Daily Archives: March 15, 2014

Missing Malaysia plane : Investigators study pilots’ background

Malaysian police have searched the homes of the pilots of the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished eight days ago with 239 people on board.

The police are also reportedly looking at the family life and psychological state of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27.

This comes after the authorities said the communications systems of the plane had been deliberately disabled.

The Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight is believed to have then changed course.

According to satellite evidence, the Boeing 777 could have continued flying for a further seven hours after its last radar contact, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

He added that the plane could be anywhere from Kazakhstan to the Indian Ocean.

Mr Razak stopped short of saying it was a hijacking, saying only that they were investigating “all possibilities”.

In a separate development, India on Sunday suspended its search for the plane around the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also in the Bay of Bengal.

Delhi said it acted at the request of the Malaysian authorities.

China – which had 153 citizens on board flight MH370 – has urged Malaysia to continue providing it with “thorough and exact information” on the search.

‘Elaborate suicide’

The Kuala Lumpur homes of Mr Zaharie and Mr Fariq were searched on Saturday, a senior police officer familiar with the investigation was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“We are not ruling out any sort of motivation at the moment,” the official said.

The authorities have so far released no new details on the pilots’ investigation.

However, nothing has been ruled in or out – so terrorism, piracy or even an elaborate suicide are all options now being considered, the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Kuala Lumpur reports.

Mr Zaharie joined Malaysia Airlines more than 30 years ago, and was considered a very experience pilot.

Mr Fariq recently recently graduated to the cockpit of a Boeing 777. It is believed that he was considering marriage.

It was also reported that Mr Fariq had drawn scrutiny after he and another, unnamed pilot invited two female passengers to sit in the cockpit during a flight in 2011, according to the Associated Press.‘Two corridors’

The flight left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 00:40 local time (16:40 GMT) on 8 March and disappeared off air traffic controllers’ screens at about 01:20.

Mr Razak told a news conference on Saturday that new satellite evidence shows “with a high degree of certainty” that the one of the aircraft’s communications systems – the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System – was disabled just before it had reached the east coast of Malaysia.

ACARS is a service that allows computers aboard the plane to “talk” to computers on the ground, relaying in-flight information about the health of its systems.

Shortly afterwards, near the cross-over point between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controllers, the plane’s transponder – which emits an identifying signal – was switched off, he said.

According to a military radar, the aircraft then turned and flew back over Malaysia before heading in a north-west direction.

A satellite was able to pick up a signal from the plane until 08:11 local time – more than seven hours after it lost radar contact – although it was unable to give a precise location, Mr Razak said.

He went on to say that based on this new data, investigators “have determined the plane’s last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible corridors”:

  • a northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand
  • a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Kuala Lumpur says investigators will now focus on trying to obtain the radar data from any of the countries the Boeing 777 may have passed over.

This could include Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Pakistan.

Along with the Chinese passengers, there were 38 Malaysians and citizens of Iran, the US, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands on board.

An extensive search – involving 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft – since the plane disappeared has proved fruitless.

BBC News –

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Russia vetoes US-sponsored UN resolution declaring Crimea vote invalid

 Russian envoys

The US and Russian envoys met shortly before a fiery debate in the Security Council

Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council’s resolution declaring the upcoming referendum on the future status of autonomous republic of Crimea invalid and urging all states not to recognize its results.

China abstained as 13 council members supported the resolution and Russia voted against.

The draft resolution noted that the Ukrainian government in Kiev has not authorized the referendum and said that it cannot be valid.

“This referendum can have no validity, and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea; and calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of Crimea on the basis of this referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status,” the documents reads.

Moscow has a veto right as one of five permanent members of the Security Council.

It was “no secret that Russia would vote against the US draft resolution,” Russia’s envoy at the UN Vitaly Churkin said ahead of the voting. He added that Moscow would respect the choice of Crimeans.

“We cannot accept its basic assumption: to declare illegal the planned March 16 referendum where there residents of the Republic of Crimea should decide on their future,” Churkin said, explaining Moscow’s decision to veto the proposed document.

“The philosophy of the authors of the draft runs counter to one of the basic principles of the international law – the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Article 1 of the UN Charter,” the Russian diplomat said.

Liu Jieyi, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations

This principle was also confirmed by the 1970 UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law, and a number of other decisions by the UN General Assembly, and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, Churkin said.

Russia does not dispute the principle of territorial integrity, which is “of, course, very important,” the envoy said.

In is also understandable that enjoyment of the right of self-determination through a separation from an existing state is an extraordinary measure, applied when future coexistence within a single state becomes impossible,” Churkin said.

In the majority of cases it was implemented without the agreement of the state authorities.

Crimea’s coexisting within Ukraine apparently became impossible as a result of “legal vacuum” that followed the “unconstitutional armed coup” carried out in Kiev by radical nationalists in February and direct threats by these individuals to set their order across Ukraine, Russia’s UN representative said.

On Sunday, the Crimeans are going to decide if they want the republic to remain a part of Ukraine or join the Russian Federation.

European nations and the US said earlier they would not recognize the outcome of the referendum and warned Russia of sanctions over its stance on Ukraine.

Speaking after the vote by the 15-member Security Council, Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the UN said it was “a sad and remarkable moment”.

France’s envoy, Gerard Araud, said he was incredulous at what he called Russia’s annexation of Crimea, under the pretext of protecting Russians in the region. “This annexation … goes beyond Ukraine, it concerns us all,” he said, as cited by Reuters. “This veto must be seen as a defeat only for Russia.”

Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said that the “the resounding message” from the vote is that “Russia stands isolated in this council and in the international community”.

Beijing, traditionally very sensitive when it comes to territorial integrity particularly because of Tibet, reiterated its support for “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.” China’s ambassador to the UN, Liu Jieyi called for a political solution and an “international coordinating mechanism” to resolve the dispute, cited AP.

Resolution ‘ungrounded’, aimed to serve US geopolitical interests

The UN resolution is focused on alleged illegitimacy of the upcoming referendum in Crimea, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued after the vote. Creating an atmosphere of distrust and falsehood appears to be the main goal of the authors, the ministry added.

According to Russian diplomats, the US proposal regarding a UN resolution on the situation in Ukraine was ungrounded. It can only be explained by Americans’ “overwhelming desire” to politicize already complicated situation and continue aggravating international hysteria around the former Soviet republic for the benefit of the US geopolitical interests.

The very initiative had no grounds from the beginning since events in Ukraine do not pose any threat to international peace and security – that the Security Council deals with in accordance with the UN Charter,” the statement posted on the ministry’s website reads.

Employees prepare the polling booth in one of the polling stations of Sevastopol on March 15, 2014, on the eve of the referendum in Crimea

Washington does not care about Ukrainian stability, prosperity and safety, Moscow said.

They are still using ‘Cold War’ categories – which should seem to be forgotten long ago – in order to impose their view of Ukrainian political structure,” said the Foreign Ministry’s department of information and press.

Russia hopes though that the UN member-states, who have so far been biased in their approach to the situation in Ukraine, will take a path of constructive cooperation on the settlement of the crisis and providing rights of all the citizens, including in eastern and south-eastern regions of the country, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin press-secretary believes speculations regarding Russia’s “self-isolation” in connection with the events in Ukraine are absurd.

It would be illogical, unrealistic and absurd today – in the era of globalization and total economic interdependence,” Dmitry Peskov said Saturday in an interview with Russian REN-TV channel.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson believes that current contradictions between Moscow and western partners are not about a new ‘Cold War.’

We sincerely believe that both we and our partners will have enough political wisdom and political realism to avoid further deepening of ideological or any other standoff over Ukraine,” Peskov said. Despite remaining differences, Russia really does appreciate its continuing contacts with representatives of other states.

via Russia vetoes US-sponsored UN resolution declaring Crimea vote invalid — RT News.

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