from the pure-coincidence dept.
Vague and secretive order bans devices larger than a phone on certain flights to US
It looks like the TSA has finally got round to reading XKCD 651. They have quietly banned electronic devices "larger than a phone" from the cabins of all airlines from a list of 13 countries. It isn't clear whether the ban affects electronic devices used by the aircraft's crew, for example the "electronic flight bag" used by the flight crew, which typically include a tablet.
The affected airlines have just 96 hours to comply.
US Bans Tablets and Laptops on Flights From Eight Muslim-Majority Countries
The Department of Homeland Security today announced new carry-on restrictions for flights to the US from eight Middle Eastern countries, confirming reports from yesterday that such a ban would be implemented as soon as this week. The restrictions forbid electronic devices larger than a smartphone from being carried in the cabin of the airplane, including laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and handheld gaming devices (larger than a smartphone).
Those devices can, however, all be placed into checked baggage. Neither DHS nor the Transportation Security Administration provided a firm rationale for the ban, how it chose which airports would be embroiled in the new security measures, or whether the ban is in any way related to an active terrorist plot. News of the ban first began percolating online yesterday when the Royal Jordanian airline partially disclosed it in a since-deleted tweet, which was framed as a message for passengers.
"Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items," reads a DHS press release put out this morning. "Based on this trend, the Transportation Security Administration, in consultation with relevant Departments and Agencies, has determined it is prudent to enhance security, to include airport security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States."
The action will affect nine airlines in eight countries across 10 airports, senior administration officials confirmed in a press briefing Monday. The list of countries includes Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The list of airlines affected includes Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways. The order is being issued as a security directive from the TSA. Airlines will have 96 hours to comply or the DHS will work with the FAA to revoke clearance for those airlines to land in the US, officials said.
Source: The Verge
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Ahead of the US president's visit to Saudi Arabia, a series of multi-billion-dollar arms deals have been outlined. The previous US administration suspended some supplies because of human rights concerns.
When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an “Arab NATO,” to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history.
Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions began shortly after the presidential election, when Mohammed, known in Washington as “MBS,” sent a delegation to meet with Kushner and other Trump officials at Trump Tower.
After years of disillusionment with the Obama administration, the Saudi leadership was eager to do business. “They were willing to make a bet on Trump and on America,” a senior White House official said.
[...] The most concrete part of the idea is a mammoth U.S. arms package for Saudi Arabia that Trump will also announce in Riyadh. Final details are still being worked out, but officials said the package will include between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales. Over 10 years, total sales could reach $350 billion.
The sales include huge upgrades for the Saudi army and navy to include Littoral Combat Ships, THAAD missile defense systems, armored personnel carriers, missiles, bombs and munitions, officials said. Some of the production and assembly could be located in Saudi Arabia, boosting MBS’s project to build a Saudi domestic defense industrial capability. But most of the items would be built by American defense contractors.