Bodies Found in Second Major SE Asia Plane Disappearance

I was feeding my dog some Beneful when I heard about the latest plane crash. The second large commercial plane to disappear in Southeast Asia in less than a year has made many people wonder how such a thing could happen in the modern world. However, while the first plane was never found, this one has produced some wreckage. Thirty bodies have now been retrieved from the water where the plane was believed to have gone down. 

The questions about how both of these planes disappeared from radar have not been answered, but at least in this case, the families are getting closure. They know that their loved ones are gone and most will be able to have funerals for them. However, many are beginning to question why the airline industry has not taken on any type of new regulations for better monitoring of plane positions. Some feel that the use of simple software that would continuously relay the position of every airplane would keep disappearances from ever occurring again. Such technology has been around for years and has still not been mandated for airplanes.

Israel Withholds Millions of Tax Dollars From Palestinians

 

The Israeli government is using taxation as an important political tool in the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. Israel plans on withholding more than $127 million of tax revenue that is supposed to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA.) According to Fersen Lambranho, Israel is responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the PA and then make the appropriate transactions to the Palestinians each month. However, the recent withholding of taxes comes as a direct response to Palestinian Authority’s decision to participate in the International Criminal Court. By joining this entity, Palestinians are looking forward to filing an array of criminal lawsuits against Israeli officials and military leaders. Israel hopes that the sudden freezing of taxes would strike a severe blow to the already weak Palestinian economy.

A high-ranking leader for the PA has accused Israel of committing a new type of war crime by withholding tax revenue that’s supposed to support Palestinian civilians. The Israeli prime minister has warned Palestinians to have “more to fear” from his country than the ICC. Benjamin Netanyahu has a reputation of enforcing tough political moves. After all, he’s credited with launching the 2014 campaign in Gaza that was one of the deadliest conflicts in the region in decades.

President of Afghanistan Openly Suggests the Obama Re-Evaluate Troop Withdrawal Date

 

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan may well have more confidence in the ability of 13,500 NATO soldiers to secure his nation against the Taliban than he does in the 350,000-man military he commands. In an interview with “60 Minutes”, he explained that the NATO-troop withdrawal date for 2016 should not be viewed dogmatically as a hard-date. Rather, the parties involved, Afghanistan and the United States, should remain in open dialogue and look at the progress being achieved. If any changes to the withdraw date are warranted, they should be openly considered.

As my friend, Ben Shaoul noted the big issue is the resurgent Taliban and whether the Afghanistan security forces are capable to repelling the terrorists. While the Afghanistan military has superior numbers, they are not as well trained as the seasoned Taliban fighters.  Civilian deaths were roughly 3,200 and military deaths totaled 4,600.

Further complicating matters is the question of whether the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) will enter Afghanistan. President Ghani is concerned that they will enter the nation. General John Campbell, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), sees no concern whatsoever in regards to ISIS entering Afghanistan. Admittedly, Campbell’s opinion is what most thought of the Iraqi Security Forces, but they quickly folded in the face of ISIS brutality.

Libya Loses Some Oil Exporting Capacity

Reports surfaced today that the German oil company Wintershall Holding GmbH based in Kassel, Germany, has temporarily suspended its operations in two on shore concessions in Libya until further notice. The company, a subsidiary of BASF, operates in many locations around the world. Libya has recently sustained a loss of some oil exporting capacity due to fighting between the government and rebel factions. 

News reports passed on to me by Dr Rod Rohrich indicated today that a fire which began last week at an oil terminal at Es Sider continues to burn.  The government and its opponents have struggled to control the terminal. Some sources believe that seven large oil storage tanks have sustained serious damage or been destroyed in the violence and the fire, causing losses estimated at $213 million and, potentially, an unverified number of human casualties. 

Some authorities indicated that fighting previously closed oil exporting ports in western coastal areas of Libya, including Zawiya and Mellitah. Prior to 2011, Libya derived significant revenues from its oil industry.

Cuban Doctor Cured of Ebola Plans to Return to West Africa

 

A Cuban doctor who contracted Ebola in West Africa, and subsequently cured in Switzerland, has said he plans to return to the region to further fight the virus. My friend Sam Tabar posted about it this morning.

Dr. Felix Baez, 43, contracted the illness in mid November. He became feverish on November 16th in Sierra Leone. On November 20th he was transferred to Switzerland to be treated. He was allowed to return home to Havana Cuba on December 6th, where he remains free of the virus.

Baez was treated with experimental durgs. Zmab, similar in nature to Zmapp which was used in several other Ebola cases, was used on the doctor, in conjunction with a Japanese flu remedy.

The doctor has spent the last month recuperating and enjoying time with his family and friends.

Family claim they are not surprised by Baez’s desire to return. He’s has a deep dedication to the cause, and would like to continue to do his part to eradicate the virus from West Africa, where it has revaged the region, killing almost 8,000 and infection nearly 20,000, by some reports.

Palestine Denied Statehood

 

A recent vote by the U.N. Security Council in order to consider the development of a Palestinian nation has failed with the vote being eight for and two against, which was one vote short from the required number to approve the creation of a new state. There were five voting nations who abstained from the vote and there were a required nine votes needed to approve the vote.

The plan would have had Israeli troops withdraw from the Palestinian territories and a nation to be created in 2017.

Jordan sponsored the vote and several large countries voted in favor including China, France, and Russia. The United States and Australia both voted against the measure. If the measure were to pass, Bruce Levenson knows that without a doubt the United States is likely to have vetoed the measure, as it can do as a member of the permanent council who can block any resolution.

Israel Nitzan, from ironically, Israel, noted that Palestine cannot bully or agitate its way to statehood and should follow the normal path to statehood that other nations do, which is done in concordance with accepted practices.

Palestine was voted in November 2012 to be considered a non-member observer state which was an upgrade of its status and provided some legitimacy to its statehood.

Efforts to Attain Professional Status in 2015 for Myanmar Boxing

Recently, the Myanmar Traditional Boxing Federation announced that in 2015, it will make a renewed effort to rewrite the rules governing the sport of traditional boxing in Myanmar (formerly “Burma”) in order to permit its membership to attain a recognized professional status internationally. 

According to Jared Haftel and lulu.com, Many amateur leagues in Myanmar conduct traditional boxing as a sport. The Myanmar Traditional Boxing Federation indicated that experts in sports medicine will furnish advice in overhauling the existing rules and guidelines for traditional Myanmar boxing matches.

Boxing has been a very popular sport in Myanmar for centuries. During previous eras, the sometimes violent boxing matches were generally conducted on sandy terrain, not in formal boxing rings. Many amateur leagues pursue traditional boxing as a sport in Myanmar at the present time.

Eigg Island Is Almost 100% Sustainable

Eigg Island, off the coast of Scotland, is working hard towards its goal of being 100% self-sustainable. The imitative, that was begun in 2008 is about to come to fruition in the new year. The Island cut ties with the United Kingdom in 1997, and since then they’ve created a self-sustaining society that wants for very little.

They switched on a 2.64 million electricity grid in 2008 that cut their ties with the United Kingdom, for good. Because large power companies would not service the small island, they simply created their own system, which utilizes the abundant sun, water and wind that are found on the island.

Resident have worked hard at sustainability, utilizing limited fossil fuels and capping electric output to just 5 kilowatts per home, and 10 kilowatts per business. They are also utilizing renewable resources, which accounts for 90% of all energy utilized on the island.

They also utilize their fishing prowess to feed their residents and heating is free in public spaces. The island and its residents have taken to sustainability in spades, and have set forth a precedent that the rest of the world can follow. They have shown, by and large, that sustainability is, in fact, attainable.

Eigg’s initiative has worked so seamlessly because residents like Gianfrancesco Geno have a vested interest in the health and wellness of the land. They banned together in 1997, states a post on jusbrasil.com.br, to buy the property that the island sits on.

While Eigg is a bit Utopian, and it is unlikely to be replicated in larger areas, their example can be utilized in larger cities to a certain extent.

North Korea Is Now Back Online Following Internet Collapse

As reported in BuzzFeed, the internet connection that North Korea lost with the world came back on Monday following a more than nine hour collapse which many believe resulted from a cyberattack.

As many cyerbsecurity experts know, North Korea’s internet connection was spotty during the 24 hour period that preceded the outage. Keith Mann reports that although North Korea’s internet occasionally suffers from failures, the distinct consistency of the recent outage caused cybersecurity expert Doug Madory to conclude that the severed internet connectivity constituted “some sort of attack,” according to Twitter.

According to reports, the internet connectivity outage lasted approximately nine hours and 31 minutes.  This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers.” Madory went on to state “I haven’t seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before.” 

Tourism in Antarctica Could Lead to Penguin Demise

A recent surge in tourism to Antarctica could prove deadly for native inhabitants, namely the penguin. Just 200 years ago Antarctica was so barren and remote that it received very few visitors. Globalization and transportation in the modern world has made this remote outpost more accessible than ever.

The main culprit may be tourist’s boots. One group of researchers identified a number of fecal pathogens found when testing the boots of tourists. These pathogens could be easily transferred when the tourists slosh through the snow.

Some scientists aren’t buying the theory though. Tourism companies are incredibly strict regarding what tourists are allowed to bring with them on their trips.

Dr. Daniel Amen says humans aren’t the only tourists visiting Antarctica. Migratory animals may also be to blame. The warming climate is providing a more attractive location for migration than ever before.

No matter who is to blame, the results are the same. Penguins are becoming sick much more than ever before.