Seoul Incheon’s New Terminal Opens for the Olympics

Seoul Incheon’s New Terminal Opens for the Olympics

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South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) unveiled its new terminal Thursday, just days before the 2018 Winter Olympics begin on February 9.

The 7.4 million square-foot Terminal 2 is ICN’s first large-scale expansion in 17 years, and includes a number of “smart technology” features such as 62 self-check-in machines and a facial recognition system. Terminal 2 is located on the opposite end of the airport from Terminal 1, with runways in between. Public transportation from both Seoul and its surrounding suburbs make stops at both terminals.


A general view shows the arrival lobby at Terminal 2 of Incheon International Airport. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

Terminal 2 is a timely addition for South Korea’s largest airport, just three weeks before the 2018 Winter Olympics begin in Pyeongchang, about 100 miles east of ICN. The Winter Olympics will last from February 9-25, 2018, followed by the Winter Paralympics between March 8-18, 2018.

Korea’s largest airline and flag carrier, Korean Air, will relocate its hub to Terminal 2, alongside fellow SkyTeam Alliance carriers Delta Airlines, Air France, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Asiana Airlines and 85 other carriers will maintain stations in Terminal 1. The airport anticipates an estimated 72 million travelers and 5 million tons of cargo will through Terminal 2 every year.

H/T: The Korea Herald

Featured photo courtesy of JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

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January 19, 2018 at 10:16PM

Angola Owes Foreign Airlines $500 Million

Angola Owes Foreign Airlines $500 Million

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Simon Dawson  / Bloomberg

Angola is not a hopeless case. Ordinary citizens are open to the ideas of new reform-minded leader Joao Lourenco. But he needs support from wealthier nations to make debt obligations manageable. Simon Dawson / Bloomberg

Skift Take: Africa’s second-biggest oil producer has suffered since 2014 due to the freefall in global oil prices. That’s left it short of hard currency needed to pay foreign debt. Why hasn’t the International Monetary Fund intervened?

— Sean O’Neill

Angola still owes more than $500 million to international airlines including Emirates, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM, one of many items in the in-tray of new President Joao Lourenco as he tries to revive the economy.

Africa’s second-biggest oil producer is withholding repatriation of the funds amid a persistent shortage of foreign-currency reserves, according to the International Air Transport Association. Alexandre de Juniac, the industry body’s chief executive officer, has this week held meetings with Angolan government ministries about how to recover the cash, IATA said in an emailed statement.

Airlines have been struggling to get ticket revenue out of oil dependent countries such as Angola, Nigeria and Egypt after a 2014 collapse in the crude price dried up reserves of dollars, euros and other major currencies. Emirates said in October 2016 it could scrap flights to some African locations, and followed up on the threat in July when it cut journeys to Luanda, the Angola capital, from Dubai to three a week from five.

The lingering problem is one of a number of headaches for Lourenco, who became president in September after ending the almost four-decade rule of Jose Eduardo dos Santos. He’s vowed to fight corruption and end state monopolies, and has earned the nickname “relentless remover” after firing two of dos Santos’s children from senior positions at the state oil company and sovereign wealth fund.

Lourenco has shown so far that he’s no one’s puppet.

Angola has let its currency fall about 18 percent this year after committing to scrapping a peg to the dollar that’s been in place since April 2016. Lourenco needs investment from foreign companies including airlines as he seeks to revive an economy forecast to expand 1.1 percent in 2017 from zero the previous year, according to the 2018 budget. That’s the worst performance since the end of a protracted civil war in 2002.

Other airlines waiting for cash are Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Air Namibia and Air Brussels. Angola’s national bank has pledged “to find a practical solution to release blocked funds,” De Juniac said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Benjamin Katz from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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January 19, 2018 at 10:07PM

Planet Attenborough, Plus the Rise of the K.K.K.

Planet Attenborough, Plus the Rise of the K.K.K.

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David Remnick, a confirmed city boy, talks with David Attenborough, the master of nature documentaries, about rats, spiders, and weedy sea dragons. Plus, a look at white supremacy in government, past and present.


A Government Takeover by the Ku Klux Klan

In the nineteen-twenties, a rebooted Ku Klux Klan brought white supremacy right to the heart of American government, casting discrimination as a form of patriotism. What lessons can this teach us?


Breaking the Overton Window

The New Yorker staff writers Sarah Stillman and Jonathan Blitzer discuss immigration and deportation, the central issues of the Trump Presidency.


David Attenborough’s Planet (We Just Live on It)

The master of the nature documentary shares lessons from a life spent observing biodiversity in every corner of the world.


Mary Oliver’s Devotions

Mary Oliver, who has been called America’s most beloved poet, conducts a spiritual search for meaning in the woods, by a pond, or anywhere she can closely observe nature.


Troy Patterson Picks Three

The film, television, and book critic Troy Patterson shares three of his recent selections with David Remnick.


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January 19, 2018 at 10:05PM

How Trump Gave Schumer His Shutdown Leverage

How Trump Gave Schumer His Shutdown Leverage

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“The Schumer shutdown,” the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called
it on Thursday night. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management
and Budget, echoed the line from the White House podium the next morning. On
cable television, a former aide to Paul Ryan said that Chuck Schumer was
playing the exact same role that Ted Cruz did in 2013, when the Texas
Republican forced a shutdown in a vanity campaign against Obamacare.
Yesterday, Schumer appeared on the Senate floor looking sanguine. He
wore a pink tie, and his reading glasses slid down on his nose; he was
confident that if the government did shut down, the G.O.P.—and its
internal chaos—would be blamed. “The President is like Abbott, Leader
McConnell is like Costello. They point at each other. Nothing gets
done,” Schumer said. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

For the first time this year, the Republicans need some Democratic
votes. The continuing resolution passed by Republicans in the House on Thursday night, and before the Senate on Friday, would authorize enough funding to
keep the government running for another month—in theory, at least,
buying some time for a longer-term deal on the budget. For the same
measure to pass in the Senate requires at least nine Democratic votes.
Democrats have asked for two concessions in exchange for their support:
an extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program
(which Republicans had recently allowed lapse); and legislation that
would permanently protect the Dreamers, undocumented Americans brought
to this country as children, whose temporary protections Trump had ended
earlier this fall.

Last week, a bipartisan deal to help the Dreamers had seemed near
(Democrats had agreed to provide additional funding for border security)
but the President, in an instantly infamous Oval Office meeting,
rejected it, grumbling about immigrants from “shithole” countries. The
House resolution now includes six years of funding for children’s health
insurance and nothing regarding the Dreamers, which Democrats have said
is not nearly enough of a concession. This week, the President has been
a grumpy and confusing figure in the debate. (His tweets have
contradicted his own negotiating position; his legislative director cast
the blame for the inaction on all of Congress, rather than just the
opposing party.) And, as the likelihood of a stalemate has grown, Trump
has increasingly seemed to be the second-most important man in
Washington from the outer boroughs. (Schumer hails from Brooklyn.)

In the Republican imagination, Schumer’s party suffers from a deep
split—the same fissure that ran through the 2016 primaries, with a
politics of gender and racial identity on one side and economic populism
on the other. To offer to restore funding for children’s health
insurance but to leave the status of the Dreamers unresolved is to try
to deepen that fissure. On Thursday night, Mitch McConnell said that the
Democrats were holding the country “hostage” over immigration. The great
threat that Trump posed to the Democratic coalition (the reason he so
often praised Bernie Sanders during the primary) was the notion that he
could turn this fissure into a chasm and cast the Democrats as the party
of élite, coastal political correctness that had abandoned the working
class. Yet Trump and the Republicans have only gestured in this
direction occasionally: their health plan aimed to strip insurance from
poor and middle-class Americans, their tax bill vastly favors the very
wealthy, the infrastructure program has disappeared. Just after Trump’s
Inauguration, the line was that the Senate elections in 2018 greatly
favored Republicans: moderate Democratic senators such as Joe Manchin,
of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota, and Claire McCaskill,
of Missouri, would be running for reëlection in states that Trump won
handily. But those senators have stood with Schumer and the Democratic
Party, and, as the President has aligned himself with his party’s
policies and seen his approval ratings collapse, those same Democratic
senators’ chances for reëlection have much improved. Their experience
this past year has been full of tension but mostly free of actual
political pressure. The moderates have been able to cast Trump as a
partisan. “Compromise is the essence of democracy,” McCaskill, whose
state Trump won by nearly twenty points, wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “If ever
there was a moment for a dealmaker…..” She knew he would not appear.

Instead of dividing the Democratic base, Trump has altered its emotional
cast. Its core is now partisan rather than ideological. Bernie Sanders
and Elizabeth Warren have faded in influence this year; the ascendant
senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Chris Murphy,
and Tim Kaine are closer to the Party’s center. Paul Ryan’s
communications director, in high pique, pointed out the whip list that
the former Obama speechwriters and current “Pod Save America” podcasters
were keeping, in which they list senators who were opposed to the
continuing resolution under the heading “Fight Club” and those who had
been less committed under the heading “Waffle House.” NBC’s Kasie Hunt
noticed the same document and recognized its portent: “This is how the
Democratic base is framing the choice for Senate Democrats,” she wrote.
That a podcast crew of three former White House speechwriters could
plausibly be described as representing the Party’s base tells you
something about how the Democratic Party has evolved this year. The
fissures between establishment Democrats and Sanders supporters have not
disappeared, but they have not widened. And, at this critical moment for
the Democrats, they do not much matter.

On Friday morning, Schumer was in the Senate gym, whipping votes. By lunchtime, he was said to be finalizing an alternative budget resolution whose
particulars both wings of the Democratic Party could agree to, one that
protected both children’s health insurance and the Dreamers. Shortly
afterward, the President invited him to the Oval Office for final
negotiations. As debate opened on the Senate floor on Friday morning,
Schumer’s deputy, the Illinois senator Richard Durbin, laid out the
political physics: a Republican majority in the House, a Republican
majority in the Senate, a Republican President, a Supreme Court
appointed by Republicans. There was no question, Durbin said, whom
Americans would find responsible for a government shutdown; a year of
Republican chaos had set the context. Schumer, offstage, was in the
ideal Washington position, controlling the flow of events while
insisting that he held no real power at all.

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January 19, 2018 at 09:44PM

“The Road Movie” Exploits Pain and Death, Courtesy of Russian Dashboard-Camera Footage

“The Road Movie” Exploits Pain and Death, Courtesy of Russian Dashboard-Camera Footage

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“The Road Movie,” which opens today, is, in effect, a snuff film, and
the only reason not to call it that is to avoid attracting viewers who
want to see a snuff film. “The Road Movie,” made (it’s hard to say
directed) by Dimitrii Kalashnikov, is a compilation and montage of
dashboard-camera videos, which he grabbed off the Internet, that record
events viewed mainly through the windshields of cars in Russia. The
videos, many of which rack up millions of views on YouTube, are
fixed-frame—a surveillance-like static camera that looks ahead and
passively captures whatever takes place on the road, while also
recording sound (as if in voice-over, with the speakers mainly unseen)
from inside the car.

The movie’s first shot suggests a rueful and sombre intent: as
windshield wipers flit back and forth, a cross in a field is slowly
revealed through the gusts of a snowstorm. It doesn’t take long for the
film’s grim subject to reveal itself: namely, the dangers of the road.
The sequences that follow feature innocuous and puckish images of
curiosities, such as what may be a comet in the sky, and a cow in the
road; then there’s a shot of a truck slowly tipping over, on a snowy road,
at the edge of the frame—and then, a view of an accident narrowly missed.
These initial views of road accidents have a dry air of absurd humor.
But, by the movie’s fifteen-minute mark, “The Road Movie” becomes a
gore-fest with the gore kept offscreen: there’s a head-on collision on a
wide-open road that leaves victims (there’s no blood on view but plenty
of fear, a grave injury leaving a man in one of the cars near death).
From that point on, accidents play an outsized role in the film. Many of
the videos show car accidents, including horrific, terrifying,
high-speed head-on highway accidents, in which people were in all
likelihood killed and certainly seriously injured. Nonetheless, these
grave accidents also play out, in the impassive and unflinching gaze of
the dashboard cameras, like comedies of wonder.

Kalashnikov himself heightens the upbeat tone with several montages, to
bouncy music, of quick cuts of crash after crash, each of which looks
like agony in the making—a car rolling over repeatedly, a car smashed by
a tram, a car smashing into a deer (the image keeps running even after
the car is overturned in a ditch, and the eerie silence afterward, with
the car radio still playing, suggests horrors). Even a seemingly minor
accident, of a garbage truck skidding on a wet road and tipping onto its
side, suggests “minor” injuries, whether cuts and bruises, broken bones
and concussions, that are only minor for the people who don’t have them.
After one head-on collision, the camera keeps rolling and Kalashnikov
indecently, monstrously maintains the take, keeping it going as a woman
moans in pain, saying that her leg is broken.

If I had been watching the movie not as a journalist committed to
reporting on it but as an ordinary viewer there for interest and
pleasure, I’d have walked out of the theatre in revulsion and anger at
the exploitation of pain and death for sheer sensationalism and
entertainment. If there were a warning factor involved, the desire to
advocate for safe driving, a little crashing would go a long way. (Carl
Theodor Dreyer’s 1948 short film “They Caught the Ferry” is still the model of the genre, and there’s nothing exploitative or
leering about it.) As I watched these horrific crashes, I imagined that
a more sensitive and creative filmmaker would have done more than merely
compile these videos, more than merely assemble with jaunty indifference
these high-impact snippets: he might have taken any one of them and
slowed it down, looked at it frame by frame, looking for the existential
moment at which life and death hang in the balance, perhaps even between
video frames. The material for empathy, analysis, and imagination is
ample; Kalashnikov offers none.

“The Road Movie” suggests, at various times, a variety of points and
purposes. Some of its sequences document a wide range of behavior and of
coincidences that range from ordinary ugliness to serendipity: a scene
in which two men in a car negotiate at length with a female prostitute,
female passengers reproaching men for driving too fast or too
aggressively, male passengers criticizing female drivers. It shows a
thief stealing a sausage from the back of a truck; a bear running on a
road; a thief stealing a dashboard camera; a woman in a bright yellow
dress, fleeing a wedding, running on the road, stopping a car, and
taking refuge upon its hood; and even a meet-cute between a male driver
named Pasha and a female passerby named Dasha, who jumps into his car
and gets him to follow the taxi in which she left her bag.

It also shows a litany of vicious, violent behavior presented with a
comedic reserve—a male pedestrian climbing on a car and threatening a
female driver, one male driver threatening another with a sledgehammer,
another threatening another with an axe, several fistfights, and even
several shootings. And it does so with a falsely self-aware, trivially
meta dimension—a shot in which one guy talks with another guy about the
prevalence of dashboard cameras, saying, “There’s now so fucking many
funny things on the Internet . . . All the shit is uploaded to the
Internet. Car crashes, goddammit.”

The world is full of accidents; there’s road rage everywhere, there’s
loose gunplay wherever there are loose guns, drunk driving wherever
there’s alcohol. If there’s some distinctive documentary import and
salient detail in Kalashnikov’s depiction of Russian road life, it’s in
sequences showing cars driving on roads surrounded (and nearly broiled)
by forest fires, roofs blowing off or tumbling down, yellow ooze filling
a street. These sequences suggest not the kind of incivility and
violence that exists in all societies, but the ordinary breakdown of
infrastructure and civil management—a sort of lawlessness of neglect
that indicates more fundamental breakdowns of civic order. A shot of a
tank being cleaned at a car wash hints at the normalized militarization
of daily life; so does a scene of what looks like a paramilitary outfit
stopping and menacing a driver who wanted to pass its cars on the
highway.

Kalashnikov plants a sharp documentary detail in the end credits, which
list the episodes featured in the film and include brief descriptions.
(“A sky diver on the road episode, Uploaded by the user Jalchin Nagiev,
16,815 views”; “A car accident on a South Relief Road in Vladimir,
uploaded by the user Maksim Malugin, 1,564,556 views”.) One credit leaps
out from the others: “From the place of Boris Nemtsov murder episode,
Uploaded by the public account WorldNews, 308 views.” Nemtsov, a leader
of opposition to Vladimir Putin’s regime (and to the Russian invasion of
Ukraine), was murdered on a Moscow street, late at night, on February
27, 2015. There’s a video in “The Road Movie,” a seemingly innocuous
one, of the Kremlin and its surroundings, time-and-date-stamped February
28, 2015, at half past midnight—a mere hour after the murder occurred.

Kalashnikov’s political winks come through; their connection with the
rest of the film isn’t merely unclear but self-defeating. Perhaps
Kalashnikov wants to suggest that a society in which mortal car
accidents and random shootings serve as home entertainment is also one
in which a tyrant can reign with acclaim and his opponents can be killed
with impunity. Perhaps Kalashnikov hopes to reflect the desensitization
to violence by the prevalence of casual depictions of violence. Yet the
film itself is part of, and an amplification of, the very
desensitization that it might decry.

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January 19, 2018 at 09:30PM

How Would a Government Shutdown Affect Travel?

How Would a Government Shutdown Affect Travel?

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Five years after the 2013 government shutdown, the US is on the verge of another closure, because Congress can’t agree on a budget. Democrats and Republicans are attempting to come to a compromise by Friday night to keep government agencies open for the short term, but it’s not looking bright. Shutdown looms at midnight, Eastern time.

Even if the government shuts down most essential services will continue to operate — social security checks will still be sent out, and the military won’t be abandoning their posts.

But what about travel? The government controls and funds agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees air traffic control, or the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Transportation Security Agency. Without the FAA directing your flight and the TSA checking who boards it, you are not flying anywhere within or from the United States of America. And without Customs and Border Protection officers — also part of Homeland Security — at airports and entry posts, no one would get into the US, either.

So what will happen to travel if the government does shut down? For the most part, essential services related to travel would be assured, but there still could be some changes — we’ve rounded up how things may operate after midnight between Friday and Saturday.

Air and Train Travel

If you’re traveling through an airport, you probably won’t notice much of a difference. According to NPR, air traffic controllers, TSA and Customs and Border Protection agents will continue working. The government makes sure they stay working since they’re vital to safety, just as it did during the 2013 shutdown. During that last government shutdown, the TSA told TPG that security lines would not be much slower than normal since most frontline officers are considered essential. The Hill reports that “most of the [FAA] agency’s aviation safety inspectors would keep working.”

Amtrak, which is partly funded by the government, will operate as normal.

Passports and Global Entry

Passport and visa issuance and renewal would likely proceed, but with some delays, if things go like they did in 2013, says CNBC. The service is partially funded by application and renewal fees, making it more insulated from government budgets. 

A spokesman from Customs and Border Protection sent TPG this statement when asked if Global Entry enrollment centers would stay open in the event of a shutdown: “The dedicated men and women of DHS are fully prepared to protect the homeland and keep Americans safe should a lapse in government funding occur. Nearly 90 percent of all DHS personnel are considered essential staff and will continue to perform their duties in the event of a government shutdown. We urge Congress to fully fund DHS in order to pay the federal employees on the front lines defending our nation.”

National Parks and Museums

Government-controlled museums in Washington, DC like the Smithsonian will stay open through the weekend, but if funding hasn’t been figured out by Monday, they will shut their doors. New York City Smithsonian institutions will be closed by Saturday. 

In 2013, national parks and monuments were closed immediately, but this time around could be different. 

“In the event of a shutdown, national parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures,” Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement carried by the Washington Post.

The Interior Department is attempting to avoid the same mess seen in 2013, which included a group of veterans knocking over the barricades to the World War II Memorial in Washington. 

“Visitors who come to our nation’s capital will find war memorials and open-air parks open to the public. Nationally, many of our national parks, refuges and other public lands will still allow limited access wherever possible,” said Swift.

How Can Credit Cards Protect You?

Many credit cards offer travel insurance in the case of sickness or serious weather. While it’s unlikely that a government shutdown would qualify as an event triggering trip delay or cancellation insurance, it may be worth submitting a claim if your travel plans are legitimately affected by the shutdown. For example, you may have booked a campsite in a national park with your credit card, but you find next week that the park’s entrances are shut and your campsite is inaccessible.

The 2013 shutdown also provided issues for credit card applications, as a small percentage of applications that required IRS income verification were slowed down, since the IRS’s income verification office was closed.

Featured image by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

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January 19, 2018 at 09:15PM

Namibia Tourism Video Capitalizes on Trump’s Disparaging Remarks About African Countries

Namibia Tourism Video Capitalizes on Trump’s Disparaging Remarks About African Countries

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Namibia tourism is trying to put a positive spin on President Trump’s negative remarks on African countries. Pictured is a still from the video.

Skift Take: A Namibia tour operator is trying to make the most out of the U.S. president’s offensive remarks aimed at Haiti and African countries. But tourism officials in these countries can’t rely on the current news cycle to cultivate new and long-term interest from U.S. travelers.

— Dan Peltier

First, there was outrage in Africa at President Donald Trump’s vulgar comment about the continent. Now some governments and tourism operators are humorously exploiting it to promote Africa’s many attractions.

Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries” last week during a meeting in Washington, according to several participants. The president denied using that language.

The Gondwana Collection, a private tourism operator in Namibia, has released a video (watch below) featuring the southern African nation’s wildlife and natural beauty. A narrator mimicking Trump’s voice and repeating his remark invites people to visit “Africa’s No. 1” such country. He also reminds listeners of an earlier gaffe when Trump met African leaders and referred to a country called “Nambia,” which doesn’t exist.

“You can fight the negative with the negative, or you can give some pushback with the tongue-in-cheek approach,” Gys Joubert, Gondwana Collection’s managing director, told The Associated Press. “We like the fun side of life. We are glad that we could create and share and send a few smiles around the world.”

Elsewhere in southern Africa, a Facebook page promoting Zambian tourism includes an image of a vehicle in a rugged setting and a slogan welcoming visitors to “(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)hole Zambia.”

“Where beautiful vistas and breathtaking wildlife are our trump card!” says an accompanying post. It says it does not represent “the opinions of the official Zambia Tourism Agency, but that of an independent marketing site.”

Botswana’s government, which also relies heavily on wildlife tourism, has posted images on Twitter of elephants and other animals drinking in the wild of what it calls a “waterhole country.”

Botswana last week summoned the U.S. ambassador to clarify whether the country really was held in such poor regard after years of good relations with the United States.

Africa was the world’s second-fastest growing region in tourist arrivals in the first 10 months of 2017, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

 

This article was written by Christopher Torchia from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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January 19, 2018 at 09:03PM

Trump Travel Ban and Presidential Immigration Powers Will Get Supreme Court Review

Trump Travel Ban and Presidential Immigration Powers Will Get Supreme Court Review

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Noah Feldman  / Bloomberg

The Supreme Court, pictured here, will hear arguments on the travel ban in April and hand down a decision by late June. Noah Feldman / Bloomberg

Skift Take: President Trump’s third travel ban will finally get a U.S. Supreme Court review, and it could have a far-reaching impact on the limitations of presidential authority when setting immigration policy.

— Dan Peltier

The U.S. Supreme Court will rule on President Donald Trump’s travel ban, agreeing to hear his appeal of a decision that said he overstepped his authority by restricting entry into the country by people from six mostly Muslim countries.

The case could produce a definitive ruling by late June on the legal issues that have dogged the travel ban since Trump signed the first version a week after his January 2017 inauguration, causing protests and widespread confusion at U.S. airports. The court will hear arguments in April.

The travel ban suit adds to a high court term already packed with major disputes involving gay weddings, partisan gerrymandering of election districts, sports gambling and internet sales taxes.

Justice Department lawyers told the court that federal immigration laws “confer sweeping authority on the president to restrict the entry of aliens abroad.”

A San Francisco-based federal appeals said the immigration statutes don’t let the president exclude such broad categories of people and explicitly bar him from discriminating on the basis of nationality.

Opponents also contend Trump is violating the Constitution by discriminating against Muslims. Although the appeals court didn’t reach that issue, the Supreme Court said it will consider it.

The case the court will hear stems from a lawsuit filed by Hawaii, some of its residents and a Muslim group based there. They say the travel ban has no precedent in U.S. history.

‘Protect Liberty’

“The Constitution entrusts the immigration power to Congress in order to protect liberty,” the group argued in court papers. “Congress may not — and assuredly did not — surrender to the executive a boundless authority to set the rules of entry and override the immigration laws at will.”

The Supreme Court let the travel ban take full effect in December. That order effectively superseded a compromise the justices reached in June, when they let an earlier version go partially into effect. The policy is now in its third form.

The current version bars or limits entry by people from Iran, Syria, Chad, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The ban also blocks people from North Korea and a handful of Venezuelan government officials, though those aspects of the policy aren’t at issue in the high court case.

The administration says the latest version, announced in September, was put in place only after national security officials thoroughly reviewed vetting procedures on a country-by-country basis. The policy lets the Department of Homeland Security add or remove travel restrictions as conditions change.

“The proclamation responds to multiple agencies’ specific findings that a handful of countries have deficient information-sharing practices or other factors that prevent the government from assessing the risk their nationals pose to the United States,” the administration appeal argued.

Hawaii and its allies say immigration officials already had ample means to exclude people who don’t provide adequate information about themselves.

“There is no rational reason why the problem the government identifies warrants any suspension of entry, and the scope of the suspension the president has ordered simply does not correspond to the problem” identified by the policy, the group argued.

The challengers say that, even if the policy passes muster under the immigration statutes, it unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of religion because it targets Muslims. Alluding to Trump’s campaign call for an entry ban on Muslims, the Hawaii group said the policy “is the fulfillment of the president’s unconstitutional promise to enact a Muslim ban.”

Trump’s lawyers say the refinements made to the travel ban, including the decisions over the last year to drop the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq and Sudan, show the policy isn’t aimed at a particular religion.

“The proclamation’s process and substance confirm that its purpose was to achieve national security and foreign-policy goals, not to impose anti-Muslim bias,” the administration argued.

The case is Trump v. Hawaii, 17-965.

This article was written by Greg Stohr from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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January 19, 2018 at 08:28PM

HNA Group Enlists Bankers to Consider Sale of Its NH Hotels Stake

HNA Group Enlists Bankers to Consider Sale of Its NH Hotels Stake

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NH Hotels

The NH Trento in Italy. HNA Group is exploring the possibility of selling its stake in NH Hotels. NH Hotels

Skift Take: HNA Group’s decision to at least consider selling its stake in NH Hotels shouldn’t come as a surprise. It will be interesting to see whether one of the big hotel companies emerges as a potential buyer.

— Patrick Whyte

HNA Group has enlisted bankers to explore the potential sale of its stake in NH Hotel Group.

In a securities filing, HNA said it had brought in JPMorgan and Benedetto, Gartland and Co. to review its 29.3 percent shareholding, and the review will include “the identification of potential buyers.”

Earlier this month, the NH Hotels board turned down a merger proposal from Barcelo, another Spanish hotel company. HNA’s willingness to at least consider a sale means that NH Hotels could become an acquisition target.

Why Now?

HNA’s review of its investment shouldn’t come as a surprise, for a couple of reasons. First, a massive acquisition spree has left it with significant debts. Selling its stake in NH Hotels would bring in some much-needed cash.

Second, HNA has had a fraught relationship with other shareholders in NH Hotels. In 2016, then-CEO Federico González Tejera, as well as four of its board members, were ousted following a battle with UK-based Oceanwood Capital, which owns 12 percent of NH Hotels. Oceanwood believed HNA’s stake in European rival Rezidor Hotel Group presented a conflict of interest.

“The exit of HNA from the shareholder structure would turn less clear the potential M&A with Rezidor but also reduce the uncertainty regarding their strategic interest in the company,” said analysts at Banco BPI in an investor note.

“However, we believe that in the context of a consolidating European hotel industry, NH could remain an M&A target, especially after the restructuring carried out over recent years.”

HNA’s involvement in NH Hotels dates back to 2013. The third minority shareholder is Grupo Hesperia with 9.3 percent stake.

Travel

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January 19, 2018 at 08:21PM

Using Airline Schedule Changes to Move to a New Flight, Get Refunds and More

Using Airline Schedule Changes to Move to a New Flight, Get Refunds and More

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Almost all airlines sell two types of airfare: refundable, which can be canceled for a refund with or without a cancellation penalty, and non-refundable, while can generally still be canceled, with the balance applied to a new ticket issued within one year of the original booking date, minus any applicable fees.

There are exceptions to this non-refundable rule, however. If the airline cancels your flight or moves your departure or arrival time significantly, you may be eligible for no-fee changes and possibly even a full refund.

TPG reader Marah A. wrote in to share a recent experience, in which she was able to receive a full refund after a schedule change of more than 30 minutes:

My husband and I booked two round-trip tickets from Portland, OR to Maui. We booked them last spring, and would have been departing today. I have the flu and we had to cancel last minute. But also, since booking the reservation, United has emailed us twice to change the times on some of our flights. One of the changes was more than 30 minutes, so I thought I could use that to my advantage. I called United’s 800 number, chose the menu option for refunds, and told them that I have the flu and need to cancel, but asked if I have any protections since the schedule has been changed since we booked? The agent asked me to hold while she looked up my reservation, and when she returned, she said the time had changed and offered to refund the full price to my credit card.

I think Marah have encountered an especially helpful agent — from the airline’s perspective, a 30-minute change typically doesn’t justify a full refund, especially to the original form of payment (instead of a travel voucher). That said, I’ve found that certain agents will go out of their way to be accommodating following a schedule change, since it makes fee waivers and refunds far easier to justify.

Of course, official policies offer even more protection — agents should accommodate you according to their guidelines, which I’ve outlined for the three largest US carriers below.

American Airlines

As AA explains, if the flight time has changed, the customer may be rebooked on the first available AA-operated flight, either before or after the original departure time. Alternatively, a customer may select a flight one day prior or up to two days after the original date, and may change their return flights to maintain the original trip length. Changes of 31 to 90 minutes require the same booking code (fare class), while changes of 91 minutes or more can be rebooked into the next lowest inventory, or in the same cabin up to a “B” fare class.

If a nonstop flight is replaced with a connecting flight, the customer may request a refund. Otherwise, changes of 60 minutes of less are not eligible for a refund, changes of 61-120 minutes may be refunded in the form of a travel voucher, and changes of 120 minutes or more may be refunded to the original form of payment. As is the case with most airlines, only unflown segments will be refunded.

Delta Air Lines

As per Delta’s policy, a customer may request a new itinerary if a flight departure or arrival time changes by more than one hour. The new flights must be operated by Delta, Air France or KLM, and your origin, destination and travel date must remain the same. Alternatively, according to a Medallion agent I spoke with, if the schedule change is 90 minutes or greater you can request a full refund for a fully unused ticket, or a partial refund if you’ve already begun travel.

United Airlines

If you’re booked on United, you’ll generally be able to request reaccommodation on another United or United Express flight if your departure or arrival time changes by 30 minutes or more. As with most other policies, your origin and destination must remain the same, though you can change connecting cities or move to a nonstop flight. You also have the option of requesting a refund, but only if your scheduled departure or arrival time jumps by two hours or more. Additionally, you may be eligible for a refund if your new connection time is too short or if it ends up being significantly longer than the connection you booked, though this latter exception may be open to interpretation.

Bottom Line

Schedule changes are common on nearly all major carriers, and the further in advance you book, the better your chances for having a change of schedule — and an opportunity to change your itinerary for free. And while you’re much more likely to be successful with a change or refund request in line with the policies above, agents are often empowered to waive change fees at their own discretion, so it never hurts to ask for an exception.

Travel

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January 19, 2018 at 08:11PM