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Boeing, Israel, Cyclone Idai: Your Wednesday Briefing



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Good morning.

Boeing simulator tests reveal more details about doomed flights, Cyclone Idai displaces hundreds of thousands of people and China alters “Bohemian Rhapsody.” 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 the 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 nosedive 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, pilots who had not been alerted to 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: A Senate committee will question U.S. aviation regulators on Wednesday about the approval process for the Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, and why they agreed with Boeing that pilots didn’t need to be trained on the new system.

At least 600,000 people have been displaced, water and food are in short supply, and the first cases of cholera are being reported by the Red Cross.

Death tolls are uncertain, and the extent of the storm’s damage is still emerging. In Mozambique, which was especially hard hit, the government estimates 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. “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 will most likely sway right-wing Israelis in general elections in two weeks. It could also 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 in 1967. By contrast, Israel contends that the West Bank wasn’t part of any sovereign state before the country captured it, also in 1967, and therefore considers it a disputed territory rather than occupied.

A poll in Israel found that 42 percent of voters support the annexation of parts of the West Bank, even those who support a two-state solution with Palestine.

One of China’s most prestigious universities started an investigation into a law professor who published a series of essays warning of heavy-handed repression under President Xi Jinping.

Prof. Xu Zhangrun of Tsinghua University in Beijing published a passionate essay last summer denouncing Mr. Xi’s authoritarian tendencies that was widely shared across the country, despite censorship in China.

Why it matters: Tsinghua University is an internationally reputable school that draws foreign academics and donors, making Professor Xu’s case a warning sign abroad about the ruling party’s tightening controls on dissent.

Canada: The country granted asylum to a Filipino woman who in 2013 briefly opened her Hong Kong apartment to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed some of the U.S.’s most closely guarded surveillance programs. She and her daughter arrived on Monday, and they are to live in Montreal.

Cardinal Pell: Dozens of prominent news outlets and journalists in Australia have been ordered to answer accusations that they violated a gag order barring coverage of the trial of Cardinal Pell, a former Vatican official who was convicted in December of molesting children. They will appear in court on April 15.

Australia: Two officials from the country’s anti-immigration One Nation party said recordings of them discussing how the party could “own” the Australian Senate and House of Representatives with a $20 million donation from the American gun lobby shouldn’t be taken seriously because they had taken place after “a few drinks.”

Samsung: The South Korean electronics giant warned that it would report disappointing financial results because of slumping prices for chips and LCD screens amid “weakening overall demand.”

Taliban: Five men held at the U.S. detention camp at Guantánamo Bay for 13 years now sit across the negotiating table from their captors in talks over the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, a twist that underscores the winding, contradictory nature of America’s longest war.

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

China: The version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Queen biopic, screening in the country omits several scenes, including one in which the band’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury, tells his fiancée that he’s not straight.

Perspective: In an essay for our Well section, a senior at Yale argues that the college admissions scandal and the lawsuit against Harvard have special resonance for Asian-Americans like herself, whose parents often make great sacrifices of time and money for their children’s education.

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 felt 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 wrote today’s Back Story.

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