Archive for category Ethiopia

plane crash plot thickens: a possible new explanation for all these delays

1. good collection of stories about this crash, with this note from the editor, Zeina Karam

Editor’s note - From day one, Lebanese officials have rushed to blame Ethiopian Airlines for the crash, even though they have never had any evidence whatsoever. The box - and not the crucial cockpit voice recorder (CVR) - was recovered today, which means nothing, but the Lebanese government has already made up its mind that ‘pilot error’ was behind the crash. Ethiopian Airlines has clearly an impending battle with Beirut so much even today’s story is wrongly headlined: “2nd black box found,” while the crucial CVR which records pilot communication with the air traffic controllers at Beirut Airport is still missing.

see the rest here

2. Ethiopia: sabotage not ruled out

ADDIS ABABA - ETHIOPIAN Airlines said on Wednesday it still believed sabotage may have caused the crash of one of its aircraft off Lebanon last month which killed all 90 people on board….The Lebanese Army said the plane had broken up in the air before plummeting into the sea. Witnesses described it as crashing in a ball of flame. The airline said only the data recorder had been found. ‘The cockpit voice recorder and the aircraft wreckage are not yet retrieved for analysis. It is therefore too early to conclude the cause of the accident,’ the company said. — REUTERS

source: straits times

diagrams of black boxes here, here, and here

3. Lebanon: no sabotage. !!! also no time limits. also the black box is missing the voice recorder piece.

Lebanon hit back at Ethiopian Airlines, saying there is no evidence at all of any sabotage act behind the plane disaster as claims mounted after sources said that a pilot error caused the crash. Meanwhile, the coastal strip of Naameh south of Beirut was declared “off-limits” for search teams.

“There is no time limit on search operations,” a ministerial source said in remarks published Thursday by the daily As-Safir.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri was keen during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday not to politicize the plane disaster.

…Information Minister Tareq Mitri, however, said Wednesday that Lebanon has not received any official information about contents of the first black box. One of the plane’s two black boxes recovered on Sunday has been sent to France for analysis. Results, however, will not come out before five or six months. Search teams on Wednesday pulled the second black box but an essential piece was missing.

“The base of the second black box from the ill-fated Ethiopian jet has been recovered; however, it appeared that the part containing the memory device of the cockpit voice recorder was separated from the base,” said a statement by the Lebanese army.

more @ naharnet

4. Ocean Alert and gold

Do the Lebanese officials know that the owner company of the Ocean Alert vessel, which is taking part in the search for the crashed plane, has already worked in the Lebanese territorial waters prospecting for gold, which is believed to have sunken in 1957?

Do the Lebanese know that the Odyssey Explorer vessel was involved in “piracy operations in Lebanese waters” and that the two ships were grounded in Spain in 2007 on suspicion of damaging Spain’s “heritage”?

The orange-colored “black box” has been shipped to France at 5 a.m. yesterday aboard a private plane provided by PM Saad Hariri. The plane also carried members of the investigation committee.

The victims’ families staged their first protest yesterday 15 days after the tragedy. They mainly protested against “the slow recovery of the bodies” and called for allowing civilian divers to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Marine Commando units.


5. History of the Ocean Alert, from the brokers that last sold the ship : date unknown but later than 2002


This ship has had a colourful history beginning life as the Canadian Coast Guard vessel CS Alert. Refitted with a 10 tonne A Frame capable of operating two mini manned submarines, Ocean Alert was chartered by a civilian company for numerous tasks including filming, several surveys and research projects worldwide. While underway towards Papua New Guinea to undertake research into Dolphin behaviour, her Charterers ran into financial trouble and she became stuck in Malta and was eventually sold.

It was soon realised that Ocean Alert provided the platform needed to extend any business and offer a low cost responsive and flexible option to their customers at the same time. After taking specialist advice, her new owners decided that an extensive refit and reclassification was required and decided to keep the vessel in Malta.

Lloyds were contracted to guide the reclassification and documentation through in Malta. The surveyor in charge and the new owners in Malta were both meticulous and thorough so the new owners now had a new regard for Lloyds 100A1 vessels and an understanding what standards ships have to be to gain this classification.

The vessel now fully complies with all major legal requirements and legislative standards and is ready for charter. The new owners were very fortunate firstly in having a top rate and hard working ship crew who, amongst other jobs, completely rebuilt the ship’s four engines, three generators and just about everything else mechanical required for the special survey.

Malta has a fine skill base centrally located in the Mediterranean so many local contractors were used. Malta Dry-docks proved to be the second fortunate choice. They were an invaluable partner during the refit, undertaking the majority of the structural work including large amounts of steel renewal.

The replacement of thirty-nine frames, six shell plates and a large section of keel have helped to produced a fine strong vessel fit to operate safely for many years to come. MDD carried out all work to Lloyd’s satisfaction in a timely and cost-effective manner.

In general, Ocean Alert is a versatile vessel and can undertake work in several fields of operation. Traditionally the new owners have been involved in supporting the cable industry primarily through route clearance and Pre Lay Grapnel Runs (PLGR) and will continue to do so operating a variety of vessels including their own ship Ocean Alert. Additional to this work and since acquiring the ship, the company now have been approached to charter the vessel in other areas such as Hydro graphic surveying, pipe and cable route survey, seabed research, ROV operation, wreck and debris investigation and filming.

Through a wide range of equipment such as gate valves, cranes and a moon-pool, A frame and winch the ship has the capability to respond to such requests. For instance, the retractable moon-pool makes the fitting and interchanging of transducers and other sensors cheap and quick, features not found on today’s mass produced ships. The 240 sq M covered aft deck / work area makes her adaptable and an ideal platform for a variety of tasks. Ocean Alert has air-conditioned accommodation for 30 supernumeraries, a dedicated survey room and a comfortable, spacious, well-appointed lounge.

She is certified to work worldwide except ice regions, and has capacities to stay at sea for a minimum of thirty days having spacious freezers and two desalinators. Her legacy from the coast guard as a search and rescue vessel gives her a top speed of 24 knots and a steaming speed at 10 knots on two of the four engines consuming only 8 tonnes of fuel per day including the generators. The two controllable pitch four blade propellers and twin rudders combine with the 200 Hp bow-thrust to give her a high degree of manoeuvrability enabling operation in waters ranging from 10m to Deep Ocean.

The teddy bears in each cabin and names for the main engine symbolises the level of care and attention to detail the owner lavishes on Ocean Alert compared to that received by vessel that form part of larger fleets. The owners have built themselves a reputation based on the philosophy of a fair price for a good job and this has extended into their new venture - Ocean Alert.

This proud ship has been looked after and it can now repay its owners in the same way as it has repaid the previous navigators of the seven seas and that is to convey its cargo and crew to new challenges in safety and comfort. Previously owned by the Canadian Coastguard. Chartered by the famous and respected Oracle of the sea Mr Jacques Cousteau and sent on voyages all over the world, chartering this vessel is indeed chartering a truly magnificent past coupled with a remarkable owner for the future.


also: 10/1/03 When the auctioneer’s hammer crashed down in the Maltese Court, AKA Maritime Ltd became the owner of the 72m research and survey vessel Ocean Alert.


also: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute website page on the Ocean Alert - St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada


The ship currently appears to be owned by Odyssey Marine Exploration. It is registered in Panama.

Basically, Odyssey Marine Exploration are in the business of treasure hunting.


6. BBC: July 13, 2007: Spain seizes ship in treasure row

The Spanish Civil Guard has intercepted a boat operated by a US company amid a row over treasure from a shipwreck.

The guard had been ordered by a Spanish judge to seize the vessel as soon as it left the British colony of Gibraltar. Gibraltar officials and Odyssey Marine Exploration, which owns the ship, said Spain had boarded the ship illegally as it was in international waters. In May, Odyssey said it had found $500m (£253m) in coins from a 17th Century wreck somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Madrid suspects the sunken galleon may either have been Spanish or have gone down in Spanish waters. The salvaged booty, which included half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold objects, has already been flown back to the US.

‘Threat of force’

After leaving Gibraltar, the Ocean Alert was picked up at about 0700 GMT on Thursday off Europa Point and sent to the Spanish port of Algeciras to be searched, the Civil Guard said.

The guard was investigating a possible “offence against Spanish historic heritage”, it said in a statement.

Odyssey said the boarding was illegal and said the Civil Guard threatened to use force if Ocean Alert’s captain did not follow orders. It said Spain had earlier promised the ship would be searched at sea.

“At this point, Odyssey is assuming that the action on the part of the Guardia Civil is a miscommunication between Spanish authorities,” the Florida-based company said in a statement. A spokesman for the governor of Gibraltar said the ship was in international waters at the time it was seized.

A lawyer for Odyssey, Allen von Spiegelfeld, told Reuters news agency that Spain had not sought permission to board Ocean Alert from officials in Panama, where it is registered.

“The owners of the vessel have contacted the Panamanian maritime authorities protesting the seizure on international waters,” Mr von Spiegelfeld said.

Spain has launched legal action over the treasure and the wreck.Some experts believe the wreck to be the Merchant Royal, an English ship carrying stolen Spanish treasure which sank in 1641. US coin expert Dr Lane Brunner has said there is evidence the shipwreck was found off England’s Cornish coast. Odyssey has kept the location of its find secret, citing security and legal reasons.

source: BBC

many people throwing their weight around

1. India, Bangladesh sign 5 pacts

NEW DELHI - LEADERS of India and Bangladesh met in New Delhi on Monday with talks focused on strengthening the previously difficult ties between the two south Asian neighbours, an Indian official said. Cross-border relations have improved in recent years and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s delegation signed five cooperation agreements with India in areas ranging from cultural exchanges, security, preventing crime and power supply.

more @ straits times

2. India confers Indira Ghandi Peace Prize to Bangladeshi PM

NEW DELHI, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — India Tuesday conferred Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to peace and democracy, reported the Indo-Asian News Service. Indian President Pratibha Patil conferred the award at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace and praised Hasina for “shaping her country’s onward path of progress and development”, said the report.

more @ chinaview

3. Malaysian PM to visit Saudi Arabia

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will be making an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 13-16 to deepen bilateral ties, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said here on Tuesday. Najib will later attend the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 18. Malaysia will be working towards enhancing trade and investment relations with the two countries.

source: chinaview

4. Clinton to visit Japan, Pacific region

Since coming to power last year, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has pushed to see negotiations restart on the SOFA agreement, creating tension between the two countries. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to decide by May how to proceed on the base issue. Apart from talks with Okada, Clinton will deliver a policy speech focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement in Hawaii, and will be consulting with the Pacific Command. She will be traveling to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19, her first visit to the region since becoming the secretary of state. In Canberra, Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and their Australian counterparts Stephen Smith and John Falkner will participate in the 25th Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations to discuss key global and regional security challenges.

source: chinaview

5. ASEAN prepares own “Marshall Plan’

MANILA, Philippines—Asean is preparing its own Marshall Plan, the United States program in post World War II to rebuild and create an economically stronger Western Europe to repel the threat of internal communism, the Asean Secretariat said Tuesday….In a working lunch in Jakarta Monday, Asean Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan described the plan to Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Masayuki Naoshima. He urged the Japanese official and his delegation to look at the plan and the roles of Asean and Eria as a package….Surin, who coined the “Marshall Plan for Asia” tag for the plan, said his office was collaborating with Eria and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the development of the plan. The plan aims “to contribute to coordinating, expediting, upgrading, and expanding sub-regional initiatives and promoting private sector participation.”

more @ inquirer

6. incoming EU trade chief sees WTO deal by 2011

BRUSSELS—Would-be new European trade chief Karel De Gucht expressed confidence on Tuesday that a deal to free up international commerce is attainable by next year.… The Doha round began in 2001, with a focus on dismantling obstacles to trade for poor nations by striking an accord that will cut agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. Deadlines to conclude the talks have been repeatedly missed. Discussions have been dogged by disagreements on issues including how much the US and the EU should reduce aid to their farmers and the extent to which developing countries such as India, China and South Africa should cut tariffs. “We have to do that deal,” De Gucht added, refusing to concede that the terms of the talks had to change to take account of the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

more @ inquirer

7. China views Ethiopia as major economic trading partner

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — China views Ethiopia as its major economic and trading partner in Africa, says Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Monday….Chen put forward a four-point proposal on further development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation: First, further expanding its imports from Ethiopia through the use of tariff-free policies; Second, strengthening cooperation in investment and engineering contracts and continuing to encourage strong Chinese firms to invest in Ethiopia; Third, fully implementing the eight new measures to enhance cooperation with Africa; Fourth, further promoting cooperation in official development assistance to support Ethiopia’s infrastructure, and projects aimed to improve people’s well-being.

more @ chinaview

8. China, Morocco hold talks on enhancing bilateral ties

RABAT, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is on a five-nation African tour, held talks Monday with his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi Fihri on ways to upgrade relations between the two countries….Yang is on his first official foreign visit of the year that includes five African nations, namely Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Algeria and Morocco, as well as Saudi Arabia. It has been China’s tradition for 20 years that its foreign minister visits Africa in the beginning of the year.

more @ chinaview

9. China VP meets Pakistan’s opposition party chief

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met Tuesday in Beijing with Nawaz Sharif, chief of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying party exchanges would help facilitate bilateral relations….Highlighting the friendship between China and Pakistan, Xi said China had treated bilateral ties from a long-term and strategic perspective and would make efforts with Pakistan to lift pragmatic cooperation. Sharif expressed his admiration for the achievements China had made, saying the political parties in Pakistan shared the view of improving friendly cooperation with China.

more @ chinaview

10. experts discuss NATO’s future at Prague meeting

An international conference has opened in Prague, aiming to help redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. The international panel is led by former U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright. About hundred other experts are also participating. The group is working to update the alliance’s mission statement, which was written in 1999. Albright is present at Tuesday’s gathering. The draft will be submitted for consideration to the leaders of NATO’s member nations at their spring summit in Lisbon, Portugal. NATO started the process to update its outdated mission statement last year to focus on handling new challenges such as piracy, terrorism and cyber attacks as well a resurgent Russia.

source: taiwan news

11. new EU foreign chief criticized for lack of specifics

Under its previous holder Javier Solana, the post of top EU diplomat focused on smoothing relations and boosting Europe’s influence in such places as the Middle East, Iran, and the Balkans. But the job has greater powers under the new Lisbon Treaty of reforms, even though the EU’s 27 nations remain well in charge over foreign and defense policy, with Ashton set to be their mouthpiece. Despite the pressure, Ashton appeared relaxed throughout, confidently responding to questions mainly focused on institutional concerns and how the former EU trade commissioner saw the future of EU foreign policy. She gave answers that demonstrated an understanding of the issues, but would not be drawn into diplomatic minefields like her stance on sanctions against Iran and was cautious on Middle East policy. More broadly she urged Europe to play a greater role on the world stage. “I am convinced there is a clear call, inside the EU and around the world, for greater European engagement—to promote peace, protect the vulnerable, fight poverty ,and address the many problems of our time,” she said. “We have to answer this call.”

more @ inquirer

12. Kazakh minister visits Vienna, Austria

Secretary of State - Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Kanat Saudabayev began his official visit to Vienna yesterday… According to the press release, the visit on part of OSCE Chairman Saudabayev, to Austria will take place on January 12 - 15. Saudabayev will meet with President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, Michael Spindelegger, to discuss the further development of Kazakhstan-Austrian cooperation as part of international organizations. … According to the press release, Astana considers Vienna a key political and economic partner in the EU, and is interested in developing bilateral dialogue in all areas and levels. During the visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will hold meetings with UN structures administration based in Vienna – including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Universal Prohibition of Nuclear Tests to discuss cooperation with these organizations, according to Kazakhstan Today.


13. Austrian president to visit China next week

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Austrian President Heinz Fischer will pay a state visit to China from next Tuesday to Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.  Fischer will make the visit as guest of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular briefing.   This will be Fischer’s first China trip since he took office in 2004.

source: chinaview

14. China very very very unhappy with US weapons sales to Taiwan — in diplomatic language this is a full-blown fit

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Defense Department announced on January 6 the approval of a plan of Lockheed Martin Corp. to sell Patriot III missiles to Taiwan. Although it was a step to implement the huge-scale arms sales package announced by the George W. Bush administration in October 2008, such a move only about one month after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to China tarnished the China-U.S. ties….the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan fully justified any suspicion about the United States’ sincerity to take concrete actions to “respect each other’s core interests.”

Undoubtedly, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violated the principles established in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the spirit of the Sino-U.S. Joint Statement, breached the U.S. promise to respect the core interests of China and disobeyed the mainstream wish shared by the people across the Straits.  This move clearly showed the dual character of the United States in dealing with the major issues related to China’s core interests, especially at the moment that the cross-Straits relations have embarked on a path of peaceful development.

Profound lessons should be drawn from history. All previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have caused great damage to the Sino-U.S. relations and blocked their stable and smooth development.  This time is no exception, since the arms sales to Taiwan are rootless and absolutely harmful, whether from the perspectives of legal, moral and justice principles, or from the perspectives of joint interests of the two countries and the long-term development of their relations.

more @ chinaview