Shutdown Won’t Stop Travel: Tourists Are Sneaking Into Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks

Not allowed to go where you want to on account of the government shutdown? That doesn’t pose a problem for some. Because hey, if you’ve traveled far to see a certain landmark, you’re going to do everything in your power to see it. Or at least that is the thought pattern of the people who have been sneaking into Grand Canyon National Park recently. May we remind you that such behavior is in fact illegal.

Nearly two dozen people have been issued citations for entering the park; you see the government and the National Parks can get shut down, but someone will still be employed to get you in trouble when you make an attempt at entering.Some of the people that snuck in were even attempting rim-to-rim hikes, obviously dangerous if there aren’t any rangers to go to if you find yourself in a questionable situation.

The Grand Canyon isn’t the only place people have been trespassing. In Zion National Park in Utah, 16 hikers jumped the fence in protest of the shutdown. And then there are the people that unwillingly break the rules, like the runner who says he was fined $100 for working out on a trail in Valley Forge National Historic Park. He had parked his car in a parking lot where there was no barrier or sign, but was fined anyway.

As for Grand Canyon National Park? Law enforcement officers are patrolling the area on the lookout for more trespassers. Consider yourself warned.

France’s burqa ban goes into effect

Today France has taken a controversial move and instated a burqa ban, aimed at the traditional religious covering worn by conservative Muslim women. The ban will potentially affect up to 2,000 women who wear a full-face veil in public, though it is unclear how the enforcement will work as police cannot remove the veil. Women who refuse to lift the burqa or niqab may be taken to a police station for an identity check, threatened with a 150 euro fine, or forced to attend “re-education” classes. Men who force women to wear the veil will face a 30,000 euro fine and up to a year in jail. So far only a few women have been arrested for protesting the ban near Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral.

Jacques Myard, a Parliament member and supporter of the ban said “The face is a dignity of a person. The face is your passport. So when you refuse me to see you, I am a victim.” France has the highest Muslim population in Europe, estimated between four and six million, though only a few thousand women wear the full-face veil. Belgium has passed a similar law but hasn’t enforced it, and the Netherlands is considering a ban as well.

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China Airlines fined for price fixing

China Airlines is the latest carrier to get fined for price-fixing air cargo rates. The Taiwan-based airline plead guilty and now faces a $40 million fine. Northwest Airlines has also plead guilty.

A total of 18 airlines have been snared by the Department of Justice in an ongoing investigation. Eight airline executives have also been charged. The Department of Justice has imposed a total of $1.6 billion in fines and given four executives jail time for a conspiracy that reaches back to early 2000. China Airlines was conspiring with other airlines to fix cargo rates to and from the United States, a violation of antitrust laws. Rates are supposed to be subject to the free market, but the airlines secretly agreed to set a rate in order to maximize profits.

For a complete list of the airlines and executives involved, click here.

United to receive heavy fine for towel stuffed in engine

US Airways and United Airlines both stand to receive multi-million dollar fines from the FAA for maintenance violations.

US Airways’ violations include failing to inspect cargo doors and landing gear on a few plans and for failing to perform routine checks on dozen of others. US Airways responded quickly to the news, saying that the violations stem from the integration of their maintenance systems back from October 2008 to January of 2009, and that they are working on addressing the issues. The airline could be fined up to $5.4 million. This is the isn’t the first time US Airways has been fined this year either. In January, they were fined for violating rules involving oversold flights.

United’s violation is perhaps more troubling. The airline faces a $3.8 million fine for a single incident. In April 2008, a Boeing 737 returned to Denver after its engine shut down with low oil pressure. When the engine was inspected, two shop towels were inside. The towels “had been used to cover openings in the oil sump area” instead of the regulation caps. The towels were believed to have been there since December 2007, when maintenance was performed on the engine. This sounds terrifying, but according to the Cranky Flier website, it isn’t quite as scary as it sounds. The caps are only used during maintenance and then removed.

But still, the FAA is taking the incident seriously. “As a result of United’s failure to follow its maintenance procedures. . .it flew the aircraft on more than 200 revenue flights when it was not in an airworthy condition,” the FAA said in a statement.

[via ABC News Denver]

JetBlue flight attendant assaults elderly woman or vice versa? One of them is to pay fines

Imagine your grandmother (or mother) being grabbed by the arm and moved down a plane aisle by a flight attendant. Is the flight attendant being gentle and understanding? Respectful? Particularly since your grandmother is from another culture and has been in route for 30-hours. In the case of Talat Taharia, a woman from Pakistan, the Jet Blue flight attendant forcibly moved her from the exit aisle and made her sit next to someone she doesn’t know. Taharia, however is looking at a planeload of fines. Here’s why.

According to the flight attendant, she had Taharia move from the exit row 15 times and Taharia “yanked her down the aisle.” Taharia is countering with that’s impossible. After all, look at her.

From this article’s description, it seems that Taharia wasn’t just in the exit row seat, but stretched out in the exit row floor trying to catch some shut eye. Poor thing, she’d been traveling for 30 hours, after all. She was pooped and saw some space. Maybe she’s not that big, a bitty person actually, not even her big toe would get in the way of the drink cart, and figured what’s the harm?

Also, according to the flight attendant, When the flight attendant asked her to move, it was Taharia who became crabby and grabby. She actually assaulted the flight attendant. The flight attendant said she could have been arrested even.

Who is right? Who pushed and who pulled? How many times did Taharia lay her head on the plane’s floor looking for some peace and quiet? The FAA has just thrown a book of fines, to the tune of $6,000, at Taharia.

Here’s what I envision happening. A misunderstanding where both people were not patient enough. To Taharia, the exit seat was open, and so was the floor, therefore up for grabs. One can sleep wherever there’s a space on trains. Why not planes? I’m also wondering how well she understands English, particularly when rattled. Also, considering that she just left family in Pakistan, and it’s not the most stable place on the planet, her emotions may have already been on edge.

The flight attendant, doing her job, saw safety first, and may not have known a darned thing about elderly women originally from Pakistan which may have heightened the problem. Only people who can handle the job of being in an exit row in case there’s a disaster are supposed to sit in one of those seats. The elderly woman was showing she couldn’t take directions all that well. Still, why not take the time out to help the woman find a solution to wanting to get some sleep? Supposedly the flight from Pakistan to the U.S. wasn’t full. Offer a suggestion about laying down across seats if there is an empty row, and whatever you do, don’t put an older woman next to a person she doesn’t know.

Here’s a truth about human behavior, when pushed negatively, people respond–negatively. From what I read, these two needed a mediator. That day back in November was not good for either one of them. []