U.S. air travelers wasted little time barraging communications regulators with hundreds of e-mails registering their opposition to ending the ban on the use of mobile phones during...

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Opponents of cell use in air are lighting up FCC’s lines

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U.S. air travelers wasted little time barraging communications regulators with hundreds of e-mails registering their opposition to ending the ban on the use of mobile phones during commercial flights.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission unanimously has proposed lifting the ban if issues about safety and technical hurdles can be overcome. FCC officials said their mandate was to facilitate communications.

But the potential of scores of passengers talking on cellphones during a lengthy flight has many travelers worried that their last quiet haven from such conversations will evaporate.

“We’ve received a couple hundred e-mails from the public, most of whom believe that use of devices that don’t involve talking are fine, but are not looking forward to the possibility of hearing more conversations than they do now,” said Lauren Patrich, a spokeswoman for the FCC wireless bureau.

The FCC’s consumer bureau also received more than 1,200 e-mails on the subject.

Support a lifting of the ban on cellphones on airlines? Want to keep the ban? Either way, tell the Federal Communications Commission, which is soliciting public comments. Link to an e-mail address at www.fcc.gov, or write the FCC, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20054.

United States

FAA Web site helps parents with children’s safety seats

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a new Web site, www.faa.gov/passengers/childtips.cfm, to help parents learn more about the use of child safety seats on airplanes. The Web site is part of the FAA’s efforts to encourage parents to use safety seats when taking their children on an airplane.


National Geographic shop sells more than maps, globes

The National Geographic Store has always been a great place to pick up an atlas or a globe. But a few weeks ago, the shop in the organization’s headquarters at 1145 17th St. N.W. in Washington, D.C., was reorganized to make room for safari toile quilts and carved monkey lamps from the new National Geographic Home Collection.

“Adding the home products has been a great makeover for the store,” says Linda Berkeley, president of National Geographic Enterprises. “The additional items create a warm ambience and cultural feel.”

The shop hopes to capitalize on the several hundred thousand annual visitors to the National Geographic Museum. There is a small selection of Lane furniture inspired by travels of the society’s photographers and explorers, as well as bed linens, baskets, lighting, pillows and rugs. Among items not found in every shop on the block: Palecek’s Cocofeather Hassock made of sliced coconut shells ($338), Raffia Screen Pillows by Sferra Bros. inspired by Jaipur motifs ($120), an earthy pottery platter by Zrike based on African designs ($75). Check out www.nghome.com or call 202-857-7591.

And yes, the shop still sells plenty of maps and books.

Montgomery, Ala.

Alabama fattens reputation with “100 Dishes to Eat”

Tourism officials have a new message that’s being unveiled amid reports showing Alabama as the nation’s fattest state: Eat up!

The Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel is publishing a new brochure titled “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” as part of a new promotion. For some that could be hard to swallow since it follows publication of an unrelated study ranking Alabama No. 1 in the nation in obesity.

The list of good eats includes catfish and turnip greens from the Top o’ the River restaurant in Gadsden, steaks at Nolans in Gulf Shores, plus several suggestions for barbecue and fried green tomatoes. What’s for dessert? Try the strawberry pizza at Cragsmere Manna in Mentone.

The nonprofit group Trust for America’s Health released a study last month showing 28.4 percent of Alabamans are fat, the highest percentage of fat people in the nation.

“I had hoped that the foods selected would not only represent the fattening foods of the Southern tradition but would reflect foods that could be made healthier,” said Miriam Gaines, a nurse and director of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Division of the state Department of Public Health.

“People can choose what they want to eat. We’re just putting some foods out there that they could try,” said Ami Simpson, a spokeswoman for the tourism agency. “We’ll also be promoting fruit stands, fresh-air markets and products made in the state such as Sister Schubert’s yeast rolls.”

Peoria, Ill.

River trail offers travelers 100 stops along the way

Organizers of the new Illinois River Country Nature Trail hope it will persuade nature-seeking tourists to flow into central Illinois.

The 140-mile-long trail begins in Ottawa and winds south to Havana. It highlights more than 100 stops in the Illinois River Valley at orchards, parks, hiking trails, nature preserves and state parks. The trail spans Bureau, Fulton, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, Peoria, Putnam, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

For information about the trail, call 800-747-0302 or visit www.peoria.org and click on Illinois River Country.

Seattle Times wire services