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A family checks in for an American Airlines flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (Getty Images)

House Votes To End Full-Fare Rule For Airline Tickets

Jul 28, 2014

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The House voted Monday to allow airlines to advertise lower prices for their routes.

The Transparent Airfares Act, which was approved with minimal debate, would overturn a 2012 rule that requires airlines to post the full price of tickets, including taxes and fees.

Shoppers are smart enough to figure out the price of an airline ticket without federal regulation, said Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio, a bill cosponsor.

"Talk about the nanny state," he said. "Give me a break. What do they think, Americans are idiots?"

Consumer groups oppose the legislation. Prior to implementation of the rule, airlines would often "hide" the cost of taxes and fees in small print in advertising or down at the bottom of Web pages.

That gave the impression you could fly for a lot less than the actual total cost.

"Before the full-fare rule went into effect, it wasn't uncommon to find an attractive ticket price — say, $299 for a transatlantic flight — but once taxes, fuel surcharges and other fees were added, the total fare came to $899," notes travel writer Christopher Elliott in The Washington Post. "That price was revealed only at the end of the booking process, frustrating passengers."

Despite quick action, it's not clear that the bill — which is supported by the airline industry and transportation unions — will have much life in the Senate.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez has introduced what he calls the Real Transparency in Airfares Act, which would double maximum penalties to $55,000 per day for airlines and major ticket sellers that don't post the full fare.

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A family checks in for an American Airlines flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (Getty Images)

International Court Rules Against Russia In $50 Billion Decision

Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Russia says it will appeal an unfavorable decision by a court in The Hague. The Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded $50 billion to shareholders of the defunct Yukos oil company. Russia seized the company in 2003 and put owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky in jail on tax and fraud charges.

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Enrique's Journey ( )

Tales Of Immigration Explore Modern-Day Odysseys And 'Hyphenated Identities'

by Bilal Qureshi
Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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For many writers, the migrant's journey is a storytellers' dream. The transition from one part of the world to another is filled with anticipation, conflict and inherent literary drama. While trains and planes become the mundane means of transportation for most travelers, those trips can herald life-changing transformations for a migrant remaking his or her life through that journey.

Novelist Amitav Ghosh is finishing an epic trilogy of novels — Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, Flood of Fire — set at sea in the midst of the Opium Wars of the 19th century. They're filled with countless characters from around the world navigating the stormy seas in search of better lives.

The novels examine questions of empire, power and class but the real star of Ghosh's books is an old-fashioned sailing ship named the Ibis. The former slave ship begins its journey in Baltimore and sails around Africa, onto India and China after it's bought by a British merchant living in Calcutta. As the Ibis docks in ports around the world, a global cast of characters assembles on board — which allows Ghosh to craft a kaleidoscopic portrait of characters.

"The journeys of the people who've come there are themelves so interesting," Ghosh says. "What brings people into this very enclosed space — people with such different histories and experiences — all of that creates endless possibilities." Beyond the literary possibilities, Ghosh says that convergence of identities echoes the way modern migration has brought so many people together.

"Every ship was in a sense a microcosm of the world," says Ghosh, who was inspired by Herman Melville's Moby Dick. "This is one of Melville's great themes ... how completely different kinds of people are thrust together and how very often their roles just completely change."

Change is also at the heart of Yann Martel's bestselling novel, Life of Pi and its Oscar-winning film adaptation. An Indian boy sailing to Canada with his family survives a shipwreck. He's lost at sea on a lifeboat with a tiger and they must learn to coexist and they forge a community of survivors.

"The notion of shipwreck in the Life of Pi I think is a perfect metaphor for the experience of exile," says Reza Aslan, a bestselling author and editor of the anthology Tablet and Pen. "Being adrift, looking for a land to call home, that's an experience that I myself have experienced as an exile from Iran," he says.

Aslan says Life of Pi shows how the immigrant's journey leaves an individual unmoored — how it throws an identity into flux.

The idea of how immigrants reconcile their past with the future inspired Jhumpa Lahiris' novel The Namesake, which also became a film. In it, a father survives a traumatic train accident as a young man in India.

"We have to go through that darkness, through that chaos and confusion, in order to ... ultimately figure out that the person we are today still has fragments of the person we were before we immigrated," says Ilan Stavans, professor of literature at Amherst College, and editor of the anthology Becoming Americans. "What immigrant writers have done in American literature, is shown us that America is a microcosm of the world — that all cultures converge here — that we have connections, tentacles to the rest of the world and that we are a society in constant movement."

That movement is very much in the headlines today and it was the subject for Sonia Nazario's Pulitzer Prize-winning book Enrique's Journey. Nazario followed a young boy from Honduras searching for his mother in the United States.

"He travels the only way that he can — with little or no money — which is gripping onto the tops and the sides of these freight trains that travel up the length of Mexico. It's a modern day odyssey that these children go on."

It's a book of reporting written with a novelist's eye. "There were gangsters that controlled the train tops," Nazario says. "I would see these guys — they would roam from car to car and surround a group of migrants and say: Your money, or your life — and strip you of your clothes, look for any coins they can find, and sometimes hurdle you down to the churning wheels below."

Writer Reza Aslan says part of what's fueling the stories of migration are a new generation of writers with roots in multiple parts of the world. "When you have these writers who have these hyphenated identities," he says, "they have the ability ... to draw from those cultures and to really get at the heart of what literature is about — how we as human beings navigate an indeterminate world; how we understand our place in this planet."

And ultimately these stories of migration aren't really about the external journey. "It doesn't matter the mode of transportation — whether by foot or by camel or by car or by plane," says Aslan. "It doesn't matter the destination and even the journey itself is secondary to the transformation that occurs in the individual making the journey."

And even for the individual sitting still — reading about those journeys can become its own means of transformation.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

More From The Book Your Trip Series

For more great car tales, check out NPR's Book Your Trip series. We've got recommendations for literary travel by train, plane, car, bike, boat, foot, city transit, horse, balloon, rocketship, time machine and even giant peach.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Enrique's Journey ( )

'Like' Something? Social Networks Would Like You To Buy It Too, Please

Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

More From The Book Your Trip Series

For more great car tales, check out NPR's Book Your Trip series. We've got recommendations for literary travel by train, plane, car, bike, boat, foot, city transit, horse, balloon, rocketship, time machine and even giant peach.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Enrique's Journey ( )

Box Office Wallows In A Summer Slump, And Some Seek To Find Out Why

Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

More From The Book Your Trip Series

For more great car tales, check out NPR's Book Your Trip series. We've got recommendations for literary travel by train, plane, car, bike, boat, foot, city transit, horse, balloon, rocketship, time machine and even giant peach.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

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