July 5, 2008 archive

Bite Size Bad News 8–Airline Surcharges

Crossposted from over at Fire on the Mountain.

The flailing US airline industry continues to tack on charges to the price of a ticket, as soaring jet fuel costs hammer bottom lines already shakier than the crate the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.

The pre-$140-a-barrel-oil adjustments were mostly of two types:

Fuel surcharges added directly to the cost of a ticket–$65 these days.

Cost cutting, like how free in-flight meals dwindled to li’l bags of peanuts and then tiny ones of pretzels, which have evaporated entirely on some flights, replaced by the $8 airline-food sandwich.

But in the last month or so we’ve seen the announcement of:

   * $15 fees to check a bag, $30 for a second bag. Another $2 each if you want to check in at the curb. This insures super-crowded overhead bins.

   * A charge to select your seat–$15 for aisle, $10 for window, $5 for middle. So let them put you wherever, you say? That’s because you aren’t traveling with a spouse and kid. If you are, that’s another 30 smackers right there. (Me, I’ve always gone for window in a “Serve The People’ gesture-it means there’s at least a 50% chance that when I fall asleep I won’t start listing gently to the other side and drooling on the shoulder of the party next to me.)

   * $5 to watch a movie. On a tiny seatback screen. Oh, yeah, if you want to actually hear what’s going on, add on a $3 headphone upgrade.

   * $2 for a smallish bottle of water. Of course, you can’t bring water from home. Well, you can, but they’ll make you throw it out at the bag scan, and if you make a big fuss about it, you’re asking for a session with the national security proctologist. Needless to say, you can opt to buy a somewhat larger but more expensive bottle from the pricey shops inside the concourse.

   * And when you cash in your frequent flier miles for the free ticket they promised you? Well, their idea of “free” involves you forking over $50 cash.

What next?

The Center Cannot Hold

Some think the US government should avoid violating international laws, the Geneva Convention, our own Code of Military Conduct and jus cogens by not torturing.

Others think some torture of certain people is okay.

The Center:  Allow torture of certain people under limited circumstances.

Some think the constitution is “sacred obligatory on all citizens,” the foundation of our nation, the bulwark of our very liberty, a document which unites all Americans around principles of self-governance, and whose defense is the basis of all oaths of office and the essence of patriotism.

Others think it is “just a piece of paper” to be violated at whim.

The Center:  Follow the constitution some of the time and subvert it at other times.

Some think all government officials, private citizens, and corporations are obligated to follow the law of the land or pay the penalty.

Others think violations of the law should be ignored if high officials say it is okay.

The Center:  Require obedience to the law in most circumstances but sometimes allow lawlessness.

Some say human-caused global warming is the most serious threat to the future of humanity and could well lead to our extermination unless drastic action is immediately undertaken.

Others say global warming is the biggest hoax ever visited on the American people.

The Center:  Everybody recycle and try to turn off unneeded lights.

Some think the US should only go to war on the basis of reliable intelligence which reveals a plausible threat to our national security.

Others think its okay to go to war on the basis of trumped up intelligence in order to further the financial and power interests of an elite minority.

The Center:  Try to go to war only when intelligence proves it’s necessary, but continue to prosecute wars started under other circumstances.

Cynthia McKinney Deserves Your Support, Obama Does Not

By Glen Ford of blackagendareport.com via dissidentvoice.org:  http://www.dissidentvoice.org/…

Dazed and Confused

Not long after I arrived in Texas, somebody asked me where I was from and when I replied “Canada” they asked me what state that was in. The story got good play among the other Canadians who had arrived as new nurses in the remote Texas town because it reinforced the stereotype held by some Canadians about the level of intellect in America.

Canadians tend to be overly smug about it while being conveniently ignorant about some of their own history.

Southerners of course are still obsessed by the “War of Northern Aggression” and I work with a few people who like to dabble in “reenactment” scenarios. I am assuming they think if they do it over enough maybe the outcome will change. Odd all of them are white. Go figure. I never quite understood the urge to reenact major battles.

You won’t find many Canadians eager to play out Dieppe all over again.

Pony Party: Morning

Sometimes the world is a perfect and mysterious place. Usually this perfect world is in my head. Or it is right in the back yard, mine and yours….




Lay Down Your Bets . . . and Other Thoughts

I’m betting that O wins by 10-15% points.  I think he carries all mountain and west states except UT, WY, ID.  Yes, I think he wins in AZ.  I think he’ll win at least half of the deep south states.  He will lose KY and MS.  The others are a toss up.  He’ll lose in Alaska.  BFD.  

Now that’s just horse racing.  My real point is:  no need to pander.  You’re going to win.

But I don’t think O is pandering.  I think we are seeing the real O at last.  And unless (as I suspect it will) the economy really takes a deep six, I suspect an O presidency will be extremely frustrating to progressives. And I doubt the “change” he will bring will be sufficient.

Just some thoughts for a Saturday morning.

Ask Pelosi about Impeachment at Netroots Nation

Nancy Pelosi's Table reports that the Netroots Council of Elders is asking people to submit questions for Pelosi's “open” Q&A at Netroots Nation 2008 in Austin.

Please submits some questions for Pelosi to anwer at Netroots Nation.

Ask The Speaker!
Welcome to the Netroots Nation question submission page for the Saturday morning (July 19, 9:00am) keynote session “Ask The Speaker.” The event empowers citizens to engage America's current House Speaker in substantive discussion about current issues, the legislative process, and how citizens can participate in their government. Instead of simply giving a speech at a podium, Speaker Pelosi will be taking your questions and interacting with convention attendees. The 9 a.m. keynote will be moderated by Gina Cooper, Netroots Nation's Executive Director, and Jeffrey Feldman, author and blogger. But it all begins right now, right here, when you submit your questions and vote on questions submitted by others.


Go there Now and submit your own question or uprate others such as “Why is Impeachment Off the Table“.

or read more about Pelosi and Netroots Nation or find out more about impeachment

Pony Party: Morning

Sometimes the world is a perfect and mysterious place. Usually that little world is in my head but sometimes it is in my back yard and yours…..




Final Salute

Last night, on the PBS Newshour, they had an appropriate July 4th interview, especially in these times of two occupations:

Obamanation (a rant)

The seething shrieks have begun, as the koolaide kidz find the veil suddenly lifted off their hero; they suddenly become aware that the messiah’s new clothes are wired… wired with surveillance wires, wired with coathangers.

I hate to say “I told you so” but I fucking told you so!

Remember me? I said,

“POLITICIAN? Hello????”

Remember me not drinking the koolaide you tried to waterboard me with, force down my retching gagging throat?

Docudharma Times Saturday July 5

Give It Away Give It Away

Give It Away Now

Saturday’s Headlines:

Bitter lessons learned from refinancing

G8 summit: Breathtaking venue with no protesters to spoil the view

China’s [lost] Children: Return to Sichuan

Strike and we’ll strike you back, warns Tehran

Gaza ceasefire breaking down as violations by Hamas and Israel continue

Robert Mugabe uses food as weapon as famine looms

‘I was being loyal to a government that was not loyal to its people’

Italy gypsies find echoes of Nazism in fingerprinting move

Synod set to debate women bishops

Breathing literary life into 1950s Cuba

Feds’ closed-door deal could ease development

New Forest Service rules could let largest private owner convert land

By Karl Vick

Washington Post

MISSOULA, Mont. – The Bush administration is preparing to ease the way for the nation’s largest private landowner to convert hundreds of thousands of acres of mountain forestland to residential subdivisions.

The deal was struck behind closed doors between Mark E. Rey, the former timber lobbyist who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, and Plum Creek Timber Co., a former logging company turned real estate investment trust that is building homes. Plum Creek owns more than 8 million acres nationwide, including 1.2 million acres in the mountains of western Montana, where local officials were stunned and outraged at the deal.

Accounting Plan Would Allow Use of Foreign Rules


Published: July 5, 2008

WASHINGTON – Federal officials say they are preparing to propose a series of regulatory changes to enhance American competitiveness overseas, attract foreign investment and give American investors a broader selection of foreign stocks.

But critics say the changes appear to be a last-ditch push by appointees of President Bush to dilute securities rules passed after the collapse of Enron and other large companies – measures that were meant to forestall accounting gimmicks and corrupt practices that led to those corporate failures.


Secretive Agency Under the Spotlight

Chief Tries to Repair CIA as Scrutiny Grows

By Joby Warrick

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, July 5, 2008; Page A01  

Soon after accepting the post of CIA director two years ago, Michael V. Hayden set an unusual goal for his scandal-beset agency: virtual invisibility.

“CIA needs to get out of the news as source or subject,” he said in an internal memo to his staff in 2006.

Two years later, that goal is far from met, as Hayden has tacitly acknowledged. In a retirement ceremony last month marking the end of his military career, the Air Force general stressed the need for the agency to “stay in the shadows” while ignoring what he called the “sometimes shrill and uninformed voices of criticism.”

Random Japan


The creators of the PC-based game Married Women Harem: This is the Married Women Paradise Inn have been using a set of fake boobs to draw customers. The game display at a shop in Akihabara features a cardboard cutout of a woman in sexy lingerie with large silicone-filled breasts and a sign that reads, “Squeeze all you want.”

In another diversion that allows players to put the squeeze on, a Japanese arcade game called Sub Marine Catcher lets people try to catch live lobsters in a tank with an electric claw.

The Japan Toy Association gave out its first Japan Toy Awards, and the Trendy Award went to Bandai’s green pea pod, otherwise known as a synthetic edamame, that can be “squeezed repeatedly.”

Ryozo Kato, a 66-year-old former ambassador to the United States and a big baseball fan, was approved by club owners to become the next commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball.

After much debate, the Japan Swimming Federation wisely agreed to let Japan’s swimmers use the new Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit at the Beijing Olympics, despite an existing contractual agreement to use Japanese-produced suits. The move came after dozens of world records fell to Speedo-clad swimmers.


Puzzled authorities discovered the body of a headless cat at a high school in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

A 12-year-old boy died when he fell through a skylight following a rooftop math class at a Tokyo elementary school.

A manta ray was born at an Okinawa aquarium, making it just the second ray ever born in captivity. The first was born to the same set of parents last year, but the youngster died when its father chased it into the wall of the tank. Thanks, dad!

A 47-year-old man was put to death in Oklahoma by lethal injection for killing a Japanese exchange student with a firebomb 13 years ago. Terry Lyn Short threw a Molotov cocktail into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment in 1995, and the ensuing blaze killed 22-year-old Ken Yamamoto, who lived one floor above her.

The Japanese government has vowed to provide nearly $3 million to Cambodia for the UN-backed trial of Khmer Rouge leaders, according to the Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

At the Group of Eight finance ministers’ meeting in Osaka, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced that Japan would donate up to $1.2 billion (about ¥129 billion) for two multilateral climate-change funds it plans to launch with the US and Britain.

On that note, an Environment Ministry report claimed that global warming has already damaged agricultural production, the coastal environment and public health across Japan, and will pose an even greater threat from 2020 to 2030. Well, that’s something to look forward to, I guess.

The Hokkaido Agricultural Research Center has started growing multicolored potatoes, which come in red, purple and yellow and are supposed to be healthier as well.

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