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March 14 (UPI) — Boeing stands to lose billions over the fallout from the global grounding of its 737 Max 8 aircraft and airlines are reshuffling flights to accommodate concern for the new airliner’s safety.
After days of resisting, Boeing made a recommendation to the Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday to temporarily suspend flights of its 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft. Many others, including the European Union, Britain and Canada, had already grounded the plane and barred flights in their airspace.
The decision came three days after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed and killed all 157 people aboard. The crash had many similarities to an accident involving another Max 8, flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air, in October.
“We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said.
Boeing’s Max series aircraft replaced the 737-800 and made its first commercial flight in 2017. A high-density version of the Max 8, the Max 200, was set to enter service next month. It’s unclear whether the Ethiopian crash will affect its launch. The Max 9, with a longer fuselage, entered service last year. The new planes cost about $50 million each.
Wall Street firms Melius Research and Jefferies estimate the grounding could cost Boeing between $1 billion and $5 billion. The estimates are based on the planes being grounded for three months. Boeing reported a profit of $10.6 billion in 2018.
This isn’t the first time this decade Boeing has faced trouble with a new aircraft model. In 2013, it grounded the new 787 Dreamliner after lithium ion batteries caught fire on multiple flights. With only about 50 Dreamliners in service at the time, however, the impact was smaller.
Wednesday’s decision sent U.S. carriers United, American and Southwest scrambling to replace Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft on their flight schedules. American and Southwest fly the Max 8 and United has Max 9s. American had been flying more than 80 Max 8 flights per day.
Southwest said it plans to operate its schedule with every available airplane in the fleet to meet the changes. The airline won’t charge passengers to change flights within 14 days of the original date of travel.
“We have been constant contact with the FAA and Boeing since Ethiopian Airlines’ accident,” Southwest said in a statement. “While we remain confident in the Max 8 after completing more than 88,000 flight hours accrued over 41,000 flights, we support the actions of the FAA and other regulatory agencies and governments across the globe that have asked for further review of the data — including information from the flight data recorder.”RELATED Dow Jones rebounds from Boeing losses, closes up 201 points
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the carrier is working to “minimize disruptions to our customers’ travel plans.”
“There is a lot of talk going on between members of the Venezuelan parliament and military elements in Venezuela about what can happen and how they can move to support the opposition,” Bolton said in an interview with ABC television.
Bolton’s announcement follows the rally of thousands of Brazilians in Caracas in demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and a major power cut that has plunged Caracas and most of the country’s cities into darkness for four days.
Meanwhile, supporters of Maduro took part in demonstrations in support of the president, who accused “imperialism” of causing his country’s crises.
Maduro had said the power failure was caused by an “electronic attack” on the electronic monitoring system at Gori Electric Station, which supplies Venezuela with 80 percent of electricity.
He said: “He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States. Graeme Demianyk, HUFFPOST
Michael Cohen, the disgraced ex-attorney, once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump, but has implicated him over election campaign finance violations.
Here are some of the most stunning moments from the session:
Hush money paid to Stormy Daniels
Cohen revealed two cheques and a wire transfer that he claims are evidence the president paid hush money to porn actor Stormy Daniels.
Trump ordered him to pay $130,000 (£77,000) to the adult film actress to cover up an affair, he claimed.
Cohen told Congress: “I am providing a copy of a $35,000 cheque that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account. This $35,000 cheque was one of 11 check instalments that was paid throughout the year – while he was President.”
Cohen asked the room to picture the scene, one month into his presidency, in which Trump was “showing me around and pointing to different paintings, and he says to me something to the effect of ‘don’t worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement cheques are coming. They were Fed-Exed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system’.”
Cohen also claimed he was ordered by Trump to lie about the whole episode to First Lady Melania Trump.
Trump’s links to Russian mafia
Democrat Harley Rouda pushed Cohen on the president’s links with Felix Sater, a “convicted member of the Russian mafia”.
He said Trump had claimed not to know him while testifying under oath, but that appeared contradictory to Cohen’s claims they had close dealings.
The congressman asks Cohen where files about Sater’s involvement with the Trump Organization might be found.
Cohen says they’re “in the possession of the Trump Organization”, probably in a box in an offsite storage facility.
Asked whether Trump misled or lied under oath, Cohen said: “Yes.”
He also claimed the president once said black people were “too stupid” to vote for him, and mocked living conditions in a poor Chicago neighbourhood.
Referencing the president’s controversial public comments about white supremacists, Cohen said the president’s attitude towards minorities “is even worse” in private.
He said: “He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States.
“While we were once driving through a struggling neighbourhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.
“And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”
Views on his son
Trump appears to have a low opinion of his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
Cohen said: “Mr Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgement of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.”
Earlier, Trump’s sons lashed out about the imminent congressional hearing.
Eric Trump tweeted that it was “a national disgrace that on the eve of historic peace talks” between his father and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, “the Democrats in the House orchestrate this clownshow”.
Jr, meanwhile, shared video to Instagram in which Cohen repeatedly praised his former boss.
“It was only after Cohen was caught for tax evasion and other personal financial misdeeds, he began lying about President Trump in an effort to save face,” he captioned the clip.
The Vietnam War
Cohen says he was tasked by Trump to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam war draft.
He said: “Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.
“He finished the conversation with the following comment. ‘You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.’”
Trump is currently at a Vietnam hotel before a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Cohen made reference to: “And I find it ironic, Mr President, that you are in Vietnam right now. And yet I continued to work for him.”
Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Cohen claimed, which contradict the president’s assertions that he was in the dark.
Cohen said in the prepared evidence that he was in Trump’s office in July 2016 when longtime adviser Roger Stone telephoned Trump.
Trump put Stone on speakerphone and Stone told him that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that “within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign”, according to Cohen.
Trump responded by saying “wouldn’t that be great”, Cohen said.
That month, WikiLeaks released thousands of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee’s server.
“A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time,” Cohen said in the prepared evidence. “The answer is yes.”
Cohen said he does not have direct evidence that Trump colluded with the Russian government during the election, but that he has “suspicions”.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has not suggested that mere awareness of WikiLeaks’ plans is by itself a crime.
Buying portraits of himself
Trump is alleged to have arranged for someone to bid $60,000 on a portrait of himself – then reimbursed them with funds from his non-profit foundation.
The portrait now hangs in one of Trump’s country clubs, said Cohen.
“Mr Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event,” Cohen told the committee.
“The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon.”
School grades cover-up
Cohen threatened Trump’s former schools and the college board to ensure his grades and SAT scores never got out, he revealed.
In his testimony, Cohen said: “I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the college board to never release his grades or SAT scores.”View image on Twitter
Cohen gave the committee copies of a letter threatening them with civil action if those details ever got out.
Moscow property project
Cohen suggested Trump also implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow property project.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project, which he says Trump knew about as Cohen was negotiating with Russia during the 2016 election campaign.
Cohen said Trump did not directly tell him to lie, but “he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing”.
Cohen said that “in his way, he was telling me to lie”.
He added that lawyers for Trump had “reviewed and edited” the statement in which Cohen falsely said a proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow had been abandoned in January 2016.
Cohen has since said he continued pursuing the project for Trump for months after that.
Trump likes avoiding bills
Trump ‘reveled’ in refusing to pay his bills, Cohen said. “One of my more common responsibilities was that Mr Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming,” he said.
“When I advised Mr Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.”
Republican lawmakers came out swinging Tuesday in the face of damaging testimony by President Donald Trump‘s former “fixer” and former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, depicting the hearing as a circus orchestrated by Hillary Clinton’s allies and angrily accusing Democrats of withholding evidence until the last minute.
GOP leaders circulated talking points ahead of the hearing that documented in detail every time Cohen had been caught in a lie and noted that even prosecutors had at one point noted “his instinct to blame others is strong.”
They also invoked Clinton’s presence: Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, is closely tied to the former Democratic presidential candidate.
“Cohen is going to prison for lying under oath to Congress and no one should believe a word he says in his testimony this week,” according to “messaging” provided Republican members on Tuesday. “Democrats have scheduled this week’s meetings as a way to distract Americans from the historic achievements happening in this Administration.”
Trump himself helped to set the tone ahead of the hearing, noting in a tweet that Cohen was “using Crooked’s lawyer!” – an apparent reference to his nickname for Clinton during the campaign.
The tactics were aimed at blunting the impact of Cohen’s testimony, which could be deeply damaging to the president’s brand.
Cohen, who has been disbarred as a lawyer, described with remorse the threatening letters he wrote on Trump’s behalf and the bidding he did for a man he called “a racist,” “a conman,” and “a cheat.”
One Republican, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., pressed Cohen on the allegation that Trump is “racist.”
“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…” tweeted Gaetz.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows stuck to the GOP talking points focused on Cohen’s “pattern of deception.” Jordan, R-Ohio, a Trump loyalist and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, said it was unimaginable that Democratic chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland would rely on Cohen’s testimony.
“It’s certainly is the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing,” Jordan said.
“We are supposed to pursue the truth,” he later added. “But you have stacked the deck against the truth.”
At one point, an exchange between Jordan between the Republican and Cohen grew heated, with Cohen interrupting to say Jordan misstated the facts.
“Shame on you Mr. Jordan,” Cohen said.
Another interesting tactic by Republicans was the invitation of Lynne Patton, an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, to sit behind Meadows, R-N.C., at the hearing to push back against Cohen’s allegations that Trump was racist. Patton, an early supporter of Trump’s candidacy, is known for her attention-grabbing tweets and publicity stunts, including a recent stay at federal housing in New York City to draw attention to the poor conditions there.
“I am here in support of @POTUS and in support of the truth, as Michael Cohen (knows that I know) it to be,” she tweeted at the start of the hearing, along with an old picture of her sitting with Cohen. “And the truth is that it doesn’t take you 15 years to call someone a racist. Unless they’re not one.”
She did not speak at the hearing.
Meadows also opened the hearing by demanding that any testimony is postponed until Republicans had an opportunity to review evidence he said wasn’t provided to Republicans until the last minute.
In a piece ‘Venezuela goes from bad to catastrophe’ published by TIME magazine , June 6, 2016 Ian Bremmer made an alarming new find about the troubled once rich South American country: “.No more coca-cola for Venezuela – there is not enough sugar. Diet coke is still around – until the country runs out of aspartame – but the disappearance from store shelves of an icon of globalization’ was the latest blow for an economy that was fast teetering towards economic abyss.
In April of the same year, the country’s largest private company, Empresas Polar SA, which makes 80% of the beer that Venezuelans consume, closed its doors. The government now rations water, so Venezuelans have begun stealing it from tanker trucks and swimming pools.
Electricity is also in short supply, and President Nicolás Maduro has ordered public offices to conserve energy by remaining open just two days a week. An ongoing drought only makes matters worse. About 65% of the country’s electricity is generated by a single hydroelectric dam that’s now in serious trouble. Blackouts, scheduled and otherwise, have become common.
The crisis in Venezuela appears to be shaping up like a Cold War-style confrontation: The Kremlin is throwing its support behind embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, while Washington backs Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president.
The story at first glance seems to have all the elements of a spy thriller. In recent days, rumors have swirled about Russian mercenaries, massive bullion shipments and murky assassination plots. Maduro has cast himself as a latter-day Fidel Castro in this drama.
In an interview with Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA-Novosti, Maduro hinted at a US-backed attempt on his life, saying, “Without a doubt, Donald Trump gave the order to kill me, told the Colombian government, the mafia of Colombia to kill me.”
That sounded like an episode ripped from one of the CIA’s failed plots to kill the Cuban leader. And the crisis carries echoes of the Cuban Missile Crisis: Late last year, Russian bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons flew to Venezuela, signaling that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to play in America’s backyard.
So are we about to watch a Netflix-era remake of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion?
Is Venezuela another arena for proxy conflict between Russia and the United States, much like the way Moscow and Washington back opposing sides in the Syrian civil war?
Certainly, Maduro’s conspiracy theories — and his language about resisting American neocolonialism — are reminiscent of the old contest between the US and the USSR in Latin America. But Russia is not backing his government in Venezuela to spread the ideology of Marxism.
For starters, Moscow sees Venezuela in large part as a business proposition. Russia’s state-controlled oil company Rosneft has been a major backer of Maduro’s government, and Russia and Rosneft have provided billions in loans and lines of credit for cash-strapped Venezuela.