WASHINGTON (AP) — Airlines are bumping fewer passengers off oversold planes after taking to heart the public anger over a man being violently dragged from his seat earlier this year.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday that airlines bumped 2,745 passengers between July and September.
That is about one in every 67,000 passengers, and it is the lowest rate since the department started keeping track of bumping in 1995.
The rate has dropped steadily this year, especially since April when video surfaced of Chicago airport officers yanking a 69-year-old man off a United Express plane to make room for an airline employee.
United and other airlines responded by making changes, including raising the compensation paid to encourage passengers to voluntarily give up seats on oversold flights. But the number of volunteers who take cash or a travel voucher is also falling sharply — 74,358 in the July-through-September quarter, compared with 114,119 a year earlier.
Spirit Airlines was most likely to bump a passenger in the latest quarter, followed by Frontier and Southwest. Four airlines — Delta, Virgin America, JetBlue and United — bumped no more than one in every 250,000 passengers, according to government figures. Delta was the runaway leader in paying passengers to give up a seat — more than 32,000 in the quarter.
Meanwhile, for the second straight month hurricanes were blamed for more flight delays and cancellations than a year ago. Hurricanes Irma and Maria disrupted travel in Florida and the Caribbean.
The 12 airlines covered in the Transportation Department report completed 83.6 percent of flights on time in September, down from 85.5 percent a year earlier. A flight counts as on-time if it arrives within 14 minutes of the airline’s schedule.
Hawaiian Airlines, which benefits from many short flights around the island chain, held on to the top spot. JetBlue Airways had the worst record, with nearly 30 percent of its flights arriving late.
The same 12 carriers canceled 3.3 percent of their September flights, up from 0.3 percent in September 2016.
Spirit canceled more than 10 percent of its flights in September, and JetBlue canceled more than 9 percent. Both have a high percentage of their flights in Florida and the Caribbean.
The Transportation Department report: http://bit.ly/2ANrqzN
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A man charged with crashing his vehicle into Arkansas’ Ten Commandments display nearly three years after he was accused of destroying a monument at Oklahoma’s Capitol was found mentally unfit Thursday to go to trial.
A Pulaski County judge found Michael Tate Reed unfit to proceed based on a diagnosis by state doctors and ordered him to be held by the state hospital for further evaluation. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza set a September 2018 hearing on Reed’s mental status.
Reed faces a felony criminal mischief charge for destroying Arkansas’ privately funded Ten Commandments statue in late June, less than 24 hours after it had been installed outside the state Capitol. Reed was arrested in the 2014 destruction of Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument, but prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges in that case.
Reed’s relatives say he has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a chronic mental health condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and manic behavior.
“We met him in jail. He’s a very sick person, and this is the right outcome,” Robert Hodge, an attorney for Reed, told reporters after the hearing.
Reed did not speak during the brief hearing and hugged family members outside the courtroom afterward.
A video posted on Reed’s Facebook page appeared to show a live broadcast of the Arkansas monument’s destruction in late June, with a driver yelling “freedom!” as his vehicle crashed his vehicle into the display. The monument fell and broke into multiple pieces as it hit the ground.
In a 2015 email to the Tulsa World, Reed apologized for wrecking Oklahoma’s monument and said he suffered from delusions and heard voices.
Arkansas’ monument is a replica of a display at the Texas Capitol that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. After Oklahoma’s monument was destroyed in 2014, a replacement was erected but then ordered removed by that state’s Supreme Court, which determined its location on state property violated a constitutional prohibition on the use of state funds to support a religion.
The sponsor of the 2015 law requiring Arkansas to allow the privately funded monument on Capitol grounds said a replacement has been made but has not said when it will be installed. A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said the display would have to go back before the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to review if it makes any changes or additions from the original display.
Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo
NEW YORK (AP) — Federal regulators have weakened rules meant to support independent local media.
Now, one company can own newspapers and broadcast stations in one market, undoing a ban in place since 1975. Thursday’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission also makes it easier for one company to own two broadcast TV stations in one market and coordinate operations with stations owned by others.
Although the changes won’t affect AT&T’s pending bid for Time Warner and its cable channels, they come as cable and phone companies have grown into industry giants through acquisitions. The newspaper and broadcasting industries say they need the changes to deal with growing competition from the web and cable companies.
The Republican-dominated FCC approved the changes in a 3-2 vote along party lines. The two Democratic commissioners and other critics say that dumping these rules, by encouraging consolidation, hurts media diversity. Free Press, a group that opposes media mergers, said Thursday that it will challenge the rule changes in court.
“This act will pave the way for massive broadcast conglomerates to increasingly provide local viewers with nationalized cookie-cutter news and corporate propaganda that’s produced elsewhere,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat.
The FCC previously granted exceptions for companies such as News Corp. to own both a newspaper and a radio or TV station in the same market. Scrapping the rule would let more companies do so without needing to make the case for an exception.
The FCC is also loosening restrictions on one company owning two TV stations in the same market. TV station owner Sinclair is expected to benefit from these changes. It has a pending deal for rival Tribune Media that regulators still must clear. They both own TV stations that air local news and programming from the major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, around the country.
The Sinclair deal has drawn criticism from an unusual coalition: consumer advocacy groups that generally oppose media consolidation, conservative media companies that are rivals to the right-leaning Sinclair and cable and satellite TV companies that worry that a beefed-up Sinclair will be able to get even higher fees from them.
The rule changes, however, would not apply to AT&T and Time Warner because the FCC is not reviewing that and neither company owns a TV or radio station or a local paper. The Justice Department is still reviewing that $85 billion deal. Its widely expected approval has run into hurdles.
The FCC has already taken steps favorable to broadcasters and Sinclair. It scrapped a rule that required TV and radio broadcasters to maintain a local studio and withdrew a technical measure that hindered media consolidation. Sinclair would reach 72 percent of American households if the Tribune Media deal goes through.
The FCC also voted Thursday to allow a new broadcasting standard known as “next-gen TV,” which Sinclair and the broadcasting lobby has pushed for. It will allow for better-quality video and improved reception, let broadcasters beam TV programming directly to phones and, they hope, make money from advertising targeted to consumers based on data about them, like Facebook and Google do.
The two Democratic commissioners dissented, saying the agency’s approach will mean higher costs for consumers if they have to buy new TV sets to get the signals, just as they had to buy digital TVs or converters when analog transmissions ceased in the past decade. The government offered $40 coupons for converter boxes to help defray costs during that transition. According to the Democrats, there are no provisions for similar subsidies this time.
The agency also voted Thursday on party lines to pursue new limits on Lifeline, a program that makes internet service cheaper for the poor and serves about 12 million people. The FCC also made it easier for phone companies like AT&T and Verizon to ditch their old copper networks as they upgrade to newer technologies. Democrats say these measures will make it more difficult for poor people to go online and harm rural customers who depend on their landlines.
In a largely non-controversial move, the agency also made clear that carriers can block calls coming from obvious spammers who are faking what number shows up for consumers on their caller IDs.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The massive Museum of the Bible, scheduled to open Friday in Washington, has three main exhibit floors, lecture and meeting space, restaurants and a rooftop garden, a ballroom and a 472-seat theater with wraparound projection walls. The museum is located three blocks from the Capitol and was largely funded by the owners of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts chain. The company president, Steve Green, says the museum is nonsectarian. Religion scholars and others will be combing the exhibits to see if that claim bears out.
Admission is free, although donations are requested. Here are some details about what to expect:
A first floor children’s area highlights acts of courage depicted in the Bible and has a high-tech feature that projects a watery surface with marine life below. Children can walk across the image, creating the illusion of walking on water.
The theater will open with the show “Amazing Grace,” a musical that played briefly on Broadway about John Newton, a slave trader and Anglican priest who wrote the Christian hymn of the show’s title and denounced the slave trade.
An extensive exhibit aims to recreate what Nazareth looked like during the time of Jesus, including a mikveh, or ritual bath, and a courtyard depicting village life. People in period costume will guide visitors through the section.
The museum aims to highlight how the Bible has influenced people in ways they may not realize. On television screens, videos will play pop music songs with an explanation of the Bible verse that inspired the lyrics. Another section has high fashion inspired by Scripture.
FIND THE VERSE
A motion simulator called “Washington Revelations” creates the sensation of flying over the nation’s capital to see Bible inscriptions and references in buildings and monuments throughout the city.
Along with a rooftop garden, a glass-walled atrium provides clear views of the Washington Monument and the Capitol.
NEW YORK (AP) — While Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity called on his supporters to stop smashing Keurig coffee makers to protest a decision to stop advertising on his show, it remains unclear whether Keurig will actually return as a sponsor.
Hannity and a liberal lobbying group’s effort to choke off his advertising are clearly making some corporations uncomfortable and loathe to be involved in a proxy political battle.
After Keurig announced via Twitter that it would abandon Hannity’s show because of how he reported on stories about Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, some of the Fox host’s supporters began posting videos online smashing, blowing up or tossing coffee makers off a deck. Hannity called the action “hysterical” and showed some of the videos on his show.
Then he read from a letter that Bob Gamgort, Keurig’s chief executive officer, wrote to his employees saying it was wrong to talk about advertising strategies publicly “outside of company protocols.”
“I believe the CEO. I believe his sincerity here,” Hannity, who claimed to own five Keurig machines, said on his show Monday. He called for a “cease-fire” and urged supporters not to smash their Keurigs.
But Gamgort’s letter never explicitly says what its advertising plans will be. “In most situations such as this one, we would ‘pause’ our advertising on that particular program and reevaluate our go-forward strategy at a later date,” he wrote.
Keurig representatives did not return repeated messages on Tuesday and Wednesday asking whether it would resume advertising on Hannity’s show. The last Keurig ad on his show aired Nov. 2, while Green Mountain coffee, made by the same company, advertised last Thursday, according to Media Matters for America, the group that has been advocating an advertiser boycott of Hannity.
Similarly, Volvo announced via Twitter on Monday that it had advised its media agency to cease advertising on Hannity’s show. But the tweet appeared to have been quickly deleted, and the company’s representatives also did not return messages seeking clarification on what its stance will be moving forward.
Realtor.com tweeted on Saturday that it does not run ads on “Hannity” and would not in the future. The tweet was later deleted and Realtor.com later said it would advertise “across a broad range of networks, including Fox News and its top shows.”
Other companies appear reluctant to be seen publicly as supporting a boycott, and similarly reluctant to be seen supporting Hannity. Nature’s Bounty and Hello Fresh both said they have not advertised on the show since the summer but have not discussed their reasons.
Fox News had no comment on the advertisers.
Media Matters has successfully promoted advertiser boycotts on past Fox personalities Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. Hannity and his supporters have actively fought back, and companies have been caught in the crossfire. Hit hard by a backlash when it announced a Hannity boycott in the spring, the financial services firm USAA initially said it would avoid all opinion-based programming, then reversed field and said it would return to Hannity’s show.
Angelo Carusone, Media Matters president, said he was initially disheartened this past weekend when the Keurig-smashing videos appeared, believing it would make other companies reluctant to risk the wrath of Hannity’s supporters. But he found this wasn’t so. Carusone said there are a dozen companies that advertised on Hannity in the past that have said they will no longer do so, and still others that are avoiding the show but just not being public about their intentions.
He said he doesn’t believe Keurig will return as an advertiser because returning would subject them to a backlash among Hannity’s opponents. He said USAA was the only company he knew that said it would avoid Hannity’s show and publicly changed its mind.
“What companies say about it obviously makes a difference from a public perception perspective,” he said. “But if the ads are not running because companies have put (the show) on a ‘do not run’ list, that’s really the action that makes the difference here. Because that’s the one that affects the advertising rates for Sean Hannity and his commercial viability.”
Hannity has said he believes Media Matters is trying to muzzle free speech.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump had his own water bottle moment.
Trump, fresh from his marathon trip to Asia, paused during his address to the nation on Wednesday to take a swig of water — twice.
Offering a blow-by-blow account of his five-nation tour, the president took a brief break to reach for a bottle of water as he recounted Japanese companies’ billion-dollar investments and jobs in the U.S.
At first, he couldn’t find any in his presidential lectern. “They don’t have water? That’s OK,” he said. When he was informed it was sitting on a small table to his right, the president unscrewed the cap, took a drink and then resumed his speech. He took another swig later in the speech.
Trump’s water break drew instant comparisons to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2013 speech after then-President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Giving the Republican response, Rubio lunged for a drink of bottled water during the televised address — all while keeping his gaze on the camera — and later laughed it off as a case of dry mouth.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump frequently skewered Rubio, his one-time GOP rival, for needing to quench his thirst during speeches.
“When they put Marco on to refute President Obama’s speech, do you remember that catastrophe?” Trump asked a campaign crowd in Fort Worth, Texas, in February 2016. Trump mocked Rubio, saying, “He’s like this: ‘I need water. Help me, I need water,'” Trump said, pretending to stagger on stage.
“This is on live television. This total choke artist,” Trump said at the time, holding up a bottle of water, saying, “It’s Rubio.” Trump splashed the water around before tossing the bottle behind him on stage. “Unbelievable,” Trump said in 2016.
For Rubio, it was all water under the bridge. The senator joked after the president’s speech that Trump needs to work on his form.
Retweeting video of the episode, Rubio wrote on Twitter, “Similar,but needs work on his form.Has to be done in one single motion & eyes should never leave the camera. But not bad for his 1st time.”
Dry mouth or not, the president may have violated his own advice on water breaks. When Rubio needed water during his 2013 speech, Trump tweeted, “Next time Marco Rubio should drink his water from a glass as opposed to a bottle—would have much less negative impact.”
Trump’s source of water in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room? A bottle of Fiji.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.
On Twitter follow Ken Thomas at @KThomasDC.