Despite two major commercial aircraft incidents in 2015 — the intentional Germanwings crash in the French Alps and the allegedly terror-related Metrojet crash over Egypt — there has almost never been a safer time to get on an airplane, Condé Nast Traveler reports. Recently released numbers show that 2015 was the safest year for air travel since World War II and the London-based consultancy Ascend reported that for the first year ever, not one passenger fatality was recorded on a Western-built jet, aside from in acts of suspected violence.
Discounting the Germanwings and MetroJet Airbus events, the highest individual fatality count was 54 resulting from the crash of a Trigana Air ATR 42 in Papua during August. The second-highest, 43 casualties, also resulted from a turboprop accident when a TransAsia Airways ATR 72 came down after take-off from Taipei in February.
Ascend's annual review recorded eight fatal accidents last year, all involving turboprops from relatively small carriers, with only three accidents involving revenue passenger flights — the lowest total since 1946. [Flightglobal]
"The traditional accident rates were down, and we can attribute that to good practices and to new airplanes coming into service,” aviation consultant and former National Transportation Safety Board member John Goglia told Condé Nast Traveler. "But we still have to address the role of the human being." Jeva Lange
In the Jewish faith, a young woman's bat mitzvah is an important rite of passage, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. But in the realm of political party fundraising, well, attending a bat mitzvah is probably low on the list of priorities for a party's heavy-hitters.
However, Politico reports Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, thought differently when she was tasked with enlisting Vice President Joe Biden to help raise money for the Democratic Party:
Democratic National Committee staff had sent [Wasserman Schultz] to the vice president armed with four specific requests for getting him involved in raising money for the party.
She decided to scrap them for two of her own.
First, she asked Biden to do a fundraiser for her own reelection to her House seat in Florida in the primary challenge she's facing next month. He agreed.
The second was to get down to Boca Raton for [her daughter's] bat mitzvah.
Biden's staff balked. They offered to tape a video message from him instead, hoping that would satisfy her. [Politico]
Wasserman Schultz "eagerly" accepted the video offer, Politico says — but the out-of-turn request was just one more reflection of the chairwoman's reportedly increasingly disruptive leadership of the DNC. The Florida congresswoman was forced to resign from her post Sunday after a leak of internal emails revealed some party officials had attempted to influence the Democratic primary race against Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton's main rival for the presidential nomination. Read more about the DNC's internal chaos — including Wasserman Schultz's allegedly defiant response to criticism of her and her staffers on social media — at Politico. Kimberly Alters
Megyn Kelly's contract at Fox News will expire after the election, and the star anchor has publicly confessed that she doesn't know what's going to happen after that. "I've had a great 12 years here, and I really like working for Roger Ailes. I really like my show, and I love my team. But, you know, there's a lot of brain damage that comes from the job," she told Variety this spring.
Speculation about Kelly's next move is really ramping up now that Kelly has admitted she hung out at the CNNGrill in Philadelphia in the wee hours of Thursday morning, The Washington Post reports:
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) July 28, 2016
Politico also wrote that while she was there, Kelly apparently spoke with "CNN chief Jeff Zucker" — who does the hiring at CNN — as well as "Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, according to several tipsters." Kelly is in Philadelphia covering the Democratic National Convention for Fox News.
The Pentagon has opened a formal inquiry into a coalition airstrike on the village of Tokkhar, Syria, on July 19 that left at least 74 civilians dead. The decision comes just days before an internal Department of Defense deadline to launch the investigation.
Carried out by the U.S. Air Force, the strike allegedly mistook civilians for Islamic State fighters. Casualty estimates vary, with one United Kingdom-based group positing that as many as 203 innocents may have been killed. Most recently, a 14-year-old girl died from injuries sustained in the attack, which "pulverized entire families."
The devastating reports out of Tokkhar were "credible enough" to convince the Pentagon to investigate, U.S. Army Col. Christopher Garver announced Wednesday. Garver said he'd seen data claiming only 10-15 civilians had been killed. Bonnie Kristian
Melania Trump's website has mysteriously vanished, and her former URL now reroutes to her husband's business website, Trump.com, New York reports. As if a recent plagiarism scandal wasn't bad enough, some are now alleging that Melania actually made up a detail in her biography, which might be why her website has been thoroughly erased.
Apparently Trump's Slovenian wife stated in her biography that she holds a degree in design and architecture from a university back in her native country; biographers Bojan Pozar and Igor Omerza have argued that in fact Melania only attended school for a year before she dropped out.
Adding to the intrigue, Trump's campaign has repeatedly said Melania has a degree, with the program at the Republican National Convention claiming: "After obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia, Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan, finally settling in New York in 1996."
Bernie Sanders sent out the most popular tweet during Donald Trump's speech accepting the Republican nomination for president last week. This week, it was Trump's turn to — as he would put it — win Twitter.
He shared what became the most retweeted post on the social network Wednesday, the third day of the Democratic National Convention, which included speeches from Vice President Biden and President Obama. But Trump's tweet didn't mention either of them. "Shooting deaths of police officers up 78% this year," he wrote. "We must restore law and order and protect our great law enforcement officers!"
Shooting deaths of police officers up 78% this year. We must restore law and order and protect our great law enforcement officers!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2016
Trump is correct that shooting deaths of law enforcement are on the rise as compared to 2015. He neglected to mention, however, that even with that increase, now is a historically safe time to be a cop — as replies to his tweet quickly noted. Bonnie Kristian
Washington Post reporter kicked out of general admission line at Mike Pence event for having a cell phone
Donald Trump has come under fire for denying press credentials to media organizations he finds unfair in their coverage of him, but a security guard at an event for his running mate Mike Pence took things to a whole new level Wednesday. Washington Post reporter Jose A. DelReal planned to cover Pence's first event since being named the Republican vice presidential candidate two weeks ago, but was turned down at the press check-in table because he works for one of Trump's blacklisted publications:
DelReal then tried to enter via the general-admission line, as Post reporters have done without incident since Trump last month banned the newspaper from his events. He was stopped there by a private security official who told him he couldn't enter the building with his laptop and cell phone. When DelReal asked whether others attending the rally could enter with their cell phones, he said the unidentified official replied, "Not if they work for The Washington Post." [The Washington Post]
When DelReal put his laptop and phone in his car and tried once again to enter through the general admission line, the same official stopped him and called over sheriff's deputies, who allegedly patted him down. When it was confirmed DelReal did not have a phone, the security person still would not let DelReal into the building.
"He said, 'I don't want you here. You have to go,'" DelReal said. When reached for comment, Pence press secretary Marc Lotter told the Post`, "Our events are open to everyone, and we are looking into the alleged incident."
But Marty Baron, the executive editor of the Post, said the incident adds a whole new level of concern for advocates of freedom of the press. "First, press credentials for The Washington Post were revoked by Donald Trump. Now, law enforcement officers, in collusion with private security officials, subjected a reporter to bullying treatment that no ordinary citizen has to endure. All of this took place in a public facility no less," Baron said. "The harassment of an independent press isn't coming to an end. It's getting worse." Jeva Lange
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani proposed tagging Muslims on the government's terrorist watch list as a means of tracking their movements, NJ.com reports. Giuliani, who advises Donald Trump on terrorism and national security, said of the proposal, "I would think that's an excellent idea. If you're on the terror watch list, I should know you're on the terror watch list. You're on there for a reason."
People on the U.S. terrorist watch list don't get a trial or chance to defend themselves before being listed — an issue gun rights advocates have raised in their arguments that those on the watch list should not be banned from buying firearms.
Giuliani cited France as an example of such security measures; in the Normandy church attack Tuesday, one of the suspects was known to have twice attempted trips to Syria and was wearing a monitoring bracelet at the dictate of anti-terror officials. Jeva Lange