Officers fired following probe of United passenger dragging

A United Airlines jet taxis as another lands at San Francisco International Airport. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Officers fired following probe of United passenger dragging

CHICAGO: The city of Chicago revealed Tuesday that it fired two airport police officers in connection with the controversial removal of a passenger from a United Airlines plane earlier this year.
Video went viral online of a bloodied David Dao being dragged off the full flight by airport officers to make room for airline crew needing to be repositioned for future flights.
The April incident on a flight from the midwestern US city to Louisville, Kentucky caused an international uproar.
Chicago inspector general Joseph Ferguson, who heads a city watchdog office, had been pursuing an internal probe of the officers’ actions, and revealed Tuesday that two of the four had been fired and the other two suspended.
Ferguson did not detail when the disciplinary actions were taken nor reveal the officers’ identities.
“Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) employees mishandled a non-threatening situation that resulted in the physically violent forcible removal of a passenger,” the inspector general’s public report stated.
The fired employees were the officer who initially pulled Dao from his seat and the supervisor who engaged in “the deliberate removal of facts from an employee report,” the inspector general said.
Two other officers, one who “made misleading statements in two reports” and another who “made material omissions in a report,” were handed five-day suspensions.
One of the suspended officers chose to resign instead.
Dao’s lawyer Thomas Demetrio said his client was “neither vindictive nor happy about Mr.Ferguson’s findings.”
“There is a lesson to be learned here for police officers at all levels. Do not state something that is clearly contrary to video viewed by the world.”
The bloody encounter was captured on video by alarmed passengers and shared online — causing a firestorm of negative publicity for United.
After initially mishandling the aftermath, the airline repeatedly apologized, settled with Dao for an undisclosed sum, and announced a series of operational changes to avoid future incidents.


UK Cabinet to meet after Britain, EU reach draft Brexit deal

Updated 13 November 2018
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UK Cabinet to meet after Britain, EU reach draft Brexit deal

LONDON: Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.
After a year and a half of stalled talks, false starts and setbacks, negotiators agreed on proposals to resolve the main outstanding issue: the Irish border.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said the Cabinet would hold a special meeting Wednesday to consider the proposal. Its support isn’t guaranteed: May is under pressure from pro-Brexit ministers not to make further concessions to the EU.
Ambassadors from the 27 other EU countries are also due to hold a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
May told the Cabinet earlier Tuesday that “a small number” of issues remain to be resolved in divorce negotiations with the European Union, while her deputy, David Lidington, said the two sides are “almost within touching distance” of a Brexit deal.
Britain wants to seal a deal this fall, so that Parliament has time to vote on it before the UK leaves the bloc on March 29. The European Parliament also has to approve any agreement.
Negotiators have been meeting late into the night in Brussels in a bid to close the remaining gaps.
The main obstacle has long been how to ensure there are no customs posts or other checks along the border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.
Irish national broadcaster RTE said the draft agreement involves a common customs arrangement for the UK and the EU, to eliminate the need for border checks.
But May faces pressure from pro-Brexit Cabinet members not to agree to an arrangement that binds Britain to EU trade rules indefinitely.
May also faces growing opposition from pro-EU lawmakers, who say her proposed Brexit deal is worse than the status quo and the British public should get a new vote on whether to leave or to stay.
If there is no agreement soon, UK businesses will have to start implementing contingency plans for a “no-deal” Brexit — steps that could include cutting jobs, stockpiling goods and relocating production and services outside Britain.
Even with such measures in place, the British government says leaving the EU without a deal could cause major economic disruption, with gridlock at ports and disruption to supplies of foods, goods and medicines.
On Tuesday, the European Commission published a sheaf of notices outlining changes in a host of areas in the event of a no-deal Brexit. They point to major disruption for people and businesses: UK truckers’ licenses won’t be valid in the EU, British airlines will no longer enjoy traffic rights, and even British mineral water will cease to be recognized as such by the EU.
The EU said Tuesday it was proposing visa-free travel for UK citizens on short trips, even if there is no deal — but only if Britain reciprocates.
“We need to prepare for all options,” EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said. On a deal, he said: “We are not there yet.”
Meanwhile, official figures suggest Brexit is already having an impact on the British workforce.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of EU citizens working in the country — 2.25 million— was down 132,000 in the three months to September from the year before. That’s the largest annual fall since comparable records began in 1997.
Most of the fall is due to fewer workers from eight eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004.
Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London, said the prospect of Brexit “has clearly made the UK a much less attractive place for Europeans to live and work.”