Missing Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Crashes in Niger Due to Bad Weather: 116 people died

 

 Algeria-Flight-crashed

Reuters – An Air Algerie flight that went missing en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed, an Algerian aviation official told Reuters on Thursday.

“I can confirm that it has crashed,” the official said, declining to give details of where the plane was or what caused the accident.

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After Google, another US Web firm cuts back in China

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Two days after Google halted censorship in China, another leading US Internet company, Go Daddy, said it was cutting back on its activities there because of Chinese regulations.

Go Daddy, the largest Web domain name registrar in the world, is no longer registering names in China because of “chilling” new requirements imposed by the Chinese authorities, executive vice president Christine Jones said on Wednesday.

Jones also told a hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that Go Daddy was one of the companies hit by Chinese-based cyberattacks in December that contributed to Google’s decision to stop self-censorship there.

Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, praised Google and Go Daddy at the hearing here for “doing the right thing in China” and urged other US companies, specifically Microsoft, to follow their lead.

Related article: Foreign firms ponder China future

“Google fired a shot heard ’round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people,” Smith said.

Google announced Monday it had effectively closed its Chinese-language search engine in China, Google.cn, and begun redirecting mainland Chinese users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong.

Chronology: Google’s operations in China

Alan Davidson, Google’s director of public policy, told the hearing the Hong Kong site is already being censored.

“We are well aware that the Chinese government can, at any time, block access to our services — indeed we have already seen intermittent censorship of certain search queries on both Google.com.hk and Google.com,” he said.

Davidson also echoed a call made by Google co-founder Sergey Brin for new rules to govern trade in the online world.

Brin said in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian that Chinese regulations that prevent companies from being competitive in China should be considered a “trade barrier.”

“Since services and information are our most successful exports, if regulations in China effectively prevent us from being competitive, then they are a trade barrier,” Brin said.

Davidson said governments “need to develop a full set of new trade rules to address new trade barriers.

“We should continue to look for effective ways to address unfair foreign trade barriers in the online world: to use trade agreements, trade tools, and trade diplomacy to promote the free flow of information on the Internet.”

Brin and Davidson’s comments came after TOM Online, the Internet company owned by Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, severed ties with Google.

TOM, which runs online and mobile Internet services in mainland China, said that “as a Chinese company, we adhere to rules and regulations in China where we operate our businesses.”

TOM’s move sparked concerns other companies may also pull away from the Web giant. On Thursday the Financial Times reported that China Unicom, the country’s second largest mobile phone operator, will jettison Google’s search function from new handsets.

The move is the first concrete result of Google’s decision to shut down its Chinese search engine on Monday.

“We are willing to work with any company that abides by Chinese law…. We don’t have any cooperation with Google currently,” the Financial Times quoted China Unicom president Lu Yimin as saying.

China has attacked Google for stopping censorship but said there should be no broader fall-out in Sino-US ties provided the issue is not politicized in the United States.

Go Daddy’s Jones said the company has been authorized since April 2005 by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) to offer registration services for .cn domain names.

The .cn suffix is a Top Level Domain for China like .com and individuals or companies seeking to create a Web address are required to go through a registrar such as Go Daddy, which has 40 million domain names under management.

Jones said Go Daddy collects contact information of individuals or companies registering a domain name including their full name, address, telephone number and email address.

Four months ago, however, CNNIC required registrants of new .cn names to provide color headshot photos, a Chinese business registration number and signed registration forms, she said.

She said Go Daddy is “concerned for the security of the individuals affected by CNNIC’s new requirements, as well as for the chilling effect we believe the requirements will have on new .cn domain name registrations.

“For these reasons, we have decided to discontinue offering new .cn domain names at this time,” Jones said. “We didn’t want to act as an agent of the Chinese government.”

Jones also said that Go Daddy was one of more than 30 companies hit by the cyberattacks in December that Google said originated in China. “We’ve had a couple of dozen since the first of the year as well,” she said.

“The Google attack was aimed at infiltrating email accounts,” she said. “The attack on our system is designed to disable websites somebody doesn’t like.”

Bin Laden issues fresh threat to U.S.

Exiled al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, threatened in a new audio recording released on Thursday to kill any captured Americans if the U.S. executes the self-professed mastermind of the September 11 attacks or any other al-Qaeda suspects.

The U.S. is still considering whether to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four of his fellow plotters on military tribunal for their role in the September 11 attacks. The Obama administration is also looking into recommendations for civilian trials, and is expected to announce a decision soon.

In a brief 74-second audio tape aired on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden said if the U.S. decides to execute any al-Qaeda suspects in its custody — and explicitly mentioned Mohammed — his terror network would kill American captives.

The terror leader said such a decision “would mean the U.S. has issued a death sentence against whoever of you becomes a prisoner in our hands.”

It was not immediately clear whether al-Qaeda currently has any U.S. captives, but the Haqqani group – the Pakistan-based Taliban faction closest to al-Qaeda — is holding an American soldier it captured in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009. It released a video of him in December.

Bin Laden said U.S. President Barack Obama is following in the footsteps of his predecessor George W. Bush by escalating the war in Afghanistan, being “unjust” to al-Qaeda prisoners and supporting Israel in its occupation of Palestinian land.

In a veiled threat, bin Laden said Americans had previously thought their homeland was beyond the reach of his group until the 9/11 attack.

Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003, is the most senior al-Qaeda operative in U.S. custody, and is currently in detention at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 2008, the U.S. charged him with murder and war crimes in connection with the September 11 attacks. Pentagon officials have said they’ll seek the death penalty.

Three crew killed in medical chopper crash in US

A medical helicopter crashed in a field in Tennessee early Thursday and state officials confirmed three crew members were killed.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Heidt, in Nashville said the medical flight crashed into a field near Brownsville during a rainstorm shortly after 6 a.m.

Mr. Heidt said the helicopter had flown a patient from Parsons to a Jackson hospital and was returning to its base in Brownsville when it went down only a few miles from its destination. All those aboard were crew members.

Hospital Wing, the company that flies the medical airlifts, didn’t immediately respond to telephone and e—mail messages seeking more details.

The company’s Web site says it flies the Eurocopter Astar AS350B3 model, which is capable of carrying a three—person crew and one patient.

The crash scene is near a highway and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) northeast of Memphis.

World’s tallest tower to ‘go dark’ for Earth Hour

Burj Khalifa , the world’s tallest building during the official opening ceremony in Dubai

Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure, will join tens of thousands of iconic buildings and landmarks from across the world for the Earth Hour on March 27.

To mark the occasion, the golden glow that cascades down the 828-metre tower will be turned off.

Other local landmarks such as Burj Al Arab, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Abu Dhabi Tower of Commerce and Hyatt Regency will also embrace darkness to express solidarity.

Expressing appreciation for the record number of participants this year, Earth Hour, in a statement, said Burj Khalifa was the epitome of global cooperation and unwavering determination and, hence, perfectly reflected the campaign’s ideals.

Earth Hour Executive Director Andy Ridley said growing number of participants symbolised the campaign’s popularity and the world’s resolve to save the planet.

Ridley has seen the campaign grow from a one-city affair in 2007 to more than 4,000 cities in 2009.

“Earth Hour demonstrates the determination of the world’s citizens for a better and healthier world. It is an opportunity for the global community to speak in one voice on the issue of climate change.”

When contacted, Burj Khalifa representatives were unavailable for comment.

Apart from man-made structures, some of the world’s best known natural landmarks, including the Table Mountain and the Victoria Falls, will also join the campaign this year.

6.0-magnitude earthquake hits west of Manila

A 6.0—magnitude earthquake struck west of Manila on Thursday, the seismology institute reported, causing buildings in the Philippine capital to shake and sending frightened workers out of their offices.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, and no tsunami alert was issued. Buildings in Manila shook for about 30 seconds.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology initially reported the tremor had a magnitude of 6.2, but lowered it to 6.0 after receiving more field data, said its director, Renato Solidum.

“Essentially, this would not trigger significant damage,” Mr. Solidum said.

Editha Vargaz of the Land Bank of Philippine’s risk management group said she and dozens of other colleagues climbed down the stairs to the street from the bank’s headquarters on the 31st floor of the 34—storey building.

“We were very calm,” she said, citing training from regular earthquake and fire evacuation drills.

However, there was panic among some employees in offices at the nearby 14—storey Ramon Magsaysay Centre, said Ralph Balmaceda, who works for a travel agency on the seventh floor.

While he and other staff hurried down the stairs, “most others were panicking and some even tried to shove others” to reach the street more quickly.

“It was scary because of the previous incidents in other countries,” said Balmaceda’s office mate Beth Rodriguez. “We thought it would be the same here also.”

Mr. Solidum said the quake was centred off Lubang Island in Mindoro Occidental province, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of Manila, six miles (10 kilometers) under the seabed.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.1 and depth at 21 miles (33 kilometers).

Lubang Island is near the southern end of the Manila Trench, a fault line about 560 miles (900 kilometers) long on the ocean floor under the South China Sea along the western flank of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon.

The Philippine archipelago lies in the so—called Pacific Ring of Fire where earthquakes are common. It is flanked by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the South China Sea to the west with undersea trenches – potential quake triggers – running alongside its coast on both sides.

The last major quake registered a magnitude 7.7 in 1990 and killed nearly 2,000 people on the main northern island of Luzon.

A 7.1—magnitude earthquake set off by a local fault near Lubang whipped up a tsunami that killed 78 people on Mindoro in 1994.

Saudi Arabia arrests over 100 terror suspects

Saudi Arabia says it has arrested 101 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks on the country’s oil installations.

An Interior Ministry statement says security forces foiled several such attacks.

In the last major attempt, suicide bombers tried but failed to attack an oil facility at the Abqaiq oil complex in eastern Saudi Arabia in February 2006. The complex is the world’s largest oil processing facility.

Wednesday’s ministry statement did not say when the arrests were made. It said the suspects are 47 Saudis, 51 Yemenis, a Somali, an Eritrean and a Bengali.