March 11, 2019 / 1:04 PM / 7 months ago

Monday Morning Briefing

Boeing is under pressure after a second fatal crash in months, President Trump is set to ask Congress for $8.6 billion for border wall in the 2020 federal budget and U.S.-backed Syrian forces launch an assault against the final Islamic State enclave. Catch up on the latest headlines.

Ethiopian Airlines Crash

An Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. Passengers from 33 countries were aboard, said Chief Executive Tewolde GebreMariam. At least four worked for the United Nations, the airline said, and the U.N.’s World Food Program director confirmed his organization had lost staff in the accident.

The plane that crashed was the Boeing 737 MAX 8, the same model that crashed in Indonesia in October. While it is unclear if there is a direct link, former NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker “this is now an extraordinary issue” for aviation safety officials to grapple with and will prompt a sweeping investigation to determine if there are common issues. China, Indonesia and Ethiopia have all grounded their 737 MAX 8 fleets, and investigators have found the black box Sunday’s crash. Boeing shares slid 9 percent in early trading.

U.S. Politics

President Trump will propose his 2020 federal budget today. He is set to ask Congress for an additional $8.6 billion to help pay for his promised wall on the U.S-Mexico border. The demand, which drew swift criticism from Democrats, is more than six times what Congress allocated for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years, and 6 percent more than Trump has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year. But Democrats control the House of Representatives, so it is unlikely the request will win congressional passage.

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a rally at El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden topped a presidential poll of Iowa voters on Saturday. Biden, who has not announced whether he is running in the 2020 election, is the first choice for president of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers with 27 percent in the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll. Senator Bernie Sanders is gaining momentum against him in the No. 2 spot.

Some time may have to go by before a third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un happens, Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday. John Bolton said the United States has no illusions about North Korea’s capabilities, but Trump remains confident in his personal relationship with the North Korean leader. Bolton’s comments came after two U.S. think tanks and Seoul’s spy agency said last week that North Korea was rebuilding a rocket launch site at Sohae in the west of the country.


Furious Venezuelans lined up to buy water and fuel on Sunday as the country endured a fourth day of a nationwide blackout. Food - already-scarce - has been left to rot in shops, homes are suffering for lack of water and cell phones have no reception. Looting at one supermarket in southeastern Caracas triggered shootout with police and National Guard troops, according to Reuters witnesses. The government has suspended school and business activities without providing any information on a likely time frame for resolving the situation, leaving many fretting that it could extend indefinitely.

A woman sits next to a measles patient resting on a bed at a health clinic in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar February 28, 2019. Picture taken February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Rasoanaivo Clarel Faniry

Without vaccines, hundreds of children are dying from measles in Madagascar. Measles cases are on the rise globally, including in wealthy nations such as the United States and Germany, where some parents shun life-saving vaccines due to false theories suggesting links between childhood immunizations and autism. In Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, parents are desperate to vaccinate their children, but there are not enough vaccines, the health ministry says, and many people are too poor to afford them. Almost 1,000 people, mostly children, have died from measles in Madagascar since October.

U.S.-backed Syrian forces launched an assault against the final Islamic State enclave in eastern Syria on Sunday, aiming to wipe out the last vestige of its self-declared “caliphate” that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria. They have been poised to advance into the enclave for weeks, but has repeatedly held back to allow for the evacuation of civilians, many of them wives and children of Islamic State fighters.

A fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fires a weapon in Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 3, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said

China has stepped up its fight against smog. The world’s second-largest economy has expanded its coal-to-gas and coal-to-electricity projects to 35 cities in 2018 from 12 cities the previous year, China’s environment minister, Li Ganjie, has said. China’s winter heating program used to burn an estimated 400 million tonnes of coal a year, and switching it to cleaner types of fuel was identified as a major part of the country’s war on pollution, now in its sixth year.


Electric carmaker Tesla said on Sunday it will raise prices of its high-end vehicles by about 3 percent as it plans to keep more retail stores open than planned. Tesla said the worldwide price hikes will apply to the more expensive variants of Model 3, Model S and Model X, and there will be no price increase to the $35,000 Model 3.

Workplace ambience is becoming increasingly crucial for banks in the quest for talent among youth who care about the environment and not just a juicy paycheck. Chief executives see attracting and retaining talent as their No. 1 challenge, according to data from ISS World, a Danish provider of facilities management, security, catering and other support services to companies globally.

Occidental Petroleum Corp has emerged as one of the biggest exporters of U.S. shale oil, rivaling large trading firms and oil majors, in a market now worth more than $150 million every day.

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