Delta Upholding the Banning of Jews, Religious Items From Flights to Saudi Arabia?

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American Jews, Israelis and anyone with religious paraphernalia may be kept off Delta flights traveling to Saudi Arabia from the United States under the rules of a new Delta SkyTeam partnership, USA Today reports. (UPDATE: USA Today has pulled their report entirely, making it possible that this was just a huge rumor. See below.) Delta's deal with Saudi Arabian Airlines, announced in January, requires the American company to align with Saudi Arabia's "strict Islamic law," which says that anyone with an Israeli passport stamp be kept out, while every visitor requires a visa and a sponsor; all women must have a male sponsor. Bibles, crosses and any other "non-Islamic article of faith" can be confiscated. Delta maintains that it "does not discriminate, nor do we condone discrimination against any protected class of passenger in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender," but won't really be more specific.

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Barack Obama to Announce Troop Withdrawal in Afghanistan; Rent Regulations Deal Finalized in Albany; Planes Nearly Crash at JFK

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• President Obama is expected to announce a troop withdrawal plan in Afghanistan tonight in a much anticipated speech. By the end of 2012, 30,000 U.S. "surge" forces will be fully withdrawn from the country -- 10,000 troops will be withdrawn by the end of this year, and another 20,000 next year, according to a congressional source. An estimated 100,000 U.S. troops are currently serving there. [CNN]

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Robert Sayegh, Brooklyn Brute, Booted From Plane for F-Word

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On his way from the Detroit Metro Airport (home of legendary swearer Eminem) to Newark, New Jersey (no goddamn introduction necessary), Robert Sayegh was kicked off a flight like a middle-schooler gets asked to leave the classroom. "What's taking so fucking long to close the overhead compartments?" Sayegh wondered aloud. The plane then taxied to the runway before turning back around to the gate, where police came aboard and left with the bad-mouthed Brooklyner. "I was just kind of talking to the guy sitting next to me. I said, 'What is taking so long?' I said, "What the 'F' is going on?'" Sayegh told the Detroit Free-Press. "I could see if I directed it at [the flight attendant], but I didn't even speak to him." What the fuck?

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Ukrainian Tourist Blames Groping of Flight Attendant on Low Blood Sugar

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Ukrainian tourist Iurii Chumak, 53, admitted in Brooklyn federal court that he purposely reached under a flight attendent's skirt and fondled her as she served coffee to passengers on a British Airways flight from London to New York. He apologized to the judge and claimed the incident was due to his blood sugar levels, making this quite possibly the first instance of low blood sugar being used in a court of law as an excuse for being a perv.

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Andre Reid, Aimless Man, Ends Up on LaGuardia Runway

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"Life is waiting"
A Mount Vernon man named Andre Reid gets the distinction of being called "deranged" by the New York Post for the stunt he pulled yesterday: The 21-year-old ended up down on the tarmac by a US Airways jet just before it took off from LaGuardia Airport. Reid was spotted by the plane's pilot, just cruising "like he was taking a stroll in his backyard," according to police. "That in itself is very scary -- that he was able to get within feet of an airplane that was due to take off." Reid couldn't get his story straight and was charged with trespassing. The pilot got "spooked" and unloaded the whole plane, including luggage, resulting in a bunch of pissed-off passengers and an idea for a Tom Hanks sequel: The Tarmac. [NYP]

Grimsvotn Volcano Eruption Forces Barack Obama to Leave Ireland Early

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An Icelandic volcano called Grimsvotn (so much easier to say than that other Icelandic volcano) about 120 miles east of Reykjavik has been erupting since Saturday, with ash now approaching Scotland and Ireland, where Barack Obama and Co. are visiting. This means they'll leave Ireland tonight, a day ahead of schedule. Fortunately, Obama and the First Lady have already enjoyed a Guinness. Obama also kissed babies, visited the spot where the home of his maternal great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, once stood in the village of Moneygall, got stuck in a driveway, met with Irish prime minister Enda Kenny, and accepted "a hurley, a long, paddle-shaped stick used in the Irish sport of hurling, as a gift," reports the New York Post. Good times!

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Planes Collide in Upstate New York, Killing Two

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According to reports from various news outlets, two small, single-engine planes collided this afternoon above a wooded area in upstate New York approximately 70 miles north of New York City. Two people were killed and one is critically injured -- identities of the three have not been confirmed. Both planes, Pipers, are registered to New Jersey men. According to a report from the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, "one plane burst into flames," and there is substantial wreckage. [NBC NY, NYP]

Man Tackled Aboard Flight After Trying to Enter Cockpit; PATH and Second Avenue Subway Tunnels Breached

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• Yesterday a 28-year-old man with a Yemen passport was tackled by crew members and passengers when he started pounding on the cockpit of an American Airlines plane approaching San Francisco. The man was put in handcuffs by a flight attendent and the plane landed safely; he was then taken into police custody. This marks the "third disturbance of the day" in U.S. air, following an incident in which a man tried to open a plane door during a flight (don't do that!) from Houston to Chicago, and another flight en route to San Diego from Detroit that landed in Albuquerque due to a security scare. [ABC]

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Susie Castillo, Miss USA, Slams TSA For Pat-Down Molestation in Airport Video

We've seen the uncomfortable situation that can arise when a 6-year-old gets patted down in the airport, and already Congress has said they are reviewing the incident. But it's not a one-off -- across generations people have increasingly expressed opposition to what they see as invasive airport searches, and now a famous voice is speaking out. Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003, filmed the tearful video above after opting for a pat-down instead of risking the radiation of a full-body scanner. "I do feel violated," Castillo says from the Dallas airport. "This woman, she touched my vagina four times."


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Happy 4/20; Michelle Obama in Dramatic Not-Real Danger; NBC Exec Calls Donald Trump's 2012 Run a Stunt

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• It's 4/20. You know what that means. Or maybe you don't. [Huffington Post]

• A plane carrying Michelle Obama was forced to abort landing on Monday after it got too close -- within 3 miles instead of 5 -- to a military C-17 cargo plane. This is believed to be the fault of an air traffic controller. Whoops. The White House doesn't think the FLOTUS was ever in danger, though she did have to circle before actually landing, which is always annoying. [CNN]

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