Wednesday morning news: March 13, 2019


Pressure mounting for U.S. to ground troubled jetliners » Much of the world has now opted to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners in the wake of Sunday’s deadly crash. It was the second accident involving that particular model in the span of five months.

Britain, France, Germany and Australia are among the latest nations taking action to keep the Max 8 out of the air. And pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill for the U.S. to follow suit. Utah Senator Mitt Romney…

ROMNEY: It makes sense to ground aircraft that’s been involved in two very tragic accidents.

At least 34 airlines have grounded the jet, leaving two-thirds of the world’s Max 8 jetliners idle. But they’re still flying in the U.S. And Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, told reporters…

BLUMENTHAL: I am writing American Airlines and Southwest demanding that they voluntarily ground these planes. They have a responsibility to passengers. 

He noted that those two airlines operate most of the Max 8s in service in the U.S.

Boeing maintains that the jets are airworthy, but said it plans to issue a software update soon. And it’s working on changes to flight controls and training systems.

On Tuesday Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who chairs the subcommittee on aviation and space, announced he plans to convene a hearing to investigate the crashes.


DOJ prosecutes huge college admissions bribery scandal » Top college coaches and administrators, Hollywood actresses, and others are involved in the largest admissions scandal the Justice Department has ever prosecuted.  

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced the bribery case on Tuesday.

LELLING: We’re not talking about donating a building so that a school’s more likely to take your son or daughter. We’re talking about deception and fraud. Fake test scores, fake athletic credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials. 

Authorities say coaches at schools including Georgetown, Stanford, and Yale accepted bribes in exchange for admitting students as athletes, regardless of their ability.

Prosecutors said parents paid the founder of The Edge College & Career Network, an admissions consulting company in California, a total of $25 million over the past eight years. Investigators say some of that cash was used to bribe college officials.

FBI special agent Joseph Bonavolonta told reporters…

BONAVOLONTA: And the real victims in this case are the hard working students, who did everything they could to set themselves up for success in the college admissions process, but wound up being shut out because far less qualified students and their families simply bought their way in. 

The nearly 50 people indicted reportedly include Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, as well as prominent business leaders.


Pelosi waves off impeachment talk » As some Democrats have ramped up talk of trying to impeach President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that’s not a good idea.

PELOSI: I just don’t believe in it. They wanted me to impeach President Bush for the Iraq War. I didn’t believe in it then. I don’t believe it now, unless there’s some conclusive evidence that takes us to that place. 

That’s something of a departure from her previous comments that Democrats are waiting on special counsel Robert Mueller to lay out findings from his Russia probe before considering impeachment.

Republicans say Democratic leaders are beginning to come to terms with the likelihood that Mueller’s report will not accuse the president of colluding with Russia. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday…  

MCCARTHY: Nancy Pelosi is smart to say there shouldn’t be an impeachment, because there’s no grounds to do it.


U.S pulls remaining embassy staff from Venezuela » The United States is withdrawing its remaining diplomatic staff from Venezuela, as the country’s power outage continues and political unrest deepens.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo…

POMPEO: Over the past few days Venezuelans have been thrown literally into darkness thanks to a massive electrical blackout. Patients awaiting treatment in hospitals are dying. Food is rotting. Telecommunications networks are entirely collapsing. 

Pompeo said the decision to leave—quote—“reflects the deteriorating situation” and that the staff presence had “become a constraint on U.S. policy.”

The U.S. withdrew most of its diplomatic staff in January and backed national assembly leader Juan Guaidó. He invoked a clause in the Venezuelan Constitution to become interim president, though embattled leader Nicolas Maduro still controls the military.   

Guaidó on Monday asked the national assembly to declare a state of emergency amid the power outage.

GUAIDO: [Speaking in Spanish]

The blackout is responsible for numerous deaths, as it has crippled services at some hospitals.

But Nicolás Maduro accuses the U.S. for the blackout.


British lawmakers again reject Brexit plan » Britain’s Parliament has dealt another major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May. Lawmakers again rejected her Brexit deal with just over two weeks left until the UK is due to leave the European Union.

AUDIO: They ayes to the right, 242. The nos to the left, 391.  

The House of Commons rejected the agreement back in January, sending May back to the EU to seek changes.

On Monday, May said she had secured “legally binding” changes to the deal address the concerns of critics — but it wasn’t enough.

Lawmakers will now vote on whether to leave the EU without a deal on March 29th, as scheduled, or to ask the bloc to postpone Britain’s departure.


Cardinal George Pell sentenced to prison for child sex abuse » An Australian court has sentenced cardinal George Pell to 6 years in prison for child sex abuse. A jury convicted him in December of committing child rape and other crimes more than 20 years ago in a Melbourne cathedral.

Pell, who is Pope Francis’ former finance minister, is the most senior Catholic official ever convicted of such a crime.

The 77-year-old denies the allegations and plans to appeal his convictions.


(AP Photo/David Koenig) This photo shows a Boeing 737 Max 8 type aircraft at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston on Monday, March 11, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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