, let's think about this. Now Jim McAuslan, General Sec'y of the British Airline Pilots Assn. didn't think about it, apparently, but let's us do it now.

    We have on the one hand,

    crew on a flight carrying Pope Francis reported a laser beam sighting to air traffic control

    Okay. "Crew reported laser beam sighting." Good so far...

    This is yet another incident that shows how serious and widespread the issue of laser attacks on aircraft is," said Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa)

    Now. "Serious, widespread laser attacks on aircraft."

    I would posit here that what's serious and widespread is the mis-characterization of laser safety incidents like this one. The same guy is calling, in the name of the Pilots Association, for lasers to be legally considered offensive weapons [bbc.co.uk].

    There is a certain amount of perverse sense here, in that if people were attacking and shooting planes down with lasers, as McAuslan seems to be claiming, then by all means the laser weapons shooting down the planes would be offensive weapons by definition.

    One little problem, and some of you may see where I am going with this...

    It's not "laser weapons shooting down planes," but rather "jerks shining planes with laser pointers." Now, while this does have an adverse affect on safety, and is therefore very serious, the problem is that lying and saying that the planes are under serious and widespread attack by laser weapons not only is intellectually annoying in the extreme, but shows very little respect for the actual problem. Do we really need to lie about what's happening, instead of just admitting that shining lasers at planes is a safety risk already punishable under law (in various countries/jurisdictions), and a stupid, dangerous, and threatening thing to do? I would have thought that this question would be rhetorical until McAuslan demonstrated otherwise.

    • (Score: 2) by gidds on Friday February 19 2016, @04:20PM

      by gidds (589) on Friday February 19 2016, @04:20PM (#306964)

      Now. "Serious, widespread laser attacks on aircraft."

      As reported in a recent Soylent story [soylentnews.org] ('storylent'?  'soy'?):

      A total of 414 'laser incidents' in the UK were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority between January and June 2015.  [...]  In 2014, there were 1,440 incidents in the UK.

      Doesn't that count as widespread?

      Even the use of the word 'attacks' seems understandable to me, as that may be the effect in the cockpit, whatever the perpetrator's intent.  (Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to reckless actions.)

      Mind you, I don't see the need for aircraft-specific laws on this; wouldn't it be just as dangerous to shine laser beams into cars, lorries, and other vehicles?  Or anywhere there's a good chance of people's vision being harmed or where being temporarily blinded might be dangerous?  A well-worded general law, covering all these, would seem more appropriate.  (After all, we don't class cars as offensive weapons; we just legislate against their more dangerous uses.)

      In any case, I expect a few high-profile convictions may go a long way to raising awareness, and reducing the number of jerks who do this sort of thing without realising the consequences.

      --
      [sig redacted]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @07:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @07:04PM (#307021)

        There are aircraft specific laws about tons of stuff less dangerous than lasers. Tickling, sneezing, ice cream, etc:

        IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR A PILOT TO TICKLE A FEMALE FLYING STUDENT UNDER HER CHIN WITH A FEATHER DUSTER IN ORDER TO GET HER ATTENTION.
        - COLUMBIA, PA

        IT IS A VIOLATION FOR A WOMAN OVER 200 POUNDS AND ATTIRED IN SHORTS TO PILOT OR RIDE IN AN AIRPLANE.
        - POCATALIGO, GA

        LINGERIE CAN'T BE HUNG ON A CLOTHESLINE AT THE AIRPORT UNLESS THE UNDIES ARE CAREFULLY HIDDEN FROM PRYING EYES BY A "SUITABLE SCREEN".
        - KIDDERVILLE, NH

        NO FEMALE SHALL APPEAR IN A BATHING SUIT AT ANY AIRPORT IN THIS STATE UNLESS SHE IS ESCORTED BY TWO OFFICERS OR UNLESS SHE IS ARMED WITH A CLUB. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS STATUTE SHALL NOT APPLY TO FEMALES WEIGHING LESS THAN 90 POUNDS NOR EXCEEDING 200 POUNDS, NOR SHALL IT APPLY TO FEMALE HORSES.
        - KENTUCKY

        IT IS A VIOLATION OF LOCAL LAW FOR ANY PILOT OR PASSENGER TO CARRY AN ICE CREAM CONE IN THEIR POCKET WHILE EITHER FLYING OR WAITING TO BOARD A PLANE.
        - LOWES CROSSROADS, DELAWARE

        PILOTS AND PASSENGERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM EATING ONIONS BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 7 A.M. AND 7 P.M.
        - BLUFF, UT

        CITIZENS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER AN AIRPLANE WITHIN FOUR HOURS OF EATING GARLIC.
        - WAKEFIELD, R.I.

        NO FEMALE WEARING A NIGHTGOWN CAN BE TAKEN FOR A FLIGHT ON A PRIVATE PLANE.
        - HEADLAND, AL

        IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO EAT ICE CREAM IN THE LOCAL AIRPORT WITH A FORK.
        - BICKNELL, IN

        NO MARRIED MAN CAN GO FLYING ON SUNDAY.
        - BURDOVILLE, VT

        NO MARRIED MAN CAN GO FLYING WITHOUT HIS SPOUSE ALONG AT ANY TIME, UNLESS HE HAS BEEN MARRIED FOR MORE THAN 12 MONTHS.
        - WEST UNION, OH

        NO ONE CAN PLAY CARDS ON THE AIRPORT GROUNDS WITH A WOMAN, A CHILD, OR AN INDIAN.
        - WHITE HORSE, NM

        NO ONE - MAN, WOMAN, OR CHILD - CAN BE SEEN FLYING WHILE BAREFOOT.
        - FAIRPLAY, CO

        DON'T LET YOUR HORSE FALL ASLEEP IN THE AIRPORT.
        - PEEWEE, WEST VIRGINIA

        WOMEN WHO ARE SINGLE, WIDOWED, OR DIVORCED ARE BANNED FROM PARACHUTING ON SUNDAY.
          - CRAWFORD, NEBRASKA

        NO TURTLE RACES SHALL BE HELD AT THE AIRPORT.
        - BOURBON, MISSISSIPPI

        PEOPLE CANNOT PLAY CHECKERS AT THE AIRPORT, "LEST THEY ACQUIRE A TASTE FOR
        GAMBLING".
        - CLEARBROOK, MINNESOTA

        CITIZENS CANNOT CARRY A SLINGSHOT ON AN AIRPLANE WITHOUT SPECIAL PERMISSION.
        - OKANOGAN, WA

        NO PILOT CAN EAT UNSHELLED ROASTED PEANUTS OR WATERMELON WHILE FLYING.
        - LEADWOOD, MISSOURI

        NO PERSON IS ALLOWED TO READ THE SUNDAY PAPER WHILE SITTING IN A CHAIR AT THE AIRPORT WHILE CHURCH SERVICES ARE GOING ON.
        - UPPERVILLE, VA

        NO FLYER MAY WEAR A PAIR OF PANTS WITH HIP POCKETS WHILE FLYING.
        - GUYMAN, OK

        GARGLING IS PROHIBITED WHILE FLYING.
        - HACKBERRY, ARIZONA

        LOUD BURPING WHILE WALKING AROUND THE AIRPORT IS PROHIBITED.
        - HALSTEAD, KANSAS

        IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO SNEEZE IN AN AIRPLANE.
        - LYNCH HEIGHTS, DELAWARE

        NO FLYING INSTRUCTOR "CAN PLACE HIS ARM AROUND A WOMAN WITHOUT A GOOD AND LAWFUL REASON" (WHILE FLYING).
        - ROCK SPRINGS, WY

        JUGGLING IN FRONT OF AN AIRPLANE IS ILLEGAL.
        - WELLSBORO, PA

        ROOSTERS MAY CROW, ONLY IF IT IS DONE AT LEAST 300 FEET FROM THE AIRPORT.
        - STUGIS, MICHIGAN

        http://www.fly-buy.me/2012/07/aviation-law-gone-awry.html [fly-buy.me]

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @09:38PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19 2016, @09:38PM (#307083)

          Are any of these true? Or are they true by nature that they've been in fortune files and usenet for decades? I took one at random, the burping prohibition in Halstead, and I can't find any actual law anywhere, just the same lists that you put up.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20 2016, @12:50AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20 2016, @12:50AM (#307186)

            Is it safe to assume they are fake then? Apparently it is illegal to post the actual laws online so people can check:

            Government officials have threatened "rogue archivist" Carl Malamud with legal action many times for his efforts to make public government documents widely available for free, but the state of Georgia has set a new standard for fighting this ridiculous battle: It's suing Malamud for infringing its copyright of state laws by -- horrors -- publishing them online.

            The state's lawsuit, filed last week in Atlanta federal court, accuses Malamud of piracy -- and worse, of "a form of 'terrorism.'" His offense: Through his website, public.resource.org, he provides members of the public access to a searchable and downloadable scan of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated -- that is, the entire body of state law. The state wants a court order forcing Malamud to stop.

            http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-state-of-georgia-copyright-wall-20150727-column.html [latimes.com]

      • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Saturday February 20 2016, @01:44PM

        by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 20 2016, @01:44PM (#307370) Journal

        ...In 2014, there were 1,440 incidents in the UK.

        Doesn't that count as widespread?
        Even the use of the word 'attacks' seems understandable to me...

        I do see some grey area here where perhaps the word "attacks" could be metaphorically applied to shining lights as in this instance, and the light-shining is certainly widespread, and is certainly a problem--no arguments there, really.

        What I was trying to get across is that McAuslan is specifically claiming attacks by offensive weapons. Plenty of British and other planes have been attacked in a widespread manner by offensive weapons during the last hundred years, notably during two pretty involved wars. The comparison of that to blinking lights doesn't hold up, however risky the blinking lights may be.

        I believe it would be better to work the problem from the angle of dangerous behavior on the part of laser-outlaw miscreants, rather than to claim widespread attacks on aircraft by offensive weapons, because I think the latter falsely lumps laser pointers in with anti-aircraft missiles, armed enemy aircraft, and the like.

        I think that McAuslan is using this sort of language to overstate the problem in emotional terms.

        Genuinely, I think the problem is bad enough without doing that. Anyone who endangers the lives and safety of others in such a way by deliberately (or otherwise) interfering with aircraft operations with a laser (or by whatever means) deserves the really stiff punishment coming to him.

  • (Score: 2) by snufu on Friday February 19 2016, @03:48PM

    by snufu (5855) on Friday February 19 2016, @03:48PM (#306953)

    this suspect [wikipedia.org].

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by goody on Friday February 19 2016, @06:10PM

    by goody (2135) on Friday February 19 2016, @06:10PM (#307007)

    The next president should do something about lasers. It's unprecedented in the 240 year history of the US for a sitting president to take action against lasers in the last year of his term. Totally unprecedented, and furthermore action against lasers is not in the Constitution.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20 2016, @02:21AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20 2016, @02:21AM (#307224)

      It's only the judiciary who are obliged to follow precedent, and the President isn't a judge.