Mozambique, Brexit, New Zealand: Your Thursday Briefing

Mozambique, Brexit, New Zealand: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

African nations coped with a cyclone’s deadly aftermath, the E.U. offered a Brexit delay with conditions, and New Zealand announced a gun ban six days after the mosque killings. Here’s the latest:

Hundreds of thousands of people in Mozambique have been displaced by Cyclone Idai, which hit the country on Thursday before cutting through Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Governments and humanitarian groups face a double cataclysm: the damage inflicted by the cyclone itself, which destroyed innumerable homes, and the severe flooding afterward, likened to a rising inland ocean. The countries ravaged are poor, and many of the flooded rural areas are hard to reach in the best of times.

On the ground: People were sifting through debris for survivors or clinging to trees, waiting for rescue. The U.N. warned that floodwaters threatened to partly submerge Buzi, Mozambique, a town of 200,000 that still was without electricity.

Hundreds were squeezed into one of the government’s shelters, with inadequate provisions. There was still no clear sense of how many people had died.

Aid: Pledges of money and assistance have begun coming in from the U.N., the E.U. and individual nations.

After Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain asked the European Union to push Brexit back to June 30, top E.U. officials agreed to a short extension — but only if Parliament approves her withdrawal plan, which it has rejected twice by huge margins.

The clock is ticking, loudly, with a little more than a week until Britain’s scheduled departure on March 29.

The E.U.’s move seemed calculated to pressure lawmakers at the last moment into supporting Mrs. May’s painstakingly negotiated plan.

Takeaway: The E.U. is wary of a so-called no-deal Brexit, because that could shake members’ economies as well as Britain’s. But they also don’t want the process to drag out so long that Britain remains in the E.U. Parliament, which has elections coming up.

Looking ahead: If Mrs. May’s Brexit plan is not approved on a third try, there would be two options: a no-deal Brexit that could endanger the country, or a longer delay that could lead to Brexit never happening at all.

Ethiopian Airlines was ahead of the curve. It was one of the first carriers worldwide to install a simulator to teach pilots to fly the new Boeing 737 Max 8. The simulator was up and running in January.

But the captain of the Max 8 that crashed this month in Ethiopia shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board, never trained on the simulator, according to people close to the airline’s operations. Another Max 8 crashed five months ago in Indonesia in a similar way.

Background: Even after the crash in Indonesia, Boeing had said that pilots experienced with older models of the 737 did not need additional simulator training, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration agreed. That thinking is set to come under official scrutiny. Also, many pilots were not originally informed of the existence of an automated system suspected of playing a role in both crashes.

Top F.A.A. officials were not aware of the software system and special attention was not paid to it, according to people with knowledge of the safety certification process for the Max 8. The plane is now grounded worldwide as Boeing races to come up with a fix to the system, which can push the plane’s nose down if it approaches a stall.

As the nose of the doomed Lion Air Flight 610 repeatedly bucked downward, one of the pilots flipped through a technical manual to try to figure out what was happening. Then his co-pilot began to pray.

Newly reviewed audio from the cockpit recorder on the 737 Max 8 flight in October paints a chilling scene, as the crash comes under intensified scrutiny following the one in Ethiopia this month. Both jets crashed minutes after takeoff and swung up and down before taking fatal nose-dives.

How we know: Nurcahyo Utomo, the head of the air accident subcommittee of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, listened to and described the contents of the cockpit voice recorder that was retrieved from the ocean floor in January.

More on Boeing: The U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general is investigating complaints that the acting defense secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, promoted his former employer, Boeing, while disparaging its military contractor competitors.

New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a national ban on military-style semiautomatic weapons, as burials began for the 50 people killed last week at two mosques in Christchurch. Ms. Ardern said that “every semiautomatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned in this country.” The largest opposition party supports the measures.

War crimes: A U.N. court raised the sentence of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, from 40 years to life in prison for his role in the Bosnian war, reaffirming his conviction on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Google: European authorities fined the company about $1.7 billion for violating antitrust rules in the online advertising market.

Hungary: The E.U.’s most powerful political coalition, the generally center-right European People’s Party, suspended Fidesz, the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Italy: A school bus driver took 51 seventh-graders hostage in northern Italy, pouring gasoline on the bus floor and setting it afire. Everyone was rescued. According to the military police, the driver, an Italian of Senegalese origin, said he wanted to “vindicate” migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Greece: An investor boom fueled by incentives for foreigners to buy property is lifting Greece’s housing market, but at a cost: Rising rents are forcing struggling families out of working-class neighborhoods as wrecking companies move in.

Germany: A painting looted by the Nazis was finally returned by a German cathedral to the heirs of its Jewish owners.

Afghanistan: After the Islamic State bombed a wrestling club’s gym in Kabul, killing more than two dozen athletes and wounding more than 90, wrestlers from around the world sent aid. The rebuilt gym is bigger, better and busier than ever.

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

But planes are designed to be in the air. Putting them out of service takes more than just finding somewhere to park and turning off the engines.

“Basically you’re going to pickle it,” said Vandi Cooyar, the president of Logistic Air, an aircraft leasing company. A grounded plane needs to have its systems powered up and its engines turned on regularly. Grounded fleets need to be protected from the elements.

Such safeguards, Mr. Cooyar said, make it easier to bring planes back into service when allowed — though that, too, takes some finessing.

Zach Wichter, who has been helping cover the Ethiopian Airlines crash, wrote today’s Back Story.

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