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Unruly airline passenger reports surge: 1,300 reports to FAA this year

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported Monday a been a major increase in unruly or dangerous behavior from airline passengers since the start of the year.

Why it matters: Airlines have reported some 1,300 incidents since February and the FAA has identified possible violations in roughly 260 cases, per Reuters. That's despite passenger numbers being below pre-pandemic levels.

  • The FAA usually deals with 100-150 reports of such behavior in any given year, NBC News notes.

The big picture: The FAA announced in January a new "zero tolerance" policy after seeing a spike in passengers disrupting flights with threatening or violent behavior stemming from their refusal to wear masks and the U.S. Capitol riot.

  • The transportation agency had previously responded to unruly passenger incidents with methods such as warnings, counseling and civil penalties.
  • Now, passengers can be fined up to $35,000 and imprisonment for interfering with crew members. Despite this, there have been a spate of incidents aboard planes in recent weeks.

What's happening: A 28-year-old woman was arrested Sunday for allegedly attacking an American Airlines flight attendant on the flight from Miami to New York City.

  • Alaska Airlines banned Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold (R) for refusing to comply with face mask requirements, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
  • Also this year there was a "fistfight" over face coverings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; a passenger escorted from a flight in Washington, D.C., for arguing with attendants about masks and a Los Angeles-bound plane made an emergency landing in Denver "after a passenger allegedly tried to open an emergency exit," per NBC News.

Of note: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) last month extended the mask-wearing mandate for flights until September.

  • The TSA said Friday some 2,000 passengers had been reported for refusing to wear a face covering since Feb. 2 when the requirements came into effect, Reuters reports.

What they're saying: Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, told NBC News, the abuse flight attendants had reported experiencing this year was "way off the charts" compared to what's happened in the past 20 years.

  • "What we have seen on our planes is flight attendants being physically assaulted, pushed, choked," Nelson said. "We have a passenger urinate. We had a passenger spit into the mouth of a child on board."
  • FAA chief Steve Dickson tweeted, "We will not tolerate interfering with a flight crew and the performance of their safety duties. Period."

Gas prices rise in several states as pipeline outage crimps supply

Gas stations in several statesare out of fuel and AAA reports the nationwide average price breached $3-per-gallon for the first time in six years amid the cyberattack-induced shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Driving the news: The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the nation's largest refined fuel pipeline that extends from Texas into the Northeast, is creating a scramble as the outage persists into its sixth day.

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Read: What Liz Cheney told the House GOP behind closed doors before her ouster

"If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from," Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told House Republicans before they voted to remove her as the party's conference chair on Wednesday.

Why it matters: In her address, Cheney promised that she "will be leading the fight to restore our party" and make it "worthy again of being the party of Lincoln," signaling that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon and will continue to be a voice of dissent in the party.

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House Republicans remove Liz Cheney from leadership over Trump opposition

House Republicans voted Wednesday to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as conference chair, capping months of growing backlash over her criticisms of former President Trump, according to two sources in the room.

Why it matters: The stunning removal of the No. 3 House Republican over her condemnation of Trump's election lies reflects the influence the former president still retains over the GOP. It's the most significant turning point in an internal party feud that is unlikely to subside any time soon.

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Biden names third slate of judicial nominees

President Biden on Wednesday announced a new slate of nominations for federal judges, with the president now having put forward 20 names to fill judicial vacancies.

Why it matters: The administration described the most recent picks as an embodiment of "the diversity of our nation," and said that Biden is continuing a trend of announcing judicial nominees at a record pace.

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Consumer prices jumped 4.2% in April compared to last year

The latest gauge on inflation released Wednesday morning showed that prices rose 4.2% over last year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Why it matters: The gains were highest since September 2008. Prices jumped significantly compared to the start of the pandemic last year, when lockdowns drove down demand.

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What China's population woes mean for the rest of the world

China released its censusreport on Tuesday, showing that the number of births in the country last year dropped 18% from 2019. And China isn't alone — populations have been stagnating globally for decades, including in the U.S.

Why it matters: China has long relied on its large population — the biggest in the world — as a core engine for economic growth. The way that it, and officials across the globe, deal with changing demographics will lead to shifts in the economy and geopolitics.

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Inside Liz Cheney's plans to continue fighting for soul of GOP after leadership ouster

As she faces a voteto be thrown out of House Republican leadership, Rep. Liz Cheney has told associates she doesn’t plan on going anywhere — and plans to run for re-election.

What to watch: In the meantime,as she sees it, she will aggressively pursue a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, after an expected vote to strip her of her post as GOP conference chair, the party's No. 3 House post.

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Biden plans to send envoy as Israel and Hamas escalate toward war

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is considering plans to dispatch a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts, five Israeli officials and Western diplomats tell me.

Driving the news: The fighting intensified overnight, with Hamas and other militants firing a second barrage of over 100 rockets toward Tel Aviv and other nearby cities, and Israel continuing its air campaign in the Gaza Strip by destroying high-rise buildings, Hamas facilities and rocket units.

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