Air travel delays: LAX should be improving by now, but a thick blanket of fog delayed a bunch of early flights. Departures were being held for as long as 45 minutes, which is a lot for L.A. (Daily News)
Airport security complaints: They're up sharply over the past few months and get this: The Transportation Security Administration says it's because it wasn't counting all the complaints up until a few months ago! That's comforting - these are the folks who are supposed to be protecting us. Vegas, Atlanta and Denver are especially bad, with many of the complaints centered on security, courtesy, processing time and personal property. (My own recent experience: A TSA guy in Fort Lauderdale spent an absurd amount of time scrutinizing the boarding pass name with the driverís license for no apparent reason, other than to unnerve travelers.) From the WSJ:
Tom Zanecchia and his wife complained to the TSA in September after their 20-year-old daughter went through a checkpoint at Denver International Airport without removing her iPod and camera from her bag. A screener began berating her as her parents watched, then threw the items into a bin, damaging the camera. When the Zanecchias called the TSA to complain, a TSA representative said that the screener was out of line, but that without a name, the agency couldn't do anything. "Assuming TSA really does care about the treatment of travelers, then it is important for anyone that is treated badly to get the security person's name or badge number," says Mr. Zanecchia, founder and president of a Denver financial consulting firm who travels frequently. The family filed a damage claim on the camera, "but no response as of yet," he says.
Market looking up: T-Day is just a couple of days off, so why the heck not? Well, a bunch of reasons, starting with the government-backed mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reporting a third-quarter loss of $2 billion. Then there are the not-so-swell numbers from Target. But on the other side of the mish-mash, Hewlett-Packard said its coming quarters look strong, and Nordstrom's numbers were surprisingly good. Also, new home construction was up in October. Yaaay! (Bloomberg)
Optimism in the air: Maybe it's just pre-holiday goodwill, but the buzz this week is that a deal between writers and media companies may be doable and that next week's resumption of talks will not just be for show. That includes meeting at a neutral site and imposing a news blackout. The WGA will be holding a big rally in Hollywood this afternoon. From Variety:
Another big contributing factor to the resumption of talks was the "thickening of the swamp," in the words of a showbiz lawyer, of problems caused by the sudden shutdown of so many projects ó not only the pinkslipping of below-the-line crews and production staff but also questions of how to handle the contracts with actors and directors under contract to work on shows. "It's a big mess that's only getting bigger the longer this goes on," the legal eagle said.
SEC scorecard: Sanctions in fiscal 2007 fell to the lowest level since 2002 ($1.6 billion in fines were collected), though the number of cases rose 14 percent from the previous year. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said a lack of massive corporate fraud cases reduced the amount of penalties imposed. But there may be more to it than that - Republicans on the commission have been pushing for lighter penalties. (LAT/Wire services)
Supersize your TV: Apparently 32 inches isn't big enough. Just in time for the holidays, Sony is debuting 52-inch TVs at Best Buy and Circuit City. Toshiba, LG and Philips are also pushing TV sets measuring 40 inches or larger. The move upward comes after last year's glut of 32-inch flat-panel TVs led to a massive price war. Larger flats can be sold for more money, which means fatter margins. A 40-incher goes for around $1,273, while a 32-inch set costs an average $763. From the WSJ:
Overall, flat-panel TVs are expected to remain one of the hottest-selling products for the holidays. "The meltdown that had already occurred in 2006 at this time last year hasn't occurred and won't occur because supply and demand is balanced," says Stewart Muller, president of Philips Consumer Electronics North America.
Tyson changes labeling: There will be no more "raised without antibiotics" labeling after the USDA said it made a mistake in approving labels that use that term. The department had erred in overlooking a feed additive, called ionophores, used for Tyson's chicken when it approved the no-antibiotics label. But Tyson said that ionophores are not antibiotics and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not consider them antibiotics. (AP)
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian covers Black Friday at the malls, the chances of settling the writers strike anytime soon, and California's glut of lawyers.