Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

Chris Christie gets a super PAC ahead of his likely 2024 presidential bid

May 31, 2023

Allies of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have formed a super PAC to support him in the nascent Republican presidential primary, as he makes preparations for a likely campaign kickoff in the next two weeks, according to an official with the group and others briefed on the matter, reports The New York Times.

Christie’s candidacy is likely to focus in part on drawing a stark contrast with former President Donald Trump. Christie supported Trump in 2016 and worked with him during his presidency—but they split over Trump’s claims on election night in 2020 that the race was stolen from him.

People who have been close to Christie for years are leading the outside group, Tell It Like It Is, which is laying the groundwork for an imminent announcement, one of the people briefed on the matter said. Brian Jones, an aide who advised Senator John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008 and Mitt Romney’s in 2012, will run the effort.

Bill Palatucci, a longtime adviser to Christie and a Republican National Committee member, will be the chair. Another long-serving adviser to Christie, Russ Schriefer, will oversee messaging as a senior adviser; and Brent Seaborn, a veteran data guru, will focus on voter targeting.

Maria Comella, an adviser who also was chief of staff to former Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York; and Mike DuHaime, Christie’s top political strategist in 2016, are expected to run an eventual campaign if Christie announces as expected. Anthony Scaramucci, the hedge fund adviser who served for less than two weeks as a communications director in the Trump White House and has become a vocal Trump critic, has said he will support Christie if he runs.

Christie “is willing to confront the hard truths that currently threaten the future of the Republican Party,” Jones said in a statement. “Now more than ever we need leaders that have the courage to say not what we want to hear but what we need to hear.”

Christie has said recently that he would run if he believed he could win, but he had indicated that there were organizational issues he needed to figure out. The existence of the super PAC and the pending announcement suggest those issues have been resolved.

A Christie candidacy is seen as a long shot in a Republican Party that has been remade in Trump’s image eight years after Christie first ran for president. Trump vanquished him—and Christie dropped out after coming in sixth in New Hampshire, where he had staked his candidacy.

A central challenge of this campaign will be explaining to voters his transformation. He endorsed. Trump in 2016, helped him with debate prep and acted at times as an informal adviser during his presidency. Then, in the earliest hours of November 4, 2020, Christie split with him when he questioned Mr. Trump’s declaration that there had been widespread fraud in the election.

“We heard nothing today about any evidence,” Christie said in an appearance on ABC News. “This kind of thing, all it does is inflame without informing. And we cannot permit inflammation without information.”

Since then, Christie has become a full-throated critic of Trump, talking as a former federal prosecutor about the former president’s legal travails and describing him as a loser who can no longer command the crowds he once did. Christie’s candidacy is being watched by donors, who either like what he’s saying or see him as the best opportunity to damage Trump, particularly from a debate stage.

Christie appears to be banking on the notion that there are enough vestiges of the old Republican Party to which he can appeal. He will be coming into the 2024 race as the person with the most coherent case against Trump, while arguing that the fight needs to be taken directly to the former president.

Christie is hoping to tamp down some of the grievance that has seeped into the roots of political discourse in the Republican Party since Trump became the party’s nominee in 2016. Christie is approaching the race, allies say, with the goal of delivering a hopeful message.

Research contact: @nytimes

Louisiana plantation is transformed into museum about the history of slavery

May 30, 2023

Slavery is a painful, but important part of America’s history. Its aftershocks continue to affect people nationwide to this day. Indeed, one man felt that it was so important that he committed 15 years and spent more than $8 million of his own money to create a museum dedicated to the topic.

The Whitney Plantation—located about 35 miles outside of New Orleans—became the first American museum focused on the history of slavery when it opened in 2014, reports My Modern Met.

Created and funded by trial attorney John Cummings, Whitney Plantation is markedly different than the numerous tourist plantations that dot the south. Here, slavery is not hidden away in the shadows but put out in the spotlight.

Dr. Ibrahima Seck, a Senegalese scholar who specializes in the history of slavery, is the Whitney’s director of research and helps guide the didactic program. He has been by Cummings’ side for nearly the entire development of the museum, with the men working side by side to bring the site to life.

“As historians, we do the research and we write dissertations and we go to conferences, but very little of the knowledge gets out,” Seck told The New York Times in 2015. “That’s why a place like this is so important. Every day I think about how remarkable this is. One hundred and fifty years ago, I would not be able to do what I’m doing here now. I would have been a slave.”

For many years, neighbors were suspicious about what Cummings, who is white, was doing with the site. Later, when the plantation’s mission became clear, many questioned why he was spending his fortune on the project. To the naysayers, Cummings would simply ask, “Don’t you think the story of slavery is important?”

Across an astounding 200 acres, the Whitney Plantation answers that question with a definitive yes. For a little over 100 years, the Haydel family, which founded the site in 1752, were the owners of generations of African and African descendant slaves. While being guided through the meticulously restored historical houses on the property, visitors learn about their lives and experiences.

The grounds also include moving memorials to the 100,000 women, men, and children who were enslaved in Louisiana. Two permanent exhibits explain the complex intricacies of the slave trade and the economy that it was a part of, as well as the history of slavery in Louisiana. In certain structures, life-size sculptures of children, intended to represent those born into slavery, were commissioned by Cummings to give faces to the statistics.

While Cummings is no longer the owner of Whitney Plantation—he donated the lands and the contents of the museum to a non-profit in 2019—the legacy of what he and Seck created lives on. Through their desire to educate the public about this difficult topic, they are making sure that Americans never forget the country’s sordid history. And in doing so, there’s hope to make different choices in the future.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Awkward silence: Ron DeSantis’s bold Twitter gambit flopped

May 26, 2023

It was the announcement not heard around the world. Ron DeSantis plotted to open his presidential campaign early on Wednesday evening, May 24, with a pioneering social media gambit—introducing himself during an audio-only Twitter forum with Elon Musk. His 2024 effort began instead with a moment of silence. Then several more, reports The New York Times correspondent Matt Flegenheimer.

A voice cut in, then two—Musk’s?—only to disappear again. “Now it’s quiet,” someone whispered. This was true.

“We got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers,” said David Sacks, the nominal moderator, “which is a good sign.” This was not true.

Soon, all signs were bad. Hold music played for a spell. Some users were summarily booted from the platform, where hundreds of thousands of accounts had gathered to listen.

“The servers are straining somewhat,” Musk said at one point—perhaps unaware that his mic was hot, at least briefly.

For 25 minutes, the only person unmistakably not talking (at least on a microphone) was DeSantis.

The Florida governor’s chosen rollout venue was always going to be a risk, an aural gamble on Musk, a famously capricious and oxygen-stealing co-star, as well as the persuasive powers of DeSantis’s own disembodied voice. (“Whiny,” Donald Trump has called him.)

But the higher-order downsides proved more relevant. Twitter’s streaming tool, known as Spaces, has been historically glitchy. Executive competence, core to the DeSantis campaign message, was conspicuously absent. And for a politician credibly accused through the years of being incorrigibly online—a former DeSantis aide said he regularly read his Twitter mentions—”the event amounted to hard confirmation, a zeitgeisty exercise devolving instead into a conference call from hell,”  Flegemheimer wrote.

“You can tell from some of the mistakes that it’s real,” Musk said.

At 6:26 p.m., DeSantis finally announced himself—long after his campaign had announced his intentions, reading from a script that often parroted an introduction video and an email sent to reporters more than 20 minutes earlier.

“Well,” he opened, “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”

After ticking through a curated biography that noted his military background and his “energetic” bearing, DeSantis stayed onine. Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is close with Musk, acknowledged the earlier mess.

“Thank you for putting up with these technical issues,” he said. “What made you want to kind of take the chance of doing it this way?”

DeSantis swerved instantly to his Covid-era stewardship of Florida.

“Do you go with the crowd?” he asked, recalling his expert-flouting decision-making, “or do you look at the data yourself and cut against the grain?”

Rivals agreed: If he hoped to differentiate himself, Mr. DeSantis had succeeded, in his way.

“‘Rob,’ Trump posted on Truth Social, a standard troll-by-misspelling, winding to a confusing (if potentially juvenile) punchline: “My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working.”

Even Fox News piled on.

“Want to actually see and hear Ron DeSantis?” read a pop-up banner on its website. “Tune into Fox News at 8 p.m. (ET)” (Urging donations once he got on the air, DeSantis wondered if supporters might “break that part of the internet as well.”)

Minor as a tech snag might prove in the long run, it was a dispiriting turn for DeSantis after months of meticulous political choreography.

So much of his strength as a contender over the past year was theoretical, said Flegenheimer: the mystery-box candidate constructing a national profile on his terms: slayer of liberals, smasher of foes, the Trumpy non-Trump.

He would conquer and coast. He would Make America Florida. He would be a sight to behold. Presumably.

The reality of DeSantis’s pre-candidacy has been less imposing, shadowed by uneasy public appearances, skittish donors, and a large polling gap between him and Trump.

With better tech, perhaps, a visual-free campaign debut might have been a clever way to rediscover that past aura, to let listeners fill in the mystery box as they choose, before Trump tries to chuck it offstage.

Or maybe the governor’s ostensible advantages—looking the part, before the full audition—were always doomed to translate poorly on Wednesday, when there was nothing to see. It is difficult to project indomitable swagger and take-on-all-comer-ism at an invisible gathering devoid of non-friendly questioning or workaday voters.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trends: It’s going to be a ‘barefoot-boy’ summer

May 22, 2023

In recent weeks, a certain type of stylish urbanite has been spotted traipsing around town footloose and fancy free: actor Jacob Elordi shoelessly braving the L.A. streets on a coffee run, say, or the musician Mike Sabath (of Mike Sabath and the Moongirls). For spring 2023, the Italian brand Etro sent male models down its runway wearing short-shorts, caftans, and breezy blousons paired with feet as naked as the day they were born, reports The Cut.

So, The Cut is calling it now: 2023 will be Barefoot-Boy Summer™. And to be perfectly frank, all the signs are there. It aligns with the ongoing bohemian-hippie vibe coursing through the culture—Grateful Dead, the Elder Statesman, tie-dye, and all that.

A are foot is gorpcore taken to its purest, most natural conclusion. And the burgeoning movement is the only logical response to two footwear trends: (1) years of increasingly chunky, cumbersome, look-at-me designs (thanks Balenciaga!) and (2) the ridiculous hype cycle to which the men’s shoe market has been held hostage (the one in which, every week, some “new take” on an old favorite sneaker is released and yet also, inevitably, unavailable to the masses).

Finding shoes—finding the right shoes—has become a nightmare. So why not just … forgo them altogether?

“I generally don’t wear shirts or shoes, honestly,” says Sabath. “I just feel more free.” But truth be told, Sabath says that he almost never walks around barefoot in urban areas (such as Los Angeles, where he was recently photographed shoeless on a smoothy run). Still, he does admit that he’s a fan of barefoot hiking. (His No. 1 tip: Watch out for snakes.)

Recently, a photo popped up of Nick Hudson, a photographer who splits his time between Brooklyn and the Catskills, barefoot on the sidewalk in front of his Bed-Stuy (Brooklyn) townhouse. When asked about his sole survival, he replied “Barefoot is my preferred way to be.”

Hudson says that the barefoot-on-the-streets-of-Brooklyn moment was atypical, that he ran out for a photo and couldn’t be bothered with putting on shoes; he figured, hey, the sidewalk in front of his house is almost like an extension of the inside. However, when he’s upstate, you can usually find him without shoes—around the house, driving, heading to a local creek. “It’s not a conscious thing,” he says. “But if I can get my shoes off, I will.”

Hudson, who is Australian, admits that it can be a controversial subject (just look at the spirited comments on his wife’s TikTok post of the barefoot-in-Brooklyn image)—but notes that it’s culturally more acceptable back home. He recalls friends playing rugby without shoes; and his cousin going barefoot on public transportation to the beach when they were younger, explaining to Hudson that he was “getting his summer feet on.”

“You know,” he says, “getting your feet acclimated to being barefoot.”

There are certainly movements to go barefoot, the idea of “grounding” or “earthing” (putting your bare feet on the earth), which scientific studies say can have salubrious effects or engender feelings of emotional peace or well-being. Other studies say that walking around and/or exercising barefoot (or as close to barefoot as possible) is actually good for the body.

The New York Times recently profiled a man who has basically gone without shoes for the better part of two decades.

Recently, the disgraced rapper and “designer” Kanye West has been spotted wearing a socklike shoe—just a sole with a nylon topper, which he has reportedly trademarked under his Yeezy brand. Say what you will about him, but West has certainly been influential in terms of his style over the years.

And on a recent episode of HBO’s plutocrats-behaving-badly nighttime soap, Succession, as the eccentric Swedish tech billionaire Lukas Matsson makes his way from his idling private jet to the one belonging to his maybe-enemy, Shiv Roy, it becomes clear the gorpcore enthusiast is not wearing shoes.

“[Matsson] is an anti-business, anti-corporate industrial mogul,” says Michelle Matland, the show’s costume designer. “He wants to be seen as a casual hipster who’s freethinking and not tied to the business world at all. It may be an affectation, but to him it’s real. Not wearing shoes, wearing T-shirts and sweatpants, or anything that does not indulge in Madison Avenue or Wall Street, Bezos, Elon—all those new-style entrepreneurs.”

Alexander Skarsgård, who plays the tech entrepreneur, said the moment was unplanned, and Matland adds that the actor, like his character, “is a free spirit and a creative, and once he’s in the groove, that’s the kind of magic that happens.” She also notes that one could see in the bare feet a subtle cue from the character to entice the buttoned-up Shiv to loosen up.

The Society for Barefoot Living (yes, a real thing) says that it has noticed no discernible uptick in barefoot popularity of late but that it would “welcome and celebrate” any increase in awareness and practice

“I think, in general, it’s good when something makes you think, What the fuck is happening?” Sabath says. “It kind of loosens up your perspective a bit. But it’s really healthy to notice that some other option exists. And oftentimes when people yell about something, it’s probably because they do it already or want to do it.”

He adds, “My thing is, if someone feels good about something, then they should do it.”

Research contact: @TheCut

Disney pulls the plug on $1 billion development in Florida

May 22, 2023

On Thursday, May 18, Disney CEO Robert E. Iger and Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, pulling the plug on an office complex that was scheduled for construction in Orlando at a cost of roughly $1 billion. It would have brought more than 2,000 Disney jobs to the region, with $120,000 as the average salary, according to an estimate from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The project, near Lake Nona Town Center, was supposed to cost $864 million, but recent price estimates have been closer to $1.3 billion. Disney had planned to relocate thousands of workers from Southern California to an area near Orlando’s Lake Nona Town Center—including most of a department known as Imagineering, which works with Disney’s movie studios to develop theme park attractions.

The New York Times reports that the move comes after Disney, in early March, came out against Florida’s Parental Rights In Education bill. The so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed by Florida’s House and Senate at the behest of presidential hopeful, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill limits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

Immediately following Disney’s comments, the Times says, DeSantis pledged that a newly formed oversight board would review and evaluate development in the 25,000 square acres in and around Walt Disney World. However, Disney moved first, to head off DeSantis and leave the committee virtually “toothless,” with no power.

In April, the Times notes, Disney sued the governor and his allies for what it called “a targeted campaign of government retaliation”—and the company made it clear that $17 billion in planned investment in Walt Disney World was on the line.

“Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said on an earnings-related conference call with analysts last week.

Most of the affected 2,000  employees complained bitterly about having to move —some quit—but Disney held firm, partly because of a Florida tax credit that would have allowed the company to recoup as much as $570 million over 20 years for building and occupying the complex.

When he announced the project in 2021, D’Amaro cited “Florida’s business-friendly climate” as justification.

D’Amaro’s tone in an email to employees on Thursday was notably chillier. He cited “changing business conditions” as a reason for canceling the Lake Nona project. “I remain optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World business,” D’Amaro said in the memo. He noted that $17 billion was still earmarked for construction at Disney World over the next decade—growth that would create an estimated 13,000 jobs. “I hope we’re able to,” he said.

The memo, which was viewed by The New York Times, did not mention DeSantis. But the company’s battle with the governor and his allies in the Florida Legislature figured prominently into Disney’s decision to cancel the Lake Nona project, according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

A spokesman for Mr. DeSantis said in an email: “Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nona campus nearly two years ago. Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition. Given the company’s financial straits, falling market cap, and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures.”

Florida officials have repeatedly pointed to the Lake Nona development as an example of economic vibrancy in Orlando, which suffered mightily during the pandemic. Noting that hotel chains and retailers were moving into the Lake Nona area in anticipation of Disney’s arrival, The Orlando Business Journal in January called the complex “a major economic driver for the region.”

In a statement, Jerry L. Demings, the mayor of Orange County, which includes Orlando, said it was “unfortunate” that Disney canceled its plans. “However, these are the consequences when there isn’t an inclusive and collaborative work environment between the state of Florida and the business community,” Demings said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Judge in Virginia strikes down federal limit on age of handgun buyers

May 15, 2023

A judge in Virginia has struck down federal laws blocking handgun sales to buyers over 18 and under 21, in a ruling that might augur the rollback of regulation, prompted by the Supreme Court’s sweeping expansion of gun rights last year, reports The New York Times.

Judge Robert E. Payne of Federal District Court in Richmond, Virginia, ruled on Wednesday, May 10,  that statutes and regulations put in place over the past few decades to enforce age requirements on sales of handguns, such as semiautomatic Glock-style pistols, by federally licensed weapons dealers were “not consistent with our nation’s history and tradition” and therefore could not stand.

A citizen’s Second Amendment rights do not “vest at age 21,” he added.

In his 71-page ruling, Judge Payne—who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush—repeatedly cited the majority opinion in the landmark case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down a New York State law that put tight limits on carrying guns outside the home.

The Justice Department is expected to appeal the ruling in Virginia, which, should it stand, would have a significant, if limited, impact on firearms purchases. The decision, which would not affect state age limits, will take effect when the judge issues his final order, which is expected in the next few weeks.

Elliot Harding, the lawyer who represented young adults including John Corey Fraser, who brought the case, seeking to buy handguns through federal dealers, said the decision would likely lead to similar rulings. “This is definitely the tip of the spear,” he said.

Gun rights groups have been filing lawsuits across the country, in hopes of weakening local and federal gun regulations, basing their claims on the Bruen case. They have had mixed results—winning some cases and losing others. In December, a federal judge in Louisiana upheld the 21-year-old age limit.

“This decision is not a surprise—all bets are off,” said Jonathan Lowy, a lawyer and gun violence activist who has sued firearms manufacturers on behalf of the victims of mass shootings and their families. “Bruen gave license to any judge who has an inclination to strike down any gun law.”

John Feinblatt, the president of the advocacy group, Everytown for Gun Safety, said he expected the ruling to be overturned, but he also anticipated a wave of similar cases over the next year by conservative jurists on the federal bench.

“It’s the latest example of a larger campaign by the gun lobby to see exactly how far radical judges will let them take the Bruen decision,” he said.

The Virginia case was brought by Fraser, who was 20 when he was turned away after trying to buy a Glock handgun from a federally licensed dealer last year. He subsequently challenged the 1968 federal gun control law, and age restrictions imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws.

Already, 18-year-olds are allowed to buy long guns, including shotguns and semiautomatic rifles, from about 70,000 federally licensed dealers. They have been banned from purchasing handguns, which are the most common weapons used in crimes, through such vendors—but, under federal law, they are legally allowed to buy them from private, unlicensed dealers.

The decision would ease the way for 18-year-olds to procure handguns.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden seeks compensation for passengers for flight delays and cancellations

May 10, 2023

The Biden Administration announced on Monday, May 8, that it would seek to require airlines to compensate passengers for lengthy flight delays and cancellations that are within their control, reports The New York Times.

The Administration said it would start the process of establishing a new rule to require airlines to provide cash payments rather than merely refunds for significant travel disruptions. No major U.S. airline currently guarantees cash compensation for delays or cancellations, according to the Transportation Department.

“I know how frustrated many of you are with the service you get from your U.S. airlines,” President Biden said at the White House, where he appeared with Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, to announce the proposal.

“You deserve to be fully compensated,” Mr. Biden added. “Your time matters. The impact on your life matters.”

The Administration did not provide specifics about the proposal, such as how much airlines would be required to pay travelers. Biden said his Administration would propose the rule “later this year.” The federal rule-making process can be lengthy, so the proposal is not likely to take effect any time soon.

The airline industry has come under intense scrutiny after a string of woes, including a series of flight disruptions last year as air travel rebounded after plunging because of the coronavirus pandemic. In December, a winter storm led to an operational meltdown at Southwest Airlines, stranding passengers during the holiday travel season.

The new proposal adds to Buttigieg’s efforts to push the airline industry to improve the customer experience. During his tenure, the Transportation Department has imposed millions of dollars in fines on airlines for a number of violations—including for issues related to customer refunds, although some critics have pushed for him to take a harder line with the industry.

In September, the department rolled out an online dashboard showing travelers what services they are entitled to when a flight is significantly delayed or canceled for reasons within the airline’s control. Buttigieg has credited the creation of the dashboard with pushing airlines to improve their policies.

On Monday, the department announced it had expanded the dashboard—which can now be found at—to include information about what compensation, if any, airlines have committed to offering passengers for delays and cancellations.

The department also has pushed airlines to guarantee that young children can sit with an accompanying adult at no extra charge. In March, it unveiled a similar dashboard showing which airlines had done so.

The proposal to require airlines to provide compensation to passengers is the latest in a string of consumer-oriented steps announced by the Biden Administration. In his State of the Union Address in February, the president highlighted his Administration’s efforts to reduce “junk fees,” and he took aim at airlines for charging families to sit together.

The new proposal resembles a policy that is already in place in the European Union, where passengers can receive up to 600 euros, or about $660, for delayed or canceled flights.

In addition to requiring compensation for passengers, the proposal would also mandate that airlines cover expenses like meals and hotel accommodations that are incurred because of delays or cancellations within the airlines’ control. Many airlines already cover such expenses.

“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” Buttigieg said in a statement.

At the White House on Monday, Buttigieg said there had been “unacceptable” rates of delayed and canceled flights last summer, but he said things were looking up.

“Each month so far this year, preliminary data show cancellation rates under 2 percent, even during that busy spring break season,” he said. “But summer travel is going to put enormous pressure on the system, and we need to continue our work.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Dogs (and cats) on a plane: New private air carriers cater to fur babies

May 9, 2023

On Friday evening, May 5, as a drizzle fell on the tarmac, ten passengers boarded a Gulfstream G4 headed from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Farnborough Airport, just southwest of London. They didn’t seem to notice the plush leather seats or the treats nestled in champagne flutes in the armrests. They also hadn’t particularly enjoyed clambering up the aircraft’s stairs, reports The New York Times.

This was the inaugural flight of K9 Jets, a private jet charter company based in Birmingham, England, founded in response to both a growing desire among pet owners to travel with their animals—and mounting frustrations at the increasingly challenging process of flying with them. The passenger manifest included nine dogs, mostly on the larger side, and one sphinx cat, as well as ten humans.

Most of the people onboard were relocating to Europe. One said her Australian cattle dog mix, Jasmine, needed lifesaving heart surgery. All had one thing in common: an aversion to putting their pets in the cargo hold.

Pet owners seeking to transport their pets on commercial flights must navigate a patchwork of rules that vary by airline. Service animals, which are not considered pets, are allowed to be in the cabin and left unconfined, but other animals are subject to size restrictions that require bigger pets to travel as cargo, though some airlines won’t carry specific breeds.

Animals that can fly inside the cabin in carriers, which must fit under the seat in front of the passenger, can face seemingly arbitrary judgments about whether the carrier is big enough. Emotional support animals, which once were allowed in cabins, no longer are, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Many owners of larger dogs fear what might happen to pets shipped as cargo, where they could face fluctuating temperatures, poor ventilation, and inappropriate handling.

More than 200 pets—the majority of them dogs—died on flights in the last decade, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which does not specify whether the pets were in cargo. The department has advised owners of snub-nosed dogs such as pugs and bulldogs to consider the risks of shipping those breeds as cargo, citing a far higher mortality rate than for other dog breeds.

Snub-nosed dogs more frequently encounter difficulty breathing, compared to other breeds, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Last year, seven pets died during flights, according to Transportation Department data. Of these fatalities, six occurred on Hawaiian Airlines flights. Five of these animals were short-faced dogs shipped in cargo, said Marissa Villegas, a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson.

Villegas said that, before traveling on Hawaiian, passengers traveling with pets are required to acknowledge and accept the risks.

Meanwhile, private jet companies have stepped in, offering air travel for pets inside the plane without having them spend hours trapped in crates or carriers. Some, like NetJets and VistaJet, have dedicated pet programs. On VistaJet flights, pets are fed prime cuts of meat, offered toys, and given a soft mat to sleep on.

Leona Qi, president of VistaJet U.S., says there’s been a steady rise in the number of people traveling with their pets and that about half of the company’s customers bring their animals along. Most are dogs, but she said there have also been rabbits, falcons, and, once, a chameleon. VistaJet sells memberships that offer different levels of access to flights. Madelyn Reiter, a spokeswoman for the company, declined to detail prices.

Qi said that the pet program had frequently been “the determining factor” in convincing clients to upgrade to more expensive memberships that offer more cabin space.

On private flights, dogs under 150 pounds are usually allowed to sit on an aircraft’s seats; although pets must be secured by a seatbelt or placed in a carrier during taxi, takeoff, and landing, private jet operators said. On some jets, once a person buys a seat, there is no additional cost to transport a pet or requirement to purchase a seat. Multiple companies even help clients navigate country-specific pet restrictions and assemble required documents for entry, another obstacle to flying internationally with pets.

But these private flights can be incredibly expensive, with a price tag that can run to tens of thousands of dollars—even for a domestic jaunt from one coast to the other.

For years, Rusty Rueff, a 62-year-old start-up adviser and investor who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, flew his dog across the country on Pet Airways, an airline founded in 2009 that carried only animals. But the company shut down several years ago.

Rueff said that, while he’d flown privately with his five-year-old French bulldog, Theo, several times during the pandemic, it wasn’t a practice he wished to continue. When he’d tried to fly commercially with a previous dog, also a French bulldog, they’d sometimes been prohibited from boarding the plane, he said. That uncertainty has made him reluctant to fly commercially with an animal.

Instead, his family drives across the country from the Bay Area to Rhode Island, where they have a summer place. He called the annual trip “a pain.”

“I just don’t understand why the airlines don’t recognize the business opportunity,” Mr. Rueff said. “We’ll do anything for our pets, just like we’ll do anything for our children.”

K9 Jets hopes to capitalize on that feeling, initially offering flights between New York and Paris, Lisbon, and London. Of 17 listed flights between May and the end of September, eight are sold out. In the fall, the company may expand service to additional cities, including Dubai. One-way tickets between New York and Europe hover around $9,000 per seat. Pet owners can purchase a seat for their pet; otherwise they can sit on the floor for no charge. Pets cannot fly without human accompaniment.

Adam Golder, the founder of both K9 Jets and G6 Aviation, a private jet brokerage, said that they planned to add more summer flights in response to surging demand. “There are hundreds of people that are waiting for a flight,” Golder said. “I think people don’t want to put them in a crate and wave goodbye to them.”

Ali and Mary Borzabdi, feel that they don’t have a choice. The Borzabdis and their dog, Jasmine, were on the K9 Jets flight to London last Friday. Jasmine, a sweet and excitable dog with serious heart disease, was nervous and wearing a diaper aboard the plane. In several weeks, she is scheduled get surgery in London.

“We don’t have children. All we’ve got is one dog,”. Borzabdi said. “You try everything and hopefully it works out.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump is likely to sit out one or both of first two GOP debates

May 4, 2023

In private comments to aides and confidants, former President Donald Trump has indicated he does not want to breathe life into his Republican challengers by sharing a debate stage with them, reports The New York Times.

Trump is likely to skip at least one of the first two debates of the 2024 Republican presidential nominating contest, according to five people who have discussed the matter with the former president.

Last month, the chairperson of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, announced that Fox News would host the first G.O.P. primary debate in Milwaukee in August. The second debate will be held in Southern California at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

While the former president maintains warm relationships with several prime-time hosts—especially Sean Hannity, a reliable Trump booster—Trump’s overall relationship with Rupert Murdoch’s television network has deteriorated as the network showered DeSantis with praise over the past two years while constricting its coverage of Trump.

Trump also has mentioned his previous skirmish with the former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in his private conversations with associates as a reason not to agree to a debate hosted by the network.

In the first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign cycle, Kelly asked Trump about demeaning things he’d said about women. Trump viewed this as a declaration of war from Fox News’ management. He later attacked Kelly in crude and sexist terms.

What’s more, Trump has led his nearest rival, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, by around 30 percentage points in recent polls. All other contenders are polling in single digits.

“I’m up by too many points,” one associate who spoke with Trump recalled him saying.

One adviser stressed that the situation was fluid, particularly given how early it remains in the 2024 race and with DeSantis not yet even a declared candidate. Trump may find it hard to stay away from a stage where others are criticizing him, and some senior Republicans expect that he will ultimately join the debates. He has long credited the debates in the 2016 campaign, both in the primary and the general election, for his victories.

Still, if Trump opts out of some primary campaign debates—as he did once before in 2016—he will shrink the viewing audience and limit his rivals’ chances to seize a breakout moment on the debate stage. The visibility such moments offer is hard to come by in a race in which Trump almost monopolizes the news media’s attention.

For Trump, denying his low-polling rivals access to a massive television audience is part of his calculations in potentially skipping the debates, according to the people who have discussed the matter with him. In 2015, Fox News drew an audience of 24 million for the first primary debate of the 2016 campaign. It was, at the time, the biggest viewership for a non-sports event in cable television history.

“In his mind there’s not enough candidates who are polling close enough to him,” said a person familiar with Trump’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with the former president. “And that, if he does a debate this early with candidates who are polling in the single digits, there’s no upside for him.”

Another motivation for Trump is revenge: The former president has a history with the two institutions hosting the first two Republican candidate debates.

Trump has told advisers that the second debate is a nonstarter for him because it will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The chairman of the library’s board of trustees, Frederick J. Ryan Jr., also serves as the publisher and chief executive officer of The Washington Post, a fact that Trump regularly brings up.

Trump is also sour that the Reagan library has invited numerous other leading Republicans to speak at its events over the past two years, including his presidential rival DeSantis—but has never extended an invitation to him, according to two people familiar with his thinking.

Research contact: @nytimes