Airlines ground Boeing jet after plane crashes in Ethiopia
HEJERE, Ethiopia (AP) — Airlines in Ethiopia, China, Indonesia and elsewhere grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner Monday after the second devastating crash of one of the planes in five months. But Boeing said it had no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies.
As the East African country mourned the 157 victims of the Ethiopian Airlines plane that went down in clear weather shortly after takeoff Sunday, investigators found the jetliner’s two flight recorders at the crash site outside the capital of Addis Ababa.
An airline official, however, said one of the recorders was partially damaged and “we will see what we can retrieve from it.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to speak to the media.
A witness to the crash told The Associated Press that smoke was coming from the back of the plane before it hit the ground.
“Before falling down, the plane rotated two times in the air, and it had some smoke coming from the back then, it hit the ground and exploded,” Tamrat Abera said. “When the villagers and I arrived at the site, there was nothing except some burning and flesh.”
Ethiopian crash victims were aid workers, doctors, academics
They worked to bring food to the hungry, medicine to the sick and clean water to people living in areas without it. Among the 157 people who died in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner Sunday were dozens of international aid workers hailing from several countries in Africa and around the globe.
Described as dedicated and impassioned employees of non-profit environmental, immigration and refugee organizations, they lost their lives alongside pastors, professors, ambassadors, police chiefs and respected writers and sports leaders. All were on board the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en route to Nairobi, Kenya.
At least five Ethiopian nationals who worked for aid agencies died in the crash. Save the Children mourned the loss of Tamirat Mulu Demessie, a technical adviser on child protection in emergencies who “worked tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable children are safe during humanitarian crises,” the group said in a statement. Catholic Relief Services lost four Ethiopian staff members who had worked with the organization for as long as a decade. The four were travelling to Nairobi for training, the group said.
Immaculate Odero of Kenya, who served as CARE’s regional security officer for the Horn of Africa, was “dedicated to keeping her colleagues in the region safe,” and took on her role “with great enthusiasm,” the agency said.
The Red Cross; The United Nations’ World Food Program; the International Committee for the Development of Peoples; the World Council of Churches; and Civil Rights Defenders, an international human rights group based in Stockholm, were among other humanitarian and cultural groups reporting losses. A family of six from Canada, African expatriates visiting families back home and tourists were also among the victims, who hailed from 35 countries.
Trump budget previews campaign agenda of reruns
WASHINGTON (AP) — Frustrated by a divided Congress and rifts within his own party, President Donald Trump is giving little indication in his latest budget proposal of any new policy ambitions for the coming two, or six, years.
Trump’s budget plan increases spending on his border wall and the military but is light on fresh ideas heading into his re-election campaign. His budget for the next fiscal year, which has little chance of advancing in Congress, largely focuses on deep spending cuts and pushing more money toward established goals such as his long-promised wall, improving care of veterans and combating opioid abuse.
Budgets may offer a president’s vision for the direction of the nation, but Trump’s latest also offers an early window into his upcoming campaign.
With the Democratic race to unseat him heating up, Trump is contending with middling approval ratings, energized Democrats and political vulnerabilities in critical states. Like his predecessors, he’ll soon be called on to complete the politically loaded phrase, “Send me back to the White House so that I can …”
“I think, as he gets closer to 2020, he will need to lay out what a second term would look like,” said Republican consultant Alex Conant. “Voters always want to know, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ If he doesn’t paint a picture of what his second term will look like, then the Democrats will do it for him.”
UK, EU announce change to Brexit deal ahead of key vote
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — Britain and the European Union emerged from last-minute talks late Monday to announce they had finally removed the biggest roadblock to their Brexit divorce deal, only hours before the U.K. Parliament was due to decide the fate of Prime Minister Theresa May’s hard-won plan to leave the EU.
On the eve of Tuesday’s vote in London, May flew to Strasbourg, France, to seek revisions, guarantees or other changes from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that would persuade reluctant British legislators to back her withdrawal agreement with the EU, which they resoundingly rejected in January.
At a joint news conference, May and Juncker claimed to have succeeded.
May said new documents to be added to the deal provided “legally binding changes” to the part relating to the Irish border. The legal 585-page withdrawal agreement itself though was left intact.
“In politics, sometimes you get a second chance. It is what you do with this second chance that counts. Because there will be no third chance,” Juncker warned the legislators who will vote late Tuesday.
Google paid former exec $35 million after harassment claim
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google paid former search executive Amit Singhal $35 million in an exit package when he was reportedly forced to resign after a sexual assault investigation, according to court documents released Monday.
Details of the exit package were revealed as part of a shareholder lawsuit against the company, one that followed a published report of payouts Google made to executives accused of sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit targets the board of Google parent Alphabet, charging that its members had a duty to protect the company and its shareholders from risk and reputation damage. Instead, it says, the board agreed to pay off and otherwise support male executives facing misconduct charges — opening the company to reputational and financial damage by doing so.
Previously redacted portions of the lawsuit were made available Monday, including quotes from Alphabet board committee meetings.
One portion of the minutes showed that Singhal, a senior vice-president of search who left the company in 2016, received two $15 million payments and a payment of between $5 million to $15 million as part of a separation agreement. The total payment could have been up to $45 million.
Pelosi: Impeaching Trump ‘just not worth it’
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is setting a high bar for impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying he is “just not worth it” even as some on her left flank clamour to start proceedings.
Pelosi said in an interview with The Washington Post that “I’m not for impeachment” of Trump.
“Unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” she said.
While she has made similar comments before, Pelosi is making clear to her caucus and to voters that Democrats will not move forward quickly with trying to remove Trump from office. And it’s a departure from her previous comments that Democrats are waiting on special counsel Robert Mueller to lay out findings from his Russia investigation before considering impeachment.
That thinking among Democrats has shifted, slightly, in part because of the possibility that Mueller’s report will not be decisive and because his investigation is more narrowly focused. Instead, House Democrats are pursuing their own broad, high-profile investigations that will keep the focus on Trump’s business dealings and relationship with Russia, exerting congressional oversight without having to broach the I-word.
In Dems’ ‘Medicare for All’ battle cry, GOP sees ’20 weapon
WASHINGTON (AP) — “Medicare for All” has become catnip for Democratic presidential candidates and many lawmakers, yet Republicans prepping for next year’s congressional races are also flocking to it — for entirely different reasons.
GOP strategists say they’ll use proposals to expand government-run health insurance to pummel Democrats for plotting to eliminate job-provided coverage, raise taxes and make doctors’ office visits resemble trips to the dreaded Department of Motor Vehicles. If Republicans can define the health care issue on their terms — and they face significant obstacles — that would be a stunning turnabout.
“Democrats have opened the door,” GOP consultant Glen Bolger said.
Democrats made health care their defining 2018 issue as they captured the House and limited losses in a difficult set of Senate races. They denounced Republicans, who tried repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law, for seeking to end coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions. In one monthlong stretch last fall, 6-in-10 ads backing Democratic House candidates focused on health care, according to the nonpartisan Wesleyan Media Project.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chairman of the House GOP’s campaign committee, says thanks to Medicare for All, times have changed.
WWWorries? Inventor of Web laments coming-of-age woes
GENEVA (AP) — The inventor of the World Wide Web knows his revolutionary innovation is coming of age, and doesn’t always like what he sees: state-sponsored hacking, online harassment, hate speech and misinformation among the ills of its “digital adolescence.”
Tim Berners-Lee issued a cri-de-coeur letter and spoke to a few reporters Monday on the eve of the 30-year anniversary of his first paper with an outline of what would become the web — a first step toward transforming countless lives and the global economy.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, plans to host Berners-Lee and other web aficionados on Tuesday. “We’re celebrating, but we’re also very concerned,” Berners-Lee said.
Late last year, a key threshold was crossed — roughly half the world has gotten online. Today some 2 billion websites exist.
The anniversary offers “an opportunity to reflect on how far we have yet to go,” Berners-Lee said, calling the “fight” for the web “one of the most important causes of our time.”
Drummer Hal Blaine, played on hits of Sinatra, Elvis, dies
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hal Blaine, the Hall of Fame session drummer and virtual one-man soundtrack of the 1960s and ’70s who played on the songs of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys and laid down one of music’s most memorable opening riffs on the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” died Monday.
Blaine died of natural causes at his home in Palm Desert, California, his son-in-law, Andy Johnson, told The Associated Press. He was 90.
On hearing of his death, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson called him “the greatest drummer ever.”
The winner of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year, Blaine’s name was known by few outside the music industry, even in his prime.
But just about anyone with a turntable, radio or TV heard his drumming on songs that included Presley’s “Return to Sender,” the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” dozens of hits produced by Phil Spector, and the theme songs to “Batman,” ”The Partridge Family” and dozens of other shows.”
Foles to Jaguars, Collins to Washington, Brown to Oakland
NEW YORK (AP) — Nick Foles is headed to Jacksonville, Landon Collins to Washington and Trent Brown to Oakland.
The big-money offers for NFL free agents began Monday, two days before they can sign contracts. Foles brings a Super Bowl pedigree to quarterbacking the Jaguars, and Brown has a championship ring as he moves to the Raiders’ offensive line at left tackle. Safety Collins heads a few hours south from the New Jersey Meadowlands, where he could haunt his former team twice a year.
All of Monday’s deals were confirmed by people with knowledge of the agreements who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because nothing can be official until Wednesday.
Foles has agreed to sign a four-year, $88 million contract with the Jaguars. The deal includes $50.125 million guaranteed and could be worth up to $102 million with incentives as he replaces Blake Bortles, who threw 103 touchdown passes in five seasons but was known more for inaccuracy and inconsistency that led to Jacksonville’s offensive instability. Bortles is expected to be released this week before a $1 million roster bonus comes due Sunday.
The Redskins agreed to sign the 25-year-old Collins to a six-year, $84 million deal with $45 million guaranteed. He led the Giants with 96 tackles last season, and his 437 since entering the NFL in 2015 are the most among safeties in that time, but the Giants opted not to give him the franchise tag. Collins fills one of Washington’s biggest needs on a defence that ranked 17th in the league last season.
The Associated Press