Britain’s Brexit plan meets a second historic defeat, the E.U. grounds all Boeing 737 Max 8s, and Cardinal George Pell is sentenced to six years in prison. Here’s the latest:
Parliament rejects May’s Brexit deal
The vote was 391 to 242. Prime Minister Theresa’s May’s plan for withdrawal from the E.U. was rejected a second time. Britain is now fast drifting toward a so-called no-deal Brexit on March 29, a potential disaster.
Mrs. May had hoped to win over hard-line Brexiteers in her own party with last-minute concessions from the E.U.
What next? Lawmakers will now pivot to another crucial vote today on whether to leave the E.U. without a deal.
If, as widely expected, Parliament votes against a no-deal Brexit, lawmakers will then vote Thursday on whether to postpone Britain’s withdrawal. But Mrs. May warned that the E.U., when it meets on March 21 to consider and approve any such request, will want assurances that a delay would go to good use. And the E.U. said after the vote on Tuesday that the time for negotiations had ended.
Mrs. May could hold a third vote on her plan. But her gamble that the impending March 29 deadline would eventually force lawmakers to relent and accept her plan is looking more like a losing one.
Boeing scrambles to contain blowback
Nearly half of the 737 Max 8 aircraft in the world have been pulled from use, though not in the U.S. or Canada (with the exception of one Canadian airline, Sunwing).
Two days after 157 people were killed on a Boeing 737 Max 8 flight from Ethiopia to Kenya, E.U. officials grounded all of the planes traveling in and out of its member countries. That followed similar moves by aviation regulators in China, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it would examine the data from the crash but added it was too early to determine the cause. And it cautioned against making comparisons to an October crash in Indonesia involving a Lion Air Max 8.
Three generations of an Indian-Canadian family were among those who died in the Sunday crash, leaving the South Asian community in Brampton, Ontario, in deep shock. “I have lost everyone,” said Manant Vaidya, whose parents, sister, brother-in-law and two teenage nieces died.
We’ll continue to bring you live updates here.
Another angle: The crash of Flight 302 has raised doubts about Ethiopian Airlines’ campaign to become Africa’s leading carrier. It has a highly regarded and competitive aviation academy, from which the pilot, Yared Getachew, graduated. He was the airline’s youngest captain, though he had a decade with the carrier.
Cardinal Pell gets his sentence
George Pell, an Australian cardinal who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison for molesting two boys after a Sunday Mass in 1996.
He faced up to 50 years in prison, but the lighter sentence came after pleas from his supporters, including a former prime minister, John Howard.
Here’s how other countries have punished abusive priests.
Reminder: The cardinal was convicted of abuse in December, making him the highest-ranking Catholic clergyman to be found guilty of sexually abusing minors. But his guilty verdict was unsealed only two weeks ago, after a court lifted a gag order that kept the decision out of the public eye for months.
Impact: The case has deepened distrust and anger among Catholics in Australia, pushing the country’s once robust church into a drastic decline.
Volkswagen moves to electrify
Seeking to transform its image after an emissions scandal, Volkswagen announced that it would build 22 million electric cars through 2028.
Noting that the company was responsible for 1 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, its chief executive, Herbert Diess, also announced that it would strive to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The automaker — which narrowly beat out Toyota as the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer in 2018 — sells only a small number of electric cars, and it’s taking a major risk. Sales of such vehicles are growing fast but still account for only a sliver of the new car market.
Related: Established automakers are realizing that a shift to battery power also requires them to retool their sales machinery.
Here’s what else is happening
Venezuela: While power was restored to much of Venezuela after a multiday blackout, the government began investigating Juan Guaído, the leader of the opposition, and charged a prominent journalist with inciting violence, claiming they had played a role in the supposed sabotage of the country’s electrical system.
U.S. immigration: The director of Citizenship and Immigration Services told staff members that the agency was looking to cut back its operations in more than 240 countries in hopes of reducing a backlog of asylum applications at the southern U.S. border. But the move could come at the expense of legal migration.
Google: Alphabet’s board of directors agreed to pay Amit Singhal, a former top executive at the search giant, as much as $45 million when he resigned in 2016 after being accused of groping an employee. His payment was revealed in a shareholder lawsuit filed this week that accuses Alphabet of shirking its responsibilities and paying executives instead of firing them for just cause.
Costa Rica: The tiny Central American nation wants to wean itself from fossil fuels by 2050 under a broad decarbonization plan that could serve as a model for other countries. Its chief evangelist is an urban planner, Claudia Dobles, who also happens to be the nation’s first lady.
Nissan-Renault: The Japanese and French carmakers vowed to preserve their alliance and move past the removal of their former chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, whose arrest cast doubt on the future of the auto industry’s most successful partnership.
Britain: The police said they were investigating a claim that a group calling itself the I.R.A., the initials for the Irish Republican Army, was behind the explosive packages sent around London and Scotland last week.
College admissions scandal: U.S. prosecutors charged dozens of people, including Hollywood actresses and top college coaches, in a large-scale admissions bribery scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues.
How to disappear: An employee at a Bitcoin security company set out to make himself disappear from the all-seeing eyes of the American corporate world and the government, without having to give up internet access. This is how he achieved it, in 15 (not so easy) steps.
Recipe of the day: With a little forethought, marinated short ribs can be part of a balanced weeknight rice bowl.
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The otherwise invisible special counsel investigation takes regular public shape inside the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, where Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, will appear at his final sentencing hearing today.
It is the same building where the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has used a grand jury to return indictments.
Your Back Story writer has visited the building often, over months of covering hearings involving Mueller targets, including Mr. Manafort, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
A little over half a mile from F.B.I. headquarters, the courthouse has a bland limestone exterior, tall windows, long hallways and artificial lighting, which combine to create a sterile aura of law and order. Outside, protesters and camera crews have jostled as Trump associates enter and exit through revolving doors familiar to cable news junkies.
Today, guests will crowd into wooden pews as Mr. Manafort waits in a tiled holding room just off Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s chambers. He will enter the courtroom, perhaps for the last time, in a suit and tie, a special request granted by Judge Jackson.
Noah Weiland, from our Washington bureau, wrote today’s Back Story.
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