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Flights Across US Thrown Into Chaos After 1- Hour Computer Outage

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NEW YORK – Wednesday, a glitch in a federal system caused thousands of flights all over the United States to be delayed or canceled. This caused the world’s largest aircraft fleet to be grounded for hours.

At first, the White House said there was no proof that a hacker was behind the outage that messed up the plans of millions of travelers. Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that he had asked the Department of Transportation to investigate what happened.

Whatever the cause, the outage demonstrated how reliant the world’s greatest economy is on air travel and how dependent air travel is on an obsolete computer system known as the NOTAM.

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Flights Could Tell Something Was Wrong

Before taking off, pilots must look at NOTAMs, which tell them about things that could go wrong with a flight, like construction on the runway or icing. Before, the system was based on the phone, and pilots would call specific flight service stations to get information. Now, the system is online.

According to FlightAware’s website for tracking flights, the NOTAM system broke down late Tuesday. By 11 a.m. Wednesday, more than 1,000 flights had been canceled, and more than 6,000 had been delayed.

The commotion is predicted to worsen as backups pile up. Cerium, an aviation data company, said that more than 21,000 planes were set to take off in the United States today. Most of them were domestic flights, but about 1,840 international flights were set to come into the country.

Long-term aviation insiders could not recall a similar-sized disruption caused by a technological failure. Some compared it to the nationwide airspace lockdown following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Periodically, there have been local concerns here and there,” said Tim Campbell, a former senior vice president of air operations at American Airlines, now a consultant in Minneapolis.

The FAA Has Been Worrying For Sometime

Campbell said that the FAA’s technology has always been a source of worry, not just the NOTAM system.

“So many of their systems are ancient mainframe systems that are typically reliable but out of date,” he explained.

Former airline pilot and aviation safety specialist John Cox said there had been talking in the aviation industry for years about trying to upgrade the NOTAM system, but he didn’t know how old the FAA’s servers are.

He couldn’t answer whether or not a cyberattack was a possibility.

“I’ve been a pilot for 53 years. “I’ve never heard the system fail like this before,” Cox added. “An extraordinary event occurred.”

According to a notice from the FAA, the NOTAM system stopped working at 8:28 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. This meant that pilots could not get new or updated alerts. The FAA turned to a telephone hotline to keep flights flying overnight, but the telephone backup system became overwhelmed as daytime traffic increased.

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Flights Halted Wednesday Morning

The FAA halted all outgoing flights early Wednesday morning, affecting passenger and cargo flights.

Some medical flights could take off, and the disruption did not affect military operations or mobility.

Flights for the United States military’s Air Mobility Command were unaffected.

Biden stated Wednesday morning that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg briefed him.

“I just talked with Buttigieg. They have no idea what is causing the problem. “But I was only on the phone with him for about 10 minutes,” Biden explained. “I instructed him to come straight to me if they found out.

On Wednesday, Julia Macpherson was on a United Airlines aircraft from Sydney to Los Angeles when she learned of anticipated delays.

“I got word from a buddy who was also traveling overseas that there was a power outage when I was up in the air,” said Macpherson, who was flying back to Florida from Hobart, Tasmania. After landing in Los Angeles, she still has a connection in Denver on her trip to Jacksonville, Florida.

She stated that there had been no announcements on the flight regarding the FAA issue.

Macpherson stated that she had previously encountered a travel delay because her original flight from Melbourne to San Francisco was canceled, and she had to rebook a trip from Sydney to Los Angeles.

Similar reports came from Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, and other major American airports.

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Flights From Europe Into The United States Are Unaffected.

Aer Lingus said its services to the United States will continue, and Dublin Airport’s website showed that flights to Newark, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles were running on time.

“All transatlantic flights will run as scheduled today,” Aer Lingus said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to monitor, but we do not anticipate any service disruption due to the technical issue in the United States.”

It was the latest snarl for holiday visitors in the United States, who had to contend with flight cancellations due to winter storms and a glitch with Southwest Airlines’ staffing technology. They also saw long queues, missing baggage, cancellations, and delays this summer as travel demand rebounded from the COVID-19 outbreak and personnel cuts at airports and airlines in the United States and Europe.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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Andrew Tate Loses Appeal Against 30-Day Detention In Romania

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Andrew Tate Detained Over Alleged Human Trafficking in Romania

BUCHAREST, RUSSIA — An official said that a Romanian court upheld a second 30-day detention for the Tik Toker and former kickboxer Andrew Tate, who is being held on suspicion of organized crime and human trafficking.

Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for Romania’s DIICOT agency that fights organized crime, said that Tate lost his appeal against a judge’s decision on January 20 to keep him in jail for another 30 days.

Andrew, a British-American citizen with nearly 5 million Twitter followers, arrived at the Bucharest Court of Appeal handcuffed to his brother Tristan, who is being held in the same case as two Romanian women. None of the four have been charged formally.

The court didn’t agree with their arguments, so they’ll all stay in jail until February 27 while prosecutors look into the case. They previously lost an appeal over a 30-day extension.

A document that explains the judge’s decision on January 20 says that he or she took into account the defendants’ “special dangerousness” and their ability to find victims who were “more vulnerable and looking for better life opportunities.”

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Tate Seeks Better Defence

Tina Glandian, an American lawyer who has worked with famous people like singer Chris Brown and former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, joined the Andrews’ legal team on Wednesday.

“The defense team made extensive legal arguments pointing out the lack of evidence against the Tate brothers,” she said before the ruling at a press conference. “It’s no secret that the Tate brothers are controversial public figures, but this isn’t about them… this is about a violation of international human rights and due process of law.”

“The system has failed so far,” she said. “The Tate brothers, both US citizens, have been imprisoned for more than 30 days without bail and with no charges filed against them.”

“Ask them for evidence, and they will give you none because it doesn’t exist,” Andrew Tate said as the Tates left the court after Wednesday’s morning hearing. You’ll learn the truth about this case soon.”

Tate is said to have moved to Romania in 2017. Before that, he was not allowed to use several popular social media sites to share his misogynistic and hateful views. He claims there is “zero evidence” against him in the case and that it is a “political” attack to silence him.

“My case is political, not criminal. It has nothing to do with justice or fairness. It’s about undermining my global influence,” read a post on his Twitter account on Sunday.

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Tates Following Has Grown Since His Arrest

Since his arrest in December, his Twitter following has grown by several hundred thousand. An online petition to free the brothers, launched in January, has nearly 100,000 signatures.

Following the arrests of the Tates and the two women, the DIICOT anti-organized crime agency said in a statement that it had identified six victims in the human trafficking case who had been subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and sexually exploited by members of the alleged crime group.

According to the agency, victims were enticed with false promises of love, intimidated, placed under surveillance, and subjected to other forms of control while coerced into engaging in pornographic acts for large financial gain.

Last month, Romanian police raided the Tate brothers’ property near Bucharest and took a fleet of luxury cars, including a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari, and a Porsche. They reported seizing assets valued at $3.9 million.

Prosecutors have stated that if they can prove the car owners made money from illegal activities such as human trafficking, the assets will be used to cover investigation costs and compensate victims. Tate also lost his appeal against the asset seizure.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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NASA Marks 20 Years Since Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – As part of its annual tribute to astronauts who died in space, NASA remembered and honored the 20th anniversary of the Columbia space shuttle disaster on Thursday.

More than 100 people gathered at Kennedy Space Center under a grey sky to remember not only Columbia’s crew of seven but also the 18 other astronauts killed in the line of duty. More than half of the names etched into the black granite of the Space Mirror Memorial result from NASA’s two shuttle accidents; the rest result from plane crashes.

The Columbia astronaut family members did not attend the morning ceremony. But local rabbi Zvi Konikov remembered that Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, asked him how to keep the Sabbath while in orbit for two weeks and seeing multiple sunsets daily.

“Ilan delivered a powerful message to us. We must pause and reflect on why we are here on Earth, no matter how fast we are moving or how important our work is, and that is what we are doing today. “We take a moment to remember all those brave souls,” Konikov said.

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NASA Ship Was Destroyed Feb. 2003

Columbia was destroyed during reentry on February 1, 2003, because a piece of foam from the fuel tank had broken off and pierced the left wing 16 days earlier when the ship was taking off. The shuttle broke up over Texas only 16 minutes before it was supposed to land in Florida.

Despite the concerns of others, NASA managers dismissed the impact during the flight. The shuttle Challenger was lost during liftoff on January 28, 1986, killing all seven people on board, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.

On January 27, 1967, three astronauts were killed when the Apollo 1 launch pad caught fire.

Because these three dates are so close, NASA dedicates the last Thursday of January to remembering its fallen astronauts. Flags were lowered to half-staff at space centers across the country, and ceremonies were held alongside spaceflight safety discussions.

Former shuttle commander Bob Cabana, an associate administrator at NASA, says that the loss of Columbia could have been prevented, just like other tragedies at NASA.

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Three Astronauts Killed

“Why do we have to keep repeating the same difficult lessons?” he asked. “I never want to have to go through Columbia again.”

Columbia’s previous crew included commander Rick Husband, pilot Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ramon.

As the ceremony ended, a ship’s bell rang for each of the 25 names read.

Bob and Diane Ka lander’s sailing trip from Jamestown, Rhode Island, to Florida’s Key West was cut short of honoring the shuttle crews. Their daughter and her boyfriend also came to Kennedy.

“People’s memories are fading,” Diane Kalander said. “There has been a de-emphasis on space because people say, ‘Let’s worry about problems on Earth rather than future problems.'” We need to think about the future.”

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SOURCE – (AP)

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UKRAINE: Despite Concerns, US To Send 31 Abrams Tanks To Ukraine

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senior administration officials said Wednesday that the United States would send 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, reversing months of Biden administration arguments that the tanks were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain.

The U.S. decision came after Germany agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its stockpile. Germany had stated that the Leopards would only be sent if the U.S. put its Abrams on the table, as it wanted to avoid incurring Russia’s wrath unless the U.S. also committed its tanks.

Since then, both sides have had “good diplomatic conversations” that have made a difference and led to an “extraordinary shift in Germany’s security policy” about giving weapons to Ukraine since Russia invaded 11 months ago, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on Wednesday under the condition of anonymity about the new tank package before the announcement.

The $400 million package also includes eight M88 recovery vehicles, tank-like tracked vehicles that can tow the Abrams if stuck.

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Ukraine To Receive Tanks From France

Hundreds of tanks and heavily armored vehicles will be sent by France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden to fortify Ukraine as it enters a new phase of the war and attempts to break through entrenched Russian lines.

But there were few details on what U.S. tanks would be sent, such as whether they would be pulled from the existing stockpile of over 4,000 Abrams and retrofitted or whether the U.S. would use the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to buy new systems to potentially backfill allies who send their own or buy new systems outright for Ukraine.

Using funding from the assistance initiative means that Ukraine has been promised Abrams tanks, but it will likely be many months before they arrive on the battlefield, and they won’t be there in time for Russia’s planned spring offensive.

Russian Ambassador to Germany Sergey Nechayev described Berlin’s decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as “extremely dangerous” on Wednesday.

In an online statement, Nechayev stated that the move “shifts the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts German politicians’ statements about their reluctance to get involved in it.”

ukraine

Close Allies Not Helping Out

“We are seeing yet again that Germany, along with its closest allies, is not interested in a diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis; rather, it is determined to permanently escalate it and to continue to supply the Kyiv regime with new lethal weapons indefinitely,” the statement said.

Up until now, the United States has refused to give Ukraine its M1 Abrams tanks, saying that they are hard to maintain and cause a lot of logistical problems. Washington believed that sending German Leopards would be more productive because many allies had them, and Ukrainian troops would require less training than on the more difficult Abrams.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl recently told reporters that the Abrams is complicated, expensive, difficult to maintain, and difficult to train on a piece of equipment. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized that “we should not be providing the Ukrainians with systems they can’t repair, sustain, or afford in the long run, because it’s not helpful.”

To be effective in Ukraine, the Abrams will need extensive training in combined arms maneuvering — how the tanks work together on the battlefield and how to maintain and support the complex, 70-ton weapon. The Abrams tanks are propelled by a turbine jet engine that consumes at least two gallons of fuel per mile, whether moving or idling, requiring a network of fuel trucks to keep the line moving.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

 

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