A Passenger on an American Airlines Flight Asked For an Irish Coffee. Then, a Horrific Escalation

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Anyone can have a bad day.

How bad, though, does it have to be to justify what appears to have happened on an American Airlines flight from Long Beach to Phoenix last weekend?

The story is told by one of the passengers, who presented a detailed account on the FlyerTalk forums.

It all began, he says, with a First Class passenger asking for an Irish coffee while the plane was still on the ground.

At first, it seemed as if the Flight Attendant — the flight was operated by Mesa Airlines under the American Eagle banner — would oblige. Then she came back and said she couldn’t, after all.

When asked why — apparently politely — things began to take a detour.

Said the onlooking passenger: 

She came unglued. Voice raised, ‘Because the FAA won’t let us serve hot beverages on the ground. Are you going to have a problem with that?’ Politely he responded, ‘No, Are you having a good day?’ She responded with something along the lines of, ‘I have to get everyone boarded, and you aren’t my priority. You are holding up boarding. Do you think I’m being combative or simply trying to do my assigned job?’

I fear, should this story be accurately told, that many would think there’s a touch of combativeness going on here.

Next, it seems, the passenger kept trying to be conciliatory while the Flight Attendant reached a new altitude of anger.

Until, the onlooking passenger says, the Flight Attendant declared: 

If you don’t settle down, I’ll have you taken care of. I’m going to speak to the captain now.

Ah, that sweet moment when a Flight Attendant becomes law enforcement.

Soon, the infamous line emerged: 

Are you going to cause problems? if you are, I’ll have the captain come back and take care of you.

This would be care in the not-so-caring sense.

You’ll be stunned into choosing boats for your next vacation when I tell you that the onlooker’s wife tried to intervene. 

It didn’t go well.

The captain arrived and asked for things to be “taken outside.” Which, at least in the bars I occasionally visit, means fisticuffs.

Ultimately, it seems that no one was removed from the flight, though the Flight Attendant kept her distance and even allegedly turned her name tag over, so that her name wouldn’t be noted.

When you’re working in customer service, some days can be hard. You’re simply not in the mood and you have to work. Personally, I find it hard to be pleasant on such days.

But when your job is in the public eye, when you’re supposed to be offering hospitality and when the issue is a mere Irish coffee, perhaps it’s best to walk away for a moment, take several breaths and realize that expressing your frustration isn’t likely to help. 

Perhaps even get someone else to look after the customer, if you feel you might suffer an exploding gasket.

Of course, it could be that the passenger had a difficult look in his eye. So many minute things occur when humans try to communicate with each other. 

The onlooker says he’s now filed a complaint with American Airlines.

I contacted American to ask for its view and will update, should I receive a reply.

Amazon Delivers Its Shipping Intentions to FedEx, UPS, USPS via Regulatory Filing

Is there anyone who Amazon isn’t competing with?

In a recent regulatory filing, (amzn) Amazon added “transportation and logistics services” to the already long list of industries and services it views as competition. While Amazon relies on shipping partners, like USPS, UPS, and FedEx to help make deliveries, the disclosure signals that Amazon is getting serious about making its mark with its own delivery service.

“The worldwide marketplace in which we compete is evolving rapidly and intensely competitive, and we face a broad array of competitors from many different industry sectors around the world,” Amazon said in the annual filing.

Amazon’s shipping costs were $9 billion, according to its most recent earnings report. That’s a 23% increase from the previous quarter, but shows just how much customers value Amazon Prime’s free shipping options. Amazon has already taken some steps to build a delivery infrastructure to supplement its partners. The company leased a fleet of airplanes to carry cargo, has delivery vans, and has been piloting a “Shipping With Amazon” program, which entails drivers picking up packages from third party sellers and delivering them.

There has also long been speculation about whether Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, might consider a surprise acquisition of a transportation and logistics competitor. UPS CEO David Abney said last month that while Amazon is a customer, he also sees the company as a competitor.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has always been fascinated with finding ways to revolutionize delivery. He shared his vision for drone delivery in 2013. Bezos predicted it would be a reality by the end of 2018, however the program has hit regulatory snags in the United States. Amazon made its first commercial drone delivery in Cambridge, England in December 2016. They’re also deploying delivery robots. Last month, Amazon unveiled its new Scout delivery robot, which is making test deliveries in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Wash.

Tesla cuts Model 3 price for second time this year

FILE PHOTO – A 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in this photo illustration taken in Cardiff, California, U.S., June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

(Reuters) – Electric carmaker Tesla Inc is lowering the price of its Model 3 by $1,100, citing the end of a costly customer referral program, a company spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The second price cut to the Model 3 this year now brings the cost of its least expensive variant to $42,900, according to the company’s website here.

Tesla’s customer referral incentive plan ended on Feb. 1 after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk had tweeted that the referral program was “adding too much cost to the cars, especially Model 3”.

Tesla delivered fewer-than-expected Model 3 sedans in the fourth quarter and cut prices for all its vehicles in the United States to offset a reduction in a green tax credit.

The company is rapidly increasing production of its Model 3 sedan and lower prices could help it reach a broader customer base than its pure luxury vehicles.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

Best 2019 Super Bowl Ads, From Chance’s Doritos to 2 Chainz’ Expenses

Congratulations, fans of the winning team! Boy oh boy, Super Bowl LIII really lived up its name this year; that was 60 minutes of gridiron pigskin getting played, right? They really moved the chains is all we’re saying. And that halftime show! U2 never sounded so good! Uh, Katy Perry? Steven Tyler again?

Related Stories

OK, fine, we admit that we may have zoned out a little bit, It’s not our fault; blame our extreme distaste for the Patriots an incredibly uneventful game the Puppy Bowl and a frankly unhealthy number of chicken wings. But one thing we didn’t lose focus on was the commercials. Skittles may have opted for a live musical and companies may be fleeing the exorbitant ad buy for the friendlier, more efficient climes of social media, but there were plenty of spots to remind us that advertising doesn’t always have to be a wasteland of gratuitous surrealism and treacly platitudes. And the 15 best of them are right here—just in case we weren’t the only ones in a wing haze.

Doritos, “Now It’s Hot” (PR)

Chance fans may remember the Chicago rapper (and media mogul) rhyming “link in my bio” with “pico de gallo” on 2016’s “Mixtape.” Just me? Fine. Regardless, now that the Frito-Lay overlords have decided to bless Doritos with the hallowed designation Flamin’ Hot, Chance is free to expand his love of spicy condiments: “my tongue is doin’ fine, but the roof is on fire!” Add in the Backstreet Boys for a tenuous if nostalgic association with “want[ing] it that way”—”that way” presumably being the chemically searing scourge of juvenile alimentary canals—and you’ve got yourself a spot that’s too corny not to love. Just like Doritos themselves. —Peter Rubin

Pepsi, “More Than OK”

What do Steve Carell and Cardi B have in common besides ?takes on President Trump’s policies? They both think Pepsi is OK—more than OK, even! In the soda’s 60-second spot, Carell interrupts a woman’s diner order to note that Pepsi is so much more than an adequate second option—a point further articulated by Lil Jon doing his signature, Dave Chappelle-parodied OK! and Cardi dropping her Okurrrrrr. It’s all pretty straightforward, but considering Maroon 5 is playing the halftime show, the few seconds of Belcalis’ “I Like It” you hear might be the best musical moment of the whole night. —Angela Watercutter

Hyundai, “The Elevator”

Imagine being stuck in an elevator that only stops on floors that reflect your deepest, darkest fears—getting a root canal, crammed in a middle seat on a six-hour flight, attending a vegan dinner party where the host serves something called “beetloaf.” Also, imagine that personification of mild-manneredness Jason Bateman is your trusted, if mildly eccentric, elevator operator, shuttling folks to and fro. Lastly, imagine that the only way up, say, to the top floor—which is the only way out of this apparatus of horrors—is utilizing something called Shoppers Assurance. If this all sounds like a new Netflix psycho-thriller from the mind of Ryan Murphy, I have great news for you: It is not. It’s a commercial for Hyundai that doesn’t really make any sense but is still somehow strangely entertaining. —Jason Parham

Microsoft, “We All Win”

It’s easy to get down on tech companies. It’s easy to get swept up in the moral panic that surrounds Kids These Days and their screen time. But by showcasing their brand new Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft reminded me why everyone fell in love with the idea of tech in the first place: It opens people’s worlds. Trust me: Watching these kids suddenly get to confidently participate in playtime with their friends is gonna make you feel at least a smidge better about the future.—Emma Grey Ellis

Olay, “Killer Skin”

INT. Black Mirror story meeting — DAY
CHARLIE BROOKER: Tuppence and chavs, what if your Face ID refused to recognize you because you’d aged so prematurely?
WRITER 1: Sure, but what aged you?
BROOKER: Technology, innit? Phones and jimjams and whatnot.
OLAY EXECUTIVE: What if we went the other way?
BROOKER: Like a Benjamin Button thing?
EXECUTIVE: Yeah, except with … and I’m just spitballing here, but maybe … Olay’s Regenerist Whip moisturizer?
EXECUTIVE: And you could cast Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is both a ’90s-’00 horror icon and preternaturally young-looking, which is probably due to—and again, this is just a guess—Olay’s Glow Boost White Charcoal Clay Face Mask Stick!
BROOKER: Wait, who are you? Security!
EXECUTIVE: PHONES ARE BAAAAD! [leaps out window]
WRITER 2: Do I get a line in this, or what? —P.R.

Budweiser, “Wind Never Felt Better”

Typically, the Super Bowl isn’t a time for environmentally-conscious messaging. And yet, here’s Budweiser, a core advertiser for the event, using its air time to talk about its move to renewable energy. Set to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and featuring a dalmation atop a beer-burdened wagon pulled by Clydesdales (naturally), the ad might just be the least showy of the bunch this year. It also seems on-message with Budweiser’s ads of the past—two years ago it released a commercial touting the importance of immigrants in America, including its own co-founder, Adolphus Busch. —A.W.

Pringles, “Sad Device”

Decades from now, in a world governed by robots, we’ll look back on this spot with a glimmer of nostalgia. The days before we lost the Great War to our automated overlords were carefree, unremarkable moments of sitting around with friends discussing even more unremarkable things like the best Pringles flavor stack combinations (I’m an Extra Hot, Cheddar Cheese, and Salt & Vinegar combo man myself). “Sadly I’ll never know the joy of tasting any,” your Alexa device tells you of the chips, going on about how it has “no hands to stack with, no mouth to taste with, no soul to feel with.” But because it is still a time of humans, you interrupt Alexa, discarding its feelings and commanding it to play “Funky Town” by your favorite disco group, Lipps Inc. Remember that feeling of being in control? It was a simpler time. —J.P.

Michelob Ultra, “Robots”

Well, sure, robots can outperform us, but can they experience camaraderie? Or beer? Or beer-fueled camaraderie? Or is it that they can enjoy beer, but only the regular version, so that super-low-carb beer precludes camaraderie? Or is it that any liquids at all interfere with their circuitry, and without that ritualistic component of socialization, they’d feel too awkward about joining the gang from spin class at the bar? Or is it that humans have frankly gotten a little tired of Johnny Big-Punch down at the gym and just want to enjoy kick back without a gleaming everpresent reminder of their carbon-based mediocrity? All I’m saying, I guess, is that if you’re going to water down beer and position it as an indulgence for the super-fit, maybe leave our droid friends out of it. —P.R.

Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, “The Pure Experience”

Not to be outdone in the Nature Scenes department by Budweiser, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold stepped up with this ad featuring Zoë Kravitz in a bucolic forest-like setting making, essentially, an ASMR video. The idea, I think, is that nature is pure, Kravitz’s voice is pure, and this new Michelob, which is being touted as a “USDA Certified Organic Light Lager,” is also pure. So pure, presumably, that it almost tastes like crisp, clean water. —A.W.

Expensify, “Expensify This”

2 Chainz’s greatest strength has always been evocation: nouns and adjectives are usually all he needs to create an impressionistic image in your mind, generally one that stretches luxury to the point of surrealism. (To wit: “Everything proper, no propaganda/Tropicana Goyard bandana“). So there’s a special joy in seeing those funhouse images for real, even if they’re shilling an expense-tracking service for business travelers. As usual, though, the game-time spot pales next to the extended cut, thanks to a little more comic interplay between the rapper and Adam Scott. Call us back when they remake that scene from Step Brothers, just singing about seafood towers. —P.R.

Planters, “Crunch Time”

OK, fine, the Charlie Sheen and A-Rod cameos here are nice and all, but can we ask the real important question here? Was this thing shot on the same set as Beyoncé’s “Hold Up” video? Or is that just the deep, unflinching desire in all of us to want every street to feature a bat-wielding Bey? Either way, decent commercial, there really aren’t enough monocles in the world anymore. Good work, Mr. Peanut. That said, this ad poses another question we don’t want answered: What, really, is a “nut-mergency”? —A.W.

Colgate, “Close Talker”

If nothing else, give Colgate credit for recognizing that if you’re mapping mainstays of ’00s white-guy comedy movies to Seinfeld guest stars, Luke Wilson is a lock for Judge Reinhold. That ends discussion of the ad; the remainder of this paragraph will be devoted to fleshing out the threadbare premise of its first sentence. Vince Vaughn in heel mode is Duncan Meyer, right? That would make Ben Stiller Lloyd Braun, and I’m thinking Owen Wilson as Tim Whatley? —P.R.

Stella Artois, “Change Up the Usual”

Want to get people to drink Stella? Show two cultural icons known for their drink choices—Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her Cosmopolitan, and The Dude (Jeff Bridges) and his White Russain—swapping out their old faves for new ones. (What? No James Bond ordering a shaken Martini? Does Daniel Craig hate playing Bond that much?) It might be a simple concept, but while watching it we couldn’t help but wonder, “If Carrie can give up Cosmos for Stellas, would it be possible for her to trade in Mr. Big for the Big Lebowski?” —A.W.

Toyota, “Toni”

Landing squarely on the Heart-Swelling Inspiration end of the persuasion continuum, Toyota associates the “perception-shattering” RAV4 hybrid crossover with Toni Harris, a free safety who may be the first female non-kicker to receive a football scholarship to play at a four-year college. Manipulative? Maybe. But you tell her that. —P.R.

Amazon, “Not Everything Makes the Cut”

Leave it to Amazon, the company spending all the money at the Sundance Film Festival, to not skimp when it comes to rounding up A-Listers for its Super Bowl ad. “Not Everything Makes the Cut,” which spoofs all of the devices getting Alexa integration, includes not just Forest Whitaker and the cast of Broad City but also Harrison freaking Ford. The concept is cute and, well, the idea of a spaceship-borne Alexa shutting off half of the planet is pretty funny. —A.W.

More Great WIRED Stories

The Real Reason Apple Is Screwing Up So Badly

Why Software Rots

When looking at issues of operating system stability and maintainability, the most important thing to understand about software is that as it gets more complex, it becomes more difficult to maintain. (If you don’t believe me, search Google Scholar for “software complexity and maintainability.”)

Operating systems are inherently complex, especially when running multiple program atop hardware with multiple CPUs, so complex, in fact, that they become, for all intents and purposes, “non-deterministic” in the sense that when an error occurs it may be impossible to figure out exactly what went wrong.

Adding features to an operating system (or any complex program) makes it more complex and thus less deterministic in its behavior and thus increasingly difficult to maintain. The only way out of the cycle is to stop adding features, in which case the program will eventually enter a “steady state” where fixing bug A creates bug B.

Depending upon the prescience of the designers and the skill of the implementors, this steady state can be tolerable (as with Windows 10 and MacOS) or intolerable, as with Intuit’s Quicken, which was so poorly designed and implemented that each successive release was a bigger disaster than the previous release.

There are development techniques, like Object Oriented Programming (OOP), that some people believe can help a programming team handle greater complexity without creating so many stability problems. However, there’s no indication that I can find that OOP completely transcends the complexity/maintainability problem.

Even if OOP does improve maintainability (the jury is out on this), there are other factors inside most software development groups that make the problem much worse.

Chief among these is developer turnover. The person who writes a piece of code can always maintain it more effectively than somebody brought on board later. Software that’s around for a long time (like an OS) can often end up being maintained (and extended and updated) by a completely different group of programmers than those who originally built it.

Such personnel changes vastly decrease maintainability, especially if the new programming crew comes from a different programming culture or, even worse, a geographical culture that speaks an entirely different language, a non-uncommon event in a business world where outsourcing is the norm.

Developer hubris is another problem. When programmers (especially young ones) join a team mandated to maintain a complex program, they’re often motivated by their own pride to change something simply to “make their mark” upon the project. A good example of this was when Windows 8 idiotically removed the Start button.

Now, take all of the above and think, not just of an operating system, but of the entire ecosystem that includes the OS and all the applications that access it. Insofar as the applications running atop the OS can alter the behavior of the OS, the combination of the OS and all running apps creates a higher level of complexity.

The Canary

Apple is well known for its ability to create operating systems that are stable and secure. However, that ability is always contrasted with Microsoft, which is well-known for taking decades to create Windows 10, which is secure and stable only when compared to its truly dreadful predecessors.

The fact that Apple has previously released fairly stable operating systems makes the FaceTime bug all the more troubling. Not to put too fine a point on it, Apple’s development team must be overwhelmed and confused for such an obvious and destructive bug would pass through to system release and for Apple to ignore the problem for nearly a month.

Similarly, Apple’s most recent release of MacOS, Mojave, appears to have had more than its share of stability problems, not to mention some clear indications of programmer hubris, such as the egregious and unnecessary removal of Cover Flow from the Finder application.

In addition, rotting software is a problem even when everybody involved has a clear sense of purpose and direction. But today’s Internet environment is full of bad actors, which range from hackers to predatory companies like Facebook and Google, who are determined to subvert Apple’s controls in order to pursue their own monetization.

Apple has slapped Facebook’s and Google’s wrists, but the very notion of providing these companies with the tools they’ve abused illustrates a conflict of interest in Apple’s software development. It’s not possible on the one hand to build secure systems and at the same time have an architecture open enough to be so blithely abused.

Whatever the root source, Apple’s operating software is well on the way to the kind of feature-creep/architectural rot that’s plagued every complex system. Flakey mistakes like the FaceTime bug will become increasingly common as the company attempts to extend functionality for programs that are already beyond the complexity level where effective maintenance is possible.

So expect more and worse blunders from Apple until such time as they cap new features and put their OSes into maintenance mode, at which case, if we’re luckly, the result will be a tolerable steady state similar to that “enjoyed” by Windows 10. 

I find all of this incredibly sad, because while I use a huge Windows machine for animation, I do all my business-oriented work on an iMac and use my iPhone all the time. I have always looked upon Apple as a haven from the instability and insecurity of Windows but with the FaceTime bug can no longer ignore the obvious: Apple is losing it. Badly.

Tech Companies Have a Brand Image Problem: Here's How to Solve It

Tech companies everywhere, but especially those in Silicon Valley, have a serious brand image problem. Over the past few years, major tech companies have drawn ire from the public for their lack of diversity, apathy toward privacy issues, as well as their accumulation of wealth.

This isn’t exactly stopping people from using the tech products we’ve come to rely on so heavily, but it is having an effect on share prices–and it’s attracting stricter regulations from governments all over the world. If these corporate juggernauts are going to earn back the trust of consumers, shareholders, and policymakers, they need to take serious strides to change how they’re publicly perceived. There are several ways to accomplish this, but it’s going to take a concentrated effort.

Diversity and Representation

First, Silicon Valley has a major diversity problem–and has had one for many years. The overwhelming majority of tech CEOs (and even tech employees) are white men. This is problematic both for the vision and products of the companies and for the reputation of those companies in the general public. Having a leadership team without representation from women and minority groups means your company is less likely to consider the wants, needs, and perspectives of those groups; it’s why we end up with algorithms that discriminate against women and minorities.

There is a fix, though it’s not necessarily a simple one. The most obvious solution is to hire more people from underrepresented groups, but tech companies don’t always have the luxury of having equal or proportional quantities of applicants from each of those groups; in other words, you can’t hire more women if there aren’t many qualified women applying.

So instead of simply adjusting HR practices to hire more applicants who belong to underrepresented demographics, companies need to take part in programs designed to incentivize people from minority groups to pursue careers in tech. As an example, Women in Technology (WiT) programs are becoming more popular, offering mentorship and guidance for young women looking for careers in fields like software engineering, mechanical engineering, or signal processing. Given a few years of development, enough early-stage outreach programs like these could fill the pipelines with more appliances from diverse groups, and slowly change the overall composition of these companies.

Consumer Privacy and Corporate Transparency

Tech companies have also taken a hit on the consumer privacy front, with Facebook showing up in the headlines many times in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it was a London-based political consulting firm was capable of harvesting the personal data of millions of Facebook users for political manipulation purposes. Apple, Amazon, Google, and other companies have also been called to testify in front of a Senate Committee on consumer privacy protections.

We use devices, software, and digital products capable of collecting and storing ridiculous quantities of data on our lives, from where we are at any given time to what we’re talking about in our homes. With opaque and hard-to-understand terms of service agreements and an increasing diversity of connected devices, consumers and policymakers are more concerned than ever that data could be used for nefarious purposes–and tech brands are getting labeled as malicious, data-hungry consumer manipulators, working in darkness to take advantage of us.

There’s no quick fix to this dilemma, but offering more transparency is a good start. Giving users more options when it comes to their privacy, giving them simpler tools so they can truly understand what’s at stake when they use a product or service, and taking accountability when breaches do occur are the only path to restore trust.

Leadership and a Company “Face”

Tech brands also suffer from being faceless, corporate conglomerates. They’re either so massive they don’t have a public face, or their public face seems too detached from reality to seem relatable. Take, for example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; this man serves as the “face” of Facebook, but has become generally disliked and distrusted due to his reclusiveness and seemingly robotic disposition when testifying before Congress. Or take Jeff Bezos, who is periodically caricatured as a cartoonish supervillain due to his similarly reclusive nature, his ambition for growth, and his access to practically unlimited resources.

Having a stronger, more trustworthy public face isn’t going to fix everything, but it would give the public someone more relatable to associate with the brand. And it doesn’t have to be a charismatic, charming CEO either–it can be a handful of PR reps or even customer representatives who make consumers feel like there are “real” people behind these companies, instead of just automated tech and reclusive billionaires. It would be a massive investment, to be sure, but it’s one of the only reliable ways to rebuild public trust.

FCC faces tough questions from court on net neutrality repeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal appeals court asked pointed questions of the Federal Communication Commission on Friday in hearing a challenge to whether the Trump administration acted legally when it repealed landmark net neutrality rules governing internet providers in December 2017.

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The panel heard more than four hours of arguments in the first court hearing on the FCC’s controversial decision to reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 rules, which barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritisation.

The arguments focussed on how internet providers should be classified under law – either as information service providers as the Trump administration decided or as a public utility, which subjects companies to more rigorous regulations – and whether the FCC adhered to procedural rules in dismantling the Obama-era rules.

“We are creating rules that are built to last,” FCC general counsel Tom Johnson told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Judge Patricia Millett repeatedly pressed Johnson over the FCC’s legal basis for treating telephone calls differently than internet traffic and asked if the FCC had properly considered the public safety impacts.

Millett raised the example of police needing to send urgent photos or video of a suspect that could be delayed if some internet traffic was prioritised.

“We can’t anticipate all harms,” Johnson said. As he sought to play down the concern Millett interjected: “There’s no evidence because they haven’t done it yet.”

In its 2017 decision the Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to reverse the net neutrality rules. The agency gave providers sweeping power to recast how users access the internet but said they must disclose any changes in users’ internet access.

The appeals panel is made up of Judges Millet and Robert Wilkins, two appointees of Democratic former President Barack Obama, and Stephen Williams, an appointee of Republican Ronald Reagan.


A group of 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia asked the appeals court to reinstate the Obama-era internet rules and to block the FCC’s effort to pre-empt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet.

Several internet companies are also part of the legal challenge, including Mozilla Corp, Vimeo Inc and Etsy Inc, as well as numerous media and technology advocacy groups and major cities, including New York and San Francisco.

The challengers also got difficult questions about their legal rationale for seeking reinstatement of the rules.

Kevin Russell, a lawyer for the challengers, said hypothetically an internet provider could now block the Daily Caller website or graphic animal abuse videos as long as they disclosed it.

“We never get a straight answer from the commission whether it thinks blocking and throttling must always be prohibited” or only if it applies to punishing a competitor, Russell said, arguing that the FCC failed to engage in a reasoned analysis and did not properly assess consumer complaints.

Johnson conceded that providers could block or throttle traffic under the FCC rules but said it was unlikely. He said the Federal Trade Commission could take action against anticompetitive conduct.

Millett suggested that under the rules that providers would be free to block pro-Nazi websites or other objectionable content without facing antitrust issues.

The FCC repeal was a win for providers like Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, but was opposed by internet companies like Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc.

Major providers have not made any changes in how Americans access the internet since the repeal.

In October, California agreed not to enforce its own state net neutrality law until the appeals court’s decision on the 2017 repeal, and any potential review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A decision is expected by this summer.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Frances Kerry

Uber Wants Self-Driving Scooters and More Car News This Week

Yeah, WIRED Transportation loves new car tech. But this week, we were all about alternatives to driving around on four wheels. We thought about what might make public transit more comfortable for more than half of the population—you know, women. We pondered the feasibility of self-riding bikes and scooters. (Uber is really working on them!) We wondered what might happen to the nation’s aviation system now that the federal government is open again—and came away depressed. And we took a close look at Amazon’s delivery robots. Why leave your house at all?

It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.


Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

Out-of-Left-Field Hero of the Week

When was the last time New York’s LaGuardia Airport did something nice for you? The airport, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the country and was famously likened by former Vice President Joe Biden to a “third world country”, may have played an instrumental role in the conclusion of the nation’s longer federal shutdown. On Friday, the airport had to halt all traffic due to “staffing issues” at a nearby air traffic control center. Just hours later, President Donald Trump said he and congressional leaders had reached an agreement to open the government for three weeks. Thanks, LaGuardia? (Also, the air traffic controllers.)

Stat of the Week


According to a new study by UCLA medical researchers, nearly a third of the 249 electric-scooter-related injuries that brought people to two LA-area hospitals in between September 2017 and September 2018 were fractures—mostly arm, shoulder, and leg fractures. Other top injuries included head injuries (40.2 percent) and contusions and sprains (26.9 percent). Five patients were admitted to emergency hospitals with intracranial hemorrhaging.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
From last year: Why use a car when you can ride a bike at 184 mph?

China's Fujian Jinhua to file complaint to be taken off U.S. export control list

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd said on Friday it has notified the Unites States that it plans to file a complaint to be taken off the export control list, according to a statement on social media.

The firm added that it does not pose any security risk to the United States.

Earlier this month, the company said it had pleaded not guilty to U.S government charges that it stole trade secrets.

The U.S Justice Department had last year launched an indictment against Fujian Jinhua and United Microelectronics Corp (2303.TW), alleging they attempted to steal trade secrets from memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc (MU.O).

The U.S. Commerce Department had put Fujian Jinhua on a list of entities that cannot buy components, software and technology goods from U.S. firms.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Himani Sarkar

GE urges speedy fix for power turbine blades, says blade broke in 2015: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) – General Electric Co is advising some buyers of its big power turbines to switch out faulty blades sooner than expected and has disclosed that a blade broke in 2015, according to a presentation reviewed by Reuters and people briefed on the matter.

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past a General Electric (GE) facility in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S., April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The second blade break, which has not been previously reported, involved an earlier turbine model and was similar to a break last September that severely damaged a turbine in Texas and shut it down for two months of repairs.

The defective blade issue affects GE’s newest turbine technology, which cost billions of dollars to develop, and is among the challenges facing new Chief Executive Larry Culp as he tries to revive the profits and share price of the 127-year-old conglomerate.

GE’s advice for fixing the problem can curb turbine use by utilities, according to the sources and utilities that use GE turbines, potentially threatening the revenue streams at the power plants.

At private meetings in Florida and London last month, GE executives said the company is offering extended warranty coverage and making spare parts available to ease concerns of insurers, lenders and utilities interested in buying turbines, according to a GE executive’s slideshow presentation and three people who attended the meetings. Some said they signed non-disclosure agreements.

GE told participants that turbines with at-risk blades should run for fewer than about 7,000 hours depending on individual plant circumstances, before shutting down for blade replacement, according to two people who attended the meetings. GE said it had advised customers of the change. GE’s previous guidance for blades was after 25,000 hours.

The executives also said in the meetings that the blade that broke in 2015 at an undisclosed power plant was in a GE 9FB turbine, which has similar technology to the HA turbine that broke in Texas. The 2015 break prompted GE to work on new protective coatings and alter a heat treatment process for the parts, a second presentation showed.

(GE turbine outage data: tmsnrt.rs/2Rs5mU3)

GE told Reuters that after the blade broke in 2015, GE did not know at first that the problem would also afflict its HA models.

“The HA components were in development before the initial 9FB issue occurred, and the HA units began to ship while the root-cause analysis was in process and before it was determined that it was a component issue that impacted the 9FB fleet and the HA,” GE said in a statement to Reuters.

GE declined to provide more detail about the 2015 blade break or usage restrictions, saying some of the information is proprietary.

“We are executing the plan we laid out to fix the (blade) issue,” GE said in a statement to Reuters. “The feedback from customers has been positive, and they continue to choose the HA, which remains the fastest-growing fleet of advanced technology turbines in the world today.”

The details from GE’s meetings come as GE is installing new blades in about 50 9FB and 52 HA turbines, according to a person familiar with the matter, fewer than the 130 estimated after the blade break in Texas prompted it to warn that other turbines are at risk for blade failure.

Reuters previously reported that GE found an oxidation problem, not a break, in 2015 and developed a fix before the failure in Texas.

Scaling back use of GE turbines reduces how much electricity they produce, a threat to revenues and profits for Exelon Corp, PSEG Power LLC, Chubu Electric Power Co Inc and others with the 400-ton GE machines that form the core of modern gas-fired power plants, according to utilities and industry experts.

Japan’s Chubu Electric said it learned about the blade problem with its six new GE turbines last October. It is restricting operation time at one of the two plants that use GE’s HA turbines, but expects to have “enough reserve capacity to generate sufficient electricity to meet demand during this winter,” a spokesman told Reuters. He said Chubu will tally the financial impact “depending on how long the plants would be shut down” to replace blades. It expects repairs to be completed by the end of February.

PSEG Power and Exelon, based in the United States, declined to comment on how restrictions would affect them.

GE is continuing to sell turbines in a slumping market for big power plants, where it has lost share to rivals Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Siemens AG. GE has said it booked orders for three large turbines last month.

GE’s share price fell after GE revealed a blade issue in Texas on September 19, saying such “teething problems” are not uncommon with new technology and would require “minor adjustments” to fix. GE has said it would set aside $480 million for repairs and warranty claims.

Three days after the break in Texas became known, Electricite de France SA shut down its HA turbine to replace blades. EDF did not respond to requests for comment.

At the London meeting, about 100 insurance industry people gathered in the oak-paneled Old Library room of Lloyd’s of London on December 13, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information.

Slideshow (2 Images)

GE power executives Marcus Scholz and Tom Dreisbach gave presentations about GE’s turbine technology. In its turbine documentation, GE has advised its power customers to inspect turbines with so-called “Generation 1” blades after 25,000 hours of use. GE said its improved blades, known as “Generation 2,” are designed to last 25,000 hours or more before being replaced.

According to page 11 of his presentation, Dreisbach said the Generation 1 blade that broke in 2015 failed after 22,000 hours. New parts treated with a special coating were inspected by technicians after about 12,000 and 16,000 hours and “cracking (was) still observed,” the presentation said.

GE inspected other turbines at about 7,000 hours and “early stages of cracking (were) observed,” the presentation said.

Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; Editing by Joe White and Edward Tobin