WASHINGTON: The United States said Tuesday there is “no basis” to ground Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, after a second deadly crash involving the model in less than five months prompted governments worldwide to ban the aircraft.
Despite the aviation giant’s assurances that the plane is safe and reliable, the European Union, Britain and India joined China and other countries grounding the plane or banning it from their airspace as they await the results of the investigation into the crash.
But the US has so far refused to take similar action against the American aerospace giant’s best-selling workhorse aircraft.
“Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Daniel Elwell said in a statement.
A new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.
That followed the October crash of a new Lion Air jet of the same model in Indonesia, which killed 189 people shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.
The widening actions against the aircraft puts pressure on Boeing — the world’s biggest plane manufacturer — to prove the MAX planes are safe, and the company has said it is rolling out flight software updates by April that could address issues with a faulty sensor.
The full extent of the impact of the aircraft bans on international travel routes was unclear. There are about 350 MAX 8 planes currently in service around the world.
Air Canada, for example, announced it was canceling flights to London following Britain’s decision to ban the aircraft.
The EU aviation safety agency also closed European airspace to all MAX planes.
It noted that the “exact causes” of the Lion Air crash were still being investigated.
“At this early stage of the related investigation, it cannot be excluded that similar causes may have contributed to both events,” the agency added.
Iran ‘Threat’: US orders new troops to ME!
WASHINGTON: The United States announced Friday it was deploying 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East in response to what the Pentagon called a “campaign” of recent attacks approved by Iran’s top leadership.
The escalation of the US military presence follows a decision in early May to send an aircraft carrier strike force and B-52 bombers in a show of force against what Washington’s leaders believed was an imminent Iranian plan to attack US assets.
And it comes as the Trump administration is planning to bypass congressional restrictions to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, a close US ally and Iran’s arch-enemy in the region.
“This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” said acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
President Donald Trump, who approved the deployment, called it “protective.”
“We want to have protection in the Middle East,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan.
“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Trump added. “It’ll be about 1,500 people.”
The new deployment includes reconnaissance aircraft, fighter jets, and engineers. Six hundred of the personnel belong to a Patriot missile defense battalion that had its deployment in the region extended.
Pentagon officials said the move was necessary after multiple threatening actions and several small-in-scope attacks in May by Iranian forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and “proxy” forces.
Those include a rocket launched into the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosive devices that damaged four tankers in Fujairah near the entrance to the Gulf, and a Houthi drone attack against a Saudi oil installation.
The initial threat came at the beginning of May, according to Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
The US caught the IRGC attempting to covertly deploy “modified dhows capable of launching cruise missiles,” he said, referring to small traditional boats.
“We view this as a campaign,” Gilday told reporters.
The moves “are all part of a dangerous and escalatory strategy by Iran to threaten global trade and to destabilize the region.”
“We believe with a high degree of confidence that this stems back to the leadership of Iran at the highest levels, and that all of the attacks… have been attributed to Iran through their proxies or their forces,” Gilday said, citing still-secret US intelligence.
US officials said the aim was both to extend greater protection to the 70,000 US forces deployed in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and to deliver a message to Iran to refrain from attacks.
“We think that through a combination of a very measured deployment of assets as well as public messaging, we are again trying to underscore that we are not seeking hostilities with Iran,” he said.
Gilday said the US moves have had some impact. When Washington first learned of Tehran’s alleged intent to launch attacks, it delivered a stern warning to Tehran “within hours” through an unnamed third party.
Since then, the threat of the missile-bearing dhows appears to have subsided.
However, the Trump administration continues to draw criticism that it has not clearly shown the need for an escalation.
Members of Congress were also angered that Trump was overriding their block on delivery of lethal weapons to the Saudis.
“More tactics with absolutely no strategy,” tweeted Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.
“All that is happening now is escalatory move after escalatory move. Trump has ZERO plan for how this ends, and that should scare the hell out of everyone.”
But Pentagon officials stressed that the US does not seek war with Iran.
“We do not see these additional capabilities as encouraging hostilities. We see them as defensive in nature,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Katie Wheelbarger.
“Our policy remains an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table to encourage a comprehensive deal that addresses the range of their destabilizing behavior in the region.”
CG JoAnne Wagner opens Photo Expo “Muslims in America” (VIDEO AND TEXT)
KARACHI: JoAnne Wagner Consul General of USA, and Syed Sardar Shah Sindh Minister for Culture, have inaugurated a photo exposition titled Muslims in America at Lincoln Corner in the Liaquat National Memorial Library here.
Commenting on the exhibition Consul General remarked: “The images in the exhibit demonstrate two founding principles of American society: those of tolerance of religious diversity; and freedom of religious practice. Americans are proud of their right to practice the religion of their choice, without any fear,”
The photo exhibition showcases religious diversity and religious freedom in the USA that is home to one of the most diverse Muslim populations in the world.
The exhibit will remain open to the general public till 4th June.
Washington considering duties on countries that undervalue currency
WASHINGTON: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday that the US has proposed a new regulation allowing it to impose counterveiling duties on imports from countries that seek to undervalue their currencies.
Under the proposed regulation, “foreign nations would no longer be able to use currency policies to the disadvantage of American workers and businesses,” Ross said in a statement.
“This proposed rulemaking is a step toward implementing President (Donald) Trump’s campaign promise to address unfair currency practices by our trading partners.”
Ross, who did not respond to a request for comment, did not specify which countries would be targeted.
The statement only said that the proposed regulation “identifies the criteria the department would use to determine if countervailing duties should be imposed for currency undervaluation.”
Countervailing duties on imports are sometimes imposed against countries to offset any premiums or subsidies given, directly or indirectly, to the fabrication, production or export of merchandise.
Trump often accuses Beijing of deliberately weakening its currency to boost its exports, but his administration has refused several times to officially accuse China of manipulating its currency.