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Only the US and Canada left flying the Boeing 737 Max aircraft*

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The US and Canada remain the only two country’s left flying the Boeing 737 Max 8 model aircraft in any substantial numbers (*there are a few smaller airlines and nations but very few remaining). Otherwise most of the world’s aviation authorities have either grounded the planes or closed access to their airspace for the operation of the popular new Boeing short-haul workhorse.

As a note of clarification the Boeing 737 MAX class of airplane are a new-generation version of the popular 737 plane that has been flying since the 1960s. They are constructed with lighter materials, have new, lighter, more powerful engines mounted slightly further forward than in past models. The planes are all substantially the same but, for example, the MAX 9 has three more rows of seats compared to the MAX 8 model. But the cockpits, avionics and 99% of the components are identical. The two aircraft that have crashed were both the Max 8 model.

The US Federal Aviation Administration says there is “no basis” to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 model aircraft.

Daniel K. Elwell, the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, said it has conducted a review of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and found “no basis” to ground the aircraft.

“Thus far, our review shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.”

“The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 Max.”

Meanwhile, the European Union has suspended all operations of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft in Europe beginning at 3 p.m. ET, according to a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, EASA has published today an Airworthiness Directive, effective as of 19:00 UTC, suspending all flight operations of all Boeing Model 737-8 Max and 737-9 Max aeroplanes in Europe.”

”The announcement follows a growing tide of European countries that grounded or banned the airplane from flying overhead.

Kuwait’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation said it is suspending operation of all Boeing 737 Max 8 flights until further notice.

The DGCA said it is taking the action after two planes of the same type crashed in the past five months.The ban applies to all Boeing 737 Max 8 flights, including those in transit, the DGCA said.

 

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Politics

Diplomatic spat between China and Australia, Chinese suspend economic dialogue

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Stock photo via Flickr

A diplomatic spat between China and Australia has the Communist State suspending all economic dialogue “indefinitely” between the 2 countries as of today. A statement by China’s National Development and Reform Commission detailed some of the reasoning behind the move, which is under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue.

“Recently, some Australian Commonwealth Government officials launched a series of measures to disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia out of Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination.”

But the statement didn’t elaborate on what specific actions prompted the suspension, however, it most definitely signifies the growing tensions between the 2 countries. Back in 2018, Australia became the first country to ban the Chinese tech giant of Huawei from its 5G network. And, as Covid-19 ravaged the world, Australia called for an independent investigation into its origins. China responded by restricting trade between the nations.

Last December, Australia’s federal parliament granted veto power over foreign deals by states amid worsening diplomatic relations with China, which has handed down trade sanctions on Australian exports.

Australia, has also refused to sign agreements on directly participating in China’s new foreign policy initiative, which previously was agreed upon by Australia’s trade minister to cooperate with third-party countries in Belt and Road projects. In April, Canberra cancelled 2 of those projects struck by the state of Victoria, which prompted a warning from the Chinese embassy that bilateral ties would get worse. Just this week, Reuters reported that Australia was reviewing a 99 year lease of a northern port to a Chinese firm.

But Atilla Widnell, the managing director of Navigate Commodities says trade won’t be affected.

“We believe the iron ore trading relationship between Australia and China will remain ring-fenced in relation to current political tensions between the two nations. This is a co-dependent relationship whereby either party cannot survive without the other.”

Today has seen the Australian dollar nosedive, reaching as low as $ .7701 to the US dollar, compared to yesterday’s $.7747.

SOURCE: Reuters

 

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Protests

Activist lawyer contracts Covid-19 in prison

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Activiets lawyer Arnon Nampa has been infected with Covid-19 in prison. (via Wikimedia)

Arnon Nampa, an activist lawyer in jail without bail since February on lese majeste charges has been infected with Covid-19, according to his Facebook page. An anonymous source at the Corrections Department confirmed with Reuters that Arnon had tested positive yesterday and has been sent to the prison hospital for treatment. The department later released a press statement confirming the activist he had Covid-19.

Held without bail for more than 3 months, Arnon has been a leader in the pro-democracy demonstration calling for the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, along with a revision of power for the Thai royal family. The protests had gained momentum last summer and still maintain widespread support though the government has cracked down on marches and demonstrations. They have discouraged political dissent by using the lese majeste law, which carries harsh penalties of up to 15 years in jail for anyone who insults royalty in Thailand.

Arnon, who is 36 years old, confirmed this morning he was being taken to the Medical Correctional Hospital in the Chatuchak District of Bangkok. He has been a key legal advisor who helped activists voice a push for reform that was previously unspeakable in Thailand. Once only whispered in private conversations, the call for reform has now been thrust into the spotlight by student protests.

Thailand has seen several outbreaks of Covid-19 within the prison system throughout the country. Clusters in Narathiwat that later spread to Surat Thani prisons as well, and outbreaks in larger prisons in Chiang Mai and Bangkok have recorded about 475 coronavirus infections within prison walls.

The jailed attorney is one of many protesters and activist leaders who have been held for weeks or months without bail on lese majeste charges. 22 year olds Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul are both on a hunger strike to protest being denied bail multiple times. Penguin was hospitalized last week after his health condition worsened, and there are reports that his trial may be delayed after the activist was exposed to Covid-19 by being held in a cell with a prisoner later confirmed to be infected.

SOURCE: Reuters and Coconuts

 

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Economy

GDP forecast dropped to 1-2% with best, middle and worst case scenarios

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Economic predictions continue to fall with Covid-19 spread and slow vaccination.

Mass vaccination will be the key stop the slump in economic growth after the Bank of Thailand revised their 2021 GDP forecast to between 1 – 2%. They had previously estimated a 3% growth in the gross domestic product but are now creating tiered predictions of a base level, worse situation, and a worst-case scenario, according to the Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee.

The base GDP forecast, which you could call a best-case scenario, expects a 2% growth predicated on some rosy numbers like foreign tourism growing to 1.2 million people and unemployment staying around 2.7 million. It also operates on the assumption that Thailand reaches 100 million vaccines distributed by the end of the year which would allow herd immunity by the beginning of 2022.

The middle ground prediction is a 1.5% GDP growth if 64.6 million vaccines are administered, delaying herd immunity to the third quarter of 2022. It also allows for unemployment to grow by another 100,000 people, and tourism to reach only 1 million foreign visitors. If we don’t get this tourism growth and unemployment and underemployment expands to 2.9 million or above, and we distribute less than 64.4 million jabs, the worst-case scenario would be only a 1% GDP growth and herd immunity not being possible until the end of 2022 at the earliest.

The worst-case scenario would be a 5.7% drop in the GDP this year, a loss of 890 billion baht. The middle ground forecast would cost about 460 billion Baht, about a 3% drop in Thailand GDP.

The BOT had originally forecast stronger GDP growth but reduced from 3.2% to 3% before dropping their predictions to the 1% to 2% figure. With the devastating effect of the third wave of Covid-19 being much more far-reaching than originally expected, this new prediction was released now instead of when it was scheduled in June. They did state that government economic stimulus packages could still have a positive effect and allow the economy to grow 3 to 5.7%, assuming mass vaccination goes into effect quickly.

The tourism sector and small-to-medium-sized enterprises would be the most affected by the delays in vaccination. The Monetary Policy Committee stressed that the economy hinges on the speedy importing and administering of vaccines. Faster vaccination will prevent mutations, new strains, and new outbreaks, as well as allowing international borders to fully reopen more quickly and more successfully. They stress that government efforts to support the economy must continue as the government has recently announced they will extend cash stimulus programs and allot money to more low-income assistance.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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