TIME Travel

Delta Tops Airline Performance Rankings

Delta Airlines Inc. Terminal Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Delta Air Lines Inc. airplane departs Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, July 18, 2014.

United ranked last on the annual list

Delta Airlines is the best all around pick for consumer fliers, according to Airfarewatchdog’s annual rankings. While the other legacy carriers, United and American, continue to struggle at the bottom of the list, Delta rose to the top spot from number six last year.

The list uses data on flight cancellations, on-time arrivals, baggage mishandling, denied boardings and customer satisfaction to rank America’s eight largest airlines. United rounded out the list with the lowest overall score, unsurprising given its bottom rank in customer satisfaction and number of denied boardings.

Discount carriers fared well in customer satisfaction scores, but that didn’t translate into high rankings in overall performance. Customers ranked JetBlue first and Southwest second for satisfaction, despite their low scores in flight cancellations and on-time arrivals. JetBlue in particular was hit hard by extreme weather earlier this year at its New York City headquarters and in Boston, where it also has major operations.

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Aug. 1 – Aug. 8

From the continued violence and destruction in Gaza and a massive landslide in Nepal to a sea of poppies in London and gymnastics in Glasgow, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

 

 

TIME Transportation

Volkswagen Expands Recall Over Ignition Switch Problems

Volkswagen Recalls 18,500 Minivans
Bloomberg via Getty Images The 2009 Volkswagen Routan is introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., during a media preview on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008.

Adding to nearly 700,000 other recalled Chrysler minivans also affected by faulty ignition switches

Volkswagen recalled about 18,500 U.S.-sold 2009 Routan minivans Friday due to ignition switches that can be knocked into accessory mode during bumpy driving conditions, thus shutting off the engine.

The announcement doubles the total number recalls of the Chrysler-made minivan, whose 2010 model was recalled in 2011 for similar issues, bringing the total to over 30,000 affected vehicles. A Volkswagen spokesperson said the problem has not been linked to any accidents, injuries or deaths, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the German auto manufacturer is advising drivers to remove items from their key rings, while Chrysler is encouraging drivers to ensure there is enough room between their knees and the ignition.

Chrysler had filed documents with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in late June stating that the 2009 Routan minivan, like the nearly 700,000 other minivans Chrysler recalled earlier that month, was also affected by ignition switches that could unexpectedly flip off. The faulty switch may cause stalled cars and the loss of airbag, steering and braking functions.

In total, Chrysler has recalled about 1.7 million vehicles for ignition issues since 2011.

Problems with ignition switches shot into the national spotlight after General Motors recalled 2.6 million cars with defective ignition switches, linked to 13 deaths. GM has recalled roughly 15 million additional vehicles for similar issues this year alone.

The recall is expected to begin later this month.

TIME U.S.

How Presidents Take Vacation

As Obama kicks off his Martha's Vineyard vacation, TIME looks at other presidential destinations. Fishing, golfing, time at the beach...in short, pretty much like the rest of us

TIME Iraq

U.S. Launches Strikes Against Militants in Iraq

But Obama says no U.S. troops will be headed back to Iraq

Updated 5:32 p.m. E.T. on Aug. 8

American military aircraft launched three waves of airstrikes against militants in northern Iraq on Friday, the Pentagon said, marking the first direct U.S. military action in Iraq since 2011.

The bombings came after President Barack Obama opened the door to military action in Iraq to protect the Kurdish-controlled city of Erbil, home to a U.S. consulate and several American advisors, from the advancing militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The first attack, which took place at about 6:45 a.m. EDT, involved a pair of F/A-18 fighters which “dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday. ISIS “was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located,” Kirby added.

Kirby said later on Friday that the second attack happened “shortly after 10 a.m. EDT,” and involved a drone targeting a “terrorist mortar position.” “When [ISIS] fighters returned to the site moments later, the terrorists were attacked again and successfully eliminated,” Kirby said, confirming the first ISIS casualties at the hands of Americans. The third strike, about 80 minutes later, involved four F/A-18s delivering laser-guided bombs on in two bombing runs on “a stationary [ISIS] convoy of seven vehicles and a mortar position near Erbil.”

The decision to strike was made by a U.S. Central Command commander pursuant with Obama’s authorization to strike if necessary to protect Erbil, Kirby said. Obama announced late Thursday he had authorized strikes to protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq in addition to airdrop missions to assist thousands of Iraqi refugees fleeing ISIS, which in recent days has carried out a deadly offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.

“We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad,” Obama said Thursday from the White House. But Obama ruled out any U.S. ground forces becoming involved in the battle against ISIS.

“American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq,” he said. Hundreds of American troops are already in Iraq, advising Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. facilities.

It was not clear Friday whether U.S. advisers assisted in targeting the ISIS artillery piece.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday afternoon “The President has not laid out a specific end date” to his authorization to strike. Earnest added that the administration will evaluate the situation regularly and is not seeking any additional money for Iraq.

House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement Friday that “the President’s authorization of airstrikes is appropriate, but like many Americans, I am dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy for countering the grave threat ISIS poses to the region.”

“Vital national interests are at stake, yet the White House has remained disengaged despite warnings from Iraqi leaders, Congress, and even members of its own administration,” Boehner added. “The president needs a long-term strategy – one that defines success as completing our mission, not keeping political promises – and he needs to build the public and congressional support to sustain it.”

TIME White House

Here’s What Nixon Thought About His Resignation

1990 Nixon Cover
William Coupon—TIME

In 1990, the former President spoke to TIME about his past

Flip through the gallery of Richard Nixon’s appearances on the cover of TIME, and you may notice a gap: the covers chart his political rise, his presidency, his work in China, his reelection, his fight during Watergate and, finally, 40 years ago this week, his resignation. Then there’s his pardon and, a few years later, his famous interview with David Frost, which was later inspiration for the play and film Frost/Nixon.

Then there’s a gap. More than a decade goes by without any Nixon. The two times he appears after the ’70s are on the occasion of his death in 1994 and, in 1990, when TIME published an excerpt from his memoirs. In conjunction with that excerpt, the magazine also took the chance to ask him a few questions. In an interview that covers such diverse topics as the winding down of the Cold War and Nixon’s thoughts on Reagan (“we had different approaches”) and George H.W. Bush (“I ought to leave it in football terms—he’s the Joe Montana. The short, sure pass”), the only U.S. President ever to step down discussed his feelings about making that choice.

There’s life after disgrace, he reminded readers:

Q. How do you expect the Watergate affair to be judged in the future?

A. Clare Boothe Luce once said that each person in history can be summed up in one sentence. This was after I had gone to China. She said, “You will be summed up, ‘He went to China.'” Historians are more likely to lead with “He resigned the office.” The jury has already come in, and there’s nothing that’s going to change it. There’s no appeal. Historians will judge it harshly. That’s what I would say on that.

Q. Why did you write this book?

A. I really wrote this book for those who have suffered losses or defeats and so forth, and who think that life is over. I felt that if I could share with them my own experiences, it might help.

The problem with that, of course, is that resigning the presidency is something that is beyond their imagination. And so, consequently, that’s why throughout the book I tried to put it in a context that they could understand. But I felt that if I could let them see what I went through, and how I at least recovered in part, that that might tell them that life wasn’t over.

Q. You say in your new book that you recovered in part. You also say that you have paid, and in fact are still paying, the price for it.

A. By paying the price, I mean in terms of being able to influence the course of events. I mean, every time I make a speech, or every time I write a book, inevitably the reviewers refer to the “disgraced former President.”

And I consider, for whatever time I have left, that what is most important is to be able to affect the course of events. My experience has been somewhat unique. I am probably wrong on a number of things, but at least it’s a point of view.

The difficulty is that getting that point of view across is compromised by the fact that they say, Oh, this is the Watergate man, so we’re not going to pay any attention to what he does. Now that attitude has receded substantially, and over a period of time it may recede more, but that’s what I meant by that.

Read the full interview in TIME’s archives

TIME weather

Hawaii Pummeled by Massive Storm, Thousands Without Power

Iselle downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm just before making landfall

Tropical storm Iselle made landfall on Hawaii’s biggest island Thursday evening local time, cutting down trees, ripping roofs off buildings and cutting power at a biodiesel plant, leaving 18,000 people without electricity.

“There were trees everywhere, the roads were completely blocked,” Bob Petrici, a woodsman living outside the town of Pahoa, tells TIME.

Iselle was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm just before it struck Hawaii, yet there was no debate over its ferocity. Thrusting rain and massive waves onto the island, Iselle is expected to release an even heavier downpour as it crashes into the towering Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa mountains. Meteorologists are warning of possible land- and rockslides.

“It’s absolutely a danger to people,” says Professor Steven Businger, principal investigator at Mauna Kea Weather Center. “You need to have a nice symmetric situation for a storm to be happy. The ocean is its energy source, so when it runs into a wall, it’s going to significantly disrupt the circulation of the winds.”

Petrici left his house when he smelled the smell of rotten eggs and received an alert that there had been an emergency steam release at the nearby geothermal power plant. Since he owns one of the only hydrogen-sulfide monitors in the area, he felt compelled to check the levels, but failed to reach the plant.

“I cut my way through, but when I came across a tree sagging over the power lines and heard the cracking from the forest, I decided to go back. I think it’s really odd that they didn’t shut down the plant, but my educated guess is that there’s no risk of a major incident.”

A civil defense operation center has been assembled in the major town of Hilo, gathering first responders, road crews, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Red Cross. Kevin Dayton, executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi, at 10 p.m. local time said the storm’s impact so far has been less severe than expected, but that the worst could yet come.

“We don’t want to be too optimistic, but it’s looking good,” he said by phone. “We stay hunkered down and wait, and try to clear roads as fast as we can.”

After passing the island of Hawaii, Iselle is expected to skirt to the south of the archipelago, where a tropical-storm alert is currently in effect. Over the weekend, an even more powerful hurricane, Julio, is expected to barrel just to the north.

Hawaiians have been preparing throughout the week for Iselle’s onslaught, decimating shelves in grocery stores and supermarkets. Kawehi Cochrane, who runs a guesthouse in Hilo, made sure her guests left before the airport closed.

“I’m very nervous, my stomach’s churning,” she says. “My windows don’t have modern coating, and I’m afraid to lose roofing.”

As the evening progressed, however, Cochrane moved out onto her porch, and the familiar Big Island choir of coqui frogs could be heard over the phone line.

“It feels like Hilo now,” she said. “I think the worst is over, I feel safe.”

TIME Foreign Policy

Obama Authorizes Air Strikes, Humanitarian Aid in Iraq

Iraqis arrive at a peshmerga controlled checkpoint between Irbil and Mosul after fleeing villages near Mosul in fear of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacks.
Adam Ferguson—The New York Times/Redux Iraqis arrive at a Kurdish peshmerga controlled checkpoint between Irbil and Mosul after fleeing in fear of ISIS attacks, Aug. 6, 2014.

“America is coming to help"

President Barack Obama said Thursday that he has authorized U.S. air strikes against militants in Iraq to prevent them from moving on the Kurdish city of Erbil and to protect tens of thousands of refugees in northern Iraq. Obama said American forces had also airdropped food and water to the refugees under siege by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

“America is coming to help,” Obama said during a brief televised address from the White House late Thursday night, describing the actions as “limited strikes” to assist Iraqi forces in reaching the refugees and to protect American forces who are advising the Iraqis in Erbil. The refugees have taken shelter atop the Sinjar Mountains after Kurdish forces were pushed back by the Islamist group last weekend.

Officials said U.S. air strikes have yet to actually take place, and Obama, who has taken pains to avoid re-engaging in a conflict from which he withdrew American troops in 2011 even as militants have taken control of large swaths of the country, said no ground forces would be part of the operation, other than the military advisers he authorized two months ago. “As Commander in Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” he said.

“American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq,” Obama added.

White House officials spent much of Thursday evening notifying lawmakers of the action, but Obama decided against seeking specific congressional authorization for the intervention. The White House chief of staff also called House Speaker John Boehner.

“When many thousands of innocent civilians are in danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to help, we will take action,” Obama said. “When we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”

Congressional Republicans, who have been critical of Obama’s 2011 withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, praised the latest action.

“I am encouraged that American forces are providing humanitarian relief to threatened populations, including Christians and other religious minorities in northern Iraq,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with our men and women in uniform who are in harm’s way tonight carrying out this mission. It is important to remember that [ISIS] threatens not just Iraqis but also the security of the United States and our allies in the region as it consolidates its control of territory that can be used as a base from which to launch attacks.”

A senior Administration official reiterated that the U.S. would be prepared to act anywhere in the country, even in Baghdad, the capital. “If we see action anywhere in Iraq that threatens our personnel and facilities we stand prepared to take targeted action,” the official told reporters. The official said Obama would rely on his authority as Commander in Chief to protect U.S. troops in Erbil as the legal basis for the strikes, should they be necessary. The official described the humanitarian operation as a “unique and urgent” effort to prevent “the prospect of an act of genocide.”

Another official said the Iraqi air force, not the U.S., had targeted ISIS militants in air strikes. “It was swift, it was effective,” the official said in describing the recent ISIS offensive into northern Iraq, which has taken the group to the outskirts of Erbil. “They acted with tremendous military proficiency.”

Officials said further humanitarian drops have been authorized by Obama, should they be necessary. “We will continue to provide airdrops, should we see a need, and we expect that need to continue,” the first Administration official said.

A senior defense official confirmed the operation late Thursday after it had been completed, hours after reports — denied by the Pentagon — emerged of U.S. aircraft striking ISIS forces in northern Iraq.

“I can confirm that tonight, at the direction of the Commander in Chief, the U.S. military conducted a humanitarian assistance operation in Northern Iraq to air-drop critical meals and water for thousands of Iraqi citizens threatened by [ISIS] near Sinjar,” the official said. “The mission was conducted by a number of U.S. military aircraft under the direction of U.S. Central Command. The aircraft that dropped the humanitarian supplies have now safely exited the immediate airspace over the drop area.”

Most of the refugees are members are ethnic Yazidi, who, until this weekend, had been protected by Kurdish forces who control much of northern Iraq. But Kurdish forces have been unable to reach the refugees and the Iraqi government appealed to Washington for assistance.

Multiple U.S. planes were involved in Thursday’s operation, the Pentagon said, including one C-17 and two C-130 aircraft, which dropped 72 “bundles” of supplies flying at low altitude over northern Iraq. They were escorted by two F/A-18 aircraft launched from bases in the region. According to the Pentagon, 5,300 gallons of drinking water and 8,000 meals ready to eat were dropped to the refugees in an operation that took less than 15 minutes.

TIME Crime

Man Charged With Starting Huge California Fire

The Rim Fire burns near Buck Meadows, California
Max Whittaker—Reuters The Rim Fire burns near Yosemite National Park in Buck Meadows, Calif. on Aug. 24, 2013.

It was the third largest fire in the state's history

Authorities have charged a man with starting California’s third largest wildfire ever. The 2013 fire spread across 400 sq. mi. of Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest.

A grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Keith Matthew Emerald on Thursday, for allegedly starting the blaze on Aug. 17, 2013, the Associated Press reports. Investigators say Emerald has vacillated between admitting to starting the fire as he was hunting deer by burning trash from his backpack and then denying that he had done so.

The burning went on for two months and cost $125 million to combat. Emerald was picked up by a rescue helicopter an hour after the fire began.

No court date for Emerald’s arraignment has been set.

[AP]

TIME Infectious Disease

Watch a Science Cop Take on Donald Trump

TIME's Jeffrey Kluger takes on The Donald for crimes against science

The Ebola outbreak that is causing such fear and suffering in Africa is a very real and very deadly thing. But the fact is that the nature of the Ebola virus is such that it stands a very low chance of ever causing a pandemic like AIDS or H1N1. That hasn’t stopped America’s great foghorn—Donald Trump—and others like him from spreading all kinds of misinformation about the disease, warning people that patients should not be brought to the U.S. and that flights from West Africa should be stopped, otherwise we face an American epidemic.

But Trump and his ilk are committing a science crime—the crime of misinformation. Here’s the truth, from TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger.

 
 

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