Wednesday morning news: April 18, 2018

Southwest airlines engine explosion » The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to find out what caused a jet engine to explode in mid-air, killing at least one passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight Tuesday. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters: 

SUMWALT: We will begin our immediate examination of the engine and the damage to the fuselage. The engine will be ultimately shipped off site where we can do a detailed examination, tear down of the engine.

The NTSB will also be looking at the flight data recorders for clues.

The Boeing 737 was in route from New York to Dallas with 149 people on board when the left engine blew up at about 30,000 feet. Shrapnel smashed a window, killing a passenger and injuring seven others.

There’s a protective casing around jet engines that should contain any shrapnel in the event of an engine failure. The NTSB will try to determine why those safeguards failed.

The plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia just after 11 am eastern and Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said the tragedy could have been much worse.

THIEL: I have to say as well that the flight crew did an incredible job getting this aircraft here on the ground.

Before Tuesday, Southwest had never had an accident-related fatality involving a passenger.

SCOTUS hears online sales tax case » The Supreme Court is hearing a case that could result in higher costs for some things you buy online. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler reports.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: The justices heard argument Tuesday in a case that deals with sales tax for online purchases. Right now, under a decades-old Supreme Court rule if a business is shipping a product to a state where it doesn’t have a physical presence (like an office or a warehouse) it does not have to collect the state’s sales tax.

More than 40 states are asking the Supreme Court to get rid of that rule. They say with the growth of internet shopping, they’re losing billions of tax dollars each year.

But several Supreme Court justices suggested that Congress should act to fix the problem if it sees an issue, not the court.

Justice Elena Kagan suggested a high bar for those who want the court to overrule its past decisions. And Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that perhaps the problem “has peaked” and is “diminishing.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

Gorsuch hands Trump a defeat in immigration case » Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that part of federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants convicted of violent crimes is too vague.

The question was, what qualifies as a violent crime?

Tuesday’s decision involved a legal immigrant facing deportation over burglary charges. The government argued that burglary “involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used” but five justices were not convinced.

In something of a surprise, Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court’s four liberal justices in striking down the provision.

Gorsuch wrote that “no one should be surprised that the Constitution looks unkindly on any law so vague that reasonable people cannot understand its terms and judges do not know where to begin in applying it.”

Starbucks update » Starbucks announced Tuesday that it plans to close down more than 8,000 U.S. stores for several hours next month to conduct diversity training for 175,000 employees. That follows the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

The men asked to use the restroom and were denied because they didn’t buy anything. They sat down to wait for a third person, and that’s when a store employee called the police.

AUDIO: — police –Officer 363, how may I help you? Hi, I have 2 gentlemen at my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave? I’m at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce. Alright, police will be out as soon as possible.

Officers came and led them out in handcuffs. They held the men for eight hours before releasing them without charges.

After protesters accused Starbucks of racial bias, company CEO Kevin Johnson met with the two men, who have not been identified. Johnson said “I watched the video [of the arrests], which was hard to watch” adding … “That is not what Starbucks is about.”

IRS extending deadline » Today is the new deadline to file and pay your taxes. The IRS extended the deadline yesterday by 24 hours due to technical problems with online filing.

I’m Jim Henry. Straight ahead: remembering Barbara Bush. And Washington Wednesday on airstrikes in Syria. This is The World and Everything in It

(NTSB via AP) National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

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