March 13, 2019 / 5:10 PM / 5 months ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing

UK parliament votes against May’s Brexit deal, prepares for next vote, we run though the ongoing areas of the Mueller inquiry and a new study finds racial animosity has divided students at U.S. high schools. Catch up on the latest headlines.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Parliament in London, Britain, March 12, 2019. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC19A44B2C10


Yesterday, today and tomorrow might go down in history as some of the most important days in British politics, as parliament makes a series of votes to decide how Britain will exit the EU. Yesterday, lawmakers voted against PM Theresa May’s deal 391 votes to 242. Today, lawmakers vote on whether the government should pursue a no-deal Brexit, meaning they will leave the EU in 16 days without an agreement. Critics warn that such an exit would cause an economic shock, but some Brexit supporters say it is the only way to break from Brussels. If that vote is not passed, the government will hold a vote on Thursday to ask parliament whether Brexit should be delayed. Ministers have argued that a delay would open the door to Brexit being reversed through a second referendum.

Ethiopian Airlines said it is sending the black boxes from its crashed Boeing 737 MAX abroad, in the latest development since Sunday’s still unexplained crash. The fact that the Boeing 737 MAX was the same model of plane to crash in Indonesia five months ago has spooked the global airline industry and heaped pressure on Boeing, whose shares have plunged 11.15 percent since the crash - the steepest two-day loss for the stock since July 2009. Norwegian Air has also sought compensation from the U.S. planemaker after two thirds of that model were grounded globally.

The timing of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election is a major topic of discussion in Washington. The disclosure of the findings is expected to be a seismic event in American politics. Mueller himself has been silent throughout the probe, but his team has provided clues that prosecutors are still working on key issues. From today's sentencing of Paul Manafort to the investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice, here are some of the ongoing areas of inquiry.

United States

The Pentagon has set limits on transgender recruits, a policy that has been the subject of court challenges. The policy will take effect on April 12 and will bar most transgender individuals from serving if they require hormone treatments or transition surgery.

New U.S. solar installations will grow by 14 percent this year, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie. Its latest outlook says that lower equipment prices have helped to revive a slew of delayed projects. The forecast marks a rebound from 2018 when installations dipped 2 percent due to President Donald Trump’s decision to impose 30 percent tariffs on imported panels.

California’s Governor is set to impose a moratorium on the state’s death penalty today. The move would grant reprieves to all 737 inmates on death row and close the state’s execution chamber, an administration source said. Gavin Newsom, who hinted at a “major policy announcement” on Tuesday night, plans to sign an executive order setting the changes in place at the state capitol, the source said. California’s death row is crowded with inmates, many of whom have been there for decades.

Political grudges and racial animosity have divided students at U.S. high schools and President Donald Trump has exacerbated the problem with his rhetoric, a study has shown. Researchers surveyed 505 high school principals for the study. More than 60 percent of them reported some of their students had made derogatory remarks about immigrants. The UCLA study is called “School and Society in the Age of Trump,” but its author said the Republican president is not solely responsible for tensions at secondary schools.


Iran is discreetly scouring the globe for second-hand oil tankers to replace its aging fleet and keep crucial crude exports flowing, Iranian and Western sources said. Since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in November, exploratory talks with South Korea for up to 10 new supertankers have stalled and Panama has removed at least 21 Iranian tankers from its registry. Oil exports account for an estimated 70 percent of Iran’s revenues, so maintaining an effective fleet of tankers to store and move that oil is crucial for Tehran.

Eight years ago, Michael Sharpe published the results of a clinical trial on chronic fatigue syndrome. Since then, he has received almost daily, often anonymous, intimidation, and left the field due to its ‘toxic’ environment. He’s one of a dozen doctors and researchers analyzing or testing potential treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition that is thought to affect as many as 2.5 million people in the United States. All but two said they left the field due to online harassment aimed at discrediting their work. Read our investigation here.


Spotify has filed a complaint with EU antitrust regulators against Apple, saying the iPhone maker unfairly limits rivals to its own Apple Music streaming service.

Travel websites have begun to respond to consumer concern and the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX planes by changing policies and introducing new options that exclude flights on those planes from customer queries. is tweaking its search filters this week to allow customers to exclude particular types of aircraft from queries.

Volkswagen will cut up to 7,000 positions, aim to boost productivity and deliver 5.9 billion euros ($6.7 billion) of annual savings at its core VW brand by 2023, in its latest attempt to raise profitability at its top-selling division.

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