Oil hits near record high at $71 after Katrina


Oil hits near record high at $71 after Katrina — Oil struck a high near $71 on Tuesday as oil companies raced to check their abandoned oil platforms and refineries for damage after Hurricane Katrina’s rampage through the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. crude hit a record $70.85 a barrel before settling at $69.81, up $2.61 a barrel, amid reports of drifting oil rigs and flooded refineries. (Reuters)

Gambling companies tally damage to Miss., La. Casinos — Hurricane Katrina dealt Gulf Coast casinos a devastating hand, destroying several properties and crippling the region’s gambling industry for months, if not years to come until the companies can rebuild their operations. (AP)

Ohio couple pays $800 for cab ride back home — As life in the Big Easy turned inexplicably hard for millions of people, three Lake County residents were fortunate enough to reach higher ground before Hurricane Katrina blew through the bayou. For Concord Township residents Bob and Marianne Rickel, it meant forking over a small fortune for cab fare. (News-Herald).

No frills and few fillers on flights — In 1987, former American Airlines president Bob Crandall made a notorious cost-saving measure of removing one olive from the top of salads served in first class. That savings of $40,000 in catering costs was big news then. If only it were as simple as olives today. (Hartford Courant)

NWA ticket agents pessimistic about the future — A Northwest Airlines ticket agent with more than 25 years’ experience said her career has been marked by ongoing battles between employees and management. The agent, like all other Northwest employees interviewed on this trip, spoke on the condition she not be identified. (Star Tribune)

Italy’s Lunardi, opponent of airline blacklist, opts for white — Italian Transport Minister Pietro Lunardi, who called European Union efforts to create a blacklist of unsafe airlines “useless,” is trying to convince his EU counterparts that singling out safe carriers is more effective. (Bloomberg)

Data recorder from Peru crash found — The missing flight data recorder from a Peruvian airliner that crash-landed last week has been recovered, turned in by a man who scavanged it from the wreckage, a prosecutor said Tuesday. (AP)

U.S. to extend safety-seat rules to larger children — U.S. regulators proposed the first standards for safety seats that would provide protection in vehicle crashes for children of up to 10 years old and weighing as much as 80 pounds. (Bloomberg)

Case uses, then invests in car-sharing firm
— About three months ago, America Online Inc. co-founder Steve Case became a user of Flexcar, the car-sharing program, and now is so sold on the concept that the multimillionaire is investing heavily in the company. (The Washington Post)

Local town purses in Rhode Island may benefit from U.S. Open — Officials are projecting 130,000 spectators from all over the country to attend the U.S. Women’s Open from June 26 to July 2, 2006, pouring $20 to $30 million into the Rhode Island economy. (Narragansett Times)

Bush to tap strategic oil reserve
— Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said Wednesday that the Bush administration has decided to release oil from federal petroleum reserves to help refiners affected by Hurricane Katrina. (AP)

L subway line will regain conductors — In a significant defeat for New York City Transit, an arbitrator has ruled that the removal of train conductors from the L subway line on nights and weekends violated a labor agreement and ordered that the conductors be restored immediately. (The New York Times)

Hotel chain touts free room offer
— A stranger holding a sign that reads “Free the Frequent Traveler,” walks up to you in a crowded street in New York and hands you a card for a free night’s stay in any hotel, anywhere in the world. This is not a dream. InterContinental Hotels Group Plc. (IHG), the world’s largest hotel chain, is promoting its new “Any Hotel, Anywhere” program, under which a customer can accumulate points by staying at an IHG hotel and redeem them at any other hotel. (Reuters)

Expert: $4 gas coming soon — Consumers can expect retail gas prices to rise to $4 a gallon soon, but whether they stay there depends on the long-term damage to oil facilities from Hurricane Katrina, oil and gas analysts said Wednesday. (CNN)

IATA to raise airlines loss forecast as oil surges — As airlines cut costs and boost fuel surcharges in their battle against record high oil prices, the industry’s trade group said on Wednesday it was planning to revise upwards its global loss predictions. The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it was revising a May forecast that predicted airlines would lose $6 billion in 2005. (Reuters)

Travel insurance 101 — Hurricane Katrina’s swathe of destruction has left travelers nationwide in a lurch as airports in the Gulf Coast remain closed and flights throughout the country have been cancelled or delayed. Stranded travelers — many of whom are facing unknown financial concerns back home as a result of Katrina — could find some financial reprieve, at least when it comes to their trip, if they purchased travel insurance beforehand.

Skip Bowman, Carrie Charney, Leslie Friedman, John Frenaye, Charles Leocha, Marge Purnell, Valerie Schneider, Mary Staley, Stephanus Surjaputra, Richard Wong.