The Supreme Court Has Various Options on Trump Travel Ban Ruling

Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the Trump administration’s travel ban. Associated Press

Skift Take: Will the Supreme Court decide one way or the other this week on the travel ban or push a rolling down the road? We’re betting it will be decided this week. The arguments have all been articulated already.

— Dennis Schaal

The Supreme Court is expected to decide within days whether the Trump administration can enforce a ban on visitors to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries.

The high-stakes legal fight has been going on since President Donald Trump rolled out a travel ban just a week after his inauguration. He casts it as critical to deterring terror attacks in the United States.

Trump seeks to halt visits from residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days so his administration can review the screening procedures for visa applicants from those countries.

Opponents argue that the ban targets Muslims in violation of federal law and the Constitution, and that it stems from Trump’s campaign pledge to halt the entry of all Muslims into the U.S.

Lower federal courts have so far agreed and blocked the travel ban. One court also has blocked a 120-day halt on refugee arrivals in the United States.

A look at several ways the Supreme Court could decide what to do:



With the votes of five justices, the court could agree to the administration’s request to immediately reinstate the travel ban, which Trump has said would go into effect 72 hours after a favorable court ruling. The administration has said the revised travel ban Trump issued in March would avoid the chaos and confusion at airports that followed the initial travel order in January. That’s because the new policy does not apply to people already in the U.S. or with a valid visa at the time the ban takes effect, the administration has said. Opponents still worry people will be caught in legal limbo if the ban is enforced.



The court could side with opponents of the ban and refuse to let it take effect. But the administration could still conduct the 90-day review that Trump had tied to the travel ban and a revised executive order could follow. A new ban might include more countries or be made permanent, or both. A new policy almost certainly would lead to new legal challenges.



Whether the court immediately allows the ban to take effect or keeps it blocked, the justices might schedule argument on the issue for the fall. But there is a fair prospect that the argument — if it even takes place — would be a sideshow. This week’s court action is the main event. That’s because the 90-day ban will have run its course before any argument takes place in the fall and, if the ban remains on hold, a new travel policy might be in place.



Opponents of the travel ban had suggested, under certain circumstances, that the court could hear argument and issue a decision almost immediately, before the justices leave town for the summer. That prospect always seemed remote, and is even more so during the final week of June, with the court scheduled to issue the term’s final opinions on Monday. Also, the court has worked at such a fast pace only rarely and usually in the midst of political crises, including the dispute over the 2000 presidential election and President Richard Nixon’s refusal to turn over the Watergate tapes in 1974.



The court could effectively end the legal case by rejecting both the plea to enforce the ban and the administration’s appeal of the lower court rulings. The White House could then prepare a new travel policy. The court might be reluctant to pursue this option because the justices, not lower courts, typically are the final word when a federal law or presidential action is struck down.



With Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation in April, the court now is at full strength. Gorsuch is sure to take part in weighing the ban proposed by the president who nominated him. He was a federal judge, and had no involvement in the formulation or roll out of the travel policy. As a comparison, Justice Elena Kagan resisted calls to step aside from the high court’s consideration of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Some opponents of the law said that Kagan did enough as a Justice Department official in preparing the administration’s legal defense to sit out the case. Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court in 2010.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also is expected to take part in the travel ban, despite criticism of Trump she made to The Associated Press and other news organizations last summer. She quickly apologized for her remarks.

This article was written by Mark Sherman from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Defining the Event Speaker of the Future and 9 Other Tourism Trends This Week

Hutton Supancic  / Getty Images for SXSW

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker speaks onstage at SXSW on March 10, 2017 in Austin, Texas. SXSW is known for attracting top talent. Hutton Supancic / Getty Images for SXSW

Skift Take: This week in tourism news, we dove deep into meetings and events. What does the keynote speaker of the future look like, and how can conference planners leverage such an asset?

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines tourism.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>Great speakers can make or break an event. But what tips can meeting planners use to ensure they identify the best talent? And who are some of the top speakers generating buzz in the events world today? Meeting Planners Guide To Best Keynote Speakers 2017 is an attempt to answer these questions: Introducing Meeting Planners Guide To Best Keynote Speakers 2017

>>Now is the time for all travel companies to decline to be narrow-minded and to look at the big picture. For cruise lines to talk about the boost they might get in Cuba because hotels will be hard-hit is small-mindedness at its worst: Travel Companies Disappointed, Pleased or Studying Trump’s Cuba Changes

>>More audience participation and diverse speakers will make this year’s Skift Global Forum the best yet: We’re Building The Sexiest Program for Skift Global Forum

>>Skift’s data show many U.S. adults weren’t planning an international trip this year even with a stronger dollar, but for those who were a more favorable exchange rate largely wasn’t a make-it-or-break-it factor in the decision process: Travel Habits of Americans: Strong U.S. Dollar Means Little to Outbound Tourists

>>There’s good and bad in this report. Spending will continue, of course, but it is shifting into new markets and leaving some legacy markets in the lurch: What the Growing Market for Luxury Goods Tells the Travel Industry

>>European car pick ups have been a thing for decades now, but BMW’s move to add B&R to the mix is an additional selling point for the right kind of traveler: BMW Picks Butterfield & Robinson as Its Exclusive European Tour Operator

>>The Cayman Islands feels its new meal-kit campaign is new and exciting, and in many ways it is: Cayman Islands Tests U.S. Meal-Kit Service to Boost Its Food Tourism Marketing

>>Conference planners are shifting their criteria for sourcing speakers based on three disruptions: changing attendee expectations, the rise of digital engagement, and a batch of high-profile conferences redefining event design: Defining the Event Speaker of the Future — Meetings Innovation Report

>>We’ve seen both luxury hotel and luxury cruise companies develop private jet products, but this is the first time a hotel brand has headed to sea. This is easily the most interesting thing the otherwise traditional Ritz-Carlton has ever done: Ritz-Carlton Enters the Luxury Cruise Business With 3 Custom Yachts

>>Carnival Corp. reminds us that China is a small part of its business — which is true. But if the market is going to become the world’s largest as the company expects, there are a lot of complications to work through: Carnival Says China Is a Good Long-Term Cruise Bet Despite Ongoing Struggles

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Hotel Employees Get Training To Spot Human Trafficking

ECPAT International/Girls Not Brides

A child bride and her baby in Uganda in December 2013. ECPAT International/Girls Not Brides

Skift Take: Kudos to Connecticut for getting hotel workers involved in trying to identify human trafficking when it takes place at their properties. Marriott and the Connecticut Lodging Association support the training programs and others in the travel industry should get involved.

— Dennis Schaal

A new Connecticut law meant to strike a blow to human traffickers is now reaching the trenches where it can make the difference. Hospitality workers are being trained to detect and report human trafficking when they suspect the illegal activity is going on where they work.

Connecticut became the first state to require the training when the law was passed last year. All employees at the more than 500 hotels, motels and lodges in the state must receive anti-trafficking training by Oct. 1.

The training is free. The curriculum was developed by groups that include Marriott International.

So far, 165 workers have completed the program offered by Quinnipiac University School of Law, the nonprofit Grace Farms Foundation, the Connecticut Trafficking in Persons Council and the Connecticut Lodging Association. The coalition plans to hold its largest training session to date July 11 at the Grace Farms campus in New Canaan.

“The goal is to teach employees to be more aware of potential trafficking signs with the hope that employees will be in a position to report their observations,” said Krishna Patel, the foundation’s general counsel. “Our goal has always been to create an anti-trafficking model in Connecticut that would extend to the rest of the country.”

Marriott works with the anti-child slavery organization ECPAT-USA and anti-human trafficking group Polaris and has used the curriculum internally to train 6,000 company employees.

The training includes information for managers and people working in specific departments, such as safety, housekeeping and the front desk. Workers learn about sex and labor trafficking, the legal responsibilities of lodging establishments and practical tools for identifying signs of sex and labor trafficking. They also learn how to deter traffickers, report suspected crimes and help victims connect with services.

Workers generally would report suspected trafficking to managers who would then contact police. Workers also are provided contact information for anti-trafficking hotline numbers.

“Hotels being 24/7 and having so much contact with the public, the traveling public, we’re always helping law enforcement any way we can,” said Victor Antico, president of the Connecticut Lodging Association and owner of the Holiday Inn Express in Vernon.

He said he has never come across a case of human trafficking during his 20 years in the business, but said his hotel often cooperates with police on investigations. He is sending a manager to the July meeting, who will return to the hotel and train the staff.

The 2016 law also requires operators of hotels, motels, inns and other lodgings to keep records of all guest transactions and receipts for at least six months. And this month, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation that toughens penalties for human trafficking to 10 to 25 years in prison. The current term is one to 20 years.

This article was written by Susan Haigh from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Midscale Hotel Brands Get Smarter and 4 Other Hospitality Trends This Week

Hotel Indigo London – Paddington, IHG’s boutique hotel brand. IHG just announced a new unnamed midscale brand.

Skift Take: This week in hospitality, we saw midscale hotels getting more sophisticated about tech and design, which is great for the customer so long as the brand actually has a name.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines hospitality.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>Travelers won’t be happy about Marriott’s new cancellation policy but investors and operators will: Marriott Joins Competitors in Extending Cancellation Deadline From 24 to 48 Hours

>>The hotel company that started the boutique hotels movement in the U.S. wants to set a precedent for scaling up — without losing its soul in the process: Interview: Kimpton CEO Sees IHG Helping to Propel Its International Expansion

>>What’s in a name? Well, for IHG, that’s the next big and pretty crucial step in rolling out its 13th hotel brand. Another big step needed? Making sure it’ll stand out from all the other value-driven midscale brands out there: IHG Announces New Midscale Hotel Brand — Without a Name

>>It’s a relatively small deal from one of Europe’s smallest hotel companies but Scandic’s acquisition of Restel will certainly help shore up its position in the Nordics market: Scandic Hotels Bolsters Nordics Strategy With $127 Million Finnish Acquisition

>>If you’re a hotel company planning to launch and/or reinvest in a midscale brand, please make it interesting: Midscale Hotel Brands Are Getting Smarter About Not Being Boring

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

American Airlines CEO Learned of Qatar’s Investment Interest at IATA Conference

Qatar Airways  /

Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, wants his airline to be able to invest in American Airlines. Qatar Airways /

Skift Take: Don’t look for this Qatar Airways investment in American Airlines to ever come to fruition. The American board would have to approve it, and both American’s management and its unions are against it. Nice try, though.

— Dennis Schaal

Qatar has a feel-good slogan for its flagship airline: “Going places together.” But for the moment, the energy-rich Middle Eastern country seems to be getting exactly nowhere with American Airlines Group Inc.

State-owned Qatar Airways Ltd.’s surprise overture to acquire a major stake in American, a partner in the Oneworld alliance but an archrival on lucrative long-distance routes, was met with skepticism in the stock market after initial enthusiasm. American reacted with bewilderment, if not hostility, to the company’s interest.

“Puzzling at best and concerning at worst,’’ Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said. The airline’s pilots union went further, calling it an act of “financial aggression” while flight attendants said it was a threat to their jobs.

The development marks a new twist in a long battle between U.S. carriers and their Persian Gulf rivals over accusations of unfair competition. The move is playing out against the backdrop of renewed efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to mediate the simmering crisis between Qatar and some of the closest U.S. allies in the region, notably Saudi Arabia.

The brash proposal of American’s would-be investor also underscores the efforts of Qatar Airways to bolster its portfolio of global airline interests and expand its U.S. footprint. While CEO Akbar Al Baker once taunted his U.S. rivals, he’s now angling for an equity stake in American similar to the one held by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Cancun Meeting

Al Baker told Parker of the Gulf carrier’s interest in American when the two men met during an airline industry conference this month in Cancun, Mexico, said Matt Miller, a spokesman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based company.

“While anyone can purchase our shares in the open market, we aren’t particularly excited about Qatar’s outreach,” Parker said in a letter to staff Thursday. “Of course, it may just be that Qatar Airways views American Airlines as a solid financial investment,” he cheekily ended the memo, crediting his employees.

Qatar responded in kind. The Gulf carrier is happy to see that Parker agrees with Qatar “that American Airlines is a solid financial investment,” it tweeted Friday.

Even with the potential investment, Parker vowed to continue a campaign against Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways PJSC. American, Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. have railed against the three Persian Gulf carriers for years, saying that $50 billion in government support have enabled them to compete unfairly.

‘Driving Buy-In’

Another obstacle for any American-Qatar rapprochement is opposition by the U.S. carrier’s labor unions, said Hunter Keay, an analyst at Wolfe Research. The threat of lower-paying, non-union jobs at Qatar Airways would roil American’s employees, upsetting Parker’s overriding goal of winning the trust of employees.

“We don’t see it happening,’’ Keay said in a note to clients. Parker’s “single biggest thing right now is driving buy-in and trust from his employees.”

Qatar Airways is interested in buying a 10 percent stake, American said in a regulatory filing. That would be worth about $2.4 billion based on American’s current market value. In a statement after the filing, the Doha-based airline said it planned to make a passive investment of as much as 4.75 percent, saying it saw “a strong investment opportunity.”

American rose only 1.1 percent to $48.97 at the close in New York after surging as much as 4.4 percent in earlier trading, the biggest intraday gain in six weeks.

Purchasing Stakes

Establishing a holding in American would extend an investment strategy in which the Qatari airline has purchased significant stakes in IAG SA, the parent of British Airways, and Latam Airlines Group SA, which are both close allies of the the U.S. carrier.

Accumulating American shares via the open market would parallel Qatar’s approach to building its IAG holding, which stands at 20 percent, making the Gulf carrier the No. 1 investor in a group that also owns Spain’s Iberia and Aer Lingus of Ireland. Qatar, American, IAG and Latam are all members of the Oneworld global alliance.

“This may buy a little bit of silence in the sense of complaints about Middle Eastern carriers’ expansion and growth,” said Robert Mann, an aviation consultant. He added that the move may also help Qatar get a bigger chunk of trans-Atlantic business travel dollars following its investment in IAG.

An investment in American could also serve as “a stepping stone to more access to the U.S.,” Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker said in a note. Still, given the “political overhang,” Gulf carriers may also consider deals with smaller U.S. airlines such as Alaska Air Group Inc. or JetBlue Airways Corp., she said.

Qatar Airways has remained bullish on the U.S., even after Trump’s attempt to block travel from six predominantly Muslim nations and a U.S. ban on carrying laptop and tablet computers onto flights from some Middle Eastern airports, including Doha.

The airline vowed to continue its global expansion even as its state owner gets punished by an escalating political standoff that’s threatening to choke Qatar’s economy. A move this month by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to shut down flights to Qatar forced Qatar Airways to ground more than 50 daily departures — or about 10 percent of its total — according to scheduling firm OAG.

Parker’s Resolve

For their part, the big U.S. airlines show no signs of softening their opposition.

Delta held a rally Wednesday for employees in Atlanta, featuring a new documentary outlining the threat from the Gulf airlines. Delta canceled its sponsorship of Atlanta’s Fox Theatre last year after the venue hosted a Qatar Airways event with an appearance by Jennifer Lopez, to celebrate the opening of a route between the U.S. city and Qatar. At the time, Al Baker said the route would “rub salt in the wounds’’ of Delta.

Parker vowed to redouble lobbying efforts against the Gulf carriers even after Qatar Airways’ interest in buying a stake.

“We will not be discouraged or dissuaded from our full court press in Washington, D.C., to stand up to companies that are illegally subsidized by their governments,’’ Parker said in a letter to employees. “If anything, this development strengthens our resolve to ensure the U.S. government enforces its trade agreements regarding fair competition with Gulf carriers.”

–With assistance from Deena Kamel Yousef and Christopher Jasper


©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Richard Clough and Michael Sasso from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Messaging App Line to Open Digital Theme Park in Thailand

Sakchai Lalit  / Associated Press

Customers take a selfie with merchandise at Line Village in Bangkok, Thailand, June 22, 2017. Thailand’s most popular text-messaging service opened its doors to the public Friday with an extravagant digital theme park called Line Bangkok Village. Sakchai Lalit / Associated Press

Skift Take: If you build it they will come — and text. Is Line Village Bangkok a next-generation theme park? We’ll see.

— Dennis Schaal

The text-messaging service Line plans to inaugurate an indoor digital theme park in Thailand’s capital, seeking to squeeze maximum advantage from its popularity in the country, its second biggest market after Japan.

Line Village Bangkok will begin operating Friday as a retail store, selling dolls and similar merchandise, but later this year will expand to a three-story amusement complex with virtual reality rides. Line stores already exist in Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan, but the Thai location will be the first with an indoor park.

Kampanart Wonghongkul, the project’s chief executive, said he hopes the 500 million baht ($14.7 million) theme park will attract more than 12 million visitors a year. Tourism is a major revenue earner in Thailand, bringing in $71.4 billion last year.

Much of Line’s appeal comes from its stickers that can be attached to messages, especially the company’s anthropomorphic animal figures, such as Brown the bear and Cony the rabbit. Line Village is located in Siam Square, for decades a hangout for young Thais enthralled with fashion and the culture of cute — there is already a Hello Kitty cafe located there.

Since its launch in 2011, Japan-based, Korean-owned Line has amassed more 200 million users worldwide. Thailand has around 44 million cellphone users and 94 percent of them have the Line application installed on their phones, Kampanart said.

Sakdipat Thanee, a 27-year-old lawyer, was one of several shoppers invited for a special store preview Thursday.

“I think it’s hard to find Line merchandise in Thailand,” he said. “You can only buy them from aboard or ask someone to bring them in. For people who love Line characters like me, having a Line store here means that I can easily shop here. I can meet Brown and Cony much more easily.”

This article was written by Kankanit Wiriyasajja and Kaweewit Kaewjinda from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Online Travel Agencies Battle Partners and 7 Other Digital Trends This Week

Sean O'Neill

A photo of Expedia’s Bellevue, Washington, headquarters in 2016. Many online travel agencies are trying to become a one-stop shop to attract more consumers. Sean O’Neill

Skift Take: This week in digital news, besides TripAdvisor helping to identify a robocall scandal, we concentrated on online travel agencies jockeying for a bigger share of the market and trying to offer more things to more consumers.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>A successful TripAdvisor transformation into ecommerce would go down as one of the smartest pivots in online travel history: TripAdvisor: Non-Hotel Revenue Could Reach One-Third of Total by 2020

>>Etraveli was sold for more than twice what it fetched just a year and a half ago. That’s an impressive trajectory — and it looks like all parties are invested in continuing that kind of growth: Etraveli Gets New Owner in Push to Dominate European Online Booking

>>There is pomp and circumstance, and plenty of bluster, but most negotiations between online travel agencies, on the one hand, and hotels and airlines, on the other, eventually end up in signed contracts. That’s because the two sides usually need each other, like it or not: A Timeline of Online Travel Agency Battles With Hotels and Airlines

>>As it gets easier to book on your phone, mobile could overtake traditional computer bookings as the most popular way U.S. travelers plan and book their trips: Mobile Travel Bookings Will Reach 40 Percent of Online Sales in 2017

>>TripAdvisor’s bold platform approach gives it a leg up on building deeper relationships with its customers, compared to single-use sites. On the other hand, relationships can be hard work and expensive: TripAdvisor in the Age of Platforms Tries the Full-Service Model

>>These fraudulent robocalls touting over-the-top and fraudulent travel deals are a scourge. Maybe a lot of them will stop now — but there are assuredly other scammers out there so travel brands, which are victims in addition to consumers, aren’t home free yet: TripAdvisor’s Review Investigators Discover a Huge Travel-Robocall Scam

>>Smaller players in the expense management marketplace are gearing up to take on Concur despite Concur’s commanding lead in the sector: A Corporate Expense Giant in the Making — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report

>>Investors used to be skittish about hospitality-tech startups. But this week’s multi-million dollar investment rounds in Keypr, Pillow, and Cloudbeds suggest that the lodging software sector is maturing and isn’t just about hotels anymore: Keypr Unlocks $19 Million for Hotel Keyless Entry: Travel Startup Funding This Week


Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

The Low-Cost, Long-Haul Revolution and 8 Other Aviation Trends This Week


A Norwegian Dreamliner. Low-cost carriers are gradually moving into the long-haul market. Norwegian

Skift Take: This week in aviation, we thought about customer desires. Flyers want low-cost options, comfortable cabins, and probably flight attendants who aren’t getting sick from their uniforms.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines aviation.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>The low-cost, long-haul revolution is only just starting to take off. Will full-service carriers be able to adapt to this new reality or are we about to see a total realignment? The Low-Cost, Long-Haul Carrier Revolution In 3 Charts

>>Not every airline can be a global behemoth. Finnair mostly focuses on its niche — connecting Europe with Asia, including secondary Chinese cities: CEO Interview: How Finnair Plans to Crack the Potentially Lucrative Chinese Market

>>Economy class fares from Asia to the United States and Europe are already low, because there’s so much competition. The market probably doesn’t need another entrant — at least for now: AirAsia X CEO Takes to Twitter to Call Off Plans to Fly to Europe and California

>>The move for Virgin’s most loyal customers will be a hard one. But in return they get an airline that will take them so many more places: Business of Loyalty: How Virgin America Is Quietly Winding Down its Loyalty Program

>>Does the UK have the resources to set up an aviation safety framework on its own or will it seek to stay in the European Aviation Safety Agency? The former would be unwise and the latter is seemingly at odds with the desire of Leave campaigners: FAA Boss Outlines Brexit Safety Concerns for UK Aviation

>>Is this a game-changer? No. But let’s give Airbus some credit for making short-haul travel a little more pleasant: Airbus Is Making Some of Its Most Popular Jets More Passenger-Friendly

>>American has defended its uniforms, but it received a lot of bad press for months. It finally decided to try to change the narrative by switching uniform providers. That was probably the right decision: American Airlines to Drop Contentious Uniforms Within Three Years

>>Most passengers would love it if British Airways could keep flying a full schedule even while many of its flight attendants are on strike. But will regulators let British Airways wet-lease nine planes registered in Qatar? British Airways Seeks Planes and Crew From Qatar During Proposed Flight Attendant Strike

>>Although Gatwick is strategically important for Norwegian, its multiple subsidiaries’ model means that it should be largely immune, and might even benefit, if the pound continues to struggle: Norwegian Air CEO Is More Worried About UK Passenger Taxes Than Brexit

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

SeaWorld Is Under Federal Investigation for Post-Blackfish Commentary

Suzanne Allee  / Magnolia Pictures/MCT

The killer whale Tilikum is shown in a scene from the documentary “Blackfish.” SeaWorld said it is cooperating with an investigation by federal authorities for statements made about the film’s impact.
Suzanne Allee / Magnolia Pictures/MCT

Skift Take: SeaWorld has been trying hard to assure shareholders that it is moving beyond the controversy and financial woes that followed the Blackfish documentary. This investigation — whatever it entails and however it turns out — is a major setback.

— Hannah Sampson

For a while after the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish,” which excoriated SeaWorld over its treatment of killer whales, the theme park company refused to talk about the film or discounted the idea that it had any impact.

It wasn’t until August 2014 that the company admitted that the negative attention had hurt attendance and earnings.

And now federal authorities are asking questions. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late Friday afternoon [see below], SeaWorld Entertainment said it had received a subpoena this month “in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice concerning disclosures and public statements made by the company and certain executives and/or individuals on or before August 2014, including those regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary, and trading in the company’s securities.”

In addition to the Department of Justice, the SEC has also sent subpoenas to the company on the same topic, the filing said. The company also revealed that the board of directors had formed a special committee on June 16 “with respect to these inquiries” and had hired legal counsel for advice. Information about the federal inquiries was paired with other news and buried in the middle of the filing under the heading “Other Events.”

A representative for an external strategic communications firm said SeaWorld had nothing to add.

“The filing covers everything the company has to say regarding the government inquiries,” she wrote in an email. “We would note that the filing states, ‘The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries.’”

Reached by email, the SEC and Justice Department declined to comment late Friday.

“Blackfish” centered around Tilikum, an orca that dragged a trainer into its tank at SeaWorld Orlando and killed her; the same whale had been involved in the deaths of two other people.

The documentary was shown in limited release in theaters but got a much wider audience through airings on CNN starting in October 2013. SeaWorld ultimately lost partnerships, attendance, and money, and the tide has been tough to turn. Attendance fell in 2016 to its lowest number since the company went public in 2013.

In the filing where SeaWorld disclosed the investigation, the company also revealed news about a more recent issue.

Earlier this month, shareholders voted not to re-elect chairman David D’Alessandro amid fallout over a controversial bonus payout. As per company bylaws, D’Alessandro — on the board for seven years — offered to resign immediately. The board had 90 days to consider that and decide on a plan.

It only took a week for the board to announce its decision: They want to keep the chairman around — but only until December 31, they said in the late Friday filing. Part of the reason for keeping him around is to help deal with the investigation, the board said.

“…[T]he committee and the board took into account the potential impact of Mr. D’Alessandro’s immediate departure on the board’s and the company’s ability to successfully address certain challenges that the company now faces, including, without limitation, the matters set forth…below,” the filing said, referring to the DOJ and SEC subpoenas.

The federal subpoenas means SeaWorld will continue to be mired in the scandal that arose over the documentary, despite taking steps to distance itself from some of the practices that were the target of the film. The company announced last year it would end its orca breeding program and would transition the killer whale shows to more natural and educational “encounters.”

Tillikum, the whale at the center of the controversy, died in January. The final orca conceived through the breeding program before it was ended was born in April.

SeaWorld’s new leadership — CEO Joel Manby was hired in 2015 —  has been eager to refocus attention on new rides, family friendly attractions, and rescue work by staffers. The company owns 12 theme and water parks in the U.S. under brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Sesame Place and has announced plans to expand internationally.

“We made enormous progress last year addressing our challenges with our three major initiatives aimed at redirecting our focus consistent with our mission and our brand: ending orca breeding, transitioning from a Shamu theatrical show to the ‘Orca Encounter,’ and partnering with the Humane Society of the United States on animal welfare and rescue efforts,” Manby told analysts in February. “Creating guest experiences that are fun and meaningful is the cornerstone of attracting guests to our parks.”

Download (PDF, 116KB)

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

U.S. Supreme Court Likely Ruled on Travel Ban But Hasn’t Publicized it Yet

Associated Press

At the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices will likely announce their ruling on President Trump’s travel ban sooner rather than later. Associated Press

Skift Take: The high court has likely decided Trump’s travel ban already but now the justices’ opinions on both sides of the argument need to get written. We should find out the fate of the ban shortly after the writing gets wrapped up.

— Dennis Schaal

The Supreme Court has almost certainly decided what to do about President Donald Trump’s travel ban affecting citizens of six mostly Muslim countries.

The country is waiting for the court to make its decision public about the biggest legal controversy in the first five months of Trump’s presidency. The issue has been tied up in the courts since Trump’s original order in January sparked widespread protests just days after he took office.

The justices met Thursday morning for their last regularly scheduled private conference in June and probably took a vote about whether to let the Trump administration immediately enforce the ban and hear the administration’s appeal of lower court rulings blocking the ban.

The court’s decision could come any time and is expected no later than late next week, after which the justices will scatter for speeches, teaching gigs and vacations.

Exactly when could depend on whether there are justices who disagree with the outcome and want to say so publicly. It might take time for such an opinion to be written — and perhaps responded to by someone in the majority.

It takes five votes to reinstate the ban, but only four to set the case for argument. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee who was confirmed in April, is taking part in the highest-profile issue yet in his three months on the court.

The case is at the Supreme Court because two federal appellate courts have ruled against the Trump travel policy, which would impose a 90-day pause in travel from citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination. That court also put a hold on separate aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees in the current government spending year that ends Sept. 30.

Trump’s first executive order on travel applied to travelers from the six countries as well as Iraq, and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports over the last weekend in January as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out who the order covered and how it was to be implemented.

A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy.

In March, Trump issued a narrower order, but it too has been blocked.

The justices have a range of options. They could immediately allow the administration to stop travel from the six countries and hear arguments on the administration’s broader appeal in October. That’s the path the administration has urged.

But the 90-day ban will have run its course by then, and there might be little left for the court to rule on.

The government has said the ban was needed to allow for an internal review of the screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries.

That too should be complete before the Supreme Court reconvenes for its new term on October 2.

The administration also could issue a new ban that includes more countries or is permanent, or both. That might make the current case go away and also could give rise to new legal challenges.

The high court also might keep the ban on hold, but set the case for argument in October. This course might be palatable both to justices who object to the ban and those who don’t like the breadth of the lower court rulings against the president.

But it also could mean that a new policy is in effect before the court ever hears the case.

The justices also could keep the ban from being reinstated and, at the same time, decline to review the lower court rulings. That outcome would essentially end the case.

One barrier to that option could be that the court usually likes to have the last word when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.

This article was written by Mark Sherman from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico