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How Veteran Fighter Pilot Tammy Jo Shults Saved Crippled Southwest Flight 1380

Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger could rely on automated help to pull off the ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ ex-fighter pilot Tammy Jo Shults saved hundreds of lives all on her own.

Just how masterfully Tammy Jo Shults, the pilot of the badly crippled Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, handled the problem of an engine exploding at 30,000 feet is winning admiration from thousands of her fellow pilots—and should finally help to temper the hubris of what has been a notoriously testosterone-charged profession.

Consider this: the Boeing 737’s left engine suffered a catastrophic failure when one of its fan blades—a part that looks like a pirate’s scimitar and is just as lethal when let loose—broke away, ripped through the engine casing that was supposed to contain it, and then, along with other pieces of shrapnel, tore into the skin of the airplane’s cabin.

Airplane cabins are like a pressure vessel. At 30,000 feet, where the jet was when the failure occurred, the pressure inside the cabin was far higher than in the outside air. The debris instantly punctured this pressure vessel, releasing an explosive rush of air. One cabin window was shattered and with the violent release of air, the woman seated at that window, Jennifer Rioardan, was partly sucked out, suffering injuries that were fatal.

Oxygen masks were automatically dropped to passengers to provide air that they could breathe—but inevitably this added to the visceral sense of impending catastrophe.

Simultaneously the crew put on their own oxygen masks. At this point Captain Shults and her copilot were carrying out a visual and audio assessment of the damage to the 737, simultaneously scanning all the instruments to note the condition of vital systems. Most alarmingly, they saw an alarm flashing, indicating that they had an engine fire. Fire of any kind is the last thing a pilot wants to see in a situation like this because if it gets out of control it can destroy an airplane in seconds.

The pilots’ first priority was to make a rapid descent to 10,000 feet where the difference between the outside air pressure and the cabin pressure begins to equalize. This greatly reduces the risk that other parts of the cabin structure will rupture because of the pressure stresses.

At the same time Captain Shults was talking to controllers to report her situation, and requesting an emergency landing at Philadelphia, as well as requesting medical help for passengers.

For any pilot in this situation the most difficult and urgent thing to judge is how responsive the airplane is to their commands. An airplane as crippled as this one becomes difficult to handle. With only one engine working and damage to the other causing unusual air drag, the pilot must correct for asymmetrical power and drag—the airplane naturally tends to swing away from its direct course.

Here it is striking to compare Captain Shults’ plight with that of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in his legendary “miracle on the Hudson” landing. Sullenberger lost both engines to a bird strike, but his airplane, the Airbus A320, had “fly-by-wire” controls that gave him an automatic safety margin by restricting the control movements to a computer-dictated “envelope.” In contrast, the flight controls of the Southwest 737, although monitored through computers, remain as they were in the analog age, with the pilot controlling directly through a “yoke.”

And this is where Captain Shults’ background came into play. She was an ex-Navy pilot and one of the first women to fly the “Top Gun” F-18 Hornet, eventually becoming an instructor. Landing supersonic jets on the decks of aircraft carriers is one of the most demanding skills in military aviation. Now, flying on the one engine called for her to use all of her “seat of the pants” instincts to nurse the jet to the runway.

“Landing supersonic jets on the decks of aircraft carriers is one of the most demanding skills in military aviation. Now, flying on the one engine called for her to use all of her ‘seat of the pants’ instincts to nurse the jet to the runway.”

Normally a 737 on final approach would deploy its wing flaps to their full extent, to reduce landing speed to around 140 mph. But Captain Shults’ skills and experience forewarned her that an airplane flying that slowly with its flaps fully extended and with asymmetrical power could become fatally unstable in the final stage of the landing, so she used a minimal flap setting to maintain a higher speed and stability—taking the risk that the landing gear and particularly the tires could survive a higher speed impact.

As the jet came into land the controllers in the Philadelphia tower, looking at it through binoculars, could see that there was an open gash in the side of the cabin. At the same time it was reported that a large piece of the left engine’s cowling had fallen to the ground 60 miles northwest of the airport.


Captain Shults faced another problem with the speed of the landing: she could not deploy the airplane’s engine thrust reversers to help brake the speed after touchdown because of the damage to her left engine. However the touchdown was perfect and, once slowed, the jet came to rest on a taxiway where a fire crew sprayed the damaged engine with foam and put out a small fire from leaking fuel.

The warning of an engine fire had been a false one, probably caused by damage to the alarm system’s wiring.

According to reports Shults was raised on a New Mexico ranch near Holloman Air Force base. “Some people grow up around aviation. I grew up under it” she told Linda Maloney, the author of the book Military Fly Moms by Linda Maloney.

When she announced in her senior year at high school that she wanted to be a pilot a retired colonel told her “there are no professional women pilots.” That was, apparently, a problem for her when she applied to train to be a pilot in the Air Force. They rejected her, but the Navy gave her the break—and, obviously, it was a very smart move, particularly for everyone aboard Flight 1380.


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Will Democrats Win the House? Ask Texas

CreditBen Wiseman

SAN ANTONIO — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s wish list of House seats to flip from red to blue includes slightly over 100 districts — remember, it’s a wish list — and is chockablock with the usual swing states.

Ohio makes six appearances; Pennsylvania, seven. Wisconsin is present and more promising than ever, with Paul Ryan’s soon-to-be-open spot squarely in Democrats’ sights.

But wait, what’s this? Texas once, Texas twice, Texas five times in all. It reads like a typo. It looks like a delusion. Predominantly Republican and perversely gerrymandered, the Lone Star State is where Democrats send their dreams to die. Only 11 of its 36 House seats are in the party’s hands.

But 2018 is shaping up as a year in which old rules are out the window and everything is up for grabs. Ryan’s planned retirement and the increasing disarray of the Republican Party illustrate that. So does Texas’ emergence as a credible wellspring of Democratic hope.


Leave aside the Senate contest and Beto O’Rourke’s surprisingly muscular (if nonetheless improbable) bid to topple Ted Cruz. Several of the most truly competitive House races in the country are in Texas, which could wind up providing Democrats three or more of the 24 flipped seats that they need for control of the chamber. The state tells the tale of the November midterms as well as anywhere else.

The appeal of youth, of first-timers, of women, of veterans and of candidates of color will be tested here. And a bevy of compelling characters have emerged from the primaries on March 6 and are poised to prevail in runoffs on May 22.

There’s Gina Ortiz Jones, for example. Jones, 37, is almost certain to be the Democrat challenging Representative Will Hurd in the 23rd District, which sprawls from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso. Despite its large numbers of rural voters, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the 23rd by more than three points. (Clinton lost the state by nine.)

Jones was an Air Force intelligence officer in Iraq. Like Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, she drew the support of the Serve America PAC, which promotes veterans as candidates on the theory that they can help Democrats forge a cultural connection with working-class voters in swing districts.

She’s Filipina-American. She’s also openly lesbian, and while Texas political analysts told me that they weren’t sure whether that would affect her bid, Jones has figured out precisely how to handle it: with brief acknowledgment and no special focus.

At a recent house party in San Antonio where she introduced herself to a few dozen of the district’s voters, she mentioned that she “served under ‘don’t ask don’t tell’” but didn’t spell out the significance of that.

She talked more about it during an interview with me the next day, comparing her time in the military with the anxiety and vulnerability of many minorities, particularly immigrants waiting to see what happens with the DACA program.

“I don’t know what it’s like to be a Dreamer,” she told me. “But I do know what it’s like to have worked hard for something and to live in fear that it can be ripped away from you. When I was in R.O.T.C. at Boston University, I lived in fear every single day that if they found out I was gay, I would lose my scholarship. My opportunity to get an education — my opportunity to serve my country — would be taken away.”

Democrats also have an excellent shot at victory in the 32nd District, a collection of Dallas neighborhoods and suburbs. Its Republican incumbent, Pete Sessions, has been in Congress for two decades, but the district has become more diverse and less white over those years, and his likely opponent, a black civil rights lawyer named Colin Allred, should benefit from that.

Allred is 34. Like Jones, he’s making his first run for office. Also like her, he has an unconventional professional biography. Before getting his law degree at the University of California, Berkeley, he played professional football for the Tennessee Titans, and before that he was a football star at Baylor University in Waco and at a high school in his Dallas district. Many of its voters remember watching him play.

And more of them voted for Clinton than for Trump in the presidential election, a sign of the district’s evolution and an outcome for which Democrats were so unprepared that not a single Democrat challenged Sessions in 2016. This time around, seven Democrats entered the race. Allred got 38.5 percent of the votes in the primary, more than twice that of the second-place finisher.

“We’ve seen a level of activism here that is off the charts,” he told me after a town hall in Dallas where he spoke with voters about the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and the need for gun-safety legislation. Sessions is a major recipient of donations from the National Rifle Association, and Allred, echoing the campaigns of Democrats across the country, is making an issue of that.

The mere existence of the runoffs that he, Jones and other Texas Democrats will compete in next month reflects Democrats’ hopes in Texas in 2018, because it means that there were three or more Democratic candidates in districts that had two, one or none in election cycles past.

“Democrats smell blood in the water,” Harold Cook, a former executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, told me, “and for the first time in maybe forever, there is a Democrat running in every single congressional district in Texas, including ones where it’s a ludicrous thought that a Democrat could conceivably win.” They’re that angry about Trump and that convinced that his turbulent presidency and failure to nudge his approval rating much above 40 percent could mean an enormous blue wave.

Democrats are even eyeing a few districts that Trump won, like the 21st and 31st. The 21st attracted the party’s attention largely because its Republican incumbent, Lamar Smith, isn’t seeking re-election. He decided to retire after more than three decades in the House.

And the 31st? Well, it’s hard not to indulge in some optimism when your party’s leading candidate is a female war hero whose story is possibly becoming a movie, “Shoot Like a Girl,” starring Angelina Jolie. That candidate, M. J. Hegar, 42, did several tours of duty in Afghanistan as a search-and-rescue pilot and won a Purple Heart after she was wounded while saving fellow passengers when the Taliban shot down her helicopter.

Richard Murray, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, told me to keep an eye as well on the 22nd District, a largely suburban swath of the Houston area that he described as a microcosm of demographic changes that are making the state ever more hospitable Democratic turf.

“The suburban counties that led Republicans to dominance here 25 years ago are getting significantly less Republican fast,” he said, adding that Fort Bend County, in the 22nd, is roughly 20 percent Asian-American now. The first-place finisher in the district’s Democratic primary, Sri Preston Kulkarni, is Indian-American. Murray said that if Kulkarni wins his runoff, that could be a significant boost to Democrats’ chances to nab this House seat.

Trump took the 22nd by almost 8 points. But Mitt Romney won it four years earlier by more than 25. And bear in mind that Lamb notched his Pennsylvania victory last month in a district that had gone for Trump by a margin of 19 points.

“When you look at what happened in Pennsylvania,” Allred told me, “you can’t take anything off the board.” Lamb’s triumph, and the Virginia returns last November, suggest a suburban revolt against Trump.

But who best understands how the winds are blowing — the national Democratic Party or local primary voters? And are those voters making smart general-election choices or romantic ones? I suspect they made the right calls with Allred and Jones, neither of whom was anointed by the party and both of whom faced primary opponents with more money and with powerful connections.

In Jones’s case that was Jay Hulings, a former federal prosecutor who went to law school at Harvard with the Texas political stars Joaquin and Julián Castro. He finished fourth in the five-candidate primary, with 15 percent of the vote. Jones’s 41 percent tally was more than twice that of her nearest competitor.

Allred’s better-financed and more conventionally pedigreed rival was Ed Meier, who has a master’s degree in Middle East studies from Oxford University and worked as a management consultant with McKinsey. He finished fourth among the seven primary candidates.

Following their hugely impressive primary performances, Jones and Allred landed on another, more refined list — “Red to Blue” — that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee puts together. It directs donors to House candidates in especially strong positions. It’s now 33 names long.

Meredith Kelly, the communications director for the D.C.C.C., told me that Jones’s and Allred’s newness to politics could prove hugely appealing. When the party did focus groups in Pennsylvania’s 18th District after Lamb’s victory, she said, “One of the biggest takeaways was that he was seen as a young, fresh face in contrast to Rick Saccone.” Saccone was 60 and had long served in the State Legislature. Lamb was 33 and had never held elected office.

Allred put it to me this way: “My youth is not a bug. It’s a feature.”

He and Jones are potentially formidable for additional reasons. There’s not a whiff of entitlement or the establishment about either of them. Both had single mothers of humble means. Both talk expansively and eloquently about government or community help that was crucial in their lives.

Both have deep roots in their districts, where they spent their childhoods. Both are great-looking, as it happens. (That rarely hurts.) And both acknowledge the shock of Nov. 8, 2016 — and the peril of what they’ve witnessed since — as factors that motivated them to run and could be central to whether they win or lose. Trump is large in their minds and in their races.

Before and immediately after the presidential election, Jones worked in the federal government as an economic and national security adviser. She hadn’t thought about a career as a lawmaker, she told me.

But Election Day changed everything. “I remember a sinking feeling in my stomach,” she said, “in no small part because a lot of us thought, ‘That will never happen.’ That was not an option, because then what does that mean?”

“About America?” I asked.

“That’s right,” she said.

She quit her bureaucratic job and became one of a record number of 309 women to file to run for House seats. There’s an unusual bounty of Democratic candidates of all kinds, and as Jones and Allred demonstrate, that’s not merely a numerical phenomenon. It has brought engaging new figures and impassioned new voices into the arena. On Nov. 6, in Texas and elsewhere, we’ll see how much that matters.


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President Trump, in a surprising reversal, asked his advisers to look into rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact


Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:54 PM EST

President Trump told a gathering of farm state lawmakers and governors on Thursday morning that he was directing his advisers to look into rejoining the multicountry trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the White House tries to come up with ways to protect the agriculture sector, which could be badly hurt by the president’s trade policies.

Rejoining the trade pact would be a surprising change in policy for Mr. Trump, who long criticized the deal and withdrew from it last January, in his first major trade action.

Read More »



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Gov. Jerry Brown endorses Sen. Dianne Feinstein for reelection

“Zu alt um zu fallen, sie hat nur dort gefesselt!”

A snow covered T-Rex life size Dianasur sculpture is pictured at the Edmund  Brown Water-Heist  Museum in Donepezil

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday endorsed Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reelection bid.

“More than ever, we need Dianne Feinstein’s steady leadership in the U.S. Senate; she’s exactly the right person to ensure that Trump is held accountable. Dianne will continue to stand up for immigrants and fight to protect our healthcare and the environment,” Brown said in a statement.

The two San Francisco natives have developed a close relationship in the decades since Brown’s father, former Gov. Pat Brown, appointed Feinstein to the California Women’s Board of Terms and Parole. Feinstein officiated at Brown’s 2005 wedding and he has helped her raise cash in the past.

As she seeks her fifth full term, Feinstein’s opponents are trying to capitalize on progressive sentiment that Feinstein is too moderate and willing to compromise with Trump.


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SAMBO’S restaurant lives on, on the Central Oregon Coast…

… but apparantly the Tiger Won!

photo by Steve Ulrich 4.8.2018


You might imagine that chain restaurants would spend vast amounts of time and money researching potential names in order to pick one that would convey exactly the desired associations and nuances. Certainly one that would not insult a portion of its intended customers.

I’m sure most do. Sambo’s was not among them.

Wouldn’t the founders of Sambo’s, in the late 1950s, dimly perceive that the name Sambo was not beloved by everyone, especially African-Americans?

Why would they decorate with images from the book “Little Black Sambo,” the American editions of which were filled with racist caricatures?


Evidently they had no idea that Sambo had been – and still was – a derogatory word for black males for over 100 years; that the name and ridiculous images of Sambo were used on many consumer products in the early 20th century; and that after WWII school libraries had complied with requests by African-Americans to remove the book from shelves.

Even if they didn’t know any of this, when protests erupted they might have realized they had made a terrible mistake. Regardless of whether “Sam-bo” originated from the first name of one of them combined with the nickname of the other.

Nope, nope, nope, and double nope.

Instead the founders, their successor, and the corporation that finally took over the chain all insisted right up to the bitter end that no harm was intended or implied. Even as they renamed some units in the East where there had been boycotts, the company insisted the change was purely in order to market their new menus.

sambo's216CabrilloHwy1960The first Sambo’s was opened in Santa Barbara in 1957. [pictured] By 1977, when the son of one of the founders was heading the company, the chain was the country’s largest full-service restaurant chain, with 1,117 units.

But trouble was looming. Protests during the West Coast chain’s expansion into the Northeast had already resulted in renaming units in the Albany NY area “Jolly Tiger.” Eventually there were 13 Jolly Tigers in various towns. Protest would spread to Reston VA, New York, and New England including at least 9 towns in Massachusetts. In 1981 the Rhode Island Commission on Human Rights ordered the company to change its name in that state because indirectly the name violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by denying public accommodations to black persons.

SambosNoPlaceLikeSam'sLogo1981The company responded that it would rename 18 of its Northeastern units “No Place Like Sam’s”; in fact according to an advertisement a few months later they actually renamed 41 units.

Soon thereafter the company began to collapse. In November 1981 it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, closing more than a third of its units. In Leominster and Stoughton MA, early morning customers had to pick up and get out immediately so the restaurants could be padlocked.

In 1982 all, or most, remaining Sambo’s were renamed Seasons. By 1984 most of the Seasons restaurants had been sold to Godfather’s Pizza and other buyers.

The successive name switches undoubtedly hurt business, but a more serious problem was that Sambo’s, like other chains using a coffee shop format with table service and extensive menus, had been steadily losing out to fast food chains.

The chain is kaput yet the beat goes on. The original Sambo’s in Santa Barbara continues in business under new ownership – still using the thoroughly discredited name. On its website it also continues the threadbare tradition of justifying the name as a compound of the founders’ names.


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Simple life hacks

  • Drink more water – finish the glass of room temperature water left on your nightstand, first thing when you wake up
  • Smile – it’s infectious.
  • Be first – jump into the conversation in the kitchen at lunch today, don’t hold back, say hi to the person walking by you in the hallway
  • Read less “news” – more longform
  • Finish a lot of little things – making your bed when you get out of it, put your dishes directly into the dishwasher, don’t wait for your weekly status meeting to get an immediate answer if it’s going to take a minute to walk and talk to a colleagues office
  • Remain present, in the task at hand and on the things that matter
  • Give yourself time to think
  • Write
  • Remain curious
  • Stop multi-tasking – do one thing.
  • Stand up straight
  • Move – walk around the building when you get up to use the restroom
  • Stretch – everyday, feel the muscles in your body
  • Empathize – care for others, because they are human
  • Remember and forget
  • Express yourself
  • Cry
  • Create
  • Talk
  • Build
  • Record
  • Find the joy

Focus, as we understand it is a difficult thing to quantify. You can however, put a number on your revenue, hours spent or saved on a project, and quality of work – have you ever graded yourself on a piece of work done, was it a C or a B+?

Most importantly, you cannot quantify the sense of accomplishment and genuine fulfillment in your life, when you are able to get back to basics, remove distractions and implement tactics and strategies into action that will change your day today.

Simplify your life and improve the quality of your work, quantity of work, and depth of concentration, thought and mission filled with meaning.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend!


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Rachel Maddow Beats Sean Hannity, Takes Title As Most-Watched Cable News Host


In March, The Rachel Maddow Show finished as the highest-rated show in cable news, with an average total audience of 3.058 million viewers–the show’s best-ever performance in the 9 p.m. ET hour. FNC’s Hannity was second, with 3.000 million viewers. Maddow also won among viewers 25-54, the demographic most valued by advertisers, finishing March with an average audience of 671,000 compared to Hannity’s 616,000. CNN finished a distant third in the hour, with 382,000 viewers 25-54.

MSNBC has been experiencing a dramatic rise in ratings, finishing the first quarter of 2018 as the only cable news network to grow compared to Q1 2017: MSNBC ratings were up 30%, while both Fox News and CNN experienced declines.

In March, MSNBC’s programming in prime time, daytime and total day all broke records for the network. The network’s prime-time lineup averaged 2.398 million total viewers, finishing as the No. 2 network across all of cable TV. While Fox News continued its run as the top-rated network in cable news, MSNBC’s prime lineup was up 8% from 2017, while both Fox (down 18 percent) and CNN (down 16 percent) were off year-over-year.

The March ratings results suggest Fox News’ unrivaled status as the dominant force in cable news may be facing one of the strongest challenges in years.


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