More Protests and Bans

Grind for February 25th, 2019
“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Bad News

The Headline

Southwest Airlines grounds flights, declares “operational emergency”

The Grind

Southwest Airlines pulled more than 40 planes out of service last week following a dispute with the union that represents aircraft maintenance technicians.

The resulting delays and cancellations (which numbered into the hundreds) led Southwest to declare an “operational emergency.”

Southwest’s mechanics, who are already short-staffed and working overtime, were recently informed they could expect longer work hours and face “termination” for unexcused absences.

The Details

The emergency at Southwest follows a shocking CBS report which suggests airline mechanics throughout the industry are being pressured to overlook safety problems in order to keep planes on schedule.

“I’ve seen people walked off the job, held on suspension for a month or more because they’ve reported problems that they supposedly were outside their scope for finding,” said one mechanic.

Former National Transportation Safety Board member John Goglia says he’s received similar complaints from “over a hundred” mechanics over the past four years. “I’m talking about calls from every single airline.”

Southwest is also in trouble for baggage discrepancies.

As reported Monday, a year-long investigation by the US Federal Aviation Administration found systemic and significant mistakes with baggage weight calculations and loading practices.

The FAA has not decided whether to punish the airline, but FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford says Southwest can expect “heightened oversight” until the situation is resolved.

A Tough Choice

The Headline

Pinterest attempts to block spread of misinformation related to vaccines

The Grind

In a move dangerously close to censorship, the social media site Pinterest announced it would stop showing search results related to vaccination.

Pinterest made the decision after it discovered that most shared images warned users against vaccination (advice which directly contradicts established medical guidelines).

Pinterest says a temporary ban is necessary in order to curb the spread of misinformation and has plans to remove “polluted” content from its site.

The Context

Pinterest’s ban comes amid a nationwide call for social media sites to be held legally accountable for false or dangerous information posted to their sites – including terrorism-recruitment campaigns, misinformation about health-related issues, hate speech, and sexual harassment.

Lawmakers last week expressed concerns to Google and Facebook about content that discourages parents from vaccinating their kids.

“Until recently, social-media companies have drawn a line in the sand saying they’re not arbiters of truth; that they are passive purveyors of information,” says Samuel Woolley, a researcher who studies social media’s role in the spread of disinformation.

“There’s been pressure on them for a long time to respond to this because the reality of this is the spread of misinformation – especially around vaccines – leads to extremely bad consequences, including death.”

Parents’ failure to vaccinate their children is believed to have caused a measles outbreak last winter that infected more than 60 people in Washington state’s Clark County.

The County’s public health director, Dr. Alan Melnick, says “the onslaught of fairly sophisticated but nonsense messages on social media” contributed to the outbreak.

Did you know… Over its lifetime, the average microwave requires more energy to display a digital clock than to heat food.