Archive for category Lebanon

Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Iran

1. Former military chiefs held in Turkey plot probe

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police detained former heads of the air force and navy and other senior officers on Monday in an investigation into an alleged plot to undermine the Islamist-rooted government and trigger a military coup.

The swoop, one of the largest in European Union candidate Turkey against the secularist armed forces, further raised tensions between the ruling AK Party and the military, which has been implicated in several alleged plots in the past year.

Former Air Force Commander Ibrahim Firtina, former Naval Commander Ozden Ornek and ex-Deputy Chief of the General Staff General Ergin Saygun, were among those held, broadcasters said.

Current armed forces chief General Ilker Basbug delayed a trip to Egypt as a result, broadcaster CNN Turk reported. In total seven serving officers and seven retired officers were detained.

Interior Minister Besir Atalay, accompanying Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on an official visit to Spain, said he was being kept informed of developments, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

NTV said the suspects held in Ankara were being flown to Istanbul for questioning over the “Sledgehammer” plot after police raids in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

Neither police or the military had any immediate comment.

Financial markets showed little reaction to the detentions, but Wolfango Piccoli from the Eurasia political risk consultancy said they looked set to trigger another escalation in the tense relations between the military and the AK Party.

“The government is now embroiled in an open and bitter power-struggle with the judiciary and the military, raising the risk of a head-on confrontation that would badly damage political stability,” Piccoli said.

Such detentions would have been unthinkable in the past for the military, which has ousted four governments in the last 50 years. However, its powers have waned in recent years due to democratic reforms aimed at securing EU membership.

Other senior military officers have been indicted on charges of planning a separate plot to overthrow the AK Party, which has its roots in political Islam.

SOWING INSTABILITY

According to previous media reports on the Sledgehammer plan, denied by the military, the army had plotted to provoke Greek fighter jets into shooting down a Turkish military jet.

Turkey and neighbouring Greece have longstanding territorial disputes and came close to war in 1996 over an islet in the Aegean, though relations have improved in the last decade.

The alleged plot also involved planting bombs in mosques and museums in Istanbul to stir chaos. Last month Taraf newspaper said it had obtained 5,000 pages of documents and tapes on the plan which was aimed at justifying an army takeover in 2003.

The military has said documents quoted by the paper were part of a military training seminar but were never meant to be carried out and were not part of a conspiracy.

The latest detentions coincide with rising political tensions due to a clash between Erdogan’s government and the secularist judiciary over the arrest of a prosecutor who had investigated Islamic groups.

That prosecutor has been accused of links to an alleged far-right militant network, “Ergenekon”. More than 200 people, including military officers, lawyers and politicians, have been arrested in the case since it came to light 2-1/2 years ago.

Critics of the government say the Ergenekon investigation has also been used to hound political opponents.

source

2. Lebanese PM Sleiman and Cyprus — time to implement agreements

During a press conference held Wednesday February 17, 2010 at the embassy headquarters in Beirut, the ambassador of Cyprus in Lebanon Mr. Kiriakos Koros said Michel Sleimane’s visit to Cyprus aimed, above all, to tighten bilateral relations, and namely to promote tourism in both countries. “Since the official establishment of the Cyprus Embassy was officially established in Beirut, several contracts have been signed between the island and the country of cedars. Today, it is time to implement these contracts”, the ambassador said.

On the political level, Mr. Koros focused on the Lebanese support to the island in international forums. Lebanon, he said, should be alerted, and even sensitive on issues concerning Cyprus. “Being elected for the non-permanent seat within the Security Council but also as it is an integral part of the Arab League, Lebanon can now echo Cyprus requests in international forums,” Koros said.

The two countries also stressed the need to comply with UN resolutions and move the peace process forward in the Middle East. “The two countries share many political opinions, particularly concerning the need to freeze the settlement process in the Palestinian territories and the importance to establish peace in the Middle East” he added.

To conclude, Mr. Koros stressed the need to coordinate between Lebanon and Cyprus and exchange experiences so as to meet the interests of both the Cypriots and the Lebanese. He also praised the key role assumed by the Maronite community in Cyprus, as it was serving as a cultural bridge between the Lebanese and the Cypriot society.

more @ iloubnan

3. Ahmadinejad calls for independent states to be ready for changes in world

“Today that capitalism is collapsing, the independent states should prepare themselves for huge global developments, and this necessitates promotion of the level of mutual and all-out cooperation,” Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Assembly Speaker, Evariste Boshab, here in Tehran today.

Ahmadinejad described expansion of mutual and multilateral cooperation among independent states as the key to resistance against the pressures imposed by the bullying powers.

more @ fars

4. Iran to speak to IAEA about “unreal parts” of Amano’s report

“Unfortunately Amano’s report is two-sided and some unreal issues have been intermingled with real issues,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Esmae’il Kowsari told FNA….The latest report on Iran presented by Amano to the agency’s Board of Governors on Thursday vindicates the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities and confirms that Iran’s program is faced with no technical or legal problems.

Yet, Amano’s first report on Iran’s nuclear program, similar to ElBaradei’s reports, is comprised of technical and legal as well as political aspects. Those parts which deal with the legal and technical issues underline the technical success and legality of Iran’s nuclear program and the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear activities.  However, a number of issues fabricated by the western media are stated in the report on Iran which Iranian officials say has no legal rationale.

Despite, Amano’s previous claims that he wants to focus on “the facts” and pursue a more technical approach than his predecessor Mohammad ElBaradei, he also complained about the level of Iran’s cooperation with the Agency. This is while the agency has repeatedly praised Iran’s full cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog agency in is previous reports.

more @ fars

5. and where do those “unreal parts” come from? Israel urges Iran oil embargo even without UN approval

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Monday for an immediate embargo on Iran’s energy sector, saying the U.N. Security Council should be sidestepped if it cannot agree on the move.

…If the world “is serious about stopping Iran, then what it needs to do is not watered-down sanctions, moderate sanctions … but effective, biting sanctions that curtail the import and export of oil into Iran,” Netanyahu said in a speech.

STOPPING IRAN FROM WHAT YOU FUCKING WHACK JOB?

linking Hezbollah into the TBA

1. Feds link 3 Miami-Dade businessmen to alleged Hezbollah front in Paraguay — Tri-Border Area. Narrative: Lebanon –> Hezbollah –> South American –>Terrorism against The West. Note US Treasury (ie: Goldman Sachs) ban, that will help tie to Iran. Note that the US just makes designations, and that is all that’s required. then the accused can fit into the pre-defined terrorist designated box by doing something as diabolical as “operating retail businesses” in a mall that the US government has unilaterally designated as a funding arm for Hezbollah, an organization with democratically-elected representatives in the Lebanese government. it’s just semantics.

Federal agents have arrested three South Florida businessmen accused of exporting video games and other electronic products to a shopping mall in Paraguay that allegedly served as a front to finance the terrorist group Hezbollah, according to federal authorities.  The Miami-Dade businessmen arrested late Thursday, Khaled T. Safadi, Ulises Talavera and Emilio Gonzalez-Neira, appeared in federal court Friday to face charges related to a Treasury Department ban on doing business with the black-listed militia and political organization based in Lebanon.

…According to an indictment, the three Miami-Dade businessmen are accused of exporting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of PlayStation 2 video games and digital cameras to a shopping center called Galeria Page in Paraguay. The U.S. government has designated the mall as a funding arm of Hezbollah.

Galeria Page, located in Ciudad del Este, serves as a Hezbollah fundraising source in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, according to a Treasury Department press statement issued in December 2006. It is considered the central headquarters for Hezbollah members in the region.

Hezbollah members operate retail businesses in Galeria Page to support Hezbollah, according to the press release. Muhammad Yusif Abdallah, a manager of Galeria Page, paid a regular quota to Hezbollah based on profits he received from the mall, the statement says. In the Dec. 6, 2006, release, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said the mall was part of a South American network that aided Assad Ahmad Barakat, who has been on the U.S. terrorist blacklist since 2004.

more @ miami dade news

2. more details from naharnet

The shopping center, Galeria Page in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, was included on the banned list in December 2006 along with owner Mohammed Yosusef Abdallah. Abdallah is described as a senior Hizbullah leader in a region of South America long considered a haven for counterfeiting, smuggling, piracy and other crimes….According to the indictment, the three men ran companies that used the Port of Miami to move goods including Sony Playstation video game consoles, digital cameras and other items that eventually wound up at the Paraguay destination. About $1 million in exports were identified by ICE, the FBI, Treasury officials and other investigators with Miami’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The men allegedly used fake invoices, false addresses and phony names to mask the true destination of the goods. The companies involved also were indicted. John Morton, assistant Homeland Security secretary for ICE, said the arrests will disrupt a network involved in “the illicit trade of commodities that support terrorist activities and ultimately threaten the national security of the United States.”(AP)

more @ naharnet


3. is the Tri-Border Area a “haven for counterfeiting, smuggling, piracy and other crimes” such as HUMAN TRAFFICKING? oh yes. indeed. it is also a haven for local, federal and international agencies, including lots of CIA people. Go Figure.

from my post on this area the other day:

A tourist destination, with beautiful hotels. Many tourists come to see the Igauzu falls. But hey, there’s really nothing to worry about because the place is crawling with feds and agency people, including CIA, on account of all the Arab terrorists there, so relax! Who would dare do any illegal trafficking with all these law enforcement people around?

Immigration officer Emilio Osses, who oversees one of the Argentine checkpoints in the area, said that contrary to popular belief, this is not the worst trafficking hotspot on Argentina’s border. He says that this tri-border area is heavily controlled — saturated with officers from at least eight local, federal and international agencies, including lots of CIA agents.
And it’s largely because of the intelligence community that there’s a lot of hype around the tri-border, he said. There is a large and important Arab population here, and it’s believed that the terrorist cells that bombed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires had support in this area.

“That’s why it has this stigma of terrorism, corruption, and illegal trafficking,” Osses said. “In reality, the tri-border area suffers from propaganda.” But Osses goes on to admit that there’s a lot of room for illegal trafficking here. In the high season, 30,000 people per day cross the triple border — and that’s just at the official checkpoints. Like any border, much more of it is uncontrolled.

Jesus God, Mr. Osses. Do you think there’s a connection between all those agency people and the trafficking?

more @ twelfth bough

their arrogance knows no bounds

1. the UK knew in advance that Israel would use stolen UK passports for a hit. israel knew in advance that this little kabuki of the UK slapping israel’s wrist would have to take place and look believable.

The British MI6 intelligence agency was tipped off by Mossad that Israeli agents were going to carry out an ‘overseas operation’ using fake UK passports, the Daily Mail reported Friday morning.

According to the UK newspaper, a British security source quoted a Mossad agent as saying that “the British Government was told very, very briefly before the operation what was going to happen.” The source explained that the tip-off was not a request for permission to use British passports but more a ‘courtesy call’ to inform British security services that ‘a situation’ might blow up. “There was no British involvement and they didn’t know the name of the target. But they were told these people were traveling on UK passports,” he was quoted as telling the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail report came several hours after a 20-minute meeting in London between Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor and a senior British diplomat on Thursday, over the fake British passports apparently used in the assassination of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. The report hinted that Israeli intelligence chiefs understood British authorities would have to ’slap them on the wrist’ and reportedly added: “The British government has to be seen to be going through the motions.”


jpost: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=169139

2. daily mail story:

The Israeli agent rejected suggestions that intelligence-sharing between the two nations might be damaged.

He said Mossad was handling several sources within the UK Muslim community and added: ‘There is no question of jeopardising that information flow.’

The revelation of a ‘tip-off’ came after Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor was ‘invited’ to the Foreign Office and asked to co-operate fully with the inquiry into the forged passports by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Some people think that Mossad, MI6 and the CIA are trying to destabilise Dubai.Dubai’s aim is to make money from helping Iran to beat sanctions.

“Now the Americans (or the Israelis – you can take your pick) want to turn Dubai into the Beirut of the Gulf. That was actually a headline last week – in The Jerusalem Post, of course – which painted Dubai as dangerous as it was economically calamitous.” (Robert Fisk: Passport to the truth in Dubai remains secret )

3. meanwhile, in the most brazen display of greed and hubris i think i’ve ever seen, 85 victims of Hizbullah sue Iran’s top banks

In the first such case, 85 American, Israeli and Canadian victims of Hizbullah rocket attacks have filed a lawsuit against Iran’s leading banks.
The suit, Kaplan v. Central Bank of Iran, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. and seeks $1 billion in compensatory damages and an unspecified sum of punitive damages.

The plaintiffs, whose family members were killed or who were themselves injured by rockets fired at Israel by Hizbullah between July 12 and August 14, 2006, allege that Iran’s Central Bank and Bank Saderat provided the Shiite group with “over $50 million in financial support in the years prior to the attacks with the specific intent of facilitating Hizbullah terrorist attacks against American and Israeli targets,” the Israel Law Center, which helped bring the suit, said.

The plaintiffs rest their claims in part on an explicit October 25, 2007 finding by the U.S. Treasury that between 2001 and 2006 Bank Saderat transferred funds from the CBI via Bank Saderat, PLC in London to Hizbullah “to support acts of terrorism.”

naharnet

THIS IS STRAIGHT OUT OF THE JAMES WOOLSEY INTERVIEW AT HERZLIYA, AND HILLARY CLINTON’S SUBSEQUENT BABBLING ABOUT THE REVOLUTIONARY GUARD IN IRAN. IT ALL QUICKLY BECAME US POLICY IN ABOUT A WEEK’S TIME.

4. meanwhile, in a brazen insult to the world’s intelligence, the Ethiopian plane crash is officially caused by HUMAN ERROR. they give us the pilot’s last words. no mention of anything else he might have said up to that point. oh and the pilot ‘made a move’ that made him gradually lose control of the plane, and it remained intact until it hit the water.


A preliminary report said “human error” was the cause of the deadly Ethiopian Airlines plane crash into the Mediterranean Sea last month and that the last words the pilot said to his co-pilot: “We’re finished … God have mercy on us.”
Flight 409 bound for Addis Ababa crashed into sea off the coast of Naameh minutes after takeoff from Beirut airport early in the morning of Jan. 25, killing all 90 people on board.

Pending the outcome of the official report, which is to be announced by the Lebanese government sometime next week, the daily As-Safir on Friday uncovered outlines of the preliminary report.

As-Safir said the investigation team probing the plane crash incident retuned to Beirut from Paris on Thursday and handed over the report to Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The plane’s two black boxes — data flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder – were separately retrieved among the wreckage and flown to France for analysis by BEA, a French agency that specializes in assisting with technical investigations of air crashes.

As-Safir quoted a reliable source at France’s Aviation Accidents Investigation bureau as saying that the cockpit voice recorder has revealed that the last words the pilot said were: “We’re finished … God have mercy on us.”

The pilot was speaking in Amharic, a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia.

Audio recordings revealed that the pilot asked the co-pilot to follow instructions by Beirut airport control tower, only to find out that his assistance either did not heed to the orders or did the opposite.

This prompted the pilot to take a move which made him gradually lose control of the plane, the voice recorder showed.

The report said the jet remained intact until it hit water.

Cabinet, furthermore, did not take any decision to close the file on the plane crash incident pending an official report from the Lebanese Army about the search for remains of the remaining victims.

naharnet

active narratives round-up

1. world government: our masters in Brussels will use the Greek crisis to try to impose a single government across Europe

Now the Greeks cannot afford to stay in the euro and the Germans and French (and indeed to a lesser extent we British) cannot afford to see the Greek economy collapse.

For our masters in Brussels, this is a moment of great danger and of great opportunity. Their solution is simple. Not just a single currency and a single central bank, but a single finance minister administering a single tax and spending system, and a single government across the EU. Without that, either the Eurozone will shrink to a hard core of states around Germany and the Deutschmark will be reborn under the name of the euro, or the euro will cease to be.

more @ telegraph

2. justifying the need to control the internet: malicious software infects corporate computers

A malicious software program has infected the computers of more than 2,500 corporations around the world, according to NetWitness, a computer network security firm.

The malicious program, or botnet, can commandeer the operating systems of both residential and corporate computing systems via the Internet. Such botnets are used by computer criminals for a range of illicit activities, including sending e-mail spam, and stealing digital documents and passwords from infected computers. In many cases they install so-called “keystroke loggers” to capture personal information.

…“These large-scale compromises of enterprise networks have reached epidemic levels,” said Amit Yoran, chief executive of NetWitness and former director of the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security. “Cyber criminal elements, like the Kneber crew, quietly and diligently target and compromise thousands of government and commercial organizations across the globe.”

The company, which is based in Herndon, Va., noted that the new botnet makes sophisticated use of a well-known Trojan Horse - a backdoor entryway to attack - that the computer security community had previously identified as ZeuS.

more @ nyt

3. al qaeda in the palestinian camps in lebanon: 11 aq suspects charged with spying


A Lebanese military judge charged 11 suspected members of an al-Qaida inspired group with forming an armed gang and spying on the army and U.N. peacekeepers, a judicial source said. “Judge Samih al-Hajj charged 11 suspected members of Fatah al-Islam with forming an armed gang, spying on the army and UNIFIL troops (in southern Lebanon), and forging ID papers,” the source said, requesting anonymity.

If convicted, they could face the death penalty. Among those charged — several of them in absentia — are Abdul Rahman Awad and Abdul Ghani Jawhar, two Fatah al-Islam members accused of a deadly 2008 bus bombing in the northern city of Tripoli.

Fatah al-Islam, an obscure al-Qaida inspired group, fought deadly battles against the Lebanese army in the summer of 2007 in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli. …There have been widespread fears since the Nahr al-Bared battle that the group has switched its base to the highly volatile Palestinian camp of Ain el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.

Lebanese officials suspect that Awad, who is dubbed the “prince of Fatah al-Islam,” is holed up in Ain el-Hilweh, the largest of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps. By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army does not enter the camps, leaving security inside to Palestinian factions.(AFP)

more @ naharnet

4. escalating drug lords in Mexico: Russia ready to sell weapons to Mexico

MEXICO CITY – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Mexico is interested in buying equipment and weapons from his country to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. At a joint press conference with Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa, Lavrov said that his country is expanding its weapons sales abroad and has increased the number of supply contracts it has in all regions of the world, a move that is “a purely economic question, not political.”

Regarding the volume of its arms sales, Russia is still “behind the United States, but we’re seeing certain rather serious progress,” Lavrov said. The Mexican government is interested in acquiring different types of weapons, “including helicopters for coastal monitoring,” and other equipment “to fight drug trafficking and organized crime, that I hope will help our Mexican friends to combat this scourge,” the Russian official said.

The United States is already supplying Mexico with arms and equipment for the drug war.

more @ la herald tribune

5. get the minerals in Africa, especially West Africa: African Minerals on track in Sierra Leone as 9.7 billion tonnes of iron ore discovered — largest deposit in the world. shorter: how lucky is Frank Timis?

Somewhere in London, deliberating on his success and probably a glass of ice-rock vodka in his hands, Frank Timis must be filled with excitement and accomplishment as his venture in Sierra Leone has started to yield results. Timis has invested faith and trust in his sense of discernment and has allowed his instinct which has proven time and again to be right, to take on a venture in a small West African country rich in minerals, that has become a second home for him. Timis has employed right judgement and his confidence in the mineral wealth of Sierra Leone may have finally paid off.  It is also a vindication for the country’s President Ernest Bai Koroma whose unwavering belief in African Minerals’ potential has not been disappointing.  I wonder what is going through Frank Timis’ mind as he reflects back on how risk can sometimes become your best financial asset.  But it all comes down to how risk is managed through effective implementation of business acumen that has been tried and trusted. Frank Timis must be a master in risk management that ensures successful outcome. The success of African Minerals in Sierra Leone can only go to open new frontiers for the company in other mineral resource potential areas across Africa. And his success in Sierra Leone will  also provide a model for other African Governments to use in order to open their doors to a man whose name has become synonymous with prosperity and mineral wealth.

more @ newstime africa

6. Niger & Nigeria, falling apart or being dismantled: gunfire erupts in Niger capital

NIAMEY (Niger) - MACHINE gun and heavy weapons fire erupted in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Thursday and smoke was seen rising from the presidential palace, witnesses said, in what appeared to be an attempted coup.

There was no indication of who was involved, the witnesses said, though political tensions have risen in the uranium exporting nation in recent months over President Mamadou Tandja’s extension of his rule. An intelligence officer, who asked not to be named, said the violence was a coup attempt that the presidential guard was trying to put down. A member of Tandja’s entourage in the palace said that ‘for now everything is alright.’

The shooting started around 1200 GMT, witnesses said. A Reuters witness said soldiers were blocking the road near the Prime Minister’s office. Tandja drew widespread criticism and international sanctions after dissolving parliament and orchestrating a constitutional reform that gave him added powers and extended his term beyond his second five-year mandate, which expired in December.

Despite political turmoil and occasional Tuareg rebellions, Niger has attracted billions of dollars in investment from major international firms seeking to tap its vast mineral wealth, including France’s Areva and Canada’s Cameco. — REUTERS

straits times

7. terrorism and sports: police confirm terror threat to India-SA Jaipur stadium match


JAIPUR: Police have confirmed a terror threat to the first ODI match between India and South Africa to be played at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur on February 21, following which security has been tightened. B.L. Soni, inspector general of Rajasthan police, said his force had intelligence inputs of the threat.  “We have terror inputs of the threat and beefed up security at Sawai Mansingh Stadium (the match venue),” he said.

Intelligence agencies had earlier warned about terror strikes during various sporting events to be held in the country this year including the Hockey World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. However, Home Minister P Chidambaram has assured all the visiting countries of foolproof security for the upcoming sporting events.

source

seriously

1. Israel is accused of waging an assassination campaign

Israel is waging a covert assassination campaign across the Middle East in an effort to stop its key enemies co-ordinating their activities.

Israeli agents have been targeting meetings between members of Hamas and the leadership of the militant Hezbollah group, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

They are also suspected of recent killings in Dubai, Damascus and Beirut. While Israel’s Mossad spy agency has been suspected of staging assassinations across the world since the 1970s, it does not officially acknowledge or admit its activities.

The current spate of killings began in December when a “tourist bus” carrying Iranian officials and Hamas members exploded outside Damascus. The official report by Syria claimed that a tyre had exploded but photographs surfaced showing the charred remains of the vehicle — prompting speculation that a much larger explosion had taken place.

Several weeks later a meeting between members of Hamas, which controls Gaza, and their counterparts from Hezbollah in its southern Beirut stronghold in Lebanon was also attacked, resulting in several deaths.

Hamas had sought to cover up the incidents because it was embarrassed, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told The Times.

“There has been growing co-operation between Gaza and Iran. Israel can read the writing on the wall and they know that with the help of Iran, the Hamas Government in Gaza will become stronger and will fight better.

“But Israel is overstepping their boundaries. Other countries don’t want to become a killing field for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Most recently, the top Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in Dubai on January 19, 2010. He is believed to have been poisoned by a woman who visited his room at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai.

Israeli officials said that Mabhouh had been a key figure in procuring Iranian-made longer-range rockets for Hamas that could be fired at targets in central Israel.

The exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has vowed revenge for Mabhouh’s death. He has also suggested that the current fighting between Hamas and Israel will become more regional. In an interview with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, Mr Mashaal said that future wars with Israel would not be fought solely in the Gaza Strip.

Under the current Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, Israel is believed to have renewed efforts to kill high-level opponents. Only months after the former paratrooper assumed leadership of the intelligence service in October 2002, senior Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon began to be targeted. He was credited with ordering the killing of two relatively senior Hezbollah members who were killed in southern Beirut in July 2003 and August 2004.

More recently, Israel has been accused of planting a car bomb in Damascus that killed the top Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah in February 2008. The Israeli Cabinet minister Daniel Herschkowitz last week praised the Mossad chief as one of the agency’s most successful leaders.

When asked about Mossad’s involvement in the Dubai slaying, Eli Yishai, the Interior Minister, smiled and said: “All the security services make, thank God, great efforts to safeguard the security of the state of Israel.”

While some countries are questioning whether Israel isn’t taking credit to increase the reputation of its defence establishment, other moderate Arab States are now describing the assassinations as a “covert war” between Israel and Hamas.

Diplomats said they were aware that covert Israeli operations had increased. “We watch their comings and goings; we are aware that there is more activity both on our ground and other countries in the region,” said an Egyptian diplomat. “They are trying to embroil us all in their conflict.”

Tensions between Israel and Hamas have remained high, despite the relative quiet that has ensued since the end of Israel’s offensive in Gaza last winter. Israeli troops were placed on alert yesterday after intelligence suggested that Hamas planned to abduct soldiers. Israel said this week that it had foiled a kidnapping in December by arresting the Hamas operative Slaman Abu Atik on the Israeli-Gaza border. He planned to enter Israel via Egypt, said the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

250+ comments - Times Online

2. all that talk about the plane in the trench, etc. and now it’s 45 meters underwater… now that they squared away the black boxes

This issue, however, would raise a question of how to deal with the main parts of the plane which are still in place about 45 meters deep off the coast of Naameh south of Beirut. As-Safir newspaper on Monday quoted high-ranking official sources as saying that recovery of the main wreckage or moving it requires a decision by the international committee investigating the disaster. It said the committee is likely to take a decision in this regard on Monday or Tuesday after examining the data and pictures of the plane taken underwater.

naharnet

3. Debka file — it was al qaeda that blew the plane up, but everyone’s too shy to say so.

Evidence has reached debkafile’s counter-terror sources that the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 which crashed after takeoff from Beirut on January 25, killing all 92 aboard, was blown up in mid-air. This was an al-Qaeda operation timed for one month to the day after its failed attempt to destroy an American Northwest airliner bound for Detroit.
It is becoming clear that either a bomb was planted on the Ethiopian flight with a timer or a passenger acted as suicide bomber.
Western security agencies in the Middle East involved in combating al Qaeda believe that its planners picked on the Ethiopian flight for more than one reason apart from the date: They had been tipped off that a group of French undercover agents, including Maria Sanchez Pietton, wife of the French ambassador to Beirut, and top Hizballah operatives, including secretary general Hassan Nasrallah, would be aboard.
Mme Pietton lost her life in the crash, while the Hizballah travelers were saved by switching to another flight at the last minute.
The first bodies recovered from the Mediterranean off the Lebanese town of Naama showed all the hallmarks of explosion victims:
They were found strapped to their seats with their heads, hands and feet blown off and scattered, typical effects of an explosive blast.
Eye-witnesses at the time heard a loud explosion and saw the plane enveloped in a ball of fire as it gained altitude after takeoff from Beirut international airport.  Both France and Hizballah have denied they were targets.

Lebanese officials, led by prime minister Saad Hariri, have spent two weeks trying to hide the fact that the Ethiopian airline disaster was caused by terror. But Lebanese health minister Jawad Khalifeh gave the game away by a slip of the tongue Tuesday, Feb. 9:  “The plane exploded during flight and the cabin, as well as the bodies of those on board, were dispersed into the sea, in different locations,” he said, trying to explain why some of the corpses were found dismembered. He then tried to correct himself by saying he “didn’t mean a military explosion.”

More confirmation of a terrorist hand behind the attack is found in the deep involvement of US intelligence, including the FBI, in the investigation of the disaster from the first moment. The US survey ship Ocean Alert was dispatched to the area of the crash and dropped a miniature submarine into the depths to retrieve fragments of the airliner from the seabed.
A US intelligence and naval headquarters was set up at Beirut harbor to coordinate the salvage of the plane from the sea. Treating the crash as terror-related, Washington ordered the plane to be reconstructed from recovered fragments to establish the site of the explosion and its cause.

US officials are also shy of discussing the case in public and admitting the crash was caused by an act of terror. It took place on January 25, shortly after President Barack Obama said “Al-Qaeda has been weakened.” In an address to the American people to calm their anxieties after the Nigerian would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had failed to detonate explosives carried in his underwear.
Al Qaeda’s success in blowing a civilian airliner out of the sky over the Middle East proved the opposite. It therefore became the subject of a comprehensive cover-up, joined by France. Before the black box, recovered Tuesday, had even been examined, French sources announced that human error by the pilot was the cause of the Ethiopian airliner crash.
debkafile’s counter-terror sources recall a previous al Qaeda attack on a civilian airliner in the Middle East.

Six years ago, on January 8, 2004, an Egyptian charter blew up after takeoff at Sharm al-Sheikh for Cairo, killing all 148 French citizens aboard on their way back to Paris from a Red Sea vacation.
Neither Cairo nor Paris ever admitted that the disaster was caused by terrorists

http://www.debka.com/article/8599/

4. samson blinded — this guy is very funny. he’s dead serious but he’s very funny.

Debka suggested that the Ethiopian airliner’s crash near Lebanon was a terrorist act. Possible, yes, though the plane could explode for innocuous reasons, too.

But we see no basis for the conclusion of Al Qaeda’s involvement. Al Qaeda had no good reason to bomb a plane which carried Nasrallah and other Hezbollah leaders. They changed their tickets at the last minute.

A possibility that Al Qaeda tipped Hezbollah people to change the plane also does not hold. They would rather call off the bombing rather than risk leaking their plans. Hezbollah would inform the Ethiopians about the plan, since the terrorist group depends on Ethiopia for arms trafficking. Al Qaeda had no incentive to blow an Ethiopian jet at all.

Bombing plot against Nasrallah might suggest Israeli involvement, but it is our long-standing policy to avoid huge collateral damage.

samsonblinded.org

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.

source

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

http://www.yachtingbrokers.com/research_and_survey_vessel_for_sale.html

HISTORY

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.

http://www.maritimejournal.com/features/vessel-build-and-maintenance/ship-and-boatbuilding/vessel-launch/a_major_step_forward_for_aka_maritime

^^^^^^^

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.

WEBSITE: http://www.shipwreck.net/management.php

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


more utter BS on plane crash

1. Ethiopian plane ‘exploded’

BEIRUT - AN ETHIOPIAN jet which crashed off Lebanon’s coast last month exploded after take-off, Lebanon’s health minister said on Tuesday in the first such official comment since the mysterious crash.

Remarks by Jawad Khalifeh could not be immediately confirmed by other officials in Beirut and came as Ethiopian Airlines said one of the plane’s black boxes has been sent to France for analysis.

‘The plane exploded during flight and the cabin, as well as the bodies of those on board were dispersed into the sea, in different locations,’ Mr Khalifeh said to explain why some corpses were found dismembered. ‘The first bodies which have been retrieved following the crash were intact but after that, we began to find body pieces or mutilated corpses,’ he told reporters.

Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi refused to comment on the reported explosion. ‘I have no information about this,’ he told AFP.

source: straits times


2. pilot error pilot error pilot error….based on info from the black box, which we just recovered and sent to France, and which will not reveal it’s secrets for months and months…. but trust us it was pilot error that caused the plane to explode.

A judicial committee at the ministerial level met Wednesday to discuss future strategy and progress made in the search for more victims of the Ethiopian plane crash as a source close to the investigation into the disaster said the jet crash was caused by a pilot error.

“The investigation team has reached an early conclusion that it was pilot error, based on information from the black box,” the source told Reuters.

The team made up of Lebanese, French and Ethiopian officials headed to France Monday with one of the two black boxes for analysis.

Lebanese army marine divers pulled the flight recorder from the plane crash site off the coastal town of Naameh on Sunday.

Information Minister Tareq Mitri said following Wednesday’s judicial meeting that Lebanon has not received any official information about contents of the black box.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 crashed in a fireball minutes after takeoff from Beirut airport early in the morning of Jan. 25.

The Boeing 737-800 plane with 90 people on board plunged into the sea off Naameh south of the airport in stormy weather.

Lebanese officials had blamed the pilot for failing to follow instructions from the control tower.

Defense Minister Elias Murr had said that a command tower recording shows the tower told the pilot to turn to avoid the storm, but the plane went in the opposite direction.

“We do not know what happened or whether it was beyond the pilot’s control,” he added.

Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi had in turn said the control tower sent the pilot a second warning when he failed to heed the first one.

“The pilot, however, continued to fly the same route, then he made a sudden, strange turn before disappearing from the radar,” Aridi said on the day of the plane crash.

It was not clear why the pilot ignored the control tower or perhaps it was beyond his control. Being 737, like most other airliners, also is equipped with its own onboard weather radar which the pilot may have used to avoid flying into cumulonimbus, which is a rounded mass of cumulus cloud often appearing before a thunderstorm.

naharnet

tension builds over plane crash recovery

1. Monday: recovery may take days (it already has)

Recovering all the bodies from the deadly Ethiopian passenger plane crash with 90 people on board may take days. Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi vowed, however, to continue search and rescue operations “at any price and no matter how long it takes.”

more @ naharnet

2. plane debris found in Syrian waters, body trapped between rocks

Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said Wednesday that he was informed by his Syrian counterpart about the discovery of a piece of the Ethiopian plane in Syrian waters. Aridi told reporters during a press conference at his office in the ministry that the piece will be handed over to Lebanese authorities.

The minister unveiled that one of the victims’ body was trapped between rocks in the sea. It hasn’t been retrieved yet due to bad weather and high waves, he said.

On Tuesday, authorities retrieved another body. DNA tests confirmed Wednesday that the body belonged to passenger Albert Assal, whose grieving father died of heart attack last week.

The minister reiterated that the area where the plane’s black box is located has been determined. However, the exact location of the flight recorders is not known yet.

Aridi has denied that Ocean Alert ship, which has been scanning Lebanese waters since the Ethiopian plane crash, was costing the Lebanese government huge sums of money.

“We are being criticized for (allegedly) paying huge sums of money to bring in foreign ships. Had we not asked for their help, they (critics) would have said that we are being stingy and we are not thinking about the victims,” Aridi said in remarks published Wednesday.

“I will tell you clearly that we haven’t paid any penny yet,” the minister said, adding the Ethiopians haven’t proposed to provide “any technical assistance so that we oppose it” in the first place.

Asked about the reasons behind the authorities’ refusal to allow members of the Divers Syndicate to take part in diving operations, Aridi said: “The divers working (to find victims) belong to the army and the civil defense department. Is there any doubt in their professionalism? Should we allow anyone who wants to volunteer to go down there and search on his own?”

naharnet

3. storm hampers search

A heavy storm lashed Lebanon Wednesday hampering operations to find more parts of the Ethiopian plane and bodies of victims a day after media reports led to confusion over the discovery of the jet’s wreckage.

…Wednesday’s storm, which is expected to last for three days, brought to a standstill diving operations. VDL said Ocean Alert, which has been scanning Lebanese waters since after the crash, will return to Beirut port due to the storm.

The Lebanese army command issued a communiqué on Tuesday night saying divers were able to retrieve part of the plane’s wing 4 kilometers west of Ras al-Naameh.

The army communiqué came in response to reports about the discovery of the plane’s main body and the retrieval of human remains, giving hope to the family members of the plane crash victims.

Also late Tuesday, the French embassy announced that a French navy team equipped with sonar devices arrived in Beirut upon the request of Lebanese authorities to find the jet’s flight recorders.

Last week, a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Ramage, detected signals from the black box at a depth of 1,500 meters. But officials described the operation as “difficult and complicated.”

The Lebanese government has formally asked the U.S.-based Odyssey Marine Explorations to send a submarine to help in retrieving the victims, more parts of the plane and the black box.

more @ naharnet

comment: it very much seems that the black boxes must not be recovered, presumably so that the real reason for the crash may not be known. - ed.

Human Error: the most convenient excuse ever

1. pretty soon i think they will call it a day for this plane crash. amazing that with all that international help, they have yet to recover the boxes. i guess they will rule out sabotage, without any evidence to support that conclusion, and chalk it up to Human Error.

Rescue teams continued hunt Tuesday for bodies of the victims of an Ethiopian plane that crashed into the Mediterranean sea killing 90 people as Beirut was hanging onto hope that a submarine would arrive soon to help in recovering the jet and the black boxes before another storm invades Lebanon.

The Boeing 737 that crashed last week south of Beirut is thought to be at least 1,500 meters beneath the sea.

…French experts are expected to arrive in Beirut at 4:10 pm Tuesday to join crews searching for victims and the black boxes.

A Lebanese army officer said a vessel carrying a submarine was on its way to help. The plane crashed into the Mediterranean sea on Jan. 25 just minutes after takeoff from Beirut in a fierce thunderstorm with all 90 people on board feared dead. Rescue teams have recovered 14 bodies as well as a few body parts and pieces of the plane. Chances, however, of finding survivors has dwindled.

The aircraft’s main body and the two black boxes have not been found. U.S. Navy ship the USS Ramage has picked up signals from the flight recorders at a depth of 1,300 meters.

While the army official said he does not know when the vessels will arrive, Transportation and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi said the submarine has left and should be in Lebanese waters in the “next few days.”

The government has formally asked the U.S.-based Odyssey Marine Explorations to send a submarine to help in recovering the plane and the black boxes. The civilian ship, Ocean Alert, has also been searching Lebanese waters for the plane’s body and the flight recorders.

more @ naharnet

2. in other plane crash news, we are looking at Human Error. this is the message.

NEARLY A DECADE after the crash, Concorde trial begins in France. good timing.

Nearly a decade after a Concorde supersonic plane crashed outside Paris, killing 113 people, U.S.-based Continental Airlines and five people are on trial on manslaughter charges. The trial is expected to offer two very different explanations for the airline’s crash.

The Concorde crash on July 25, 2000, shook the aviation world and dealt a blow to an aircraft that was the pride of Europe.

With smoke and flames trailing from its engines, the New York-bound plane went down just two minutes after takeoff, crashing into a hotel near Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris. All 109 people on board and four hotel workers were killed. Three years later, theConcorde was taken out of service for good.

source

3. safety reforms lag a year after NY plane crash

WASHINGTON — Key safety reforms haven’t been implemented nearly a year after 50 people died in the crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo, N.Y., despite promises of swift action from federal regulators and lawmakers.

On Tuesday, just 10 days shy of the one-year anniversary of the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board prepared to cite the probable cause of the accident and make safety recommendations.

The crash is considered one of the most significant accidents in recent years, because it revealed a safety gap between major airlines and the regional carriers they increasingly use to handle short-haul flights. Concerns were raised during an NTSB hearing last May that pilots with low-fare airlines are vulnerable to fatigue, long-distance commutes and inadequate training.

Since then, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt has persuaded regional carriers and their major airline partners to make a series of voluntary safety improvements. FAA has also increased inspections of their pilot training programs. But the agency is still drafting regulations to address the most critical safety issues raised by the accident. Final action is at least months away, and perhaps even years.

…On Feb. 12, 2009, Continental Connection Flight 3407 was approaching Buffalo-Niagara International Airport when the twin-engine turboprop experienced an aerodynamic stall and dove into a house. All 49 people aboard and one man in the house were killed. Testimony at last May’s hearing indicated the flight’s two pilots made a series of critical errors leading up to the crash.

more @ wapo

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020200268.html

trafficking news

1. Haiti holds 10 Americans suspected of trafficking children, as you’ve no doubt heard, since this one has made it to teevee. this might go one of two ways. it might be an attempt at damage control / limited hangout, to draw attention away from the larger problem and hold some people accountable while managing the narrative that it is merely an “adoption” ring, ie: not *that* bad. OR, if they are cleared and it turns out to all be a “misunderstanding” over “paperwork”, it might serve to debunk the concerns over child trafficking, and discredit the people who are claiming it’s a very huge problem, making them out to be hysterics. we’ll have to see if they expand the conversation to illegal organ trafficking, child sex trafficking, etc. i doubt it. instead i think we will see (continued) major gate keeping around this topic, as it vectors directly into The Pedophocracy.

Haitian police were holding 10 US citizens Saturday evening on suspicion they tried to slip out of the country with 31 Haitian children in a trafficking scheme, a government minister said.

Haitian Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin said the police arrested five men and five women with US passports, and two Haitians, as they tried to cross into the Dominican Republic with the children Friday night. He said two pastors were also involved, one in Haiti and one in Atlanta, Georgia.

more @ inquirer

2. children in question very fearful of adults, most have families, people express shock. the picture shows clean, well kept children.  why would people take these children when there were 300,000+ restavek (ie: slave) children in Haiti BEFORE the earthquake to choose from? if people want to traffic children, they have an ample supply of uncared for children to pick from. so looks like this might  be building up for a combo misunderstanding /wrist-slapping resolution, and everyone will breathe a sigh of relief. Be More Careful Next Time! sure.

“The majority of these children have families. Some of the older ones said their parents are alive, and some gave an address and phone numbers,” said Vargas, a Costa Rican who is in charge of SOS Children’s operations in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

…Inside the SOS Village scores of volunteers from countries including Chile, Guatemala and Costa Rica do not hide the shock of the news.

“Even if we had … [suspected] that this was happening in Haiti after the earthquake, it is a shock,” said SOS spokesman Georg Willeit, an Austrian.

more @ telegraph

3. teacher to plead not guilty to abuse charges

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Colorado man is expected to plead not guilty to new charges that he sexually abused boys at a school he founded in Haiti.

A Colorado man is expected to plead not guilty to new charges that he sexually abused boys at a school he founded in Haiti. Douglas Perlitz is scheduled to appear Tuesday in federal court in New Haven. Perlitz was charged last year with sexually abusing nine boys. Prosecutors doubled the number of alleged victims to 18 with a new indictment announced Thursday. Perlitz pleaded not guilty last year to the original charges. His lawyer, William Dow III, said Thursday that he would also plead not guilty to the new counts.

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=7249350

4. 9.5 MILLION people trafficked in Asia-Pacific since 2005.

MANILA, Philippines—An estimated 9.49 million people were in forced labor in the Asia-Pacific region as of 2005, with a significant number believed to be in the Mekong region, according to United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO).

Thus, officials from the six countries of South-East Asia’s Mekong region and observers from the United Nations and other stakeholders opened a two-day meeting in Myanmar Thursday to step up the war on human trafficking, including sexual slavery and labor exploitation.

The meeting brings together ministers from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with observers from the UN, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking of Persons Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and donors.

more @ global nation

5. in other trafficking news, Israel says that Hamas guy who got whacked? yeah, he was smuggling weapons to Hezbollah. other than that, we don’t know anything about it.

Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was slain in a Dubai hotel room, played a key role in smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, an Israeli army official said. “This guy was a middleman for smuggling weapons from Iran, not only to Gaza but to Hizbullah” in Lebanon, the official told The Los Angeles Times.Among other things, Mabhouh, believed to be about 50, was suspected of helping to route smuggled arms through Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. One of the arms convoys was bombed in Sudan last year, reportedly by Israeli aircraft.

“Of course, the moment a guy like this is dead, there is always someone to replace him,” the military official said. “But information (about arms-smuggling routes) is usually kept very secret. You have to renew the connections, rebuild the trust. It takes some time to grow into his shoes. It shakes the whole system.”

Though Israel has not acknowledged any role in the killing of al-Mabhouh on Jan. 20, it was one of several mysterious deaths of Arab militants attributed to Israel’s Mossad spy agency over the years.

Relatives and Hamas officials said al-Mabhouh was electrocuted and poisoned, perhaps by having his face smothered with a poison-soaked cloth. Despite surviving what his family says were several earlier attempts on his life, he had traveled without bodyguards to avoid drawing attention.

source: naharnet

6. aq, jumping the shark: watch out for the latest new thing in the war on terror, terrorists who have their bombs surgically inserted in their bodies. so they inject themselves when they want to explode. yeah. that’s pretty normal. do you think they’d have to be under mind control? but nevermind that. do you see that you can NEVER EVER in a million years EVER be safe from these diabolical people, these al qaeda terrorists? that’s the point. you are powerless.

Britain is facing a new Al Qaeda terror threat from suicide ‘body bombers’ with explosives surgically inserted inside them.

Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, Underground trains and buses by secreting bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection. But an operation by MI5 has uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is planning a new stage in its terror campaign by inserting ‘surgical bombs’ inside people for the first time. Security services believe the move has been prompted by the recent introduction at airports of body scanners, which are designed to catch terrorists before they board flights. It is understood MI5 became aware of the threat after observing increasingly vocal internet ‘chatter’ on Arab websites this year. [i love that... "it is understood"]

more @ daily mail

7. more terrorist creativity: Philippine  senate to probe rice shipment from Vietnam

Senator Richard Gordon said Saturday the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will look into the discovery of sacks of a white substance which can be turned into either shabu or explosives that were found in a shipment of rice imported by the National Food Authority from Vietnam.

Gordon, who chairs the committee, said there was something highly suspicious in the discovery of N-methylephedrine, which was later said to be ammonium sulfate, in a shipment of 77,000 bags of NFA rice from Vietnam to Bacolod City as it could be a move to raise funds for the elections.

…The following day, the Bureau of Customs in Bacolod City issued a hold order on a Vietnam-registered vessel, MW Trai Thien 66, its crew and its cargo of 77,000 bags of rice consigned to the NFA in the wake of the discovery of the bags of white crystalline substance.

…Negros media were baffled by the fact that while PDEA officials on Thursday evening and Friday morning confirmed the seized substance to be N-methylephedrine, later in the day they were saying it was ammonium sulfate.

Paul Ledesma, head of the PDEA in Western Visayas, said the earlier findings of N-methylephedrine were based on a Philippine National Police laboratory test in Negros Occidental but a later test done by the PDEA in Manila showed it to be ammonium sulfate.

N-methylepehedrine can be processed into an ingredient in manufacturing shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride). Ammonium sulphate, on the other hand, is a fertilizer component but can also be used in producing explosives.

The rice from Vietnamese was part of the rice importation that the Department of Agriculture announced in December last year.

An announcement on Dec. 14, 2009 on the DA website said the NFA had given the notice of awards to four winning bidders to supply a total of 509,950 metric tons of well-milled long grain white rice to the Philippines .

The NFA awarded the rice importation to Vietnam Southern Food Corp., Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asia Pte. Ltd., Chairyaporn Rice Co., Ltd and Asia Golden Rice, it said.

A total of 300,000 metric tons of rice will be sourced from Vietnam. The balance of 209,950 tons will come from Thailand, the United States, China and Pakistan.

The whole shipment is scheduled to arrive within the first half of the year starting January until May, it added.

8. cocaine bricks wash up on Philippines shores

February 1, 2010

January 8, 2010

December 29, 2009