- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

Malaysia Airlines 777 jet vanishes on flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 aboard

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Search and rescue crews across Southeast Asia scrambled to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam early Saturday with 239 people aboard.

Less than one hour after Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, the plane disappeared from radar. More than 12 hours after contact was lost, there was still no sign of the aircraft, and no wreckage had been spotted.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said there was no indication that the pilots sent a distress signal. The fact that there was apparently no call for help suggests that whatever happened to the flight occurred quickly.

The plane, which carried passengers mostly from China but also from other Asian countries, North America and Europe, was last spotted around where the South China Sea meets the Gulf of Thailand.

At Beijing’s airport, authorities posted a notice asking relatives and friends of passengers to gather at a hotel about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the airport to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service. A woman wept aboard the shuttle bus while saying on a mobile phone, “They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good!”

___

The Boeing 777 has 1 of the best safety records in aviation

NEW YORK (AP) - The Boeing 777 flown by Malaysia Airlines that disappeared Saturday morning over the South China Sea is one of the world’s most popular - and safest - jets.

The long-range jumbo jet has helped connect cities at the far ends of the globe, with flights as long as 16 hours. But more impressive is its safety record: The first fatal crash in its 19-year history only came last July when an Asiana Airlines jet landed short of the runway in San Francisco. Three of the 307 people aboard died.

Airlines like the plane because it is capable of flying extremely long distances thanks to two giant engines. Each engine is so massive that a row of at least five coach seats could fit inside it. By having just two engines, the plane burns through less fuel than four-engine jets, like the Boeing 747, which it has essentially replaced.

“It has provided a new standard in both efficiency and safety,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation consultant with the Teal Group. “The 777 has enjoyed one of the safest records of any jetliner built.”

Besides last year’s Asiana crash, the only other serious incident with the 777 came in January 2008 when a British Airways jet landed about 1,000 feet (305 meters) short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.

___

Pro-Russia forces raise pressure on Ukrainian troops to leave base in Crimea

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) - Moscow mounted pressure on Ukraine Saturday, with Russia’s foreign minister denouncing the new Ukrainian authorities as puppets of armed radicals and pro-Russia forces in Crimea trying to flush Ukrainian soldiers out of the few military bases still under their control.

The regional parliament in Crimea has set a March 16 referendum on leaving Ukraine to join Russia, and senior lawmakers in Moscow said they would support the move, ignoring sanctions threats and warnings from U.S. President Barack Obama that the vote would violate international law.

The strategic peninsula in southern Ukraine has become the flashpoint in the battle for Ukraine, where three months of protests sent President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing to Russia. A majority of people in Crimea identify with Russia, and Moscow has a major naval base on the Black Sea.

While the U.S. and the EU urged Russia to engage in dialogue with new Ukrainian authorities who came to power on the wave of protests that sent President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing to Russia, the Kremlin has refused to do so, denouncing the change of power in Ukraine as “unconstitutional coup.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday that Moscow sees no sense in having a dialogue with Ukraine’s new authorities because, in his view, they kowtow to radical nationalists.

___

Russia and Ukraine give different versions of sniper tragedy that drove Yanukovych from power

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - One of the biggest mysteries hanging over the protest mayhem that drove Ukraine’s president from power: Who was behind the snipers who sowed death and terror in Kiev?

That riddle has become the latest flashpoint of feuding over Ukraine - with the nation’s fledgling government and the Kremlin giving starkly different interpretations of events that could either undermine or bolster the legitimacy of the new rulers.

Ukrainian authorities are investigating the Feb. 18-20 bloodbath, and they have shifted their focus from ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s government to Vladimir Putin’s Russia - pursuing the theory that the Kremlin was intent on sowing mayhem as a pretext for military incursion. Russia suggests that the snipers were organized by opposition leaders trying to whip up local and international outrage against the government.

The government’s new health minister - a doctor who helped oversee medical treatment for casualties during the protests - told The Associated Press that the similarity of bullet wounds suffered by opposition victims and police indicates the shooters were trying to stoke tensions on both sides and spark even greater violence, with the goal of toppling Yanukovych.

“I think it wasn’t just a part of the old regime that (plotted the provocation), but it was also the work of Russian special forces who served and maintained the ideology of the (old) regime,” Health Minister Oleh Musiy said.

___

Frustration hangs heavy over Afghanistan’s women’s rights struggle, 13 years after Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - In 2009, the United States gave Wazhma Frogh the International Woman of Courage award for her women’s rights activism in Afghanistan. Prominently displayed in Frogh’s office is a picture of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granting her the award as First Lady Michelle Obama smiles, clapping by her side.

Four years later, the United States denied her a visa when she was trying to get away from an Afghan militia commander who she says was persecuting her.

For Frogh, the experience underlined the state of the women’s rights movement in her country. Thirteen years after the fall of the Taliban, billions of dollars have been spent, the West and the Afghan government have offered countless words of support, yet the successes that have been achieved remain vulnerable. Ultimately, women still have nowhere to turn when their battle for equal rights puts them on the firing line, she said.

“They give you an award but they don’t support you when you need them,” she told The Associated Press. “I always thought that if my government didn’t help me I would always be able to turn to the United States. I never thought that they would turn their back on me.”

Gains have been made. Gone are the rules imposed by the Taliban forcing women to wear the all-encompassing burqa and barring girls from school. Now, as many as 4 million girls are in school, and women sit in Afghanistan's parliament.

___

Obama warns party activists already moving on to 2016 to focus on midterms or get ‘walloped’

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats could get walloped in the November elections. The party gets sleepy and distracted in the midterms. And its supporters simply may not show up to vote.

Those aren’t hopeful predictions from Republicans. They’re the dire warnings of President Barack Obama, who is seeking to gin up enthusiasm for the midterm elections from party activists already looking toward the 2016 race to replace him.

The remainder of his presidency hangs on Democratic performance in the November contest. If voters hand the Senate over to Republican control, Obama will lose even the uphill chance he has to get legislation passed in his remaining time in office.

“I hope that just because I’m not on the ballot that people aren’t going to take it easy this time, because the ideas I care about and am fighting for are on the ballot,” Obama said to about 75 donors who paid $5,000 to $20,000 to hear him speak over dinner at a swanky Boston art gallery Wednesday night.

Obama’s challenge is to set an agenda for a party that is not always embracing him, especially after the problems with his health care law. There are areas of the country where he can’t campaign since he would only be a drag on more moderate Democratic candidates.

___

Revamped Newsweek gets attention - and plenty of questions - with head-turning bitcoin story

NEW YORK (AP) - A mystery man. A splashy reveal. A media frenzy. Newsweek staked its return from the dead on a story it knew would get attention. A cover story claiming it had uncovered “the face behind bitcoin,” the world’s most popular digital currency.

It got plenty of attention, all right.

Twenty-four hours after identifying bitcoin’s creator as a 64-year-old former defense contractor employee living in Los Angeles, the controversy over whether or not Newsweek had outed the right man was so furious that Newsweek reporter Leah McGrath Goodman made the rounds on Bloomberg TV and CBS Morning News to defend her reporting against Dorian Nakamoto’s denials that he is the father of bitcoin. The magazine issued a statement standing by the story and said it had to hire a security detail for Goodman because of threats made against her.

In the comments section under Newsweek’s statement backing the piece many people suggested the magazine had jumped the gun by publishing the story before it was fully reported out. Newsweek said Goodman’s research was conducted under the same high standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years, and that it expected the story, like any major news revelation, to spark controversy. Saying he was prepared for the “shitstorm,” Newsweek editor in chief Jim Impoco told digital network Mashable on Friday that he remains confident in the story as reported and didn’t see a need to frame the article more skeptically.

“Go large or go home. This is Newsweek,” Impoco told Mashable. “We are raising the dead here. And you know what? People are aware of it now.”

___

Transgender woman in California sues CrossFit over exclusion from female fitness competition

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A transgender woman in Northern California has sued the company behind the popular CrossFit workouts for refusing to let her compete in the female division of its annual fitness competitions.

The lawsuit brought Thursday by Chloie Jonsson, 34, accuses CrossFit Inc. of violating her rights under a California law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Jonsson’s complaint says she was born male but has been living as a woman since she was a teenager and underwent sex reassignment surgery eight years ago. The surgery, coupled with the female hormones she takes, satisfied the state’s requirements for her to be recognized as female on her birth certificate and other official documents.

Her lawyer, Waukeen McCoy, said Jonsson, who works as a personal trainer and is an avid CrossFit practitioner, first spoke to company representatives about her background a year ago after a teammate learned that participants in the Reebok CrossFit Games were required to register according to their gender at birth.

“They said she has an advantage over other women because of the sex she was born with, and that is completely untrue, scientifically,” McCoy said, noting that the International Olympic Committee and other sports governing bodies allow athletes who have undergone surgery, taken hormones and secured legal recognition to compete in the category that corresponds to their affirmed gender.

___

Longer days, shorter nights: Spring forward 1 hour early Sunday for daylight saving time

WASHINGTON (AP) - Winter has dragged on in much of the country, but here’s a sign spring is close at hand: Daylight saving time arrives this weekend.

Most Americans will set their clocks 60 minutes forward before heading to bed Saturday night. Daylight saving time officially starts Sunday at 2 a.m. local time.

You may lose an hour of sleep, but daylight saving time promises an extra hour of evening light for many months ahead.

It’s also a good time to put new batteries in warning devices such as smoke detectors and hazard warning radios.

The time change is not observed by Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

___

Veteran actress Sheila MacRae, ‘the last’ Alice Kramden on ‘The Honeymooners,’ dead at 92

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) - Sheila MacRae starred on the Broadway stage and in films, yet it was her small-screen role as the tolerant and brassy wife of a Brooklyn bus driver for which she is most remembered.

MacRae, best known for playing Alice Kramden to Jackie Gleason’s Ralph in the 1960s re-creation of “The Honeymooners,” died Thursday. She was 92.

The actress died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J., MacRae’s granddaughter, Allison Mullavey, told The Associated Press on Friday.

In the 1950s version of “The Honeymooners,” Audrey Meadows starred with Gleason as the lovebirds and sparring partners Ralph and Alice. Sheila MacRae replaced Meadows as Alice in a later version from 1966-70 on “The Jackie Gleason Show.” MacRae was the last survivor from the ‘60s edition of the Gleason show. Jane Kean, who played Trixie Norton, died last fall.

“My mother referred to herself as the last Mrs. Kramden,” said her daughter, actress Heather MacRae.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide