PODCAST: Shake ups in air travel, Happy Birthday Texting

A Delta airlines jet sits alone on the tarmac as photographed from an airplane on September 29, 2012 in Buffalo, New York.

Huge container ships are anchored off-shore from southern California today, waiting to get into the ports of L.A. and Long Beach. It's the seventh day of a strike that has crippled the busiest port complex in the country. L.A.'s mayor has called for round-the-clock negotiations to get things running again.

Another chance for Delta to extend its wingspan. After absorbing Northwest Airlines four years ago, Delta is now reportedly bidding for a big stake in Richard Branson's "Virgin Atlantic. "

Seems like profits never come easily in the airline industry -- mergers and bankruptcies seem to be sort of a constant thing. Small wonder, then, that there are evidently always new ideas for how to pull in a few more bucks from flyers.

Chrysler's November sales were up 14 percent over last year, led by Dodge-brand vehicles. Ford saw sales rise more than six percent -- American were buying both big trucks and compact cars.

U.S. manufacturing contracted in November, according to the Institute for Supply Management. But U.S. construction spending rose considerably last month. Home construction was the big gainer -- business and government building was modest.

Over the weekend builders in India achieved a feat both marvelous and dubious.  On Thursday afternoon crews began building a 10 story building in the city of Mohali. By 4:30 on Saturday, the building was done -- just 48 hours.  The "insta-con" project was designed to demonstrate how prefabricated materials could enable faster, more energy efficient construction. But one comment on an Indian TV website captures what you were probably thinking:  "Hope it stays in place for another 48 hours."

OMG, everybody: text messaging is celebrating a big birthday today. From a simple Christmas greeting in 1992, texting has grown to eight trillion messages last year, worldwide.                                

OK: quick little investing history lesson here: The tax rate Americans pay on dividends has been through quite a ride. Dividends, you might recall, are portions of corporate profits that companies choose to pay out to shareholders. And for most of modern history, dividends faced the same tax rate as earned income. In the 1970s, top earners payed a 70 percent tax on dividends; that dropped to around 40 percent by the 90s. Then in 2003, the Bush tax cuts lowered the dividend tax to the rate of capital gains: 15%. Now things are likely to shift again -- just how much depends on the "fiscal cliff" compromise. But a number of companies are reacting now: specifically, they're paying out dividends to their investors early, or creating special dividends before rates change.

The most restrictive cigarette packaging law in the world just went into effect in Australia. All tobacco products must now come in the same generic package, covered with images of diseases.

And finally, on Friday we told you about Popeye's chicken parting ways with Popeye -- the sailor man. Today another comic icon who evidently has outlived his usefulness. After 59 years, Bazooka Bubble Gum thinks the anachronistic jokes of Bazooka Joe no longer resonate with the youth of today. You be the judge -- here's one I found online, from a few years back: Joe goes to see a sword swallower at a carnival. Hey, he asks, how come you're only eating pins and needles? And the guy says, "I'm on a diet!"

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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