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United: So Sorry, We'll Do Better Next Time

United Airlines has issued this apology for dragging an unwilling passenger off an overbooked plane to make room for some employees. His lawyer says he is now in the hospital recovering from his injuries. (No link to news articles because I could not find a single one without video.)

I stopped flying years ago -- it simply was too unpleasant, time-consuming and not worth the hassle or expense -- so I had no idea the airlines could do what United did: After offering $400, then $800, without getting enough takers, it can pick four passengers "randomly" and make them deplane, using police if necessary. First, that's no better than buying a stand-by seat. .

Second, I don't buy that the selection is random. Does anyone believe the airline would kick off a first class passenger already seated? I wonder if they didn't just pick the four passengers who paid the least for their seats and were not frequent flier members.

What's next? Will hotels overbook rooms, and when you're fast asleep in the bed, come knocking at the door with a cop in tow, telling you to vacate your paid-for room for another customer? I wouldn't be surprised. When you allow a few rich companies to dominate an industry, whether it's airlines, cable tv, internet or gas and electric companies, John and Jane Citizen get screwed. [More...]

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Bird Flu Found At Tennessee Chicken Farm

The year's first case of U.S. bird flu has been found at a chicken farm in Tennessee which is under contract to Tyson Foods. Tyson says it will euthanize 73,500 affected chickens. The farm, along with 20 poultry farms within a 6 mile radius, are now under quarantine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said this represented the first confirmed case of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial poultry in the United States this year. It is the first time HPAI has been found in Tennessee, the state government said.

[More...]

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Paris to Cairo Flight Goes Missing, May Have Crashed In Sea

An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo dropped off the radar screen about 10 miles after entering Egyptian airspace. The Airbus 320 was over the Mediterranean Sea when it disappeared.

The plane lost contact about 3 hours and 40 minutes after leaving Charles de Gaulle airport, at 37,000 feet. There were 59 passengers and 10 crew aboard. (Other sources say 56 passengers, 3 security personnel and 7 crew members on board.)
EgyptAir is updating via its Twitter feed.

The Guardian is updating here.

The captain on flight has 6,000+ flying hours, including 2,000 on an A320.... there was no special cargo on the flight and no notification had been made to the captain of dangerous goods on board.

There was no distress call. So what happened to Flight MS804? Did it just fall into the sea or was it foul play? There have been several A320 incidents in recent years. But there was also Russia's Metrojet, an Airbus A321 that crashed in Sinai in October, 2015, killing 224 people. While Egypt disagreed, Russia and Western governments thought it was a bomb and ISIS claimed credit for it.

The head of Egypt's civil air agency says it probably crashed into the sea.

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Big Day for The Broncos

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Update: Congrats, Broncos. They beat the Patriots, 20 to 18. It's on to the Superbowl. I didn't even have to turn on my TV to know the game was over and they won -- I figured it out from the firecracker type sounds and yelling in the neighborhood that I could hear through my double-pane windows.

Go Broncos. It's almost kickoff time for the AFC Championship game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots.

Here's a thread to discuss today's football games and the superbowl.

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Brain Injury Leads to "Accidental Genius"

GMA has a really interesting article about a female rancher in Colorado who suffered a traumatic brain injury and is now an "accidental genius" in art and music.

[N]ow she is a gifted artist and poet. She enjoys spending time puzzling over mathematical equations. She can “see” sounds and “hear” colors when she listens to music, although she is extremely sensitive to light.

She remembers nothing about her prior life. She doesn’t even recognize her own mother.

The brain works in such interesting and at times unexpected ways. There are stroke victims who suffer from aphasia who cannot speak in words but can sing them.[More...]

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Mayweather Beats Pacquiao: Unanimous Decision

All three judges scored Floyd Mayweather the victor over Manny Pacquaio. Scores: 118-110, 116-112, 116-112.

After the fight:

Was anyone rooting for Mayweather?

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Thursday Open Thread

R.I.P. Jean Nidetch, the founder of WeightWatchers. She died this week at age 91. I spent a week at a health spa with her in the early 80's. She was very smart and funny and fun to be around. Here's a picture I took of her that week, and one another guest took of her and me. Should I mention again it was 30 years ago? R.I.P. Jean.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Consumer News Update

If you shopped at a Target store from Black Friday to around December 15, beware. There's been a massive data breach of customer credit card information (online customers are not affected.)

It's time to stock up on 40 and 60 watt bulbs. They won't be made in the U.S. starting Jan. 1.

I may skip Christmas this year, or at least the shopping. What are your plans?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Waco Explosion: 5 to 15 Dead

Update: The number of persons killed is now being estimated at 5 to 15. Last nights numbers provided by EMS were incorrect.

Emergency Medical Services in Waco say 60 to 70 have died in the explosion at a fertilizer plant in Waco, TX. Hundreds more have been injured.

The fire started in an anhydrous ammonia tank and spread to the building, authorities said. The resulting explosion spread the fire to the Middle School and to a nearby nursing home.

To check on injured residents admitted to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center call (254) 202-1100. The Red Cross is on its way.

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Evil Koch Bros FGCU v. The Good Florida Gators

So you were tempted to root for Florida Gulf Coast over Florida were you? Nevermind, the 1%er coach, you thought, it is still a heartwarming Cinderella story.

Well think again:

Itís a great story: the virtually unknown, 15th seeded Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), has made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. But thereís something you might not know about FGCU: its economics department is, as a consequence of grants from Randian businessman John Allison and the Charles G. Koch Foundation[.]

Rooting for the Cinderella Eagles is rooting for the Koch Brothers.

Do the right thing, root for the land grant public university established by Abraham Lincoln:

Go Gators!!!

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Companies That Don't Deserve Our Trust

(Also see update at the end.)

At Christmas time, I wrote that I would love to get the new iMac as a gift from readers. Lots of you contributed but not enough to buy one. A few weeks ago, a very generous TalkLeft reader bought one for me. I've been patiently waiting for it to arrive. Today was the day, according to Apple and Fedex, it should have arrived at my office.

I was so excited. But it never came. Around 3 pm, I checked the Fedex tracking system. And there it was: Lie Number 1. Fedex falsely said they tried to deliver it and no one was available to accept it. [More...]

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Disabled Carnival Cruise Ship Arrives in Mobile

A cheerful song for the beleaguered, hungry, cruise passengers about to depart the filthy Carnival cruise ship, which just arrived in Mobile, AL. after five days of conditions from hell and being towed by tugboat for a few hundred miles. Passengers say it was like spending 5 days in a porta-potty.

It will take them hours to get off the ship. Some will then have to spend a more few hours on buses traveling to hotels in other cities. [More...]

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Ronald Dworkin, RIP

One of the great thinkers of our time, Ronald Dworkin, has passed away.

R.I.P.

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East Coast Braces for Blizzard

Sending good thoughts to all in the path of the blizzard about to hit the East Coast.

If you are there, please keep us updated and let us know how you are doing. And don't forget to get candles. To remind you, here's "Light My Candle" from the final performance of "Rent."

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Marvin Miller, RIP

A giant passes.

Marvin Miller, RIP.

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