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Countries grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after crash killed 157 people

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Aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes Monday after one crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board.

The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday is drawing renewed scrutiny of the plane just four months after a similar crash of the same model that killed 189 people in Indonesia.

Chicago-based Boeing said it did not intend to issue any new guidance to its customers. It does plan to send a technical team to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

“Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” the company said in a statement.

A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines, Asrat Begashaw, said the carrier had grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8 planes until further notice as an “extra safety precaution.”

The airline had been using five new 737 Max 8s and awaiting delivery of 25 more. Asrat said the search for body parts and debris from the crash was continuing.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration said that it ordered airlines to ground all 737 Max 8 aircraft, in line with the principle of “zero tolerance for security risks.”

It said it would issue further notices after consulting with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

Chinese carriers and leasing companies operate 96 Boeing 737 8 MAXs, according to the government, with dozens more believed to be on order. China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the aircraft.

Indonesia also grounded 11 737 Max 8s for inspections to ensure flight safety and that the planes are airworthy, said Director General of Air Transportation Polana B. Pramesti.

Cayman Airways also said it was temporarily grounding two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Real time flight radar apps showed dozens of the aircraft still operating around the globe.

The head of Indonesia’s national transport safety agency, Soerjanto Thahjono, offered to aid the Ethiopian investigation into Sunday’s crash.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board likewise said it was sending a team to help Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the probe into the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.

Like the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which happened minutes after the jet’s takeoff from Addis Ababa, the Lion Air jet that crashed off Indonesia had erratic speed during the few minutes it was in the air.

Safety experts cautioned, however, against drawing too many parallels between the two disasters.

“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

The situation will be better understood after investigators analyze the Ethiopian plane’s black boxes, said William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. An airline official said Monday that the black box and cockpit voice recorder had been found, but the box was partially damaged.

Waldock said the way the planes both crashed — a fatal nosedive — was likely to raise suspicion. Boeing will likely look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max, he said.

“Investigators are not big believers in coincidence,” he said.

Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes to scores of airlines and has orders for more than 5,000.

Shares in the company fell more than 9 percent Monday in pre-market trading.

Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said reports of large variations in vertical speed during the Ethiopian jetliner’s ascent were “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem.”

Other possible causes include engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes, he said.

Ethiopian has a good reputation and the company’s CEO told reporters no problems were spotted before Sunday’s fight. But investigators also will look into the plane’s maintenance, which may have been an issue in the Lion Air crash.

Days after the Indonesian accident, Boeing notified airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.

The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.

Indonesian investigators are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered the automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome.

The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on at least four previous flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.

Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane.

AP

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Politics

British Prime Minister to resign

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British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will quit as Conservative leader on 7 June, paving the way for a contest to decide a new prime minister. In an emotional statement in Downing Street, Mrs. May said she had “done my best” to honor the 2016 EU referendum result.

It would remain a matter of “deep regret” that she had been unable to deliver Brexit, she added.
May will not leave office immediately. She will step aside as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, which will trigger a leadership contest to replace her on June 10. But she will stay on as prime minister until her successor is selected.

A new prime minister was “in the best interests of the country,” May said in a statement in front of London’s 10 Downing Street. “It is and always will remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”

The countdown to May’s departure began the moment she brought back the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU late last year, which both her party and the opposition Labour Party hated. When she put the deal before Parliament in January, MPs defeated it by a stunning margin of 230 votes — the largest defeat for a prime minister in modern British history.

May failed again on the second attempt in March. Before making her third attempt, she tried a new tactic to get her deal passed: promising to resign if it succeeded. Conservatives who disliked her more than they disliked her deal went along with it, but May still couldn’t muster the votes to pass the plan that would take the UK out of the EU.

The political stalemate forced her to twice seek an extension of the original March 29 Brexit deadline to avoid a no-deal Brexit. That new deadline is now set for October 31, 2019, months after the original departure date.

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Money

Crude oil prices drop to $67

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Crude oil prices plunged to $67 per barrel Thursday, losing about five percent as trade tensions dampened the demand outlook, putting the crude benchmarks on course for their biggest daily and weekly falls in six months.

Reuters reported that oil coursed downward with other global markets as concerns grew that the trade conflict between China and the United States was fast turning into a technology cold war between the world’s two largest economies.
While the trade war is the main cloud over economic growth and demand predictions, market participants also pointed to weakening United States data and overfull US crude stockpiles.

Brent crude futures,

Consequently, the international benchmark, Brent settled down $3.23, or 4.6 percent, at $67.76 a barrel.

The United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude also dropped $3.51, or 5.7 percent, to $57.91 per barrel. Earlier, the contract touched $57.33 a barrel, the lowest since March 13.

That was a second consecutive daily decline for the benchmarks. WTI fell 2.5 percent on Wednesday after government data showed US crude inventories rose last week, hitting their highest levels since July 2017.

Fears of supply disruption amid heightened tensions in the Middle East had earlier overshadowed swelling United States crude inventories and raised crude price above $76.

Crude price was then drawing support from the risk of conflict in the Middle East, with helicopters carrying US staff from the US embassy in Baghdad last week out of apparent concern over perceived threats from Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, a son of King Salman, had also accused Iran of ordering an attack on Saudi oil pumping stations that Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militia had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Tehran had also reportedly denied providing arms to the Houthis.

The drone attack reportedly happened two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged by sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The other ships were a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker and a UAE-flagged bunker barge.

All these attacks took place against a backdrop of United States-Iranian tension following Washington’s decision this month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.

Though the tensions have pushed up oil prices, a rise in US crude oil inventories to their highest since 2017 helped to cap prices.

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Politics

A Nigerian heads the United Nations (UN) General Assembly

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Professor Tijjani Mohammad Bande is the new President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

United Nations

Outgoing president of the UN GA, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés disclosed this today in a joint media briefing with the Foreign Affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama at the State House.

The announcement was made after a meeting with President Muhammad Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Daily Trust reports that Bande, is the permanent representative of Nigeria to UN.

Bande, a former director-general of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State was born at Zagga in present day Kebbi State.

He holds a M.A in Political Science from the Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA in 1981 and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1987.

He was the Vice-Chancellor Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, bewtwen 2004 and 2009.

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World News

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are the proud parents of a baby boy

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The royal couple announced the happy news like many parents all over the world — on Instagram.

They shared their happiness of their newborn on @SussexRoyal, their new Instagram account that they launched on April 2.

The name of the baby boy will be announced in due course.

In the caption, the proud parents wrote: “We are pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn child in the early morning on May 6th, 2019. Their Royal Highnesses’ son weighs 7lbs. 3oz.

“The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives. More details will be shared in the forthcoming days.”

The royal couple previously announced that they are keeping the plans around the arrival of their baby private, which means royal fans should not expect for Meghan to pose on the steps of a hospital like Kate Middleton did after the birth of each of her three children.

However, royal fans will get to see the happy couple with their new baby soon after the birth. Within a few days after welcoming their first child, Meghan and Harry will take part in a photo op with their new baby on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The royal baby is the seventh in line of succession after Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince Harry.

The couple is expected to take their baby home to nearby Windsor. Harry and Meghan left their home at Kensington Palace earlier this month and moved into Frogmore Cottage just weeks before the arrival of their first child.

Meghan kept up a busy schedule throughout her pregnancy. She announced her royal patronages in January, which was followed by several visits to key charities. She also embarked on a royal tour of Morocco with Harry in late February — just days after her stateside baby shower with close friends in New York City.

The birth of the royal baby follows a whirlwind year for Meghan and Harry, which saw them tie the knot in a fairy tale royal wedding in May, announce their pregnancy news in October and then take on their first major royal tour together Down Under.

Harry and Meghan’s joint Instagram account was the first step in their transition to a new office after breaking up their joint “court” with Kate Middleton and Prince William.

With all there pressures that come with bringing a baby into the world, Meghan and Harry are resolved to build a sanctuary for their little family in their new cottage home in Windsor.

“This is a very happy time for Meghan and Harry,” says a source. “This baby has brought them even closer.“

People

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