Up First briefing: Boeing faces production caps, Haley bets on South Carolina
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The Federal Aviation Administration has laid out a plan for Boeing 737 Max 9 jets to fly again, but also imposed new limits on production at the company's factories. More than 170 planes have been grounded since a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines flight in midair earlier this month.
- An apparent Boeing whistleblower has blamed mistakes at the Washington plant, alleging that four key bolts for the door were never re-installed after maintenance work before the jet left the factory.
- Max 9 planes could be back in the air as soon as tomorrow once they complete the FAA's maintenance and inspection plan, NPR's Joel Rose tells Up First. He says the FAA is imposing production caps not only on the Max 9 but other 737 lines, a rare step by the government.
- Aviation safety analyst and former commercial pilot Kathleen Bangs told Morning Edition that while those limits will hurt Boeing's bottom line, the company is in many ways "too big to fail" because it gets more revenue from U.S. taxpayers than its commercial jets.
Former South Carolina Gov. and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley is pinning her presidential hopes on her home state, which holds its primary on Feb. 24. At a rally in Charleston last night, Haley criticized former President Donald Trump as "chaos" for the country and knocked him for his mental lapses. She also touted her own achievements from her time as governor, from economic development to criminal justice reform.
- It's not clear that Haley's message is getting through to voters, NPR's Stephen Fowler reports from Charleston. When it comes to securing the votes and delegates needed to beat Trump, Fowler says in many ways "the math ain't mathin'."
Alabama is set to carry out an execution today using nitrogen gas, a method that has never been used before in the U.S. This will be the second time the state attempts to execute Kenneth Smith, who was convicted for his role in a 1988 murder-for-hire plot. His first execution attempt, by lethal injection in 2022, was called off after workers spent hours trying to find a vein for the IV.
- NPR investigative reporter Chiara Eisner tells Morning Edition that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the execution yesterday. Smith's lawyers had asked them to consider pausing it so they could argue that it violates his constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
- Smith's spiritual advisor, Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, told Eisner after visiting the execution chamber yesterday that "I think we're heading into what could possibly [be] a catastrophe."
Religious "Nones" are now the largest cohort in the U.S. A new study from Pew Research Center found that the country's share of religiously unaffiliated adults — meaning they consider themselves to be "atheists," "agnostics" or "nothing in particular" — has grown to 28%, up from 16% in 2007. Nones tend to be young, white, male and liberal. And researchers say they could change electoral politics in the coming decades — if they can be persuaded to go to the polls. Read the story or give it a listen.
New research estimates that rape has caused more than 64,500 pregnancies in the 14 states where abortion is banned. Few states with total bans on abortion have exceptions for rape, and those that do require victims to report the rape to authorities — which research shows only happens in a fraction of sexual assaults.
- Data on sexual assault and pregnancy is limited, so researchers analyzed figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and FBI Uniform Crime Reports.
- Polls show that most Americans support access to abortion after rape, though such exceptions are not legally or logistically feasible in many states that ban the procedure.
- High-profile cases of abortion after rape — including in Kentucky and Ohio — have become political flashpoints since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.
3 things to know before you go
- Gene therapy is showing promise for treating inherited deafness, researchers say. An experimental gene therapy restored at least some hearing for five of six participating children.
- Jon Stewart is returning to The Daily Show — which has spent more than a year looking for its new host — as executive producer and part-time host through the 2024 presidential election.
- The Palestinian national soccer team has advanced to the knockout stages of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time, sparking a moment of joy amid war.
This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.
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