Ups, downs of terror scare

It's always a little cockeyed when a company's shares go up on scary news, but that's the story with Hawthorne-based OSI Systems, which makes scanning equipment for airport-security checkpoints. At last check, the company's stock was up almost 11 percent, a shade below its peak for the session. Airline stocks have been down. From Bloomberg:

OSI's Rapiscan unit makes machines that can detect liquids and other potential explosives beneath passengers' clothing. In October, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration placed an order valued at $25 million for Rapiscan's imaging equipment, the Hawthorne, California-based company said. "We are starting to implement and put them in at TSA's direction at U.S. airports," Peter Kant, an executive vice president for Rapiscan, said today in an interview. "We've been on the phone a lot with TSA about how to expedite delivery."

By the way, some of the stepped-up security measures by the Transportation Security Administration can be described in one word: dumb. Once again, federal officials are responding to methodology instead of enforcement, which is why we still have to take off our shoes at the security line. But shoes are nothing compared with the TSA new rules: Everyone must stay seated one hour before landing on international flights, no blankets or pillows or items in laps in the last hour of a flight, and no announcements from the cockpit about cities, landmarks or perhaps even when planes start to descend. Like I said, dumb - and judging by the comments of experts, ineffective. From the WSJ's Middle Seat Terminal blog

We all want air travel to be safe, no doubt. To ensure that, we need rules that are smart and effective. The Transportation Security Administration may be trying to reassure the public that it is on the job and thwarting terrorists, but turning off the route-tracking maps on airplanes and keeping people buckled up without blankets just seems ridiculous to most frequent fliers.

Perhaps the most unreassuring voice has been Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who seemed clueless on Sunday by saying that "the system has worked really very, very smoothly" when it appears as if the system worked disastrously. She then compounded the blundering comments by saying this morning that "our system did not work in this instance" and added that her Sunday remarks had been taken out of context. Huh? How do you take "the system has worked really very, very smoothly" out of context? Perhaps it's a case of bad advising, but whatever the reason Napolitano looked totally out of her league - and this wasn't even an emergency.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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