Misc.

WTF: U.S. Customs & Border Protection Seizes 13 Pounds Of Horse Genitals

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I can only imagine the number of bizarre things that U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents come across. However, they’ve come across something so strange that they’ve put out a press release about it. Two women arrived at Washington Dulles Airport from Mongolia on January 29, 2017, with some crazy stuff in their bags, including horse genitals, apparently for “medicinal purposes.” Per the press release:

“After they deplaned, CBP officers referred the women for a routine agriculture examination. There, CBP agriculture specialists discovered a combined 42 pounds of meat described as horsemeat and other ruminant meat, including 13 pounds of horse genitals, and three liters of yak milk.”

Interestingly neither woman was criminally charged, and they were both released. I do wonder what sort of “medicinal purposes” they were planning on using the horse genitals for. At first 13 pounds of horse genitals sounded like a lot, but based on Googling (I did it so you guys don’t have to), that may only be a portion of a single horse genital.

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Horrible: Cargo 747 Crashes In Kyrgyzstan, Kills Dozens

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There’s very sad news out of Kyrgyzstan this morning. A 747-400 cargo plane crashed on landing this morning while it made a routine fuel stop at Manas Airport, just outside of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

The flight was operated by a 14 year old 747-400 with registration TC-MCL, which was originally operated by Singapore Airlines Cargo, though in 2015 it was transferred to MyCargo Airlines. MyCargo Airlines operates cargo flights on behalf of several airlines.

In the past this plane operated flights on behalf of Qatar Airways, though as of the past week, it has been operating on behalf of Turkish Airlines. It was flying from Hong Kong to Istanbul, but made a refueling stop at Manas Airport (not because the 747 doesn’t have the range to fly it nonstop, but because it’s more economical to carry less fuel and more cargo).

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Vegan Activist Denied Swiss Citizenship For Being “Too Annoying”

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Well this is quite a story…

Different countries have different laws when it comes to citizenship, and Switzerland is one of the toughest countries out there when it comes to granting citizenship. Apparently local residents in Switzerland often have a say in citizenship applications for people in their region (though they can be overruled).

Well, a 42 year old Dutch vegan activist who has lived in Switzerland since she was eight years old is seeking Swiss citizenship, but is getting some pushback from the local community, because she’s “too annoying.” Why are the residents of Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau not onboard with her becoming a citizen? Per Yahoo News:

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Weird Travel Anxieties

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Friend of the blog Andrew B is back, this time discussing travel anxiety. Yes, this is the same Andrew who won the trip to Helsinki several years back, and who wrote the hilarious “Airbus To Megabus” trip report last year.

Travel-related anxiety is a pretty common thing. Many people still panic when they board a plane, even though they rationally know that flying is incredibly safe.

My main travel fear is unusual, though: I am afraid of sleeping on airplanes. Of course, it’s mostly unavoidable for longer flights, so I do end up falling asleep. But every time I do, I worry about what might happen.

Why? Because I talk in my sleep. And it’s pretty weird.

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Fort Lauderdale Flights Cancelled Due To Shooting

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Sad news out of Fort Lauderdale, where a full ground stop has been ordered in the aftermath of a shooting in the baggage claim area.

Five people were killed, and an additional eight injured, according to officials. The sole suspect is in custody.

For those wanting further details as events unfold, the BBC has a useful Breaking News feed.

In the meantime, airlines have canceled their scheduled flights for the remainder of today, and are issuing waivers for travel today, and in some cases tomorrow. You can see the individual policies on the airline sites:

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The Most Popular OMAAT Posts Of 2016

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As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be fun to look back at the past year on the blog, and highlight the most popular posts.

These aren’t necessarily what we would consider the best or most useful posts of the year, rather these are the stories that have been read and shared the most.

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Here’s How Indian Courts Are Addressing Frozen Poop Falling From The Sky

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Back in October a case was filed in Indian courts regarding frozen poop that was apparently falling from the sky over New Delhi, causing damage to neighborhoods, and in one case even injuring someone. Per Bloomberg:

“Satwant Singh Dahiya, a resident near New Delhi’s airport, filed a case in October saying houses in his neighbourhood were damaged by feces dumped by airlines at night. In another incident, a 60-year-old woman suffered a shoulder injury in December last year probably caused by human excreta falling from the skies, the Times of India newspaper reported.”

This case has now been heard in an Indian green court, which has ordered safety regulators to ensure that planes aren’t dumping human waste when flying. In practice this means that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation will have to conduct surprise checks on planes after flights to ensure that their waste tanks aren’t empty. If an airliner is found to have an empty waste tank on landing, the airline will be fined:

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More Sickening Details Emerge About Lamia’s Crash In Colombia

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Monday night an Avro RJ85 traveling from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Medellin, Colombia, crashed shortly before landing. The flight was being operated by Lamia, a charter airline with a single plane. 71 of the 77 people on the flight died. The plane was carrying a Brazilian soccer team, which was heading to the South American Cup Finals.

Yesterday I shared further details that were emerging about the accident, which showed an incredible amount of negligence on the part of the captain. He knowingly operated a flight that was beyond the range of the plane. Rather than diverting or declaring an emergency when the plane still had a chance, he decided to cut corners. What was his motive? Perhaps that he was a co-owner of the airline, so presumably he was scared of possibly losing contracts with sports teams or being fined by authorities if they discovered what he had done.

Well, if the details so far haven’t been horrifying enough, the negligence gets even worse.

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Disturbing Details Emerge About This Week’s Crash In Colombia

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Monday night an Avro RJ85 traveling from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Medellin, Colombia, crashed shortly before landing. The flight was being operated by Lamia, a small charter airline with a single plane. 71 of the 77 people on the flight died. The plane was carrying a Brazilian soccer team, which was heading to the South American Cup Finals, after having performed better than ever before.

It was pretty apparent that the plane was low on fuel, both based on the pilot declaring an emergency, and also based on the lack of fire at the crash site.

Well, more details are now starting to emerge about the incident, and they’re disturbing. Very disturbing. They show just how preventable this horrible tragedy was. The Economist has a great rundown of the facts, but to consolidate them even further:

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75 People Dead After Plane Carrying Brazilian Soccer Team Crashes

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For those of you who haven’t yet seen, there was a pretty major plane crash last night, involving an Avro RJ85, which was built in 1999. The plane was operated by charter airline LAMIA, and was carrying a Brazilian soccer team from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Medellin, Colombia.

The plane lost radar contact at ~15,500 feet, about 30 kilometers from their arrival airport of Medellin (the airport has an altitude of about 7,000 above sea level).

The plane had a total of 81 people onboard (72 passengers, including soccer players and journalists, and nine crewmembers), and all but six people died.

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Oklahoma City Flights Cancelled Due To Shooting

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Sad news out of Oklahoma City, where a full ground stop has been ordered in the aftermath of a shooting.

This is a developing story, and details are thin, but the Oklahoma City Police department has confirmed one victim thus far, a Southwest Airlines employee who was shot in the airport parking lot.

The police department also gave this statement to media in the area:

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8 Things We Didn’t Do In Baku

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We’re in Azerbaijan for two nights this week, as part of a fantastic (and crazy) 10-day itinerary. Baku seems like a fantastic city, and when we travel together it generally falls to me to write up the stuff we do on the ground, so I’ve been looking forward to telling y’all about it. But we have a slight obstacle to that this time.

I’d love to tell you about seeing petroglyphs and oil rigs and mud volcanoes. I’d like to show you pictures of grand Soviet metro stations, the view from the top of the Maiden’s Tower, and beautifully-preserved Zoroastrian temples.

I’d relish describing Baku’s cosmopolitan and bustling nightlife, or even just sharing how the weeks I’d spent practicing Turkish really came in handy as we were sampling dushbara, plov, and qutab in tiny local restaurants.

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What Kind Of Cookies Does YOUR Admirals Club Serve?

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We’re having a bit of a debate here in OMAAT-land. No, it’s not about who should be our next president. Or whether the Golden State Warriors are really the team to beat next year. Or even if smoking in the cockpit should be allowed.

No, this debate is about cookies. Specifically the cookies that American serves in their Admirals Clubs.

As you might recall, I’ve been frequenting the Admirals Club on a somewhat regular basis lately, ever since Tiffany added me as an authorized user on her Citi Executive Card. I’ve probably now made a dozen or so visits, but they are concentrated in just two or three clubs. Overall, I’ve been reasonably impressed.

Well, it turns out that I had a chance to visit the Admirals Club in Denver on Monday, the one that I’ve probably been to the most. In doing so, I thought I had made a landmark discovery — I noticed that they were serving chocolate chip cookies!

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Brilliant: Airbus Marketing The A380 Directly To Consumers

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The Airbus A380 has been around for more than 10 years, and there are many things I love about.

The plane has really upped the game in terms of the passenger experience, in my opinion. The A380 is quieter and smoother than any other plane I’ve flown, and we’ve seen some really innovative amenities added in premium cabins, ranging from onboard bars to double beds to onboard shower suites.

I’ve been lucky enough to fly every airline that operates the A380 in first class, and have enjoyed all of them. These airlines include Air France, Asiana, British Airways, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.

The problem is, the A380 is really struggling, as Emirates seems to be the only airline fully embracing it. Other airlines far prefer planes like the A350 and 787, which are much smaller but also long range and fuel efficient. There are only so many markets where an A380 can be operated profitably. With the demand for global air travel growing, perhaps the plane just peaked a few years too early.

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