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  1. Southwest Air Asks Court to Reject Effort to Block Covid Shots Pilots made request as part of suit over labor law dispute Sat Oct 16, 2021 - Bloomberg News By Mary Schlangenstein Southwest Airlines Co. asked a federal court to reject a request from its pilots to temporarily block the carrier from carrying out federally mandated coronavirus vaccinations, saying such an order would put the company’s business, employees and customers at risk. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is seeking to stop the airline from moving ahead with the Nov. 24 deadline for the shots until an existing a lawsuit it filed over alleged U.S. labor law violations is resolved. The union claims Southwest illegally changed work rules during the pandemic instead of negotiating them with pilots. The carrier set the vaccination deadline to comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden that mandates all employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covld-19 by Dec. 8. Southwest, like most major U.S. carriers, holds contracts to carry federal employees and goods, and the U.S. government is its largest single customer, the Dallas-based airline said in a legal filing Saturday. “The injunction that SWAPA seeks is extraordinary,” Southwest said. If granted, it would prevent the airline from meeting Biden’s order and force the roll back of policies adopted to implement U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to help stop the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. The possible cancellation of Southwest’s government contracts would cause “substantial harm” to the company and all of its employees, including the pilots represented by group, the airline said. ‘Unilateral changes’ The union’s original lawsuit, filed in federal court in Dallas on Aug. 30, claimed Southwest has continued to make unilateral changes that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, or RLA, which governs airline-union relations. In addition to the vaccination requirement, the union wants to block Covid quarantine rules for pilots and an infectious disease control policy that, it says, significantly altered work conditions, rules and rates of pay, until the two sides agree on a resolution. The changes violate a “status quo” provision of the RLA by not maintaining terms of an existing contract during negotiations, the union lawsuit claimed. The federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case because it involves a “minor dispute” under the RLA that can be resolved through binding arbitration instead of a negotiation process for larger disagreements that can take years to resolve, the carrier said. The union also can’t show irreparable harm because it is in talks with the airline to establish a process for pilots to request religious or medical exemptions from the mandate. Pilots are at a unique risk because adverse reactions to a vaccine could affect their ability to pass periodic medical examinations required to maintain their license. The union wants to negotiate, among other things, how such instances would be covered by long-term disability policies. Pilots also are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to not work for 48 hours after receiving vaccinations. Southwest has engaged with the union to resolve disputes and adjust policies in a way acceptable to the 9,000 pilots represented by SWAPA, and only has taken unilateral actions when necessary, the airline said. A hearing on the union’s request for a temporary restraining order is set for Oct. 22.
  2. Former Boeing chief test pilot indicted for fraud over 737 Max crashes Thu Oct 14, 2021 - The Washington Post By Devlin Barrett and Michael Laris A former chief test pilot for Boeing has been charged with allegedly lying to federal authorities about a part of the flight controls on 737 Max airplanes — a model that led to horrific crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed hundreds of people. The Justice Department announced the indictment Thursday of Mark A. Forkner, 49, charging that he deceived the Federal Aviation Administration during the agency’s evaluation and certification of the 737 Max airplane. Two 737 Max jets crashed in late 2018 and early 2019, killing 346 people and prompting airlines to ground that model of plane while authorities investigated how its computer systems may have led to the fatalities. Boeing chief executive apologizes for lives lost in 737 Max crashes “In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,” said Chad E. Meacham, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 Max flight controls.” The charges against Forkner include two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud. He is due in federal court in Fort Worth on Friday. The most serious charge against him carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. According to the indictment, Forkner led the 737 Max Flight Technical Team, and had a responsibility to provide accurate and complete information to the FAA about differences between that plane and another version of the 737. In late 2016, federal prosecutors say, Forkner discovered information about an important change made to part of the plane’s flight controls, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Forkner allegedly decided not to share the information with the FAA. As a result, authorities say, the manual instructing pilots how to maneuver that model of plane did not contain critical information that was needed to understand the MCAS system. On Oct. 29, 2018, a 737 Max operating as Lion Air Flight 610 crashed near Jakarta, Indonesia. While the investigation into the MCAS system was underway, a second 737 Max, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, crashed in that country. The second crash caused officials to ground all such planes while they intensified their investigation. Kenneth A. Polite Jr., the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in a statement that Forkner “allegedly abused his position of trust by intentionally withholding critical information about MCAS during the FAA evaluation and certification of the 737 Max and from Boeing’s U.S. based airline customers. In doing so, he deprived airlines and pilots from knowing crucial information about an important part of the airplane’s flight controls.”
  3. Rolling Stones drop ‘insensitive’ Brown Sugar song from US tour setlist 1971 hit condemned by critics as ‘prime example of entitlement’ Surrendering to "the woke brigade"
  4. Airbus’s A220 ‘success’ is built on Canadian failure Wed Oct 06, 2021 - The Globe and Mail by Konrad Yakabuski Canadian taxpayers could be forgiven for holding their applause last week when Airbus SA and Air France broke out the champagne as the French carrier took possession of its first A220. At a formal ceremony in a vast hangar at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, Air France-KLM managing-director Benjamin Smith and French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari ran out of superlatives to describe the new 148-seat aircraft that France’s flag carrier will begin flying this month on medium-haul routes across Europe. “This is not just another airplane. It’s an Airbus. And not just any Airbus. It’s a new series Airbus, an A220. And an A220 operated by Air France,” Mr. Djebbari explained. “In other words, the quintessence of French success and excellence.” Canadians and Quebeckers may beg to differ. After all, the A220 was developed in Canada by Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. and backstopped by governments here to the tune of almost $2-billion. It landed in Airbus’s lap only after a desperate and debt-strapped Bombardier was forced to surrender control of the aircraft – then called the C Series – for a mere US$1. If the A220 is the “quintessence” of anything, it is the failure of Canadian innovators to translate ground-breaking technology into commercial success. It is another example of intellectual property, developed by Canadians with Canadian tax dollars, fleeing the country. The C Series fiasco, which led to the effective dismantling of Bombardier as the company sold off its rail and regional jet businesses to pay down debts related to the C Series, also raises questions about whether a Canadian-based innovator can go it alone in a global economy dominated by foreign-based oligopolies. Bombardier tried. But its attempt to take on Airbus and Boeing was met with a ferocious response to prevent the Canadian upstart from upsetting their cozy duopoly. Airbus and U.S.-based Boeing slashed prices for their planes to undercut C Series sales. And when Bombardier did land a breakthrough order from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, Boeing complained it had been “propelled by massive, supply creating and illegal government subsidies,” leading the U.S. Commerce Department to slap duties of 300 per cent on the C Series. Such hardball tactics were nevertheless foreseeable when Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s government invested $350-million in the C Series in 2008. They became inevitable when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals stepped up in early 2017 with a $372-million loan for Bombardier’s C Series and Global 7000 business jet programs. That investment followed the Quebec government’s 2015 move to inject US$1-billion into the C Series program. The direct government aid was on top of the lucrative research tax credits Bombardier was able to claim on the $6-billion it cost to develop the C Series. Canadians and Quebeckers were led to believe the government aid would enable Bombardier to bring the C Series to market on its own. Instead, as former Bombardier chief executive officer Alain Bellemare later revealed, the 2015 investment by Quebec and 2017 federal loan amounted to “bridge financing” aimed at keeping the C Series program afloat until it could be sold to Airbus. After ceding control for a symbolic US$1 in late 2017, Bombardier sold its remaining 31-per-cent stake in the C Series to Airbus in early 2020. The Quebec government, meanwhile, this year wrote off the remaining $289-million value of its 25-per-cent interest in the A220 program. Even so, under Airbus, the A220 is being touted as a “game-changer” that will enable Air France to cut operating costs by 10 per cent, carbon emissions by 20 per cent and noise levels by 34 per cent compared to the aging A318s and A319s it replaces. Air France is pushing Airbus to launch a stretched version of the A220 to replace its 200-seat-range A320s. While Airbus reaps the upside from A220 sales, Canada is left with the crumbs. Airbus continues to assemble most A220s at the former Bombardier plant in Mirabel, Que., that it inherited when it acquired a controlling stake in the C Series program in late 2017. But as the French-based manufacturer ramps up production of the A220 to 14 planes a month, from the current five, it will rely more on its plant in Alabama. The future of the Mirabel plant looks safe for now, but it is by no means guaranteed. After all, Airbus is slated to own 100 per cent of the A220 program by 2026, when it is set to buy the Quebec government’s stake “at fair market value.” That stake is currently worthless, since Airbus loses about US$400-million a year on the plane, according to analyst estimates cited by Leeham News. To reach profitability, Airbus remains laser-focused on slashing A220 production costs. It aims to cut in half the time it takes to assemble each A220 by “stuffing” the Chinese-built fuselage, adding electrical wiring and other components, before the final assembly stage as it boosts output to 170 planes a year by 2025. Airbus is also launching a business jet version of the A220 that will compete directly with Bombardier’s Global 6500 and 7500 executive aircraft, offering larger cabins and lower operating costs than the Montreal-based company’s planes. That could interfere with Bombardier’s hopes of thriving as a stand-alone business jet maker. Will the flipside of French success be more Canadian failure?
  5. Airlines Are Ripping Out Business Seats to Create a New Middle Class Premium economy lets flyers avoid the cattle-car feel of coach, and it’s super profitable for carriers. Fri Oct 1, 2021.- Bloomberg Businessweek By William Wilkes and Christopher Jasper For decades, ferrying tourists to vacation destinations has helped major airlines cover basic costs, but the front of the plane is where they’ve racked up the bulk of their profits. So when the pandemic whacked business travel, carriers were left looking for another way to pad the bottom line. Increasingly they’re finding it in premium economy, where travelers can avoid the cattle-car aesthetics of coach without spending thousands of dollars for the expansive digs of business class. And with Covid-19, growing numbers of leisure travelers are willing to splash out for a bit of extra elbow room at fares that are frequently more than double the cheapest economy seats. “People are desperate to take charge of their lives now, and airlines can no longer force them into just one or two categories,” says Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., which pioneered the service in 1992. The trend was already on an upswing before the pandemic, with installations of premium economy seats—not including the “plus” sections of coach, which offer extra legroom—growing 5% annually in the three years before the coronavirus hit. Researcher Counterpoint Market Intelligence predicts that pace will accelerate as more carriers embrace the idea of a separate cabin on long-haul flights featuring slightly wider seats, several extra inches of legroom, a deeper recline, bigger screens, and marginally better food and drink. The three largest U.S. carriers—American, United, and Delta—have been installing the class across their widebody fleets. Emirates introduced its first premium economy offering this year on some Airbus SE A380 double-deckers and plans to add it to 777X planes on order from Boeing Co. Finnair Oyj, which specializes in flights linking Europe with East Asia via its Helsinki hub, next year will start adding the service on all 27 of its widebodies. “The investment has been an easy decision for us,” says Topi Manner, Finnair’s chief executive officer. “Premium economy is the most profitable real estate on the aircraft, and the pandemic is reinforcing that.” Emirates’ new premium economy cabin. SOURCE: EMIRATES Seats in the premium cabin occupy barely 10% more space than coach, whereas a business-class berth typically requires three times as much room. Deutsche Lufthansa AG says premium economy generates 33% more revenue per square foot than economy and 6% more than business—and is 40% more profitable than the latter because it’s cheaper to install. The German carrier has premium economy cabins on all 102 of its long-haul aircraft and is considering stripping out more business-class seats to expand the sections. Initially, Lufthansa was concerned that the service would cannibalize its business bookings, but most passengers upgrade from coach. “Premium economy is the area we’re focusing on the most,” says Heike Birlenbach, head of customer experience. Some in the industry caution that the cost could be an issue for airlines just recovering from the financial devastation of the pandemic. A premium seat costs $8,000 to $20,000, a fraction of the $75,000 to $250,000 price tag for a lie-flat pod in business class. But it’s still about five times what carriers pay for a coach berth, and Quentin Munier, strategy chief at seat-maker Safran SA, says some carriers are struggling to scrape together the funds needed to make the change. “Many are in wait-and-see mode,” he says. Lufthansa Technik, a unit of the German carrier that specializes in cabin makeovers, says it’s had several inquiries from other airlines about adding premium economy and shrinking business—with some Asian carriers considering eliminating business class altogether. And it takes only about five days to install the berths and rewire the cabin, says Niels Dose, product sales manager with Lufthansa Technik. “It’s a pretty simple engineering operation,” he says. Today’s premium economy is similar to the business class that airlines introduced in the 1970s—a marginal increase in comfort at a substantial increase in price. But carriers in recent years have deemphasized first class, making business the key differentiator for their brands, with lie-flat seats and sumptuous service. A recent design study envisions flat berths in premium, though carriers haven’t jumped at the idea. Surveys show the most important feature of business class is the ability to get a good night’s sleep on red-eye flights, so such an offering would likely spur more business passengers to take a step down rather than encourage coach-class flyers to upgrade, says Ben Bettell, a consultant with Counterpoint. That means for the foreseeable future, aside from a few extra inches of space, the principal appeal of premium economy may still be that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you know you’re not sitting in the worst seat on the plane. “Premium economy offers an affordable escape out of economy,” Bettell says, “and perhaps more importantly an opportunity for coach passengers to improve their status.”
  6. So looking forward to COP26, it should be a really good show (assuming they can keep the lights on). Joe Biden’s rapid retreat on climate ambitions Rejecting a higher carbon price means renouncing the most effective tool for cutting emissions Thu Sep 30, 2021 - Financial Times by Edward Luce Everyone talks about the weather, goes the quip, but nobody does anything about it. Joe Biden billed himself as the long-awaited departure from the Democratic tendency to talk the talk on global warming yet fail to walk the walk. Biden would finally take serious action. In practice he is sending radically mixed signals. On Tuesday Jen Psaki, the White House spokesperson, said Biden was “looking at every means we have to lower gas [petrol] prices”, including pressing Opec to step up its oil production. Two weeks earlier, America’s president had described global warming as “code red — the nation and the world are in peril”. These statements cancel each other out. Which of them Biden really means is the $64tn question. The answer — that he agrees with both — is exasperatingly ambivalent. Biden’s oil price anxiety is simple. At over $80 a barrel, oil is at a multiyear high. It feeds into high pump prices, which contribute to rising US inflation, which wipes out much of the wage growth America’s middle class should be enjoying. That, in turn, could jeopardise Democrats’ chances of holding on to Congress in next year’s midterm elections, which would sink all of Biden’s agenda, including his plans to fight global warming. This trade off puts Biden in particular — and US politics in general — in a recurring dilemma. The drug addict who begs a little more supply to tide him over to rehabilitation rarely makes it to the clinic. There is no doubt that Biden wants to do the right thing. But he keeps encountering reasons to postpone the reckoning. The best example is his rejection of a carbon tax. Biden pledged in the election campaign not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 a year. If that promise were confined to income, it would cover more than 99 per cent of Americans — a broad exclusion given the cost of Biden’s ambitions. But he has interpreted it far more sweepingly — to include any kind of tax, which would rule out Americans paying higher excise fees to fill up their petrol tanks. Forswearing a higher carbon price robs Biden of obvious revenues to fund the big investments in his two “build back better” bills. He is also renouncing by far the most effective tool for cutting emissions — the market price incentive. Republicans hate the carbon tax because they reject all taxes and because they do not take global warming seriously. The left distrusts a carbon tax because it relies on the market to do the job. Also because they fear it would cause a backlash. As a result, Biden’s legislation is packed with the kind of micro-regulation that would have made the Soviet Union’s Gosplan proud. The details — tax breaks for clean energy, spending on a network of electric vehicle charging stations, clean energy targets for utility companies — matter less than the method. It is as though the drug addict insisted on trying homeopathy before submitting to other means. Biden is betting on regulations over incentives. US political history tells us that this is not even second best. But even if these measures passed, which is very much in question, they would not get the US close to fulfilling the President’s goal of cutting emissions in half (from 2005 levels) by the end of this decade. “At best it would get America about a third of the way there,” a senior climate negotiator told me. Where would the rest come from? The answer entails two heroic assumptions. The first is to hope America will finally reach a point where a majority concedes to a price on carbon. The nearest moment would be after a Biden re-election in 2024. But it is a punt. America is the only big democracy where one of the two large parties refuses to admit to man-made global warming. If it was Biden versus Donald Trump, the 2024 Democratic nominee would have a hard time fighting an opponent who brands a carbon tax as socialism. Never mind that it is the free market solution. The second is that technology will fill in the blanks. The magic phrase “net zero emissions” is based on the implicit bet that humanity will find a technological breakthrough soon. The best way to incentivise that outcome would be to make carbon more expensive. It goes without saying that urging Saudi Arabia to pump up the volume is a step in the wrong direction.
  7. Airline Pilots, Crews Exposed to Increasing Levels of Radiation Longer flights have raised safety concerns for staff Thu Sep 23, 2021. - Bloomberg News By Tara Patel Airlines are exposing their personnel to increasing amounts of radiation as planes fly longer distances, with pilots receiving the highest annual doses, France’s nuclear safety institute warned in a new report. The five-year study by the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire found that while the number of crew receiving annual exposure above a specific safety limit remains relatively tiny, the proportion doubled between 2016 and 2019. The government agency recommended rotating staff more frequently away from the most-affected routes. Airline crews are more exposed than people on the ground to radiation from cosmic rays, which are blocked by the atmosphere. As carriers connect farther-flung cities and use polar routes to save time and fuel, pilot unions and health experts have begun raising safety concerns about higher radiation exposure. Levels affecting pilots and cabin crew should be closely monitored, and they “should be considered exposed workers,” the report concluded. According to the IRSN, exposure to these cosmic rays is about 150 times more potent at 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) above ground than at sea level, and is two or three times higher at the poles than the equator. Commercial airline flight personnel are the second most vulnerable worker category to radiation exposure after people making nuclear fuel, it said. Steady Increase The IRSN study on airlines was part of an annual report published Wednesday on radiation in the workplace. The institute studied exposure of an average of 22,000 crew members working for unnamed carriers. Their total annual dose rose 38% between 2015 and 2019, and the average individual doses “increased steadily.” Before 2015, most of the 100 employees receiving the highest annual doses were cabin crew, but by 2019 there was an equal split with pilots, who tend to specialize in one type of plane and route. More than three-quarters of the pilots who received an annual dose of more than 5 milliSieverts (mSv) were flying wide-body planes on long-haul routes to North America and Asia, the study found. The most highly exposed flight attendants were also on these types of routes. A measure of 5 mSv represents a quarter of the maximum of 20 per year permitted by France for workers and is a level that the IRSN considers to be significant. High levels of radiation can damage cells and could lead to cancer in later life. The French study found that 96 crew members had exposure of between 5 to 10 mSv in 2019. A CT scan of someone’s head equates to about 2 mSv. The French pilot union is calling for better technology in planes to detect solar flares, which lead to higher radiation, so they can limit the danger by flying at lower altitudes or changing routes.
  8. Ready for takeoff: Porter Airlines CEO lays out plans for massive expansion and new destinations Fri., Sept. 24, 2021 - The Toronto Star By Jacob Lorinc - Business Reporter Michael Deluce, the CEO of Porter Airlines and a master of understatement, has one word to describe his experience managing an airline during the most disruptive event in the centenarian history of commercial aviation: “Different.” In a matter of months, the Toronto-based airline grounded its flights, furloughed nearly all its workers, lost millions of dollars in customer revenue, received millions in government aid, and fought its airport landlord in court over $45 million in unpaid tenancy fees. That’s certainly different. A more animated CEO might have used another term — “stressful,” maybe. “A real headache,” perhaps. But Deluce sticks with “different.” And there may be good reason for his composure. In recent months, the airline has been quietly preparing for an expansion that could shake up the Canadian airline industry. Porter doubled its fleet size over the summer and launched plans to fly to and from Pearson airport, along with international airports in Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. It paid $5.82 billion for as many as 80 Embraer E195-E2 jets — a hefty discount, experts say — that will expand the company’s route catalogue to include sun destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean, starting in 2022. “Sweetheart deal:” Porter doubles fleet size The airline’s 30 new Embraer passenger jets are slated to take customers to sunny climes beginning in 2022 The services associated with Porter’s space at Billy Bishop airport — the comfy lounge, snacks, coffee and alcohol — will accompany the airline to its new locations, Deluce told the Star in an interview outlining his plans for the company. “This is an investment in our future. Some of our larger competitors have lost billions in ways that will permanently impair their business going forward, and that leaves an opening for us,” he said. “We’re going to deliver a superior product.” Industry experts say the airline needed to grow to survive the pandemic. When lockdowns hit, Porter, along with smaller airlines like Sunwing and Air Transat, suspended their services and laid off most employees. The country’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and WestJet, were dramatically reduced in size, laying off thousands of workers while cancelling flight routes on a near-monthly basis. Porter’s flights from the Billy Bishop airport on the Toronto Islands only resumed this September, after an 18-month suspension. Consumer habits shifted, too. Business travel capsized, while demand for leisure flights grew. Throughout the lockdowns, the federal government doled out more than $7.3 billion in bailout money to Canada’s airlines. Porter, one of the first to take financial aid, received a $135-million loan from Export Development Canada in May 2020. It received another $270.5 million in repayable loans in July. Federal bailouts received by Canadian airlines during the pandemic In the early months of 2021, while other airlines were negotiating the terms of bailouts with the department of finance, Porter purchased 30 Embraer passenger jets with the option to buy another 50. The price the company paid for those jets was a “sweetheart deal” given the product, said John Gradek, a former Air Canada executive who now works as a faculty lecturer in aviation leadership at McGill University. Aviation prices dropped during the pandemic while airline travel plummeted, allowing airlines with capital to get a discount on new assets. “So now they’ve got these brand-new, wonderfully equipped jets that they got for a great price. That puts them in a nice position,” Gradek said. Whether Porter can compete alongside the mega-airlines that dominate airports like Pearson remains to be seen. But Deluce says his airline can offer competitive prices and better services. “We have deep pockets to make sure we can expand into a competitive environment,” he told the Star. While Deluce insists the company won’t leave Billy Bishop airport, Porter’s expansion to new airports comes as it battles with the airport’s landlord — Nieuport Aviation — in court over the fees associated with parking airplanes. The quarrelling companies fired a series of lawsuits at each other during the pandemic, each alleging that the other had violated their contractual obligations. Nieuport alleges Porter owes as much as $45 million in unpaid fees for their planes’ parking spaces. Porter argues the fees should have been waived during the pandemic’s harshest lockdowns, when the company could not profitably operate. Porter locked in battle with island landlord Details of the lawsuits reveal how Porter once threatened to leave Billy Bishop altogether in 2018 over its terminal fees, forecasting a $35-million loss in profit if it stayed at the airport. Deluce says the company resolved those issues with Nieuport and has made Billy Bishop a “long-term part of our network.” But the legal spat between the companies continues; their dispute goes to trial in November. Gradek thinks the lawsuit is one of many ways the company is cutting down on expenses while financing its expansion — a cutthroat move by a company fighting to stay profitable. “It’s an interesting business strategy, more than anything else,” Gradek told the Star. “The airport’s owners have to be careful, because Porter is their primary source of income, and now Porter has money sitting in the bank after not paying the rent at Billy Bishop.” Legal action has worked to Porter’s advantage before. Deluce co-founded the company with his father, Robert Deluce, in 2006, amidst a bitter fight over the island airport. A few years earlier, in 2002, the Toronto Ports Authority had announced a plan to improve access to what was then known as the Toronto City Centre Airport — a smaller property hosting only Air Canada’s Jazz flights to Ottawa — by including a $15-million bridge from the downtown core to the airport. When the bridge was abruptly cancelled over political opposition, Robert Deluce — who was supposed to operate an airline at the renewed airport — launched a $505-million lawsuit against the city and federal government. He received an unspecified settlement in 2006 and bought the airport building shortly thereafter, quickly cancelling Jazz’s lease. Porter moved into the airport within the year, though restrictions on plane size have kept it from flying routes outside North America. “Michael is building on this big vision his dad had,” said Robert Kokonis, founder of Toronto-based aviation consulting firm AirTrav. “In order to grow, he now has to look around at other airports in this country and beyond.” Kokonis says the company’s expansion is a way of protecting itself from the decline of business travel, one of Porter’s core offerings at Billy Bishop. “The impact of virtual calls and remote work will have a hangover effect on business travel,” said Kokonis. “By moving flights to Pearson, they have an opportunity to tap into a larger segment of leisure consumers.” Deluce knows this. The new planes and airport locations give the company flexibility, allowing it to shift away from business travel as necessary. “Business travel will be one of the last segments of the market to recover, and it’s uncertain whether it will ever recover entirely or not,” he said. Things will be different, is what he’s saying.
  9. File under 'cultural accommodation'.... Afghan Evacuees at Fort McCoy Face Charges of Domestic Violence, Sex with Minors Thu 23 Sep 2021 - Military.com By Konstantin Toropin Two Afghan evacuees who were living at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin have been arrested in unrelated cases. One was charged with crimes against minors, the other with assaulting his wife, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. Bahrullah Noori, 20, has been indicted on four charges that allege he engaged in sexual acts with minors. According to court documents, Noori touched the genitals of one victim in three separate instances, once using force, in the barracks and bathroom at Fort McCoy. The indictment also alleges that he tried to engage in an unspecified sexual act with another minor victim. According to court documents, the victims were between 12 and 16 years old. A gender was not given for either. In the other case, Mohammad Haroon Imaad, 32, allegedly assaulted and strangled his wife on Sept. 7. The woman, who is also an Afghan refugee and is identified only by initials in court papers, reported the alleged assault to soldiers on base, who then moved her to an all-female barracks. The criminal complaint says that the woman told soldiers that her husband "beat me many times in Afghanistan to the point I lost vision in both eyes." "She stated that she had been the victim of hitting, strangulation, verbal abuse as well as rape since arriving to Fort McCoy at the hands of Mohammad Imaad," the complaint says. At one point, the woman told service members that she was concerned for the safety of her mother, who was living in an all-female barracks on base. Soldiers detained Imaad just outside the mother's room, court documents say. Both men have been arraigned and are being detained at the Dane County Jail, according to the Justice Department. The incidents appear to be the first instances of significant crimes on U.S. soil by any of the more than 60,000 Afghan evacuees, many of whom worked with U.S. service members in Afghanistan, who are making their way into the country. The Department of Defense has, in the past, dealt with instances of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Afghan people who worked closely with U.S. forces. A 2017 Inspector General report found that troops were effectively told to ignore any child sexual abuse they encountered. "DoD cultural-awareness training for U.S. personnel deploying to Afghanistan and two Human Terrain System Reports identified child sexual abuse as a culturally accepted practice in Afghanistan," the report said. Meanwhile, a 2018 UN report noted that violence against women had been “widespread throughout Afghanistan, notwithstanding the Government’s concrete efforts to criminalise these practices and establish measures for accountability.” The UN report noted that Afghanistan had an underlying cultural norm that sexual and domestic violence were “private family matters” and, as a result, reporting of incidents was rare. The report also concluded that “that the vast majority of murder and ‘honour killings’ of women resulted in impunity for the perpetrator. News of the arrests comes amid broader concerns for the health and safety of the refugees at Fort McCoy. John Kirby, the Department of Defense's chief spokesman, said that officials are aware of reports that refugees lack food and clothing, as well as alleged harassment of women by former Afghan soldiers. "I know of no specific request today to conduct an investigation, but the secretary is certainly mindful of the reports," Kirby said Wednesday. "We're certainly aware of these reports ... and we take it very, very seriously." U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., have called on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to investigate possible mistreatment or neglect at Fort McCoy. If convicted, Noori faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the charge alleging use of force, and a maximum penalty of 15 years on the other charges, according to the Justice Department. Imaad faces a maximum penalty of 10 years.
  10. Tequila Bottles Found on New Boeing Air Force One Jet in Development Company has faced problems of factory debris found in commercial, military aircraft in recent years Sat Sep 18, 2021 - WSJ by Andrew Tangel Two empty liquor bottles were found this month on one of Boeing Co. ’s new Air Force One planes under development in San Antonio, people familiar with the matter said. The discovery of miniature bottles of tequila on one of the future U.S. presidential jets is under investigation by the company, these people said. It couldn’t be determined where on the plane the bottles were discovered. While Boeing has had problems in recent years with tools, rags and other factory garbage left on commercial and military aircraft, this incident is particularly serious because it involves alcohol and highly classified jets, which will be known as Air Force One when the commander-in-chief is on board. A Boeing spokesman said the incident was a personnel matter. The company has said it is working to improve quality and manufacturing operations. Boeing’s new Air Force One jets are heavily modified 747-8 aircraft known as VC-25B military variants. Employees need security clearances to work on the aircraft. In court papers in a supplier dispute earlier this year, Boeing attorneys described the aircraft as “effectively an airborne seat of government” ranking alongside defense programs such as ballistic missiles that carry the “highest national priority.” Boeing internally doesn’t regard the discovery primarily as an incident of foreign object debris, known in the industry of FOD, as alcohol isn’t allowed at any of the manufacturer’s facilities, according to a person familiar with the matter. This person said the company took the finding extremely seriously. A White House spokesman referred questions to the U.S. Air Force. An Air Force spokeswoman said that Boeing informed the service branch about the personnel matter and that there was no effect on the aircraft-modification work. The Air Force and Defense Contract Management Agency, which oversees Pentagon suppliers, monitors production quality closely and holds “Boeing accountable to ensure the VC-25B program meets stringent quality-control requirements,” she said. The Pentagon contract agency said it takes factory-debris incidents seriously and works with contractors to correct such issues. Boeing earlier this year told the Pentagon the new Air Force One jets could be a year late and signaled it may request a more than $500 million in additional taxpayer funding due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the supplier dispute. Boeing struck a $3.9 billion deal for two new jets with President Donald Trump in 2018.
  11. In Children, Risk of Covid-19 Death or Serious Illness Remains Extremely Low, New Studies Find The findings come from some of the most comprehensive research on the risks of the coronavirus for those 18 years and younger Thu Jul 8, 2021 - The Wall Street Journal By Denise Roland Children are at extremely slim risk of dying from Covid-19, according to some of the most comprehensive studies to date, which indicate the threat might be even lower than previously thought. Some 99.995% of the 469,982 children in England who were infected during the year examined by researchers survived, one study found. In fact, there were fewer deaths among children due to the virus than initially suspected. Among the 61 child deaths linked to a positive Covid-19 test in England, 25 were actually caused by the illness, the study found. The three studies, by researchers in the U.K. reviewing its national health system’s medical records or pulling together data from other countries, were published on preprint servers Thursday. The studies haven’t yet been reviewed by independent experts and are preliminary. The studies provide some of the most detailed analysis yet of severe illness and death from Covid-19 in children, a closely watched subject as schools prepare for a new academic year and parents weigh whether to have their children vaccinated if shots are cleared for younger ages. One of the studies focused only on deaths, while the other two examined the risks of severe illness and death. Researchers previously had found the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 among children under 18 years was relatively low. The new studies confirm the findings, adding to the weight of evidence as policy makers and school officials make decisions about mask-wearing and physical distancing. “Having a larger and larger database…adds a lot to our ability to make important decisions,” said Dr. Rick Malley, an infectious-diseases specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who wasn’t involved in the studies. The study examining the risk of death is “certainly one of the largest studies I’ve seen,” he said. Some vaccines are in late-stage testing in younger children, while in use in adolescents 12 years and older. One thorny area for policy makers is whether to recommend the shots if health agencies authorize the vaccines for children of younger ages. The decision would involve balancing the risks and benefits of vaccination with the low risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19. Some parents have been concerned about giving messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc. to adolescents because of the risk of a rare inflammatory heart condition. Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged vaccination, saying the benefits outweigh the risks. Several countries, including the U.S., are offering the Pfizer shot to children 12 years and older. The U.K. has held back from offering vaccines to older children under 18, unless they have certain serious illnesses. For the three new studies, researchers looked at various medical and study data for children of different ages for periods since the coronavirus pandemic started. Researchers conducting the death study analyzed several national databases to identify children under 18 across England who had died from Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic, from March 1, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021. “England is a large enough country and it’s had enough Covid, sadly, that we have better data than almost anywhere else in the world on the risks,” said Russell Viner, a professor of adolescent health at the University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and senior author on the death study as well as another looking at English hospital and intensive-care admissions. Researchers from the University of Bristol, University of York and University of Liverpool were also key contributors to the three papers. Two of the studies were published on the medRxiv preprint server and one on the Research Square preprint server. Underlying health conditions, especially serious brain or nerve-related disabilities, increased the risk of dying of Covid-19, according to the study looking at child deaths. Fifteen of the 25 children in England who died because of Covid-19 during the period examined had underlying serious illnesses, the researchers said, while four had chronic underlying conditions. The researchers didn’t specify the serious illnesses or chronic conditions, but said that children with a combination of neurological and respiratory-linked conditions were at the greatest risk of death. Three of the deaths were due to multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a serious complication of infection where different body parts can become inflamed. Six of the children who died due to Covid-19 didn’t appear to have an underlying health condition, researchers said. No child with a stand-alone diagnosis of asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or Down syndrome died from Covid-19, the researchers said. The risk of death was higher among children from Black and Asian backgrounds and in children above 10 years, the researchers said. Even among these higher-risk groups, however, children’s absolute risk of dying from Covid-19 is very small. “Twice a tiny risk is still a very, very tiny risk,” said Professor Viner. “Even 10 times a very, very tiny risk is still a very, very tiny risk.” Underlying health conditions also raised the risk of severe illness, the two other papers said. “Factors linked to a higher risk of severe Covid-19 appear to be broadly consistent for both children and adults,” said Joseph Ward, of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, who led one of the studies. That study found a higher risk of admission to intensive care among children with health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Those with multiple conditions had the highest risk. Even so, the absolute risk was very small, the researchers said. The studies all related to time periods that predated the emergence of the Delta variant that is now dominant in both the U.K. and the U.S., but the authors said there was as yet no evidence that the variant causes more severe illness or death among children.
  12. California Seeks to Avert Blackouts by Burning More Gas Fri Sep 10, 2021 - Bloomberg News By Mark Chediak and Naureen S Malik California is asking the federal government to declare an “electric reliability emergency” so the Golden State can lean more heavily on fossil fuels to avoid blackouts. The state’s main grid operator wants the U.S. Department of Energy to suspend air-pollution rules for some natural gas-burning power plants in case their output is needed “to meet demand in the face of extremely challenging conditions including extreme heat waves, multiple fires, high winds, and various grid issues,” according to a filing. The last time California received a waiver of such length and breadth was 21 years ago during the Western Energy Crisis. For a second straight day, authorities urged residents of the biggest U.S. state to conserve energy as a heat wave boosts air-conditioning use. The emergency request highlights the conflict between California’s green aspirations and the physical reality that wind and solar thus far haven’t been able to cover power shortfalls exacerbated by the shuttering of gas-fired generators. The California Independent System Operator has warned of looming electricity shortages several times this summer. An emergency declaration by the Energy Department would allow new gas units recently ordered by the state to connect to the grid by the middle of this month, the California ISO said in its filing. It would also relax pollution limits for some other gas plants that would otherwise be forced to temporarily halt power production. A similar emergency order was issued during the deadly Texas freeze that triggered widespread blackouts, Energy Department spokesman Kevin Liao said.
  13. What happens when your prescription drug becomes the center of covid misinformation Ivermectin has been falsely promoted as a covid treatment—but for those who use the drug legitimately, seeing it become a piece of anti-vaccine misinformation is disconcerting. Wed Sep 08, 2021 - MIT Technology Review by Abby Ohlheiser By the time Joe Rogan mentioned ivermectin as one ingredient in an experimental cocktail he was taking to treat his covid infection, the drug was a meme. In the days and weeks leading up to the hugely popular podcaster’s revelation, the drug had already become a flashpoint in the covid culture wars. Ivermectin isn’t some new or experimental drug: in addition to its use as an anti-parasite treatment for livestock, it’s commonly employed in humans to treat a form of rosacea, among other things. So for those of us who have been using it for years, its sudden infamy was unexpected and unwelcome. Prescriptions for the oral form of ivermectin spiked in August as the drug was promoted widely across the conservative media landscape and championed by a group of pro-Trump doctors who are popular in anti-vaccine circles. Phil Valentine, an anti-vaccine, anti-mask radio host, posted on Facebook in July that people who turn down the vaccine should “have a doctor on speed dial who will write you a prescription for ivermectin.” (He later caught the virus and died.) People without a prescription started buying it in the form of so-called horse paste from Amazon, from livestock suppliers—wherever they could find it. The CDC confirmed that the increased interest in ivermectin as a covid “treatment” coincided with a bump in calls to poison control centers for adverse effects of consuming the drug. Those callers included people who ate a topical cream and those who consumed veterinary formulations meant for large animals. This swell of interest in ivermectin attracted substantial, justified alarm. Headline after headline talked about the “livestock drug” that anti-vaxxers were relying on. Even the US Food and Drug Administration dunked on misinformation peddlers by tweeting, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it.” The viral posts and memes came as a surprise to some with rosacea, a common skin condition that is best known for causing redness on the face. I’m one: there are actually four varieties of rosacea, and several years ago, a dermatologist diagnosed me with three of them. On and off for the past five years, I’ve used a topical cream containing ivermectin to treat it. Watching “ivermectin” become a keyword for anti-vaccine misinformation has been pretty weird and infuriating for me. So as the memes spread, I wanted to know how all of this was going to affect those of us who use the drug legitimately. It’s become incredibly complicated, and even talking about it is tricky right now because the conversation is so easily weaponized: when I tweeted in late August that it kind of sucked to see the treatment you use for a skin condition go viral as a “livestock drug,” I was quoted by someone promoting ivermectin as a covid treatment. The argument was that because some people take the drug legitimately for completely unrelated conditions, it must also be safe for covid (it’s not: the FDA says that “taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous”). I’ve watched this play out again and again online: misinformation evolves and adapts as it seeks attention. The fact is, the evidence that ivermectin can treat covid is slim, based largely on a preprint (i.e., not peer-reviewed) study that was posted early in the pandemic but later withdrawn after substantial questions about its data. But online, the fact that ivermectin has a history as a real drug with actual uses in humans and animals has become part of the script for those trying to promote its dubious and potentially dangerous use as a treatment for covid. And as ivermectin’s misuse has caught on, the response to that fact has itself become part of the story for anti-vaccine influencers. Changing the script Before ivermectin was hydroxychloroquine, an immunosuppressant that is often prescribed to prevent malaria and to treat some skin conditions, and was also falsely promoted as a covid-19 treatment. Its ensuing popularity led to shortages, hurting people who actually needed it—and made it harder to prescribe for legitimate uses, says Adam Friedman, a physician and chair of dermatology at George Washington University. It’s a reminder that when drugs get caught up in viral health misinformation, it doesn’t affect just the people who ignore reliable experts and opt for ineffective, debunked, or dangerous treatments they read about online. Friedman says has been forced to change how he talks to patients when he needs to prescribe hydroxychloroquine. “I’ve now worked into my scripting: ‘Hey, I want to start you on this medicine. You may have heard about it related to covid, that it was being used as a cure and it’s not,’” he says. “It got a lot of negative press. However, in dermatology we’ve been using it for decades for these different things.” To understand the extent to which this confusion might also be ivermectin’s future, I went to r/Rosacea, the subreddit for advice on dealing with the chronic condition. Categorically different People with rosacea know ivermectin not as an unproven covid drug, but as a proven and effective treatment that helps some people with a type of rosacea that causes bumps on the skin. On the subreddit, one user was confused by the sudden influx of attention, asking: “Why are ivermectin memes popping up everywhere right now? And how does the mainstream know what it is?” For people on the subreddit, ivermectin is a pretty persistent topic of discussion. There’s an expensive topical cream called Soolantra that contains the drug, and a generic version was released this summer. But a subset of those users also knew that the same drug was in horse paste, because some people diagnosed with rosacea have also bought the veterinary form—usually because they can’t otherwise get access to the creams or can’t afford a prescription. This practice is controversial among people with rosacea, and dermatologists have raised concerns about experimenting with a product that contains an inappropriate dosage or untested ingredients with potentially adverse effects. However, Friedman says, a person with rosacea turning to horse paste for cost reasons is in a categorically different medical and ethical universe from the one in which people are eating horse paste to “cure” covid. For diagnosed rosacea patients who need ivermectin to control the condition, Friedman says, “unfortunately, the best medication is the one patients can get.” People who use Soolantra or the generic version of ivermectin topically are, as of right now, unlikely to be encountering shortages, says Friedman. There are reports of farm supply stores running short on horse paste, however. In addition to some practical issues of access—while reporting this story, I spoke to one person who had to purchase horse paste from the UK in order to treat his pet rats for mites a few weeks ago—there’s now an added layer of scrutiny and stigma. How do you explain that you use horse paste on yourself, but not like that? “Attached to this oversimplified idea” The subreddit’s moderators were already pretty familiar with misinformation about ivermectin. People use the site, like many online communities, to discuss and trade information based on their experience: for example, discussing the best facial cleansers, asking how to avoid triggering a flare-up, or sharing how their treatment is progressing over time. But they can also incubate and promote misinformation, which moderators have to monitor and remove. Although there are some Facebook groups that promote horse paste for those with rosacea, the r/Rosacea subreddit neither encourages nor bans discussion of its use. One moderator told me the biggest risk is that people will self-diagnose with rosacea and decide to treat themselves with a DIY version of a medication that, even in a form intended for use by humans, should only be used with the guidance of a physician. Not all rosacea is the same, however, and the reasons ivermectin might work for some is still a subject of scientific debate. There is a connection between rosacea and demodex mites, which live in the hair follicles on more or less everyone’s face. in people with any form of rosacea, those mites are there in excess. But the exact relationship isn’t clear. “The question is chicken or egg,” Friedman says. Are people with rosacea ideal environments for demodex mites to live in excess, or “or is it this overgrowth that then exacerbates rosacea?” That uncertainty has led to some pretty dangerous suggestions online, said Ryan, a Reddit moderator who asked that I withhold his last name. “People get attracted and attached to this oversimplified idea that if they just kill the mites, their rosacea and their problems will go away,” he said. “We’ve even seen some pretty crazy things, like people recommending wearing flea collars or using pesticides on their face.” Data voids and poisoned wells Online peddlers of misinformation often exploit a data void, telling people to search for specific terms that they know will lead to results that promote what they’re trying to say. At worst, as the misinformation researcher Renee DiResta has written in the past, the top results can end up coming entirely from people who believe in and promote the misinformation. And as searches for “ivermectin” soared in August, according to Google Trends, the search results themselves were more or less completely overtaken by discussions of the people who use ivermectin to treat covid. Platforms and vendors have started promising to address the problem: Amazon’s results for horse paste, which had been filled with reviews promoting the product as a covid treatment, were removed after a Washington Post reporter asked for comment. Searches for “ivermectin” on Amazon now carry a warning from the FDA. But in subreddits and private Facebook groups, in Amazon reviews, and in YouTube videos, bad information still awaits those searching for it. The second result on a Google search for “ivermectin” run on September 7 was a study in the American Journal of Therapeutics promoting the drug’s use to treat covid. The study, a meta-analysis of other trials of using ivermectin, was authored by researchers who are trying to get the drug approved as a covid treatment, Politifact noted. Outside experts said the studies the paper relied on were not high enough quality to warrant the conclusions. Another top result? A clip of Joe Rogan’s podcast in which he jokes about the media’s coverage of his use of ivermectin.
  14. What year were the concussion protocols implemented? Former NHL star Theo Fleury's COVID-19 vaccine passport comments a 'stain on his legacy': Brandon University BU, which gave Fleury honorary doctorate in 2015, denounces 'espousing of conspiracy theories' 'Fleury tweeted that vaccine passports would be used by pedophiles to track children.'
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