Tag Archives: Airlines

Ebola Update 10-16-14

Ebola Virus

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The Ebola virus in the United States seems far beyond the control of the Obama Administration’s Centers for Disease Control and so far, health care workers and the economy seem to be taking the punishment for it.

On NBC’s “Today Show” this morning, Texas Presbyterian Nurse Briana Aguirre told host Matt Lauer that she watched fellow healthcare workers “violate basic principles of nursing” and that the hospital had not provided any protocols on the handling of an Ebola patient. When they contacted the hospital’s infectious disease control office to ask what the protocols were, Briana said, they were told that “they didn’t know” and would have to get back to them.

Aguirre went on to say that the protective gear that they were given did not fully cover their exposed skin leaving their necks entirely vulnerable to splashes of bodily fluids.

For months Americans have been told by the President and his head of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, that there were procedures in place and that the healthcare system and the CDC were ready to deal with Ebola cases – the public is struggling to believe them.

Just last week Dr. Frieden blamed nurses for failing to follow protocol. Listening to Nurse Aguirre’s interview this morning, it would appear as though protocols and equipment were neither in place nor trained upon.

Now, the CDC has instituted rapid response teams to fly out to hospitals where an Ebola case is suspected. With recent events, it may be too little, too late.

Two nurses have since been diagnosed with Ebola. Nina Pham and Amber Vinson. Both were exposed to Mr. Duncan, the Ebola patient at Texas Hospital that flew into the United States with the infection.

Nina was quarantined, but Amber was allowed by the CDC to fly on a commercial airliner after she contacted them to inform them that she had a fever – the first sign of an infection. The CDC is now frantically searching for all 132 people on that shared that flight with her.

Even the economy is not immune to this highly-infectious killer. While Europe’s debt issues and widespread deflation are one aspect, Ebola fears are helping to push the stock market into free-fall.

Since the CDC first confirmed the first U.S. case on September 30th, the DOW has lost about 900 points – over 5% of it’s value just.. gone. Today’s DOW futures show another 200+ point drop in the offering at open.

Airline stocks have been hammered despite rapidly dropping oil prices. Fuel is a huge input costs and a main driver of ticket prices. Investors expect a massive drop in people willing to fly due to the spread of the disease. The CDC allowing an Ebola-exposed nurse with a fever fly may just make that come true.

As Ebola fear escalates in the country, investors are concerned that people will avoid crowds like those at stores, malls, restaurants and tourist destinations. With the holiday shopping season just beginning to kick-up, the timing could be catastrophic for the American economy especially after the disappointing retail sales numbers from last month.

The only portions of the economy that seems to be getting a lift from the outbreak are retailers that sell biohazard suits, masks, prepping supplies, guns and ammo.

European High court upholds jet plane carbon tax

A law requiring flights into and out of the European Union (EU) to pay a carbon tax was upheld by the European Court of Justice on Wednesday saying that, “application of the emissions trading scheme to aviation infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue, nor the open-skies agreement.”

The law requires that any aircraft landing or taking off from an EU airport is required to purchase a carbon permit which could cost the airlines, passengers, freight carriers and customers nearly $12 billion by the end of 2020. The amount of the tax is proportional to the distance flown by the airplane after departing an EU airport or from the last take-off prior to reaching an EU facility.

The most immediate impact will be the it will now cost more for Europeans to travel anywhere by airplane and freight costs requiring air transport will be more expensive.

The airlines have little choice and are complying with the ruling “under protest”. The cost of the tax will be passed on to passengers making travel to and from Europe more expensive.

Freight carriers are taking a different approach to the business-killing decision. UPS is studying ways to redirect flights around the EU.  In an interview with The Wall Street Journal the carrier explained how it might modify its routes to deal with the expensive carbon tax:

Mitch Nichols, president of UPS Airlines, said in an interview that the company may look at redirecting flights between its hubs in Hong Kong and Cologne, Germany, by going through Mumbai. That will cut the cost of the tax by about a quarter because UPS would only be charged for the distance flown between Cologne and Mumbai.

Airlines are unlikely to make similar changes, but passengers might. While the airlines will still offer direct flights into Europe, savvy travelers may opt to fly into a nearby non-EU nation simply because the ticket won’t have the up-charge on it or they may choose alternate destinations altogether.

Ultimately the tax will have a stifling effect on EU manufacturers as it will cost more to bring raw materials into the EU and be more expensive to ship finished goods out. The affirmation of the proposed change could put more pressure on European manufacturers to move their operations to non-EU countries.

 

 

Pilot Relieved of Duty for Refusing to Endanger Lives in Severe Weather

ExpressJet Airlines labels pilot “unstable,” violating rights protected by law, according to filing

HOUSTON, Aug. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — An ExpressJet Airlines pilot has filed a lawsuit against parent company Continental Express claiming retaliation and ruin of his professional reputation. The suit claims he was targeted because he took precautionary action during severe weather conditions, costing the company money. In the filing the pilot alleges the airline used his pursuit of treatment for depression during his divorce years before, as reasoning for declaring him unfit to fly.

ExpressJet Airlines grounded Captain Michael Hirsch, citing a “psychological” condition after Hirsch refused to jeopardize passenger and crew safety on an ExpressJet flight from Houston to Milwaukee. Hirsch claimed extreme snow and ice conditions caused several weather delays.

“The company began a pattern of discrimination and retaliation against Captain Hirsch, although he was performing all the essential functions of his job without restriction,” said Lemond. “The fact that the company can attack an employee who responsibly sought help through an employee assistance program, which it provides, jeopardizes the rights of employees everywhere and in every industry. No amount of bottom-line profit is worth endangering innocent passengers or trampling rights covered under law.”

According to Texas employee law, employers cannot discriminate based on disability in hiring, firing, training, or matters regarding compensation or the terms conditions or privileges or employment.

Hirsch is aware of other employees with similar stories and wants to return to piloting with a clean record, said Lemond. “Captain Hirsch wants ExpressJet to admit that it falsely accused Captain Hirsch of being mentally unstable to fly and to remove all documentation that prevents him from making a living in a job which he is honorably committed.”

Flying the Friendly Skies

As if it wasn’t enough that we have to put up with security frisking your crying 3-year-oldnuns, and searching through grandma’s adult diaper, we also have to fear that a simple mistake can cost you jail time as well as some hefty fines. From Fox4KC:

“A fun trip to the Bahamas turned frustrating and depressing for one Liberty, Mo. man and all of his friends and family.

Darrell Lapp was arrested by airport police in the Bahamas as he was preparing to come home. Security found a single bullet in his bag, and although he tried to tell them it was simply leftover from a hunting trip earlier this year, it didn’t matter. They arrested him and kept him in a cell for three days.

Lapp had gone to the Bahamas with about two dozen other fathers and sons for a boy scout scuba diving trip.”

Those of us without the luxury of having different sets of luggage to fit our every need end up having to use the same bags for different purposes, in this case hunting and traveling. I can actually relate to the man in the story. Had it not been for the careful eyes of Navy customs in Kuwait catching five bullets in my backpack that I missed whilst packing it for redeployment home from Iraq, I may have been in the same situation. Apparently, none of the security officers have ever missed anything while unpacking.

The totality of circumstances must be taken into account in all applications of the law. This was not a lone Saudi male with no luggage and a one-way ticket. This man was with his son on a group trip with the Boy Scouts, and had already been through security twice on the first part of the trip. It is simply irrational to believe that he went down to the Bahamas clean, but decided to pack a single bullet on the return trip for use in some diabolical plan. Just because airport security is able to skirt around that pesky notion of “probable cause,” officer and supervisory discretion should be exercised precisely to prevent things like this from happening.

The bigger problem is with the misapplication of logic. For a crime to have occurred in our (Western) jurisprudence, we need to have two things: actus reus (an act) and mens rea (intent). Simple oversight that misses a single item that is legal to otherwise own and carry does not fall within the category of a crime, nor does it warrant punitive action. It’d be like pulling someone over on a road in front of a “safe-school” zone and arresting them for carrying a weapon, when that person is properly permitted to do so and he just happens to be driving by a school. This is an atrocious problem that makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, gives them a record, and forever makes it more difficult for them to live their lives.

To add insult to injury:

“It was supposed to be one of those trips of a lifetime, and Lapp had saved for for it a long time, even working two jobs for a year to pay for it.  The worst will be over Monday, when he is supposed to return home. His attorney advised him to plead guilty and the Bahama court would acknowledge he had no ill intent with the hidden bullet, though he would have to pay a hefty fine.”

Read that again carefully. He will have to plead guilty in order to prove lack of intent, but if he is found guilty it will put a felony mark on his record, and he will have to pay a fine for the privilege. He is also now in the system, which means he will be singled out every time he goes through airport security, assuming this incident doesn’t put him on a no-fly list.

The bottom line in all of this is that we should fear the terrorists, not the people in charge of protecting us. This was a low move by the Bahamian airport security, and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.

(Crossposted at Federalism Online)

City Council Attacks Taxicab Entrepreneurs

City councils across the nation are taking a page from the Federal Government in their ability to take over entire industries. Taxicab companies are fighting against their local bureaucrats for their very existence. In Hampton Roads, Virginia, it is no different. Just like when the Federal Government accused doctors of cutting off limbs for more money, apparently local governments feel taxicab drivers exhibit the same characteristics. They claim drivers take longer routes, overcharge customers, drive unsafe vehicles and provided selected services. These bureaucrats use crony capitalism to dismantle the taxicab industry. Now, the term public-private partnership is worn proudly.

In 2007, the City of Hampton, Virginia used tax money to hire the Tennessee Transportation and Logistics Foundation (TTLF) to conduct a Taxi study. The study states that restructuring “depends upon the actions of the existing or potential full service taxi companies.” It also states that things could deteriorate with the loss of Hampton’s only full service taxi company if it decides to relocate its equipment and capacity elsewhere. In addition, GPS technology to track cabs; vehicle age limits and 24/7 dispatching were requirements within the study and it acknowledged some businesses will not be able to comply and go out of business. So, the City of Hampton implements an ordinance that prohibits nearly all from doing business in Hampton Roads.

Someone gave this college professor (disguised as a company) the authority to implement an ordinance that puts people out of business. Our local governments are instilling draconian ordinances that cannot be refuted and greatly impacts the industry catering to limited number of companies.

The neighboring city of Newport News took a slightly different route by appointing a Transportation Panel to engage the issue. Two organizations represented were the airport and the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber who voiced concern about the customer service and impact that the taxicab industry has on tourism in Newport News. So, when researching the Chamber’s membership, the two active members under the taxicab category are the Yellow Cab of Hampton and Yellow Cab of Newport News, the largest companies in their respected locales.

If the Transportation Panel wishes to protest the taxicab customer service or tourism issues, the airport should not be involved. With body scanners, taxicabs are the least of their customer service problems. While the airport implemented a 10-year vehicle age limit on taxicabs, the average age of a Delta aircraft is 13.8 years and US Airways is 12.2 years. What age restriction is the airport going to require of these airlines? Oh, that’s right…. Crony Capitalism.

There are situations like this happening across the nation. Salt Lake City reduced the number of taxis 25 percent and the number of cab companies to two. They even restricted the number of taxis waiting at the airport. Just this week, San Francisco taxi drivers went on strike due to mandatory credit card machines. Now, where’s the outrage at our city government for pushing credit card machines.

In Miami-Dade they conduct audits and they have an auction for taxi medallions at a minimum bid of $100,000. They also require wheelchair accessible vehicles, security cameras, rear compartment swipe (credit cards) and dispatch systems. Of course, TTLF conducted a study in 2007. In Austin, they had a four-person team from the city conduct an audit to where they required more than one full-time Enforcement Officer to ensure compliance. Again, the implementation of these requirements was preceded by a TTLF taxi study.

City council members need to consider where you stand on this issue because if you vote to implement this, this will create another bureaucratic department and put businesses out of business. For a small business owner, buying a new taxi every so many years or demanding expensive oversight equipment is the equivalent to a major airline purchasing an aircraft. But this is a good test to see who is willing to make the vote…crony capitalism for the airlines, credit card companies & government control or entrepreneurism for their constituents?

To my fellow citizens, it is a time to see where your city council actually stands. If they vote for it, they are either ignorant on the subject or exercising crony capitalism. Either way, they may need to go. Either way, let their actions speak.

Delta Plane Diverted for ‘Potential Security Threat’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Delta Air Lines flight 1706 bound for San Diego from Detroit was diverted to Albuquerque, N.M. at about 10am this morning over what is being called a “potential security threat.”

The plane was reportedly being held in a remote location and passengers were interviewed. NBC is reporting that according to a senior government official, a note found in Delta flight’s lavatory caused the flight crew to decide to divert.

At 4pm this afternoon, the plane was released with no security issues having been discovered.

last update: 4:05pm

TSA Chief Opens the Door for Unions

      Last November The National Labor Relations Board , lead by Obama appointee Hilda Solis caved in to Union pressure that Transportation Security Officers hold a vote on Unionization for purposes other than collective bargaining. After supposed careful consideration, another Obama appointee , TSA Chief Mr. Pistole recently expanded this to include previously barred collective bargaining for TSO’s. Here is a summary paragraph from the TSA* home page:

“Last November, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) issued a decision that called for an election among TSOs to determine whether a majority of officers wished to have exclusive union representation for purposes other than collective bargaining. Administrator Pistole’s Determination allows this election to move forward and lays out specific terms for limited, clearly-defined collective bargaining within a framework consistent with TSA’s security mission, should TSOs elect a union.”

    Here we have the pattern of one Obama appointee unlocking the door for Union cronies at the TSA, and then the next appointee taking it a step further towards total Union control. This is what we are referring to when we say the government gets their foot in the door with seemingly harmless actions, then it leads to huge bureaucracies with bloated budgets and Union corruption for vote buying schemes. Once the Unions get into power, labor prices skyrocket as in the examples of  Union penions bankrupting cities and states across the nation we see today. I also see Mr. Pistole finishing his above statement with “should TSO’s elect a Union.” Will Mr. Pistole inform said TSO’s about the dangers of climbing into bed with a Union, putting in 20 – 30 years of hard work only to be told there is no money to pay your pension?  That is happening today folks. Hopefully TSO -TSA workers will take this into consideration before voting on this critical action.

    For those readers out there that think this looks good on paper, I have to ask if you are aware that two Unions are fighting over these workers? In the picture below, we can see the AFGE, AFL-CIO  advertising for their Union by providing signs to “help”  TSO’s already.

  How about that? Isn’t that nice of them? Do you think that sign is a free gift? I wonder how many of them they went to the expense of making and installing them for, there are across the country? Considering that the AFGE represents  Government Employees, and it is their dues paying for these signs, and it is the taxpayer who pays said government employees salaries, then it is you the taxpayer who paid for those helpful signs. As for the “projected cost” to the taxpayer of unionizing the TSO’s, I’ll let Mr. Pistole tell you again from the TSA website:*

“How much will unionization cost TSA?
There will be no cost to TSA unless and until a union is certified by the FLRA as the winner of the election. If exclusive union representation is voted for by a majority of TSOs, our preliminary estimates are that implementation would cost between $5-8 million annually, which amounts to approximately one-quarter of one percent of TSA’s budget for security officer salaries.”

    Only 5 – 8 million a year, if you believe government “projected” figures. When I mentioned two Unions fighting for TSA workers membership, Mr. Pistole further enlightens us once again:

“What are the unions participating in the election?
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) are the two unions who currently have sufficient interest among the TSA workforce to participate in the election. The ballot will have three options: AFGE, NTEU, No Union. If no option receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be conducted between the two choices receiving the most and second most number of votes.”

     When discussing the Unionization of the TSA workforce here, we have to include another agenda the Liberal Democrats have been trying to shove into play for the last two years: Card Check leglislation. This is another mis-named piece of stealth leglislation masquerading as The Employee Fair Choice Act. Ill let the U. S.  Chamber of Commerce** explain this Union payback agenda :

“The “Employee Free Choice Act”—better known as the Card Check bill—is a proposed law that would change how unions are allowed to organize workers in the United States. Big labor unions like the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the Change to Win Coalition spent heavily during the 2009 election, and are pushing Congress to approve this law. Union membership has been declining—currently about 7.5 percent in the private sector—and they hope this law will change the rules and reverse that trend.”

   With many States now recognizing the implications of big Union demands and unfunded pension plans bankrupting budgets across the nation, why would anyone in their right mind want to continue with this madness ? Here we now have the invasion of thousands of new TSA workers adding to our budget woes and we want to allow them to Unionize another 45,000  TSA workers ?  America voted for smaller, more accountable government in 2010. That simply will not be achieved with Obama appointees advancing the Union payback/election buying schemes of today.

 * http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/2011/11_0204_fact_sheet_on_collective_bargaining.shtm

 **http://www.uschamber.com/issues/labor/employee-free-choice-act-card-check-bill