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Juan Guaido, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, reacts during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019.

Carlos Garcia Rawlins | Reuters

Juan Guaido, President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, reacts during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019.

However, only a limited amount of emergency supplies has made it into the country thus far.

The opposition’s proposed move is widely seen as an attempt to undermine Maduro’s authority. And major international relief organizations have said they are reluctant to assist with a delivery effort of humanitarian supplies, fearing the situation has become too political sensitive.

It has made getting basic products into Venezuela, past Maduro’s allied security forces and to those that need it most, extremely challenging.

Guaido tweeted a picture of himself surrounded by stacks of white pots of vitamin and nutritional supplements on Monday. He claimed his team had successfully delivered the first cargo of humanitarian aid, but did not explain where it came from.

“If Maduro can block humanitarian aid from coming into the country and keep the loyalty of security forces then he will move to shut down the National Assembly and put Guaido into jail or force him into exile,” IHS’ Moya-Ocampos said.



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Boeing’s Dreamliner facing claims of manufacturing issues: NYT report

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At a Boeing manufacturing facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, the aerospace giant reportedly pressured workers to speed up production while ignoring employee complaints about potential safety risks and defective manufacturing, according to a new report from The New York Times.

After interviewing more than a dozen current and former employees of the Boeing facility, which makes the 787 Dreamliner, and reviewing “hundreds of pages of internal emails, corporate documents and federal records,” The New York Times reported on Saturday that the newspaper’s investigation “reveals a culture that often valued production speed over quality.”

Boeing workers have filed numerous safety complaints with the federal government over issues ranging from shoddy manufacturing practices to tools and debris being left on planes, and workers say they have been pressured to not report regulatory violations to authorities, The New York Times reports. The investigation found that Boeing workers have installed faulty parts in planes at the facility, and that some aircraft have even taken test flights with debris such as tools and metal shavings inside the engine or tail, creating potential safety hazards.

Boeing has denied manufacturing problems with the Dreamliner, and the company said “Boeing South Carolina teammates are producing the highest levels of quality in our history,” in a statement to The New York Times. However, the newspaper also reported that at least one major carrier, Qatar Airways, had been frustrated by manufacturing issues at that particular Boeing facility, with the airline opting to only buy its Dreamliners from a different Boeing facility since 2014.

When reached for additional comment by CNBC, a Boeing spokesperson sent CNBC an internal memo sent today to Boeing employees by Brad Zaback, the vice president and general manager of Boeing’s 787 program.

“A story that posted in today’s New York Times, however, paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team here at Boeing South Carolina. This article features distorted information, rehashing old stories and rumors that have long ago been put to rest,” Zaback writes in the memo, the full text of which can be found below.

The report raises questions about the production process of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner at a time when the company is already facing investigations, including a federal criminal probe, into the certification process for the Boeing 737 Max. Those probes followed a pair of deadly crashes involving the aircraft, with an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max that crashed in March coming just months after a similar crash involving a Boeing 737 Max in Indonesia.

Read the full report in The New York Times

Here is Zaback’s full memo:

New York Times story paints an inaccurate picture of Boeing South Carolina

Team,

The 787 program has a lot to be proud of these days. Our transition to Rate 14 continues to be the most seamless rate transition in the program’s history, and our Boeing South Carolina 787 manufacturing operations are the healthiest they’ve ever been. More importantly, our quality metrics show that we are performing at all-time high levels as well. That is a testament to each of you, demonstrating your pride and your ongoing commitment to excellence with respect to both safety and quality.

A story that posted in today’s New York Times, however, paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team here at Boeing South Carolina. This article features distorted information, rehashing old stories and rumors that have long ago been put to rest.

I want all BSC teammates to know that we invited the New York Times to visit Boeing South Carolina once they contacted us, so that they could see first-hand the great work that is done here. They declined this invitation.

The allegations of poor quality are especially offensive to me because I know the pride in workmanship that each of you pours into your work every day. I see the highest quality airplanes – airplanes that meet rigorous quality inspections and FAA standards – deliver on time on a regular basis from Boeing South Carolina, where they perform exceptionally well in service for our valued airplane customers around the world. Our customers feel the same way, and shared their own thoughts with the New York Times:

American Airlines said it conducted rigorous inspections of new planes before putting them into service. “We have confidence in the 787s we have in our fleet,” said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the airline.

In a statement, Qatar Airways said it “continues to be a long-term supporter of Boeing and has full confidence in all its aircraft and manufacturing facilities.” Note that only a portion of their quote was included in the story, and we wanted to ensure you had their full perspective: “Qatar Airways continues to be a long-term supporter of Boeing and has full confidence in all its aircraft and manufacturing facilities as a strong commitment to safety and quality is of the utmost importance to both our companies. We have over 100 Boeing aircraft in our fleet, manufactured in both Everett and Charleston, with many more to join in the coming years as part of our significant, long-term investment in the US economy.”

In fact, we also heard from Suparna Airlines and Norwegian in response to the story, and here’s what they told us:

Suparna Airlines: “The entire process of the aircraft delivery was very smooth. We want to thank the Boeing team in South Carolina who worked diligently with the Boeing standard and discipline to make the delivery a pleasant experience for us. The airplane has carried out more than 200 scheduled flights with total flight hours up to 500 at an operational reliability of 99.99%. We are happy with the performance of our first Dreamliner.”

Norwegian: “We are very satisfied with the quality and reliability of all our 33 Dreamliners, regardless of where they have been assembled.”

The inaccurate picture the New York Timespaints is also offensive to me because they are counter to our company’s core values. Quality is the bedrock of who we are. That’s why we relentlessly focus on quality improvements and FOD elimination at all Boeing locations. No matter how good we are today, we always believe we can be even better tomorrow. That drive to be the best will never change at Boeing as we continue to strive to be a Global Industrial Champion and the leader in quality.

It’s unfortunate and disappointing that the New York Times chose to publish this misleading story. This story, however, does not define us. Our company and our customers recognize the talent, skill and dedication of this excellent Boeing South Carolina team that works together to assemble and deliver incredible airplanes. I want to leave you with a word from Kevin McAllister, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO, which was not included in full from the New York Times:

“Safety and quality are at the core of Boeing’s values – there is nothing more important than that. The 787 program has delivered 823 airplanes to more than 76 customers since its launch. As Boeing marks 10 years in North Charleston, our more than 7,000 Boeing South Carolina teammates are producing the highest levels of quality in our history. And, we are seeing this translate across our work and the in-service performance with our customers. We test our airplanes and verify components are fully operational, and when we find a component that is not, it is replaced and tested again. This is core to our quality system, as it is for the industry. I am proud of our teams’ best in-process quality of production and stand behind the work they do each and every day.”

This is a team that I am very proud to be a part of, and I’m thankful for all that you do every day.

Brad

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French protesters set fires in Paris as unrest grows after Notre Dame blaze

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French yellow vest protesters set fires Saturday along a march through Paris to drive home their message to a government they believe is ignoring the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.

Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “look at me — I need help too!”

Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements rampaging on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris and other French cities.

The protests marked the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against Macron’s centrist government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business. Protesters view themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers , students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.

But violence and divisions have marred the movement.

Associated Press reporters saw a car, motorbikes and barricades set ablaze around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. The smell of tear gas mixed with the smoke, choking the air.

Paris firefighters — who struggled earlier this week to prevent the 12th-century Notre Dame from collapsing — quickly responded to extinguish the flames at Saturday’s protest.

Masked protesters hurled paving stones and flares. Helmeted riot police repeatedly charged as they tried to contain the crowd. AP reporters saw at least two journalists injured in the melee. Troublemakers also ransacked at least two stores and one black-clad protester jumped on a parked Mercedes, smashing its windshields.

Paris police said authorities detained more than 200 people by early afternoon and carried out spot checks on more than 20,000 trying to enter the capital for the protest.

The violence contrasted sharply with the peaceful atmosphere at another march through Paris, where demonstrators mourned the Notre Dame blaze while also keeping up the pressure on Macron. They tried to march to Notre Dame itself, but were stopped by police a few hundred meters (yards) away.

Young women at that march skipped down a street along the Seine River, accompanied by drummers and singers. One protester carried a huge wooden cross resembling those carried in Good Friday processions.

Many protesters were deeply saddened by the fire at a national monument . But at the same time they are angry at the $1 billion in donations for Notre Dame renovations that poured in from French tycoons while their own economic demands remain largely unmet and they struggle to make ends meet.

“I think what happened at Notre Dame is a great tragedy but humans should be more important than stones,” said protester Jose Fraile.

Some 60,000 police officers mobilized for Saturday’s protests across France, and the heavy security thwarted some tourists trying to enjoy the French capital on a warm spring day.

“Paris is very difficult right now,” said Paul Harlow of Kansas City, Missouri, as he looked sadly at the damaged Notre Dame.

He and his wife Susan were in Paris only for a few days and didn’t make it in time to see the cathedral. On Saturday, their efforts to visit museums were derailed by closed subways and barricaded roads.

“I don’t think we’ll be back,” he said.

Other visitors showed solidarity with the yellow vest cause.

“I am not interested in joining them, but I can understand what they’re angry about,” said Antonio Costes, a retiree from the Paris suburb of Montreuil who came Saturday to see the damage to Notre Dame. “There is a lot of injustice.”

Macron champions pro-business policies that he believes will create much-needed jobs in France. He had been scheduled to lay out his responses to yellow vest concerns on Monday night — tax cuts for lower-income households and measures to boost pensions and help single parents — but canceled the speech after the Notre Dame fire broke out. He’s now expected to address the nation on Thursday.

Some yellow vest critics accuse Macron of trying to exploit the fire for political gain. One protester carried a sign targeting Macron that read: “Pyromaniac – we are going to carbonize you.”

Another huge sign read: “Victor Hugo thanks all the generous donors ready to save Notre Dame and proposes that they do the same thing with Les Miserables,” referring to the famed author’s novels about the cathedral and the struggles of France’s poor.

The government estimated that some 27,900 people marched Saturday around France, including some 9,000 in Paris. That was below organizers’ estimates.

The yellow vest cause started in November over a rise in fuel taxes and expanded to cover a broad list of economic complaints like high taxes and stagnant wages. It has suffered from divisions in recent months, notably over protest violence and the extremist views of some demonstrators. (Chris den Hond, Francisco Seco and Deborah Gouffran in Paris contributed to this report.)

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US intelligence reportedly says Huawei funded by Chinese state security

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U.S. intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese technology company in the West.

The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, the British newspaper reported, citing a source.

Earlier this year, U.S. intelligence shared its claims with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the report.

Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.

“Huawei does not comment on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence from anonymous sources,” a Huawei representative told The Times.

The company, the CIA and China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and amid concerns in the United States that Huawei’s equipment could be used for espionage. The company has said the concerns are unfounded.

Authorities in the United States are probing Huawei for alleged sanctions violations.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the United States on charges of bank and wire fraud in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

She denies wrongdoing and her father has previously said the arrest was “politically motivated”.

Amid such charges, top educational institutions in the West have recently severed ties with Huawei to avoid losing federal funding.

Another Chinese technology company, ZTE Corp, has also been at the center of similar controversies in the United States.

U.S. sanctions forced ZTE to stop most business between April and July last year after Commerce Department officials said it broke a pact and was caught illegally shipping U.S.-origin goods to Iran and North Korea. The sanctions were lifted after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties.

Reuters reported earlier this week that the United States will push its allies at a meeting in Prague next month to adopt shared security and policy measures that will make it more difficult for Huawei to dominate 5G telecommunications networks.

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