Responding to a federal advisory committee report issued last month, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that it “can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight.” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency is already working with airlines to implement the long-standing policy that has drawn ire from fliers for decades.
When the overdue changes take place will depend on the airline, but Delta is already out with a press release saying that it’ll try to allow passengers to use their gadgets as soon as tomorrow.
The FAA policy was based more on caution than hard facts. According to The New York Times, the regulations were put into place during the 1950s when FM transmitters actually could interfere with communications. But current aircraft have more-advanced systems. In 2006, a study found no evidence in either direction that consumer electronics could cause a disruption. “There was no evidence saying these devices can’t interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can,” a FAA spokesman told The Times in 2011. The Times‘ tech columnist Nick Bilton has made a bit of a crusade of the matter, even commissioning an independent test of the electrical emissions of a Kindle. They were found to be “minuscule.”
This is obviously great news for Alec Baldwin and other electronic-obsessives. But airplanes aren’t just going to be a free-for-all now that you can read your Kindle during takeoff. The FAA still prohibits a huge list of items from entering the plane. Some are plenty obvious, like firearms, hand grenades and meat cleavers. Some are already obviously annoying for fliers, such as liquid restrictions. Others are just a bit odd. You can’t bring pool cues, cricket bats, cattle prods, kubatons (which are real things), vehicle airbags (???), and certain snow globes (because of the liquid) on board.
Also, to the people now lamenting that this will bring the end to the tech-sabbath refuge of the fuselage — be assured not much will really change. People were always allowed to use electronics after takeoff, and cell phones still cannot be used to make calls in the air. Also, no citizen of the civilized world should ever use electronic devices without headphones on public transportation. The only difference now is that you can continue using your laptop or iPad during takeoff. So please, attempt to work through the sometimes startling changes in G-forces as the plane accelerates down the runway.
Although, we can all agree that a particularly nefarious snow globe poses more of a public-safety threat than an e-reader ever did.
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Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.
Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."
A group of delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders is actively exploring how to challenge Tim Kaine's nomination for the vice presidency. A lead of the group "said he hoped the Democratic National Committee releases information within hours on how to submit a challenger to Kaine, which he said would require the signatures of 300 delegates. He said they have until Wednesday morning to file a challenge to Kaine and stressed that while his group would take any requests from the Sanders campaign under consideration, the delegate group is an independent organization."
Here are some more numbers out of Utah that should frighten Donald Trump—and give hope to Gary Johnson. "An internal poll conducted for Rep. Mia Love two weeks ago found Trump at 29 percent, Clinton at 27 percent" and Libertarian candidate Johnson at 26 percent. "That was, however, before Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence." Utah party chairman James Evans said that move ought to clinch the state for Trump. "Utahns are going to come through because the level of distaste for Hillary is so deep," he said.