Nation and World briefs for March 21

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Boeing’s grounded airliners are likely to be parked longer now that European and Canadian regulators plan to conduct their own reviews of changes the company is making after two of the jets crashed.

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The Europeans and Canadians want to do more than simply take the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s word that alterations to a key flight-control system will make the 737 Max safer. Those reviews scramble an ambitious schedule set by Boeing and could undercut the FAA’s reputation around the world.

Boeing hopes by Monday to finish an update to software that can automatically point the nose of the plane sharply downward in some circumstances to avoid an aerodynamic stall, according to two people briefed on FAA presentations to congressional committees.

The FAA expects to certify Boeing’s modifications and plans for pilot training in April or May, one of the people said. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the briefings.

But there are clear doubts about meeting that timetable. Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1 and suspend some routes that it flew with the plane before it was grounded around the world last week.

NZ imam prepares for emotional Friday prayer

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — An imam says he expects thousands of people during an emotional Friday prayer in Christchurch, New Zealand, a week after a gunman killed 42 people at his mosque, and 50 people in all.

Gamal Fouda says he’s been discussing plans for the prayer with city officials and lawmakers and expects it will take place in a large park across from Al Noor mosque.

Fouda says he expects 3,000-4,000 people, including many coming from abroad. He said members of the Linwood mosque, where the gunman killed seven people, also would attend the joint prayer.

He says mosque workers have been feverishly working to repair the destruction from the March 15 attack. They will bury the blood-soaked carpet.

Meanwhile, at least two more funerals took place Thursday at a Muslim cemetery in Christchurch.

Centrist or liberal? Beto O’Rourke’s political splits

DUBUQUE, Iowa — At a packed eastern Iowa house party, a staffer for Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign tried to clear enough space for the candidate to reach the kitchen, where he would need to climb a stepladder to address the crowd.

“I need my lane,” the staffer bellowed as he moved through the crowd. “Beto’s coming right through here.”

Somewhere in the rows of pressed-together faces, a spectator quipped: “But which lane is it? The liberal lane? Some other lane?”

That’s a prophetic question for one of the 2020 field’s most unconventional candidates. In a primary that has so far been defined by progressive energy, the former Texas congressman with a scant political resume is trying to avoid definition. He left a distinctly moderate record behind in Congress and, in the early days of his presidential campaign, has vowed to work with Republicans and woo voters who backed Donald Trump in 2016. But he’s also hit progressive talking points on everything from white privilege to marijuana legalization .

The architects of his campaign insist he’s not interested in adhering to a particular ideological lane, and O’Rourke himself shuns party labels. But trying to have it both ways could leave Democratic voters with the impression that O’Rourke is a candidate with a split political personality.

Flooded Iowa communities surviving with trucked-in water

DES MOINES, Iowa — As some communities along the Missouri River start to shift their focus to flood recovery after a late-winter storm, residents in two Iowa cities are stuck in crisis mode after their treatment plants shut down and left them in need of fresh water.

Tanker trucks from the Iowa National Guard and a private company are hauling water into Hamburg and Glenwood, said Lucinda Parker, a spokeswoman with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Many evacuated from flooded areas in the southwestern part of the state are staying in shelters or with family and friends in the wake of the flooding and water struggles it has caused.

“The water is starting to go down in communities and they’re looking at how they’re going to start their recovery,” Parker said Wednesday.

Trucks are hauling about 300,000 gallons (1.1 million liters) per day to Glenwood’s water treatment plant from the neighboring cities of Red Oak and Shenandoah, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Grocery store chains Hy-Vee and Fareway also have provided truckloads of bottled water.

Mike Wells, superintendent of the Hamburg Community School District, said one of the biggest concerns about having no fresh water is staying clean. The school district has coordinated providing buses for residents to ride 25 miles (40 kilometers) to Shenandoah or 10 miles (16 kilometers) to Sidney to shower. A local ministerial society has been picking up residents’ laundry at the school district, taking it to Shenandoah to wash it, and returning it.

Cleanup underway after fire at Texas petrochemicals facility

HOUSTON — Crews on Wednesday extinguished a fire that had burned for days at a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility and led to concerns about air quality among some residents and environmental groups despite reassurances from officials that testing shows nothing amiss.

Intercontinental Terminals Company spokeswoman Alice Richardson said at a news conference Wednesday that crews were cleaning up the facility in Deer Park, located southeast of Houston, so the investigation can begin into what caused the blaze.

The fire, which started Sunday , sent a huge, dark plume of smoke thousands of feet into the air before being extinguished at 3 a.m. Wednesday. The tanks that caught fire contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner. ITC said 11 of the 15 storage tanks located in the area where the fire occurred were damaged.

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The blaze briefly flared up late Wednesday afternoon. The flare-up, which sent flames and smoke into the air, was contained within 30 seconds by firefighters, the city of Deer Park said in a tweet.

The Environmental Protection conducted air quality tests throughout the Houston area, both on the ground and from a small airplane, and “measured no levels of hazardous concentrations,” said agency official Adam Adams.

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