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Watercooler Stories

By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International

AIRLINE CUTS FLIGHTS TO HAWAII

The island state of Hawaii, nearly totally dependent on air travel to bring in tourist dollars, continues to see flight reductions. The latest international air carrier to cut flights in and out of our 50th state is Japan Airlines.

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The carrier tells the Honolulu Advertiser the reduction will cut the number of Japanese tourists arriving in Hawaii to about 2,600 a day, a reduction of 15 percent from pre-Sept. 11, 2001.

Beginning next month the number of weekly non-stops between Tokyo and Honolulu on JAL will drop by half, from 14 to seven. JAL is responsible for about 22 percent of all the Tokyo-Honolulu traffic.

On a positive note, Hawaii -- though much closer to Asia than the U.S. Mainland -- is less vulnerable to be hit with the SARS epidemic. It currently has fewer flights from SARS-infected areas than do the four major jetport gateways on the West Coast: Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland.

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SPY MUSEUM TO FOCUS ON CLASSIC TV SHOW

The International Spy Museum in the nation's capital says it's preparing a special showing of the old "I Led Three Lives" TV series.

Museum curators say the show, which chronicled the undercover work of G-man Herbert Philbrick and starred Richard Carlson, was based on a book by the former FBI agent.

In conjunction with the showing at the museum's main theater, a former undercover FBI agent will be on hand, along with the current president of the Center for Counter Intelligence and Security Studies.

During the run of the pioneering TV show -- during the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, Carlson played Philbrick -- an executive by day who became an infiltratator of the Communist Party by night.


PATIENTS TO GET PRIVACY PROTECTION

New federal legislation will mean medical patients will have more control over their personal information but published reports find many people are unaware of changes.

Many state health associations are getting out the message, some enlisting the help of the media. Attention drawn to the Gulf War, though, has caused the implementation of the federal legislation to fall off the "front page."

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act -- HIPAA for short -- first passed in 1996. It was designed to protect patients receiving treatment against fraud, abuse and invasion of privacy. New provisions give more teeth to the law and expand its scope.

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Protected information -- meaning it cannot be used without a patient's consent -- can include their name, address, phone number, medical and account numbers, photographs, diagnoses and test information, along with how well they have reimbursed caregivers.


DEVELOPMENT PROJECT THWARTED BY SNAKES

A project in Mount Holly, N.J., is being halted while environmental authorities ponder the status of a rare snake.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says the Northern Pine Snake's supporters and an area home development company are squared-off in a debate about the future of a small housing development.

A group called Signature Homes wants to build about two dozen single-family dwellings in an area under the aegis of the Pinelands Commission in a pristine, wooded area of suburban New Jersey. A superior court judge has been hearing arguments in the case.

The housing development, to be called The Sanctuary, already has been started. Meanwhile, the builder says he's followed to the letter an agreement over land use that was implemented three years ago. At that time construction was temporarily halted and then restarted after the discovery of another rare type of snake in the area.

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