Netherlands And Australia Hold Russia Partly At Fault For Downing Of Malaysian Jet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

(FLIGHT MH17 WAS SHOT DOWN WITH A RUSSIAN MISSILE FROM A RUSSIAN HELD MILITARY LOCATION)

Friday – 9 months of Ramadan 1439 H – 25 May 2018 m
Joint investigation team in Malaysia plane crash offers a shattered missile (Reuters)
Amsterdam: Middle East Online
The Netherlands and Australia have taken responsibility for the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine during its flight MH17 in 2014, officials said on Friday, in a move that could trigger a judicial move.
In a statement, the Dutch government said the two countries “hold Russia partly responsible for the downing” of the Malaysian plane, a day after investigators found that a Bock missile hit the plane while it was flying, moving from a Russian military unit in Kursk. All 298 passengers, mostly Dutch, were killed.

Pregnant, deaf woman punched along with her service dog on airplane

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF WTHR CBS ORLANDO FLORIDA)

 

Pregnant, deaf woman punched along with her service dog on airplane

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Image from Phillip Moreno
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UPDATED: 

ORLANDO, Florida (WESH) – Chaos on-board an airplane heading to Orlando when police say a man punched a service dog in the face because his wife was allergic.

He also hit the animal’s owner, who is deaf, and pregnant.

“I heard yelling. At first I didn’t think it was anything and I looked over and there was a big group of people,” said Phillip Moreno, who works at the Orlando Airport. “It was kind of shuffle. I saw a dog running around.”

What Moreno didn’t see was what had happened on the plane as it was landing.

The woman with the dog and her husband are both deaf and travel with their Great Dane service dog. Their children were also flying with them.

Police say the suspect claimed his wife complained of an allergy to dogs.

And he felt the dog was taking more space than it deserved, so he punched it with a closed fist.

The dog yelped.

Then, at some point, the pregnant woman was punched in the stomach by the suspect, who also touched her two children.

A flight attendant notified local police when the plane landed.

Moreno, working at the gate, took cell phone video. “I saw a woman, I couldn’t really understand what she was saying,” he said. “She was freaking out. And I couldn’t figure out why this man was chasing another man.”

So far no one has been arrested, but federal charges could be filed because the incident happened in the air.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crash was deliberate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS AND ’60 MINUTES AUSTRALIA’)

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crash was deliberate, aviation experts suggest

An investigation by an Australian TV news program suggests the pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared with 239 people aboard more than four years ago, deliberately crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Investigators are still searching for the aircraft, but these findings raise the possibility that one of the greatest aviation mysteries in modern history may not have been a catastrophic accident, but instead a possible mass murder-suicide.

“60 Minutes Australia” brought together an international group of aviation experts who say that the disappearance of MH370 was a criminal act by veteran pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

“He was killing himself; unfortunately, he was killing everybody else on board, and he did it deliberately,” said Canadian Air crash investigator Larry Vance.

mh370-expert-panel-60-minutes-australia-620.jpg

A panel of aviation experts and air crash investigators discusses the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

“60 MINUTES AUSTRALIA”

Boeing 777 pilot and instructor Simon Hardy reconstructed the flight plan based on military radar, and says Captain Shah flew along the border of Malaysia and Thailand, crossing in and out of each country’s airspace to avoid detection.

“It did the job,” Hardy said, “because we know, as a fact, that the military did not come and intercept the aircraft.”

Hardy also made a strange discovery: Captain Shah likely dipped the plane’s wing over Penang, his hometown.

“Somebody was looking out the window,” he suggested.

“Why did he want to look outside Penang?” asked reporter Tara Brown.

“It might be a long, emotional goodbye — or a short, emotional goodbye,” Hardy replied.

Two experts from the “60 Minutes Australia” investigation also disagreed with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s scenario of the “death dive” with no one in control.

“I think someone was controlling the aircraft until the end,” said Hardy.

They argue instead that Captain Shah flew Flight MH370 another 115 miles than originally thought. “This was a mission by one of the crew to hide the aircraft as far away from civilization as possible,” Hardy said. “Which puts us way outside the search area that is currently being done.”

The wreckage uncovered so far may be further evidence that the pilot actually had control and that it was not a high speed crash. As Larry Vance noted of one wing component recovered from the shore of Africa, “The front of it would be pressed in and hollow. The water would invade inside and it would just explode from the inside. So this piece would not even exist.”

mh370-plane-component-60-minutes-australia-620.jpg

Larry Vance and reporter Tara Brown with a wing component recovered from the vanished MH370.

 CBS NEWS

“They are very compelling,” aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, told CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave. “What I find very compelling is the hypothesis that the pilot did this deliberately, and did one of the most heinous acts in modern commercial aviation.”

CBS News spoke to multiple family members of the MH370 victims, and some say that this is nothing new and that without forensic evidence, they will not be convinced.

Captain Shah’s family tells CBS News that “pointing a finger toward him does not make them expert investigators — they have to find the plane.”

Malaysia Airlines has not yet responded to our requests for comment.


To watch the full “60 Minutes Australia” report, “MH370: The Situation Room,” click here or watch below:

Chinese military lasers injure US military pilots in Africa

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Chinese military lasers injure US military pilots in Africa

(CNN)Chinese personnel at the country’s first overseas military base in Djibouti have been using lasers to interfere with US military aircraft at a nearby American base, activity that has resulted in injuries to US pilots and prompted the US to launch a formal diplomatic protest with Beijing, two military officials told CNN.

The US issued a notice to airmen “to exercise caution when flying in certain areas in Djibouti,” which “was issued due to lasers being directed at US aircraft on a small number of separate occasions over the last few weeks,” according to the notice obtained by CNN.
“During one incident, there were two minor eye injuries of aircrew flying in a C-130 that resulted from exposure to military-grade laser beams, which were reported to have originated from the nearby Chinese base,” the notice said.
Two US military officials told CNN that the issue was of major concern as such activity can cause major accidents. The officials said that the State Department had lodged a formal diplomatic protest with Beijing in an effort to get China to stop the activity.
Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed the incidents later on Thursday, saying the United States has “formally demarched” the Chinese government over the incidents and has “requested” that the Chinese launch their own investigation of the situation.
“This activity poses a true threat to our airmen,” White said, later saying that the incidents had grown increasingly serious over the last few weeks.
A US defense official told CNN that the US military also believes the Chinese use similar lasers to interfere with US aircraft in the South China Sea.
Last month the US military was forced to briefly halt air operations in the East African nation of Djibouti, a critical location in the fight against terrorism, following a series of accidents involving aircraft. The halting of air operations was done at the request of Djiboutian government.
There are about 4,000 US personnel in Djibouti, based at Camp Lemonnier. The US military places a lot of importance on its ability to base forces in Djibouti given its critically strategic location near countries like Somalia and Yemen, where the US regularly targets terrorists in airstrikes.
But US officials have recently expressed concern about the growing influence of China in Djibouti, noting its establishment of its first military base there and its close economic links with the country.
Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who oversees US Africa Command, acknowledged both challenges during an appearance before Congress in March.
“We are taking significant steps on the counterintelligence side so that we have all the defenses that we need there, there is no doubt about that,” said Waldhauser, referring to the proximity of the new Chinese base.

Air Force Plane Belonging To 156th Air Wing Of Puerto Rico Has Crashed Killing 5

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS)

 

Military cargo plane crashes in Georgia, killing 5

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Associated Press
Military cargo plane crashes in Savannah, Georgia
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PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (AP) — An Air National Guard C-130 cargo plane crashed Wednesday onto a busy highway after taking off from a Georgia airport, killing at least five National Guard members from Puerto Rico, authorities said.

Black smoke rose into the sky from a section of the plane that appeared to have crashed into a median on the road outside Savannah, Georgia. Firefighters later put out the blaze.

Capt. Jeff Bezore, a spokesman for the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Air Wing, said the crash killed at least five people. He said he couldn’t say how many people in total were on the plane when it crashed around 11:30 a.m.

Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons of the Georgia Air National Guard told reporters the cause of the crash was unknown and authorities were still working to make the crash site safe for investigators.

“Any information about what caused this or any facts about the aircraft will come out in the investigation,” he said.

The plane had just taken off from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport when it crashed, Parsons said.

The Air Force said the plane belonged to the 156th Air Wing out of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico National Guard Spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen told The Associated Press that all those aboard were Puerto Ricans who had recently left the U.S. territory for a mission on the U.S. mainland. He said initial information indicated there were five to nine people aboard the plane, which was heading to Arizona. He did not have details on the mission.

“We are saddened by the plane accident that occurred today in Georgia,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in a tweet. “Our prayers are with the families of the Puerto Rican crew.”

The plane crashed onto state highway Georgia 21, about a mile from the airport, said Gena Bilbo, a spokeswoman for the Effingham County Sherriff’s Office.

“It miraculously did not hit any cars, any homes,” Bilbo said. “This is a very busy roadway.”

The crash caused a big fireball and scattered debris over a large area, Bilbo said.

A photo tweeted by the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association shows the tail end of a plane and a field of flames and black smoke as an ambulance stood nearby.

The only part of the plane that remained intact was the tail section, said Chris Hanks, the assistant public information officer with the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association. The tail section was sitting on the highway and the ground in front of it was black and littered with debris, he said.

Savannah’s Air National Guard base has been heavily involved in hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. In September 2017, it was designated by the Air National Guard as the hub of operations to the island in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the base announced at the time.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport said on social media that some flights were being affected though the crash happened off its property. The airport advised passengers to check with their airline for updated flight information.

___

Associated Press writers Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Jeff Martin in Atlanta have contributed to this report.

Lost World Of Shipwrecks Have Been Found In The Black Sea Off Of Bulgarian Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIME’S, SCIENCE SECTION)

An image of the well-preserved medieval ship found at the bottom of the Black Sea, one of more than 40 wrecks discovered. Photogrammetry, a process using thousands of photographs and readings, produced a rendering that appears three-dimensional.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

The medieval ship lay more than a half-mile down at the bottom of the Black Sea, its masts, timbers and planking undisturbed in the darkness for seven or eight centuries. Lack of oxygen in the icy depths had ruled out the usual riot of creatures that feast on sunken wood.

This fall, a team of explorers lowered a robot on a long tether, lit up the wreck with bright lights and took thousands of high-resolution photos. A computer then merged the images into a detailed portrait.

Archaeologists date the discovery to the 13th or 14th century, opening a new window on forerunners of the 15th- and 16th-century sailing vessels that discovered the New World, including those of Columbus. This medieval ship probably served the Venetian empire, which had Black Sea outposts.

Never before had this type of ship been found in such complete form. The breakthrough was the quarterdeck, from which the captain would have directed a crew of perhaps 20 sailors.

“That’s never been seen archaeologically,” said Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, an expedition member at the Center for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, in Britain. “We couldn’t believe our eyes.”

A photogrammetric image of a ship from the Ottoman era that most likely went down between the 17th and 19th centuries. The discoverers nicknamed it the Flower of the Black Sea because of its ornate carvings, including two large posts topped with petals. Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

Remarkably, the find is but one of more than 40 shipwrecks that the international team recently discovered and photographed off the Bulgarian coast in one of archaeology’s greatest coups.

In age, the vessels span a millennium, from the Byzantine to the Ottoman empires, from the ninth to the 19th centuries. Generally, the ships are in such good repair that the images reveal intact coils of rope, rudders and elaborately carved decorations.

“They’re astonishingly preserved,” said Jon Adams, the leader of the Black Sea project and founding director of the maritime archaeology center at the University of Southampton.

Kroum Batchvarov, a team member at the University of Connecticut who grew up in Bulgaria and has conducted other studies in its waters, said the recent discoveries “far surpassed my wildest expectations.”

Independent experts said the annals of deepwater archaeology hold few, if any, comparable sweeps of discovery in which shipwrecks have proved to be so plentiful, diverse and well-preserved.

A photogrammetric image of the stern of the Ottoman-era ship showing coils of rope and a tiller with elaborate carvings. A lack of oxygen at the icy depths of the Black Sea left the wrecks relatively undisturbed.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“It’s a great story,” said Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. “We can expect some real contributions to our understanding of ancient trade routes.”

Goods traded on the Black Sea included grains, furs, horses, oils, cloth, wine and people. The Tatars turned Christians into slaves who were shipped to places like Cairo. For Europeans, the sea provided access to a northern branch of the Silk Road and imports of silk, satin, musk, perfumes, spices and jewels.

Marco Polo reportedly visited the Black Sea, and Italian merchant colonies dotted its shores. The profits were so enormous that, in the 13th and 14th centuries, Venice and Genoa fought a series of wars for control of the trade routes, including those of the Black Sea.

Brendan P. Foley, an archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., said the good condition of the shipwrecks implied that many objects inside their hulls might also be intact.

“You might find books, parchment, written documents,” he said in an interview. “Who knows how much of this stuff was being transported? But now we have the possibility of finding out. It’s amazing.”

Experts said the success in Bulgarian waters might inspire other nations that control portions of the Black Sea to join the archaeological hunt. They are Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Dr. Foley, who has explored a number of Black Sea wrecks, said the sea’s overall expanse undoubtedly held tens of thousands of lost ships. “Everything that sinks out there is going to be preserved,” he added. “They’re not going away.”

For ages, the Black Sea was a busy waterway that served the Balkans, the Eurasian steppes, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Greece. It long beckoned to archaeologists because they knew its deep waters lacked oxygen, a rarity for large bodies of water.

The great rivers of Eastern Europe — the Don, the Danube, the Dnieper — pour so much fresh water into the sea that a permanent layer forms over denser, salty water from the Mediterranean. As a result, oxygen from the atmosphere that mixes readily with fresh water never penetrates the inky depths.

In 1976, Willard Bascom, a pioneer of oceanography, in his book “Deep Water, Ancient Ships,” called the Black Sea unique among the world’s seas and a top candidate for exploration and discovery.

A photogrammetric image of a Byzantine wreck, dating perhaps to the ninth century. Superimposed is an image of one of the expedition’s tethered robots that photographed the lost ships.CreditExpedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“One is tempted,” he wrote, “to begin searching there in spite of the huge expanse of bottom that would have to be inspected.”

In 2002, Robert D. Ballard, a discoverer of the sunken Titanic, led a Black Sea expedition that found a 2,400-year-old wreck laden with the clay storage jars of antiquity. One held remnants of a large fish that had been dried and cut into steaks, a popular food in ancient Greece.

The new team said it received exploratory permits from the Bulgarian ministries of culture and foreign affairs and limited its Black Sea hunts to parts of that nation’s exclusive economic zone, which covers thousands of square miles and runs up to roughly a mile deep.

Although the team’s official name is the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, or Black Sea MAP, it also hauls up sediments to hunt for clues to how the sea’s rising waters engulfed former land surfaces and human settlements.

Team members listed on its website include the Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology, the Bulgarian Center for Underwater Archaeology, Sodertorn University in Sweden, and the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Greece.

An illustration of what the research team believes the medieval ship found in the Black Sea looked like during its heyday. Credit Jon Adams/University of Southampton/Black Sea MAP

The project’s financial backer is the Expedition and Education Foundation, a charity registered in Britain whose benefactors want to remain anonymous, team members said. Dr. Adams of the University of Southampton, the team’s scientific leader, described it as catalyzing an academic-industry partnership on the largest project “of its type ever undertaken.”

Nothing is known publicly about the cost, presumably vast, of the Black Sea explorations, which are to run for three years. The endeavor began last year with a large Greek ship doing a preliminary survey. This year, the main vessel was the Stril Explorer, a British-flagged ship bearing a helicopter landing pad that usually services the undersea pipes and structures of the offshore oil industry.

Instead, archaeologists on the ship lowered its sophisticated robots to hunt for ancient shipwrecks and lost history.

In an interview, Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz of the University of Southampton said he was watching the monitors late one night in September when the undersea robot lit up a large wreck in a high state of preservation.

“I was speechless,” he recalled. “When I saw the ropes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I still can’t.”

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Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the vessel hailed from the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople (today Istanbul), and most likely went down sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries. He said the team nicknamed it “Flower of the Black Sea” because its deck bears ornate carvings, including two large posts with tops that form petals.

In an interview, Dr. Batchvarov of the University of Connecticut said most of the discoveries date to the Ottoman era. So it was that, late one night, during his shift, he assumed that a new wreck coming into view would be more of the same.

“Then I saw a quarter rudder,” he recalled, referring to a kind of large steering oar on a ship’s side. It implied the wreck was much older. Then another appeared. Quickly, he had the expedition’s leader, Dr. Adams, awakened.

“He came immediately,” Dr. Batchvarov recalled. “We looked at each other like two little boys in a candy shop.”

Dr. Batchvarov said the wreck — the medieval one found more than a half-mile down — was part of a class known by several names, including cocha and “round ship.” The latter name arose from how its ample girth let it carry more cargo and passengers than a warship.

Dr. Adams said the remarkable color images of the lost ships derived from a process known as photogrammetry. It combines photography with the careful measurement of distances between objects, letting a computer turn flat images into renderings that seem three-dimensional.

He said tethered robots shot the photographic images with video and still cameras. The distance information, he added, came from advanced sonars, which emit high-pitched sounds that echo through seawater. Their measurements, he said, can range down to less than a millimeter.

A news release from the University of Southampton refers to the images as “digital models.” Their creation, it said, “takes days even with the fastest computers.”

Filmmakers are profiling the Black Sea hunt in a documentary, according to the team’s website.

Another part of the project seeks to share the thrill of discovery with schools and educators. Students are to study on the Black Sea, the website says, or join university scientists in analyzing field samples “to uncover the mysteries of the past.”

The team has said little publicly on whether it plans to excavate the ships — a topic on which nations, academics and treasure hunters have long clashed. Bulgaria is a signatory to the 2001 United Nations convention that outlaws commercial trade in underwater cultural heritage and sets out guidelines on such things as artifact recovery and public display.

Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the team had so far discovered and photographed 44 shipwrecks, and that more beckoned.

Which was the most important? Dr. Adams said that for him, a student of early European shipbuilding, the centerpiece was the medieval round ship. He said it evoked Marco Polo and city states like Venice. The ship, he added, incorporated a number of innovations that let it do more than its predecessors had and paved the way for bigger things to come.

“It’s not too much,” he said, “to say that medieval Europe became modern with the help of ships like these.”

China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba docked at Saigon port in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on April 19.

(CNN)Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asserted the right of the Australian navy to travel the South China Sea, after local media reported three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese navy earlier this month.

As the three vessels traversed the hotly contested waters on their way to Vietnam, they were confronted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Friday.
The ABC said that one Australian defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, “insists the exchanges with the Chinese were polite, but ‘robust’.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in London for a meeting of the heads of Commonwealth nations, refused to confirm or deny the report.
“All I can say to you is that Australia asserts and practices its right to freedom of navigation throughout the world’s ocean, including the South China Sea,” he told reporters.
In a statement to CNN, the Australian Defense Department acknowledged the three vessels were in the South China Sea in recent weeks but wouldn’t comment on “operational details” on the ships.
“The Australian Defense Force has maintained a robust program of international engagement with countries in and around the South China Sea for decades,” the statement said. CNN has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.
The Australian ships are now conducting a three-day goodwill visit in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
While Australian air force jets have been challenged by the Chinese in the past, this was the first time, Carl Thayer told CNN, that he’d heard of any reports of navy vessels being confronted.
“That doesn’t mean it hasn’t occurred … (But) the challenge is political, it’s intimidatory and if you don’t counter challenge then China can make the argument that the international community has acceded to China’s claims,” said Thayer, regional security analyst and emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales.

Australia, China relations in deep chill

The reported confrontation comes at a moment of frosty relations between Beijing and Canberra. Turnbull admitted to the diplomatic chill on April 12.
“There has been a degree of tension in the relationship which has arisen because of criticism in China of our foreign interference laws,” he told local radio station 3AW at the time.
His remarks followed reports in local media that Australian ministers had been denied visas that would have allowed them to attend China’s signature Boao Forum in Hainan province.
The Chinese government has objected strongly to a new set of laws being considered by Australia to tackle interference by foreign nations in their politics.
Although Turnbull stressed that those laws weren’t targeted at any one country, the legislation came after a series of scandals over large donations to Australian politicians by Chinese businessmen.
“I would like to stress hereby again that we hope the Australian side will abandon the cold-war mentality and ideological bias, stop making irresponsible remarks and work with China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in February.

China tightens hold on volatile region

The South China Sea is one of the most hotly contested regions in the world. China claims a huge swathe of territory across the sea, overlapping the claims of Vietnam and the Philippines, among others.
Only last week the Chinese navy held its largest ever drills in the South China Sea, including a huge military parade overseen by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China’s only aircraft carrier the Liaoning took part in the display, launching J-15 fighter jets from the enormous ship’s flight deck.
Speaking from the PLA destroyer Changsha, Xi called for further modernization of China’s military to further his goal of creating a “world-class” force under the Communist Party’s leadership.
To reinforce their claims in the region, China has constructed and militarized a series of artificial islands across the South China Sea, building airfields and radar stations.
The United States regularly conducts Freedom of Navigation Operations close to China’s artificial bases. Last year, Arizona Senator John McCain suggested Australia’s Navy take part alongside the US in those exercises.
“I would not try to tell the Australians what they need to do, but there are exercises where a number of nations join together — we call it RIMPAC [Rim of the Pacific Exercise]— that the Australians participate in. They’re broad naval exercises,” he said during a visit to Australia.

Vietnam’s Fishing ‘Militia’ to Defend Against China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘VOICE OF AMERICA’)

 

Vietnam’s Fishing ‘Militia’ to Defend Against China


FILE - A Vietnamese boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands in 2014.
FILE – A Vietnamese boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands in 2014.

Vietnam is reported to be quietly developing a state-supported fishing boat militia to hold off China at sea. The fishing militia is being created at a time when the two sides talk about easing territorial disputes.

That is the opinion of experts who follow those disputes.

Vietnam watchers say the country is asking its commercial fishers to use stronger boats and take military-trained people to sea in case of a clash with Chinese fishers. China has its own fishing militia operating in the same waters.

“I think it’s a good policy to avoid future conflicts where militia fishermen are out in the sea,” said Trung Nguyen. He serves as dean of international relations at the Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Vietnam has been working to develop the fishing militia since at least 2009. Over that time, the two countries have been holding talks. Just last week, Vietnam’s Communist Party general secretary met the visiting Chinese foreign minister. The party official suggested “joint safeguarding (of) maritime peace,” China’s Xinhua News Agency reported.

Vietnam may be trying to appear strong now in case talks fail to produce results, noted Eduardo Araral of the National University of Singapore’s school of public diplomacy.

FILE - A Vietnamese naval soldier stands quard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago.
FILE – A Vietnamese naval soldier stands quard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago.

How the militia works

The Vietnamese fishing militia has not gone to battle with China. If the militia did, it would risk facing the third largest military in the world.

But Vietnamese military forces are arming fishing boats, said Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer. That may be similar to the deployment of former soldiers to help keep order as needed on land in Vietnam, Thayer noted.

The Vietnamese government requires conscription, he added, so fishermen would already have some military skills.

“Putting them at sea would just be getting people the right age and giving them that training,” he said. “All they did is move what they do on land, how to defend factories … and extend that to sea.

Thayer is emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Thirteen fishing militia platoons have been helping more than 3,000 fishermen work near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. That information comes from a 2017 study by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. China controls the Paracels, but Vietnam also claims the islands.

The study found that more than 10,000 fishermen and about 2,000 fishing boats in southern Vietnam have received military equipment.
In 2014, Vietnam prepared a list of rules to aid fishermen who build “modern large capacity ships” to expand their reach, the study found. It said Vietnamese banks had lent $176 million to fishermen for improvements to about 400 ships.

South China Sea territorial claims map
South China Sea territorial claims map

Record of clashes

China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea. Vietnam says it should control the sea’s waters off its long north-south coastline, extending into the Paracels and Spratly Islands.

Sailors died in clashes between the two countries in 1974 and 1988. In 2014, the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea caused a boat-rammingincident at sea and deadly rioting in Vietnam against Chinese interests.

China has long had its own fishing militia with military support and attention from the Chinese President, notes the United States-based Naval War College. Armed fishing boats help defend China’s maritime claims by pushing away foreign boats, the political intelligence service Stratfor reported in 2016.

Five other governments claim all or parts of the South China Sea. They oppose Chinese efforts to build up and expand islands in the waterway.

Vietnam and China often hold talks about settling maritime problems, but talks often fall short of a decision because of historic distrust, Araral said. He added that Vietnam may be sending China the message that while we talk, we assert our rights.

A Vietnamese fishing militia will not be as large as China’s militia, he said, but Vietnam feels it must try.

I’m Susan Shand

Susan Shand adapted this story from VOA. George Grow was the editor.

Ship That Washed Up on Florida Beach Could Be From 1700’s

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

March 29, 2018

(PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.) — A 48-foot section of an old sailing ship has washed ashore on a Florida beach, thrilling researchers who are rushing to study it before it’s reclaimed by the sea.

The Florida Times-Union reports the well-preserved section of a wooden ship’s hull washed ashore overnight Tuesday on Florida’s northeastern coast.

Researchers with the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum have been documenting the artifact and say it could date back as far as the 1700s.

Museum historian Brendan Burke told the newspaper that evidence suggests the vessel was once sheeted in copper, and that crews found Roman numerals carved on its wooden ribs.

Researchers rushed to photograph and measure the wreckage. The photos will be used to create a 3-D model.

40 dead in US-Bangla plane crash: Police

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KATHMANDUPOST)

 

40 dead in US-Bangla plane crash: Police

– Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 12, 2018-Forty people died when a US-Bangla airlines aircraft plane crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu on Monday afternoon, Nepal Police Spokesperson DIG Manjo Neupane confirmed.

There were 71 people including four crew members on board the 78-seater Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft that took off from Dhaka, Bangladesh. The plane crashed at 2:18 pm local time.

Neupane said 31 bodies were pulled out from the crashed plane and nine others were declared dead at different hospitals.

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According to TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur, the aircraft with call sign S2-AGU caught fire after it careened off the runway during landing and crashed onto a football ground near TIA.

Earlier today, Tourism Ministry Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya said 25 injured passengers were rescued and sent to different hospitals for treatment. TIA said there were 37 males, 27 females and two child onboard the aircraft. There were 33 Nepali passengers.

Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) Sanjiv Gautam said that the plane was out of control when it attempted to land on the runway. “The aircraft was permitted to land from the Southern side of the runway over Koteshwor but it landed from the Northern side,” said Gautam suspecting the aircraft might have sustained some technical glitches. “We are yet to ascertain the reason behind the unusual landing.”

Rescue team of TIA and Nepal Army personnel rushed the accident site following the crash. All flights in and out of TIA were cancelled following the mishap.

(The plane involved in the crash. Photo via jetphotos.com)

Published: 12-03-2018 14:36

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