Georgia power cooperative upgrades Internet

Another Georgia electric cooperative will work with a partner to extend broadband internet.

The Washington Electric Membership Corp. announced Friday that it will invest $52 million to reach more than 12,000 customers in Baldwin, Emanuel, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Johnson, Laurens, Warren, Washington and Wilkinson counties.

Gov. Brian Kemp and Public Service Commissioner Tricia Pridemore, both Republicans, attended the announcement Friday.

The cooperative will run fiber to its customers and Conexon of Kansas City, Missouri, will operate the service. Conexon, which is investing $2.5 million, will offer accounts to customers. Washington EMC says the network will also improve electric service and increase reliability.

The network will be built over the next three years, with service beginning as early as spring 2022.

Georgia lawmakers gave the go-ahead for rural electric cooperatives to invest in internet service in 2019.

"The legislation is doing exactly what it was intended to do — encourage EMCs and community leaders to work together on developing innovative solutions to close the gap on the digital divide in our state," Kemp said Friday.

Lawmakers approved Kemp's plan to spend $20 million in the budget year ending June 30 and then another $10 million each year going forward to subsidize rural internet connections. Cities and counties will be able to apply for grants to aid Washington EMC's buildout.


China economy grows 18.3 %

China's economic growth surged to 18.3% over a year earlier in the first quarter of 2021 but an explosive rebound in factory and consumer activity following the coronavirus pandemic was leveling off.

The figures were magnified by comparison with early 2020, when the world's second-largest economy suffered its deepest contraction in decades. Growth compared with the final quarter of 2020, when a recovery was under way, was only 0.6%, among the lowest in a decade.

Manufacturing and consumer activity has returned to normal since the ruling Communist Party declared victory over the coronavirus last March and allowed factories and stores to reopen. Restaurants and shopping malls are filling up, though visitors still are checked for the virus's telltale fever.


Boeing sued over deaths in 737 jet

A lawsuit filed against Boeing alleges that a malfunctioning autothrottle system on an older 737 jet led to the crash of the Sriwijaya Air plane into the Java Sea in Indonesia last January, killing all 62 people on board.

The Seattle Times reported that the lawsuit, filed Thursday in King County Superior Court on behalf of 16 families of crash victims, cited previous incidents involving malfunctions of the 737 autothrottle system, arguing the history suggests the system should have been redesigned.

Boeing in a statement extended sympathy to the families and loved ones of people who died in the Jan. 9 crash but added that "it would be inappropriate to comment while our technical experts continue to assist with the investigation, or on any pending litigation."

This 737 that crashed had been parked for nine months last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic air travel downturn. Indonesian aviation regulators issued a new certificate of airworthiness for the jet in December that allowed it to fly again.

According to the preliminary report into the crash of Flight SJ182 by the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, maintenance logs showed that pilots repeatedly reported issues with the autothrottle in the days before the fatal flight and that technicians tried to fix the problem by cleaning switches and connectors.

The plane nosedived into the ocean near the Thousand Island chain in heavy rain shortly after it took off from Jakarta.


Vietnam, and Switzerland don't manipulate currency

Vietnam and Switzerland have been removed from the list of nations labeled by the U.S. as currency manipulators, reversing a decision made by the Trump administration in December.

In its semi-annual report to Congress on currency manipulation, the first under the Biden administration, the U.S. Treasury Department said Friday that no country currently meets the U.S. criteria as a manipulator. It said, however, that Vietnam, Switzerland, as well as Taiwan, will be under enhanced monitoring.

At the higher level of scrutiny which the report called "enhanced engagement," Vietnam, Switzerland and now Taiwan will be subjected to closer review of their practices as part of laws passed by Congress requiring the administration to call out nations that are engaging in alleged currency manipulation to gain unfair trade advantages over the United States.

The Treasury did not designate China as a currency manipulator, something the Trump administration had done in 2019 during a tense trade stand-off with the world's second largest economy. China is included on a list of 11 countries being monitored at a lower level than Vietnam, Switzerland, as well as Taiwan.

Also on the list with China are Japan, South Korea, Germany, Ireland, Italy, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Mexico. Only Ireland and Mexico were added to the list Friday.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner