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FROM THIS EPISODE

Flights are delayed, baggage lost, and the investigating arm of Congress warns about an impending runway collision. We hear multiple views of air travel at the end of 2007. Is it worse than ever or better than we had any right to expect? Also, the dwindling number of Christians in the land where Christianity began, and protecting the world's food seeds for a rainy day.


Cars and airliners are in close proximity, a situation that concerns some security watchers, at the U-shaped Los Angeles Internationl Airport (LAX) terminal in Los Angeles, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Producers:
Dan Konecky
Karen Radziner

Reporter's Notebook Protecting the World's Food Seeds for a Rainy Day 7 MIN

Human beings obviously are at risk from an atom bomb, asteroid or some other such cataclysm. But another kind of catastrophe could be just as devastating for our species.  If just one of the major seed crops humans depend on were to be taken away, the consequence would be widespread starvation. That's more likely than you might think. There are 2 million varieties of food plants on Earth.  Human beings depend for their existence on about 20 of those. In Svalbard, Norway, scientists are squirreling away the crop seeds that could be the key to human survival. Cary Fowler is executive director of what's called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Guests:
Cary Fowler, Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust

Main Topic Air Travel in the United States: Is Anybody in Charge? 45 MIN

In a study of America's airline industry, the General Accountability Office of Congress—the GAO—reports no collisions on airport runways since 1990. But in Los Angeles last August, two planes came within 37 feet of each other. There were 369 other near misses—"incursions" they're called--during last year alone. The GAO concludes there's "a high risk of a catastrophic runway collision." Meantime, air controllers are tired and flight delays are at their highest level in history; more and more luggage is just getting lost.  After 13 hours and 17 minutes on a plane from San Francisco to Dallas, one unhappy business woman wants a "Passengers' Bill of Rights." But a veteran writer calls this "the Golden Age of Travel," "as comfortable and reasonable today as it's ever been."

Guests:
James L. Oberstar, Chairman, House Transportation Committee
Patrick Forrey, President, National Air Traffic Controllers' Association
Scott McCartney, Airline Reporter, Wall Street Journal
Kate Hanni, Founder, FlyersRights.org
Pico Iyer, life-long traveler and travel author

Making News Dwindling Number of Christians in Christianity's Birthplace 6 MIN

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is now western envoy for Palestinian development, and he's been advocating tourism to Christian holy sites in the Palestinian West Bank, especially Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born. An American decendent of Palestinian refugees, Rateb Rabie is President of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation.

Guests:
Rateb Rabie, President, Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation

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