Monday, September 30, 2013

Airlines promise a return to civility, for a fee

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Airlines promise a return to civility, for a fee

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Sep 30, 5:38 AM (ET)
(AP) In this Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, photo, Delta Air Lines passengers, who have purchased an upgrade to...
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NEW YORK (AP) - Airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them.
Unlike the first generation of charges which dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight.
Extra legroom, early boarding and access to quiet lounges were just the beginning. Airlines are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first class meals in coach and letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them. Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office.
In the near future, airlines plan to go one step further, using massive amounts of personal data to customize new offers for each flier.
(AP) In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013, photo, United Airlines passengers board a flight using the Premier...
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"We've moved from takeaways to enhancements," says John F. Thomas of L.E.K. Consulting. "It's all about personalizing the travel experience." Carriers have struggled to raise airfares enough to cover costs. Fees bring in more than $15 billion a year and are the reason the airlines are profitable. But the amount of money coming in from older charges like baggage and reservation change fees has plateaued. So the airlines are selling new extras and copying marketing methods honed by retailers.
Technological upgrades allow airlines to sell products directly to passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at check-in and on mobile phones minutes before boarding. Delta Air Lines recently gave its flight attendants wireless devices, allowing them to sell passengers last-second upgrades to seats with more legroom.
And just like offers suggested readings based on each buyer's past purchases, airlines soon will be able to use past behavior to target fliers.
"We have massive amounts of data," says Delta CEO Richard Anderson. "We know who you are. We know what your history has been on the airline. We can customize our offerings."
(AP) In this photo taken Wednesday, May 8, 2013, United Airlines passengers enjoy the United Club as...
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Other airlines are experimenting with tracking passengers throughout the airport. In the future, if somebody clears security hours before their flight, they might be offered a discounted day pass to the airline's lounge on their phone. Airlines have yet to find the right balance between being helpful and being creepy. So, for now, most of the data is being used to win back passengers after their flight is delayed or luggage is lost.
"We want to get back to a point where people feel like travel isn't something to endure, but something they can enjoy," says Bob Kupbens, a former Target executive and Delta's current vice president of marketing and digital commerce.
Most passengers select flights based on the lowest base fare. The online travel industry plays up that price sensitivity with sites named, and
When airlines try to raise fares, they are met with resistance.
(AP) In this photo taken Wednesday, May 8, 2013, a United Airlines passenger chooses snacks in the...
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"Customers are very quick to either change travel plans, or use another carrier or not travel at all," says Jim Corridore, an airline analyst with Standard & Poor's. In the past three years, airlines have tried to hike fares 48 times, according to During 29 of those attempts, bookings fell enough that airlines abandoned the increase.
Most fares today don't cover the cost of flying. While the average domestic roundtrip base fare has climbed 3 percent over the past decade to $361.95, when adjusted for inflation, the price of jet fuel has nearly tripled.
When oil prices spiked in 2008, airlines added checked baggage fees. Passengers still bought tickets on the base price and didn't think about the extra expense until the day of travel.
Now airlines are recasting fees as trip enhancements.
Travelers like Nadine Angress, of Mansfield, Mass., see the value. Her recent late-night US Airways flight home landed past six-year-old son's bedtime. She had to work early the next morning. So, for $30 she bypassed the baggage carousel and had the suitcase delivered.
"That was a very reasonable price to pay," Angress says. "It's making your life easier."
U.S. airlines collect more than $6 billion a year in baggage and reservation change fees. They also collect $9 billion more from selling extras like frequent flier miles, early boarding and seat upgrades. Together, the fees account for 10 percent U.S. airlines' revenue.
Fees provide airlines with another advantage: The Internal Revenue Service has said since they aren't directly related to transporting passengers, they aren't subject to the 7.5 percent excise tax travelers pay on base fares. Taxing fees would give the government an extra $1.1 billion a year to fund the Federal Aviation Administration, runway upgrades and air traffic control improvements.
Without the fees, experts say fares would be 15 percent higher.
"You're either going to go out of business or find a way to cover" your costs, says Robert E. Jordan, Southwest Airlines' executive vice president and chief commercial officer.
Southwest has held off charging for most checked bags. But it sells plenty of other add-ons.
Recently, it introduced a way for people at the back of the boarding line on some flights to cut to the front for $40. It's not a blockbuster seller - one person pays up every two flights - but with 3,600 daily flights, that nets $70,000 in extra daily revenue or $25 million a year.
Airlines now alter fees based on demand. United Airlines used to sell its Economy Plus extra legroom seats for one price per route. Today, aisle seats cost more than middle seats; prices are higher on popular flights.
That change in thinking has helped United increase fee revenue by 13 percent this year to more than $20 per one-way passenger.
Airlines are also starting to bundle items. Passengers purchase items they might not necessarily buy alone; it also simplifies the dizzying array of offers.
"I don't want you to have to do the math every time," says Rick E. Chat, managing director of digital marketing at American Airlines.
American offers a package for $68 roundtrip that includes no change fees, one checked bag and early boarding. Delta is experimenting with a $199 subscription that includes a checked bag, early boarding, access to exit row seats and extra frequent flier miles on all flights a passenger takes between now and Jan. 5.
Airlines say the fees bring a sense of fairness to the system. Why should a passenger with a small carry-on subsidize a family of four, checking suitcases?
Jamie Baker, an airline analyst with JP Morgan Chase, likens it to a meal at a restaurant.
"The sides are not included in the price of a steak," he says. "Airline ticket prices should reflect the costs incurred by the individual passenger."
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at .

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In the Chambers of the Secret Courts

Darkness, Darkness

In the Chambers of the Secret Courts

Perhaps even the Sun King himself appreciated the irony of his secret tribunals being conducted in a court where daylight was not permitted to penetrate. The sinister proceedings of the Chambre Ardente took place in a room blanketed by thick black curtains in the depths of the old Paris Arsenal a few blocks from the Bastille.
The so-called Burning Chamber, so-named for the flaming torches that lined the walls and its victims who would later be set afire at the stake, originated in 1535 under Francis I as an inquisitional court for the prosecution of heretics. But the tribunal really kicked into lethal gear during the reign of Frances’ demented son, Henry II.
Henry was one of the most depraved figures in an era known for its regal brutality. He was, by all accounts, an insipid man, of limited intellect and charm, a bigot and sexual sadist, who was driven by a rabid hatred of the French Calvinists known as the Huguenots. Henry viewed the Huguenots as a “foreign contagion” infecting the homeland, and issued a series of increasingly severe Edicts calling on the Parliament of Paris to enact laws that would extinguish the Protestant threat. When the Parliament refused to act, Henry, enraged, moved on his own authority, using the Chambre Ardente as his covert prosecutorial instrument.
Before the sequestered judges of the secret court, all suspects were presumed guilty, awaiting only sentencing. Calvinist books and Bibles were proscribed. Thousands were cast into dungeons, their property seized as property of the king, their bodies subjected to vile tortures: gouged eyes, cropped ears, tongues extracted by glowing pliers—the usual menu of medieval atrocities. The condemned were carted away by the hundreds to the Place Maubert and set ablaze for the edification of the public.
In 1559, Henry’s grim tenure as king came to a fortuitously abrupt end at the point of Gabriel Montgomery’s lance on the jousting field at Place de Vosges. Montgomery was the head of the King’s Scots Guard, a kind of death squad geared toward tracking down and dispatching suspected Protestants and Henry’s political opponents. After Henry died in 1559, the Chambre Ardente was shuttered and Montgomery, now a pariah in France, fled to England and converted to Protestantism.
For 115 years, the doors of the black-curtained court in the Arensal remained sealed, until the Le Roi du Soleil ordered the doors opened, the terrible tables of judgment dusted off and oiled, and his own private prosecutor installed, the indefatigable Nicolas de La Reynie, the inspector Jauvert of his time.
Under Louis XIV’s reign, the Chambre Ardente was retooled a kind of personal inquisitional court, where scores were settled, detentions ordered, suspects interrogated and tortured, executions decreed. Between 1675 and 1682, more than 210 sessions of the black court were convened. Hundreds of arrest warrants and seizure writs were executed. All in secret, immune from the unpredictable pronouncements of juries and jurists. The Chambre Ardente was a place where all verdicts were pre-ordained, with no right to appeal.
Confessions, of course, are always desirable, especially by despots, and as a means of encouragement the so-called water-cure (and early predecessor of water-boarding) was often deployed by agents of the dark court. In one notorious case, a certain Madame de Brinvilliers was force fed sixteen pints of water, until she admitted her guilt. She was subsequently beheaded, her corpse torched at the stake.
The most infamous proceedings of the dark court during this period involved what is known as the Affair of the Poisons, a sex-and-murder driven scandal involving members of the aristocracy and Parisian elites very close to the King himself. To keep, from implicating Versailles, Louis instructed the Chambre Ardente to institute secret round-up of problematic individuals, including political and sexual rivals, abortionists, homosexuals, and manufacturers of what was called the inheritance drugs (ie, poison). At least thirty-six people were executed. Even the dramatist Racine narrowly escaped being shackled in the dungeon of the Bastille. The strange saga is given a vivid narration in Nancy Mitford’s delightful “The Sun King,” recently brought back into print by NYRB Press.
Some of the objects Louis’ vengeance proved too sensitive even to be hauled before the Chambre Attendre. In these cases, the King used an even more malign method of disposing of his rivals, enemies and political opponents, the Lettre de Cachet. By writ of the King, individuals could be arrested, exiled and secretly jailed without any trial at all. This was an early form of rendition that wasn’t abolished until after the French Revolution.
More than any other autocratic European ruler since Caesar Augustus, Louis put the total into totalitarian, a divinely-infused absolutism that is crystallized in his infamous quip “L’etat c’est moi.” In other words, whatever the King did was legal by definition. Yet, Louis Quatorze was widely regarded as a benign dictator, even by fierce critics of the Ancien Regime, including Voltaire himself.
Now we have our very own Sun King, a man almost universally praised for his high-learning and enlightened moral conscience. And, like the Bourbon monarch, Barack Obama too has his own dark court, an extrajudicial panel that operates in secret, authorizes domestic spying, wiretaps, detentions, renditions and even summary executions by drone strike.
Obama’s FISA tribunals are a Constitution-free zone. Its proceedings are shielded from public light by executive decree. Here, as in the ancient Chambre Arendte, all suspects are presumed guilty and the agents of the state are considered omniscient and omnipotent. Last year alone, the FISA courts considered 1,800 requests for surveillance on American citizens. Not one request was denied.
The Left remains nearly inert to the steady accretion of executive powers and the stunning abridgement of fundamental civil liberties. The basic structures of our democracy are being occluded by the creeping shadow of a benign autocrat.
The Republic descends into darkness.
JEFFREY ST. CLAIR is the editor of CounterPunch and the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of NatureGrand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. His latest book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at:
This essay originally appeared in the July issue of CounterPunch magazine.

Friday, September 6, 2013

U S Marine Alleges Crimes Worthy of Impeachment Against Barry Soetoro '79

U S Marine Alleges Crimes Worthy of Impeachment Against Barry Soetoro '79 



Published on Sep 6, 2013
In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, aka Barry Soetoro Punahou '79, personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, in that:


He has covered up, delayed, impeded and obstructed the investigation of the Benghazi Battle.

Specific conduct includes: (1) failing to adequately secure the US Consulate and the CIA annex in Benghazi; (2) failing to send a response team to rescue embattled US citizens in Benghazi; (3) lying to the American people about why the US Consulate and the CIA annex were attacked in Benghazi; and (3) hiding from the media and congressional investigators the Central Intelligence Agency personnel and other wounded US citizens who were on the ground in Benghazi by scattering them throughout the United States, forcing them to adopt new identities and subjecting them to monthly polygraph tests.

Benghazi Battle elements that are under investigation:

On September 11, 2012, the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, the US Consulate and the CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya was targeted in a premeditated, preplanned attack launched without warning by Islamist militants.

Footage of the attack broadcast in real time showed armed men attacking the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, assault rifles, 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine guns, truck mounted artillery, diesel canisters, and mortars. It was not an act of savage mob violence, nor a spontaneous protest in response to an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.

In that attack, four American citizens were killed: US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens; Information Officer Sean Smith; and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs. Ambassador Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador killed in an attack since Adolph Dubs was killed in 1979.


He has disclosed secret grand jury material by exposing the existence of a sealed indictment of one of the Benghazi attackers in violation of Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that clearly states: "... no person may disclose the indictment's existence except as necessary to issue or execute a warrant or summons.''


He has authorized and permitted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a division of the Justice Department, to conduct Operation Fast and Furious with money laundered through HSBC and the United States Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund, wherein guns were sold to Mexican drug trafficking organizations that were used to kill innocent Mexican civilians and wherein two rifles sold to a smuggler in January 2010, ended up at the scene of the murder (wrongful death) of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. He has rewarded Fast and Furious and other corrupt operatives with a share of the $1.9 billion paid by HSBC into the Asset Forfeiture Fund; in the custody of Kristine Marcy and Eric Holder since 1984.


He has authorized and permitted confidential income tax returns information from the Internal Revenue Service to be provided to unauthorized individuals, organizations and agencies.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

US CORP 1871 Defined.

18 USC 1959 - Violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity

Legal Research Home > US Code > Crimes and Criminal Procedure > 18 USC 1959 - Violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity
Sec. 1959. Violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity (a) Whoever, as consideration for the receipt of, or as consideration for a promise or agreement to pay, anything of pecuniary value from an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity, or for the purpose of gaining entrance to or maintaining or increasing position in an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity, murders, kidnaps, maims, assaults with a dangerous weapon, commits assault resulting in serious bodily injury upon, or threatens to commit a crime of violence against any individual in violation of the laws of any State or the United States, or attempts or conspires so to do, shall be punished—
(1) for murder, by death or life imprisonment, or a fine under this title, or both; and for kidnapping, by imprisonment for any term of years or for life, or a fine under this title, or both;
(2) for maiming, by imprisonment for not more than thirty years or a fine under this title, or both;
(3) for assault with a dangerous weapon or assault resulting in serious bodily injury, by imprisonment for not more than twenty years or a fine under this title, or both;
(4) for threatening to commit a crime of violence, by imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine under this title, or both;
(5) for attempting or conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping, by imprisonment for not more than ten years or a fine under this title, or both; and
(6) for attempting or conspiring to commit a crime involving maiming, assault with a dangerous weapon, or assault resulting in serious bodily injury, by imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine of [1] under this title, or both.

(b) As used in this section—
(1) "racketeering activity" has the meaning set forth in section 1961 of this title; and
(2) "enterprise" includes any partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity, which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce.
[1] So in original. The word "of" probably should not appear.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Disturbing and Unlawful

Chapter 77 - Peonage, Slavery, and Trafficking in Persons

Chapter 77 - Peonage, Slavery, and Trafficking in Persons
§ 1581 Peonage; obstructing enforcement
§ 1582 Vessels for slave trade
§ 1583 Enticement into slavery
§ 1584 Sale into involuntary servitude
§ 1585 Seizure, detention, transportation or sale of slaves
§ 1586 Service on vessels in slave trade
§ 1587 Possession of slaves aboard vessel
§ 1588 Transportation of slaves from United States
§ 1589 Forced labor
§ 1590 Trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor
§ 1591 Sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion
§ 1592 Unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of trafficking, peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor
§ 1593 Mandatory restitution
§ 1593A Benefitting financially from peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons
§ 1594 General provisions
§ 1595 Civil remedy
§ 1596 Additional jurisdiction in certain trafficking offenses

Sec. 1593A. Benefitting financially from peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons

Whoever knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in any act in violation of section 1581 (a), 1592, or 1595 (a), knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in such violation, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned in the same manner as a completed violation of such section.

Now tell me if this doesn't sound like what all govts do by default.