Airline starts weighing passengers at the gate

Finnair is weighing volunteer passengers at the gate to collect data on travelers.

Finnair is weighing volunteer passengers at the gate to collect data on travelers. Markus Mainka/dpa/AP

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We all know what it’s like to have our baggage weighed at an airport check-in. Most of us are also familiar with the “crouch of shame” – the position adopted when rummaging through a bag to remove something heavy, when you’ve been informed your bag is just ounces overweight.

But now, some brave airline passengers are consenting to being weighed themselves before boarding the plane.

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In a trial by European carrier Finnair at its Helsinki Airport hub, volunteer passengers are being weighed at the departure gate in order to allow the airline to refine weight estimates for planes before takeoff.

And in a nightmare scenario for anyone who’s ever tried to nonchalantly sneak an overweight cabin bag onto the plane, passengers are being weighed together with their carry-on bags.

Luckily for anyone carrying a bulging bag, the weigh-ins are not linked to individual bookings or passenger data. Everything is anonymous, Päivyt Tallqvist, Finnair’s senior vice president communications, told CNN, with only the member of staff at the gate seeing the weight.

The trial started on Monday, and by Thursday morning 800 volunteers had already taken part, Tallqvist, said, adding that the airline was “positively surprised by the number of volunteers.”

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We have communicated about this survey to Finnair customers via our social media channels and our mobile app, and the first volunteers were proactively asking to take part even before the equipment was set up,” she said.

They plan to weigh 1,200 passengers for the winter season, and more for the summer.

Tallqvist said that the airline is collating data about the average weight of passengers and their hand luggage “for the purpose of aircraft balance and performance calculations that are needed for the safe operation of flights.”

Heavier in winter

Finnair is collecting the data from passengers boarding at Helsinki airport.

Finnair is collecting the data from passengers boarding at Helsinki airport. Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP/Getty Images

Airlines calculate planes’ weight – the weight of everyone onboard, as well as cargo and baggage in the hold, and things like catering and water tanks onboard – before each take off, along with their center of gravity. The weight and trim of an aircraft can affect where passengers can sit, and in some cases even how many passengers are allowed onboard, and how much luggage can go in the hold. Each aircraft you fly in has a set maximum weight for safe takeoff.

“While airlines know the weight of all other aspects, the weight of customers and their carry-on baggage is calculated using average weights confirmed by the Civil Aviation Authority,” said Tallqvist.

Airlines generally use average passenger weights provided by the European Aviation Safety Authority, but they can also use their own, signed off by the authorities. Finnair has used its own measurements since 2018, but these must be updated every five years – hence the refresh.

Korean Air conducted its own weighing program in 2023, while Air New Zealand also did a weight survey last year.

Finnair is collecting data for both winter and summer seasons, since passengers tend to wear heavier clothing and coats during the cold Finnish winters. The winter readings will be completed in February, with the summer ones taken between April and May.

The says it airline will calculate an average weight from the measurements taken, and will send the data to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency for verification. The weights will be used for loading calculations from 2025-30.

And while many passengers would rather keep their weight a secret, Satu Munnukka, Finnair’s head of ground processes, assured nervous passengers in a statement that “the collected data is not linked in any way to the customer’s personal data.”

Munnukka added: “We record the total weight and background information of the customer and their carry-on baggage, but we do not ask for the name or booking number, for example.

“Only the customer service agent working at the measuring point can see the total weight, so you can participate in the study with peace of mind.”

What Paris Jackson and Doja Cat’s latest red carpet looks say about tattoos today

Paris Jackson underwent a tattoo transformation ahead of the Grammy's at the weekend.

Paris Jackson underwent a tattoo transformation ahead of the Grammy’s at the weekend. Neilson Barnard/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Tattoos are for life. Unless you buy a heavy duty concealer, as demonstrated by 25-year-old Paris Jackson on Sunday.

The model and actor had all 80 of her tattoos expertly covered for the 66th annual Grammy awards, a process that only took her team of two makeup artists two hours in total. In a time lapse video posted to Instagram, Jackson’s skin is painted, brushed and sprayed a convincing ivory color. Out on the red carpet, her body — once a doodle-pad of colored ink and black lines — was a striking blank canvas, emphasized by a slinky, asymmetrical cut-out gown by Celine.

While Jackson’s transformation was a savvy collaboration with makeup brand CoverFx, temporary tattoo camouflage has snowballed as an essential celebrity makeup technique.

In South Korea, tattoos exist in a legal gray area — meaning K-Pop idols often avoid the social stigma by using bandages or makeup to hide any for broadcast performances. While shooting the Disney+ series “The Bear,” Jeremy Allen White required extensive tattoo coverage (and temporary tattoo re-application) that would withstand filming for hours in a hot kitchen. Similarly, for the 2022 film “My Policeman,” Harry Styles’ distinctive ink was airbrushed to oblivion — an undertaking that took two hours and required Styles to wear a gas mask in the makeup chair. “I’d look at myself with no tattoos and be like, ‘look at this boring *ss body,’” he told Teen Vogue.

Paris Jackson was a blank canvas on the red carpet after her makeup artists spent two hours camouflaging her 80 tattoos, shown on the right.

Paris Jackson was a blank canvas on the red carpet after her makeup artists spent two hours camouflaging her 80 tattoos, shown on the right. Getty Images

But the ability to opt out of permanent body art, even just for one night, seems to appeal to some in the limelight. In 2014, Amber Rose made headlines when she attended the Grammys in a decidedly stripped-back look. She wore a gold, art-deco sequinned Naeem Khan gown, her two tattoo sleeves completely erased — their blankness accentuated by a sprinkling of body glitter.

On Saturday, Lana del Rey arrived at the pre-Grammy Gala with a couple of barely-there tatts seemingly peaking through a layer of makeup. Rey’s romantic black Vivienne Westwood dress perfectly framed her décolletage, as well as two faded collar bone script tattoos.

Japanese tattoo artist Horimyo (L) tattoos on the shoulder of calligrapher Hayato Suzuki prior to their collaboration event in Tokyo on February 25, 2009. Japanese tattooist demonstrated and exhibited his black and gray masterpieces for his Japanese traditional tattoo arts.   AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Fading ink: Japan’s ‘hand-carved’ tattoo masters fight to keep their art alive

Elsewhere on the red carpet, while Rey and Jackson were disguising their ink, Doja Cat (who scooped three awards this season) went face-first into the world of — albeit temporary — tattoos. Her sheer, flesh-toned, corset dress was paired with a gallery of removable tattoos, from an imposing chestpiece of a gothic cathedral to Romanesque gargoyles and statues. No one needed to ask who she was wearing, either. The designer of her outfit, Dilara Findikoglu, was emblazoned in Old English font across her forehead.

Doja Cat was covered in temporary tattoos at the Grammy awards on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Doja Cat was covered in temporary tattoos at the Grammy awards on Sunday in Los Angeles. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Even the technology of impermanent tattoos has changed. No longer is a soaking wet towel and transfer paper your only option. Now, ink can be smart. Celebrity tattoo studio Bang Bang and research team Hyprskin have this year unveiled “Magic Ink,” a new light-sensitive ink formula that promises to be “rewritable, erasable and reprogrammable.” Using photochromic particles that react to UV light, the molecular structure — and therefore outward appearance — of Magic Ink can be altered by specific light wavelengths. In short, future tattoos may be as customizable and non-committal as a classroom whiteboard.

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One of the oldest forms of art, dating back at least as far back as 5000 BC, tattoos were once entirely defined by their permanence. Now, they’re almost as interchangeable as a piece of jewelry.

Once a sign of commitment, sometimes even a badge of community, the meaning of a tattoo could be shifting. Whether it’s a temporary piece that washes away in a matter of weeks, or an inked image that can be brushed off to match an outfit, the culture of body art has widened out to include those who view their anatomy with the fixity of an etch-a-sketch.

Italian mafia boss who escaped prison by tying bed sheets together arrested during romantic dinner in France

Marco Raduano was caught Thursday outside a luxury restaurant in Bastia, Corsica, where he was dining with a female companion.

Marco Raduano was caught Thursday outside a luxury restaurant in Bastia, Corsica, where he was dining with a female companion. CarabinieriRomeCNN — 

An Italian mafia boss who escaped from a maximum security prison last year by using bed sheets to scale the walls has been captured in France, authorities say.

Marco Raduano, the 40-year-old boss of the Gargano Mafia in the southern Italian region of Puglia, was caught Thursday outside a luxury restaurant in Bastia, Corsica, where he was dining with a female companion.

He was apprehended by the same anti-mafia unit that captured Matteo Messina Denaro, another criminal boss who spent nearly three decades on the run.

Rauduona was listed as one of Europol’s top 10 most dangerous fugitives.

Also apprehended was his right-hand man, Gianluigi Troiano, who fled house arrest in 2021 after detaching his electronic bracelet. He was arrested on Thursday in Granada, Spain while picking up a parcel from a service point.

The joint operation was ordered by the District Anti-Mafia Directorate of Bari, Puglia and carried out by the Carabinieri of the ROS and the provincial command of Foggia, Puglia. The Spanish Guardia Civil and the French Gendarmerie Nationale also cooperated in the arrest, according to the Carabinieri statement.

Raduano’s escape by tying bed sheets from his prison window just under a year ago was caught on the penitentiary’s surveillance cameras. The escape lasted 16 seconds and he fled on foot with no guards noticing or giving chase, which led to an internal investigation of the maximum security prison.

Raduano was serving a 24-year sentence in prison for drug trafficking when he escaped, and sentenced to life in prison in absentia after his escape for instigating the murder of mobster Omar Trott in a bruschetta bar in Vieste, Italy, in 2017.

Earth’s moon is shrinking. Here’s what scientists say that could mean

As the moon’s core cools and shrinks, its surface develops creases that create “moonquakes” as well as landslides, a new study says. Here is a composite image of the moon with data from 1994. NASA

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A region of the moon that’s at the center of a new international space race because it may contain water ice could be less hospitable than once thought, new research has found.

Interest in the lunar south pole spiked last year, when India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission made the first successful soft landing in the area, just days after Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed en route to attempt the same feat. NASA has selected the region as the landing site for its Artemis III mission, which could mark the return of astronauts to the moon as soon as 2026, and China also has plans to create future habitats there.

split leroy chow ISRO


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But now a study funded by NASA is ringing an alarm bell: As the moon’s core gradually cools and shrinks, its surface develops creases — like a grape shriveling into a raisin — that create “moonquakes” that can last for hours, as well as landslides. Much like the rest of the natural satellite’s surface, the area of the south pole that is the subject of so much interest is prone to these seismic phenomena, potentially posing a threat to future human settlers and equipment.

“This is not to alarm anyone and certainly not to discourage exploration of that part of the south pole of the moon,” said the study’s lead author, Thomas R. Watters, a senior scientist emeritus in the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, “but to raise the caution that the moon is not this benign place where nothing is happening.”

Finding the source of moonquakes

The moon has shrunk by about 150 feet in circumference over the last few million years — a significant number in geological terms but too small to cause any ripple effect on Earth or to tidal cycles, according to researchers.

On the lunar surface, however, it’s a different story. Despite what its appearance might suggest, the moon still has a hot interior, which makes it seismically active.

“There is an outer core that’s molten and is cooling off,” Watters said. “As it cools, the moon shrinks, the interior volume changes and the crust has to adjust to that change — it’s a global contraction, to which tidal forces on the Earth also contribute.”

Because the moon’s surface is brittle, this pulling generates cracks, which geologists call faults. “The moon is thought of as being this geologically dead object where nothing has happened for billions of years, but that couldn’t be more far from the truth,” Watters said. “These faults are very young and things are happening. We’ve actually detected landslides that have occurred during the time that the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been in orbit around the moon.”

An image taken by the Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 shows Japan's SLIM spacecraft on the moon. The “Moon Sniper” robotic explorer landed 180 feet (55 meters) shy of its target.

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, launched in 2009, and it’s mapping the moon’s surface with various instruments. In the new study, published January 25 in The Planetary Science Journal, Watters and his colleagues used data collected by LRO to link a powerful moonquake — detected with instruments left by Apollo astronauts more than 50 years ago — to a series of faults in the lunar south pole.

“We knew from the Apollo seismic experiment, which were four seismometers that operated for a period of about seven years, that there were these shallow moonquakes, but we didn’t really know what the source was,” Watters added. “We also knew that the largest of the shallow moonquakes detected by the Apollo seismometers was located near the south pole. It kind of became a sort of a detective story to try to figure out what the source was, and it turns out that these young faults are the best suspect.”

The strongest recorded quake was the equivalent of magnitude 5.0. On Earth, that would be considered moderate, but the moon’s lower gravity would make it feel worse, Watters said.

“On the Earth, you have a much stronger gravity keeping you attached to the surface. On the moon, it’s much smaller, so even a little bit of ground acceleration is going to potentially pop you off your feet, if you’re walking along,” he said. “That kind of shaking can really start throwing things around in a low G environment.”

Moonquakes: Short-term vs. long-term implications

The findings of the study will not affect the Artemis III landing region selection process, and that’s due to the scope and duration of the mission, according to study coauthor and NASA planetary scientist Renee Weber.

“This is because estimating how often a specific region experiences a moonquake is difficult to do accurately, and like earthquakes, we can’t predict moonquakes,” Weber said. “Strong shallow moonquakes are infrequent and pose a low risk to short-term missions on the lunar surface.”

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NASA has identified 13 Artemis III candidate landing regions near the lunar south pole, she added, using criteria such as the ability to land safely in the region, the potential to meet science objectives, launch window availability and conditions such as terrain, communications and lighting. As part of the mission, two astronauts will spend about a week living and working on the lunar surface.

However, Weber said, for a long-term human presence on the moon, the site selection process could indeed factor in geographic characteristics such as proximity to tectonic features and terrain.

Like flashlights in the moon

Moonquakes could indeed be a problem for future manned landing missions, said Yosio Nakamura, a professor emeritus of geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin, who was among the researchers who first looked at the data collected by the Apollo seismic stations.

However, Nakamura, who was not involved with the study, disagrees about the cause of the quakes, and said Apollo data shows the phenomena originate tens of kilometers below the surface.

“We still don’t know what causes shallow moonquakes, but it is not the sliding fault near the surface,” he said. “Regardless of what causes those quakes, it is true that they pose a potential threat to future landing missions, and we need more data about them.”

AS17-152-23272 (7-19 Dec. 1972) --- The crescent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this photograph taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in lunar orbit during National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. While astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, commander, and Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot, descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Challenger" to explore the Taurus-Littrow region of the moon, astronaut Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "America" in lunar orbit.

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Regardless of the underlying cause, the potential danger moonquakes pose to astronauts will be limited by the fact that — at least in the near future — humans will be on the moon for short periods of time, a few days at most, according to Allen Husker, a research professor of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology who was also not involved with the study.

“It is very unlikely that a large moonquake will happen while they are there. However, it is good to know that these seismic sources (causing the quakes) exist. They can be an opportunity to better study the moon as we do on the Earth with earthquakes,” Husker said. “By the time there is an actual moon base, we should have a much better idea of the actual seismic hazard with upcoming missions.”

That sentiment is shared by Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna, an associate professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona, who also didn’t participate in the work. “Moonquakes are an incredible tool for doing science,” he said in an email. “They are like flashlights in the lunar interior that illuminate its structure for us to see. Studying moonquakes at the south pole will tell us more about the Moon’s interior structure as well as its present-day activity.”

Ukraine says it sank Russian warship off coast of Crimea and unleashed ‘massive’ missile barrage on peninsula

Ukraine's military intelligence published night-time footage it said showed sea drones destroying the "Ivanovets," a Russian warship.

Ukraine’s military intelligence published night-time footage it said showed sea drones destroying the “Ivanovets,” a Russian warship. Ukraine Defense Intelligence/TelegramCNN — 

Ukraine’s military intelligence says it sank a Russian warship off the coast of Crimea overnight into Thursday, landing the latest in a series of blows to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet after mounting a “massive” missile attack on the occupied peninsula hours earlier.

Russia’s guided missile ship, the “Ivanovets,” suffered multiple hits to its hull before it sank overnight in the harbor of Lake Donuzlav, Crimea’s deepest lake, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence said.

Night-time footage supplied by Ukraine showed naval drones racing toward the Russian ship before exploding on impact, causing significant damage to the vessel. At the end of the video, the ship appears to have sunk, with just its bow above water. CNN could not independently verify Ukraine’s claims and it is unclear from the footage which vessel was struck and when.

Valery Zaluzhny

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Russia’s Defense Ministry, the Kremlin and other Russian officials have not yet commented on the incident.

The sinking of the Ivanovets is the latest in a series of Ukrainian strikes on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, as it attempts to land both strategic and symbolic blows against Russian forces that annexed Crimea in 2014.

Ukraine has previously said its strikes on Crimea and on Russian ships are intended to try to isolate the peninsula and make it more difficult for Russia to sustain its military operations on the Ukrainian mainland, where the front lines have remained mostly static for months.

The most notable of its strikes was the attack on the Moskva in April 2022, which forced Russia to change the way it operates close to areas controlled by Ukraine. The vessel became infamous after it threatened to bomb Snake Island in the Black Sea if the Ukrainian soldiers defending it did not surrender. “Russian warship, go f*** yourself,” one of the soldiers responded.

CNN has previously reported on Ukraine's development of sea drones, pictured here in July 2023.

CNN has previously reported on Ukraine’s development of sea drones, pictured here in July 2023. CNN

The strike on the Ivanovets came hours after Ukraine on Wednesday launched a barrage of missiles at Crimea, in what Ukraine’s Air Force Commander described as part of “the cleansing of Crimea from the Russian presence.”

Ukraine launched 20 airborne guided missiles at Crimea, with Russian air defenses destroying 17 of them over the Black Sea and three more over the peninsula, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. It said some of the missiles were intercepted close to the Belbek airfield near the city of Sevastopol.

“Our military repelled a massive attack on Sevastopol,” the Russia-appointed governor of the city Mikhail Razvozhaev said Wednesday, adding more than six missiles were shot down.

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi takes part in a ceremony marking Ukraine's Independence Day, in Kyiv on August 24, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by SERGEI CHUZAVKOV / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI CHUZAVKOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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Razvozhaev said about a dozen buildings were hit by falling debris, which resulted in broken windows and other damage, but no injuries were reported.

The Belbek airfield was formerly the base of Ukraine’s 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade, Mykola Oleshchuk, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, said Wednesday in a Telegram post, accompanied by video of an explosion.

“Ukrainian aviators will definitely return home to their home airfield. In the meantime, I thank everyone who contributed to the cleansing of Crimea from the Russian presence,” Oleshchuk said.

Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force Command, on Thursday echoed those comments, saying “certain facilities on the peninsula were hit.”

CNN is not able to independently verify claims by either side.

The attacks come as speculation swirls about the possible firing of the Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, following weeks of growing speculation over tensions with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Speaker Mike Johnson’s historically narrow majority has shrunk even further

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) departs a news conference following the Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2024 in Washington, DC. Johnson was joined by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA). (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

House Speaker Mike Johnson departs a news conference following the Republican conference meeting at the US Capitol on January 17, 2024 in Washington, DC.Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson is overseeing one of the smallest House majorities in history as Congress confronts upcoming battles over government funding and contentious fights over immigration and impeachment.

Republicans currently control just 219 seats while Democrats control 213 after Ohio GOP Rep. Bill Johnson resigned from Congress earlier this month to take a job as president of Youngstown State University.

The razor-thin majority presents an enormous challenge for the speaker, leaving him with almost no room for error as he navigates demands from competing wings of his party.

There are currently three vacancies in the House following Johnson’s departure, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s resignation from Congress at the end of last year and the expulsion of former GOP Rep. George Santos of New York.

Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York has also announced plans to leave Congress, and will be stepping down on February 2, his office told CNN.

A special election to fill the seat previously held by Santos will take place on February 13. The race is expected to be competitive and is a potential pickup opportunity for Democrats.

In addition to the tight margin, there is always the possibility that absences can further impact the vote math.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s office has said that he will work remotely until returning to Washington in February as he recovers from a stem cell transplant.

Republican Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky was hospitalized following a car accident earlier this month. His office subsequently announced that he had progressed to physical rehabilitation to assist in his recovery.

The tight vote margin means that any individual member has the potential to exert outsized influence and Johnson has frequently felt pressure from his right flank.

Hardline conservatives have already shown that they can hold major sway in the chamber with such a narrow majority – most notably when a group of hardliners moved to oust McCarthy from the speakership in a historic and unprecedented vote last year.

The exact size and scope of the far right of the House Republican Conference can vary from issue to issue. A contingent of roughly a dozen hardliners staged a rebellion on the House floor earlier this month, taking down a procedural vote to show opposition to a spending deal Johnson had reached with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The ever-shrinking margin has forced Johnson to put bills directly onto the floor under a procedural move known as suspension of the rules in certain instances as his right flank has increasingly taken to tanking rule votes on the floor in a show of protest, a dynamic that will likely continue and may intensify.

But that strategy compels the need for a two-thirds majority to pass bills, requiring significant Democratic support, and further alienating Johnson and the right wing of his conference.

In one recent example, the House passed a short-term funding extension to avert a shutdown under suspension of the rules earlier this month. House Republicans were nearly evenly divided in the vote, a sign of the deep rift within the conference. One hundred and seven Republicans voted for the bill, while 106 voted against it. Far more Democrats than Republicans voted for the measure with 207 Democrats in favor and just two opposed.

In addition to facing pressure from conservatives, Johnson must also balance the interests of more moderate members from battleground districts who are on the frontlines of the majority and who will be under intense scrutiny during the 2024 election year.

There were 18 Republicans in House districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020 – a number that is now down to 17 after the expulsion of Santos. The fate of these politically vulnerable members will be key to whether the GOP can hold onto its majority.

To the dads, Brads and Chads who’ve taken issue with the amount of Taylor Swift shown during NFL games: Too bad

Taylor Swift wears a Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce jacket as she arrives before an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Taylor Swift at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in January.Ed Zurga/APCNN — 

On Sunday, The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship that will either send the Chiefs to the Super Bowl or, as some might be thinking about it, mark the end of “Football (Taylor’s Version).”

At least for the season.

The latter would likely please the dads, Brads and Chads of the world, who have taken issue with the attention being paid to pop star Taylor Swift when she attends NFL games to see her boyfriend Travis Kelce in action. But the truth is this: Leaning into Taylor mania is a no-lose game for broadcasters. So, for at least one more game, the haters might just have to, as Swift might say, focus on the players as they play, play, play.

Swift has regularly attended a slew of recent Kansas City Chiefs football games to support Kelce, the team’s superstar tight end, and broadcasters of those games have taken every opportunity to show Swift in the stands, cheering him on.

Because they can. And, ultimately, the decision on how many times Swift is shown throughout a game is up to that broadcaster, which has included the likes of CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN – not the NFL, according to Alex Riethmiller, a spokesperson for the league.

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“We wouldn’t give any direction to our broadcasters along the lines of, ‘we need more Taylor Swift or we need less Taylor Swift,’” Riethmiller told CNN. “It’s really up to the individual broadcasters in situations like this to determine what they think is best.”

By CNN’s count, Swift was shown during CBS’s broadcast of the Chiefs-Bills AFC Divisional playoff game no less than six times, which includes one cut to the singer during pregame coverage. That’s down from the reported 17 cuts to her during NBC’s broadcast of an October game that she attended to watch the Chiefs play the New York Jets.

In all, Swift has attended 11 games since September 2023, and with each appearance in the crowd, increasingly drawn what seems like as many cheers and jeers as the men on the field.

The frenzy is perhaps to be expected when the world’s biggest pop star scores an unexpected role on the highest-rated show on television. And though Swift won’t be getting an Emmy for this guest spot, there is a winner here: football.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 1: Taylor Swift and Blake Lively cheer from the stands during an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium on October 1, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

Taylor Swift and Blake Lively at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in October.Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Ratings boost

Swift’s presence at Chiefs games has inarguably activated an audience who wouldn’t normally tune in to a football game, including numerous so-called “Swifties” who watch games they anticipate the “Anti-Hero” singer attending.

But the numbers tell us the full story.

Last Sunday’s playoff game between the Chiefs and the Bills was the most-watched divisional playoff game in history with over 50 million viewers, according to CBS. Swift was in attendance alongside Kelce’s brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce – who went viral for his shirtless celebration of Kelce’s touchdown.

The game averaged 20.2 million female viewers, accounting for 40% of the TV audience, according to Nielsen-measured stats provided to CNN by the NFL. The rise in female viewers is up compared to last year’s Cowboys-49ers playoff game in the same window, when female viewers accounted for 38.7% of the TV audience. Overall, female viewership for the 2023 regular season was up 9% from last year.

The Chiefs’ nail-biter win overall outpaced other playoff games that took place last weekend. The Ravens-Texans drew in 32.4 million viewers on ESPN, the Buccaneers-Lions drew in 40.4 million on NBC and Peacock and the Packers-49ers drew in 37.5 million on FOX.

A variety of factors could explain the record-breaking ratings spike, the main one being the high-stakes matchup between Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is widely considered the best in the league, and Bills QB Josh Allen. And, perhaps, a little bit of Swift being in the mix.

“NFL games have been drawing massive viewership for a long time so while I think it’s fair to say Taylor Swift’s presence at games creates buzz and helps build our audience around the edges, it’s the incredible play on the field that really drives the eyeballs,” said Riethmiller.

It’s true that NFL games are the most-watched shows on television, with or without Swift. The 2023 regular season averaged 17.9 million TV and digital viewers, making it the highest rated regular season since 2015, according to Nielsen data. The Chiefs-Bills playoff game alone drew in nearly five times the amount of viewers than this year’s Golden Globe Awards, which peaked with 9.4 million viewers, where Swift, coincidentally, was also in attendance.

It’s hard to say how much Swift is responsible for the NFL’s rise in female viewers, but Richard Deitsch, a sports media reporter for The Athletic, told CNN that while last week’s game was always going to be one of the most-watched of the season, “you are fooling yourself if you don’t think some casual sports fans, those who don’t watch the NFL every week, did not tune for curiosity sake regarding Swift.”

“That’s been the case for high-profile Chiefs games. We’re talking about one of the most famous people on the planet,” he added.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have dinner at Waverly Inn on October 15, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)

(From left) Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce in New York in October.Gotham/GC Images/Getty Images

A love story

When Swift showed up to her first Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium in September, it was a media frenzy.

At the time, the couple had yet to confirm their romance.

As Swift attended subsequent games and made her courtship with Kelce public, some football viewers and prominent sports figures began to express their displeasure with the number of times the broadcasts would feature glimpses of Swift in the stands – including Kelce himself.

“I think it’s fun when they show who was at the game,” Kelce said on an October episode his podcast “New Heights,” but he added, “they’re overdoing it a little bit, for sure.”

Swift herself had something to say about it, too, questioning how broadcasters even know what suite she’s in.

“There’s a camera, like, a half-mile away, and you don’t know where it is, and you have no idea when the camera is putting you in the broadcast, so I don’t know if I’m being shown 17 times or once,” she said in December.

Despite a noticeable decrease in airtime during Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoff game, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber still took issue with CBS’s coverage of Swift.

“The obsession is getting annoying,” he said on WFAN’s “Evan & Tiki” radio show on Tuesday, further crediting his annoyance at the Chiefs in general to what he described as “the Taylor Swift influence.”

On the ground in Kansas City, at least, her presence has widely been embraced.

“I can’t speak to the coverage, but I can say there’s a tremendous amount of interest among the fans in her presence and her being around the team. To me, the coverage just reflects the interest,” Adam Teicher, ESPN’s Kansas City Chiefs beat reporter told CNN. “They’re not asking me about Pat Mahomes anymore. They’re asking me about Taylor Swift.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 10: Kansas City Chiefs fans hold up a Taylor Swift sign during the game against the Buffalo Bills on December 10th at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs fans hold up a Taylor Swift sign during at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in December.William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

The Big Game

Broadcasters have a history of highlighting famous people at games, so this is not a new phenomenon. This is the case especially when it comes to the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of sports and entertainment blending into one.

If the Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl on Sunday, hold on to your foam fingers. With the possibility of Swift attending the big game on February 11, it becomes a perfect storm of opportunity for CBS to show her throughout the broadcast to presumably their biggest audience of the year. (Swift is scheduled to perform an “Eras Tour” concert in Tokyo on February 10 and has not spoken publicly as to whether or not she plans to attend.)

“There will definitely be discussions at a high level about how that’s going to be handled. If indeed it happens, they’ll figure out what seems to be a reasonable amount of shots,” Jeff Fellenzer, Professor of Professional Practice Sports, Business and Media at USC, told CNN.

CBS did not return CNN’s request for an interview regarding their broadcast plans or strategy for Sunday’s game or the Super Bowl by press time.

What is a sure bet? The game – including Swifties or not – will have eyeballs.

“It’s not going to affect if they watch next year’s Super Bowl or next season’s game. So what’s the risk factor? I don’t think it’s a high one for the NFL or for CBS,” Fellenzer said.

Maybe, just maybe, everyone needs to calm down.

Biden administration tells Congress it intends to sell Turkey F-16s after Erdogan approved Sweden’s NATO membership

BALIKESIR, TURKIYE - MAY 22: An aerial view of  Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter aircrafts  in Balikesir, Turkiye on May 22, 2022. The 161st Fleet Command, the only fleet of the Turkish Air Force with two coded names - coded as "Eagle" during the day and "Bat" at night - takes an active role in both the protection of the airspace in Aegean Region and the combat against terrorism. (Photo by Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

An aerial view of Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter aircrafts in Balikesir, Turkey, on May 22, 2022.Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesCNN — 

The Biden administration told Congress it intends to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed off on Sweden’s accession to NATO on Thursday – a development that caps off more than a year of quiet, complicated negotiations.

The State Department sent the formal notification about the proposed $23 billion sale to Congress on Friday after Turkey’s instruments of ratification were formally deposited at the department. The State Department also sent Congress a formal notification of its intent to sell $8.6 billion worth of F-35s to Greece. Congress is expected to approve both sales.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was extensively engaged for months with Turkish officials and US lawmakers to reach the deal to stop Erdogan’s obstruction of Sweden’s NATO bid that would see Turkey receive the fighter jets – one of its top requests of the US.

When Sweden, along with Finland, first applied to join the defensive alliance in May 2022, Turkey sought to pull the US directly into the negotiations – a move the US rebuffed, according to a US official. However, the administration was cognizant the US had a key point of leverage – the F-16s – if that became necessary.

Once Turkey approved Finland’s accession in March 2023, Blinken worked intensely behind the scenes to try to get Sweden’s approval done by last summer’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

During a trip to Turkey in February 2023, Blinken met with Erdogan, who stressed the need for the US to give Turkey the F-16s before he would approve Sweden’s membership into the alliance. Blinken, in turn, told the Turkish president multiple times that members of Congress would not approve the sale of jets until Turkey allowed Sweden to join NATO.

It was at this point, the US official said, that the administration decided to leverage the jets more directly. The process moved forward more quickly with the appointment of Hakan Fidan as Turkey’s foreign minister. Fidan was seen as having a closer relationship to Erdogan than his predecessor. Blinken and Fidan met on the margins of a conference in London in late June 2023 to hash out details of a potential deal.

Following that meeting, Blinken discussed the matter with then-Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez – who had long opposed the sale of the jets to Turkey – and other members of Congress. The New Jersey senator and others made clear that they wanted to ensure Greece’s support. Blinken engaged extensively with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss what Greece would need to feel comfortable with neighboring Turkey receiving the jets. Turkey and Greece have an incredibly tense relationship.

After those initial months of negotiations, the first hurdle was cleared at Vilnius, when Erdogan publicly committed to move forward on Sweden’s accession.

The intensive effort shifted to ensuring that the Turkish parliament would vote in favor of accession. As the US worked to solidify the deal, Blinken and Fidan spoke weekly over the autumn and winter, the US official said. The top US diplomat spoke with Greek Prime Minister half a dozen times. He spoke extensively with Menendez and his successor, Sen. Ben Cardin, and the leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to try to assuage their concerns about the F-16 sale.

The Turkish Parliament finally voted in favor of Sweden’s NATO accession Tuesday, and Erdogan signed off on the instruments of ratification Thursday.

The documents were then sent from Turkey to the US to be physically deposited in a vault at the State Department, which serves as the treaty depositary for NATO, on Friday.

This was the final step needed before the agency sent the formal notifications about the F-16 sales to Congress. The US official said this was to assure Congress there was no way for Turkey to back out of the deal.

Hungary still must approve Sweden’s NATO bid for the nation to finally become a member.

FAA approves a path for Boeing 737 Max 9s to return to operations

FILE - A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane performs a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, east of Paris, France, June 20, 2017. Indonesia has temporarily grounded three Boeing 737-9 Max jetliners, following an incident in which an Alaska Airlines plane suffered a blowout that left a gaping hole in the side of the fuselage. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

FILE – A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane performs a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, east of Paris, France, June 20, 2017. Indonesia has temporarily grounded three Boeing 737-9 Max jetliners, following an incident in which an Alaska Airlines plane suffered a blowout that left a gaping hole in the side of the fuselage. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)Michel Euler/APNew YorkCNN — 

Boeing CEO David Calhoun’s Wednesday was decidedly a mixed bag: The Federal Aviation Administration finally approved a set of inspection criteria for the 171 grounded 737 Max 9 planes that, if followed, could return the aircraft to service. But he also learned that his company faces yet another investigation into its safety issues.

The FAA late Wednesday opened its announcement with a stern warning: “The January 5 Boeing 737-9 Max incident must never happen again,” referring to an incident earlier this month in which part of an Alaska Airlines flight blew off in mid-air. And the FAA said it would not grant any production expansion of the 737 Max lineup while its safety probe of Boeing continues.

But the FAA cleared the way for the planes to return to the air. Airlines, especially Alaska and United, had faced hundreds of cancellations a day because of the grounding.

“The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement.

Each of the 171 grounded aircraft must be inspected, including the bolts, fittings and guide tracks for the door plug, the piece of fuselage that flew off an Alaska Airlines plane earlier this month. The process also includes tightening fasteners and performing “detailed inspections of…dozens of associated components. ”

It’s unclear how long it will take for the planes to be inspected and return to service. Earlier this week, United said it expects the planes to be grounded through the end of the month.

And Whitaker noted Boeing itself is not out of the woods.

“However, let me be clear: This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing,” he said. “We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 Max until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved.”

Mr. Calhoun goes to Washington

Calhoun’s meeting with Washington lawmakers on Wednesday ended with a CEO’s nightmare: He was forced to defend the safety of his company’s planes to travelers, just before he learned Boeing faced yet another investigation.

“We fly safe planes,” Calhoun said to reporters assembled on Capitol Hill. “We don’t put planes in the air that we don’t have 100% confidence in.”

Calhoun acknowledged the seriousness of passengers’ concerns about flying, and he said he came to Washington in the spirit of transparency and openness to help lawmakers better understand the company’s efforts to improve safety.

“I’m here today … to answer all their questions, because they have a lot of them,” Calhoun said.

After speaking with reporters, Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, announced that she should hold a future hearing to investigate Boeing’s safety record.

“The American flying public and Boeing line workers deserve a culture of leadership at Boeing that puts safety ahead of profits,” Cantwell said in a statement. “I will be holding hearings to investigate the root causes of these safety lapses.”

Cantwell said that in her meeting with Calhoun earlier in the day, she emphasized that Boeing has to prioritize quality and engineering first. After several incidents in recent years, including this month’s Alaska Airlines incident, that commitment has become a significant question.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the incident.

A history of safety problems

Not being able to increase production of the Max is a major blow to Boeing’s efforts to return to profitability.

Boeing’s production of the 737 Max, its best selling plane, has still not returned to the rate of production that it had before two fatal crashes led to a 20-month grounding of the plane in 2019. It is not clear when it will be able to move ahead with its efforts to resume production at a more profitable pace.

Industry experts have cast serious doubt about Boeing’s ability to walk away from its investigations unscathed. Last week, a Wells Fargo report, entitled “FAA audit opens up a whole new can of worms,” noted that Boeing’s quality control and engineering problems have been ongoing for years.

“Given Boeing’s recent track record, and greater incentive for the FAA to find problems, we think the odds of a clean audit are low,” the analysts said.

A week earlier, Calhoun acknowledged the company made a “mistake” at a staff-wide safety meeting, but he did not specify what that mistake was. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy has demanded Boeing provide answers about any mistake it made as part of its safety investigation, which is separate from the FAA’s audit.

Boeing has faced repeated quality and safety issues with its aircraft for five years now, leading to the long-term grounding of some jets and the halt in deliveries of others.

The 737 Max’s design was found to be responsible for two fatal crashes: one in Indonesia in October 2018 and the other in Ethiopia in March 2019. Together, the two crashes killed all 346 people aboard the two flights and led to a 20-month grounding of the company’s best-selling jets, which cost it more than $21 billion.

Internal communications released during the 737 Max grounding showed one employee describing the jet as “designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

Late last month, Boeing asked airlines to inspect all of their 737 Max jets for a potential loose bolt in the rudder system after an airline discovered a potential problem with a key part on two aircraft.

Its quality and engineering problems have extended beyond the 737. Boeing also had to twice halt deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, for about a year starting in 2021 and again in 2023, due to quality concerns cited by the FAA. And the 777 jet also suffered a grounding after an engine failure on a United flight scattered engine debris onto homes and the ground below.

Two Max variants — the Max 7 and the Max 10 — are still awaiting approval to begin carrying passengers. This latest incident complicates that, Wells Fargo analysts noted.

Turkish parliament approves Sweden’s NATO membership bid

ANKARA, TURKIYE - JANUARY 23: A general view of the Turkish parliament during the voting session on the bill regarding Sweden's accession protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Ankara, Turkiye on January 23, 2024. Turkish parliament approved Sweden's membership of NATO. (Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Turkish parliament votes on the bill regarding Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Ankara on January 23.Metin Aktas/Anadolu/Getty ImagesCNN — 

The Turkish parliament voted Tuesday to approve Sweden’s NATO membership bid, bringing the Nordic country one step closer to joining the military alliance after months of delays.

Of the 346 members of parliament who voted, 287 were in favor of Sweden’s accession and 55 voted to reject it. Four others abstained from voting.

The vote was the second step of Turkey’s ratification process after the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission approved the bid last month. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can now sign the protocol into law.

The outcome on Tuesday cleared a significant hurdle for the Nordic country’s accession into the military alliance, with Hungary now set to be the only member state that has not yet ratified Sweden’s accession.

However, on Tuesday, Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban said he had invited his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson to visit Hungary to negotiate the terms of Sweden’s accession.

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in May 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier that year. Finland joined NATO in April 2023, doubling the alliance’s border with Russia, but Sweden has faced numerous delays in its path to accession.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year press conference and the Direct Line question and answer session, at Gostiny Dvor Exhibition Centre in Moscow, Russia December 14, 2023. Sputnik/Alexander Kazakov/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

RELATED ARTICLEPutin warns of problems with neighboring Finland after West ‘dragged it into NATO’

Erdogan initially objected to Sweden’s membership bid, accusing Swedish officials of being too lenient on militant groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Since applying, Sweden has tightened its anti-terror legislation and agreed to work more closely with Turkey on security concerns.

Erdogan’s approval of Sweden’s accession bid also rides on a commitment by the United States, with the Turkish president signaling that he won’t sign the protocol into law unless the US approves the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin said on Tuesday that Congress, however, is waiting to see the accession documents completed before moving forward on the matter.

Following Tuesday’s Turkish parliamentary vote, Swedish Prime Minister Kristersson said Sweden was “one step closer to becoming a full member of NATO.”

The US Ambassador to Turkey Jeffry Flake reiterated the sentiment in a post on X, saying “Sweden’s accession to NATO is a critical step in strengthening the alliance” and that he “greatly appreciate the Turkish’s parliament’s decision to approve Sweden’s entry into NATO.”

The German government welcomed the outcome of the Turkish parliamentary vote. The federal government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement that Finland’s accession last April and Sweden’s “forthcoming accession” were a “direct reaction to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.”