The airline industry is in meltdown. No news there, as many people who have tried to get from Point A to Point B in the same day can attest.
The big story at the moment is the stranded passengers of American Airlines, which has grounded a thousand flights to check where a tie-wrap was used on some wiring in the wheel-well.
No question about it, being stranded in an airport -- especially if you have kids -- stinks, made worse by the fact nobody ever seems to have an answer, or a good explanation for the why or when questions.
Expect it to get worse in Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to the government, which issued a warning on Wednesday that Northwest has scheduled dozens of flights to take off at about the same time (see report).
Northwest, according to the Star Tribune, "did not respond to a request for comment," taking a page from the American Airlines playbook.
By summer, those planes will likely have Delta's colors, news reports suggest. With or without the agreement of Northwest pilots, the two airlines appear ready to go ahead and merge, which still won't allow two airplanes to take off from the same runway at the same time, of course. It will also create an odd experience for travelers, who'll get to cross picket lines of pilots from one airline, picketing the pilots of another airline.
Why would anyone want to work in this business? That's a question, perhaps, for Jason Captain, who started training last month at a Northwest subsidiary, after giving up a pretty fair government gig, the New York Times reported today. "My wife thinks I'm nuts," said the 32 year old.
Being an airline pilot was once a respected and admirable position. Now it's the same as driving a bus. We used to dress up to take an airline flight, now we're passengers at Greyhound. How'd we get here? Blogger Dave Gamble, an occasional visitor to News Cut, has an interesting perspective today. We got here because more of us were allowed the means to fly in the first place:
Efficiency is nice for the common consumer - consider Wal-Mart - but it doesn't make for the most enjoyable experience. Not to out myself as an elitist bastard, but I like to compare a trip to Wal-Mart with what it must be like to spend a couple of hours back stage on The Maury Show (in furtherance of my analogy, according to the Maury web site today's topic is "I Had Sex With Your Sister and Got Her Pregnant" - who wouldn't want to rub elbows with those folks), and that crowd is now routinely enjoying airline travel.
It might not be a bad time to invest in a roadside motel. This long-distance-travel-by-car thing might just take off.
Summer travel season is coming, what poison are you picking?(6 Comments)
This meeting of the "I already drained the gas in my snowblower and put the shovels back up in the crawl space above the garage" club is now in order.
It's quiet out there. Too quiet. Well, except for the cacophony of bird calls that hits you like a bucket of water in the morning when you go out to fetch the paper out of the bushes. Bird brains. They think it's spring.
Paul Huttner and Craig Edwards are blogging up a storm. They're in charge. It's snowing at Pipestone, Windom and Jackson.
My job? Keeping your eye on the prize.
The azaleas were out this morning in Augusta.
The cherry blossoms are blossoming in Washington.
The bluebells are up in London.
The corpse flower is stinking up the Como Conservatory.
And the Minnesota Wild are losing playoff games.
All the signs are there. Just keep hitting refresh for the next two days. On the other hand, send me your pictures of the great white death and we'd be delighted to share your misery.
(Photos from Getty Images. Corpse flower courtesy of Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory)
There are times when I'm reminded that some of the best journalism being done is actually comedy. (Or is it some of the best comedy being done is actually journalism?)
Last night's Daily Show segment on Gen. David Petraeus' testimony before Congress is one such time.(1 Comments)
Posted at 1:32 PM on April 10, 2008
by Bob Collins
A release from the Minnesota chapter of the ACLU today reveals it is collecting information from people who feel they've been racially profiled.
Of course, this has been done before in these parts and not much happened as a result.
It was about five years ago that the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota collected data on racial profiling from 65 police departments in Minnesota, under a 2001 bill at the Legislature to collect the data.
The statewide report said:
The pattern for Blacks and Latinos existed in nearly every participating jurisdiction. Whites were stopped at a greater than expected rate in only 8 of the 60 jurisdictions having enough stops to determine statistical significance. On the other hand, Blacks were over-stopped in every jurisdiction but one and Latinos were over-stopped in all but 5 of the 43 jurisdictions in which statistical significance could be determined. Similarly, in all but 2 of the 37 jurisdictions in which there were discretionary searches of Blacks and Whites, Blacks were subjected to searches at a higher rate than Whites. Latinos were subjected to these searches at a higher rate than Whites in all of the jurisdictions in which there were discretionary searches of Latinos.
I wrote a couple of days ago that Gov. Pawlenty doesn't usually lose a showdown with the DFL. But this -- the bill that would allocate $5 million to study lung disease among taconite workers -- might be an exception.
Gov. Pawlenty, according to MPR's Tim Pugmire, may veto the bill, because he wants to tap the Taconite Economic Development Fund, a tax on taconite companies intended to spur development on the Iron Range.
Republican Rep. Denny McNamara of Hastings gets the "money quote" of the day.
Members on the other side of the aisle, you're going to vote to tax the snot out of everybody else and let the Iron Range skate, and they're making money hand over fist. We're either in a recession or on the verge of a recession throughout the state except for one spot, the Iron Range.
It's never a good idea -- politically speaking -- to paint yourself into a corner, by allowing your opponents to position your position as "your cancer isn't my problem."
It is -- and has been -- Pawlenty's problem for awhile now. His administration already was under fire for appearing to sacrifice the lives of miners by keeping secret possible evidence that there was a link between taconite and cancer.
Under the bill, says Pugmire, the bulk of the $4.9 million needed for the study would come from the surplus in a state workers compensation fund -- money that comes from the state's employers. In a way, the idea isn't that much different from Pawlenty's plan to take money from the Health Care Access Fund -- a tax on health care providers -- to help erase a budget deficit, which set a precedent for using a surplus for things it was never intended.
The money -- $4.9 million -- is hardly a drop in the bucket, except in comparison to, say, the $30 million the state will ship to ethanol producers, in a bill the governor signed last year.
Pawlenty, as noted before, is a very smart politician. Coming out on top with a veto of the bill will challenge that ability.
Sign or veto? What say you?
Update 10:36 p.m. Aaron J. Brown, on his outstanding blog, MinnesotaBrown.com, points out one interesting factoid:
What Pawlenty and many outside the Iron Range often fail to understand is that our taconite tax revenue, while significant during good times (and not all times are good), is not a secret pot of cash that we use to buy beer and ammunition. It is what mining companies pay IN LIEU of PROPERTY TAX. Mines own or lease thousands of acres of enormously valuable land in northern Minnesota and they don't pay a dime in property tax. Suburbs raise their revenue from those sleek office buildings along the freeways and in overpriced residential homes. The Iron Range raises its school and community funds from taconite taxes, and per capita we get less money over time as a result. But wait, there's more. All the while over Range history a portion of these taconite taxes have gone to the state general fund or to the University of Minnesota fund, money that has benefited more than a million people who couldn't find the Iron Range on a map.
I usually cringe when I hear the "only in Minnesota" stuff (usually it's from Paul Douglas citing some weather factoid that actually happens in about 18 other states).
However, I think Minnesota really is the only place people go surfing in a blizzard.
(Hat tip: Perfect Duluth Day)