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After whistle-blowers told Congress the Federal Aviation Administration allowed Southwest Airlines to by-pass inspections, thousands of flights have been grounded. Is it really about safety, or is the FAA trying to reassert itself? Has the Bush Administration gone overboard with deregulation? Can the airline industry as we know it survive the skyrocketing price of fuel? Also, despite concerns about its "despicable crime," Jimmy Carter will meet with Hamas leaders in Syria, and an $8 billion project in Switzerland will re-created the conditions that existed just after the Big Bang. Will a quantum advance into the unknown also carry unknowable risks?

Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images

Making News Cool Reception for Jimmy Carter in Israel 5 MIN, 36 SEC

Former President Jimmy Carter said today he was "distressed" by Hamas rocket fire into Israeli border towns and that the deliberate effort to kill innocent civilians is a "despicable crime." But he still plans to meet with the leader of Hamas in Syria. The latest reports say the government of Ehud Olmert has refused to help the US Secret Service protect Carter while he's in Israel. Joel Greenberg of the Chicago Tribune was with Carter today in the Israeli town of S'derot.

Joel Greenberg, freelance reporter

Main Topic Turbulent Times for America's Airlines 36 MIN, 19 SEC

Since deregulation, America's airlines have expanded by a factor of ten and there has not been a major crash since 2001. But the recent grounding of thousands of flights, which stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers, and evidence that the Federal Aviation Administration is too cozy with the companies it regulates have raised concerns about safety. Whistle-blowing FAA inspectors told Congress that Southwest Airlines had been allowed to skip inspections for fuselage cracks for as long as nine months. Southwest was fined $10 million, and the FAA began an "industry-wide audit."  Meantime, smaller airlines have gone under or filed for bankruptcy, and big ones are talking about mergers. Is the agency trying to reassert itself and reassure the flying public that all is well? Were passengers really at risk? With airlines folding, going bankrupt and looking at mergers, are the industry and its passengers in for a troubled future?

Scott McCartney, Airline Reporter, Wall Street Journal
Kate Hanni, Founder, FlyersRights.org
Robert Ditchey, Airline management consultant
Mike Boyd, President, Boyd Group
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, President, No Fear Institute

Reporter's Notebook Of Atom Smashing and Black Holes 6 MIN, 21 SEC

The Large Hadron Collider now being completed near Geneva, Switzerland, will accelerate atomic particles to almost the speed of light, crash them into each other and generate energies more powerful than the sun. This most complex piece of scientific equipment ever built, which will duplicate conditions like those that existed just after the Big Bang that created the Universe, might answer is why the universe composed of matter. But some critics say not even that would be worth the possible risks, fearing that it could also create a black hole with the capacity to swallow the Earth.  John Johnson of the Los Angeles Times has more on the $8 billion LHC.

John Johnson, Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times

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