April 11, 2017

By all rights, Monday should have been a banner day for United Airlines. Just two weeks after United had mishandled a social media kerfuffle about two young teenage girls barred from boarding a plane (on "buddy passes") because they were wearing leggings, chief competitor Delta Air Lines was still working through a morass of 3,000 canceled flights, stranding or inconveniencing tens of thousands of passengers as spring break travel ramped up.

Yet somehow, United made sure the only airline anybody was talking about on Monday was United, thanks to its hamfisted response to a viral video of a passenger being dragged, screaming and bloodied, off a Chicago to Louisville flight, after being bumped for United flight attendants.

United first apologized, but only for "the overbook situation," and explained that airport police had to drag a paying customer off the plane because he "refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily." It's not a good sign, public relations-wise, when the dictionary has to intervene.

United CEO Oscar Munoz next issued a short statement apologizing "for having to re-accommodate these customers," pairing that oddly cold word with a promise to urgently "work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened." He then privately assured his employees that he "emphatically" stands behind them for following "established procedures" to remove the increasingly "disruptive and belligerent" customer. The general feeling on social media is that United's mishandling of the situation will be taught as a cautionary tale in business school.

Interestingly, PR Week awarded Munoz its 2017 Communicator of the Year award just last month, lauding him as "a smart, dedicated, and excellent leader who understands the value of communications."

To be fair, given Munoz's strong backing of the United crew, a big part of the rationale for PR Week's award is that the CEO has a celebrated "ability to connect and share with employees his vision for the airline," curtailing "customer service problems caused by disgruntled staff that had long plagued the airline." And PR Week didn't just credit Munoz for this turnaround in morale and PR prowess: "Under Munoz's vision for the brand, the airline hired Jim Olson away from Starbucks in February 2016 as SVP of corporate communications. United also hired its first chief storyteller and MD of digital engagement, Dana Brooks Reinglass." Maybe they're on spring break. Peter Weber

9:21 p.m.

A businessman who remembers what it was like to rely on free lunches as a child approached the Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania with an offer he didn't think they would refuse.

Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee, said he told the school board president, Joseph Mazur, that he wanted to give the district $22,000 to wipe out all student lunch debt. Carmichael proposed the gift after learning that the district was sending letters to parents warning them that if they didn't pay the lunch money owned, they could be "sent to dependency court for neglecting your child's right to food," possibly leading to children being removed from their homes and put in foster care.

Mazur rejected his offer, Carmichael's spokesman Aren Platt told The Associated Press, saying the money is owed by parents who can afford to pay up. "The position of Mr. Carmichael is, irrespective of affluence, irrespective of need, he just wants to wipe away this debt," Platt said. Mazur did not return AP's phone calls.

A lawyer for the school board said he doesn't know what they plan on doing regarding lunch debt; previously, there had been talk of placing liens on properties and filing complaints in a district court. As for the foster care threat, Luzerne County child welfare agency officials said it's false to claim that parents who don't pay lunch debt could be sent to court, AP reports, and the school district needs to stop making this threat. Catherine Garcia

8:14 p.m.

Climate change activists glued themselves to the doorways of tunnels that connect the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building on Tuesday, demanding that lawmakers do something about the climate emergency.

The activists are part of the group Extinction Rebellion, which made headlines earlier this year after members in London glued themselves to windows, barricaded the entrance of the London Stock Exchange, held a massive protest at the Natural History Museum, and blocked the city's streets. The group doesn't think politicians are taking climate change seriously or doing enough to curtail carbon emissions. Extinction Rebellion has affiliates in more than 50 countries, BuzzFeed reports, and there are 38 chapters in the United States.

In Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, peaceful protesters held up signs saying "Declare Climate Emergency" and sang songs together. On Twitter, Extinction Rebellion of Washington, D.C., said the group was "sorry for the inconvenience, but we're not going back to business as usual until we declare a climate emergency and get climate justice for everyone, everywhere." So far, 13 protesters have been arrested. Catherine Garcia

7:00 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller will appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday with one of his longtime aides, Aaron Zebley, by his side, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times on Tuesday.

At the last minute, Mueller requested Zebley be sworn in as a witness, but instead, he will be there as Mueller's counsel, offering guidance on how to answer questions about the two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and obstruction of justice.

Zebley was a deputy special counsel with "day-to-day oversight of the investigations conducted by the office," Mueller spokesman Jim Popkin said. Zebley was also Mueller's chief of staff when he served as FBI director. Mueller is also appearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, but it's unclear if he made the same request to the panel. Catherine Garcia

5:53 p.m.

Snap is finally on the upswing again after its disastrous 2018 redesign.

On Tuesday, Snapchat's parent company revealed the app gained 13 million new users in the second quarter, its largest boost since it went public in 2017. It also reported a boosted revenue of $388 million up 48% from a year earlier, sending stocks up 11% in post-market trading, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Snapchat had been either losing users or remaining stagnant from when it posted its IPO until the first quarter of 2019. It also saw a year of falling stock numbers, hitting a record low of $4.99 at the end of last year. Shares have since rebounded 180% to hit $16.50 after Snap shared its Q2 earnings Tuesday, though that's still below its debut price of $17, CNBC notes.

Snap's 203 million total user base exceeds the 192 million expectation analysts predicted for this quarter, Snap said on Tuesday. That's largely thanks to popular gender-swapping filters that apparently even helped one college student catch an alleged predator cop. An updated Android interface also helped retain and add users, Snap said. Snap expects its revenue and user base to continue growing in the third quarter, with an anticipated Q3 revenue of between $410 million and $435 million. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:10 p.m.

You might want to get the tissues out for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's eulogy for her former colleague, the late former Justice John Paul Stevens, who died last week at 99.

Ginsburg kept her remarks short and sweet, but they lent credence to reports that Stevens was not only a well-respected judicial mind, but a man of high character — with a sense of humor to go along with it.

Stevens was laid to rest in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, but CNN obtained a transcript of Ginsburg's eulogy. She spoke of how Stevens was actively playing sports and traveling across the Atlantic well into his 90s. In fact, the two of them saw each other at a conference in Lisbon, during what turned out to be the last week of Stevens' life.

On their last evening there, Ginsburg said she told Stevens that it was her dream to remain on the bench as long as he did. (Stevens, who served for 35 years, has the third longest Supreme Court tenure in U.S. history). Stevens' response? Stay longer.

At the end of the day, Ginsburg said, "in a capital city with no shortage of self-promoters" the "genuinely genial, unpretentious, and modest" Stevens "set a different tone." Read the full remarks at CNN. Tim O'Donnell

4:42 p.m.

Comedian Jon Stewart on Tuesday celebrated the Senate's passage of a bill permanently reauthorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, saying fighting for the cause alongside 9/11 first responders has been the "honor of my life."

Stewart spoke after the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill extending funding through 2092 in a 97-2 vote, ensuring that it remains funded for the remainder of the 9/11 first responders' lives, as NBC News reports.

"I will always be so proud to have been associated" with the fight to extend the fund, Stewart said on Tuesday. "...We can never repay all that the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them. And today is that day that they can exhale." Stewart went on to say that "unfortunately, the pain and suffering of what the heroes go through is going to continue," but today should "begin the process of being able to heal."

The former Daily Show host blasted Congress in a fiery, viral testimony last month, pleading with lawmakers to permanently extend the fund. But Stewart clearly didn't want to take too much credit for the bill's passage, sarcastically quipping after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) heaped praise on him, "Yes, I think we can all agree I'm the real hero."

9/11 first responder and advocate for the fund John Feal also spoke on Tuesday after embracing Stewart, saying there's "no joy" or "comfort" in passing the bill after "18 years of pain and suffering." After deciding he'll miss "nothing" about Washington, D.C., Feal blasted the two Senators who voted against passing the bill, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), pointing to the overwhelmingly successful vote and telling them, "We whipped your asses." Brendan Morrow

4:41 p.m.

Harsher words have never been tweeted.

On Tuesday, a very confusing thread popped up on the account of U.K. Independent MP Jared O'Hara. It was seemingly written in the third person, calling "Jared" the "most disgustingly morally bankrupt person I have ever had the displeasure of working with." And that was far from the most incendiary comment in the thread.

The thread goes on to accuse O'Mara of having a "vile, inexcusable contempt for the people who voted you in" and relays the authors' fears that O'Mara will close down his whole office "once again" after this thread. The tweet's author then finally reveals himself as Gareth Arnold, whose Twitter bio says he "used to work for an MP."

O'Mara has had a troubled two years in Parliament, quickly coming under fire for misogynist and homophobic comments he made online long before his election. He soon resigned from the Labour party and became an independent. In April, he temporarily shut down his office after most of his staffers quit or were fired — something Arnold referenced in his tweets.

The thread stayed up for more than an hour, likely because of this reason Arnold tweeted from his own account.

Journalist Yashar Ali soon noted that Arnold is known for trolling right-wing politicians with massive online campaigns.

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