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March 13, 2019

Deadly crashes were far from the first time federal aviation officials heard concerns with Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

The airplane model has been the subject of investigations and country-wide bans after a second plane crashed Sunday, killing everyone onboard. But in the months prior, at least five pilots reported serious safety issues with the MAX 8 to a federal database, The Dallas Morning News first reported.

A new Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed in October shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people onboard, and a preliminary probe suggested the plane's anti-stall technology may had led to the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning about the system, but one scathing report from a pilot said that wasn't enough.

In the report submitted to the federal database, the pilot characterized the 737 MAX 8's flight mechanisms as "jury rigging," and said it was "unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines" would let pilots fly such a "highly complex" plane without extensive training, Politico details. The flight manual provided "criminally insufficient" information, the anonymous pilot also said. Other pilots detailed issues with the plane's autopilot system, all occurring right as the plane climbed after takeoff.

The second Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday involved a brand new plane and a pilot with an "excellent flying record." It also crashed right after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers and crew members. An FAA spokesperson told The Dallas Morning News that "thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft." Boeing has similarly defended the model's safety. Read more about what was in the complaints at The Dallas Morning News. Kathryn Krawczyk

7:01 p.m.

By the end of 2022, Hasbro products will be mostly free of plastic packaging, the toymaker announced Tuesday.

The company now uses plastic bags, elastic bands, and shrink wrap for its board games, including Monopoly, and some other toys. This move does not affect toys made out of plastic, like Mr. Potato Head, but Hasbro said it is trying to find an alternative material that is safe for kids and still looks like plastic. Hasbro does offer a recycling program, with customers able to send in their old plastic toys.

Because of its harmful environmental impact, more companies are trying to stop using plastic, and many cities are banning plastic bags and eliminating plastic straws. The company said it will start phasing out plastic in 2020. Catherine Garcia

5:48 p.m.

Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good...

Just after being crowned the next Iron Man in this summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man's involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be over. Deadline reported on Tuesday that Disney and Sony were unable to reach an agreement that would keep Marvel Studios and its president, Kevin Feige, involved in future Spider-Man movies.

To recap, Marvel Studios did not have access to Spider-Man when it began the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with Iron Man, as Sony had exclusive rights to the character and was releasing movies in its own universe. But after the financial disappointment of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony and Marvel Studios reached a deal whereby Sony and Disney would essentially share the character, with Sony continuing to make Spider-Man movies that crossed over with the Marvel universe. After appearing in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, this summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home sets up Spider-Man as a crucial character for the rest of the series, and he's established as effectively being the successor to Tony Stark.

But that may be quickly retconned, as now, Deadline reports that Feige won't produce the next two Spider-Man movies that are planned with Tom Holland, meaning they are unlikely to have any connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all, and Spider-Man probably wouldn't appear in any Avengers movies, either. According to the report, Disney was looking for a 50-50 co-financing arrangement for future Spider-Man movies, but Sony turned it down. "Sony so far has decided that as valuable as Feige is, Disney is asking too high a price," Deadline writes. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the news, adding that as a result, "Tom Holland's Spider-Man is likely to disappear entirely from the Marvel Cinematic Universe." Far from home, indeed. Brendan Morrow

5:11 p.m.

President Trump's Scottish golf courses are raising some eyebrows, but not because of the beauty of their design.

HuffPost reports that Trump filed financial disclosure statements that appear to misstate the value and profitability of his Turnberry and Aberdeen resorts. For example, in 2018, Trump claimed in his U.S. filing that the resorts were each worth more than $50 million. Meanwhile, he filed balance sheets with the British government covering the same time period that showed the resorts' combined debt exceeded their assets by 47.9 million British pounds, which was equivalent to $64.8 million at the time.

In the U.S., his public disclosure pegged the income he earned from the resorts at $23.8 million, while his filings with the U.K. Companies House office in Edinburgh, Scotland, showed Turnberry and Aberdeen lost 4.6 million pounds, or $6.3 million in that timeframe. Finally, HuffPost notes that Trump's U.S. disclosure statement did not mention the $199.5 million in loans the president made to the resorts.

HuffPost reports that knowingly providing false or incomplete information on the form is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act and is punishable by up to a year in jail, while signing the form — and subsequently making a false statement — could result in a maximum of five years' imprisonment.

However, Virginia Carter, an ethics law expert with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told HuffPost that the Office of Government Ethics does give filers quite a bit of leeway in determining asset value, though she added Trump's numbers raise "legitimate questions," as it's unclear as to how the $50 million mark was reached. "The numbers don't appear to add up," she said. Read more at HuffPost. Tim O'Donnell

4:22 p.m.

President Trump continued his feud with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Tuesday, ultimately leading him to accuse Jewish Democratic voters of disloyalty.

This iteration of the battle between Trump and the congresswomen follows a turbulent week which saw Israel bar and unbar Tlaib from visiting her grandmother in Palestine, only to have Tlaib ultimately reject the country's approval of her appeal. Meanwhile, Trump suggested Israel would look "weak" if it allowed Tlaib and Omar to enter Israel considering their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. It's unclear if Trump's words swayed Israel toward Tlaib's initial rejection, but, regardless, the sides have gone back and forth ever since.

On Tuesday, Trump was asked about the situation, to which he replied that "any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat" show either "a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." About 79 percent of American Jews voted Democratic in 2018, reports NBC News' Benjy Sarlin.

The president also called Omar a "disaster for Jewish people" and, earlier in the day, mocked Tlaib for crying as she explained why she decided against visiting her grandmother. Tim O'Donnell

3:36 p.m.

President Trump on Tuesday confirmed reporting that he's considering a payroll tax cut after the White House spent the past day denying that he is.

On Monday, reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times emerged that the White House was weighing a temporary payroll tax cut as economists fear a looming recession, but White House officials denied it, with a statement released to the Post saying that "cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time." White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley in a Fox News interview on Tuesday morning similarly offered a denial, saying that "it's not being considered at this time."

So of course Trump would go on to say the exact opposite mere hours later, confirming the original reporting by saying in the White House, "Payroll taxes is something that we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that."

Add this onto the increasingly large list of examples of Trump contradicting White House officials, as when, earlier this year, the White House denied that Trump was considering a plan to release migrants into "sanctuary cities" and target his Democratic opponents, only for Trump to immediately tweet that he is "indeed, as reported," considering said plan. The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reports that administration officials were told to go out and deny that Trump is considering a payroll tax cut, a plan Trump himself would apparently thwart in short order. Brendan Morrow

3:27 p.m.

The nails seem to be approaching the coffin for Brexit negotiations.

That's because the European Union has rejected U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest request to scrap the Irish border backstop from a new withdrawal agreement, The Guardian reports.

Johnson reportedly sent European Council President Donald Tusk a letter detailing alternative methods ahead of the Oct. 31 Article 50 deadline, but Tusk was having none of it, maintaining that the continuation of an open border in Ireland is vital. He said that Johnson offered no viable options for preventing a hard border from arising, while the EU dismissed Johnson's argument that the backstop was anti-democratic.

On the other hand, Johnson said that he felt the EU was being too pessimistic about the matter and that he still believes a deal can be reached before the deadline, though he has not relented on the necessity of the backstop's removal from negotiations, RTE reports. At the same time, Johnson said the U.K. has no intention of implementing any new border checks or infrastructure at the Irish border that could threaten the integrity of the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which has kept the peace on the island for over two decades. The EU described Johnson's claim that two separate legal and economic jurisdictions could exist with an open border as "misleading." Tim O'Donnell

3:08 p.m.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not planning to administer flu vaccines to migrant families in its custody, CNBC reports.

After the flu-related deaths of three migrant children in U.S. detention since last year, Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University doctors earlier this month wrote a letter to Congress calling for an investigation and "timely action," as "poor conditions at the facilities may be amplifying the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases, increasing health risks to children," The Washington Post reported.

But on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told CNBC that "in general, due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody." The spokesperson said that "medical personnel on site are available 24/7" and that local health systems "may" provide migrants vaccination "if determined necessary."

Harvard's Jonathan Winickoff, one of the doctors who had urged congressional action earlier this month, continued to raise alarms following this news, telling CNBC that poor conditions at overcrowded facilities increase the likelihood of diseases spreading and that "the country needs urgent answers to that question so that children stop dying in detention." Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke out against this report on Tuesday and slammed President Trump, tweeting, "This cannot be America, but for as long as he is president, it will be."

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general has in recent months released reports on "dangerous overcrowding" at border facilities like one in El Paso, which has a maximum capacity of 125 people but was found to be holding 900 detainees. "Corrective action is critical to the immediate health and safety needs of detainees," the report said. Brendan Morrow

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