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Posts tagged ‘Australia’

Malaysian Airplane Probe Looks at Suicide as Possible Motive.


The co-pilot of a missing Malaysian jetliner spoke the last words heard from the cockpit, the airline’s chief executive said, as investigators consider suicide by the captain or first officer as one possible explanation for the disappearance.

No trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been found since it vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard. Investigators are increasingly convinced it was diverted perhaps thousands of miles off course by someone with deep knowledge of the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial navigation.

A search of unprecedented scale involving 26 countries is under way, covering an area stretching from the shores of the Caspian Sea in the north to deep in the southern Indian Ocean.

Airline chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya also told a news conference on Monday that it was unclear exactly when one of the plane’s automatic tracking systems had been disabled, appearing to contradict comments by government ministers at the weekend.

Suspicions of hijacking or sabotage had hardened further when officials said on Sunday that the last radio message from the plane – an informal “all right, good night” – was spoken after the tracking system, known as “ACARS”, was shut down.

“Initial investigations indicate it was the co-pilot who basically spoke the last time it was recorded on tape,” Ahmad Jauhari said on Monday.

That was a sign-off to air traffic controllers at 1.19 a.m., as the Beijing-bound plane left Malaysian airspace.

The last transmission from the ACARS system – a maintenance computer that relays data on the plane’s status – was received at 1.07 a.m. as the plane crossed Malaysia’s northeast coast.

“We don’t know when the ACARS was switched off after that,” Ahmad Jauhari said. “It was supposed to transmit 30 minutes from there, but that transmission did not come through.”

FOCUS ON CREW

The plane vanished from civilian air traffic control screens off Malaysia’s east coast less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian authorities believe that someone on board shut off its communications systems.

Malaysian police are trawling through the backgrounds of the pilots, flight crew and ground staff for any clues to a possible motive in what is now being treated as a criminal investigation.

Asked if suicide by the pilot or co-pilot was a line of inquiry, Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said: “We are looking at it.” But it was only one of the possibilities under investigation, he said.

Intensive efforts by various governments to investigate the backgrounds of everyone on the airplane had not, as of Monday, turned up any information linking anyone to militant groups or anyone with a known political or criminal motive to crash or hijack the aircraft, U.S. and European security sources said.

One source familiar with U.S. inquiries into the disappearance said the pilots were being studied because of the technical knowledge needed to disable the ACARS system.

Many experts and officials say that, while the jet’s transponder can be switched off by flicking a switch in the cockpit, turning off ACARS may have required someone to open a trap door outside the cockpit, climb down into the plane’s belly and pull a fuse or circuit breaker.

Whoever did so had to have sophisticated knowledge of the systems on a 777, according to pilots and two current and former U.S. officials close to the investigation.

Malaysian police searched the homes of the captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, in middle-class suburbs of Kuala Lumpur close to the international airport on Saturday.

Among the items taken for examination was a flight simulator Zaharie had built in his home but a senior police official familiar with the investigation said there was nothing unusual in the flight simulator programmes. A second senior police official with knowledge of the investigation said they had found no evidence of a link between the pilot and any militant group.

Some U.S. officials have expressed frustration at Malaysia’s handling of the investigation. The Malaysian government still had not invited the FBI to send a team to Kuala Lumpur by Monday, two U.S. security officials said.

 

VAST SEARCH CORRIDORS

Police and the multi-national investigation team may never know for sure what happened in the cockpit unless they find the plane, and that in itself is a daunting challenge.

Satellite data suggests it could be anywhere in either of two vast corridors that arc through much of Asia: one stretching north from Laos to the Caspian, the other south from west of the Indonesian island of Sumatra into the southern Indian Ocean.

Aviation officials in Pakistan, India, and Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia – as well as Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan – said they knew nothing about the whereabouts of the plane.

China, which has been vocal in its impatience with Malaysian efforts to find the plane, called on its smaller neighbour to immediately expand and clarify the scope of the search. About two-thirds of those aboard MH370 were Chinese.

Australia has offered more resources in addition to the two P-3C Orion aircraft it has already committed.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin said diplomatic notes had been sent to all countries along the northern and southern search corridors, requesting radar and satellite information as well as land, sea and air search operations.

The Malaysian navy and air force were also searching the southern corridor, he said, and U.S. P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft were being sent to Perth, in Western Australia, to help scour the ocean.

At the same time, the U.S. Navy said the destroyer USS Kidd was ending its search operations in the Andaman Sea.

 

NORTH OR SOUTH?

Electronic signals between the plane and satellites continued to be exchanged for nearly six hours after MH370 flew out of range of Malaysian military radar off the northwest coast, following a commercial aviation route across the Andaman Sea towards India.

The plane had enough fuel to fly for about 30 minutes after that last satellite communication, Ahmad Jauhari said.

A source familiar with official U.S. assessments of satellite data being used to try to find the plane said it most likely turned south after the last Malaysian military radar sighting and may have run out of fuel over the Indian Ocean.

The Malaysian government-controlled New Straits Times on Monday quoted sources close to the investigation as saying data collected was pointing instead towards the northern corridor.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

China F-35: Secrets Stolen From US Show Up in Its Stealth Fighter.


China obtained F-35 secrets through an extensive cyber spy operation carried out in 2007 against U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, U.S. officials and defense analysts said, and they have shown up China’s new stealth fighter jet.

Codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, the multiyear cyber-espionage operation yielded sensitive technology about the United States’ latest fighter jet which in turn was incorporated into the development of China’s new J-20 fighter, the Washington Times reported.

According to Defense officials, a Chinese military unit known as the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau (TRF), located in the nation’s Chengdu province, was behind the cyber-espionage. Once the data had been acquired, the TRF is said to have transferred it to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China, which then used that stolen data in building the J-20 fighter jet, the Washington Free Beaconreported.

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Having started 10 years ago, the F-35 development program is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon that has cost $392 billion, making it the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program ever. The program’s original price tag was $233 billion; however it ballooned due to delays brought on by cost overruns.

Referred to as a “fifth-generation” warplane, the F-35 fighter jet will be replacing the popular F-16 and more than a dozen other warplanes that are currently in use by the United States and foreign governments around the world.

As of late 2013, the U.S. partner countries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Denmark, Israel, and Japan have already ordered F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.

Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35 is said to be the most technically-advanced plane in the United States’ arsenal with 7.5 million lines of computer code controlling its weapons system, which is triple the amount of coding currently used in the top Air Force fighter, the Government Accountability Office told The Wall Street Journal.

“You’ve seen significant improvements in Chinese military capabilities through their willingness to spend, their acquisitions of advanced Russian weapons, and from their cyber-espionage campaign,” James A. Lewis, a cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Post. “Ten years ago, I used to call the [People’s Liberation Army] the world’s largest open-air military museum. I can’t say that now.”

In addition to the apparent cyber theft of secrets pertaining to the F-35’s development, China has also reportedly accessed other U.S. weapons systems, including the Patriot missile system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and the Army’s ballistic missile interceptor program.

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Michael Mullins

FBI Joins Possible Terror Probe for Missing Malaysia Jet.


Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner spotted an object Sunday that they suspected was one of the plane’s doors, as international intelligence agencies joined the investigation into two passengers who boarded the aircraft with stolen passports.

More than a day and half after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, no confirmed debris from the plane had been found, and the final minutes before it disappeared remained a mystery. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing.

The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper cited Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam’s army, as saying searchers in a low-flying plane had spotted an object suspected of being a door from the missing jet. It was found in waters about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday.

“From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane,” Tuan said. Thanh Nien said two ships from the maritime police were heading to the site.

The missing plane apparently fell from the sky at cruising altitude in fine weather, and the pilots were either unable or had no time to send a distress signal — unusual circumstances under which a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline would crash.

Malaysia’s air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said radar indicated that the plane may have turned back, but did not give further details on which direction it went or how far it veered off course.

“We are trying to make sense of this,” Daud said at a news conference. “The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back, and in some parts this was corroborated by civilian radar.”

Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots are supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does a U-turn. “From what we have, there was no such distress signal or distress call per se, so we are equally puzzled,” he said.

Authorities were checking on the identities of the two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports. On Saturday, the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight’s manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand.

“I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. “We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board.”

Hishammuddin declined to give further details, saying it may jeopardize the investigation.

“Our focus now is to find the aircraft,” he said, adding that finding the plane would make it easier for authorities to investigate any possible foul play.

Interpol confirmed that at least two stolen passports used by passengers on the plane were registered in its databases. It said no one had checked the databases, but added that most airlines and countries do not usually check for stolen passports.

Hishammuddin said only two passengers had used stolen passports, and that earlier reports that the identities of two others were under investigation were not true.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said the U.S. was looking into the stolen passports, but that investigators had reached no conclusions.

In addition to the plane’s sudden disappearance, which experts say is consistent with a possible onboard explosion, the stolen passports have strengthened concerns about terrorism as a possible cause. Al-Qaida militants have used similar tactics to try and disguise their identities.

Still, other possible causes would seem just as likely at this stage, including a catastrophic failure of the plane’s engines, extreme turbulence, or pilot error or even suicide. Establishing what happened with any certainty will need data from flight recorders and a detailed examination of any debris, something that will take months if not years.

European authorities on Saturday confirmed the names and nationalities of the two stolen passports: One was an Italian-issued document bearing the name Luigi Maraldi, the other Austrian under the name Christian Kozel. Police in Thailand said Maraldi’s passport was stolen on the island of Phuket last July.

A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline on Sunday confirmed that “Maraldi” and “Kozel” were both booked to leave Beijing on a KLM flight to Amsterdam on March 8. Maraldi was then to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, on KLM on March 8, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8.

She said since the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines, she had no information on where they bought them.

Having onward reservations to Europe from Beijing would have meant the pair, as holders of EU passports, would not have needed visas for China.

Meanwhile, the multinational search for the missing plane was continuing. A total of 34 aircraft and 40 ships have been deployed to the area by Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the United States, in addition to Vietnam’s fleet.

Vietnamese air force jets spotted two large oil slicks Saturday, but it was unclear whether they were linked to the missing plane.

Two-thirds of the jet’s passengers were Chinese. The rest were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

After more than 30 hours without contact with the aircraft, Malaysia Airlines told family members they should “prepare themselves for the worst,” Hugh Dunleavy, the commercial director for the airline, told reporters.

Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, wreckage can be scattered over many square kilometers (miles). If the plane enters the water before breaking up, there can be relatively little debris.

A team of American experts was en route to Asia to be ready to assist in the investigation into the crash. The team includes accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, the safety board said in a statement.

Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record, as does the 777, which had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed last July in San Francisco, killing three passengers, all Chinese teenagers.

© AFP 2014
Source: Newsmax.com

‘Visa for extremist and Islamic terror preacher, Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips in order’ says Jonathan, yet he tells you that he is fighting B’Haram terrorism.


 

The Federal Government on Sunday said it had not done anything wrong in granting visa to an alleged extremist and Islamic terror preacher, Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips.
An online medium had reported that Philips who lives in Qatar had been issued a Nigerian visa to visit and preach in the country.
The preacher was said to have already been banned from entering countries such as Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, United States of America and Kenya.
The report said Philips celebrated his visa issuance with his followers on his Facebook page on Saturday morning, when he wrote, “Al hamdu lillaah. I just got a visa for Nigeria and will be going there in a few days, in shaa Allaah. So, I hope to see all my Nigerian brothers and sisters. Baarakallaahu feekum.”
Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, told State House correspondents that the fact that somebody was denied visa by other countries could not be a reason for such person to be denied visa in Nigeria since the country had its visa requirements.
Moro said it would be wrong for any applicant to be denied Nigerian visa after meeting the requirements.
He however said the government would not hesitate to deport whoever was found to be engaging in activities that were inimical to the security of the country.
He said, “Every country has its own requirement for the granting of visa and in Nigeria’s situation especially against the backdrop of our security challenges, we also have our requirement for granting of visas.
“We have our own blacklist of people that because of our security situation should not be allowed into the country.
“And if this preacher that you talk about for instance did not fall within the list of people blacklisted for their activities that are inimical to internal security; If he is preaching and the content of what he has submitted for the granting of visa will not undermine the security of the country, then certainly we will grant him the visa. That is the purpose we have achieved here.
“Let me also say here that we should not set some double standards, when the Nigerian government signed the anti-gay law and the West was complaining, we stated that Nigerian nation is a sovereign country that should be allowed to determine its destiny and practices.”
(From Biafra Galaxy)

Toronto’s Scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford Defends Bieber.


Image: Toronto's Scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford Defends Bieber

Toronto’s bad boy mayor Rob Ford on Thursday defended troubled pop star Justin Bieber after police in Canada’s largest city charged the teenager with assault, his second arrest in a week.

“He’s a young guy, 19 years old. I wish I was as successful as he was,” Ford told a Washington radio show, urging listeners to “think back” to when they were teenagers.

Bieber was charged Wednesday with assaulting a limousine driver in Toronto last month.

Toronto police accused Bieber of hitting the driver “several times” over the back of the head. The car had picked him and five others up from a nightclub in the city in the early hours of December 30.

The misdemeanor charges in Canada follow his arrest in Miami Beach on January 23 for driving under the influence and resisting arrest during a street drag racing incident.

Through his lawyers, Bieber told AFP he is innocent of the Toronto charges, and he has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed in Miami Beach.

In recent weeks, Bieber’s Los Angeles mansion was searched over accusations he hurled eggs at a neighbor’s house, and illegal drugs were found at his home. One of his associates was arrested.

The singer has also gotten in trouble with the authorities in Australia for spraying graffiti. And in Brazil, Bieber was photographed emerging under a blanket from a notorious Rio brothel.

The White House has been asked to weigh in on Bieber’s bad behavior after it received a petition with more than 150,000 signatures calling for his deportation.

Ford himself has been mired in scandal for months, after admissions of crack smoking and binge drinking.

Though he defended his fellow Canadian, Ford said he is not a fan of Bieber’s music, preferring to listen to Led Zeppelin, the Eagles and the Rolling Stones.

 

 

© AFP 2014

Source: Newsmax.com

Passengers Rescued From Ship Icebound in Antarctica Since Christmas.


CANBERRA, Australia — A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday.

A helicopter carried the scientists and tourists from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalski in groups of 12 to an Australian icebreaker, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority‘s Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue.

The Aurora Australis will now take the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania, a journey expected to last two weeks.

“I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home,” expedition leader Chris Turney told The Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic.
All 22 crew members stayed with their icebound vessel, which is not in danger of sinking and has weeks’ worth of supplies on board. They will wait until the ice that has paralyzed the ship breaks up.
The eagerly anticipated rescue came after days of failed attempts to reach the vessel. Blinding snow, strong winds, fog, and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again.
Three icebreakers were dispatched to try and crack their way through the ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. The Aurora came within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the ship Monday, but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat to open water.
On Thursday, it appeared the weather had thwarted yet another rescue attempt. The helicopter was originally going to airlift the passengers to a Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, with a barge then ferrying them to the Aurora.

But sea ice prevented the barge from reaching the Snow Dragon, and the maritime authority said the operation would have to be delayed.

A last-minute change in plans allowed the rescue to go ahead. The passengers were instead flown to an ice floe next to the Aurora and then taken by a small boat to the Australian ship, Turney said.
The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on Nov. 28, got stuck after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place about 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) south of Hobart, Tasmania. The scientific team on board had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson‘s 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica.
Turney had hoped to continue the trip if an icebreaker managed to free the ship. Despite his disappointment over the expedition being cut short, he said his spirits remained high.
“I’m a bit sad it’s ended this way,” he said. “But we got lots and lots of great science done.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

2013 Saw The Lie Of Al Gore’s Global Warming Frozen Solid.


“The entire north polar ice cap will be gone in 5 years” – Al Gore, December 10th, 2007

Daily Mail UK: They went in search evidence of the world’s melting ice caps, but instead a team of climate scientists have been forced to abandon their mission … because the Antarctic ice is thicker than usual at this time of year.

The scientists have been stuck aboard the stricken MV Akademik Schokalskiy since Christmas Day, with repeated sea rescue attempts being abandoned as icebreaking ships failed to reach them.

global-warming-climate-change-scientists-forced-to-admit-defeat-ice-caps-icebergs-increasing-al-gore-liar-fraud-conman-liberals

They went looking for evidence of global warming, and found just the opposite. There is so much ice and snow that they became trapped and needed to be rescued.

Now that effort has been ditched, with experts admitting the ice is just too thick. Instead the crew have built an icy helipad, with plans afoot to rescue the 74-strong team by helicopter.

The expedition is being lead by Chris Turney, a climate scientist, who was hoping to reach the base camp of Douglas Mawson, one of the most famous Antarctic explorers, and repeat observations done by him in 1912 to see what impact climate change had made.

It is thought that the group, which includes scientific researchers and a journalist, will now be able to escape by air after two sea rescues failed.

Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis was unable to reach them because it was not strong enough to break through.

A top-of-the-range Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon (‘Xue Long’), was deployed earlier in the week, and hoped to reach the ship by saturday.

However just after midnight on Friday it too got stuck just six nautical miles from the ship.

The Academic Shokalskiy set off from New Zealand on November 28 to recreate a 100-year-old Australasia expedition first sailed by Sir Douglas Mawson to see how the journey changes using new technology and equipment.

But on Wednesday morning, the boat hit a mass of thick ice sheets and today remains at a stand still.

Chris Turney, an Australian professor who helped organise the voyage on the Russian ship, yesterday posted a photograph on Twitter apparently showing the Chinese vessel, a speck on the horizon beyond an expanse of ice.

‘Everyone well,’ Turney added.

He said trying to break through ice that was too thick would be ‘like driving your car into a brick wall’. Just before 5am on Wednesday, Australia deployed a The Snow Dragon to free the group into open water.

French vessel L’Astrolabe was sent out for back up, alongside Australia’s Aurora Australis, which is carrying food and first aid professionals.

After two days being stranded, passengers hoped to be rescued by the Snow Dragon as it powered through horrific conditions. source – Daily Mail UK.

by NTEB News Desk

Shell To Sell $2bn Assets In Niger Delta Over Oil Theft, Fall In Profits.


shale-oil-production

Royal Dutch Shell is to start the sale of $2 billion oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta in 2014 after weak refining margins and crude oil theft in Nigeria forced the profits of Europe’s largest oil company to tumble.The $2 billion Niger Delta assets, according to JP Morgan, is part of the $30 billion (£18bn) assets the company would sell off next year after weak refining margins and oil theft in Nigeria caused a sharp fall in profitsThe UK-based Telegraph quoted oil and gas analysts from JP Morgan Cazenove as saying that the oil giant would sell up to $30 billion (£18bn) of assets next year.They include oil assets in the Niger Delta worth $2 billion; a $7 billion stake in Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s second largest oil and gas producer; and other assets totalling $20 billion.The $30 billion disposal plan could be unveiled as early as January 2014, and would be the largest in the Anglo-Dutch oil group’s history.According to Fred Lucas of JP Morgan Cazenove, Shell’s guidance for capital spending implies at least $15 billion in asset sales during the next two years.“Yet without too much thought to portfolio stress, we can isolate almost double that figure of potentially non-core assets in Shell’s global portfolio,” he added.Retiring Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Peter Voser, said: “We are entering into a divestment phase like we had a few years ago.”Voser, who steps down at the end of the year to be replaced by Ben van Beurden, said asset sales would allow Shell’s net capital investment, spending on projects adjusted for acquisitions and disposals, to fall from this year’s record $45 billion.“We are entering into a divestment phase like we had a few years ago. The net capital spending is considerably going to come down in 2014. We know exactly what we are going to do. Ben will introduce to the market new targets,” Voser had said at his company’s headquarters in The Hague.Shell’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Simon Henry, said Shell would be investing in projects from Brazil to China and plans to sell production assets in Nigeria, the United States, and possibly some other regions, along with interests in refineries and retail.Voser, 55, a Swiss national and an economist by training, is retiring 31 years after first joining Shell. Since his appointment in 2009, he has overseen the completion of some of Shell’s largest projects.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Be Careful With That Conference! By Bashir Othman Tofa.


By Bashir Othman Tofa

President G. E. Jonathan’s acceptance of the National Conference/Dialog on the 53rd  Independence Day, may be a Greek Gift. He was adamantly against it just a few months ago; and was Senator David Mark, just a few weeks ago. For them both to make such a sudden and complete U-Turn, makes the whole thing suspicious. If they plan to use it to cause some confusion toward the 2015 elections, then they better make another U-Turn in the best interest of stability, as well as the existence of this country. If that is not the case, and I want to believe it is not, then they should only receive and widely publish the report of the Committee just formed, but suspend all other actions on the Conference until well after the 2015 elections. In fact, I would want such suggestion to come from the Committee themselves. No such a Conference or anything about it, besides the ad-hoc Committee’s work, should take place before the elections.

Better still, this Government should hands off this matter, and leave it to people to organize their conference. I say this, not only because of the negative subterranean influence the government will certainly exert, but also because of the billions of Naira that will be stolen in the name of the conference. President Jonathan should please pay more attention to our educational, health and infrastructural etc problems that bedevil the nation presently.

The way this conference is being conceived by it’s initiators, as a negotiation forum between the various nationalities (that is, the tribes) of this country, will be a very difficult, if not impossible, conference to organize. First, they have to define who are these nationalities, and how they would elect or nominate their representatives. They also have to define the role of the civil society in all this, who they represent and how they should be nominated. I am sure also, that State and the Federal Governments, Youth and Women Organizations would need to participate, and we cannot be sure whether the criteria they will use in nominating their delegates would be the same or on equal basis. God knows who else would demand to be represented! No one will accept to be left behind. But, we all know that certain nominations are made in order to steer meetings like this to some specific outcomes. That is where we must also be very careful.

With all these people populating the conference, you certainly need a huge indoor Stadium, to accommodate all these patriots, zealots, fanatics, terrorists, militants, anti-unity and anti-democracy groups, secessionists, fundamentalists, and whatever else you might think of. These are the representatives of the people, and all would demand seats and stipend and accommodation etc. That will be too expensive for the country to bear, especially at this time when the Federal Government, it is said, cannot fully pay the States their monthly allocations.; when they cannot settle with ASUU and the students; when some doctors are planning to go on strike; when nothing really works.

And, if you deny any of these groups and go for nomination of participants By some other means using other criteria, then the conference will not be properly representative, and will be dead on arrival. And, if you gather all those people listed above by whatever means, the confusion will be endless, and may even precipitate the unthinkable.

And how do you protect the conference from a terrorist attacks?

Or, may be the other alternative is to elect a new Constituent Assembly to debate the Constitution and make the necessary amendments in the vital areas that concern most Nigerians. But then, some will say, “that is what the National Assembly is doing right now”. Or, they will say, “the National Assembly should convert itself into a Constituent Assembly, and do the job. Some nominated members from the Civil Society groups may be added to it to bridge some of the gaps of representation, and to allow some advocates to participate. And, they will add that, whatever they produce should then be put to a national referendum; and the new constitution will then be a truly peoples constitution. Even these suggestions, I am sure will be objectionable to the agitators of the SNC, whose real agendas are unknown.

Many people have in the past said the question to be asked is, “do we want to remain as one country? If so, under what conditions?” What if this question when asked, the resounding answer is, “No! We do not want to remain as one country?”

Whether this type of risky questions will be asked and negative answers be given, it has to be warned that separating this country is not going to be an easy task. Any such attempt may land us into another war, in which the country will end up completely destroyed and millions killed. And, we must not forget, we are in an era of war throughout the world. We certainly cannot escape it. Separation can only come by itself, if for example, a section, on their own, decide to leave the union. In that case, they should be allowed to do so, completely with their people. Another war to keep the counry one, will result in the same destruction and loss of lives and, therefore, defeat its purpose.

Many of people will not like anyone to die, or even to spill a drop of blood to keep this country one. It cannot be kept one if a war happens between these “nationalities”; it will be destroyed. So, the best thing to do, is for the National Assembly, and any other groups to continue debating on what is really wrong with us? How do we make the necessary adjustments, structurally and politically, that will ensure we remain one in whatever form?

If the truth is to be told, we all know of a few matters that truly disturb and distort the minds of Nigerians, about the country and it’s remaining united.

1. Many people feel completely dominated in their own States, by people from “other” places. We do not like to say this, but it is now important to say it. It is natural for people to feel this and resent it, and even become violent because of it. Even in Europe, we’ve just been hearing David Cameron of UK and Angela Markel of Germany saying openly that multiculturalism is not working; that it is dead. This is mostly because “foreigners” are beginning to dominate them and take away their jobs and their livelihoods. In the UK, for example, the Asians, Middle Easterners and East Europeans are the new middle-class.

Almost all of the corner shops -dry cleaning, news agencies, green groceries, restaurants, food halls, even the traditional fish & chip shops are being taken by foreigners. Building works, house refurbishing, repairs and decorating by East Europeans. Even the pimps  and their commodities are foreigners!

We have also seen what is happening in other countries that were once peaceful, but now almost on the verge of violence, or already doing it against new comers. In Italy, in Russia, in Burma, even in Britain and Australia. Nationalist Parties are spring up to challenge immigration and beat up or even kill immigrants! The world is becoming smaller, population growing at an incredibly fast rate, and resources getting meaner! The same thing is happening to us in Nigeria, because we still regard ourselves as foreigners to one another in our own country. This is a contradiction, but we cause and encourage it. We senselessly say bad things against each other, without thinking of the consequences to our national unity. For example, “northerners are useless, they are parasites etc. Or, the Igbos have dominated us. Or, the Yorubas alone don’t own Lagos, we built it. Or, it is our Oil, or, it is our land, get out of it and so on.” Clearly, some Nigerians do not have the freedoms they ought to have in other parts of their country. Everybody is on every other body’s nerves. Every body believes that his/her problems are caused by some one else, especially if that some one else is doing much better.

It was not this bad before, even though there were signs of worry. Poverty is a very dangerous catalyst for violence and even war, because peaceful revolutions are rare. And, one of the most obvious cause of all these is the reckless corruption, the carelessness and the impunity in our country. The Chinese know all these too well. They shoot corrupt officials after they confiscate everything from them. Corruption is still there, but it is a daring thing to be openly corrupt. In Nigeria, it is the vogue. People are becoming poorer in a wealthy country. People who should be condemned to the gallows are applauded. It is this poverty and frustration that are the enemies, not anything else.

I believe it is because of all these that we are not at peace with one another; that we hardly appreciate our country; that we call for this and that to be done. The choices For us are really few and difficult, may be even unnecessary if we can do the right thing. But, one choice that is a dangerous choice to make, is to devide the country. But, even if that can be done, the same problems will persist in each of the new countries created. However, let us look at the to her choices open to us:

1. Revert to our four regions structure: The North, The West, The East and the Mid-West, and either remain Federal or Choose to be Confederal. The latter is the beginning of dissolution. And who would say that there will be no demand to further break up the regions. Wasn’t that the reason the States were created, and there are still demands for more States?

2. Abolish the States and revert to the old Provincial Structure and establish a Parliamentary System of Government. The Parliamentarians of the majority party will tear themselves apart in choosing the leader to be the Prime Minister.

3. Abolish the States and revert to autonomous Local Governments Structure (as in the UK) and establish a Parliamentary System of Government. Even bigger problem in the national parliament

4. Remain just as we are, but deal head on with issues of domination, corruption, poverty and the distribution of the wealth of the country in a manner that is acceptable to all. We either agree that whatever belongs to us belongs to us all and share it equitably, or we may just as well choose any of the above. But the issue of domination will still be contentious. So long as we are in the same country, every Nigerian must be free in whatever part of the country he/she chooses to live.

If we continue to allow any section of this country to wallow in poverty, people will continue to ask what is the use of the Union. I heard many Northerners, for example, complaining that one of the reason they are in this dire situation is because some other people from other parts of the country live in their millions in the North, eating up space and resources of the North, while at the same time saying that the North is a parasite, and should not receive equitable share from the nation’s resources! That, whatever little they receive, they share it with other Nigerians living amongst them. They also say, Northerners, especially in the SE and SS are not as well treated.

In the same vain, other parts of the country have similar complaints, even if for a different reason. And, that is the reality in our country.

It is all these treatable, but deliberately ignored complaints that land us in this situation. If only, we would find a way for the right people to lead us; to treat us equally; to ensure equal justice to all; to give every Nigerian a chance and equal opportunity and to feel at home and safe wherever in Nigeria; to share what God Has endowed us with in an fair and acceptable way; to make us love one another and stop calling each other nasty names.. If only…

And for those who advocate the separation of the country, they must remember that if that happens, even peacefully, then very body must go back to his/her country. How we implement that peacefully, is what the secessionists must think about.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Pope Francis Excommunicates Pro-Gay Marriage Priest for ‘Heresy’.


Is Pope Francis doing a double-take on his gay marriage stance?
Is Pope Francis doing a double-take on his gay marriage stance? (Reuters file photo)

Last week, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to stop “obsessing” over moral issues like homosexuality and abortion and called for a greater study of the role of women in the church. However, this week, Fr. Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia, told the National Catholic Reporter he believes Pope Francis recently excommunicated him for his vocal support of the gay community and women’s ordination.

Excommunication is the harshest penalty the Catholic Church can dole out. It means an individual is no longer allowed to participate in the sacraments or worship ceremonies and can never officiate Mass again.

Reynolds says Pope Francis sent him a letter dated May 31 and written in Latin—a letter that gave no official explanation for the excommunication but that accused Reynolds of heresy and claimed he had violated the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Because Reynolds doesn’t know the Latin language, Melbourne archdiocese canon lawyer Fr. John Salvano translated the letter for him. The news came as a huge shock to Reynolds.

“The Vatican never contacted me and it gives no explanation,” Reynolds told the National Catholic Reporter. “My excommunication is in the best traditions of the Inquisition. I am very surprised that this order has come under his [Pope Francis’] watch; it seems so inconsistent with everything else he has said and done.

“In times past, excommunication was a huge thing, but today the hierarchy has lost such trust and respect. I’ve come to this position because I’ve followed by conscience on women’s ordination and gay marriage.”

The Catholic Reporter says the order came directly from the Vatican and not from Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, Reynolds’ former superior. Hart told the newspaper that Reynolds was excommunicated because “after his priestly faculties were withdrawn, he continued to celebrate the Eucharist publicly and preach contrary to the teachings of the church.”

The letter stated that the decree is “a final and unappealable decision and subject to no recourse” and that the decree was “to be imposed on said priest for the good of the Church.” The document was signed by Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect for the congregation, and his secretary, Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria.

Reynolds told the Catholic Reporter that he has attended rallies advocating same-sex marriages in Melbourne during the past two years. He also has officiated Mass weddings of gay couples that were “unofficial, of course,” he says.

In 2011, Reynolds resigned as a parish priest and in 2012 founded Inclusive Catholics, an organization that supports women’s ordination and gay marriage.

Although Pope Francis has called for increased compassion for women and gays, he still does not condone homosexuality or women’s ordination. The Catholic Church continues its stance against both.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Reynolds became the second Australian Catholic to be excommunicated, following that of Sister Mary MacKillop in 2010. She was excommunicated by her local bishop but was reinstated.

Reynolds says that despite his excommunication, he will continue to push for reform in the Catholic Church.

“My motivation is trying to encourage reform and clear need for renewal in the church,” he told The Standard newspaper. “I still love the church and am committed to it. I’m just trying to bring about in my own little way to help highlight some of the failings and limitations.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

SHAWN A. AKERS

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