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Vox Sentences: Planes with no pilots

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A 48-hour walkout by a pilots union forces British Airways to cancel nearly 100 percent of its flights; President Trump announces on Twitter a canceled meeting with the Taliban on US soil.

“Please do not go to the airport”

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • British Airways’ instructions are clear: If your flight’s been canceled, “please do not go to the airport.” [British Airways]
  • The rather bizarre announcement came after the airline canceled nearly 100 percent of its flights Monday and Tuesday due to a massive strike led by the pilots’ union, who are fed up with the ill treatment they’ve received from the company in a pay and benefits dispute. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
  • The British Airline Pilots Association previously rejected an 11.5 percent pay increase over three years. Under that agreement, captains would eventually earn some $250,000 a year by 2022. [CNN / Joshua Berlinger and Hanna Ziady]
  • However, pilots argue that BA has grown on the back of its pilots, exploiting them with pay cuts and long hours to see its profits increase by $3 billion annually. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
  • ”Pilots, who took pay cuts in the years following the financial crisis to help shore up the company, say BA’s fat cat managers have failed time and again to listen to their staff and seem determined to force pilots to take the strike action,” reads a statement from union General Secretary Brian Strutton. [BALPA]
  • According to the BA website and BBC estimates, some 1,700 flights and 290,000 passengers will be affected by the 48-hour walkout on just these two days. [British Airways and BBC]
  • Monday and Tuesday’s canceled flights alone will cost the company $100 million, without accounting for the spillover effect into flights scheduled for later this week. In comparison, the union’s request lies around the $6.2 million mark. [Twitter / BALPA]
  • BA is facing a rough year financially. In July, the Information Commissioner’s Office fined the airline for $226 million after hackers gained access to the personal information of more than half a million passengers from credit card payments. [Guardian / Mark Sweney]
  • If the airline and BALPA don’t reach an agreement in the coming weeks, the union is planning another strike on September 27. [BBC]

Peace talks are over

  • It only takes a tweet — in this case three. President Trump’s planned secret peace negotiations with the Taliban and the president of Afghanistan were called off by the US leader and revealed to all via his Twitter account Sunday, sparking a major news storm and weakening already tenuous relationships among the involved groups. [Twitter / Donald Trump]
  • The president cited a Taliban attack at the US embassy in Kabul as the reason for canceling the meeting, egging the group on by asking “how many more decades are they willing to fight.” The September 5 attack claimed 12 lives, including that of a US soldier. [Al Jazeera]
  • In return, the Taliban responded by promising more bloodshed in what’s shaping up to be the longest war in US history, with Trump’s promise to return 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan remaining unfulfilled. [Guardian / Michael Safi and AP / Deb Riechmann and Matthew Lee]
  • In the meantime, the president’s announcement has caused an uproar, with many questioning his move to invite Taliban leaders to US soil mere days before the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. [CNN / Caroline Kelly and Kylie Atwood]
  • A report by the New York Times details the breakdown of the decision to invite the Taliban over to the US, which reportedly pitted members of Trump’s foreign policy advising team against each other, most notably Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. [NYT / Peter Baker, Mujib Mashal, and Michael Crowley]


  • CNBC reports that investment banking company J.P. Morgan devised a “Volfefe index” to monitor the extent to which President Trump’s tweets during market hours influence volatility in US interest rates. [CNBC / Emma Newburger]
  • A fourth-grade student in Florida who was bullied for his homemade University of Tennessee T-shirt — which he wore to school on “College Colors Day” — got his design made into official apparel by the university after his teacher’s post about the incident went viral. [CNN / Alaa Elassar]
  • Interns love their Ariana Grande, even at NASA. In an effort to educate youth about outer space and to promote a mission sending the first woman to the moon, interns remixed the popstar’s “NASA” song, switching up the lyrics to correspond to the agency’s work. [YouTube / CBS New York]
  • After a clerical error made by a bank teller added $120,000 to the wrong bank account, the account’s owners went on to spend most of the money within 20 days, claiming they knew the money did not belong to them, but they “spent it anyway.” They were later charged for theft and receiving stolen property. [New York Post / Jackie Salo]


“Cynicism has become the default position for so much of daily structure and daily intercourse. ... Cynicism is a great product to sell, and it’s the perfect beginning of any examination of anything.” [Actor Tom Hanks, who plays legendary kids show host Mr. Rogers in an upcoming film, said cynicism in today’s society is part of the reason he took on the role / BBC]

Watch this: How the US failed to rebuild Afghanistan

“Where the road ends in Afghanistan, the Taliban begin.” [YouTube / Sam Ellis]

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