Morning Read 5/5: Inside Obamacare repeal: how the vote happened and how it’ll affect you

President Donald Trump and House Republicans celebrate the Obamacare repeal measure, which passed with one vote [JP capture]
President Donald Trump and House Republicans celebrate the Obamacare repeal measure, which passed with one vote [JP capture]

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INTERNATIONAL


North Korea accuses CIA of ‘bio-chemical’ plot against leadership

North Korea on Friday accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and South Korea’s intelligence service of a plot to attack its “supreme leadership” with a bio-chemical weapon and said such a “pipe-dream” could never succeed.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high for weeks, driven by concern that North Korea might conduct its sixth nuclear test or test-launch another ballistic missile in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Reclusive North Korea warned this week that U.S. hostility had brought the region to the brink of nuclear war.

The North’s Ministry of State Security released a statement saying “the last-ditch effort” of U.S. “imperialists” and the South had gone “beyond the limits”.

“The Central Intelligence Agency of the U.S. and the Intelligence Service (IS) of south Korea, hotbed of evils in the world, hatched a vicious plot to hurt the supreme leadership of the DPRK and those acts have been put into the extremely serious phase of implementation after crossing the threshold of the DPRK,” the North’s KCNA news agency quoted the statement as saying, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“A hideous terrorists’ group, which the CIA and the IS infiltrated into the DPRK on the basis of covert and meticulous preparations to commit state-sponsored terrorism against the supreme leadership of the DPRK by use of bio-chemical substance, has been recently detected.”

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service were not immediately available for comment. The U.S. military has said CIA director Mike Pompeo visited South Korea this week and met the NIS chief for discussions.

KCNA said the two intelligence services “ideologically corrupted” and bribed a North Korean surnamed Kim and turned him into “a terrorist full of repugnance and revenge against the supreme leadership of the DPRK”.

“They hatched a plot of letting human scum Kim commit bomb terrorism targeting the supreme leadership during events at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and at military parade and public procession after his return home,” KCNA said.

“They told him that assassination by use of biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance is the best method that does not require access to the target, their lethal results will appear after six or twelve months…

“Then they handed him over $20,000 on two occasions and a satellite transmitter-receiver and let him get versed in it.” [REUTERS]

Brutal French presidential race enters final stretch

PARIS (AFP) — French centrist Emmanuel Macron sought to cement his frontrunner status Friday on the last day of campaigning for the weekend’s election run-off after a bruising and divisive race.

Pro-European Macron and far-right anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen have offered starkly different visions for France during a campaign that has been closely watched in Europe and the rest of the world.

And the battle has only increased in intensity in the final days after a bad-tempered debate, with Macron filing a legal complaint over rumors he has an offshore account.

Both candidates plan high-profile television appearances on the final day as they seek to win over voters, with polls suggesting the 39-year-old Macron enjoys a 20-point lead over his opponent.

At a final rally Thursday in the northern village of Ennemain, Le Pen told supporters she would give them back the keys to the Elysee Palace.

“France cannot wait five more years to hold its head high,” she said.

At an earlier stop in the western town of Dol-de-Bretagne, protesters threw eggs at her entourage, although she was not hit.

During a final rally in the southwest town of Albi, Macron told cheering supporters: “We will keep our promise of change to the end”.

The former economy minister came under fire however from dozens of union activists demanding the abolition of France’s controversial 2016 labor reforms.

Fake news

Macron’s legal complaint came after Le Pen repeated rumors he had an offshore account during Wednesday’s TV debate, during which the pair clashed over terrorism, the economy and Europe watched by 16.5 million people.

“I hope that we will not find out that you have an offshore account in the Bahamas,” Le Pen said during the debate, which was her last chance to narrow the gap.

The 39-year-old ex-economy minister described his rival’s insinuation as “defamation” and after his complaint, French prosecutors launched a probe Thursday into who started the rumour.

Macron’s campaign team called it a “textbook case” of “fake news”, saying it was spread on Twitter by accounts close to Kremlin-friendly news sites like Sputnik and RT as well as supporters of US President Donald Trump.

Le Pen hit back on French radio on Friday saying she was “not at all” the target of the legal suit and her National Front (FN) party had “absolutely nothing to do” with the rumours.

The FN party said her campaign website had been repeatedly targeted by a hacker close to the far-left, who was arrested last week.

After the debate, a snap poll by French broadcaster BFMTV found that nearly two-thirds of viewers thought Macron was the “most convincing” of the two, broadly mirroring forecasts for the decisive election on Sunday. [ToI]

Russia’s plan for Syria ‘safe zones’ bars US, others from flying over areas

U.S. and coalition military planes will not be allowed to fly over designated “safe zones” in Syria under a Russian proposal that has the backing of Iran and Turkey, reports said Friday.

The reports did not indicate how the airspace would be enforced and the overall proposal appeared to be a work in progress.

Alexander Lavrentyev, a Russian official, suggested in peace talks on Friday that all military aircrafts — including Russian and Turkish — would also be barred from the designated zones.

Under the Russian plan, President Bashar Assad’s air force would halt flights over the safe zones.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he had a “very good” conversation over the phone with Trump, and that his U.S. counterpart agreed to a proposal to establish Syrian safe zones to protect civilians in the war-torn country.

But the White House only confirmed that the two leaders discussed the safe zones, not that there were any agreements.

The zones, according to the document received by rebels, would be monitored by international observers and allow for the voluntary return of refugees.

Late Wednesday, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Damascus is “fully backing” the Russian initiative on the four cease-fire areas, according to the state-run SANA news agency. [FOXNEWS]


NATIONAL


With Obamacare vote, House Republicans free to turn to tax reform

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives plans to turn to tax reform in earnest, after concluding a lengthy healthcare debate this week with a vote to repeal and replace Obamacare.

But even as Republicans predicted that tax reform would succeed before year-end, lawmakers encountered new uncertainties about what a final tax package might contain, as well as doubts about whether Republicans will be able to enact reforms without Democratic help.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have pledged to complete the biggest tax reform since 1986, when President Ronald Reagan was in office, before the end of 2017. But they face an uphill battle, mainly over policy differences within their own ranks.

A plan to enact reforms without Democratic support will also require Republicans to pass a 2018 budget authorizing the parliamentary process known as reconciliation. But a new budget agreement poses a daunting task given Republican opposition to Trump demands for deep domestic spending cuts. [REUTERS]

TSA warns truckers: Watch for possible ramming terror attacks

(CNN) The trucking and busing industries should watch for terrorists who might be preparing to ram vehicles into people and buildings, the Transportation Security Administration warns, citing recent attacks worldwide.

In a six-page document released to truck and bus companies last week, the TSA highlighted 17 incidents that have killed more than 170 people around the world since 2014.

Most happened in Jerusalem (four) or Europe (10), including a July attack in which a man drove a truck into pedestrians in Nice, France, killing more than 80 people during a Bastille Day celebration.

Only two happened in North America:

• November 2016: A man drove a car into a group of people at Ohio State University and charged at passersby with a knife in November, injuring 11.

• October 2014: An attacker rammed a car into two Canadian military personnel outside a strip mall in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, killing one and injuring the other.

But people in the US need to be vigilant, the TSA said, asserting terrorist groups probably will “continue to encourage aspiring attackers to employ unsophisticated tactics such as vehicle-ramming, since these type of attacks minimize the potential for premature detection and could inflict mass casualties if successful.”

“These low-tech methods of attack are becoming more commonplace around the globe,” the TSA said in a statement released Thursday.

Businesses should take measures to prevent the theft of commercial motor vehicles and watch for suspicious behaviors by those who might want to rent or buy such vehicles, the report says. [CNN]
Families of San Bernardino shooting sue Facebook, Google, Twitter

Family members of three victims of the December 2015 shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, have sued Facebook, Google and Twitter, claiming that the companies permitted Islamic State to flourish on social media.

The relatives assert that by allowing Islamic State militants to spread propaganda freely on social media, the three companies provided “material support” to the group and enabled attacks such as the one in San Bernardino.

“For years defendants have knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits,” family members of Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen and Nicholas Thalasinos charge in the 32-page complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“Without defendants Twitter, Facebook and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible,” the complaint said.

Spokeswomen for Twitter and Google declined to comment on the lawsuit. Representatives for Facebook could not immediately be reached by Reuters on Thursday afternoon. [REUTERS]

U.S. Trade Gap With Mexico Widens Amid Weak Peso

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade with Mexico may have had an unintended effect: Fear of a trade war pushed down the value of the Mexican peso, increased the U.S.’s appetite for now-cheaper Mexican goods, and widened the U.S. trade deficit with its southern neighbor, the opposite of Mr. Trump’s objectives.

Trade Gap With Mexico Widens In March, the U.S. goods-trade balance with Mexico hit its widest point since the recession, as a falling peso made Mexican goods cheaper for Americans.

The U.S. posted a $7 billion trade deficit in goods with Mexico in March, the highest since November 2007, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The $28.1 billion in Mexican products shipped across the border—including cars, avocados and other products marked an all-time high.

The trade deficit with Mexico leapt 14% in the first quarter this year compared with the first quarter of 2016. That is due at least in part to a drop in the peso, which is down more than 8% against the dollar this year.

The peso fell after Mr. Trump’s election victory in November and tumbled again starting in January, as his tough rhetoric appeared to rattle investors. Mr. Trump pledged during his campaign to make Mexico pay for a border wall, and he has repeatedly threatened to revamp or even cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of broader plans to reinvigorate U.S. factories. The 1994 pact among the U.S., Mexico and Canada lowered tariffs and other barriers on a host of goods.

Revamping the treaty could ultimately hurt Mexican exports, roughly 80% of which go to the U.S. But in the near term, the peso’s drop has made it cheaper for American firms to buy Mexican goods in dollars.

The strong dollar, meanwhile, has curbed demand for U.S. exports, said Eduardo González, an economist at Citibanamex in Mexico City.

The Trump administration called the rise in the trade gap with Mexico alarming.

“The United States can no longer sustain this inflated trade deficit with our closest trading partners,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in statement. “The Trump administration is committed to rebalancing our trade relationships in order to protect American workers and businesses from lopsided trade relationships.”

The rise in the deficit could be temporary. The peso has stabilized in recent weeks. Mr. Trump recently backed off a threat to pull out of Nafta, indicating the administration would seek mostly modest changes to the deal in talks with Mexico and Canada. [WSJ]


LOCAL


City Council rips de Blasio’s budget

Mayor de Blasio came under attack in the City Council Thursday for spending too much and saving too little.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and two other legislators criticized the administration for not maintaining enough cash reserves in the new $85 billion city budget to weather an economic downturn or absorb potential cuts from the Trump administration.

“I continue to urge the administration to further strengthen the city’s reserves,” Mark-Viverito said at a Council budget hearing. “They are still not at the level advocated for by the Council to ensure stability in a time of financial difficulty.”

The Council is wants the administration to add an additional $317 million to the city’s capital stabilization reserve. De Blasio plans to add $250 million, plus another $1 billion to the general reserve. [NYP]

De Blasio signs law banning salary history question
In what he described as a “milestone achievement” for pay equity, Mayor de Blasio on Thursday signed a law barring employers from asking about a job applicant’s salary history.

“It is unacceptable that we’re still fighting for equal pay for equal work. The simple fact is that women and people of color are frequently paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts,” he said.

Applicants who believe than an employer has violated the law, which takes effect in 180 days, can file a complaint with the city’s Human Rights commission, which can impose penalties of up to $250,000. [NYP]

New York City records safest April in history

Last month was the safest April on record in New York City, putting 2017 “on pace for a record year in lows for shootings and homicides,” Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.

The NYPD said there were 540 fewer serious crimes last month than during April a year earlier, when 7,917 such crimes were reported, a nearly 7% decline.

There were 20 murders investigated in April, compared to 28 during April 2016, officials said.
But cops investigated 68 shootings in April, one more than a year ago, officials said.

For the entire year to date, serious crime in the city is down by 5% for the year, according to the NYPD’s CompStat system. [DN]

Pol rips Cuomo for doubting value of a Democratic N.Y. Senate

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo has trouble on his left flank.

Progressive activists and at least one state Senate Democrat on Thursday slammed the governor for his remarks a day earlier that cast doubt on whether it would be good for Democrats to control the state Senate.

“New York is hamstrung at every turn in our efforts to resist by the Trump Republicans who control the state Senate,” said Working Families Party State Director Bill Lipton.

“What is our Democratic governor’s response? Instead of trying to fix this problem, he continues to enable the very state Senate Republicans who oppose progressive reforms to protect New Yorkers,” Lipton said.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) went on a Twitter rant against Cuomo, listing 10 reasons why it would be better for Democrats to control the Senate. Among them were the passage of stronger anti-corruption laws.

Although Republicans hold only 31 of the Senate’s 63 seats, they maintain control of the chamber through an alliance with Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder.

Additionally, Klein’s eight-member Independent Democratic Conference has also allied itself with the GOP.

Cuomo on Thursday suggested that a Democratic takeover of the Senate might be bad for the state, noting the dysfunction that occurred the last time they controlled the chamber in 2009-10.

“It wasn’t extraordinarily successful. So I work with the Assembly and Senate that I’ve been given and I do the best I can,” Cuomo said. [DN]


POLITICS


House repeal of ‘Obamacare’ hands hot potato to wary Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are claiming a triumph by pushing their legislative centerpiece scuttling much of President Barack Obama’s health care law through the House. It was a perilous journey, and its Senate pathway will be at least as bumpy with little doubt the measure will change, assuming it survives.

Thursday’s 217-213 House passage – with 20 GOP defections – was preceded by several near-death experiences for the legislation, even though repealing Obama’s statute helped guide Donald Trump’s presidential run and multitudes of GOP congressional campaigns.

And that was in a chamber Republicans control 238-193. Had just two additional Republicans voted “no,” the measure would have lost because bills need majorities to pass. Now, Republicans must try maneuvering the measure through a Senate terrain that is different politically and procedurally from the House.

The House bill would end the Obama law’s fines on people who don’t purchase policies and erase its taxes on health industry businesses and higher-earning people. It would dilute Obama’s consumer-friendly insurance coverage requirements, like letting states permit insurers to charge higher premiums for customers with pre-existing medical conditions.

The measure would replace Obama’s federal subsidies for lower-income insurance buyers with tax credits geared to consumers’ ages. And it would cut Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled, including ending extra federal payments 31 states are accepting to expand Medicaid to cover more people. [AP]

GOP SENATOR SAYS OBAMACARE REPLACEMENT HAS ‘ZERO’ CHANCE OF PASSING SENATE AS IS

Hours after the GOP-controlled House narrowly passed a bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, a Republican senator said the bill has “zero chance” to pass the Senate as is.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the sweeping health care passed Thursday will not pass quickly through the Senate without major adjustments. The New York Post reported that moderate sentors are concerned about the bill’s Medicaid reductions. [FOXNEWS]

Senate GOP vows big changes for ObamaCare bill

Senate Republicans plan to dramatically overhaul the House ObamaCare repeal bill that passed Thursday and are warning the process could take weeks.

The House bill, the American Health Care Act, has raised an array of concerns among Senate Republicans, chiefly among lawmakers from swing states who are opposed to the cap on ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion that would take effect in 2020.

GOP senators are also troubled by analyses that the legislation would significantly cut federal subsidies for people between the ages of 50 and 65, especially in rural areas such as Maine, Montana, Nebraska and North Carolina.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced Thursday that there would no “arbitrary deadlines” for the healthcare legislation, setting up an open-ended process.

Senate Republicans say the bill in its current form cannot pass, and some of them privately question whether it will ever get a floor vote. There’s also skepticism in the conference that they will be able to cobble together 51 votes behind any plan.

“I think it needs a lot of improvement,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who is concerned about the Medicaid provisions, said about the House bill.

For example, a person who is 60 years old earning $30,000 a year in Kanawha County, W.Va., would see a subsidy reduction of nearly $9,000 a year under the House proposal.

The House bill could also face resistance from some of the Senate’s most conservative members.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that while changes to the legislation insisted on by members of the House Freedom Caucus improved the legislation, he’s still not satisfied. [THEHILL]

Trump to Visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican this month, a trio of stops meant to send a symbolic message of unification and common cause on his first trip outside the U.S. since taking office.

Eschewing the recent presidential tradition of visiting one of America’s immediate neighbors—Canada or Mexico—on his first foreign trip, Mr. Trump instead will first set foot on foreign soil as president in Saudi Arabia to attend a gathering of Muslim leaders aimed at combating extremism.

“One of the biggest problems we face in the world today is radical extremism,” a senior administration official said. “So we thought that was an important place to start.”

From Riyadh, the president will travel to Israel, then to Rome, where he will meet with Pope Francis, and finally to a pair of summits in Belgium and Italy.

Mr. Trump described his decision to visit places that are central to three of the world’s major religions as a kind of pilgrimage, deliberately designed to try to advance his goal of achieving a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and combating radicalization. [WSJ]

Trump spends more time than predecessors in White House bubble

In his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump made fewer appearances outside of the presidential bubble than his three immediate predecessors, venturing less beyond the White House or his private Mar-a-Lago estate, according to a Reuters review.

The U.S. president cast himself during his election campaign last year as a Washington outsider and a populist champion, and often seemed most comfortable at raucous campaign rallies.

Trump still constantly tells Americans what is on his mind through prolific use of Twitter messages, but he has not traveled out into the country often since taking office on Jan. 20.

Trump made comments at official appearances 132 times in the first 100 days, compared with 139 by Barack Obama in the same period, 177 by George W. Bush and 162 by Bill Clinton.

Some 22 of his appearances were in settings other than the White House, Air Force One, a government agency or at Mar-a-Lago, a Florida resort that his administration has called the “winter White House.” That compares to 62 such appearances by Obama in his first 100 days, 80 for Bush and 46 for Clinton. [REUTERS]

U.S. House Intelligence Committee has ‘successful’ Russia hearing

The leaders of a House of Representatives probe of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election said they had a “successful” hearing on Thursday, projecting unity after a partisan division had threatened to derail their investigation.

Representatives Mike Conaway, the new Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee probe, and Adam Schiff, the top Democrat, addressed reporters together after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, testified at a classified hearing.

“We had a very successful hearing,” Conaway said.

Schiff said the witnesses had provided “some additional insights,” and the committee was working together very well.

Neither responded to questions. [REUTERS]


CULTURE


Trump executive order allows campaigning from the pulpit

(JTA) — Jewish groups largely came out against a new executive order allowing clergy to endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit, fearing that it will erode the separation between church and state.

The order, which President Donald Trump signed Thursday at the White House on the National Day of Prayer, effectively reverses a 1954 regulation called the Johnson Amendment that prohibited houses of worship and faith groups from endorsing or opposing candidates. Offending houses of worship would lose their tax-exempt status.

Trump has long promised to do away with the law, which he sees as restricting religious freedom, but Jewish organizations had urged him to leave it intact.

Throughout his campaign and afterward, Trump has maligned the amendment as a muzzle on the free speech of clergy. In February, he vowed to “totally destroy” it.

At the signing ceremony, Trump invoked the history of church-driven social change movements in America, referring to the activism of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. He called the amendment “very, very unfair” and told clergy that “you’re now in a position where you can say what you want to say, and I know you’ll only say good and you’ll say what’s in your heart.”

The Orthodox Union, applauded the order. The O.U. opposed the Obama administration’s requirement that religious organizations provide coverage of contraceptives for employees, and also came out against Obama’s support for same-sex marriage.

“We are grateful that President Trump has made it clear that his administration will promote and protect the religious liberty of Americans of all faiths wherever possible,” Nathan Diament, the O.U.’s executive director of public policy, said in a statement Thursday. “We look forward to working with the White House, Justice Department and others to implement the principles laid out in today’s executive order.”

A full repeal of the Johnson Amendment can happen only through an act of Congress. But Trump’s order directs the Internal Revenue Service not to prosecute violations of the Johnson Amendment by houses of worship, effectively ensuring that they won’t face repercussions from the law.

Americans’ support for the order’s central action appears to be low. According to a March poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, only 22 percent support clergy making endorsements from the pulpit. And the Pew Research Center found that such endorsements are relatively rare. A 2016 Pew study found that while nearly two-thirds of worshippers have heard clergy deliver a sermon about a social or political issue, only 14 percent have heard clergy endorse or oppose a candidate. [JTA]


FINANCE


U.S. employment growth seen rebounding, wages increasing

U.S. job growth likely rebounded in April and wages increased, pointing to a further tightening in labor market conditions that could pave the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next month.

Nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 185,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters poll of economists, after a paltry gain of 98,000 in March.

The March gain, the smallest in 10 months, was dismissed as payback after unseasonably mild temperatures in January and February pulled forward hiring in weather-sensitive sectors like construction and leisure and hospitality.

The Labor Department will release its closely watched employment report at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) on Friday.

Job gains in line with expectations would support the Fed’s contention that the pedestrian 0.7 percent annualized economic growth pace in the first quarter was likely “transitory,” and its optimism that economic activity would expand at a “moderate” pace.

The economy needs to create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population. Job growth averaged 178,000 per month in the first quarter. [REUTERS]

Uber Faces Federal Criminal Probe Over ‘Greyball’ Software

Federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into Uber Technologies Inc.’s use of software as part of a company program known as “Greyball” that helped drivers avoid local regulators, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Uber has said it used the technology to evade government officials seeking to identify and block Uber drivers in cities where the company faced regulatory challenges. The program, which Uber called Greyball, showed officials dummy versions of the app with fake cars trawling the streets.

The company said in March it would stop the practice of targeting government officials following media reports and a New York Times story that exposed the practice.

The investigation, described as in its early stages, is focused on how Uber used the software, according to the person with knowledge of the matter. A federal grand jury recently sent Uber a subpoena requesting records related to the software, this person said.

A Justice Department spokesman and an Uber spokesman declined to comment. Outside attorneys for Uber didn’t respond to requests for comment.[WSJ]

1ST LARGE CHINESE-MADE PASSENGER JET MAKES ITS MAIDEN FLIGHT

SHANGHAI (AP) — The first large Chinese-made passenger jetliner completed its maiden test flight on Friday, a milestone in China’s long-term goal to break into the Western-dominated aircraft market.

The takeoff of the C919 bought cheers and applause from hundreds of invited guests at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and was broadcast live on Chinese state television. The jet soon became invisible on a windy and polluted day in Shanghai, which was also in the path of dense sandstorms from the north.

After the 1 ½ hour flight was over, the test pilots came down smiling from the plane, wearing orange overalls with the Chinese flag.

With the flight, the official Xinhua News Agency said China had become “one of the world’s top makers of jumbo aircraft,” becoming the fourth large jet producer after the U.S., Europe and Russia.
China is touting the C919 as a rival to single-aisle jets such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. It was originally due to begin flying in 2014 and be delivered to buyers in 2016, but has been beset by delays blamed on manufacturing problems. It’s now unlikely to carry commercial passengers until at least 2019.

The aircraft’s maker, state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, will seek certification from China’s civil aviation authority and foreign regulators before making any deliveries. [AP]

05/05/2017 10:33 AM by David Kinzer
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