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Prang peril pointers fingered

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Australian customs officials have made their first seizure of possibly-deadly "high intensity" laser pointers under newly introduced federal regulations. Some 1,200 of the fearful photon weapons were intercepted in the crackdown.

"Unfortunately for a lot of people, the message is still failing to get through," said Oz Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus, who pledged earlier this year to rid Australian skies of the laser-beam peril.

In recent months, dozens of laser attacks on aircraft down under have been widely reported. Authorities have consistently predicted that a blinded pilot would soon crash a jumbo jet into a football stadium unless the laser enforcement gloves came off.

"At best, anyone who imports these devices without a permit will have wasted their money because their goods will be seized and destroyed," added Debus, quoted by The Australian.

"At worst, they could face prosecution."

The federal government nowadays forbids the import of any laser pointer more powerful than one milliwatt without a permit. Such permits will only be issued to those with a legitimate use for the gadgets, such as surveyors and astronomers. Some Australian state governments have introduced their own rules on possession and sale as well.

Despite the tough action against laser-wielding "hoons", there was no word of any government purge targeted at Australia's other ray-dazzler menace - that of municipal art exhibits. This is reportedly a serious hazard in the more intellectually developed parts of Australia, with a particularly in-your-face public sculpture almost beaming down a traffic helicopter over Sydney in April.

“Public art helps to bring light and beauty into our city’s heart,” said Parramatta mayor Paul Barber, responsible for commissioning the deadly laser artwork - seeming willing to ignore the risk that it might also bring plunging aircraft.

It seems that crazed intelligentsia may continue to flout Debus' federal laser crackdown, and the skies above top Australian cultural hotspots such as Parramatta could remain hazardous. ®

Update

Actually the Parramatta Sun says that the local council turned off the "Flock" laser artwork after the traffic copter unpleasantness. "The council will check the artwork", says the report.

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