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Posts tagged ‘Associated Press’

Malaysia Prime Minister: ‘Deliberate Action’ Caused Jet to Disappear.


Investigators searched the home of the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet Saturday as the probe focused on possible sabotage.

Officials now believe someone on board deliberately shut off its communications and tracking systems, turned the plane around, and flew for nearly seven hours after it vanished from radar, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday.

“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” Razak said.

A Malaysian official, who was not named because he was not authorized to brief the press, went further, telling The Associated Press that hijacking was no longer a theory. “

“It is conclusive,” the official said.

The move on the pilot’s home came in after analysis of data indicating the plane made erratic changes in altitude and course — and that manual changes attempted to mask the jet’s location.

“Increasingly, it seems to be heading into the criminal arena,” Richard Healing, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, told the Wall Street Journal Friday.

The latest bits of information from the probe “indicate the emphasis is on determining if a hijacker or crew member diverted the plane,” he said.

A U.S. official told the Associated Press investigators are now examining whether the baffling disappearance may have been ‘‘an act of piracy.’’

The New York Times reported radar signals recorded by the Malaysian military show Flight 370 — which took off from Kuala Lumpur last Saturday with 279 people aboard — climbed to 45,000 feet soon after it disappeared from civilian radar, then made a sharp turn to the west.

The radar track showed the plane then dropping to just 23,000 feet as it approached the island of Penang, one of the country’s largest.

Military radar last recorded the plane flying at 29,500 feet some 200 miles northwest of Penang and headed toward India’s Andaman Islands, the Times reported.

An unidentified Malaysian official told The Associated Press only a skilled aviator could navigate the plane the way it was flown after its last confirmed location over the South China Sea.

An Asia-based Boeing pilot told the Times flying above the plane’s service limit of 43,100 feet, along with a depressurized cabin, could have knocked out passengers and crew — and could have been a deliberate maneuver by a pilot or hijacker.

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The Journal reported investigators suspect two systems were shut off after the Beijing-bound plane took off: First, the plane’s transponders stopped functioning about an hour into the flight, making it difficult for air-traffic controllers to track the craft on radar.

Then, a second system sent a routine aircraft-monitoring message to a satellite indicating someone made a manual change in the plane’s heading that turned it sharply to the west, The Journal said.

The plane is now also believed to have continued flying for more than four hours after diverting its course — based on automated “pings” sent by onboard systems that try to connect with satellites.

One of the most chilling findings came from investigators examining data transmitted from the plane’s Rolls-Royce engines, showing the aircraft descending 40,000 feet in the space of a minute, the Times reported.

Investigators don’t believe it.

“A lot of stock cannot be put in the altitude data” sent from the engines, the Times quoted one unnamed official saying. “A lot of this doesn’t make sense.”

Aviation lecturer Cengiz Turkoglu of City University London said dramatic changes in altitude can happen because of a deliberate act in the cockpit, but that “it is extremely difficult for an aircraft to physically, however heavy it might be, to free fall,” the Times reported.

Initial fears, later discounted, were that terrorists might have brought the plane down after it disappeared.

Investigators also considered, but dismissed, the possibility that hijackers landed the plane somewhere for later use in a terrorist attack, the Times reported.

But one official told the Times that current information “leads them to believe that it either ran out of fuel or crashed right before it ran out of fuel.”

Meanwhile, CNN reported a classified analysis by the United States and Malaysian governments calculates the flight likely crashed into the Indian Ocean on one of two possible flight paths.

In one flight path scenario, the plane went down in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of India; another scenario has the plane traveling southeast and crashing into the Indian Ocean.

Still another theory being considered has the plane coming down in the remote Andaman Islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Cathy Burke

Airlines Warned of New Shoe Bomb Threat.


The Homeland Security Department has warned airlines that terrorists could try to hide explosives in shoes. It’s the second time in less than three weeks that the government has issued a warning about possible attempts to smuggle explosives on a commercial jetliner.

Homeland Security said Wednesday it regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, but it declined to discuss specifics of a warning sent to airlines.

“Our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by the latest intelligence and as always DHS continues to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment,” the department said in a statement.

A U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that DHS released a notice to airlines reiterating that liquids, shoes and certain cosmetics were of concern, all of which are covered under existing Transportation Security Administration security policies.

The latest warning was focused on flights headed to the United States from abroad.

The official said “something caused DHS concern, but it’s a very low threshold to trigger a warning like this.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Earlier this month Homeland Security warned airlines with flights to Russia to be on the lookout for explosive devices possibly hidden inside toothpaste. The Transportation Security Administration then banned passengers from bringing any liquids in their carry-on luggage on nonstop flights from the U.S. to Russia. That warning became public just days before the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It is unclear if the latest warning, first reported Wednesday by NBC News, is related to the earlier threats to Russia-bound flights.

Air passengers in the United States have had to take off their shoes at airport security checkpoints since shortly after Richard Reid tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes on a Miami-bound flight in late 2001. Reid pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and is serving a life sentence.

The traveling public has grown increasingly impatient with expanding security checks at airports.

TSA in recent years has changed some security procedures to allow young children and passengers 75 and older to keep their shoes on. The security agency has also launched a fee-based program that allows willing flyers to submit to background checks and avoid having to remove their shoes, jackets and small amounts of liquids packed in carry-on luggage.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Truce Collapses in Ukraine, Violence Intensifies.


Image: Truce Collapses in Ukraine, Violence IntensifiesAnti-government protesters man a barricade on the outskirts of Independence Square in Kiev on Feb. 20.

Fearing that a call for a truce was a ruse, protesters tossed firebombs and advanced upon police lines Thursday in Ukraine’s embattled capital. Government snipers shot back and the almost-medieval melee that ensued left at least 70 people dead and hundreds injured.

Video footage on Ukrainian television showed shocking scenes Thursday of protesters being cut down by gunfire, lying on the pavement as comrades rushed to their aid. Trying to protect themselves with shields, teams of protesters carried bodies away on sheets of plastic or on planks of wood.

Protesters were also seen leading policemen with their hands held high around the sprawling protest camp in central Kiev. Ukraine’s Interior ministry says 67 police were captured in all. It was not clear how they were taken. An opposition lawmaker said they were being held in Kiev’s occupied city hall.

President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition protesters who demand his resignation are locked in an epic battle over the identity of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West. Parts of the country — mostly in its western cities — are in open revolt against Yanukovych’s central government, while many in eastern Ukraine favor strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.

At least 99 people have died this week in the clashes in Kiev, a sharp reversal in three months of mostly peaceful protests. Now neither side appears willing to compromise, with the opposition insisting on Yanukovych’s resignation and an early election and the president apparently prepared to fight until the end.

Thursday was the deadliest day yet. An AP cameraman saw snipers shooting at protesters in Kiev and video footage showed at least one sniper wearing a Ukraine riot police uniform.

The carnage appears to show that neither Yanukovych nor the opposition leaders appear to be in control of the chaos engulfing Ukraine.

Dr. Oleh Musiy, the top medical coordinator for the protesters told the AP that at least 70 protesters were killed Thursday and over 500 injured, and the death toll could well rise further.

There was no way to immediately verify his statement. Earlier in the day, an Associated Press reporter saw 21 bodies of protesters laid out Thursday on the edge of the capital’s sprawling protest camp.

In addition, one policeman was killed and 28 suffered gunshot wounds Thursday, Interior Ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov told the AP.

A truce announced late Wednesday appeared to have little credibility among hardcore protesters at Kiev’s Independence Square campsite. One camp commander, Oleh Mykhnyuk, told the AP even after the truce, protesters still threw firebombs at riot police on the square. As the sun rose, police pulled back, the protesters followed them and police then began shooting at them, he said.

The Interior Ministry warned Kiev residents to stay indoors Thursday because of the “armed and aggressive mood of the people.”

Yanukovych claimed Thursday that police were not armed and “all measures to stop bloodshed and confrontation are being taken.” But the Interior Ministry later contradicted that, saying law enforcers would get weapons as part of an “anti-terrorist” operation.

Some signs emerged that Yanukovych is losing loyalists. The chief of Kiev’s city administration, Volodymyr Makeyenko, announced Thursday he was leaving Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

“We must be guided only by the interests of the people, this is our only chance to save people’s lives,” he said, adding he would continue to fulfill his duties as long as he had the people’s trust.

Another influential member of the ruling party, Serhiy Tyhipko, said both Yanukovych and opposition leaders had “completely lost control of the situation.”

“Their inaction is leading to the strengthening of opposition and human victims,” the Interfax news agency reported.

The parliament building was evacuated Thursday because of fears that protesters would storm it, and the government office and the Foreign Ministry buildings in Kiev were also evacuated. But a parliament session convened in the afternoon, with some pro-government lawmakers heeding the opposition’s call to work out a solution to the crisis.

As the violence exploded and heavy smoke from burning barricades at the encampment belched into the sky, the foreign ministers of three European countries — France, Germany and Poland — met with Yanukovych for five hours after speaking with the opposition leaders. The EU ministers then returned to speak again with opposition leaders.

The 28-nation European Union began an emergency meeting on Ukraine in Brussels to consider sanctions against those behind the violence.

The latest bout of street violence began Tuesday when protesters attacked police lines and set fires outside parliament, accusing Yanukovych of ignoring their demands to enact constitutional reforms that would once again limit the president’s power.

Prior to the deaths Thursday, the Ukrainian Health Ministry said 28 people have died and 287 have been hospitalized this week. Protesters who have set up a medical facility in a downtown cathedral so that wounded colleagues would not be snatched away by police say the number of injured are significantly higher — possibly double or triple that.

The Caritas Ukraine aid group praised the protest medics but said many of the wounded will need long-term care, including prosthetics.

The clashes this week have been the most deadly since protests kicked off in November after Yanukovych shelved an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. Russia then announced a $15 billion bailout for Ukraine, whose economy is in tatters.

The political jockeying for influence in Ukraine has continued. In Moscow, the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin was sending former ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to Ukraine as a mediator.

President Barack Obama stepped in to condemn the violence, warning Wednesday “there will be consequences” for Ukraine if it keeps up. The U.S. has raised the prospect of joining with the EU to impose sanctions against Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia will “try to do our best” to fulfill its financial obligations to Ukraine, but indicated Moscow would hold back on further installments of its bailout money until the crisis is resolved.

“We need partners that are in good shape and a Ukrainian government that is legitimate and effective,” he said.

At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Ukrainian alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska, 24, said she will not take part in Friday’s women’s slalom due to the developments in Kiev.

“As a protest against lawless actions made toward protesters, the lack of responsibility from the side of the president and his lackey government, we refuse further performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games,” her father and coach, Oleg Matsotskyy, wrote in a Facebook post.

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© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

More Gun Buyers OK’d Under Obama Than Clinton or Bush.


More gun purchases are being approved after federal background checks under the Obama administration than the previous presidential tenures of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, The Washington Times reported.

Figures obtained by the newspaper reveal that nearly everyone who applies for a gun from a federally licensed dealer and is vetted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is handed the weapon, regardless of what party is in power.

The security system was introduced in 1998 to prevent potential buyers with criminal records or mental illness from obtaining guns. Sales of firearms by private sellers don’t require background checks unless required by state law.

In 1999 and 2000, during Clinton’s presidency, 0.83 percent of applicants, fewer than one in 100, were denied firearms, according to statistics obtained by the Times under the Freedom of Information Act. And from 2001 to 2008 under Bush’s tenure, the percentage of refusals was even less at 0.67 percent, also less than 100.

Under the current Obama administration, the average denial rate is just 0.46, or fewer than one in 50 applicants, which is nearly half of Clinton’s numbers and also much lower than Bush’s.

The statistics show that the percentage of denials was even lower than 0.46 in the six months directly after the Sandy Hook school massacre by deranged shooter Adam Lanza.

The rampage resulted in an outcry from gun control advocates, including President Barack Obama, for stricter gun controls and an expansion of the background check system.

Astonishingly, there were just over 171,028,000 federal background checks carried out on potential gun buyers run from Jan. 1, 1999, to June 30, 2013 — with about 1,024,000 denied. The factors that prevent would-be buyers getting firearms include a criminal history, illegal immigration, or a dishonorable discharge from the military.

Thomas Baker, assistant professor of criminology at the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the number of gun applicants has increased rapidly in recent years because of the fierce political controversy surrounding gun controls that could result in them being barred from getting a weapon.

And he noted that people unlikely to be approved for a gun purchase are getting around the federal system by buying firearms privately.

“The unfortunate fact is that political rhetoric on gun control is likely increasing firearm purchases by those legally prohibited from owning firearms, too,” said Baker. “The only difference is that with the private-sale loophole, these sales go entirely undetected.”

Earlier this week in New Hampshire, a bill that would have expanded background checks for gun sales and transfers to include gun shows, the Internet, and flea markets was killed by the state’s Legislature, The Associated Press reported.

The bill would have required most private sellers to conduct background checks through federally licensed dealers. State Rep. Richard Meaney, a Republican, said the bill infringed upon New Hampshire gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Drew MacKenzie

New Tough Penalties For Gays Under Bill Signed By President.


 

By SaharaReporters, New York

A bill which takes aim at the gay lifestyle and criminalizes gay marriages with threats of long prison terms was signed in secret by Pres. Goodluck Jonathan.
While marriages by same-sex partners are growing in number worldwide, Nigeria would make the partners subject to incarceration of up to 14 years. Any marriage partnerships celebrated in other countries would be “void” in Nigeria.

Further, anyone who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs or organizations including gay rights groups, or who directly or indirectly reveals an amorous same-sex relationship would also be in violation of the new law and face up to 10 years in prison, according to the new law.

The signing of the bill was denounced by human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International which called the bill “discriminatory” and warned of “catastrophic” consequences for Nigeria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Presidential spokesman Ruben Abati said: “I can confirm that the president has signed the bill into law,” while declining to provide such details as when the signing took place.

He added further that “More than 90 percent of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage. The law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as a people.”

Investigation by our correspondent showed that the President assented to the Act on Jan. 7, 2014.

Under existing Nigerian federal law, sodomy is punishable by jail.

When it was passed by Nigerian parliament in May of 2013, the bill was condemned by the United Nation’s High Commissioner of Human Rights and other groups which urged President Jonathan to reject the bill.

The bill signing by President Jonathan, while quiet and without fanfare, has dismayed western nations who have relaxed their own laws on gay lifestyles including marriage. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by the new measures.

“Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly … and expression for all Nigerians,” Kerry said in a statement.

“It is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines … democratic reforms and human rights protections.”

Finally, it was pointed out the bill could endanger people living with HIV and AIDS as any HIV/AIDS organization could be ruled a “gay organization” and outlawed.

“Any form of assistance to LGBT people is now illegal, which may well translate into more young people becoming homeless and social and state violence,” Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian LGBT rights advocate said in a press interview. “Furthermore any safer sex prevention work with men having sex with men is now illegal and will surely exacerbate HIV infection rates and death from AIDS related illness.”

“The authorities and society will now feel safe and secure to persecute LGBT people violently, knowing that that the law supports them,” said Mac-Iyalla. He called on the international community to make their voices heard and oppose the law.

Sarah Palin’s Resolution: Call Out ‘Lapdog’ Media.


Image: Sarah Palin's Resolution: Call Out 'Lapdog' Media

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Sarah Palin has a New Year’s resolution — to be “more aggressive” in calling out the media for “practicing lapdog laziness.”

In a Facebook post on Saturday, the former Alaska governor and one-time vice-presidential nominee railed against the media for standing behind President Barack Obama, even after the revelations about the National Security Agency’s spying programs.

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“Hey reporters, we know that once Barack Obama got elected you bailed on keeping government accountable; you’ve been abject failures there,” Palin wrote. “Case in point: Nixon’s presidency was over once reporters busted him for allowing his people to spy on political opponents. Today, the Obama presidency’s hallmark is spying (in addition to violating economic and Constitutional liberties), for which you celebrate Barack Obama. Transparently hypocritical, much?”

Palin’s relationship with what she calls the “lamestream” media has been difficult through the years, including in November when MSNBC host Bashir called her the nation’s “resident dunce” and a “world-class idiot” for comparing America’s national debt to slavery, words he apologized for saying. 

On Facebook Saturday, Palin’s post also praised Sen. Rand Paul for kicking off the new political year “suing the president for violating our rights,” referring to the Kentucky Republican’s announcement this past Friday that he plans to file a class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration over the NSA’s policies.

Palin said she wrote her post after returning from her family’s remote cabin near Mt. McKinley, where she described spending “a glorious few days” with cell phones or television, saying she recommends getting back to “some simplicity.”

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She also said she resolves to “eat more meat,” to “help others make the federal government as irrelevant in our lives as possible,” and to “live out Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”, encouraging everyone to do our individual part to live with industriousness, self-discipline and selflessness so we, collectively as a nation, can restore America to her exceptionalism.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

2013 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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