5 things to know for March 12: Boeing, Brexit, Pelosi, Venezuela, trees

CNN's Richard Quest talks to CNN's Brianna Keilar about the investigation into the Ethiopian plane crash.

Posted: Mar 12, 2019 12:30 PM
Updated: Mar 12, 2019 12:30 PM

The shock and pain of the deadly plane crash in Ethiopia is being felt all over the world. Let's get to the latest and everything else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Ethiopia plane crash

As authorities continue to investigate the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight that went down right after takeoff, killing 157 people, experts and travelers are questioning whether Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes should still fly. Several airlines around the world have grounded them after this, the second major crash involving the 737 MAX 8s in less than six months. But in the US, the FAA has declined to ground the jets, and American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are still flying them. If you're booked on one and are worried, you don't have a lot of good options.

Meanwhile, we're learning more about the victims of this global tragedy. The passengers were from at least 35 countries. Twenty-one victims were UN staffers, headed to an environmental summit in Kenya. The flight, from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, was taken by UN personnel so often it was known as the "UN shuttle." One victim, a California man, was traveling with his brother just weeks before the birth of his first child. Then there's the Greek man who missed the ill-fated flight by mere minutes, arriving at the gate just after boarding ended. Click here for the latest on the crash and to read more about the victims.

2. Brexit

The UK is set to leave the European Union in just 17 days. Just how that will happen is still up in the air. But we should get some clarity this week. Parliament will vote today on Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement. It's virtually the same one that went down in a historic defeat back in January. British officials say May and the EU negotiated some legal changes which "strengthen and improve" the deal in a bid to get still-skeptical lawmakers to sign on to it.

But if it fails again, lawmakers will vote tomorrow on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal. That's the dreaded "no-deal" Brexit scenario that many fear would wreck the UK's economy, with disruptions at ports, dwindling medical supplies and potential food shortages. Most observers think that one would fail, too, and if it did, lawmakers would then come back on Thursday and vote on a proposal that would postpone Brexit altogether. Still confused? Check out our latest non-Brit's guide to Brexit.

3. Politics

The Speaker of the House thinks the current President of the United States is unfit for office. That in itself is an astonishing statement. But despite the fact that Nancy Pelosi believes Donald Trump is so lacking "ethically" and "intellectually" that he shouldn't be running the country, she's not yet ready to try to push him out of office because, she says, "He's just not worth it." Pelosi told The Washington Post that's she's "not for impeachment" because it would be "so divisive to the country." She'd only go down that road, the top Dem said, if something turned up that's "compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan." That's not going to sit well with her party's energized left wing, though. For one, US Rep. John Yarmuth, chairman of the House Budget Committee, argued that impeachment hearings against Trump are "inevitable."

4. Venezuela

The US has pulled the rest of its diplomatic personnel out of its embassy in Caracas because of the "deteriorating situation" in the country. Parts of Venezuela are still in the dark after a massive power blackout last week. President Nicolas Maduro, who blames the outage on the US, says the power will come back on "little by little." School and work will be suspended for another two days. The country's National Assembly declared a nationwide state of emergency that will let the assembly seek help from foreign nations. The blackout is just more misery for the Venezuelan people, who are suffering through a humanitarian crisis caused by an economic collapse that's led to shortages of food and medicine.

5. Climate change

Two species of trees are having a harder time bouncing back after forest fires, and scientists think climate change is to blame. The Douglas fir and the Ponderosa pine -- two ecologically and economically important species -- aren't growing in forests as quickly as they once did after fires because climate change is producing more intense blazes that the trees struggle to recover from, a study says. The problem is most noticeable in forests in California, Colorado, the Northern Rockies and the Southwest. Scientists fear it's all leading to the abrupt decline of trees and making these lands increasingly unsuitable for tree regeneration.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

The sweet whiff of opportunity

One Chesapeake Bay retriever couldn't quite hack it as a drug-sniffing dog. So, he parlayed his skill into another worthwhile endeavor.

Girl's best friends

She's 7 years old, has an inoperable brain tumor and loves dogs. So, 40 K-9 officers paid her a visit.

Start at the top

A 10-year-old boy in Australia dreams of starting his own airline. So, he wrote the CEO of Qantas for advice.

One small step

The NASA administrator says the first human being to step foot on Mars will probably be a woman.

TODAY'S NUMBER

$77 million

The street value of the 3,200 pounds of cocaine seized at the port of Newark, New Jersey, called the largest cocaine bust there in nearly 25 years

TODAY'S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Igloo bachelor pad

Who says you can't hang out outside with your best bud in Idaho in the dead of winter? All you need is snow, lights and a raging fire. (Click to view.)

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1611031

Reported Deaths: 47156
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