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Turkish Airlines Backs Down On Lipstick Ban

LONDON (Reuters) – Turkish Airlines is quashing a ban on female flight attendants wearing red lipstick and nail polish, its chief executive said on Thursday, after an outcry by secular Turks worried the country is becoming too Islamic.

The national carrier had said in a statement this month the use of red and dark pink lipstick and nail polish would impair the “visual integrity” of its staff.

But Chief Executive Temel Kotil said the order was made by over-zealous junior managers who did not consult senior bosses about the initiative.

“As to the lipstick, we had no problems but somehow low-level managers put together a paper without asking us and that paper leaked to the media and became a big issue,” Kotil told reporters in London.

Asked whether there was a ban, he said “no”, and confirmed female staff could wear lipstick and nail polish of any color.

“As you know, some in Turkey are a little bit keen about these issues,” said the fast-talking, U.S.-educated Kotil, who has served as chief executive since 2005. “We are a great global carrier and we know what we are doing.”

Many Turks took to Twitter to complain about the ban and the president of the airline’s Hava-Is union, Atilay Aycin, called it a bid by the management “to shape the company to fit its own political and ideological stance”.
Turkey is 99 percent Muslim but the NATO member state and European Union candidate has a secular constitution.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, which traces its roots to a banned Islamic party, has relaxed the state’s control over the expression of religion, such as once-strict limits imposed on wearing the Islamic-style headscarf.

Such restrictions were aimed at reining in Islamism and improving women’s rights, but effectively prevented many devout women from studying at university or taking government jobs.

In a presentation, Kotil forecast operating revenue would rise to $9.749 billion in 2013 from $8.318 billion last year. No net income guidance was given. A decade ago in 2003, operating revenue was $1.898 billion.
The airline, which says it flies to more countries than any other carrier, aims to increase passenger numbers to 46 million this year from 39 million last.

Aviation union Hava-Is has threatened to strike this month over pay but Kotil was optimistic such action could be averted.

“We love the union, we love our employees … and hopefully we can find a solution,” he said.

Credit: Reuters/Osman Orsal

Stats on Security

What kind of security are we talking about?  All kinds of security that includes protection from a wide range of threats – terrorism, cyber attacks, natural disasters, and other emergencies.  Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will:

– Pre-screen 2 million passengers before they fly into, out of, within, or over the U.S.;

– Screen 1.8 million passengers and their checked baggage for explosives and prohibited items at 448 airports before they board aircraft;

-Perform 200 inspections of air carriers and airport infrastructure;

– Patrol 3.4 million square miles of U.S. waterways;

– Seize 19,040 lbs. of drugs at/near U.S. ports of entry;

– Lead 100+ waterborne patrols near maritime critical infrastructure and key resources;

– Conduct 54 search and rescue cases;

– Train 350 members of law enforcement, faith-based, academic, and private sector communities to respond to Active Shooter scenarios;

– Screen 100% of cargo and vehicles entering the U.S. from Canada and Mexico;

– Process 1 million travelers entering the U.S. by air, sea, and land;

– Natualize 3,200 new U.S. citizens;

– Seize $500,000 of counterfeit U.S. currency before it gets into circulation;

– Verify the identities of 109,000+ applicants for visas and border-crossing cards;

– Train 5,880+ federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency management and response personnel;

– Train 2,100 officers and agents from 90+ federal agencies, as well as 125+ state, local, rural, tribal, territorial, and international officers and agents;

– Train 94 stakeholders from critical infrastructure sectors to identify, mitigate, and respond to cyber attacks;

– Provide $3.7+ million in federal disaster grants to individuals and households, following presidentially-declared disaster declarations;

– Provide Secret Service protection for an average of 30 U.S. government officials and their families;

– Prevent $6.8 million in potential loses through cyber crime investigations;

– Respond to 70 cybersecurity incidents per month while issuing warnings for each;

– Issue 20+ actionable cyber alerts for public and private sector to protect their systems.

Note:  Data is approximate and represents daily averages based upon annual Department-wide statistics. 

Source:  DHS.GOV

This One Is For You

Irate Passenger at Gate

It happened recently at a New York airport.  Some people wish they had the guts of this woman. An award should go to this United Airlines gate agent in New York for being smart and funny, while making her point when confronted with a passenger who probably deserved to fly as cargo. For all of you out there who have had to deal with an irate customer, this one is for you.

A crowded United Airlines flight was canceled. A single agent was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.

Suddenly, an angry passenger pushed his way through the line to the counter. He slapped his ticket on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS.”

The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first,  and then I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”

The passenger was very unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?”

The agent looked at him and smiled sweetly.  It had been a long day already.  Not losing any time, she grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your attention, please?” she began. Her voice was heard clearly throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS.  If anyone can help him with his identity, please come to Gate 14.  Thank you.”

With the folks behind him in line trying to smother their laughter and not succeeding, the man glared at the United Airlines agent, gritted his teeth, and said, “F*** You!”

Without flinching, she smiled and said, “I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to get in line for that, too.”

Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.  The End.

Thank you to Tom K. for submitting this story.

As the World Turns

Healthcare law, unemployment rates, taxes – yikes!  Who to believe, where to turn?  What will we do? 

It’s hard to know what to think or how to choose a path if pieces of the puzzle are missing.  Worse yet, it’s even harder if you don’t know that some of the facts or numbers just aren’t correct or have been, hmmmm…maybe manipulated?  Let’s start with healthcare laws and see if we can shed some light on the topic and how the above-mentioned subjects may relate to each other. 

In many countries around the world, there is some form of mandated healthcare coverage system – universal health care – for their citizens.  These systems include Single Payer, Two-Tier, and Insurance Mandate.

In a Single Payer system the government provides insurance for all citizens and pays for all health care expenses except for copays and coinsurance.  Health care providers may be public, private, or a combination of both.  Examples of  countries with a Single Payer system are Norway, Japan, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Canada, Italy, and Spain.

In a Two-Tier system, the government mandates catastrophic or minimum insurance coverage for all citizens, but allows for additional, voluntary insurance coverage for a fee-for-service care.  Examples of countries with this kind of system are France, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, and Hong Kong (a city-state in the People’s Republic of China).

In an Insurance Mandate system, the government mandates all citizens purchase insurance from either private, public, or non-profit insurers.  Examples of countries with an Insurance Mandate are Germany, Austria, Greece, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States in 2014 if things don’t change by then.

Now, for the next question…Where does the money come from to pay for universal health care in countries who have it?  Well, one of the major ways is by taxing the citizens of that country.  Taxes, you say?  Ah, yes indeed. 

That leads to the next topic – Income Taxes and other Taxes around the World for 2012.

In the United Kingdom, the personal income basic tax rate for wages starts at 20% and goes as high as 50% for annual wages over 150,000 euro dollars (EUR). 

In France, there is no income tax for anyone making under 6,089 EUR annually.  However, starting at that amount citizens are taxed at a rate of 5.5% up for up to 12,146 EUR.  The tax rate increases until anyone making above 72,317 EUR annually is taxed at a rate of 41%.

Greece’s income tax rate begins at 18% and increases to 45% for anyone making over 100,000 EUR annually.  In addition to the income tax, other taxes may apply to wages or profits earned, including social services, medical care, and capital gains taxes.

In Austria, the the income tax rate begins at 36.5% of annual wages of 11,000-25,000 EUR, and up to 50% for annual wages of 60,001 EUR and over.  In addition to the income taxes, Austrians are also required to pay social security tax rates between 18.07% – 18.2%.

In Germany, the tax rate is 14% for annual wages (EUR) from 8,005-52,881 and is progressive of up to 45% for annual wages of 250,731 and over. 

Italy has a progressive income tax rate starting at 23% for annual wages (EUR) up to 15,000.  There are 4 bands of tax rates with the highest rate being 43% for annual wages (EUR) of 75,000 and up.

So it seems that citizens in countries with some kind of universal health care system pay a lot of taxes from their annual wages.  So now I ask, what happens if there’s a high unemployment rate in a country and the goverment can’t collect enough taxes at the current tax rate to pay for the universal health care system and other amenities for its citizens?  Does the government raise taxes or create new taxes for certain sectors of the population, thus pitting one group against another?  Does it eliminate or reduce benefits and welfare programs?  Does it create jobs?  What level of unemployment triggers serious government action? 

In the U.S., the current unemployment rate reported for April, 2012 was 8.1%.  Does this number trigger serious government action, or is the number considered not THAT bad?  Let’s look.  According to government figures and research, the 8.1% unemployment number means 12.5 million people out of approximately 154.365 million people in the civilian labor force are not working.  But is this 8.1% unemployment rate correct?  Let’s look again and see…

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment figures by race, sex, and age for April, 2012, included a total of 9.144 million white men and women, 2.383 million black/African American men and women, and 2.498 million Hispanic/Latino men and women who were unemployed.  That’s a total of 14,025,000 people out of work that month.  Now, stay with me…Divide the 14,025,000 unemployed by the 154,365,000 in the civilian labor force, and that produces a 9.1% (real) unemployment rate for the groups reported, not the 8.1% unemployment rate the government reports.  Can someone please explain this discrepancy to me? 

Should we be concerned about an unemployment rate that’s underreported or perhaps, factually manipulated, and why?  Or should we be more concerned that not very much is being done quickly enough, or at all, to reduce the high unemployment rate in this great country?  

Finally, how are we going to pay for mandated health care if so many people are out of work? 

We’d like your thoughts.

Airline Crew Mistakenly Tells Passengers The Plane Will Crash

Published January 17, 2012 | NewsCore

Passengers flying over the Atlantic were terrified when it was announced twice that their plane could be about to crash.  British Airways (BA) Flight 206 was at 35,000 feet, halfway from Miami to London’s Heathrow Airport, when the taped message was played by accident.  Screams rang out as the message was repeated.

An Edinburgh man said, “It was about 3:00am. An alarm sounded, and we were told we were about to land in the sea. I thought we were going to die. My wife was crying, and passengers were screaming. Then they played an announcement telling us to just ignore the warnings.”

Another passenger said, “When we landed, they were handing out letters apologizing, but it was the worst experience of my life. I don’t think BA should get away with this.”

A BA spokesman said of the scare en route to Heathrow on Friday, “The cabin crew canceled the announcement immediately and sought to reassure customers that the flight was operating normally. We apologize to customers for causing them undue concern.”

In August 2010, a message announcing, “We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water,” was played by mistake on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Hong Kong.

Some habits seem to die hard…

Our thanks to Frederick Russillo for submitting the above story.

World View – A Society’s Decline – Violence Against Toddler in China

Warning – Graphic Violence – Toddler Hit by Trucks and Left to Die  (The video is the smaller box on the lower left of the page.  It takes a few seconds to load.)

This story first appeared on October 17, 2011.

GUANGZHOU – A 2-year-old girl who was ignored by passers-by as she lay injured after being run over twice, has been declared “brain dead” by doctors, who say she could die at any time.

Footage from a surveillance camera presented on local TV shows Yue Yue was walking in a hardware market in Foshan, Guangdong province about 100 meters away from her home, when she was run over by a van at 5:26 pm. Three passers-by who noticed the injured girl chose to ignore her.

The girl was then run over by a light-duty truck. The riders of four electric bicycles, a tricycle and three passers-by all chose to ignore her and no one at a shop close to the scene came to her aid.

Seven minutes after she was first hit by the van, a 57-year-old rag collector noticed the girl and moved her to the curb. The woman then tried talking to the shopkeeper but received no response. She then walked into the street and a few seconds later, the girl’s mother appears and rushes away with the girl.

The girl received emergency surgery in Foshan before being transferred to the General Hospital of the Guangzhou Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army in Guangzhou on the same day.

The girl was critically injured, with no spontaneous respiration and close to brain death when she arrived at the hospital, said Wen Qiang, deputy director of the intensive care unit of the hospital.

The little girl was declared “brain dead” by the hospital on Sunday afternoon and could die at any time, according to a doctor surnamed Peng.

The most optimistic estimate is that the girl will remain in a vegetative state on life support.

Police caught the truck driver soon after the incident and the van driver turned himself in on Sunday afternoon.

Before the accident, the girl, just back with her mother from the kindergarten, was left alone at the hardware shop of the family when her mother went to collect dried clothes. When she returned, the mother could not find her daughter at the shop or anywhere nearby until she heard the rag-collecter shout, according to Guangzhou Daily.

According to reports the van driver had just split up from his girlfriend and was talking on his mobile phone when he hit the girl.

“If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan ($3,125). But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands yuan,” said the driver over the phone to the media, before he gave himself up to the police.

When she ran from shop to shop for the identity of the girl, the rag collector was told by a number of shopkeepers to mind her own business.

There have been other examples of the public failing  to assist injured parties. 

The public has been instructed by the Chinese Ministry of Health on how to behave in these kinds of situations.  In guidelines issued in September, 2011 on how to help elderly people who have fallen down, the public are advised: “Don’t rush to lend a hand to the elderly after seeing them fall over. It should be handled by different measures in different situations.”

The Ministry said the guidelines have nothing to do with morality and ethics but explain how to deliver assistance in a scientifically proper way.

Hmmmmm….yeah, sure.  Wouldn’t want to live there [China], thank you very much.

As one travels the globe, or just reads about news collected from different parts of the world, sometimes one is reminded just how lucky it is to be living right here in the good ole USA.

The Flight Attendant Wiggle – Who Says Only Santa Can Dance Through the Skies?

Click:   The Flight Attendant Wiggle

Ah, that’s the way to get a passenger’s attention!  Flight attendants for a low-cost Philippine airline who gained fame by dancing through safety demonstrations are back dancing through the aisles.

They’ve swapped the Lady Gaga tunes that made them popular last year for Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

Manila-based Cebu Pacific airline says the choreographed dance helps passengers pay more attention to the safety demonstration.  I bet…!

Our thanks to Tom Kraay for submitting the story for this jazzy post!

A Trip to Antalya

Antalya is a resort city on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast.  It has beautiful beaches and dramatic views of the sea and mountains.  Many of the buildings in the city are from the Ottoman and Roman time periods.  Our thanks to Bill Gallagher for submitting the photos seen here from his recent trip to Turkey.

Living Royally


Looking Towards Africa


Antalya, Nestled Between Green and Mountains

Traveled Abroad Lately? Slavery Is Still Alive And Well World-Wide.

Have you traveled to any of the countries listed here?  Below is only a partial list of countries still using forced labor, aka slavery, along with the products produced by forced labor.  Perhaps you might want to think twice about purchasing any of the items listed that come from these countries?  As a seasonal reminder, note the Christmas Decorations produced in China, and made with forced labor. 

ANGOLA (Diamonds); ARGENTINA (Garments); BOLIVIA (Brazil Nuts/Chestnuts, Cattle, Corn, Charcoal, Sugarcane, Timber, Tobacco); BURMA (Bambo, Beans [yellow, soy, green], Bricks, Jade, Palm Thatch, Castor Beans, Rice, Rubber, Rubies, Sesame, Shrimp, Sugarcane, Sunflowers, Teak); CHINA (Artificial flowers, Bricks, Christmas Decorations, Coal, Cotton, Electronics, Fireworks, Footwear, Garments, Nails, Toys); COLUMBIA (Coca – stimulant plant); COTE d’IVOIRE (Cocoa, Coffee); DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Sugarcane); ETHIOPIA (Textiles – hand woven); GHANA (Tilapia – fish); INDIA (Bricks, Carpets, Cottonseed, Embroidered Textiles, Garments, Rice, Stones); JORDAN (Garments); KAZAKHSTAN (Cotton, Tobacco); MALAYSIA (Garments, Oil); NEPAL (Bricks, Carpets, Embroidered Textiles, Stones); NIGERIA (Cocoa, Granite, Gravel – crushed stones); NORTH KOREA (Bricks, Cement, Coal, Gold, Iron, Textiles); PAKISTAN (Bricks, Carpets, Coal, Cotton, Sugarcane, Wheat); PARAGUAY (Cattle); PERU (Brazil Nuts/Chestnuts, Gold, Timber); RUSSIA (Pornography); SIERRA LEONE (Diamonds); THAILAND (Garments, Shrimp).

Source:  U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2010 list.

Lawyer Sues Southwest, Says Airline Breached Free-Drink Coupon Contract

The ABAJournal Law News Now posted the information below on Nov. 17, 2011:

Although Southwest Airlines revised its policy in August of last year, notifying customers that such coupons would be honored only on the day of the flight after August 2011, a Chicago lawyer is challenging that change.

Adam J. Levitt, who allegedly has about 45 now-worthless free-drink coupons from Southwest, filed suit yesterday in federal court in Chicago, according to Reuters.

The complaint, which seeks class action status, contends that the carrier breached a contract with passengers by changing its policy and refusing to honor the coupons, which have no expiration date.  Alcoholic beverages purchased on board the aircraft otherwise would cost about $5 each.

Levitt, who practices at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, is the plaintiff in the case. He is represented by Joseph J. Siprut of the Siprut law firm, who tells the ABA Journal that the situation is akin to a retailer refusing to honor a customer’s gift card.

Describing Levitt as a “customer who got burned,” Siprut said his client and many others aren’t getting the benefit of their bargain. When they purchased their Business Select tickets, they expected to get a free drink, too. But now Southwest has changed the terms of their deal, after the fact.

“This is where a class action lawsuit really is the appropriate mechanism to deal with this issue,” Siprut said. Given the $5 value of the free drink, “it only makes sense to do this as a class action on an aggregate basis.”

Attorney Tommy Wells of Alabama, a former president of the ABA, says he himself has quite a collection of worthless Southwest drink tickets, too. He plans to use some of them as exhibits when he defends the airline in the case.

The Levitt suit, he tells the ABA Journal, is the second of two would-be federal class actions filed by attorneys against Southwest over the airline’s cancellation of its free-drink coupons. The plaintiff has since been substituted in the Birmingham, Ala., federal suit, however.  The earlier suit, Wells explained, focused more on another type of free-drink ticket earlier offered by Southwest, which essentially was a bonus gift sent out in a coupon book when a customer used Rapid Reward frequent-flyer miles to purchase a ticket.

It is black-letter contract law, Wells said, that such offers can be rescinded prior to acceptance, which would be manifested, in the case of the bonus drink coupons, by actually presenting them for a drink on a Southwest flight.

Similarly, although the free-drink coupons associated with the Business Select tickets purchased by Levitt and others contained no expiration date, they were intended to be used on the ticketed flight, Wells said. However, the ability of customers to print out or duplicate multiple free-drink tickets while booking a flight thwarted that expectation.

Given a choice between keeping flights affordable for all customers on the highly competitive routes that it flies and continuing to offer free drinks to some customers, Southwest opted to eliminate the booze benefit, Wells explained.

In a statement emailed to the ABA Journal, the carrier said that “Southwest Airlines works to reward our loyal customers by offering perks for their business. The perks that accompany our Business Select product include a complimentary drink for day of travel, in addition to premiere boarding and extra Rapid Reward points.

“When the Business Select program initially launched, drink coupons associated with the purchase of a Business Select fare did not specify an expiration date,” the statement continues. “But we found that some customers were photocopying drink coupons to obtain multiple drinks from a single coupon. We made the decision to post an expiration date on the coupon to prevent the unauthorized copying of the coupons. We cannot directly comment on pending litigation, but we value our customers and we will continue to look for ways to offer rewards for their business.”