PUNCH BAG

By the time you are reading your monthly dose of Punch Bag news, China's president Xi Jinping will be on his way to the pompous Trump residence, also called the Winter White House, at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. There he hopes to find out if Trump's over the top campaign vow to slam a 45% tariff on Chinese imports, is for real, or just… fake news.
To be sure, such a tariff measure would provoke a global trade war and fall foul of the World Trade Organisation, but one only needs to remember Trump's rancorous meeting with Germany's Angela Merkel last month where he presented her with a ludicrous invoice for Germany’s defence costs, to predict that - even after the Affordable Care Act fiasco - Trump is quite capable of destroying what is already a fragile relationship with China.
China, and for that matter the rest of the world, obviously doesn't want a trade war, but with incompetence, inexperience and lies reigning in the White House, China's president is likely to face a colleague who has no clue how to confront the leader of a country that within the span of two months has taken over America’s role of defending the world trading system and assuming global leadership to tackle climate change.
No wonder then the failed U.S. president has already indicated he expects the discussions with president Xi to be "very difficult."

Nol van Fenema

SLIPPER ATTACK

- In a show of solidarity unseen in India's highly competitive airline industry, the member airlines of the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) have jointly decided to blacklist a Member of Parliament, Ravindra Gaikwad. The airline grouping includes the national carrier Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, SpiceJet and Go Air, while non-FIA member Vistara has also joined the blacklisting.
The decision to ban the ill-tempered MP from all flights in India follows a recent incident in New Delhi, where Gaikwad assaulted an Air India employee after he was made to fly economy class between Pune and Delhi despite having an "open-dated" business class ticket. The MP had to fly economy because the aircraft on this sector had an all-economy configuration.
After arrival in Delhi, all passengers disembarked except the MP who refused to leave the aircraft for almost an hour because he wanted to have a word with AI management. All the while, 115 passengers were waiting to board the aircraft for a continuing flight to Goa.
Following several requests to deplane, Gaikwad became abusive and started hitting an AI employee with his slippers, while he also tried to throw the agent from the aircraft.
In the ensuing police report, the 60-year-old agent, R. Sukumar, claimed that Gaikwad "used foul language and bad words against me and he took out his slippers and started hitting me.” He also testified that in the process, Gaikwad broke his spectacles and “tore away the button” of his cardigan.
As this is not the first incident involving arrogant and unruly passengers, carriers in India are now proposing the introduction of a no-fly list for arrogant characters such as MP Gailkwad, who will have to take the train to attend future sessions of Parliament.
Slipper hitting MP

LEGGINGS

- It looks like a lot of ludicrous measures originate in the United States these days.
While most seem to be coming from a certain House in the Washington DC area, other locations, such as Denver are also vying for a top position.
We're referring here to the weird decision by a gate agent for United Airlines, who stopped two teenage girls from boarding a recent flight from Denver to Minneapolis, because they were wearing leggings.
For those among our readers who are unfamiliar with the outfit: leggings are a type of skin-tight garment that covers the legs of both men and women.
The girls, who were flying on free passes for United employees or family members, were told by a gate agent that they could not get on the plane while wearing the form-fitting pants, because the airline has a special dress code for such passengers, which prohibits wearing sleep or swimwear, torn clothing and revealing attire.
Overhearing the gate agent telling the teenagers they could not board unless they dressed up, another passenger on the flight took offense and send out a tweet, which subsequently went viral, with United mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram exploding from an average 2,000 a day to 174,000, with nearly 70% of them negative.
United initially responded very formally by tweeting that passengers can be denied if they “are barefoot or not properly attired,” but when the negative tweets kept rising, the airline belatedly explained its house rules.
But by then, the public relations disaster had already engulfed United.
No leggings on United flights

TOILET TROUBLES

- It seems that Air India passengers don't quite know how to use the toilets on the airline's fleet of long-range aircraft. Several local media reported last month that the flag carrier recently encountered a series of mishaps with clogged toilets, which prompted one news site to publish an article about the toilet troubles with the leaves-nothing-to-your-imagination headline:
"Air India Up Shit Creek After Dreamliner Toilets Crap Out".
The most recent incident occurred last month when a packed 777 on a non-stop flight from New Delhi to Chicago, left the gate for the 16-hour journey with four toilets closed before take-off and ALL the remaining eight others packing up by the time it was a good two hours away from the destination. With 340 people on board, most of them were holding on to their full bladders and stomachs.
It's not the first time that Air India has faced toilet troubles on its long-haul flights. Last August, a Newark-Mumbai non-stop with over 300 people on board had to make an unscheduled stop at Istanbul as none of the toilets on the plane were flushing. And before that, an Australia-Delhi flight had to be grounded in Sydney due to clogging of all toilets.
Air India's Investigations into the toilet troubles have meanwhile revealed that its passengers seem not yet familiar with today's sophisticated aircraft toilets. "Apart from what one normally goes down the toilet, they also try and flush all kinds of stuff like plastic bottles and sanitary napkins into the toilets," a spokesman explained.
Just in case you're planning a flight on Air India, the airline has meanwhile decided that it will not release an aircraft for a fully-loaded, long-haul flight ever again in the future, unless the toilets are in working order. Quite a relief.
A flush-less Grubencloset Kuebel might solve the toilet problems on board Indian airlines

POSTAL E-VEHICLES

- While clean transport solutions in the U.S. have been put on the back burner by a demented person in the WH who refuses to accept global warming, other countries around the globe are accelerating their activities to reduce carbon emissions.
Take the postal and express delivery industry, for example, where massive increases in parcel deliveries - thanks to a booming e-commerce industry - are replacing the traditional mail deliveries.
Europe has been leading the pack with Deutsche Post DHL Group last month putting its 1,000th e-bike into service. The Group already operates the largest electric vehicle fleet in Germany, with about 2,500 StreetScooter Work electric trucks and approximately 10,500 pedelecs (e-bikes and e-trikes), and the company says that the number of e-bikes in service will continue to increase in the years to come.
While similar developments are taking place in other EC countries, the Asia Pacific region is rapidly catching up in the growing e-vehicle trend.
New Zealand Post has just added the first fully electric vehicles to its postal network. They are joining hundreds of Paxsters - four-wheeled battery powered scooters - which are due to be rolled out soon.
Over in Australia, Australia Post has started testing what they call "a battery-powered postie," in the city of Hobart, Tasmania.
The three-wheeled electric delivery vehicles, which have been developed by Swiss manufacturer Kyburz, have three times the parcel carrying capacity of the current motorbikes, and can hold up to 100 small parcels and 1,200 letters. From this month, the trial will also be extended to smaller field pilots in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
And in pollution-conscious Singapore, postal operator SingPost has begun trialling an electric three-wheel delivery vehicle, which has been developed by SingPost and the Technical University of Munich (TUM).
The e-vehicle is equipped with dynamic GPS routing, fleet monitoring and data collection systems, integrated cameras, and on-demand tracking.vehicle. It features a specially designed detachable storage box that the postman may pack at their mail sorting station, wheel to the vehicle, and load with the help of a motorized hoist.
Like the e-vehicles in New Zealand and Australia, the SingPost delivery vehicle aims to make work easier for its "posties" and most importantly, reduce global carbon emissions.
SingPost's electric three-wheeler

HAWAIIAN BLANKET

- In the same category of absurd regulations and silly decisions, one must include the decision by a Hawaiian Airlines captain who diverted a recent flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu to Los Angeles after a passenger refused to pay $12 for a blanket.
The incident unfolded when, after take-off, a 66-year-old male passenger requested a blanket as he was cold. When told he would have to fork out $12 for the blanket, the unidentified man got upset and demanded to speak to a corporate representative from the airline.
In the ensuing in-flight call, the man said that he would like "to take someone behind the woodshed for this" which the pilot deemed to be enough threatening behavior to immediately divert the fully-booked plane to Los Angeles.
Upon arrival in LAX, police and FBI agents met with the passenger and crew and determined after questioning both sides that no crime had been committed.
Among the more than 1,200 reactions on the blanket dispute, we are pleased to highlight the following two beauties:
"For the captain to turn the plane back to L.A. was "idiotic", pure and simple. Give "the CUSTOMER the blanket!!!!" and…."Ridiculous that the pilot couldn't have used common sense - waive the 12.00. Certainly cost more this way over a stupid blanket. There is no common sense. What happened to adults and thinking outside the box?"
Indeed. Only in America.
Hawaiian in-flight services exclude free of charge blanket utilization

WILDLY EXPENSIVE

- We hear that a multi-million-dollar air defense missile was recently used to shoot down a US$200 quadcopter drone in what experts describe as "an impressive, but wildly expensive exercise." The million-dollar incident was revealed by an U.S. Army general who was speaking at a recent symposium in the U.S.
He told his audience that apart from leisure and professional use, the quadcopter drones are apparently also being used by the Islamic State for reconnaissance and even aerial attacks when they are fitted with hand grenades or other small explosives.
Although the general did not disclose where the wildly expensive shooting took place - It could have been a Hezbollah or Hamas drone shot down by Israel, or a Houthi rebel drone shot down by the United Arab Emirates - the shoot-down, on technical grounds, is quite impressive because the quadcopter has a relatively small radar signature that can be difficult to pick out.
So, while hitting this low-flying consumer drone with a multi-million sophisticated Patriot missile is considered quite a feat, strategically and economically it's a mess.
Just imagine, wiping out an entire Patriot squadron, only requires a couple of $200 drones bought on e-Bay.
Gotcha!!