I’m pleased the court has lifted the travel ban and am looking forward to my son’s arrival in the US. I’d like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood • From a statement today, on the flight home for seven American pro-democracy workers who had been held in Egypt, barred from traveling over accusations of illegal fundraising. One of the seven is his son, Sam LaHood, a high-profile family connection that helped highlight the diplomatic turmoil that unfolded over the Americans’ detainment. The price of getting these folks back home? A cool $5 million in bail, paid by the U.S. to Egypt. This brings an end to a perilous diplomatic situation, though the U.S. doesn’t seem ready to bury the hatchet and forget about this just yet – Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the State Department, said no decision has yet been made on the state of U.S. aid to Egypt. source (via • follow)
It’s absolutely an escalation. To have a strategic U.S. ally issue bans against American citizens is deeply troubling.Scott Mastic, Mid-East regional director of the International Republican Institute â¢ Speaking on the state of affairs in Egypt, where American members of the IRI, a pro-democracy group, have been barred from traveling pending apparent investigation by the military government. This is, perhaps, the unpleasant flip-side of the coin in Egypt, after yesterday’s anniversary of the protests (along with many reports yesterday that women were in great personal danger as darkness fell on Tahrir Square). This story takes on a personal nature for one prominent member of the U.S. government â Sam LaHood, son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is the IRI’s director in Egypt, and has explicitly been forbidden to return home. “Itâs gotten more serious,” he said. source (via • follow)
They talk a lot about jobs. They give good speeches about it. I want them to walk the walk. Put hard-working Americans to work so they can get a paycheck just like Congress is receiving on their vacations.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood • Offering up some harsh words on the situation with the FAA shutdown, which will likely last a more than a month due to Congress’ August recess. LaHood, a former Republican congressman, notes that “safety is not compromised” but this is mostly a labor issue. One reason this has become such a political football is that, behind the scenes, it’s a bit of a proxy battle over unions — see, the National Mediation Board made it easier for these workers to unionize, if they so choose. This was part of the reason a short-term deal got blocked — Sen. Orrin Hatch wasn’t having it. Ultimately, it’s the same thing we said yesterday — a business should pay its employees instead of squabbling over minor issues. source (via • follow)
» It’s unclear how sweeping a change this really is, reason being the FAA issued this requirement for 27 airports nationwide, and it’s rather hard to find information like how many air traffic controllers work which night shifts at which airports, internet notwithstanding. That said, this seems like the prototypical, blindingly obvious safety issue which looks shocking that people hadn’t considered it already. The fact that the U.S. faces a shortage of trained air traffic controllers is quite known, though, and you can’t exactly manifest them out of thin air. How will the FAA solve this problem long-term with an ever-dwindling supply of people?
Air traffic control lapse at reagan Airport: Two planes were left unguided for about fifteen minutes, and were forced to circle the airport while contacting a regional FAA office. The office, after verifying that the control tower was unresponsive, guided both planes in for the landing. Officials have said the controller may have been asleep, though that isn’t yet certain. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood he said that he’s directed the FAA to study staffing levels at airports, and that only having one controller on duty is “not acceptable.” source
» Our take: Why is it that the first thing GOP leaders look to cut are public-works projects with potential long-term implications? The two projects in question here – a high-speed link between Milwaukee and Chicago and another between four of Ohio’s largest cities – would have a long-term positive effect on the state economies. Yet canceling them halfway through is a great idea. Have these guys even looked at the rising popularity of the Acela trains in the Northeast Corridor? Or how much these would help commuters? Milwaukee to Chicago, for example, is a very common Amtrak trip, and faster trains would make it easier for people who want to skip the traffic to make the trek. It’s not always about slimming down now, but planning for tomorrow.