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Brexit, Facebook, Snow Monsters: Your Friday Briefing

Category: Asia,World

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Good morning.

Britain asks Europe for more time, China’s slowing economy reaches new industries and Japan’s so-called snow monsters feel the effects of climate change. Here’s the latest:

After two long years of negotiations, lawmakers voted to delay the country’s departure from the E.U. beyond the original March 29 deadline.

In a flurry of votes on several amendments, Parliament also rejected holding a second referendum on Brexit, effectively bringing the country back to square one, and turned down an attempt to seize control of the process from Prime Minister Theresa May.

What next? Mrs. May must get permission to postpone Brexit from European Union officials next week but that might only create new problems.

The short-term costs of a software fix for the jet will probably be manageable. The bigger concern is whether Boeing can salvage confidence in the Max 8 model, the company’s best-selling jet that accounts for around $550 billion in future revenue.

Details: Since the second crash of a Max 8 plane, in Ethiopia on Sunday, shares of Boeing have dropped nearly 11 percent.

Airlines that were using the planes have started demanding compensation for losses while the jets are out of service. It costs an estimated $1 million to lease a replacement jet for three months.

Passenger backlash might also force some airlines to turn to Boeing’s main rival, Airbus.

The latest: The so-called black box from the flight that crashed was sent to France for analysis.

Explainer: Here’s a visual guide to why regulators are concerned about the Max 8 plane.


The country’s slowing economic growth, which has already rippled through factory floors and construction sites, is expanding into other once-thriving sectors, such as the tech industry.

Educated, middle-class workers are now faced with job cuts and shrinking paychecks, indicating that the slump is broader than official numbers suggest and might be harder for the government to reverse.

Impact: As white-collar workers start to feel the pinch, they’re tightening their belts and spending less money, which will have a trickle-down effect across other parts of the economy.

The government’s usual tactics to resuscitate growth — unleashing a wave of loans or spending on infrastructure — won’t be much help for the service, financial and tech industries. Experts say the government will need to think of long-term policy reforms to get over this bump.

Related: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as one of the lead negotiators in U.S. trade talks with Beijing, has been pushing China to open up its film industry to give Hollywood greater access to the local market. But ethics officials are raising questions about conflicts of interest given Mr. Mnuchin’s stakes in a film-production company.


According to two people familiar with the matter, a grand jury subpoenaed records from at least two of more than 150 companies, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had deals with Facebook.

Reminder: Facebook has spent the last year under scrutiny, with investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the Justice Department, which is specifically looking into reports that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used the platform to help President Trump’s election campaign.

One sticking point: The data-sharing partnerships could be a violation of a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the F.T.C. to protect user privacy. The F.T.C. is currently weighing a possible multibillion-dollar fine against Facebook, which would be the largest such penalty by a trade regulator.


Border Wall: The U.S. Senate, in a bipartisan rebuke, voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border to fund his wall. The Senate vote was the first time Congress has blocked a presidential emergency declaration and almost certainly sets up Mr. Trump’s first veto.

Malaysia: Prosecutors refused to dismiss the case of a Vietnamese woman accused of assassinating Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 by smearing him with a nerve agent. Her co-defendant was released days ago without any charges or any explanation.

Pakistan: China, which has close military and economic ties with Pakistan, blocked a U.N. Security Council vote that would have blacklisted the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Masood Azhar, derailing a yearslong effort by India to designate the group as a terrorist organization. The group recently claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on Indian soldiers in Kashmir that dragged India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

New Zealand: An attack on a government minister on Thursday rattled the country, where politicians are often seen in public unencumbered by security guards, leading Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to warn people not to take a high level of access to lawmakers for granted.

Snow monsters: Every year, in a village in the Yamagata Prefecture, snow and ice draped over conifer trees create sculptural Godzilla-like figures, known as “juhyo,” that draw tourists from across the world. But climate change is beginning to diminish the phenomenon.

Climate change: Students in more than 100 countries will be protesting climate change today in what could be one of the largest challenges yet against global environmental policies. And it all started with a shy 16-year-old in Sweden.

U.S.: Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman and Democrat who came close to unseating Senator Ted Cruz in the midterm elections last year, announced he was jumping into the 2020 presidential race, entering an already-crowded field of diverse candidates and big-ticket proposals.


Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Recipe of the day: This Guinness pie recipe is worthy of a celebration. (You may want a walk after, or a nap.)

Cutting out plastic when you’re grocery shopping is almost impossible. Writing a list and using a bit of imagination might help.

Playing an instrument can be a rewarding hobby, and many apps can help get you started.

A reader this week asked to hear more about E. Barrett Prettyman, whose name is on the courthouse described in Wednesday’s Back Story, where Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was sentenced.

The Virginia-born Elijah Barrett Prettyman was a lawyer, professor and journalist before President Harry Truman nominated him to the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He served from 1945 to 1962. From 1958 to 1960, he was chief judge.

He was admired in judicial and governmental circles. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy turned to him to resolve difficult legal issues. He overcame years of congressional resistance to effect changes in the D.C. court system.

The U.S. Courthouse, home to the court he served on, was named for him in 1997, 16 years after his death.

P.S. His son, E. Barrett Prettyman Jr., also had an illustrious legal career, including playing a crucial backstage role in the Supreme Court’s unanimous school-desegregation decision.

Andrea Kannapell, Briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story.


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