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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Potential Debris Of MH370 Pulled From Indian Ocean

Missing Malaysian Flight MH370: Two ships pull possible debris from the Indian Ocean in hunt for plane

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Could this be a piece of missing flight MH370?

Ships have pulled debris out of the Indian Ocean after another day of intensive searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, but have not yet been able to confirm they are that of the missing plane.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said “a number of objects” had been retrieved from the sea by a Chinese and Australian vessel.
A spokesman for AMSA said they not been “confirmed to be related to MH370” and would be analysed.
Eight aircraft and a fleet of boats scoured an area of ocean larger than the United Kingdom on Saturday, reporting several sightings.
The search has stopped for the day and will resume on Sunday morning.
China’s state news agency said a Chinese military aircraft had spotted three objects floating in the sea from an altitude of 300 metres.
They were coloured white, red and orange respectively, a statement on Saturday morning said.
The sighting followed reports of “multiple objects of various colours” by international flight crews on Friday.
Despite numerous possible wreckage sightings, nothing has yet been confirmed as part of the aircraft that disappeared on 8 March on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
A man, whose younger brother is a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, pauses as he smokes next to a message board dedicated to passengers onboard the flight at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee
The search is becoming increasingly urgent as batteries showing the location of in-flight voice recordings run out.
Authorities must find debris, calculate the crash area and recover the black boxes in about a week or vital clues to why the plane crashed will be lost.
Chinese ships trawled a new area on Saturday after Australian authorities moved the search 685 miles north in line with new analysis of radar and satellite data.
It showed the plane travelled faster and for a shorter distance than previously thought after vanishing from civilian radar screens.
AMSA cautioned that some items seen looked like they were from fishing boats and nothing could be confirmed until they were recovered by ships.
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 sit next to lit candles before a prayer at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee
“We're hopeful to relocate some of the objects we were seeing yesterday,” Squadron Leader Flight Lieutenant Leon Fox, from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, said.
“Hopefully some of the ships in the area will be able to start picking it up and give us an indication of what we were seeing.”
The Chinese navy vessel Jinggangshan, which carries two helicopters, reached the new search area early on Saturday where it was expected to focus on searching for plane surfaces, oil slicks and life jackets in a sea area of some 6,900 sq km.
Another four Chinese vessels and one from Australia were on the way but would not arrive until late in the day.

Gas Pipelines -- One Of The Reasons For The Ukrainian Crisis?

Russia’s invasion of Crimea has caused it to lose the latest battle in the pipeline wars

US president Barack Obama and Europe’s heads of state yesterday sought common ground on new ways to rebuke Russian president Vladimir Putin for annexing Crimea. But they appeared only vaguely if at all aware that they have already won an important skirmish in the West’s centuries-old friction with Russia.

The victory is in what’s known as pipeline politics. For almost two decades, the West and Russia have waged a contest for mastery over a vast swath of the Eurasian continent stretching from Central Asia into Europe. The Russian goal has been to dominate the export of oil and especially natural gas across the region. The West, viewing gas as a Russian political instrument, has sought to break Moscow’s hold on the market.

In 2006, the West won the first battle of the pipeline war when the 1,000-mile Baku-Ceyhan pipeline began to carry Azerbaijani oil to the West, thus shattering Russia’s oil stranglehold on the Caspian Sea. At once, both Central Asia and the Caucasus could export oil through a non-Russian pipeline.

Smarting at the US-led coup, Putin won the next skirmish five years later with Nord Stream, a 750-mile-long natural gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany. Nord Stream allowed Russia to skirt Ukraine and Poland—with which Russia has had prickly relations—and get its natural gas directly to Europe. At a time the West had begun to worry about Russia’s natural gas dominance in Europe—supplying more than 30% of the continent’s gas—Putin had deepened his grip there.

Major Russian gas pipelines to Europe (active and proposed). Samuel Bailey via Wikimedia Commons
With the score tied 1-1, Gazprom proposed to further cement its hold with the 1,500-mile-long South Stream, another pipeline to Europe, skirting to the south of Ukraine. The proposal was a direct response to Nabucco, a US-backed pipelineoriginally intended to link Central Asia with Europe, thus killing Russia’s gas transportation monopoly on the ‘stans and reduce its market hold in Europe.

Last year, Russia appeared to win this round when Nabucco died; BP elected to back the construction of a different proposed export pipeline out of Azerbaijan, one ending in Greece and having much less geopolitical muscle. That left the field to South Stream. Score: Russia 2, West 1.

But statements in recent days by leading Europeans suggest that South Stream is on its death bed, too, a victim of Putin’s Crimean adventure. On March 20, Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Italy’s ENI, called South Stream’s future “somewhat gloomy.” Scaroni—among Putin’s closest corporate allies in the West—suggested that regulators in some of the European nations through which the line must pass are unlikely, at least for now, to issue needed permits. Two weeks ago, Gunther Oettinger, the EU’s energy commissioner, said he is freezing regulatory talks on South Stream.

So the pipeline politics score is now even. But there are two wild cards that could break the tie: events in Iran and China.

Europe seems intent now on finding new natural gas supplies to diversify away from Russian gas, but these appear to be years away. An outcome that would favor the West would be a political settlement with Iran, which possesses the largest natural gas supplies on the planet; a deal could allow Iran’s reserves to be more fully developed at last. Conversely, on the Russian side, Gazprom might finally sign a natural gas supply deal with China, a contract that has been on hold over pricing. Considering the new politics in Europe, Putin might see fit to lower his prices to meet Beijing’s demands.

More Details Behind The Ukraine Crisis.

The divisions behind the Ukraine crisis

Russian troops outside a military base in Crimea
The US and EU have imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty absorbing the peninsula into the Russian Federation following a disputed referendum.
The crisis has exposed deep divisions in Ukrainian society - between the European-facing west and the Russian-facing east.
Explore the maps and graphics below to find out more.
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Why is Crimea so important?
The region, a peninsula on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, is of political and strategic significance to both Russia and Ukraine.
The majority of Crimea's 2.3 million population identify themselves as ethnic Russians and speak Russian - a legacy of Russia's 200-year involvement in the region.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet has its historic base in the Crimean coastal city of Sevastopol - a continuing source of tension. After Ukraine gained independence, a leasing agreement was drawn up to allow the fleet to continue operating from there.
In 2010, this lease was extended to 2042 in exchange for Russia supplying discounted natural gas.
Black Sea Fleet bases
Frictions between Ukraine and Russia escalated dramatically in November last year after the then pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned an EU deal in favour of stronger ties with Russia. He fled Ukraine in February after violent protests in the country's capital Kiev.
Later, Kremlin-backed forces effectively seized control of Crimea and, in a subsequent referendum, the region declared 97% of voters backed joining Russia and leaving Ukraine.
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What ethnic groups live in Ukraine and Crimea?
The divisions within Ukraine go back much further than recent events. The country has been torn between east and west since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and this is reflected in a cultural and linguistic divide.
Russian is widely spoken in parts of the east and south. In some areas, including the Crimean peninsula, it is the main language.
In western regions - closer to Europe - Ukrainian is the main language and many of the people identify with Central Europe.
This division is to some extent reflected in voting patterns. The areas where a significant proportion of people speak Russian almost exactly match those that voted for Mr Yanukovych, as opposed to his rival and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2010.
Map: Ukraine's political and linguistic divide
Crimea is particularly Russian-facing in terms of its language and ethnicity.
According to the 2001 Ukraine census, while most Ukrainians identified themselves as Ukrainian, most residents of Crimea identified themselves as ethnic Russians.
Pie charts showing Ukraine and Crimea's ethnic identities
The census also showed that while most of Ukraine's population said they regarded Ukrainian as their native language, most of those in Crimea said their native language was Russian.
However, there are still large populations of ethnic Ukrainians and Tartars.
Many ethnic Ukrainians have natural loyalties to Kiev, while many of Crimea's indigenous Tatar community - deported in large numbers by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944 after some collaborated with the Nazis - boycotted the referendum. Some have also expressed fear at being once again under Moscow's rule.
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What ties does Ukraine have with Russia and the EU?
EU Russia and Ukraine
Ukraine has economic ties to both the EU and Russia.
Russian gas pipelines to Europe pass through Ukraine - a fact made abundantly clear in 2006 when Russia briefly cut supplies, sparking alarm in Western Europe.
Ukraine imports most of its oil from Russia - although recent discoveries of shale gas in the country mean it may become less dependent on Russian supplies in future.
There are also oil and gas fields in the Black Sea, which the government in Kiev had hoped to be able to exploit in order to further reduce its dependence on Russian imports.
Map showing key gas pipelines in Russia
Crimea's main water supply comes through Ukraine. The region's climate is dry and warm and most of its rivers and streams dry up in summer, so most of its water supplies come from the Dnieper river via the North Crimean Canal.
Crimea's water resources
Crimea's water supply map

War In Ukraine Involves Much More Than Freedom, Sea Ports And Power.

This Is The Gas Pipeline Map That Shows Why The Crisis In Ukraine Affects All Of Europe

If you question the strategic location of Ukraine, check out this map that Agence France-Presse made last in December — two months before protesters in Kiev forced President Viktor Yanukovych out of office.
Russia has now invaded the strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, and markets are spooked at the possibility that Russian troops that are being built up on the border could enter eastern Ukraine.
As the international tug-of-war for Ukraine continues, the tension involving economic relations in the region — especially regarding gas flow from Russia to both Ukraine and Europe — will increase.
Germany is perhaps the best example of this, as described by Noah Barkin of Reuters: “Heavily dependent on Russian gas and closer to Moscow than any other leading western nation, Germany faces a major policy dilemma as the Ukraine crisis descends into a Cold War-style confrontation of tit-for-tat threats and ultimatums.”

Getting Palestinians To Sign And Keep An Agreement Is Going To Be Nearly Impossible. Unless Israel Is Totally Decimated.

Palestinians Dream of Destroying Israel, Peace Treaty or Not

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry may be able to force Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, under threats and pressure, to sign a “framework agreement” with Israel. But as this week’s rally of hatred in the Gaza Strip shows, even after the signing of a Palestinian-Israeli “peace” treaty, a large number of Palestinians will not abandon there dream of destroying Israel.
“Jihad in Palestine is not terrorism. Jihad in Palestine is a sacred duty.” — Yusef Rizka, representative of Hamas
mass rally held in the Gaza Strip on March 23 showed that Hamas continues to enjoy popular support among Palestinians. Tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to attend the rally commemorating the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Hamas officials claim that nearly one million Palestinians attended the rally in the center of Gaza City.
This means that Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, remains as strong as ever in the Gaza Strip, despite Egypt’s undeclared war against the Palestinian Islamist movement.
The Egyptian war has indeed hurt Hamas, especially in wake of the destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians, however, as shown by the mass rally, evidently remains unaffected.
Addressing the crowd, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh admitted that the Egyptian war has harmed his movement. “Hamas is going through difficult times,” he said. “We are also facing harsh challenges.”
Haniyeh added that despite Egyptian security measures against his movement and the Gaza Strip, Hamas was not in a state of panic.
At the rally, defiant Hamas leaders repeated threats to pursue terror attacks against Israel. One Hamas official, Fathi Hammad, even expressed optimism that his movement and other Palestinian terror groups would be able to destroy the “Zionist entity in a few years.”
Hamas seems to be hoping, however, that the rally will send a message not only to Israel, but also to the Palestinian Authority and Egypt. The message that Hamas is seeking to relay to Egypt is that, despite the ongoing Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, the movement is not showing any sign of weakness.
As Hamas representative Yusef Rizka explained, “This is a message to those who are trying to undermine Hamas and damage its reputation. We do not meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries.”
Addressing the Egyptians, who have accused Hamas of involvement in terrorist attacks inside Egypt, Rizka said, “Jihad in Palestine is not terrorism. Jihad in Palestine is a scared duty.”
Still, the strongest message coming out of the rally was directed toward the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has good reason to be worried in the aftermath of the latest show of force by Hamas. When tens of thousands of Palestinians take to the streets of the Gaza Strip to call for the destruction of Israel and an end to the peace talks between the PA and Israel, it is clear that a large segment of Palestinian society remains opposed to any compromise with Israel.
The pro-Hamas rally is also aimed at sending a message to the U.S. Administration that Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate to sign any document that declares an end to the conflict with Israel.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry may be able to force Abbas, under threats and pressure, to sign a “framework agreement” with Israel. But as this week’s rally of hatred in the Gaza Strip shows, even after the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace” treaty, a large number of Palestinians will not abandon their dream of destroying Israel.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute