Slatest PM: Storm Spares Many, But Not All Thanksgiving Travelers

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 27 2013 3:50 PM

Slatest PM: Storm Spares Many, But Not All Thanksgiving Travelers

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Travelers check in for holiday flights at O'Hare International Airport on November 27, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Nearly 1.5 million travelers are expected to fly through OHare Airport over an eight-day Thanksgiving travel period which ends December 3.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Thanksgiving Travel: Associated Press: "Bands of heavy rain, ice and snow were upending some holiday travel plans on the East Coast as millions of Americans took to the roads, skies and rails Wednesday for Thanksgiving, but the wintry mix was not causing the widespread gridlock that had been feared. So far, the storms barreling over the mid-Atlantic and Northeast have not sent flight delays or cancellations rippling out beyond the region to other parts of the nation's air network, and forecasters said the storm would start to loosen its grip on the East Coast as the day wore on. ... As of early Wednesday, more than 230 flights to, from or within the United States had been canceled, according to the air tracking website FlightAware.com. Most of the scrapped flights were in or out of three major Northeast hubs: Newark Liberty International, Philadelphia International and LaGuardia. ... The storm system that developed in the West over the weekend has been blamed in at least 11 deaths, five of them in Texas. But as the storm moved east it wasn't as bad as feared."

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It Could Be Worse: NBC News: "The good news was that two storm systems that were expected to collide, bringing snow and ice and strong wind to a vast section of the Northeast, never did. Forecasters cut their snow forecasts for some cities in half. ... One of the two systems, over the Great Lakes, dumped 3 to 7 inches of snow on parts of upstate New York and western Pennsylvania late Tuesday. Mercer, Pa., had 9.5 inches of snow, and Pittsburgh got 3 inches."

Parade Balloon Bust? USA Today: "Travelers flying home for Thanksgiving aren't the only ones who could potentially be grounded due to messy East Coast weather—Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants and Toothless the dragon may have to stay out of the air as well. Those Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons—and 13 other giant balloons—won't take off Thursday morning if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph. Temperatures in the low 30s with winds of at least 15-20 mph are forecast for Thursday, according to AccuWeather. Gusts could reach 40 mph. 'We are closely monitoring the weather as we do each year,' says Macy's spokeswoman Holly Thomas. 'On Thanksgiving morning, Macy's works closely with the NYPD, who, based on real time weather data and the official regulations determine if the balloons will fly and at what heights.' Balloons have only been grounded once in the parade's 87-year history, when bad weather kept them from flying in 1971."

It's Wednesday, November 27th. Welcome to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Latest Obamacare Stumble: Politico: "The Obama administration today announced a one year delay of online enrollment for small businesses looking to purchase health coverage through federal Obamacare exchanges, another high-profile setback for HealthCare.gov. It’s the second delay for online small business enrollment, which the administration had said would begin this month. The White House is trying to get the troubled enrollment website on track for individuals and families seeking coverage, which is a higher priority. It set this Saturday, Nov. 30, as a target date for getting HealthCare.gov working for the 'vast majority' of users. The delay of the small business exchanges comes as little surprise, as the administration had said earlier this week it would offer alternative ways for small businesses to enroll. Still, it undercuts the White House message that it’s beginning to turn around the disastrous rollout of the health care law."

The U.S.-American Merger: Reuters: "A judge on Wednesday approved a settlement resolving U.S. regulators' opposition to a merger between AMR Corp and US Airways Group Inc, allowing AMR, the bankrupt parent of American Airlines, to soon close on a tie-up that will create the world's largest carrier. ... AMR said in a statement it will seek to close on the deal by December 9. However, a group of consumers that opposes the merger could delay matters by appealing Lane's approval. The U.S. Department of Justice had challenged the merger, which was to serve as the basis for AMR's plan to exit Chapter 11, where it has been for about two years, and pay back stakeholders. The DOJ's antitrust watchdog said the plan could impede competition and drive up ticket prices. The airlines earlier this month agreed to divest takeoff and landing rights and gates at Washington Reagan National, New York LaGuardia and several other airports. The deal needed approval from Lane, who oversees AMR's bankruptcy."

Bye, Bye, Berlusconi: New York Times: "Having spent months manufacturing procedural delays or conjuring political melodrama in hopes of saving himself, Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday could no longer stave off the inevitable: Italy’s Senate resoundingly stripped him of his parliamentary seat, a dramatic and humiliating expulsion, even as other potential troubles await him. ... Berlusconi, 77, is now staring at a cascade of stubborn realities. His removal from the Senate means that he is without elective office for the first time in roughly two decades and that he has lost the special immunities awarded to lawmakers. With other legal cases underway against him — and the possibility that new litigation will be filed — Mr. Berlusconi is now far more vulnerable than he was when, as prime minister, he seemed virtually untouchable, swatting away sex and corruption scandals."

Newtown Anniversary: ABC News: "The Newtown High School football team dedicated its season this year to the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook massacre and finished the season this week with an undefeated record. The team will now head into the state championship tournament which is tentatively scheduled to be completed on Dec. 14 — the anniversary of the school shooting. ... The team won their conference championship for the second year in a row and will now enter the state tournament. They'll have to make it through the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals to get to the championship game. The championship is scheduled to be played on either Dec. 13 or Dec. 14, which is the anniversary of the school shooting in which 20 students and six teachers were killed in 2012."

N.C. Transparency, or Lack Thereof: Associated Press: "As a candidate, Pat McCrory pledged a transparent and accountable government. But now that he is governor [of North Carolina], those seeking access to public records are often met with long delays and unprecedented demands for payment. McCrory's staff has interpreted a one-sentence clause in North Carolina's public records law as providing broad authority to assess a 'special service charge' on any records request taking more than 30 minutes for an employee to process. Invoices totaling hundreds of dollars have also been assessed for requests for digital copies of emails that have routinely been produced by past administrations without charge. The fees appear to run contrary to the primary principle expressed in North Carolina's public records law, which says government documents 'are the property of the people' and that copies should be provided 'as promptly as possible' at 'free or at minimal cost.'"

That's all for today. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving! See you back here Monday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

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