Sunday, August 16, 2015

Indonesian Plane Down On Papua

Authorities to launch recovery operations at dawn on Monday    


An Indonesian passenger plane carrying 54 people has crashed in the country’s eastern Papua region, a Transportation Ministry official has confirmed. Contact with Flight TGN267 was lost at about 0600 GMT Sunday.

Trigana ATR 42-300
The search was temporarily halted overnight, but now officials say that two planes and a helicopter are engaged in the hunt. The two planes are from the airliner itself, while the Indonesia Armed Forces has provided a helicopter. Additionally, officials say they have also dispatched a ground search crew to cover the area where the plane is believed to have disappeared. Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found. 

Officials have also asked locals to help in the search.

The Trigana Air plane disappeared earlier on Sunday during a short flight from Papua's capital Jayapura at 2:22pm local time (3:22pm AEST) for what should have been about a 40-minute flight to Oskibil.

Ten minutes before it was due to land at 3:00pm (local time), the plane contacted Oksibil control tower asking to descend, Trigana Air's service director of operations captain Beni Sumaryanto said.

But the plane never arrived.

Half an hour later, Trigana Air sent another turboprop plane over the same route to look for the missing aircraft, he said.

"But the weather was very bad, it could not find it and the plane was turned back to Sentani," captain Sumaryanto said.

He added: "Oksibil is a mountainous area where weather is very unpredictable. It can suddenly turn foggy, dark and windy without warning."

"We strongly suspect it's a weather issue. It is not overcapacity, as the plane could take 50 passengers."
"The latest information is that the Trigana aircraft that lost contact has been found at Camp 3, Ok Bape district in the Bintang Mountains regency," Air Transportation Director General Suprasetyo told reporters on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Oskibil is a remote settlement in the mountains, about 40 kilometres from the Papua New Guinea border, and only accessible by plane.

The flight TGN267, an ATR 42 short-range airliner, was going from Sentani to Oksibil, both in Papua, and was supposed to only take 50 minutes.

"Residents provided information that the aircraft crashed into Tangok mountain."

According to Reuters, there were no reports on any survivors of the crash.

The ownership record of the missing aircraft available at shows that it is almost 25 years old.

Since 2007, Trigana airline has been on an EU blacklist after failing to meet safety standards. The airline, which has a current fleet of 14 aircraft, has had 14 major incidents during its 24 years of operation, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

The search operation is hampered by darkness, poor weather and difficult terrain in the area, the state search agency's spokesperson told CNN. It is to begin at 6 a.m. local time on Monday.

Flight TGN267 was not equipped with an Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system, which also makes tracking the aircraft difficult.

Indonesia's president pledged to review the country’s aging air force in July, following a military plane crash that left over 100 people dead.

Trigana Air has been on the EU blacklist for banned carriers.

Trigana Air is a small airline established in 1991 that operates domestic services to around 40 destinations in Indonesia.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, an online database, the ATR 42-300 had its first flight 27 years ago.

A passenger relative cries as she walks out of the airline's main office in Jakarta on Sunday

ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica.

Trigana has been on the European Union blacklist of banned carriers since 2007.

Airlines on the list are barred from operating in European airspace due to either concerns about their safety standards, or concerns about the regulatory environment in their country of registration.

Trigana Air has a fleet of 14 aircraft with an average age of 26.6 years, according to the database.

These include 10 ATR aircraft and four Boeing 737 classics.

Trigana has had 14 serious incidents and written off 10 aircraft since it began operations in 1991, according to the Aviation Safety Network's online database.

Small aircraft are commonly used for transport in remote, mountainous Papua, and bad weather has caused several accidents in recent years.

On Wednesday, a Cessna propeller plane operated by Indonesian company Komala Air crashed in Papua's Yahukimo district, killing one person and seriously injuring the five others on board.

Officials suspect that crash was caused by bad weather. 

Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record and has seen two major plane crashes in the past year, including an AirAsia flight that crashed into the Java Sea during stormy weather in December, killing all 162 people on board. 

That crash prompted the government to introduce regulations aimed at improving safety.

Indonesia's president promised a review of the ageing air force fleet in July after a military transport plane crashed in the north of the country, killing more than 100 people.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

America’s Toxic ‘Partnership’ With Vietnam

The exploitation begins again

By Finian Cunningham

America’s war on Vietnam may have officially ended 40 years ago, but the Southeast Asian country is still battling with the horrific legacy that the US military bequeathed. 

Napalm strike on Trang Bang in 1972
Yet last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry, while in Hanoi, eulogised about how the two countries are "healing" and forging a new"partnership."

Kerry was speaking on the 20th anniversary of "normalising ties" between the US and Vietnam that began in August 1995, more than 20 years after the war’s end.

"It took us 20 more years to move from healing to building. Think of what we can accomplish in the 20 years to come," said Kerry.

The American diplomat’s blithe account of "healing to building" belies the ongoing horror for some three million Vietnamese who live with the poisonous legacy of US war on that country. 

That number is about the same as the total of Vietnamese who died during the war from American saturation bombing and ground war.

Between 1961 and 1972 – three years before the war ended – the US military dropped a total of 20 million gallons of highly toxic herbicides on what was then South Vietnam. The New York Times reported the affected area was "about the size of Massachusetts" or some 27,300 square kilometres. That equates to over 15 per cent of the total territory of what was then South Vietnam.

The most well known of these defoliating chemicals was Agent Orange, which the Americans sprayed on forests and croplands from aircrafts and river navy boats, with the alleged purpose of denying tree cover and food supplies to the South Vietnamese insurgents of the Vietcong.

According to the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA): "More than 3 million people in Vietnam still suffer from the after-effects of the defoliant. In 2012, a baby was reported to have suffered health problems related to the defoliant, meaning a fourth generation of victims had emerged."

VAVA’s vice president Tran Xuan Thu says that as long as victims continue to suffer and new cases emerge then, "The war has still not ended."

Vietnam war: Spraying Agent Orange

The health impacts from the US chemical spraying across southern Vietnam include a litany of cancers, tumours, neoplasms, skin diseases and congenital birth defects.

Tran Thi Le Huyen, who is now 29, was born more than 10 years after the war’s end in 1975. She lives near Da Nang in central Vietnam from where the US military ran its main Agent Orange flights, known as Operation Ranch Hand. Tran has been bedridden since birth crippled from her twisted, emaciated legs. Her mother said: "We have visited various hospitals, but there was no place that offered any treatment."

HANOI, VIETNAM, OCTOBER 2011: Kein, 25, a man born with birth defects due to Agent Orange contamination

Danish citizen Bente Peterson, who directed VAVA detoxification projects for nearly 10 years up to 2013, recalled to this author innumerable cases of whole families destroyed by poisoning from Agent Orange. She remembered one tragic Vietnamese war veteran in particular who raised three sons only to watch all of them die from different cancers.

Proportionate to population, the number of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam today would be the equivalent of some 10 million Americans suffering from similar life-threatening diseases. While thousands of US military veterans who also succumbed to Agent Orange toxicity have received chemical companies (Monsanto, Dow) that manufactured the herbicide, the Vietnamese people have never obtained any reparation from Washington. Class-action suits brought by Vietnamese victims have repeatedly been rejected in US courts, the latest being in 2009 by the US Supreme Court, even though these same courts ruled in favour of American veterans receiving compensation as far back as 1984.

Washington maintains that its use of herbicides in Vietnam were not knowingly targeting civilian populations. Therefore, it claims, Agent Orange was not used as a chemical weapon. But that seems like cynical word play when millions of acres of crops and forests were indiscriminately sprayed, with the full knowledge that the wider population would be contaminated. 

Also, industrial analysis showed as far back as 1957 that the herbicides used by the American military in Vietnam contained traces of highly toxic and carcinogenic dioxin. Under public pressure over the health dangers voiced by US scientists and the citizens’ anti-war movement, the Agent Orange operation was officially cancelled in 1972.

In 2012, the US Congress finally earmarked some $40 million for cleaning up toxic areas in Vietnam. Whether the full money is actually delivered is another point. A more realistic financial cost for the clean-up across Vietnam would be in the billions – and that is not including the billions more that would be required for proper medical treatment of victims. So far, the former US air base at Da Nang has undergone partial detoxification of its soil and nearby waterways. But there are dozens of other so-called dioxin "hot spots" scattered across southern Vietnam and adjacent to the borders with Cambodia and Laos.

Phung Tuu Boi of the Vietnam Forestry Science and Technology Association, which has been involved in replanting mangroves and upland areas destroyed by the American defoliation, says: "Centuries will be needed to restore the destroyed environment."

Forty years after devastating Vietnam, its people and environment, Washington’s "clean-up" assistance appears like a mere drop in the 55-gallon drums it used to drop Agent Orange on that country. It is woefully inadequate reparation for the millions of victims and generations of suffering children to come.

A closer reading of the Vietnamese press reports on John Kerry’s visit last week reveals the bigger US concern. Kerry might have talked about "healing" but he reportedly said very little about the plight of war victims or what Washington should provide in direct medical aid. Of more importance to the US secretary of state was apparently the desire to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other Southeast Asian nations. Vietnam is seen as key to the US cementing the TPP, which pointedly excludes China from the trade pact.

Kerry also told Vietnamese political leaders that Washington was moving towards lifting restrictions on arms exports to Vietnam, and he emphatically reiterated America’s support for the country in its territorial maritime disputes with China.

The belated American moves to help detoxify its legacy in Vietnam first began in 2011 when Hillary Clinton was the US Secretary of State. That move also coincided with the "Pivot to Asia" policy under President Obama when Washington signalled that it would henceforth be targeting China as a top geopolitical rival. Since then, tensions between Washington and Beijing have steadily escalated.

A Vietnamese Agent Orange victim is helped by a health worker at the Peace Village in Ho Chi Minh city

So, when Kerry talks about how Vietnam and the US need to quickly move from "healing to building partnership" we can safely deduce that America’s real objective is to enlist Vietnam in its geopolitical calculations against China.

Vietnam’s leadership may be flattered by preferential trade concessions and supply of US warships. But, just as the millions of Agent Orange victims testify, the purported partnership with Washington will prove to be a toxic relationship.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Greeks Flock To Grassroots Alternative Currencies In Affront To Euro Debt Slavery

Americans need to follow example of Greeks; there is always a way around obstacles, it might not be the best way, but there is always a way  


Hundreds of millions of people throughout the Western world are being forced to admit an obvious, yet uncomfortable reality. Democracy is dead. Your vote and your voice doesn’t matter. Not at all.

No group of people understand this as intimately as the Greeks. They voted for one thing, got something else, and in the process were unceremoniously reminded of their political irrelevance. 

The Greeks are now in a position to show the rest of us how it’s done. Communities need to take matters into their own hands and tackle challenges at the grassroots level. Nowhere is this more impactful and necessary than in the monetary realm, and some Greeks are already leading the charge.

When Christos Papaioannou noticed his car needed new tires, the Greek computer engineer bought them with euros—but used an alternative currency, called TEM, to pay his mechanic for the labor. 

Tsipras voids democratic vote, sells out Greeks
His country has avoided a catastrophic exit from the common currency, at least for now. But a small but growing number of cash-strapped Greeks, who are still grappling with strict money-withdrawal limits, have found another route in TEM and other unconventional payment systems like it. 

“Money is sparse right now, but people still have the same skills and knowledge they had before the crisis,” said Mr. Papaioannou, part of a cooperative that founded TEM in the port city of Volos and one of nearly 1,000 registered users of the alternate currency there.

“Money is sparse right now, but people still have the same skills and knowledge they had before the crisis.”

Read that line over and over and over again until you realize how simple, elegant and accurate it is.

Nazis Merkel and Juncker attempt to implement the "Final Solution" on the Greek people

TEM—a sophisticated form of barter whose name is the Greek acronym for Local Alternative Unit—was founded in 2010 in the early months of Greece’s debt crisis with less than a dozen members. Now it includes dozens of participating local businesses that use the system to sell goods and services, including prepared food, haircuts, doctor visits, or even for renting an apartment.

It is a localized version of what Greece might have to turn to if a tentative bailout agreement reached this week is derailed, or ultimately fails. Before his resignation last month, former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis floated the idea of setting up a parallel-currency system based on IOUs in the event that Greece could no longer stay afloat using euros. Without a rescue, the idea of using IOUs is seen as the country’s most likely alternative. 

Before then, Ms. Sotiropoulou said she was only aware of two such programs. No official record of the number of alternative currencies and local bartering systems appears to exist in Greece. But according to an Athens-based grass roots organization called Omikron Project, there are now more than 80 such programs, double the number in 2013. They vary in size, from dozens of members to thousands.

“The problems that existed have only gotten worse, and the new deal is going to create problems of its own that will deepen the crisis in certain areas,” said Mehran Khalili, one of the founders of Omikron. “The logical response is to create groups to react to that and fill those gaps that are going to exist because of the unsustainable situation that Greece has found itself in.

Greeks quickly find ways to circumvent Merkel, ECB, IMF terrorists

Experts say TEM and other local currencies work best side-by-side with the euro, not as a replacement. 

“Experts” say. Yeah, the same so-called “experts” who destroyed the world economy and turned the planet into a thieving oligarchy. I think I’ve had enough “expert” economic advice for one lifetime.

One notable example of alternative currencies used during a crisis was in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when the Austrian town of W├Ârgl decided to fight the economic downturn by printing its own money. 

Economists called the result a miracle: Employment boomed, while inflation remained subdued. During the economic depression that struck Argentina in 1998 and lasted till 2002, people formed barter networks and several provinces introduced their own currencies.

The alternate currencies have their limitations: The use of TEM, for example is restricted to those people and local businesses that choose to accept them, and won’t directly help people struggling to meet their monthly utility bills.

Maria McCarthy, a British woman who lives in Volos with her Greek husband and children, has earned and spent over 10,000 TEMs in four years by offering English and guitar lessons. 

Tusk is not "Lovin' It."
She also sells secondhand clothes and other material goods in Volos’ biweekly marketplace, where almost everything besides euros are exchanged. 

Mr. Papaioannou says he has paid for renovating parts of his home as well as food and clothing with the currency, and an increasingly larger share of his computer-repair work is done through transactions with TEM. “You’re used to a method of doing things,” he said, “and suddenly, you realize there are other ways too.”

You’ve gotta love the Greek spirit. You can knock them down, you can embarrass them, but you can’t kill their spirit. Everyone else on the planet must recognize that what is being done to Greece will be done to us all in turn. We must show totally solidarity with them against the euro-fascists.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



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