Can an American Get Excited About Brexit? A Six-Part Test

Can an American Get Excited About Brexit? A Six-Part Test

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How can an American, or anyone, really, make sense of Brexit? And why should one want to—want to, that is, in a visceral, emotional way, that goes beyond a duty to understand what’s going on in the world and the global economy? The British don’t always make it easy: last week, Prime Minister Theresa May brought to the House of Commons the deal that she had made, with the European Union, on the terms of Britain’s exit, only to have it voted down by a historic margin; the next day, she won a no-confidence vote. It can feel like the wheels just spin. But, if you are going to ever care, the time to do it is now—unless Britain gets an extension, or there’s another major plot twist, Brexit is set to happen on March 29th. Can you? Here is a quick test.

1. Do you care about Ireland? One of the quickest measures, perhaps, of your capacity to be stirred up by Brexit is whether you have an emotional response to the following quote, which the BBC attributed to a “Tory grandee”: “The Irish really should know their place.” The grandee in question was outraged that the government of the Republic of Ireland seemed to be a real player in determining the E.U.’s priorities in its divorce negotiations with Britain. Or how you react to the Tory Brexiteer M.P. who wondered, publicly, why possible food shortages in Ireland weren’t being used as leverage in those negotiations? Ireland’s influence should not have been a surprise. The Republic of Ireland is a member in good standing in the E.U. If Brexit means having a new, hard border with Europe, it means having a new, hard border with the Republic of Ireland. And yet, two and a half years after the referendum that set Brexit in motion passed, the British still, in effect, haven’t worked out where to put the border.

There are two options: the border-control line could run through the island of Ireland, separating the Republic from the counties of Northern Ireland, which are part of Britain. But that would upend the commitments that Britain made, in 1998, as part of the Good Friday peace accords, which rely on free movement and led to the creation of common institutions across both parts of the island. The Good Friday agreements were brokered with the help of the United States and seemed to bring to an end a centuries-long conflict, in which many Americans were, to say the least, emotionally invested. The idea that the peace could be so carelessly treated is more than maddening. (For a sense of what a return of the Troubles might cost, order a copy of my colleague Patrick Radden Keefe’s forthcoming book, “Say Nothing,” out next month.)

The new border-control line could also be formed by the Irish Sea. But this would leave Northern Ireland in the E.U., or at least under more E.U. rules than the rest of Britain. And, for many in Northern Ireland, such separate-but-unequal status would be anathema. One of the fixtures of the parliamentary debates on Brexit has been the grim faces of the ten members of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, who look as if they suspect that, at any moment, they are about to be betrayed. (Sinn Féin won seven Northern Irish seats, but its members remain absent in a rejection of the British Parliament’s authority.)

May’s deal didn’t settle the Irish border question; it just pushed the problem back a couple of years. The D.U.P. voted against that deal (and then backed May in the no-confidence vote, which she would have lost otherwise). The E.U. insisted on an insurance policy, known as a backstop, which would keep all of the U.K. tied to Europe until the Irish question is settled. Opposition to the backstop is probably the biggest reason that May’s deal failed. Brexiteers in her party argue that she can get a better bargain, in part because they don’t believe that the E.U. really, truly cares about Ireland. It does, though.

2. Or maybe you care about Scotland—or Italy, or Greece, or Sweden? Scotland was one of the parts of the U.K. that favored Remain in the 2016 referendum, but it has a particular complaint. Two years earlier, there had been a referendum on Scottish independence; many in Scotland voted against it, on the premise that staying with Britain meant staying in the E.U. Brexit felt, to them, like a bait-and-switch swindle. Scottish M.P.s are now among those pressing hard for a second Brexit referendum, to overturn the first. If they don’t get it, they’ll likely want another try at independence. (Similarly, Sinn Féin has called for a “unity referendum” in the case of a hard, Good Friday-incompatible Brexit.) Referendums can beget more referendums. The mess of Brexit might reduce the possibility that there will be a run of departures—that an Italexit, Grexit, or Swexit will be next—at least, in the short run. But the issues that drove the Leave vote, such as hostility to immigrants and to European institutions, have hardly been resolved. (In Italy, for example, Euroskepticism has been particularly strong.) And such impulses are not confined to Europe, which brings us to the next question . . .

3. Do you have fears about, or hopes for, populism in America? Donald Trump has, characteristically and unconvincingly, claimed credit for Brexit. It’s fair to say, though, that both his election and the Brexit vote were influenced by the same transnational forces. Right-wing or nationalist populism is afoot in many countries. (There was even a Cambridge Analytica angle in the Brexit referendum campaign.) And Brexit may offer a preview of what it looks like when a populist dream fails. May has spoken of how explosive it might be for Britain’s élites to simply ignore the referendum’s verdict. Where would voters go? What is at the heart of their discontent? Would they, faced with practical realities and moral insights, now vote yes? Or would they see a second referendum as an attempt to subvert the popular will? Will they—dangerously—lose faith in electoral politics altogether? How about populism on the left?These are questions for Britain and, as Trump lurches from one crisis to the next, for the United States. Whatever happens on March 29th may offer insight into how November 3, 2020, might look in America.

4. Do you have a penchant for dystopian scenarios? “The worst case for us is not that we sell a little less fizzy pop,” Hugo Fry, an executive with the French company Sanofi, told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s patients don’t get medicine.” (A fifth of the insulin used in Britain is made by Sanofi, which transports it from a factory in Germany.) Talk about Brexit involves a lot of discussion of logistics and supply chains. So does any decent post-apocalyptic thriller. What if traffic can’t move, because the motorways are backed up at the ports? What would happen if, suddenly, no planes have permission to land in Britain, because the E.U. landing rules haven’t been replaced by new ones? What might confusion about quarantines mean in the context of an actual epidemic? How about rolling blackouts? Such questions have been mooted, but it isn’t clear how much has been done to address the most realistic scenarios, or even to dispel fears about the more fantastical ones, or to figure out which is which. One way or another, Brexit will have a profound effect on the ways that people live and on the choices that they have. There is a consensus that everything will be more chaotic in the event of a no-deal Brexit or cliff-edge Brexit—which will occur if the day of Brexitarrives and the E.U. and May can’t agree on something that Parliament will accept. Unfortunately, avoiding a no-deal Brexit requires a British government that can operate properly, and the current level of dysfunction is high. Parliament seems to have descended into farce. Of course, that raises another question . . .

5. Do you enjoy a good farce? Has it come to your attention that, in the course of the Brexit debate, a Labour M.P. named Lloyd Russell-Moyle attempted to abscond with the ceremonial mace, a big gilded thing that somehow represents the Queen’s power in Parliament? The sergeant-at-arms—a woman dressed in black, wearing a sword—stopped him, and then he went to a pub. As the incident unfolded, there was a call of “Order, order! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.” These words were pronounced by John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, whose shouts of “Order!” and demands for “Zen” have been a spectacle within the spectacle. The Guardian ran a piece about the Continental European fascination with Bercow, citing a super-cut of his antics put together by a German television news program. (It might be good to watch alongside “Brexit: The Uncivil War,” which features Benedict Cumberbatch as one of the engineers of the Leave campaign, which is airing on HBO.) Bercow also called in lip-reading experts to determine whether Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, muttered “stupid woman” as Theresa May spoke, or if, as Corbyn claimed, he said “stupid people.” (They weren’t certain.) For that matter, as the BBC noted, the Queen may be dragged in if, for example, Corbyn successfully calls a no-confidence vote and it then emerges that neither he nor anyone else clearly has Parliament’s confidence. (She would have to make a guess as to who had the best chance and give that person a try.)

But is that actually amusing? The British do know how to put on a show. One of the problems with Brexit, though, from beginning to end, has been the careless theatricality of the politicians—whether Corbyn or the Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg—who have been entrusted with very important matters. But that is no reason to look away; after all . . .

6. Tragedies can be pretty compelling, too. Brexit is also a human drama. One of the shocks of the referendum, for Europeans, is that the bonds between them are more fragile than they’d been led to believe. Maybe Europe isn’t what they, or Americans, thought; perhaps something intricate and valuable that took decades to construct is about to be smashed. Watch, if you can bear it.

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January 20, 2019 at 10:10PM

HondaJet Elite Now Available From Jet It At Bargain Rate of $1,600 Per Hour

HondaJet Elite Now Available From Jet It At Bargain Rate of $1,600 Per Hour

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Fractional jet ownership is nothing new these days. However, one of the newest fractional ownership companies, Jet It, is hoping that its slightly different business model will draw more customers as they focus on an underserved market segment.

While companies like NetJets sell ownership based on the number of hours you need the aircraft in a given year, the Jet It model bases ownership on days. This means that Jet It owners can book their aircraft for the day and not worry about the number of hours used. This could be an advantage if you need to fly multiple segments in a given day, or fly longer routes without burning through your allotment of hours.

Jet It founder and CEO Glenn Gonzales tells TPG via email, “We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to make a positive and sustainable contribution to private travel, and firmly believe that Jet It will prove itself as an innovator in private aviation. Designed and constructed from empirical evidence, Jet It and JetClub serve a segment of the market that has been completely overlooked in pursuit of larger aircraft and larger margins.”


Jet It takes delivery of first HondaJet Elite. Photo by Jet It

The company took delivery of what will be the first in a fleet of HondaJet Elite aircraft this week at its headquarters in Greensboro, NC. Greensboro also happens to be the headquarters of HondaJet Elite, which makes delivery easy. While both founders of Jet It worked for HondaJet previously, they say that they chose the Honda aircraft based solely on the fact that it’s the best option for their mission. Jet It is currently the only US-based fractional ownership company with a HondaJet Elite in its fleet.

The company is touting that its business model and the efficient HondaJet Elite will allow an industry-leading operation rate of $1,600 per hour. The Jet It website says with traditional fractional ownership, that same hour could cost as much as $7,600. That’s of course after you buy your fractional share of the $5.25 million private jet, which Jet It tells TPG starts at $600,000 for US-based customers.

While that price tag might seem steep, if you don’t need the seating capacity of the $21 million Embraer Praetor 600 or the 6,000-mile range of the $45 million Gulfstream G500, the HondaJet Elite looks like a steal for the price. The jet can seat up to seven people including crew, but we’re pretty sure no one wants to win the prize of being assigned the seat in the lavatory. With a range of just more than 1,600 miles, you could easily make nonstop flights between New York and Dallas or Miami.

One of the most interesting points about the Jet It program is the fact that you can actually pilot your own aircraft. That’s assuming, of course, you have a pilot’s license and have completed the required training for the aircraft type. The Jet It website says “You earned your wings; Now fly your Jet”. It’s not clear if you get a discount for crewing for the day though.

Jet It offers fractional ownership options ranging from 1/10th, which will get you 25 days per year, all the way up to 1/2 ownership, which will get you 130 days to enjoy your private jet. Ownership requires a five-year commitment, however Jet It says it understands situations change and has options for ending ownership at the three-year mark. Ownership will also get you access to the company’s 24/7 full-service concierge for no additional costs. According to Jet It, the concierge team can arrange everything from logistics to transportation to catering and even event tickets.

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Featured Photo by HondaJet

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January 20, 2019 at 10:08PM

TSA Closing Checkpoints and Other Government Shutdown News

TSA Closing Checkpoints and Other Government Shutdown News

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It has been more than 29 days since the United States Federal Government partially shut down as a result of a lapse in funding. While the federal government has experienced its fair share of partial shutdowns, the current shutdown is by far the longest in history. With the shutdown approaching a month, those employed by the federal government are going on two pay cycles without receiving a paycheck. Now, some federal employees are unable to make ends meet or even provide themselves and their families with basic necessities. However, those not employed by the federal government are also experiencing lesser effects, especially as it pertains to air travel.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are three organizations that work to ensure the safety and security of the air transportation industry in the United States. The FAA has been unable to complete standard procedures after much of its workforce was furloughed. As for the DHS Customs and Border Protection wing, many applicants have reported delays in renewing passports or applying for the popular Global Entry service.

During the past week, the shutdown appears to have played a much greater role in the air transportation sector. Here are just a few of the incidents being attributed to the ongoing partial shutdown.

TSA Continues to Close Screening Checkpoints

As a result of a shortage of TSA agents due to the shutdown, the TSA has announced lane closures at multiple major airports. Miami International Airport (MIA) was the first airport to see lane closures (the checkpoint at Miami’s G Terminal has been closing early for more than a week now). According to Kris Van Cleave, a travel correspondent at CBS News, Houston-Intercontinental (IAH) has also begun to close certain checkpoints due to a shortage of TSA agents.

Now, yet another major airport has reported a lane closure as a result of the shortage stemming from the shutdown. Baltimore Thurgood-Washington International Airport (BWI) will close checkpoint A at 5:35pm for the foreseeable future. The TSA noted via its official Twitter account that the closure is due to “excessive callouts.”

Airports with excessive wait times as a result of increased callouts include all three New York City airports (EWR, LGA, JFK), Atlanta-Hartsfield (ATL), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). The TSA confirmed an increase in callouts and wait times in the agency’s most recent daily report, which can be found here. In the report, the TSA noted that 8% of its workforce called off sick.

10 Air Marshals Are Suing the Federal Government

Some federal employees are taking matters into their own hands and going directly to the top. The New York Post is reporting that 10 federal air marshals are suing the federal government as a result of the shutdown. While the group that filed the suit noted that employers may defer payment, it also noted that the employer must pay damages as a result of delayed payment.

The ten air marshals are only identified by their initials to protect their identity over safety and security concerns. The group of ten are suing the federal government on behalf of more than 412,000 federal employees who have either been furloughed or working without pay. The group’s lawyer cited the Fair Labor Standards Act as the basis for the suit. The group’s lawyer is reportedly quite confident that his clients will win the suit, citing a similar lawsuit filed in 2013 during that partial shutdown. The federal judge handling the case did not respond to the New York Post’s request for comment.

Lyft and United Way Providing Relief Rides to Furloughed Workers in the DC Area

With much of Washington DC’s residents on the federal government’s payroll, it is especially difficult for those furloughed in the DC area to make ends meet being one of the most expensive metro area’s in which to live. Numerous organizations have begun providing relief to furloughed employees in the DC area and popular rideshare service Lyft is one of them.

Lyft has already donated to the Capital Area Food Bank and provided $20 gas cards to those impacted by the shutdown. Now, the rideshare service is activating “Relief Rides” for furloughed government employees. The Relief Rides program is part of a partnership with United Way. Furloughed government employees can get two rides free up to $10 through the rideshare service. Furloughed employees looking to get their two free Lyft rides can call DC’s 2-1-1 line for a promo code that will activate the two free rides.

Airports, Airlines Continue to Pay for TSA, Air Traffic Controller Meals

At airports across the United States this week, airport officials, airlines and other vendors have picked up the tab for breakfasts, lunches and dinners as a show of support for the unpaid TSA agents. At St. Louis-Lambert International Airport, Southwest Airlines, the airport authority and HMS Hosts have all pitched in to pay for lunch for TSA agents working checkpoints. Other airports that have seen a show of generosity to help out unpaid federal employees include Las Vegas (LAS), Orlando (MCO) and Seattle (SEA).

If you are concerned about delays as a result of the government shutdown, we recommend you first check with your airline to ensure your flight is unaffected by long TSA lines at the departure airport. Additionally, you can see recently reported wait times via the TSA’s MyTSA mobile app found in both major app stores.

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Featured image by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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January 20, 2019 at 09:31PM

5 Family-Friendly Museums Open Washington, DC During the Shutdown

5 Family-Friendly Museums Open Washington, DC During the Shutdown

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Lately, news coverage is all about the government shutdown, and for good reason. While the funding lapse has affected many museums in the city, including those in the iconic Smithsonian Institutions and National Zoo, Washington, DC still has tons for families who are visiting during the government shutdown.

As a 30-year DC Metro resident, I’d like to share some of my favorite Washington, DC museums, all of which are currently unaffected by the shutdown.

For Tech-Savvy Tweens and Teens: The Newseum

I’ve loved the Newseum since it opened in 2008 with its current events and First Amendment focus. The subjects covered — including Sept. 11, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Civil Rights Movement — definitely lean toward a more mature audience, so this may not be a big hit with the toddler and young elementary school crowd.


Image courtesy of the Newseum

But for slightly older kids, tweens and teens, the Newseum is among the more tech-friendly museums I’ve visited. Even iPhone-attached teens should find the interactive exhibits engaging. I especially enjoy the “Ethics Center,” where visitors play a “what would you do” game from the point of view of a journalist or an editor.

Image courtesy of the Newseum
Image courtesy of the Newseum

During the shutdown, the Newseum is offering free admission to federal workers with a badge and 15% off general admission for anyone else who books online. That drops the price to about $21 for adults; $13 for kids ages 7 to 15; and $16 for seniors 65 or older. Children 6 and under are free.


Image courtesy of the Newseum

For Art Lovers: The Phillips Collection

While DC is famous for the National Gallery of Art, The Phillips Collection is my go-to art museum in the city. The permanent collections are actually free for all to view from Tuesday to Friday and ticketed exhibits costs about $10 to $12, with kids under 18 ringing in at a budget-friendly $0. As the nation’s first museum of modern art, The Phillips Collection has delighted visitors for almost a century. You’ll recognize works by artists including Renoir, van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and Georgia O’Keefe. The museum’s historic setting adds to its charm and the manageable size helps keep even art agnostics engaged.

The best part for families (other than free admission for kids)? The Phillips Collection has an entire gallery that is just for children! Paintings are hung at kids’ eye level and feature discussion prompts that make sense for pint-sized art admirers. There’s even a reading area made with kids in mind. The Phillips also has a treasure hunt that you can download to get the kids excited about your visit.

The Rothko Room at the Phillips Collection. (Photo by Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Rothko Room at the Phillips Collection (Photo by Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Federal employees with an ID are admitted for free during the shutdown.

For History Buffs: Mount Vernon

I’m cheating a bit here, because Mount Vernon is technically in Virginia, but George Washington’s former residence is worth the drive or Uber ride. (Fortunately, you’ll be against traffic both ways.) Mount Vernon is noteworthy as a historical monument, but what I really appreciate is the efforts made to bring history to life.

The 4D film about Washington’s role in the American Revolution is absolutely top-notch, with effects that rival those I’ve seen at Disney. However, that means it’s not for kids who have sensory issues or who are very young, as the cannon shots feel real! The new “Be Washington” what-would-you-do theater experience is not as intense, so it should be appropriate for everyone.

During your visit you can meet people from the Revolutionary Period; interact with a live fife and drum corps; and even get a selfie with Martha Washington on weekends. The schedule of events varies daily and I highly recommend planning your visit around one of the tours or special events if you can. Note: The main house will be closed from Jan. 28 to Feb. 10, 2019 for refurbishment, but the grounds and museum will remain open. 

Reenactors at Mount Vernon Scenics. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Reenactors at Mount Vernon Scenics. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Tickets to Mount Vernon are $18 for adults, $11 for kids and free for children 5 and under.

For Little ‘Bob the Builders’: National Building Museum

When parents of children under 6 ask me where to go in DC, the National Building Museum is usually first on my list. The reason? Not one but two separate play areas where kids can flex their building muscles.

The “Play Work Build” exhibition features more than 2,300 architectural toys from the last hundred years, including ones that every kid will recognize such as Lincoln Logs and, of course, LEGOs. Best of all, after looking at all these toys, kids get the opportunity to play with massive foam building blocks.

Washington DC, National Building Museum, Building Zone, hands-on children
Image courtesy of the National Building Museum,

If your kids aren’t done channeling their inner architect, they can go to “The Building Zone.” It’s a special play area for kids ages 2 to 6. In The Building Zone, kids can don construction garb, “shop” in a hardware store and build with LEGOs (and Duplos) to their heart’s content.

Like The Phillips Collection, the National Building Museum would be worth seeing for the building itself. The original site for the US Pensions Bureau, the neoclassical masterpiece stands out with its red brick facade and Corinthian columns in the main hall. The building also hosted the first inaugural ball for Grover Cleveland in 1885 and many others in subsequent years.

Admission is $7 to $10 for children and adults, and free for those 2 and under or federal employees with a badge (during the shutdown).

For the Mature Crowd: The Holocaust Museum

Last but not least, the Holocaust Museum, located just south of the National Mall, is currently open (and free) during the government shutdown. Just pay attention to their Twitter account for operating hours and current status. The museum has closed during some previous shutdowns, but fingers crossed the doors will remain open this time around.

Naturally, the subject matter of this museum isn’t necessarily appropriate for young children and isn’t family-friendly in the same way as the “Play World Build” exhibit in the Building Museum. (The permanent exhibition is recommended for those 11 years of age and older.) Be sure your children are prepared for the important information in the museum before adding this stop to your DC agenda, but for teens and families ready to tackle mature subject matter while in DC, the Holocaust Museum can be a very impactful place.

Image courtesy of the National Holocaust Museum
Image courtesy of the National Holocaust Museum

The Bottom Line

Don’t let the government shutdown deter you from visiting Washington, DC. You can still get your museum and history fix while teaching your kids about past and current events, admiring world-class art, gaping at neoclassical architecture and experiencing history you just can’t see anywhere else.

If these museums aren’t the right match for your family, other still-operational attractions in Washington, DC include US Capital tours, the US Botanical Garden (funded through the end of the year), tours of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and outdoor destinations, such as iconic monuments on the National Mall and Arlington National Cemetery. Also consider venturing into Baltimore for some free and family-friendly attractions.

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January 20, 2019 at 09:15PM

Airbus Mulls Single-Pilot Flights as Artificial Intelligence Could Enable Autonomous Planes

Airbus Mulls Single-Pilot Flights as Artificial Intelligence Could Enable Autonomous Planes

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Though autopilot is not a new technology, Airbus’s Chief Technology Office Grazia Vittadini said the company is hoping current advances in artificial intelligence will help complete the step to completely autonomous planes.

“That’s what we’re looking into, artificial intelligence, to free up pilots from more mundane routines,” Vittadini said in an interview with Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty at Munich’s Digital Life and Design conference Sunday.

Currently, the company is working on moving to single-pilot operations, with full autonomy coming later.

Airline executives, though reluctant to speak on the topic, would benefit from autonomous planes as they seek to cut costs and handle ongoing shortages of qualified pilots — two issues that could be addressed by efficiency improvements pilot-less planes would provide.

The biggest challenge for planemakers like Airbus is convincing regulators to approve the technology, Vittadini said.

“Explainability of artificial intelligence is a real challenge for us when it comes to the certification of products,” she said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Oliver Sachgau from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photo Credit: Will Artificial Intelligence lead to autonomous planes. Airbus thinks it could. Pictured is the cockpit of an Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. Bloo

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January 20, 2019 at 08:41PM

13 Luxury Properties (and Counting) Have Left Marriott Since the Merger

13 Luxury Properties (and Counting) Have Left Marriott Since the Merger

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To say that the merger between Marriott and Starwood hasn’t gone well would be a bit of an understatement. Not only were IT issues abundant a month into the merger, but significant IT issues continue to this day — more than five months after the merger. Marriott and Starwood have become incredibly hard to reach through social media or phone lines. At the end of 2018, Marriott finally caught and disclosed one of the largest data breaches ever with information for around 500 million guests compromised since the hack began in 2014.

Rather than focusing all of its energy on fixing these myriad issues, Marriott invested at least some time and effort into the introduction of its new loyalty name “Bonvoy,” loyalty tier names and new logo — which I hope they didn’t spend too much time on:

All of this has added up to quite a few formerly-loyal Marriott and SPG members swearing off the combined hotel brand. But, it’s not just members that are leaving in droves. There’s also a number of hotels that no longer want to be part of Marriott.

Here’s some of the most notable hotel departures since the merger was completed.

In This Post

Design Hotels

Le Méridien

  • Le Méridien Tahiti is one of the most notable losses to the combined program. The property made our list of bucket list trips in August for its convenience when arriving in or departing from Tahiti. The hotel announced suddenly mid-October that it was rebranding as the Tahiti Ia Ora Beach Resort Managed by Sofitel effective October 15, 2018. I had booked a stay in January 2019 for a review and it took two hours on the phone to be able to cancel the reservation and get my points re-deposited.
  • Le Méridien Re-Ndama dropped the Le Méridien brand name and disappeared from Marriott bookings in November 2018.

The Luxury Collection

St. Regis

W Hotels

  • W Dubai Al Habtoor City is one of three Dubai-based Starwood properties that left the combined company as of July 31, 2018
  • W Las Vegas, located inside the SLS Las Vegas since December 2016, closed in August 2018 to be reabsorbed into SLS — which also ended its partnership with Marriott.
  • W Beijing Chang’an impressed The Points Guy just after it opened in 2014, but it looks like its run as a W Hotel might be coming to an end. As caught by Loyalty Lobby, the hotel is no longer accepting points or cash reservations as of Feb. 1, 2019

Westin

This is going to be an updated list of the notable Marriott properties that have left the combined program. Check back for updates and feel free to share any notable exits that haven’t yet been included on the list.

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January 20, 2019 at 08:35PM

TPG Readers Reveal Their Best Trips With the Southwest Companion Pass

TPG Readers Reveal Their Best Trips With the Southwest Companion Pass

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Official application links: Earn the Companion Pass and enjoy 2-for-1 travel for the rest of 2019 with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

We’ve got Southwest on the brain, especially after the recent news that all three personal Southwest credit cards would be offering a limited-time sign-up bonus now through February 11, 2019, that includes the Companion Pass and 30,000 Southwest points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening. With that in mind, we asked our TPG Lounge readers to share the most memorable trips they’ve taken with it. Here’s a look at some of their best answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

Your All-Time Favorite Companion Pass Trips

From romantic getaways to the Caribbean to family trips home for Thanksgiving, our TPG Lounge readers really know how to get around when it comes to using this popular Southwest perk.

“Baltimore (BWI) to the Bahamas was a pretty great use for us. We also got to take an amazing first class international flight on Singapore that ended in Houston (IAH) because we could get home for free with points and the Companion Pass.” — Jessica R.

“The year of 11 weddings. We made it to eight.” — Paige R.

“Eight round-trips last year. Used the Companion Pass and traveled with a lap infant so we saved a few thousand dollars. Favorite trip was to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ). — Lauren R.S.

“We made eight trips last year with the Companion Pass and saved thousands in airfare. Some of our trips were to New York, New Orleans, Austin, Charleston, Seattle, Vancouver and Portland, but our favorite was to Oakland for Yosemite National Park followed by a weekend in Monterey, California. Remember when booking with Southwest points you can rebook when the price or cost of the points drops and the difference is credited back to your point balance. I was diligent about this and probably recaptured about 25,000 points over the course of the year.” — Erin C.B.

“I flew somewhere around 15-20 times with my Companion Pass last year. It made the decision to go away for long weekends and other trips so much easier. The best value was a four-leg $900 trip to Aruba (AUA) and Florida around Thanksgiving.” — Rachael S.

Aruba was a popular destination for TPG Lounge members traveling with the Southwest Companion Pass. (Photo courtesy of @2DadsWithBaggage)
Aruba was a popular destination for TPG Lounge members traveling with the Southwest Companion Pass. (Photo courtesy of @2DadsWithBaggage)

“Over the last two years, our Companion Pass has taken us to six NFL stadiums, 14 MLB stadiums and 18 national parks. The best redemption was probably Boston (BOS) to San Jose (SJC) for about 25,000 points because we got engaged that trip at Yosemite.” — Kristen L.

“I’ve had the Companion Pass for three years and I think I took my wife about eight places a year. The best was when they opened up Houston (HOU) to Aruba. You have to pay more in taxes (about $100) when you’re going international but it was the trip of a lifetime. Other trips were to Los Angeles, Portland, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Orlando, Chicago, St. Louis and Harlingen, Texas. I saved a lot of money.” — Adam P.

“My husband and I each had one last year so our kids flew for free. We used it for [trips to] Boston, Tampa, Houston, Los Angeles, Nashville, Costa Rica, Tucson, Aruba, Denver, Denver again, Boston again, San Diego and Los Angeles again and Austin. We came back from Austin on Dec 31st, the last day to use the card. Tickets seem so expensive now and I miss it already!” — Adele K.K.

“My girlfriend used the Companion Pass for Thanksgiving in Turks and Caicos for a week of scuba diving, to Akron to see her Grandpa, and to Orlando and New Orleans for dinner. Planning on using it a bunch in 2019.” — Seth J.

“Aruba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, California … love that Companion Pass!” — Jane R.F.

“Six trips to Los Angeles (LAX) and back from Houston (HOU) in 2018 for medical treatments. Wouldn’t have been possible without the savings from the Companion Pass. Basically used the 110,000 points for all these trips.” — Siddharth M.

“My Dad was seeking cancer treatment at MD Anderson and the Companion Pass came in handy during treatments and to get him home.” — Amy S.A.

“Belize, Mexico City and I’m very much looking forward to using it for Turks and Caicos along with Aruba later this year! Hopefully Hawaii, too, which is taking way too long for them to announce.” — Rob S.

Someday, Southwest will announce its flight plan for Hawaii. (Photo by M Swiet Productions / Getty Images)
Someday, Southwest will announce its new Hawaii routes. (Photo by M Swiet Productions / Getty Images)

Tagging Along on Business Trips

Some TPG Lounge readers wrote in saying they used the Southwest Companion Pass to bring their partners or children with them on business trips.

“That’s what my husband and I did. I also coach a travel volleyball team and it was nice to bring him to our travel tournaments. The club would pay for my plane ticket and then he could fly for free. I’m hoping to do that again this season.” — Jessica R.

“My girlfriend has gone on a lot of them with me. She can work remotely during the day and we meet for dinner. The best perk!” — Seth J.

“I know someone who works in two cities and his wife is a writer so he brings her back and forth with him for free.” — Parker S.

“I had a week of things to do for work in Florida, so I brought my four-year-old companion and let him swim at the grandparents’ house all week. Sure beats daycare!” — Jill S.M.

Traveling for business? Why not take your partner or friend along with you? (Photo by @Leomacphoto via Twenty20)
Traveling for business? Why not take your partner or friend along with you? (Photo by @Leomacphoto via Twenty20)

Readers Helping Readers

We love it when our TPG Lounge audience gets so involved in a topic they end up answering each other’s questions with their own tips and tricks. That’s what happened when reader Yasmin S.R. wanted to know more about how the Southwest Companion Pass works.

“Is the Companion Pass able to be used by different people or do you have to assign a single companion?” — Yasmin S.R.

“As I recall, you can switch your designated companion once during the year, although the rules might be different due to the shorter term being offered via the credit card sign-up.” — Jessica R.

“Three times per year. All travel must be completed with the current companion before another companion’s travel can be booked. I always book my travel ahead and the next companion with points just in case, then cancel the companion’s points fare and add as companion free flight. As long as there is a seat available in any fare class, you can add a companion. You have to call 1-800-IFlySWA to switch companions. Just book with companion A and complete travel, then change to companion B and book travel with B. All travel segments with companion A must be complete before changing to companion B.” — Dave L.

Featured photo by Owen C via Unsplash. 

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January 20, 2019 at 08:06PM

How Journalism Survives: An Interview with Jill Abramson

How Journalism Survives: An Interview with Jill Abramson

http://bit.ly/2HpjwVy


In her new book, “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts,” Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the Times, examines how four large American news organizations are surviving the age of the Internet and Donald Trump. Abramson’s accounts of Vice, BuzzFeed, the Washington Post, and the Times are filled with her own reporting and, in the case of the Times, her own experiences. Abramson, who became the paper’s first female executive editor, in 2011, was fired in 2014 for what she describes as a combination of reasons: her “less than stellar” management style, the “unfair double standard applied to many women leaders,” and her resistance to more communication between the business and editorial sides of the newspaper, which an internal “innovation report” had found was necessary to succeed in the digital age. “The fate of the republic seemed to depend more than ever on access to honest, reliable information,” she writes, of our current moment. “But every news company was turning itself upside down to produce and pay for it in the digital age. I determined to capture this moment of wrenching transition—and to do it as a reporter, my first calling.”

I spoke by phone with Abramson on Friday afternoon. During our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed whether the Times is chasing clicks with biased Trump coverage, Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post, and the compromises that news organizations are forced to make to survive in 2019.

Isaac Chotiner: “I didn’t think technological change should sweep in moral change,” you write in the book, about your firing. At the beginning of 2019, has it?

Jill Abramson: Defining “moral” is somewhat difficult.

It’s your word. That’s why I chose it.

I know. It is my word and has everything to do with not putting somewhat misleading headlines to gain clickbait and scale audience, because that in turn brings advertising. I think that that is a kind of both journalistic and moral change that worries me. I don’t know. The way the news is presented, especially in headlines, is hyped for the same reasons: to track eyeballs and make money.

Over all, in journalism, let’s be frank: President Trump is like gold. People are reading all of these stories about him, even though in the Times and the Post and on the networks and certainly cable, except for Fox, the stories are tough and largely negative. But all of them get a ton of readership, and the ratings have been through the roof for cable. I think that, yes, Trump makes news all the time, but he also makes money for news organizations all the time. I guess the moral issue is: Are you running so much because each story is genuinely newsworthy or are you chasing audience?

When you said this [about moral change] in the book, you were actually referring to the events around your firing, in 2014. Is your biggest concern now about moral change in the news about how we respond to Trump?

It’s a concern. I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest one. A very big concern that is illustrated in the book is that things are going well right now for places like the New York Times, where digital subscriptions have greatly increased. But what worries me is that a lot of that is the Trump bump, and is that a sustainable business model for the future? A huge concern is that there still isn’t a business model that can work for local journalism, certainly.

You write in the book, “Given its mostly liberal audience, there was an implicit financial reward for the Times in running lots of Trump stories, almost all of them negative.” You later call the Times’ news pages “unmistakably anti-Trump.” Do you think the Times is running anti-Trump stories for the financial reward?

You know, I think that is not the main reason, but it’s kind of an implicit reward for running so much heavy Trump coverage.

O.K., but—

I am not saying it’s the prime reason, but there is an implicit business reward, and not just for the Times but for plenty of other news organizations, and, again, because Trump draws audience and readers and advertising follows the scale of audience and readers. The Trump stories, especially the investigative ones, are among the most-read pieces in the Times. Again, I don’t want to overstate it, and I don’t think I do in the book. I certainly don’t think the New York Times launched its fabulous tax investigation of the President and how he acquired his wealth that took more than a year because they saw money in it. The resources spent on that story had to be huge. It is the news and the watchdog function of great journalism organizations like the Times to hold power accountable and investigate, and I applaud that work.

But when you go to an app of, let’s say, the Post or the Times and there are five or six reactive Trump stories, it’s too much, and yet they all are read. I think I describe it as an implicit reason, not . . . [Pauses] It’s an incentive. There is a financial incentive. I don’t think that’s driving the coverage, but obviously the editorial page is liberal, most of its readers are on the two coasts and most of them are progressive. I write about that in the section about the terrible numbers for trust in the news media. A Pew study showed that the main reason all people—not just Trump supporters or conservatives or Republicans—give for lack of trust is perceived political bias. So, I worry that, when the news media seems so polarized, trust is not going to be rebuilt, which I think is a really important issue.

Do we want to take at face value that that is why people don’t trust the media, and that, if the Times somehow erased every aspect of bias that you see, Trump supporters would think the paper was O.K.?

No. Well, it’s two different things. I don’t think it would bring Trump supporters. According to that Pew study, it could possibly restore the trust of some general readers. My book is not about coverage of Donald Trump. It is about the digital disruption and—

I asked you a question about technology changing the media and you started talking about Trump, which is why I picked up on this.

O.K.

How do you think liberal bias in the Times manifests itself?

It manifests itself in some of the tweets of the reporters, which are very loaded. It manifests itself when those reporters go on MSNBC and CNN and appear on panels with partisans and the questions they are asked are very loaded. People like Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman are very careful in what they say, but sometimes the lead-in questions by the hosts are so loaded with opinion that it creates an appearance of overly loaded and partisan coverage. And it manifests itself sometimes in headlines and in some news-analysis pieces, where certain sentences seem to be using loaded descriptions.

Any sections or writers or pieces that jump to mind?

I used to keep a folder of headlines. But I am with my grandchild and don’t have this at my fingertips. I am not saying at all that that coverage isn’t true. I feel Trump deserves it but that a presentation that was just a little bit toned down sometimes would be just as effective. And, in the book, I say that, when [Dean] Baquet [the Times’ executive editor] decided to use “lie” in the headline about Trump saying he was not a birther, that was a brave and right decision. And I say one of the healthy developments in journalism is the [decline] of thinking that fairness or balance requires giving close to equal weight to what the President might say and what climate scientists might say. I think those days are over, and that’s great.

O.K., so, to return to technology, what’s your biggest fear about technological change and journalism?

I would say the biggest worry I have is the dominance of social-media platforms as the distributors and effectively publishers of news. So many readers are only exposed to news stories through their news feed on Facebook or on Instagram or Snapchat. That’s disaggregated the news and it means people are often reading stories where some are accurate and some aren’t, and they are picked by the algorithm of what you like, and what Eli Pariser called the filter bubble.

The insistence that news be instantaneous, that the audience know what happened, what is the news, at the precise minute it happens has had a somewhat unhealthy effect. Today, when I was looking at the news in [the Washington Post newsletter] Post Most, which I think is a good product, it said something like the “Michael Cohen story” and then [comma]“if true.” [Abramson and I spoke after BuzzFeed reported that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, had evidence that Trump had instructed Cohen to lie to Congress, and before Mueller’s office disputed that account.] I think that, if your interest is giving people totally accurate information, you want to confirm that yourself for your readers. Everything having to be instant is an invitation for some premature falsehoods getting into the system and then, through virality, spreading very quickly.

Where do you think BuzzFeed is right now as a news organization?

I think it has made tremendous strides in being a serious news provider. I think some of its investigative projects are excellent and Mark Schoofs was a great editor of those projects and I think it is amazing that Jonah Peretti [BuzzFeed’s co-founder and C.E.O.], who started out looking to bring smiles to BuzzFeed’s audience’s faces, and run those chains of adorable puppy or kitten pictures—that he decided to invest in a such a large investigative unit. It does not make a penny, clearly. BuzzFeed and all of the digital news startups, when I began the book, they were in such expansive states, hiring like crazy, providing more and more content and stories and raising more and more venture capital. And those days be gone. [Laughs]

It’s sad though. It’s sad to see Mic go away. I visited their newsroom and thought they were doing some interesting work for a somewhat different audience and I think they had some promising young journalists.

Could someone like BuzzFeed News’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, be the executive editor of the New York Times? Why or why not?

Far be it from me to say who could or couldn’t. I think in some ways I was an improbable executive editor. I had never been a foreign correspondent. I was a relative newcomer to the Times. I only came in 1997. I was a woman. All of that made me an improbable choice. Are you asking me if you think he would be capable or if he would be seen as an interesting choice for the job?

Both.

Where I think Ben Smith would be challenged is that the newsroom of the Times is so big and covers such a broad array of subjects that he hasn’t had any experience in. I think that would be a stretch. But I think he is great at training up very young and relatively inexperienced journalists. He has what I would call tabloid-news instincts, but he is a deep thinker about news, too, and recently wrote an interesting story about how he thinks there is too much political reportage that covers politics like sports and is resigning from that club. I think he is a very good editor and a really good newsman. But his sensibility is . . . BuzzFeed, in a way, is a digital tabloid.

Just to turn to Vice, which your book has three sections on. You write, “But most of the on-air talent was very young and had scant experience; only three had ever reported on camera before. What they had was ‘the look.’ They were diverse: just about every race and ethnicity and straight, gay, queer, and transgender. They were impossibly hip, with interesting hair.” Do you think you are slighting them by describing them this way?

I don’t. I think that that’s true of the cast of correspondents. I think that their lack of experience on air, which [Vice’s] Josh Tyrangiel pointed out to me, is a plus. They are trying to attract an audience that doesn’t want a voice-of-God host, or correspondents who are using where they are as props. They have that style that I describe as very immersive. I saw that as a plus.

I asked to interview Arielle Duhaime-Ross, the environmental correspondent, because I liked her pieces, and I thought Elle Reeve’s piece on Charlottesville was amazing, and I watch the HBO show regularly. When I was writing about [Duhaime-Ross’s] focus on policy about her piece on the Paris accords, I meant that as a compliment.

You describe her as a “gender-nonconforming woman from Canada with a degree in zoology and another in journalism who had planned to go to Australia to study poisonous snakes.” You say she had no background in environmental policy, and talk about her “hip blue jacket with matching blue desert boots, her hair closely buzzed.” You add, “Biracial, she identified as black. She almost missed one of the most important stories on her beat, President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, because she had just gotten married and was still on her honeymoon. She rushed back and managed to get a story on the air, one that focused on the implications for the climate, not Trump or the political angle.”

Right.

You don’t mean any of this to be dismissive at all?

I don’t. I meant it as enterprising. She is the one that told me the story about her almost missing the story, and that she was proud her story was about policy. I meant no put-down.

She tweeted

I know.

Just for readers to understand: she tweeted that in the galley of your book you identify her as a transgender woman, which you corrected in the final version. And she says there is no on-air trans talent at Vice, even though both versions of your book say there are. She also says she covered biology for the Verge, and got a master’s in science, health, and environmental reporting, even though you say she didn’t have any experience.

Where do I say she had no experience?

“She had no background in environmental policy” is what you say.

Yeah. She had background in science and health and a little bit of environment, but I don’t think she did have a lot of experience in environmental policy, which is why I thought it was impressive that a lot of her stories are about policy and policy’s effects on real people instead of “climate deniers say blah.” No one corrected me. The transgender thing was an error and I corrected it for the final book.

Did a fact checker call the people you write about? What was the process?

I had a fact checker. Every interview that I did I transcribed right away and no, I didn’t call back everyone that I interviewed. There just wasn’t time to do that, but the book was fact-checked.

In talking about your experience of being fired by the Times, and why it happened, you write that you “fought back,” essentially, against the business side. You add, “Perhaps my principles were too rigid; perhaps to save the Times the old strictures needed to be relaxed.” Have they been relaxed?

Saved for perpetuity? I don’t know, but certainly it is flourishing right now with four million paying subscribers and I think there are at least fifteen hundred people on the news side of the Times. They were in cutting, cutting mode still when I was there, and even while I was writing the book all the copy editors were cut. Its future looks very solid, which I think is very important because I consider the Times to be really the indispensable news organization globally. It has to survive.

Do you think it only survived because its standards have lowered? You talk about the fired copy editors, etc.

No. I think it has . . . No. Ask me that again. I don’t think that and I didn’t write that. The strictures I am talking about are the ones that have always kept the journalists at a distance from things like conferences and other sponsored events. Because of changes in what people want—they want to know the reporters as personalities, and come to live events or go on trips where they mix with them—the truth is that the Times very badly needed new sources of revenue.

Should you have gone along with some things, or has the Times lost something?

I couldn’t go along with those things, because they just were in conflict with my beliefs as a journalist. But obviously most of my career was spent in the age of newspapers, where there was a more clearly defined wall between the business side and news side.

I think that the independence of the newsroom was something that had been drilled into me, certainly in my eight years as managing editor working with [the former executive editor] Bill [Keller]. And over a slow process, and as financial problems intensified, I felt that the business side became more involved in areas I considered news. It really raised my hackles. I say in the book and I believe it now that there wasn’t anything at the Times like Salon-gate. [In 2009, the Washington Post advertised salons at the home of its then publisher, Katharine Weymouth, where lobbyists would meet Post journalists and government officials for off-the-record meals, with the lobbyists footing the bill. After an outcry, the idea was shelved, and a marketing executive resigned.]

Do you think your successor, Dean Baquet, has compromised on things he shouldn’t have because he didn’t have these same things drilled into him as a newsman?

I don’t know. I am not there anymore. I would doubt he has, precisely because there have been no big controversies.

I guess what I am trying to understand is how much you think compromises have impacted the institution.

I don’t think they have impacted the quality of the news report, which is the most important thing.

Even with the loss of copy editors?

I still think that was very sad and that they were a line of defense for everything, from typos to mistakes. They saved my behind more times than I can say. That is quality, and I think when they got very offended during their last days it was because a memo went out saying what I just said, which was that the quality wouldn’t be affected, and they found that insulting, and I can see why.

We talked about anti-Trump stuff getting clicks. Do you think the Op-Ed page is following a different strategy for clicks by running stuff that liberal readers would disagree with?

I haven’t noticed a change in the editorial stance. In the Op-Ed page I haven’t noticed a moderation.

How big a mistake was it to get rid of the public editor?

I think the public editor was a needed person and a needed institution at the Times, because the newsroom has always been hierarchical, and I imagine it still is. And, internally, there are reporters who are sometimes scared to raise concerns about certain stories, and the public editor was an independent person they could go to, and the most important people for any news organization are the readers and the audience. I thought it was a mistake.

On October 31, 2016, the Times ran a story with the headline “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia,” which many people thought was one of the biggest mistakes of the campaign. It takes up several pages of your book, and you have some angry e-mails that Baquet sent to one of the writers, Eric Lichtblau, and other staffers, after the public editor, Liz Spayd, published a column airing internal deliberations and criticizing Baquet’s decision-making about the story. “Eric, I hope your colleagues tear you a new asshole,” Baquet wrote. And then he told other staffers that “you may find me less open, less willing to invite debate, the next time we have a hard decision to make.”

Given that the story was so problematic, and that Lichtblau felt he was undermined by his editors, and that his story ended up erroneously playing down Trump-Russia connections, and everything that we have learned since, do you understand why Baquet was so mad and didn’t take more responsibility?

I think Dean Baquet is a great editor. In that section, I say he is the least timid editor I know. He was hearing conflicting things from his Washington reporters, and the F.B.I. was saying conflicting things.

I think it was a combination of the fog of the story and reporters Baquet trusts having conflicting guidance, especially about the Alfa Bank part. It is unfortunate because Lichtblau has maintained he knew that an investigation of Trump and Russia had begun, and that was the much bigger news probably than Alfa Bank, because even [The New Yorker’s] own seven-thousand-word story didn’t get too hot. I think at the Times that story was viewed as an Alfa Bank story, and in terms of the substance of the e-mail that Dean sent about the rest of his staff, I think he was concerned that certain very sensitive off-the-record conversation with government officials, he was upset that some of that got disclosed.

Given the scale of the possible screw-up—

Oh, I think the headline was a screw-up.

Do you understand how the headline got there?

Um, I don’t. If I had had the details, I would have put them in the book.

Last question for you, because we haven’t talked about this one organization—

I have a couple of things I want to say. You have dwelled on certain things that I don’t think . . . We haven’t dwelled on this history and why I thought it was sos important.

O.K., what do you want to say?

I want to say that having lived through the advent of social media, the invention of the iPhone, the growth of the Facebook news feed, that at the point I was fired from the Times, I thought that here I had had this ringside seat to truly historic change. David Halberstam’s book, “The Powers That Be,” had always been one of my favorites, and had made me interested in becoming a journalist. And I thought this period and the four institutions I focussed on would make a great book. And, more to the point, it would be a fascinating reporting challenge for me. And I think it’s just a hell of a story for readers. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

I was very glad to read it, and that’s why I have quoted so many passages to you.

You write, about the Washington Post, “Though it hadn’t yet happened, it seemed all but inevitable that the Post’s coverage would one day bring Bezos’s commitment to freedom of the press into conflict with Amazon’s commercial interests, given the company’s size and power . . . How the Post would pass this test was unknown, but almost everyone, including Bob Woodward, trusted [executive editor Marty] Baron to protect the paper’s independence and reputation.” The Post, as far as I know, does not do a ton of Amazon reporting right now.

Yeah, that’s true. I have been checking on their coverage of Bezos’s divorce, and I haven’t looked in the past two days, but before that it was pretty de minimis.

Do you feel that because Amazon is already so powerful and they haven’t done a ton of amazing reporting on it that they have in some way already failed this test, or are you more sanguine?

I am more sanguine. I think Marty Baron is such a good newsman and editor and that he would never shy away from covering a controversy. I don’t think that he would shirk doing an in-depth piece about Amazon. They have done some. I don’t worry about that, but nor did I expect to see a long, gossipy, inside piece in the Styles section about the Bezos divorce. And I understand that.

You spoke earlier about BuzzFeed having pictures of dogs and cats, but we should say before we go that you yourself wrote a book about dogs.

Yeah, I know, I don’t have a problem with those. And they do bring a smile to my face anyway. But a chain of adorable puppy pictures wearing sunglasses just isn’t news, or the kind of information that would help people with a decision on who to vote for. But BuzzFeed wasn’t pretending this was news then. They weren’t doing news.

I was actually kidding by bringing this up.

You know I love dogs. I have never been ashamed. The New Yorker did make fun of that book quite a bit.

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January 20, 2019 at 06:59PM

United Airlines 737 Skids Off Snowy O’Hare Runway

United Airlines 737 Skids Off Snowy O’Hare Runway

http://bit.ly/2MjUAOc

Winter weather took aim at the Chicago area once again this weekend dumping up to 8 inches of snow in parts of the Midwestern city. While Chicago is accustomed to dealing with nasty winter storms, the most recent round of winter weather managed to impacted travel canceling over 900 flights on Saturday at the area’s two airports, Midway (MDW) and O’Hare (ORD). In addition to canceling over 900 flights and delaying hundreds more, a minor runway excursion is being blamed on the winter weather at Chicago O’Hare Airport around noon this past Saturday.

United Airlines flight UA656 departed Phoenix (PHX) a few minutes late bound for a snowy Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). The flight was not alone in operating to Chicago as scheduled with the airport reporting some delays and cancellations with many inbound flights still operating as scheduled. After a being put into a brief holding pattern outside of Chicago, UA656 descended and approached runway 4R. After a successful and standard landing a little before noon, the aircraft began to taxi to the gate. As the Boeing 737-900ER exited the runway to continue on to a taxiway, the aircraft skidded off of the runway into a snow-covered patch of grass.

Even some flight trackers managed to pick up on UA 656
Even some flight trackers managed to pick up on UA 656’s minor runway excursion (Image via Flightradar24)

A standard emergency response followed with first responders arriving at the site of the minor runway excursion. Passengers exited the aircraft via stairs and were bussed to the terminal. The incident occurred when the aircraft was moving at a low rate of speed. No one was injured when the aircraft slid off into the patch of grass. In a statement to a local Chicago station WGN-9, one passenger remarked, “Everything was smooth, and all of a sudden, the plane kind of slid off. We were right by the engine, so we could feel the impact.”

The incident is being attributed to the winter weather in the area. As of midday Sunday, the 900 cancellation figure has reportedly risen to over 1,000 cancellations also due to the on-going winter storm. TPG has reached out to United Airlines for additional information but has yet to receive a response. Travelers planning on flying into the Chicago area over the next few days should continue to monitor their flight or contact their airline directly due to the impact of the recent winter storm.

H/T: WGN-9

(Featured image by Shutterstock.com, Note: Featured image is not of the exact aircraft and is a file image)

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January 20, 2019 at 06:30PM

Bangkok Airways Officials Fined After Manipulating the Airline’s Stock Price

Bangkok Airways Officials Fined After Manipulating the Airline’s Stock Price

http://bit.ly/2MnkaSe


Bangkok Airways Pcl Chief Executive Officer Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth has been banned from holding director and executive positions in listed companies in Thailand for manipulating the share price of the airline.

Civil sanctions have been imposed on Prasert and his daughter, Poramaporn Prasarttong-Osoth, the chief operating officer at Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Pcl, as well as Narumon Chainaknan, the executive secretary in the CEO’s office at Bangkok Airways, the Securities & Exchange Commission said in statement on its website dated Friday.

They have been ordered to pay a fine of 499 million baht ($15.7 million) for “concealing their trading activities” in Bangkok Airways’ shares to mislead the public regarding the carrier’s stock price and volumes, the Thai regulator said. The transactions took place between November 2015 and January 2016, it said.

Prasert is also the chief executive officer of Bangkok Dusit Medical, the nation’s biggest private hospital operator. He owns an 18.5 percent stake in the medical company valued at $2.1 billion, making him its biggest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He also owns 10.8 percent of Bangkok Airways.

Nobody picked up calls to the investor relations departments of Bangkok Airways and Bangkok Dusit on Saturday.

Thai regulators have stepped up oversight of executives at listed firms.

The SEC will forward the proposed fines to public prosecutors to seek court orders for payment if Prasert and the other two people refuse to comply, it said in the statement.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Anuchit Nguyen from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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January 20, 2019 at 06:20PM