Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 14, 2019

Harold Maass
Beto O'Rourke in El Paso
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U.S. joins other nations by grounding Boeing 737 Max jets

President Trump on Wednesday announced that the U.S. was grounding Boeing 737 Max jets like the ones that crashed Sunday in Ethiopia and in the Java Sea five months earlier. Both crashes killed everybody on board. The Federal Aviation Administration had resisted calls to bar the popular Boeing planes from flying until an investigation was completed, saying it had found "no systemic performance issues" to justify grounding the jets, as countries around the world have done. The FAA and Canada changed course, they said Wednesday, after newly available satellite-tracking data suggested similarities in the crashes. "The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern," Trump said. [The New York Times]


Beto O'Rourke joins the 2020 presidential race

Beto O'Rourke announced Thursday that he is running for president in 2020, ending months of speculation. The former congressman from El Paso, Texas, became a rising star in the Democratic Party last year when he came closer than expected to upsetting GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, losing by just three percentage points in the deep-red state. O'Rourke, a proven fundraising powerhouse, is joining an already crowded field for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump. He announced his run ahead of a three-day trip to early-voting Iowa. "This is going to be a positive campaign that seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country," he said in his announcement. [The Texas Tribune, CNBC]


Manafort sentenced to 73 months in second federal case

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Wednesday sentenced Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, to 73 months in prison for witness tampering, unregistered lobbying, and other related charges. Berman ruled that 30 months of the sentence would be served concurrently with the 47-month prison term Manafort got last week in another federal case. That meant the new sentence added 3 1/2 years to the time Manafort will be incarcerated, now set at roughly seven years. The cases stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, and involve Manafort's work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party before he joined Trump's campaign. Manafort apologized for his crimes, but Jackson said "there is no good explanation that would warrant the leniency requested." [CNN, The Associated Press]


New York prosecutors file state charges against Manafort

New York prosecutors on Wednesday charged Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, with mortgage fraud and other state felonies shortly after he was sentenced in a federal case. "No one is beyond the law in New York," the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said. President Trump said Wednesday he felt "very badly for Paul Manafort" but shrugged off questions of a pardon, saying he had "not even given it a thought as of this moment." Trump could pardon Manafort in his two federal cases, for which he faces about 7 1/2 years in prison, but Trump has no pardon authority in state cases, so there is nothing he could do for Manafort if he is convicted on the state charges. [The New York Times, CNBC]


British lawmakers rule out 'no-deal' Brexit

Britain's Parliament on Wednesday approved an amendment saying the government must not leave the EU without a deal establishing new trade practices. The measure barring a "no-deal" Brexit passed 321 to 278. A day earlier, lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed deal with the EU, despite last-minute concessions May negotiated with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that guaranteed the Irish backstop, designed to avoid a hard border with Ireland, wouldn't indefinitely keep the U.K. tied to European regulations. On Thursday, Parliament will vote on a three-month delay of the country's exit from the European trading bloc, currently scheduled for March 29. [Reuters]


Senate votes to end U.S. support for Saudi-led Yemen military campaign

The Senate on Wednesday voted 54-46 to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, rebuking President Trump. The measure is expected to pass the Democrat-led House and face a veto by Trump. The Saudi-led coalition's bombing campaign is intended to curb Iran's growing influence in the region, but human rights organizations say the bombing has sometimes hit civilian facilities and prevented aid shipments needed to alleviate what the United Nations has called a humanitarian catastrophe. The U.N. says at least 85,000 children have starved to death. "We should not be associated with a bombing campaign that the U.N. tells us is likely a gross violation of human rights," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said. [Vox, The Washington Post]


'Bomb cyclone' slams central U.S.

A "bomb cyclone" slammed parts of the central U.S. on Wednesday, forcing airlines to cancel more than 1,200 flights at Denver International Airport after a wind gust of 80 miles per hour was reported. A total of 2,700 flights were canceled around the country. A Colorado state trooper was killed when a car lost control in the storm and hit him as he helped the driver of another vehicle that had slid off the road. About 246,000 Denver residents lost power. Weather experts said the storm was the worst of its kind in decades. "This is a very epic cyclone," said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center. "We're looking at something that will go down in the history books." [USA Today]


Pentagon to start testing missiles banned for decades

The Pentagon plans to start testing two types of missiles banned for decades under a treaty the U.S. and Russia are expected to abandon in August, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing defense officials. The Pentagon is not ruling out the possibility that Washington and Moscow will change course and preserve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which has been in effect since 1987, but the Trump administration has said Russia has made the agreement meaningless by deploying a cruise missile that violates the treaty. Arms control advocates say scrapping the treaty could spark a dangerous missile race. "It is unwise for the U.S. and NATO to match an unhelpful action by Russia with another unhelpful action," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. [The Associated Press]


Rescuers rush to find schoolchildren after building collapses in Nigeria

A three-story building that housed a school collapsed Wednesday in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, killing at least eight people. At least 37 others were rescued from the rubble. Desperate families crowded around the wreckage as emergency crews frantically sifted through the debris in search of more survivors. As many as 100 children were believed to have been on the building's top floors. "It touches one to lose precious lives in any kind of mishap, particularly those so young and tender," Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said. [The Associated Press]


Reputed Gambino crime boss fatally shot outside home

Reputed Gambino crime family boss Francesco Cali was shot and killed outside his Staten Island, New York, home on Wednesday night, police said. Cali, 53, reportedly was hit six times. A neighbor called police to report the shooting shortly after 9 p.m., saying he heard seven shots. "I just heard the pow-pow-pow-pow-pow," he said. A blue pickup truck was seen leaving the scene around the same time. It had been decades since the last assassination of a New York mob boss. The Gambino family was considered the nation's most influential organized crime group before several of its leaders were convicted of crimes from murder to racketeering in the 1990s. [The New York Times]