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Family forced to sit in vomit on United flight

Published: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 @ 6:15 AM
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 @ 6:15 AM


            Photo credit: Associated Press
Photo credit: Associated Press

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A Maryland family says they were forced to sit in vomit-covered seats on their United Airlines flight from Orlando, Florida.

Scott Shirley and his family were visiting Disney World as a birthday trip with their 7-year-old son, Phoenix. As they boarded their return flight at Orlando International Airport, they began storing their bags underneath their seats and that's when they noticed a strange smell and their bags were wet.

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“She [Shirley’s wife] reached down and rubbed the ground and goes “the whole ground is wet,” and then she put it to her nose and goes “Oh my god! This is throw up,” Shirley explained to WUSA9.

Shirley's wife suffers from Mysophobia (fear of germs) and began crying hysterically. Mr. Shirley informed the crew who told them a passenger had gotten sick on the previous flight and that they had cleaned the area.

'It was clear that no one had cleaned the area where we were sitting, because there was no evidence of any chemical smell what so ever,' he added. 

With vomit all over their hands and bags, they say the flight attendants gave them two options: take a flight the next day or sit in the vomit-covered seats. Since Shirley's wife works for the Food and Drug Administration and had to be back to work the next day, they had no choice but to stay. The family says there were given blankets to cover the seats but no additional cleaning was done. They were also given trash bags to put their wet luggage in.

'It was completely humiliating walking through the airport with our belongings in trash bags as if we were some sort of homeless family,' said Mr. Shirley. 

United Airlines has apologized and admits the area was not as thoroughly cleaned as it should've been. They've offered each member of the family a $150 voucher as well as additional mileage points. 

Watch video HERE.

Read transcript of Sen. Jeff Flake’s speech comparing Pres. Donald Trump to Josef Stalin

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 12:19 PM

WATCH: Sen. Jeff Flake Condemns President Trump’s Attacks on Media

CNN has posted the transcript of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)’s speech on the floor of the Senate in which he compared statements made by President Donald Trump to those of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

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From CNN, as released prior to the speech

“Mr. President, near the beginning of the document that made us free, our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident ...’ So, from our very beginnings, our freedom has been predicated on truth. The founders were visionary in this regard, understanding well that good faith and shared facts between the governed and the government would be the very basis of this ongoing idea of America.

“As the distinguished former member of this body, Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, famously said: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." During the past year, I am alarmed to say that Senator Moynihan's proposition has likely been tested more severely than at any time in our history.

“It is for that reason that I rise today, to talk about the truth, and its relationship to democracy. For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts, Mr. President, our democracy will not last.

“2017 was a year which saw the truth -- objective, empirical, evidence-based truth -- more battered and abused than any other in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. It was a year which saw the White House enshrine "alternative facts" into the American lexicon, as justification for what used to be known simply as good old-fashioned falsehoods. It was the year in which an unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally-protected free press was launched by that same White House, an assault that is as unprecedented as it is unwarranted. "The enemy of the people," was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017.

“Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase "enemy of the people," that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of "annihilating such individuals" who disagreed with the supreme leader.

“This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president's party. For they are shameful, repulsive statements. And, of course, the president has it precisely backward -- despotism is the enemy of the people. The free press is the despot's enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn't suit him "fake news," it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.

“I dare say that anyone who has the privilege and awesome responsibility to serve in this chamber knows that these reflexive slurs of "fake news" are dubious, at best. Those of us who travel overseas, especially to war zones and other troubled areas around the globe, encounter members of US based media who risk their lives, and sometimes lose their lives, reporting on the truth. To dismiss their work as fake news is an affront to their commitment and their sacrifice.

“According to the International Federation of Journalists, 80 journalists were killed in 2017, and a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists documents that the number of journalists imprisoned around the world has reached 262, which is a new record. This total includes 21 reporters who are being held on "false news" charges.

“Mr. President, so powerful is the presidency that the damage done by the sustained attack on the truth will not be confined to the president's time in office. Here in America, we do not pay obeisance to the powerful -- in fact, we question the powerful most ardently -- to do so is our birthright and a requirement of our citizenship -- and so, we know well that no matter how powerful, no president will ever have dominion over objective reality.

“No politician will ever get to tell us what the truth is and is not. And anyone who presumes to try to attack or manipulate the truth to his own purposes should be made to realize the mistake and be held to account. That is our job here. And that is just as Madison, Hamilton, and Jay would have it.

“Of course, a major difference between politicians and the free press is that the press usually corrects itself when it gets something wrong. Politicians don't.

“No longer can we compound attacks on truth with our silent acquiescence. No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to these assaults on our institutions. And Mr. President, an American president who cannot take criticism -- who must constantly deflect and distort and distract -- who must find someone else to blame -- is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger.

“Now, we are told via Twitter that today the president intends to announce his choice for the ‘most corrupt and dishonest’ media awards. It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle. But here we are.

“And so, 2018 must be the year in which the truth takes a stand against power that would weaken it. In this effort, the choice is quite simple. And in this effort, the truth needs as many allies as possible. Together, my colleagues, we are powerful. Together, we have it within us to turn back these attacks, right these wrongs, repair this damage, restore reverence for our institutions, and prevent further moral vandalism.

“Together, united in the purpose to do our jobs under the Constitution, without regard to party or party loyalty, let us resolve to be allies of the truth -- and not partners in its destruction.

“It is not my purpose here to inventory all of the official untruths of the past year. But a brief survey is in order. Some untruths are trivial -- such as the bizarre contention regarding the crowd size at last year's inaugural.

“But many untruths are not at all trivial -- such as the seminal untruth of the president's political career - the oft-repeated conspiracy about the birthplace of President Obama. Also not trivial are the equally pernicious fantasies about rigged elections and massive voter fraud, which are as destructive as they are inaccurate -- to the effort to undermine confidence in the federal courts, federal law enforcement, the intelligence community and the free press, to perhaps the most vexing untruth of all -- the supposed ‘hoax’ at the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

“To be very clear, to call the Russia matter a ‘hoax’ -- as the president has many times -- is a falsehood. We know that the attacks orchestrated by the Russian government during the election were real and constitute a grave threat to both American sovereignty and to our national security. It is in the interest of every American to get to the bottom of this matter, wherever the investigation leads.

“Ignoring or denying the truth about hostile Russian intentions toward the United States leaves us vulnerable to further attacks. We are told by our intelligence agencies that those attacks are ongoing, yet it has recently been reported that there has not been a single cabinet-level meeting regarding Russian interference and how to defend America against these attacks. Not one. What might seem like a casual and routine untruth -- so casual and routine that it has by now become the white noise of Washington - is in fact a serious lapse in the defense of our country.

“Mr. President, let us be clear. The impulses underlying the dissemination of such untruths are not benign. They have the effect of eroding trust in our vital institutions and conditioning the public to no longer trust them. The destructive effect of this kind of behavior on our democracy cannot be overstated.

“Mr. President, every word that a president utters projects American values around the world. The values of free expression and a reverence for the free press have been our global hallmark, for it is our ability to freely air the truth that keeps our government honest and keeps a people free. Between the mighty and the modest, truth is the great leveler. And so, respect for freedom of the press has always been one of our most important exports.

“But a recent report published in our free press should raise an alarm. Reading from the story:

"In February...Syrian President Bashar Assad brushed off an Amnesty International report that some 13,000 people had been killed at one of his military prisons by saying, ‘You can forge anything these days, we are living in a fake news era.’

“In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has complained of being ‘demonized’ by ‘fake news.’ Last month, the report continues, with our President, quote ‘laughing by his side’ Duterte called reporters ‘spies.’

“In July, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro complained to the Russian propaganda outlet, that the world media had ‘spread lots of false versions, lots of lies’ about his country, adding, ‘This is what we call 'fake news' today, isn't it?’

“There are more:

“A state official in Myanmar recently said, ‘There is no such thing as Rohingya. It is fake news,’ referring to the persecuted ethnic group.

“Leaders in Singapore, a country known for restricting free speech, have promised ‘fake news’ legislation in the new year.’

“And on and on. This feedback loop is disgraceful, Mr. President. Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians with his own language. This is reprehensible.

“We are not in a ‘fake news’ era, as Bashar Assad says. We are, rather, in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself, to challenge free people and free societies, everywhere.

“In our own country, from the trivial to the truly dangerous, it is the range and regularity of the untruths we see that should be cause for profound alarm, and spur to action. Add to that the by-now predictable habit of calling true things false, and false things true, and we have a recipe for disaster. As George Orwell warned, ‘The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.’

“Any of us who have spent time in public life have endured news coverage we felt was jaded or unfair. But in our positions, to employ even idle threats to use laws or regulations to stifle criticism is corrosive to our democratic institutions. Simply put: it is the press's obligation to uncover the truth about power. It is the people's right to criticize their government. And it is our job to take it.

“What is the goal of laying siege to the truth? President John F. Kennedy, in a stirring speech on the 20th anniversary of the Voice of America, was eloquent in answer to that question:

‘We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.’

“Mr. President, the question of why the truth is now under such assault may well be for historians to determine. But for those who cherish American constitutional democracy, what matters is the effect on America and her people and her standing in an increasingly unstable world -- made all the more unstable by these very fabrications. What matters is the daily disassembling of our democratic institutions.

“We are a mature democracy -- it is well past time that we stop excusing or ignoring -- or worse, endorsing -- these attacks on the truth. For if we compromise the truth for the sake of our politics, we are lost.

“I sincerely thank my colleagues for their indulgence today. I will close by borrowing the words of an early adherent to my faith that I find has special resonance at this moment. His name was John Jacques, and as a young missionary in England he contemplated the question: ‘What is truth?’ His search was expressed in poetry and ultimately in a hymn that I grew up with, titled ‘Oh Say, What is Truth.’ It ends as follows:

‘Then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first,

For the limits of time it steps o'er.

Tho the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst.

Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,

Eternal... unchanged... evermore.’

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.”

Sen. Jeff Flake takes to Senate floor to condemn Pres. Trump’s language, comparing it to Stalin’s

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

WATCH: Sen. Jeff Flake Condemns President Trump’s Attacks on Media

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) used the floor of the U.S. Senate to fire directly back at President Donald Trump, comparing the commander-in-chief’s words to those of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Flake stated that Trump has used statements also used by Stalin against his enemies.

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CBS News reported that Flake, in an excerpt released prior to his speech Wednesday, said, “Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. ... It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”

Flake said that Trump has used the term “enemy of the people” in describing the free press last year, CNBC reported.

Flake reached out via Twitter earlier this week that he was not saying that Trump was like Stalin, clarifying the intent of his speech, saying that Stalin was a maniacal killer. 

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Miscellaneous Congress: From Catty Whacks to Pimientos to Surfboard Camera Mounts and Hair-Slides

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 6:26 AM

My father taught me a great lesson many years ago about the Congress, to always be on the lookout for bills that were labeled “technical corrections” or “miscellaneous,” because there was a good chance you might find something interesting – if you took the time to dig into the bill.

So, when the “Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018,” popped up on the House schedule for this week, and was approved Tuesday on a unanimous vote, I had to take a look.

My curiosity was quickly rewarded, as the second section of the bill was about tariff schedule changes for “Frozen, Boiled Glutinous Corn.”

And while it might not be on the front page of your local newspaper, this is a bill that is brimming with stories, fully supported by business groups in the United States.

First, let’s go over what this legislation is all about.

“A Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) is a law that temporarily reduces or suspends the import tariffs paid on particular products imported into the United States,” the Commerce Department explains.

In other words, companies in the U.S. ask the feds to reduce the tariff on certain imported items, to help cut their production costs, theoretically making those businesses more competitive.

And for many lawmakers, it’s a boost to companies back home.

“For businesses in my home state of Washington, the MTB will provide nearly $16 million in cost savings, which they can instead use to invest in their employees and their products,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA).

“We have worked hard to deliver on this reform that will lead to millions of dollars being reinvested in North Carolina,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC).

One note – this is the first time a tariff bill has been put together under a new process established in 2016 – it used to be that the Congress was totally in charge of figuring out what items should have a tariff or duty changed.

But now, those requests from businesses go to the U.S. International Trade Commission, which then submits a package of recommendations to the Congress.

A variety of companies made 3,168 petitions to the feds to reduce tariffs on everything from Isosceles triangle wire, to golf drivers with a loft of 9.5 degrees, electric oil popcorn poppers, resin cement, tweezers, cat playgrounds made of wood, camera surfboard mounts, life jackets for pets, and much, much more.

The companies making these requests include well known ones like Specialized Bicycle, Cleveland golf, Whirlpool, PetSmart, Honeywell, and many more you’ve never heard about.

The final bill includes 1,661 tariff reductions, starting with the “Frozen, Boiled Glutinous Corn” and ending with “Vacuum Steel Lined Coffee Servers With Sight Gauge” and “Tripod Camera Mounts.”

The measure weighs in at 505 pages.

And finally, as the headline advertised, what’s a Catty Whack? That’s Section 1450 of the bill, described this way:

“Electromechanical ‘hide and seek’ toys, designed for use by cats or dogs, each with an electrically powered fast-moving feather wand that changes direction randomly; such wand mechanism positioned in a round enclosure of plastics, designed to allow the wand to shoot out; such toys each containing a carpeted scratching area on top.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Live updates State of the Union 2018: What time, what channel, livestream, protests

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 12:10 PM

State of the Union: By the Numbers

Five Democratic members of Congress have said they will not attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address set for the end of the month, boycotting the speech, they say, because of an alleged racial slur over immigration by the president.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), announced Monday she will not attend the speech. Four other Democrats had previously said they will not be attending. When Trump gives the speech in front of a joint session of Congress on Jan. 30 he will see the female Democrats attending the speech, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), dressed in black to show solidarity with the “Me Too” movement which gives voice to those who have been sexually harassed or assaulted.

While this will be Trump’s first State of the Union address, it is not the first time he has addressed a joint session of Congress. Trump spoke before Congress last February.

Check back here on Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. for live updates from the speech and reaction afterward.

Here’s how to watch the speech.

When is the speech: Tuesday, Jan. 30

What time: 9 p.m. ET

What channel: The speech will be carried live on all the major cable and news networks.

Livestream: on YouTube from the White House YouTube channel

Where is it taking place: President Trump will deliver the speech from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Why he does it: Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution says, the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The speech was first called the Annual Message, then in the 1940s, the address became known as the “state of the union.” Since 1947, the speech has been known as the “State of the Union Address.”

Firsts for State of the Union speeches

From the U.S. House History, Art & Archives website:

First radio broadcast of the address: President Calvin Coolidge, 1923.

First television broadcast of address: President Harry Truman, 1947.

First televised evening delivery of address: President Lyndon Johnson, 1965.

First live webcast on Internet: President George W. Bush, 2002.

First high definition television broadcast of the address came with President George W. Bush’s State of the Union message in 2004.

Protests:

Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), said she will give her guest ticket to the speech to a person involved in the “Me Too” movement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other female Democrats have said they plan to wear black to the speech in solidarity with the “Me Too” movement.

Who is not coming:

More than 60 members of Congress boycotted Trump’s inauguration. So far, five Democrats have said that they will not attend the State of the Union address. They are:

  • Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.)
  • John Lewis, (D-Ga.)
  • Earl Blumenauer, (D-Oregon)
  • Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.)
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) 

 

Live updates