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Boeing, Cyclone Idai, McGregor: Your Wednesday Briefing



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Good morning.

Boeing pilots had just seconds to avert disaster in a simulation, a potentially big day for Brexit, and a cyclone continues to devastate southeastern Africa. Here’s the latest:

During tests last week that recreated the scenario on the doomed Lion Air flight in October, pilots discovered they had less than 40 seconds to override a new automated system on Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets.

The tests simulated a single sensor failing, which triggered software designed to help prevent a stall. To keep the plane from going into an unrecoverable nose dive in less than a minute, the pilots had to make a series of rapid-fire control changes.

The pilots in the tests succeeded, but they had a good understanding of how the system worked. In the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, pilots who were seemingly unaware of the system tried more than two dozen times to override the plane’s automated response.

Software update: Boeing is expected to propose changes to give pilots more control of the system and make it less likely to trigger erroneously, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Next: Questions are emerging around whether the F.A.A. has gone too far in allowing Boeing to regulate itself. A Senate committee on Wednesday is likely to press the F.A.A.’s acting administrator on this, as well as why regulators agreed with Boeing that pilots didn’t need to be trained on the new system.

The week is shaping up to be critical, both for Prime Minister Theresa May and for those who oppose her withdrawal plan from the bloc, which would provide for a status quo transition period but would eventually take Britain out of Europe’s main economic structures.

After lawmakers voted to wrest control of the process on Monday, Mrs. May is still hoping that no alternative will command more support than her blueprint, giving her a realistic shot at pushing her plan through by presenting it as the only alternative to a no-deal Brexit or a long extension.

Alternatives: Lawmakers have submitted at least 16 proposals for votes. The options include a second referendum on Brexit and a departure that keeps Britain in E.U. economic structures.

Death tolls are uncertain, and the extent of the storm’s damage is still emerging. In Mozambique, which was hit especially hard, the government said that at least 400 people have died.

How you can help: Here’s a list of aid organizations that have begun a broad effort to provide food, shelter and medicine to those affected by the cyclone.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on his way back to Israel from Washington to confront an escalating conflict with Hamas, said that President Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights set a precedent for territories captured during wars.

“When you start wars of aggression, you lose territory, do not come and claim it afterwards. It belongs to us,” he said. He later told reporters: “Everyone says you can’t hold an occupied territory, but this proves you can. If occupied in a defensive war, then it’s ours.”

The remarks, just ahead of the general elections in two weeks, were likely to cheer right-wing Israelis who believe that international acceptance of Israeli control of the Golan could pave the way for the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

Context: Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967. It was largely depopulated, with thousands of Syrians fleeing north after Israel captured it.

The West Bank has around 1.8 million Palestinian residents, who would vigorously oppose Israeli annexation.

Algeria: The army chief of staff called for a declaration that the incapacitated 82-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, be deemed unfit to rule, appearing to pave the way for an end to his 20 years in power.

Spain: In one of the strangest international incidents in memory, a Spanish judge says a gang led by a Mexican living in the U.S. stole material from the North Korean Embassy in Madrid and offered it to the F.B.I.

Copyright laws: The European Parliament adopted a tough new law meant to force tech firms to aggressively remove unlicensed copyrighted material from their websites proactively, rather than waiting for complaints to come in before acting. Supporters say it would force companies to pay for the content they share online.

Ireland: Conor McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s biggest star and one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, is under investigation after a woman accused him of sexual assault in December, according to four people familiar with the investigation. He has not been charged with a crime.

Inside The Times: The photographer Christopher Payne spent two years capturing the craft, precision and unexpected beauty of our printing plant in New York, where machines the size of large houses churn out newspapers.

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Recipe of the day: Craving pasta? Ricotta cheese gnocchi with brown butter and sage is a good way to go.

The key to overcoming procrastination is to understand that it’s not the result of laziness or mismanaging time, but of avoiding unpleasant emotions.

Horticulture therapy — gardening — can help hospital patients recover.

“Boeing” is synonymous with airplanes — though maybe it should be spelled Böing.

William Boeing, the company’s founder, was the son of a German immigrant-turned-lumber-tycoon, and seems to have inherited his father’s business acumen in addition to the Americanized version of their family name.

According to Mr. Boeing’s biography on the company’s website, he started flying as a hobby around 1910 and quickly believed that airplanes could make a worthwhile business.

“Convinced that there was a definite future in aviation, I became interested in the construction as well as the flying of aircraft,” he once told an interviewer.

That interest eventually led to the Boeing Aircraft Company, which initially focused on military planes but has long been known for its commercial aircraft.

Mr. Boeing left his namesake company in 1934 to pursue work in other industries, including lumber, real estate, horse breeding and livestock farming, though he continued consulting for Boeing for the rest of his life.

Zach Wichter, who has been covering Boeing, wrote today’s Back Story.

Correction: Friday’s Morning Briefing referred incorrectly to a litmus test. The test involves a dye derived from lichens, not moss.

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