I mentioned earlier that having a President living in Chicago will change a few things. I'm hoping that the doomsday scenario outlined by local reporter (and private pilot) Phil Rogers doesn't come to pass:
The Secret Service declined to say how they would handle aviation security in the Chicago area, Rogers reported, but there is a model, which is how security is handled currently at the presidential retreat in Crawford, Texas.
Using that model, that would mean a three-mile no-fly zone around the Obama's home in Hyde Park, whether or not the president was there, and that would expand to a 10-mile no-fly zone when he is home. In a 30-mile ring, specific flight plans would be required, which are currently not required. That would severely restrict operations at a multitude of area airports.
"To make this 10 miles no-fly, and then 30 miles with all kinds of restrictions? It's just too much," said Phil Boyer of the Maryland-based Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations.
Especially worrisome is flight instruction, as it would be severely curtailed, Rogers reported. Flight instructors only get paid when they fly.
A 10-mile no-fly would include the Loop, most of the South Side, plus Midway and Gary-Chicago airports. That won't happen. My guess, they'll keep the 2-mile no-fly over his house and require discrete transponder codes within 10 miles.
By the way, the "no-fly" around his house right now isn't prohibited airspace. In theory, you can fly right over the building with ATC approval.
I can't see any benefit to leasing out all the parking spaces in Chicago to a private company, even if my mayor and alderman can. In fact, it sounds quite appalling: street parking fees to double, profit motive over civic good in parking enforcement, no time for the Council to evaluate the proposal Mayor Daley handed them yesterday. Destroying Meigs was bad; this is much, much worse:
Parking meter rates will increase next month after the Chicago City Council today overwhelmingly approved Mayor Richard Daley's plan to lease the spots to a private firm for 75 years in return for a one-time payment of nearly $1.2 billion.
Some neighborhood parking meter rates will quadruple next month. Neighborhood spots that used to cost a quarter an hour will cost $1 an hour---and jump to $2 an hour in 2013. The top meter rates in the Loop will increase from $3 to $3.50 an hour, rising to $6.50 an hour in 2013. Chicago will have some of the highest parking meter rates in the nation.
Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who backs the deal, said 72 hours was enough time to review it.
"How many of us read the stuff we do get, OK?," Mell said. "I try to. I try to. I try to. But being realistic, being realistic, it's like getting your insurance policy. It's small print, OK?"
Thanks, Dick, for another intellectually-stimulating rejoinder to an impertinent question.
Does anyone remember the awfulness that resulted in historical times to privatizing tax collection? Does anyone see the parallels?
Pilots for Emirates Airlines have complained that the new Airbus A380 is too quiet:
"We're getting a lot of complaints. It's not something we expected," Emirates spokesman Ed Davidson told Flight International. "On our other aircraft, the engines drown out the cabin noise. [On the A380] the pilots sleep with earplugs but the cabin noise goes straight through them." The problem is most noticeable on the Emirates A380s because they chose to put the crew-rest area at the back of the main cabin, while Singapore Airlines and Qantas have placed it right behind the cockpit. Extra insulation is not a solution because it would add extra weight, Davidson said. The airline may experiment with lightweight noise generators that would create ambient sound to mask the cabin noise, according to Flight International.
For passengers, the quiet can also be disconcerting, as they can overhear conversations of others seated nearby. But at least in first class, the Emirates passengers have plenty of distractions -- hot showers, a well-stocked bar, fully reclining sleeper seats, and personal 17-inch video screens with over 1,200 entertainment channels to choose from.
In unrelated news, ThinkGeek is now offering the Annoy-a-tron 2.0 for the holidays.
First the good news: Al Franken keeps inching up in his recount for Norm Coleman's (R-MN) U.S. Senate seat. With 7% of the votes left to count, Franken now trails by only 3. Three. As in, "Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out."
And the bad news. As predicted, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) looks likely to win re-election in tonight's run-off.
But, you know, 57 isn't bad, nor is 58 if you count Joe Lieberman (
In the 49 days and 3 hours or so until poor Crawford, Texas, gets its missing idiot back, let's pause to remember one of the first unmitigated disasters of his administration: Today is the 7th anniversary of Enron filing for bankruptcy.
Also (why is this related? Hmmm), today's Wall Street Journal reports that Ford CEO Alan Mullaly, who yesterday, hat in hand, drove himself to Washington, made more than you did last year:
Ford Chairman William Ford Jr. said the company is looking beyond survival to opportunity. "We want to come blasting out as a global, green, high-tech company that's exactly where the country and the Obama administration want us to head," he said. Ford's recovery plan "isn't just about slashing -- we've already done that slashing and burning -- but about building for the future."
Mr. Mulally added that he would work for $1 a year if Ford received any federal loan or other aid, a change from the view he expressed last month. While testifying before Congress, he was asked if he would be willing to cut his annual salary to that amount and responded, "I think I'm OK where I am." He took home $21.67 million in 2007.
There is hope, and not just on January 20th. Canada will probably get kick out its right-wing government next Monday, thanks to Stephen Harper's tin ear, and Georgia has a chance today to give us a 59-seat majority in the Senate.
And, as many already suspected, it started a year ago:
The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met by conference call on Friday, November 28. The committee maintains a chronology of the beginning and ending dates (months and quarters) of U.S. recessions. The committee determined that a peak in economic activity occurred in the U.S. economy in December 2007. The peak marks the end of the expansion that began in November 2001 and the beginning of a recession. The expansion lasted 73 months; the previous expansion of the 1990s lasted 120 months.
The Times suggests this wasn't the reason for today's sell-off on Wall Street:
The announcement came as the stock market fell sharply, its first decline in five sessions. The Dow Jones industrial average was off more than 440 points by early afternoon. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell nearly 6 percent.
Analysts said that after last week’s gains — the biggest five-day rally in decades — a sell-off was to be expected.
"You had the biggest weekly gain in 30, 35 years," said Anthony Conroy, head equity trader at BNY ConvergEx Group. "Some profit-taking is warranted."
Monday brought its own share of poor economic news. The manufacturing industry suffered its worst month since 1982, according to a closely watched index published by the private Institution for Supply Management. The index fell to 36.2 in November from 38.9 in October, on a scale where readings below 50 indicate contraction.
That was the worst monthly reading since 1982, and a sign that the worldwide credit crisis was taking a serious toll on American businesses. New orders fell sharply, although export orders held steady from October.
A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that spending on construction projects fell 1.2 percent in October, after staying unchanged in September. Private construction dropped 2 percent with a sharp drop in the residential sector, offering few signs of relief from the housing slump.
More good times.
Via reader KT, the Boston Globe picked up on a map comparison of voting patterns this election and cotton agriculture in the antebellum South:
The bottom map dates from 1860 (i.e. the eve of the Civil War), and indicates where cotton was produced at that time.... The top map dates from 2008, and shows the results of the recent presidential election, on county level. ... The pattern of pro-Obama counties in those southern states corresponds strikingly with the cotton-picking areas of the 1860s, especially along the Louisiana-Mississippi and Mississippi-Alabama borders (the pattern corresponds less strikingly and deviates significantly elsewhere).
The link between these two maps is not causal, but correlational, and the correlation is African-Americans.
In related news, the runoff for the Georgia U.S. Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss (R) will go ahead. We'll see.