Connect with us

World News

Sri Lanka, India, Dreamliner: Your Monday Briefing



(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good morning,

We start today with Sri Lanka, where suicide bombings have killed more than 200 people; an investigation into a Boeing plant that builds Dreamliners; and the fury of farmers in India.

Soldiers shut down roads across the country, social media platforms were blocked and a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed after a series of coordinated bombings ripped across the country on Sunday at Roman Catholic churches and at high-end hotels frequented by foreigners.

More than 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured. More than 30 of the dead were foreigners, including American, British, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese nationals, according to officials and news reports.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility. But 10 days earlier, a top police official had warned government security officials of possible suicide attacks at churches by National Thowheeth Jama’at, a group that aims to spread Islam by killing nonbelievers. Thirteen people had been arrested by late Sunday.

See: We have photographs and video of the aftermath.

Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the messaging services Viber and WhatsApp were inaccessible. A government official said the platforms were blocked to prevent the spread of misinformation about the attacks and hate speech that could inspire more violence.

Context: Much of Sri Lanka’s history has been marred by sectarian tensions and civil war. Nationalists in the Sinhalese Buddhist majority have been stoking fears of minority groups, particularly Muslims, and the nation has been caught up in rivalries between China and India.

Workers at a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina have complained of defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure to not report violations.

There is no evidence that the problems have led to major safety incidents. But faulty parts have been installed in planes. Tools and metal shavings have been left inside jets, often near electrical systems. Aircraft have taken test flights with debris in an engine and a tail, risking failure.

A Times investigation found a culture at the 10-year-old plant that often valued production speed over quality, echoing broader concerns about Boeing in the wake of two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max.

How we know: Reporters reviewed hundreds of pages of internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, and interviewed more than a dozen current and former employees.

Response: “Boeing South Carolina teammates are producing the highest levels of quality in our history,” Kevin McAllister, Boeing’s head of commercial airplanes, said in a statement. “I am proud of our teams’ exceptional commitment to quality and stand behind the work they do each and every day.”

Parallel interpretations of the report by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, have played out since its release last Thursday, as allies of President Trump and Democrats battle for control over the narrative of the report’s conclusions. Here’s the report, in searchable form.

On Sunday morning talk shows, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, and other Trump aides claimed vindication for the president. Mr. Trump tweeted: “The Trump Haters and Angry Democrats who wrote the Mueller Report were devastated by the No Collusion finding! Nothing but a total ‘hit job’ which should never have been allowed to start in the first place!”

Democrats have focused on the revelations in the report: the culture of deceit in the White House, the Trump campaign’s welcoming of help from Russian actors and Mr. Trump’s failed efforts to have aides fire Mr. Mueller.

Impeachment: Democrats have fallen into two camps. Leaders in the House are focused on the political perils of initiating an impeachment inquiry. The party’s left flank argues that not beginning proceedings would amount to an abdication of constitutional responsibility.

Fear: Witnesses cited in the report are concerned about potential retaliation.

Russia: The report shows how the Kremlin dispatched oligarchs and bankers to connect with the Trump team after the election.

The tropical cyclone Idai ravaged one of the poorest corners of the planet last month. Mozambique bore its brunt, losing homes, towns and crops, and quite likely many more lives than the official toll of 603.

Our reporter and videographer reached a stricken village, where some survived the flooding by perching for days on tree limbs.

Aid: A vast international effort has averted the worst. Hospitals-in-boxes have arrived by boat and food by airdrop. Some 800,000 people have been immunized against cholera. The World Food Program snapped up 30,000 tons of rice stuck at port in the flood zone. But long-term needs are great.

Watch: A video portrait of the damage, the aid and the survivors.

More than half of India’s 1.3 billion people depend in some way on farming. Many of them are suffering. The government has focused on maintaining low consumer prices, and booming harvests last year sent food prices tumbling further.

Now, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party seeks another five years in power, hundreds of millions of farmers will have the chance to express their frustration at the ballot box.

Notre-Dame fire: Disaster planning at the cathedral underestimated risks, and even a flawless response had a built-in delay of about 20 minutes, from the moment the alarm sounded until firefighters could climb to the attic to begin battling a fire.

Yellow-vest protests: As billionaires’ donations to rebuild the cathedral renewed anger over inequality, the protests — now in their 23rd week — drew 7,000 in Paris.

Sudan: A semi-secret alliance of doctors, lawyers, journalists, engineers and teachers organized under a bland name, the Sudanese Professionals Association, played a central role in organizing the mass protests that toppled the longtime autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Australians in Syria: The story of the Sharoufs shines a light on the plight of children taken unwittingly by their parents to join the Islamic State, some of whom are now languishing in Syrian displacement camps.

Northern Ireland: Two men, 18 and 19 years old, have been arrested in connection with the killing of Lyra McKee, a 29-year-old journalist, as she covered a night of violent unrest in Londonderry last Thursday.

U.S.: The F.B.I. arrested the leader of a right-wing militia that was detaining migrant families at gunpoint near the border in southern New Mexico, as the group faced a torrent of criticism for its tactics.

Snapshot: Above, a hobbyhorse competition in Helsinki last month. Finland’s subculture of girls who ride stick horses long flourished under the radar, but it’s out in public now as a national export and a celebration of girlhood.

Britain: Starting in July, commercial providers of pornography will have to verify their users are over 18, either through identity documents or passes bought face to face.

England: According to “Who Owns England,” a book to be published in May, less than 1 percent of the population — including aristocrats, royals and wealthy investors — owns about half of the land. Many are members of families that have held the property for generations, or even centuries.

What we’re reading: This article in The Daily Beast. “I am a huge fan of Monty Python and had no idea about its origins,” says Chris Mele, an editor on our Express desk, which handles fast-moving stories. “This was a fun read that made me appreciate this zany group all the more.”

Watch: “Ramy,” Hulu’s new show, is a coming-of-age story about a millennial Muslim. It’s quietly revolutionary.

Read: Two debut novels — one comic, one terrifying — are among 10 new books we recommend.

Smarter Living: Rejection hurts. Brain scans show that the physiological response to verbal or visual rejection looks fairly similar to the processing of physical pain. But research shows that blaming rejection on the relationship between the rejected and the rejector, instead of on either individual, encourages people to keep on trying, and even get better. So consider whether your values were a mismatch for your interviewer, or your skills didn’t quite suit the job.

And, since the best businesses are always looking for ways to improve, here are a few ways to take your business to the next level.

Today is Earth Day. Around the world, at least a billion people are expected to participate in trash cleanups, tree planting or other environmental activities.

The day has been celebrated since 1970, as pollution became more evident — and as space exploration made clear that our planet is finite.

One powerful factor was “Earthrise,” a photograph taken by the NASA astronaut William Anders in December 1968, as the Apollo 8 spacecraft turned at just the right angle. He realized only color film would do the image justice, and scrambled to load his Hasselblad camera before the moment passed.

Photography, along with spacewalks and scientific experiments, is part of astronauts’ job description.

Today, astronauts are equipped with state-of-the-art gear and receive technical training. American astronauts learn about photography and video from instructors like Paul Reichert of NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate. NASA collects their work.

Don Pettit and Jeff Williams are among the astronauts whose images have earned special note.

Friday’s Back Story about Notre-Dame Cathedral referred incorrectly to Roman Catholic reverence for Mary. She is honored by the faithful as the mother of God, but not worshiped. Thanks to all the readers who pointed out the error. — Andrea

Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. Matthew Sedacca, who works on our Lens blog, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on the Mueller report.
• Here’s our mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Chill out! (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• No professional journalists have yet gone to space. Kenneth Chang, a science reporter for The New York Times who has experienced zero-gravity on special airplane flights, says he “would love to fill out that expense form.”

Source link