Jackson water crisis “worst case scenario”, says mayor – National & International News – WED 28Dec2022


Jackson mayor says latest water disruption “worst case scenario”.

Southwest Airlines: Pilot union says weather not solely to blame for mass cancellations.

US, other countries consider travel restrictions for China.



Jackson mayor says latest water disruption “worst case scenario”

Jackson, MS, has been under a boil water notice since Christmas Day after freezing weather caused a drop in water pressure. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declared a state of emergency yesterday and declared the situation a “worst case scenario”. Local authorities hoped that increasing output from two water treatment plants might remedy the immediate problem. But even after increasing output at the O. B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell water treatment plants, much of the city remains without adequate water pressure. An official press release on Monday said “We are producing significant amounts of water and pushing that into the system, but the pressure is not increasing — despite those efforts at the plants.”

This would seem to suggest unidentified leaks somewhere in the city’s pipe network. Residents are being asked to keep taps closed to maintain what pressure there is. Officials are also urging residents to report any leaks so that they can be repaired and hopefully restore pressure. However, there are numerous anecdotal reports on Jackson’s government Facebook page from residents who say they’ve been reporting leaks for days and that no crews have yet arrived.

Mayor Lumumba explained to residents that the boil water notice is a requirement of the EPA when water pressure falls below a certain level. He did not say whether there were any indications that any water that flows out of taps poses a danger to residents. The city is continuing to work with the recently-appointed third-party manager, Ted Henifin. 

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Southwest Airlines: Pilot union says weather not solely to blame for 1000s of cancellations

Over the weekend, major airlines were forced to cancel thousands of flights due to the severe weather across the country. All but one, Southwest Airlines, were largely back to normal by Tuesday. On Monday, the carrier canceled 70% of its flights and then 60% on Tuesday. In contrast, most major airlines were only canceling about 2% of their flights by Tuesday.

A Southwest spokesman solely blamed the weather for leaving them “chasing our tails, trying to catch up”. However, Casey Murray, president of Southwest’s pilots union, says weather is the least of the airline’s problems. Firstly, Murray says the company’s scheduling software dates to the 1990s – when the airline was much smaller – and is no longer up to the job. Secondly, he cited an overall failure of leadership. “Whether it was pilots, whether it was customer service agents, whether it was ramp agents – they weren’t given the tools to do their job,” Murray said. “Nor were they given the leadership to answer the questions and to be able to provide solutions.” 

The Department of Transportation has taken notice of Southwest’s disproportionately high number of cancellations and is investigating. After a disastrous summer for many air travelers, DOT at last put airlines on notice, promising fines and other consequences if airlines continued to book more flights than they could handle given industry-wide staffing shortages.

The cancellations disrupted plans for thousands of customers and left many stranded. Democratic Senators Edward Markey (MT) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) are demanding that Southwest payout “significant monetary compensation” to customers. “Southwest is planning to issue a $428 million dividend next year – the company can afford to do right by the consumers it has harmed,” the senators said on Tuesday.

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US, other countries consider travel restrictions for China

Just China’s COVID infections are taking off at an astronomical rate, the country has announced an end to three years of tight travel restrictions. Under China’s Zero COVID policy, travel between provinces and abroad were tightly controlled, with lengthy quarantine periods for returning travelers. Next month is Chinese New Year, which is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. During this time, millions of Chinese people crisscross the country visiting relatives. This has raised concerns that city dwellers will bring COVID infections to rural areas, where health systems are more limited.

Many Chinese also take advantage of the extended New Year holiday to go abroad.  Following the announcement that travel restrictions would be lifted next month, Chinese people flocked to travel websites to book trips. But some of their favorite destinations will be tightening their controls on travelers from China due to the COVID surge. Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and India have already announced requirements for negative COVID tests or 7-day quarantines for Chinese arrivals. The US may be following suit, blaming China’s “lack of transparent data” on its COVID surge.

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