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PETA gets shot down, while high swipe fees do not

Getting a “no” can be good or bad. Just look at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or the Federal Reserve Board.

The anti-fishing wingnuts from PETA are at it again. You’ll recall this is the group that wants to rename all fish “sea kittens,” thinking anglers will stop fishing if they’re hooking a kitten. Somehow, “here kitty kitty, bite my hook,” won’t stop me from chasing grouper or kingfish. But that’s just me.

It seems the Orlando International Airport grounded PETA’s plan to put up an ad sign inside the terminals blasting Sea World’s use of orcas. The in-your-face ad would depict a killer whale chomping down on the leg of SeaWorld president and CEO Jim Atchison.

In a good move, the airport decided the ad would be offensive and it’s not getting takeoff clearance there. The airport also cited a policy barring “public issue” ads. PETA responded last week that it’s “exploring its legal options.” Nevertheless, good for Atchison and the airport for telling PETA their idea is grounded.

No to lower swipe fees

The ongoing battle by the nation’s retailers to reduce the inflated swipe fees (bank interchange charges set be Visa and MasterCard) continues with the Federal Reserve saying last week it will not further reduce debit-card swipe fees.

The Fed is mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act to issue a biannual report on debit-card costs and fraud losses. The latest report revealed that total debit-card transactions grew 6.8 percent between 2012 and 2013, while transactions where a card was not present rose 18.1 percent, according to reports by CNBC.

Since October 2011, the debit-card swipe fee has been fixed at 21 cents per transaction, bringing in billions of dollars annually to banks. At that time, the Fed dropped the allowable fee from more than 40 cents after major retail organizations cried foul. Retailers contend that Dodd-Frank mandates the fees, which are meant to reimburse banks for the costs involved in providing the debit cards, and should be capped at a much lower rate. Some suggest a rate as low as 4 cents per transaction.

Accordingly, retail organizations like the National Retail Federation continue to battle the swipe fee rule on a legal level. This battle has gone several rounds with the retailers winning some and the Fed winning others.

In July 2013, a U.S. district court sided with the retailers and ordered the Fed to redo the fees. But the Fed appealed and a three-judge appeals panel last March reversed the decision and upheld the Fed's rules. Last June, the retailers chose to take the fight directly to the Supreme Court.

Obviously, the Fed announcement dashes any hope that it would take action to reduce the fees. So retailers must now wait for the Supreme Court to decide whether or not to hear the case.

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