News ‘It’s hard to believe’: President Trump surveys Alabama tornado damage, comforts victimsMichael Collins and John Fritze and Kirsten Fiscus•Donald Trump visits 23 crosses left for Alabama tornado victimsBEAUREGARD, Ala. – President Donald Trump toured tornado-ravaged Alabama on Friday nearly a week after storms ripped through a small town, killing 23 people.The president touched down in Lee County near where a massive tornado spun winds as high as 170 mph on Sunday. Trump had signed a major disaster declaration for the county earlier this week, freeing federal assistance to the region.The president and first lady Melania Trump viewed the damage caused by the storm as they flew aboard Marine One. The president also met victims in Opelika, Alabama, and received a briefing from the Lee County Emergency Management Agency.As his motorcade wound through the county, Trump passed through entire neighborhoods that were destroyed, passing by empty lots with broken pieces of metal, wood and what appeared to be scattered clothing.Trump, alongside Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, surveyed the destruction wreaked across Beauregard on foot before meeting with victims’ families.“I saw this. And it’s hard to believe,” Trump said. “You saw things that you wouldn’t believe.”President Donald Trump greets residents during a tour of tornado-affected areas on March 8, 2019 in Beauregard, Alabama.At one stop, Trump visited with the family of Sheila Creech and Marshall Lynn Grimes, who were killed in the storm. Trump hugged their survivors, and one member of the family showed him Grimes’s motorcycle vest and Bible.At Providence Baptist Church, Trump met privately with nearly a dozen families who were victims of the storm. Afterward, he thanked dozens of community volunteers in the church auditorium, which was filled with clothes, toiletries, diapers and school backpacks. Trump signed several hats and Bibles, including one belonging to a 12-year-old boy.Emergency crews are doing an „A-plus job,” Trump told the crowd, adding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will remain onsite as long as it’s needed.One of the volunteers, Ada Ingram, who said she knows 10 of the people killed in the storm, said Trump’s visit will bring the community closer together.”I think it’s a godsend,” she said of the presidential visit. „The situation is bad. And there are going to be people who will say, ‘Why did he come to my town?’ I don’t know why. I don’t know why the hurricane happened. But there is a reason.”Before leaving, the Trumps stepped out of the motorcade to stand before 23 crosses erected in front of the church in remembrance of those lost to the tornado. The Trumps held hands and paused for several moments in front of each of the crosses, which were decorated with hearts, stuffed animals, flowers and personal messages.Earlier, before the presidential entourage arrived in Alabama, Conner Moulton, 7, carefully crafted each marker stroke as he signed a short message on a banner thanking Trump for coming to Beauregard.”I wrote the ‘Beauregard Strong’ and ‘thank you for your help,'” the second-grader said. „Then I put my first name and my last name. He’s helping the people who got affected and lost their homes in the tornado.”President Donald Trump tours a tornado-affected in Beauregard, Alabama, on March 8, 2019. With him are first lady Melania Trump and Ben Carson (center-right), US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on March 8, 2019 in Beauregard, Alabama.Lana Ledbetter, a Beauregard resident who did not have any home damage but knew several people who did, came to the high school to put her mark upon the banner.”It’s just amazing that he’s showing his support for our little tiny community. We’re just very thankful for the funding and just for him taking his time to come and show that support for us.”Trump was accompanied on his Air Force One flight to Georgia by members of the state’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Mike Rogers, both Republicans.President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Fort Benning, Georgia, March 8, 2019 en route to areas in Alabama affected by recent tornado damage. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)Trump has made several trips to visit victims of natural disasters in recent months, including to California after last year’s wildfires and to the Carolinas following Hurricane Florence.Trump tweeted about the storms on Monday, vowing that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide “A plus treatment” to the state.Contributing: The Montgomery AdvertiserMore: As Trump visits tornado victims in Alabama, is he playing politics with disaster relief?‘More: Alabama tornado victims revealed; area braces for weekend storms – and possible severe weatherMore: 6-year-old boy is youngest victim of Alabama tornado that left 23 deadThis article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘It’s hard to believe’: President Trump surveys Alabama tornado damage, comforts victims
In Mississippi, Warren County officials voted Friday to order evacuation of the Eagle Lake community, north of Vicksburg, even as state officials were closing two highways in neighboring Yazoo County.The region is being affected by flooding behind the Yazoo Backwater Levee, which protects thousands of square miles of the Mississippi Delta region from even worse flooding by the Mississippi River. But when officials close a floodgate keeping out the big river, water draining from the north has nowhere to go, rising inside the levee-protected area. That gate has been closed since Feb. 15 and is unlikely to reopen until after the Mississippi River crests at Vicksburg early next week.Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer said water could cut off the only remaining road to Eagle Lake. He says people aren’t being forced to leave, but Elfer warns the community may become inaccessible to firefighters and emergency medical services. Elfer says about 500 people live or have vacation houses at Eagle Lake.Heavy rain this weekend could worsen a slow-moving disaster that will already flood more than 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) of farmland.In Tennessee, Lee’s order enables easier delivery of health care, insurance and relief supplies to 83 Tennessee counties affected by flooding. It also helps the repair of state and federal highways damaged by high water.The order is retroactive to Feb. 6 and runs through April 7. Lee was scheduled to survey damage in Hardin County and other flood-stricken areas of west Tennessee on Friday.TVA said Friday that water releases in Tennessee River tributaries were continuing at an aggressive pace as the agency manages river levels.The river remains above flood stage at Savannah, Perryville and near Pickwick Dam in Tennessee, and Florence in Alabama, said James Everett, manager of the TVA’s River Forecast Center.Water releases at Kentucky Dam are near record levels, Everett said.TVA is keeping an eye on the weather Friday and Saturday, when 1-3 inches (2-7.5 centimeters) could fall in the Tennessee River valley, Everett said.TVA is urging people to use extreme caution if they plan to use rivers and lakes for fishing or recreation, as debris and high water pose dangers for boaters.”These are extremely turbulent waters and extremely high currents,” Everett said.Meanwhile, flood warnings and advisories remain in effect for the Mississippi River throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. The river is falling at Memphis and is predicted to crest at Greenville, Mississippi, on Saturday. A flood warning also is in effect for the Tombigbee River at Amory in Mississippi._Amy contributed from Jackson, Miss.
Airlines are waiving change fees ahead of the latest winter storm that could affect air travel.
The nation’s four biggest airlines – American, Delta, Southwest and United – were all among the carriers issuing flexible rebooking waivers for airports in the Midwest. JetBlue, Spirit and Sun Country also were waiving fees as of Friday morning.
The waivers come as a strong winter storm is expected to sweep through the upper Midwest this weekend, with current forecasts calling for blizzard conditions across parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The airline waivers now in place cover travel for Saturday and Sunday, when the worst of the weather is expected.
American’s policy covers 16 airports across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Delta’s waiver covers more than two dozen airports in the same region. Included is its busy hub at Minneapolis/St. Paul.
United’s policy includes 19 airports in the north-central USA.
At Southwest, Saturday and Sunday flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul and Milwaukee are covered by its waivers.
The exact details of the waivers vary by carrier, although they have generally allowed customers flying through the covered airports to make one change to the itineraries without paying a change fee or recalculated fares.
TODAY IN THE SKY: The world’s 20 busiest airports (2017)
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Snow! Airlines begin waiving change fees ahead of new winter storm
United Airlines President Scott Kirby has signaled that the Chicago-based carrier is prepared to take a potentially big hit on its already slumping on-time metrics in order to further the overarching goal of becoming a more caring airline — what the carrier calls its “core4” program. At an JPMorgan aviation conference in New York City on Tuesday, Kirby revealed that the carrier is testing a new software program at United’s hub in Denver that can help frontline operations employees decide whether to hold a plane beyond its scheduled departure time to accommodate connecting passengers who may arrive late at the departure gate. The new software, per United, takes into account various factors in deciding whether United can hold a flight and still get the plane to its destination “on time.” The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) considers a flight on time if it reaches the gate within 14 minutes of its scheduled arrival time — a metric commonly referred to as “A-14.” United’s decision to try out the new software raises several issues which the carrier was not able — or willing — to address in the wake of Kirby’s remarks.
Bahrami noted that Southwest recently filed a lawsuit against the union, which alleged that a small group of its 2,400 mechanics are writing up an unprecedented number of planes for maintenance in a deliberate work slowdown as contract talks drag on.The union says Southwest is making mechanics the scapegoat for safety issues. It counter-sued Southwest on Friday, including a defamation claim against Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven. Van de Ven has publicly blamed the mechanics union for a spike in aircraft taken out of service. The maintenance issues have caused caused heavy flight cancellations and delays for the past few weeks.More: Southwest declares operations emergency „In the midst of this litigation, I write to emphasize the importance of ensuring cooperatively, in accordance with FAA standards, the highest level of safety in the airline’s operation,” Bahrami said in the letter, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. „The FAA trusts that Southwest and AMFA will strive to ensure that any judicial order that might result from the litigation does not constrain appropriate safety activities.”In a statement Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King called the letter and increased oversight by the FAA „normal protocol” in times of labor unrest to ensure safety.”We appreciate the FAA’s oversight and maintain our dedicated focus on assuring the highest level of compliance and safety at all times,” she said.Related: Tickets on sale now for new Southwest Airlines Hawaii flights beginning March 17More: Southwest flights to Hawaii: 12 things travelers need to know Southwest and its mechanics have been in contract negotiations for six years. AMFA members rejected a tentative agreement last fall. The airline claims the reported maintenance issues escalated shortly after the latest talks broke off. Negotiations, which are being overseen by a federal mediator, are due to resume next week. Southwest is already under FAA investigation for the discrepancies in how it calculates weight and balance for its aircraft, an issue unrelated to the dispute with the mechanics.Southwest has regularly been canceling more than 100 flights per day, the most of any U.S. carrier, and delaying hundreds more due to the spike in maintenance issues. This week, the airline canceled 118 flights on Tuesday and 96 on Wednesday and 78 on Thursday, according to flight tracker FlightAware.Southwest CEO Gary Kelly this week said the spike in last-minute maintenance issues is costing the airline millions of dollars weekly.This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FAA: Southwest Airlines spat with mechanics raises safety concerns
Traveling for work is a common part of our corporate culture. In fact, 1.3 million business trips occur each day in the United States alone, and millennials are set to take 20% more business trips in the next 12 months. While traveling has its perks (expensed meals, the thrill of a new city, and a change of scenery), it can also pose stress on our daily routines and productivity levels with both our work and personal lives. Planning your next work trip? Here are some tips to keep you on top of your game.
1. Leverage the right tools
Tracy Komlos, founder of Pangea Dreams, uses collaborative tools like G-Suite to help her stay organized and connected with her team while on the fly. Apps like HubDoc help her stay on top of her receipts and expenses while traveling so she doesn’t lose track of her finances.
Image source: Getty Images.
Komlos recommends certain paid tools such as Streak to help schedule and follow up with emails and clients. She also uses a productivity planner, which helps her stay accountable and gives her a productivity score of the day.
GoodNote is another great tool that allows you to travel with your digital briefcase while leaving all your paperwork at home.
2. Outsource what you can
Komlos suggests outsourcing help when you can. Hiring contractors or virtual assistants is one way she outsources the work she needs done to run her business.
If you have active engagements happening at home, make arrangements to have those taken care of while you’re away so your mind can focus on the task at hand while traveling.
3. Take advantage of downtime
When you have unexpected breaks in your travel schedule, whether it’s between flights or on the beach, use this time to do low-energy tasks rather than sitting on Facebook. For example, catching up on readings, editing photos, or answering emails and other administrative tasks. These 20 to 30 minutes during the day can save you tons of time down the line.
4. Keep detailed „to-do” lists
Make a list of things you know you need to do before you leave, and make those your priority. Creating a detailed checklist of tasks to be completed before you leave, and everything that needs to be done while away, will help you feel in control. Since most of our „to-dos” have become tech-dependent, always plan to stay in a place with a strong Wi-Fi signal.
1. Practice mindfulness when possible
Keep a gratitude journal and make the effort to stay consistent. Books like The Five-Minute Journal can help you mentally prepare for each day.
Give yourself enough time to sleep and recharge, and honor when you’re feeling like you need a break. Self-care is paramount when juggling your busy life!
2. Keep a routine (as much as possible)
If you wake up early at home, don’t use this work travel trip as an excuse to sleep in…leave that for the weekend! Set boundaries around „time on” versus time off when at work and do your best to honor them.
Get yourself in the habit of waking up early and getting the heavy lifting out of the way. This will give you more hours to get things done and boost your speed throughout the day.
3. Mind your health
Try to avoid buffet breakfasts, or buffet anything for that matter, while away. Watch your consumption of alcohol as well. Unhealthy eating and drinking makes you tired and can hinder your sense of discipline!
If you’re trying to squeeze in workouts, morning times are your best bet. The longer you wait in the day to hit the gym, the easier it becomes for you to blow it off. If you’re not feeling the gym, take advantage of your new travel surroundings, get outdoors, and explore the new city you’re in!
The most important part of staying productive while traveling for work, whether it comes to your personal or professional life, is managing your schedule by planning ahead, and staying disciplined. Find a strategy that works for you, and hold yourself accountable. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail!
This article originally appeared on Glassdoor.com.
A race is on to build a fleet of solar-powered drones that beam internet down to the Earth beneath them, and the tech titans are dominating this chase-or so we thought. But now that Google and Facebook both have dashed their plans for roaming unmanned internet planes, a lesser known company is partnering with NASA to bring the project closer to reality, according to an IEEE Spectrum report.
It is the Hawk 30, a massive 10-engine drone in the vein of previous UAVs made by Airbus and the solar-powered Odysseus plane that can fly for months on end. The product of Japanese tech giant SoftBank and U.S. drone manufacturer AeroEnvironment, the Hawk could soon embark on test flights, with a launch from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center potentially slated for this week.
The Hawk, though part of a new $65 million partnership between the two companies, is part of the same family as previous UAVs AeroEnvironment built for NASA. One of those was the Helios prototype, which crashed in 2007 during a high-altitude test. The Hawk mirrors its ill-fated predecessor in both ambition and design. In 2001, the Helios reached the highest altitude of any winged horizontal aircraft when it ascended to 93,000 feet. The milestone set a new precedent for high-altitude, solar aircraft.
Photos of the Hawk 30 are scant, but per images dug up by IEEE Spectrum, it looks like the wide-bodied cousin of the Helios.
While it may be years from commercial readiness, the Hawk 30 has big implications for the broadening of wireless connectivity in remote regions, if indeed it can succeed where others have failed: Facebook made a splashy foray into the internet-beaming drone race by announcing Aquila, a solar-powered UAV the size of a Boeing 737’s wingspan that used propellers to ply air. (The project was abandoned in 2017 after the drones were damaged in landings). Google too began vetting its sky-born internet capabilities in 2015, but later scrapped drones in favor of Project Loon, which uses high-altitude balloons to beam down internet.
The Hawk will still have to fend off competition from the likes of Airbus, but its prospects are lifted by AeroEnvironments connections with NASA. IEEE Spectrum reports the company is contracted with the space agency for three flight tests that will take the drone up to 10,000 feet, with the intention go much higher if initial tests are successful:
AeroVironment is paying NASA nearly $800,000 to supervise and provide ground support for the upcoming low altitude tests, which are scheduled to continue until the end of June. If those are successful, the company will go higher in its next round.
There’s currently no word on the Hawk’s communications payload capacity, but its creators certainly hope that it helps broadens wireless internet access across the globe. First, though, it will have to make it out of testing unscathed.
Source: IEEE Spectrum