12 March 2019

Katie Stanton

12 March 2019

Good morning,

On Sunday morning, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, en route to Nairobi, the capital city of neighbouring Kenya. All 157 people on board died.

Several months ago, the same model of aircraft went down in Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew.

As one non-human consequence, shares in Boeing fell five per cent on Wall Street as aviation experts drew connections between the two tragedies.

And that wasn’t the only repercussion: Singapore’s civil aviation authority has temporarily suspended all versions of the Boeing 737 Max from flying into and out of the country. Several airlines and regulators around the world have already grounded the Max 8 model. And Boeing is to be ordered to submit design changes to its worldwide fleet of 737 Max aircraft by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

It is suspected that there is a technical problem with Boeing’s automated flight control, which is designed to bring the nose of the plane down to reduce the risk of stalling. The crew in the Indonesian plane crash were unable to override the automatic system, causing them to lose control with the nose pitched down.

The two “black box” flight recorders have been recovered from the scene of the Ethiopian tragedy and an investigation is pending.

But looking through the media coverage of the incident, it’s clear there is a problematic trend that needs addressing. And so, despite being at considerable risk of becoming a bit preachy, I have another lesson this morning.

In yesterday’s briefing I wrote: “seven British passengers were among 157 people killed when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed yesterday minutes after take-off.”

After being forwarded – not at all passive aggressively I might add – an eye-opening article by the Atlantic, I have realised a problem with my statement.

Because who cares what nationality the victims of the tragedy were? The fact remains that 157 people lost their lives – black or white; Kenyan or British.

In the west we are unconsciously accustomed to framing incidents in terms of their impact on non-African victims – as if we feel more compassion for those closer to home. This eliminates the African story and reinforces the idea that the deaths of Africans are eventualities rather than tragedies.

Coverage of the crash is just the most recent example of why we need to shift the tenor of how African stories are reported in the West – myself included. 

News

Ahead of today’s meaningful vote, Theresa May has announced that she has secured “legally binding” changes to her Brexit deal which would mean that the EU “cannot try to trap the UK in the [Irish] backstop indefinitely”. European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned that if the deal is voted down, there will be “no third chance”.

According to figures obtained by The Times, a fifth of women murdered by their current or former partners had been in touch with the police. There has been a fall in arrest rates for domestic violence and it is alleged that officers have dismissed coercive behaviour, stalking and harassment as a precursor to violence in several cases. (£)

A body has been found in Guatemala in the search for missing backpacker Catherine Shaw. Formal identification has not yet taken place, but Catherine’s family have been informed.

Business & Economy

The US has told Germany it would curb intelligence sharing with Berlin if it allows Huawei to participate in its 5G mobile network. In a recent letter, the US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said that secure communications systems are essential for cooperation and that this could be fundamentally compromised by firms like Huawei.

BP has lobbied the US government intensively to weaken the rules on methane emissions, despite positioning itself as an energy major at the forefront of a global campaign to combat climate change. (£)

The US will rival Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest exporter of oil products within five years. The International Energy Agency said that US shale oil will make up 70 per cent of the extra global crude supply by 2024. This will eat into the market share of Opec and Russia and catapult America into strategic dominance in the global energy system. (£)

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 lost momentum later in the day, closing up 0.37% as the pound bounced higher in the afternoon.

The currency recovered from a three-week low as investors anticipate some clarity in the UK’s Brexit saga. At the end of the day it was up 0.54% against the dollar, hovering around the $1.30 level associated with a managed departure from the EU. Against the euro, it was up 0.6% at €1.17.

European shares had their best day in four weeks thanks to merger speculation in the banking sector, which helped to offset worries over a global economic slowdown. The Europe-wide benchmark rebounded by 0.6% following speculation of a merger between German lenders Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank. Their shares rose five per cent and 7.5% respectively.

Across the pond, US stocks were also on the rebound following merger activity: Nvidia agreed to buy Israeli chipmaker Mellanox Technologies for $6.9 billion, triggering a rally in rival semiconductor companies.

Finals

888 Holdings, Computacenter, Cairn Energy, Domino’s Pizza Group, Forbidden Technologies, French Connection Group, Forterra, Gamma Communications, G4S, Gresham Technologies, Goals Soccer Centres, H&T Group, Midwich Group, Menzies (John), Pendragon, Pennant International Group, Surgical Innovations Group, TCS Group Holding GDR

Interims

Close Brothers Group

Purecircle Limited (DI)

AGMs

BlackRock Commodities Income Inv Trust

JPMorgan Russian Securities

React Group

Starvest

UK Economic Announcements

(08:30) Balance of Trade

(09:30) Index of Services

(09:30) Industrial Production

(09:30) Manufacturing Production

Int. Economic Announcements

(12:30) Consumer Price Index (US) 

Columns of Note 

Nick Butler casts our attention back to Ukraine in the Financial Times this week. Although we may have accepted Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a “hard reality” and the country has returned to relative normality, the situation is far from stable. A presidential election at the end of March could fundamentally shift Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence, sending the European gas market with it. But as the major buyer of Russian oil and gas, Europe should use the presidential vote to push for more reform and increased transparency. (£)

Writing in the Spectator, Rachel Johnson asks: would any publisher dare to print Lolita now? Having just finished the book I can tell you – if you’ve not read it of course – that it is a shocking, deplorable and descriptive tale of the systemic rape of a young girl. Short answer: yes, someone would publish it. But the big publishers would toss it to the slush pile in a rage of 30-something woke-ness which sees censorship as paramount and irony as disposable. Sadly, the list of too-hot-to-handle topics is growing, and potential literary marvels are being kicked to the kerb to save our delicate eyes from the disturbing reality of human existence. (£) 

Did you know? 

Female dragonflies fake their own deaths to avoid males harassing them for sex.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons
Oral questions: justice (including topical questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion: election expenses – Craig Mackinlay
 
Motion: debate on a motion relating to section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (withdrawal) Act 2018
 
Adjournment: future of community – Fiona Bruce
 
House of Lords 
Oral questions
Oral health problems of hard to reach children through the Starting Well Core scheme – Broness Benjamin
 
Ensuring prisons are places of rehabilitation – Baroness Pidding
 
Eradication of unpaid internships in the UK – Lord Holmes of Richmond
 
Hight Court ruling that government planning guidance on fracking is unlawful – Lord Greaves
 
Legislation
Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill – Report stage – Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
 
Northern Ireland (Regional Rates and Energy) (No. 2) Bill – Second reading and remaining stages – Lord Duncan of Springbank
 
Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation an Adjustments) (No.2) Bill - Second reading and all remaining stages – Lord Duncan of Springbank
 
Scottish Parliament
Topical questions
 
Ministerial statement: managing Scotland’s fisheries in the future
 
Scottish government debate: Fair Work Action Plan
 
Committee announcements
 
Business motions

TOMORROW 

House of Commons

Oral questions: chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister for the cabinet office (including topical questions)

Prime Minister’s question time

Ministerial statement: spring statement by the chancellor of the exchequer – Philip Hammond

Ten minute rule motion: tenancy (deposits and arbitration) – Lloyd Russell-Moyle

General debate: housing

Adjournment: appeals process for war pensions – Justin Madders 

House of Lords

Oral questions

Implementing the government strategy “Maritime 2050: navigating the future” – Lord Mountevans

Building a fairer Commonwealth – Lord Chidgey

Minimum size and composition of UK aircraft carrier task force deployed to the Pacific – Lord Wallace of Saltaire

Schools offering pupils advice on what first aid to deliver and communicating clearly with emergency services when someone has been stabbed – Lord Watson of Invergowrie

Legislation: trade bill – report stage (day two) – Baroness Fairhead

Short debate: human rights abuses in Bahrain – Lord Scriven

Motion

Scottish Parliament

Portfolio questions

Transport, infrastructure and connectivity

Justice and the law officers

Scottish government debate: year of young people 2018: a celebration, a chance, a change