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Two Pilots Die in Collision at National Championship Air Races in Reno

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Two Pilots Die in Collision at National Championship Air Races in Reno

Two pilots competing in the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev., died on Sunday after their planes collided while landing, the Reno Air Racing Association said.

The accident took place at about 2 p.m., during a race at the conclusion of a five-day air show, which was being held for the last time at the Reno-Stead Airport after nearly six decades in the desert of northern Nevada. Organizers identified the pilots as Nick Macy and Chris Rushing.

“I am completely devastated and heartbroken today,” Fred Telling, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association, wrote in a statement on social media. He described the two competitors as “skilled pilots” whom he considered like family.

The races were suspended after the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board said that two investigators arrived on Sunday to inspect the wreckage of the two planes, which they identified as a North American T-6G and North American AT-6B.

The annual air show had been held in the northern Nevada desert since 1964. A series of deaths at the event over a decade ago raised questions over whether regulations were strict enough. Three pilots died over four days in the 2007 Reno air race. And in 2011, ten spectators and a pilot were killed in a crash, prompting a National Transportation Safety Board hearing months later.

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In March, organizers said they were looking for a new venue after the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority decided to stop hosting it.

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Countries wooing corporate digital nomads hope to make them stay

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Countries wooing corporate digital nomads hope to make them stay

“Digital nomad” visas are increasingly being used by countries to attract remote corporate workers, according to tax experts, as governments seek to outbid each other in a global war for talent.

More countries have introduced a form of digital nomad visa — allowing a person to live in a country and work remotely — since the pandemic increased demand from employees to “work from anywhere”.

The notion of a “digital nomad” has tended to suggest footloose freelancers backpacking across countries or working on beaches from their laptops.

But self-employed digital nomads make up a relatively small slice of the total community. While their numbers have grown by more than 50 per cent since the pandemic, according to figures from MBO Partners, they were not the main group governments are trying to attract, global mobility experts told the FT.

“The ‘nomad’ visa is ironically not done for nomads,” said Gonçalo Hall, CEO of NomadX, a remote work consultancy, who advises governments on how to launch digital nomad communities.

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“Most governments are seeing [nomad visas] as a way to attract remote workers with the clear intention of getting them to stay and become permanent residents in their countries.”

Gonçalo Hall, the Portuguese founder of a digital nomad village in Madeira © Goncalo Hall
Images from Goncalo Hall’s Instagram promoting work as a digital nomad © Goncalo Hall/Instagram

The total number of US digital nomads hit 17.3mn in 2023, according to MBO Partners, of which just 6.6mn were self-employed. The survey only tracks Americans, thought to be the largest group of digital nomads by nationality. Remote salaried workers are not taking jobs from locals and their consumer activity contributes to their host economy.

Countries were jumping on the “buzzword” of digital nomads, but really the visas “should be called remote worker visas”, Hall said.

Italy last month became the most recent country to introduce a digital nomad visa, joining several European countries, including Portugal, Estonia, Greece, Malta and Spain, that are trying to attract a growing global remote workforce.

Pallas Mudist at Enterprise Estonia, a government agency, said: “Estonia’s digital nomad visa is specifically designed to attract not just entrepreneurs and freelancers but also salaried remote workers.”

The visas are only open to non-Europeans, with about 600 issued since the scheme launched in August 2020. But overall the government estimates that 51,000 digital nomads visited Estonia in 2023, including Europeans who do not need a visa.

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Similar programmes have also been introduced in Barbados, Brazil, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Mauritius and the UAE among others. While there are no official figures on the number of countries that have introduced the visas, tax experts point to sources compiled by digital nomads such as nomadgirl.co, which says there are now 58 countries offering them.

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Daida Hadzic, a global mobility tax expert at KPMG, said that ageing societies was one reason governments were seeking to attract remote corporate employees using digital nomad visas. If such employees settle permanently in the country, they will contribute their skills and labour over the longer term too.

“The driving force behind digital nomad visas is that these countries are in competition with each other over labour,” she said.

Giorgia Maffini, tax expert at PwC UK, said countries offering digital nomad visas tended to be “a bit less competitive” at attracting foreign workers, citing Costa Rica, Croatia and Indonesia as examples.

Steve King, researcher at US-based workforce consultancy MBO Partners, said countries with digital nomad visa programmes often preferred salaried employees.

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“Many countries see digital nomads with traditional jobs as tourists on steroids who will spend money locally, but won’t take local jobs or be a burden on local social services,” he said.

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Marta Aguilar, who lives in Spain, said she spent almost half the year travelling the world while working for Coverflex, a flexible compensation company based in Portugal.

The company has no offices and employees work fully remotely, with a €1,000 a year remote working budget.

“I don’t like winter. So, I haven’t had winter for two years. I just skipped it,” said Aguilar.

However, the international tax system is often difficult to navigate for remote workers as the rules were not designed for a more mobile workforce.

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For companies, a key risk when employees work remotely is that the country they are in can be deemed a de facto business branch, or “permanent establishment” of the employer for tax purposes. That imposes tax reporting requirements on the business and means some of the business’s profits are potentially liable for tax in the country in which the employee is working.

Remote workers can also expose themselves to income and social security taxes on earnings generated while working abroad and potentially end up liable for tax in multiple places, also exposing the employer to liability.

Several intergovernmental bodies, including the EU, OECD and UN, are examining ways to make it easier for businesses and countries. In February, the European Economic and Social Committee recommended the taxation of remote employees take place in the country of the employer’s residence, with some tax revenue shared with the employee’s resident country.

Column chart of Number of US digital nomads (mn) showing Digital nomads have increased since the pandemic but growth has slowed

Experts also warn that some countries risk losing tax revenues as workers relocate — particularly if they move to lower-taxed jurisdictions.

“The problem with, say, the UK is we are so dependent on labour, and our weather is not great. [The trend for more remote working] may well lead to a lot of people going to, say, Greece, and undermining our tax base,” said Grant Wardell-Johnson, global tax policy leader at KPMG International.

These risks are thought to be small, for now. Rough estimates by the IMF in 2022 found that increased remote working reallocates about $40bn of the income tax that workers pay globally. This represents roughly 1.25 per cent of the global income tax base. The potential revenue either lost or gained across countries was found to be between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent of GDP.

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Small emerging market economies “with below-average tax rates and good remote work capability” typically gain the most from the trend, the research found — underlying the potential for tax winners and losers. 

Dino Jangra, a partner at Crowe, said: “In most countries, payroll wage tax is the biggest take. If you start to see a lot of people leaving your country, that becomes a problem.”

However, growth in remote working has slowed of late. According to MBO, the numbers of US digital nomads rose by just 2 per cent last year.

“I don’t think the digital nomad concept has so far quite turned out how people thought it would. There’s definitely been a wave of ‘get your bums back to the office’ happening all around the world,” said Jangra.

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Boeing's troubled Starliner spacecraft launch is delayed again

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Boeing's troubled Starliner spacecraft launch is delayed again

Boeing’s Starliner capsule atop an Atlas V rocket is seen at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on May 7, a day after its mission to the International Space Station was scrubbed because of an issue with a pressure regulation valve.

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Boeing’s Starliner capsule atop an Atlas V rocket is seen at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on May 7, a day after its mission to the International Space Station was scrubbed because of an issue with a pressure regulation valve.

John Raoux/AP

The first crewed launch of Boeing’s troubled Starliner spacecraft has been delayed again, to May 25, this time because of a helium leak in the service module.

NASA had set the liftoff for May 21 after scrubbing a May 6 launch but the helium leak was discovered on Wednesday. While the agency said the leak in the craft’s thruster system was stable and wouldn’t pose a risk during the flight, “Boeing teams are working to develop operational procedures to ensure the system retains sufficient performance capability and appropriate redundancy during the flight.”

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While that work is going on, NASA said its Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and the International Space Station Program will review data and procedures before making a final determination whether to proceed with a countdown.

The delay is the latest for the Starliner’s first crewed mission, which will carry NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams to the International Space Station. The astronauts are to spend about a week aboard the space station before making a parachute and airbag-assisted landing in the southwestern U.S.

If that mission is successful, NASA will begin the final process to certify Starliner for crewed rotation missions to the space station.

The delay comes roughly a decade after NASA awarded Boeing a more than $4 billion contract as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which pays private companies to ferry astronauts to and from the space station after the space shuttle was retired in 2011.

SpaceX, which was also awarded a $2 billion contract under the CCP initiative, has flown eight crewed missions for NASA and another four private, crewed spaceflights since 2020.

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A history of delays and design problems

But the Starliner program has been plagued with delays and design problems for several years.

It failed to reach the space station during its first mission in 2019 after its onboard clock, which was set incorrectly, caused a computer to fire the capsule’s engines too early. The spacecraft successfully docked with the space station during its second test flight in 2022, despite the failure of some thrusters during the launch.

Boeing then scrapped the planned launch of the Starliner’s first crewed flight last year, after company officials realized that adhesive tape used on the craft to wrap hundreds of yards of wiring was flammable, and lines connecting the capsule to its three parachutes appeared to be weaker than expected. The launch was delayed indefinitely.

The May 6 launch was scrubbed because of a faulty oxygen relief valve, NASA said.

Wilmore and Williams remain quarantined in Houston and will fly back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida closer to the new launch date, NASA said. The Starliner, which sits atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, remains in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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Boeing has faced intense scrutiny this year on the commercial aviation side of its business after a rear door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines flight shortly after takeoff in January.

Whistleblowers have since come forward to detail alleged quality control lapses at the storied company, and the Federal Aviation Administration said it was auditing Boeing’s production. The Justice Department also announced it would open a criminal investigation into the Alaska Airlines incident.

NPR’s Joe Hernandez and Geoff Brumfiel contributed reporting.

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Gantz threatens to quit Israeli government if no new war plan by June 8

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Gantz threatens to quit Israeli government if no new war plan by June 8

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Benny Gantz has threatened to leave Israel’s emergency government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not commit to a new plan for the war with Hamas in Gaza and its aftermath.

In a televised statement on Saturday evening, Gantz, an opposition figure and former general who joined Netanyahu’s coalition in the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, said that his centrist National Unity party would leave the government if his demands were not met by June 8.

Gantz’s ultimatum brings to a head months of tensions within Netanyahu’s government over the handling of the war, and comes just days after defence minister Yoav Gallant slammed Netanyahu for the lack of a postwar plan for Gaza, the enclave Hamas has ruled since 2007.

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