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November 15, 2010

Somali piracy: Kenyan navy kills three, Chinese ship hijacked, British couple freed

Somali piracy: Kenyan navy kills three, Chinese ship hijacked, British couple freed

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Monday, November 15, 2010

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Three pirates were killed late Friday during a presumed attack in error, while other pirates successfully hijacked the Yuan Xiang, a Panamanian-flagged vessel with an all-Chinese crew, and a media embargo was lifted regarding the release of a British couple whose yacht was seized more than a year ago over the weekend.

At 11 p.m. on Friday a Kenyan patrol vessel was near Kilifi in Kenyan coastal waters “when four suspected Somali pirates on board a speed boat climbed the vessel, mistaking it for a merchant vessel,” according to Kenyan Defence Department spokesman Bogita Ongeri. He said three were shot dead but the fourth “dived into the sea with bullet wounds during the scuffle,” and is thought to have died. The speed boat with more pirates on board fled, the three bodies were taken to Coast General Hospital, Mombassa.

Ongeri promised more details after discussions with the vessel’s captain adding, “[t]he government will not relent in its fight against piracy.” Kenya, along with the Seychelles, performs international prosecutions of pirates, but convictions are rarely secured; 26 suspects were freed last week by Kenya owing to lack of evidence or jurisdiction.

Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers’ Assistance Program said Saturday, “I can confirm the pirates hijacked Yuan Xiang on Friday at midnight Kenyan time in the Arabian Sea near India. The vessel has 29 Chinese crew.” The Yuan Xiang was sailing outside the zone covered by a multinational task force combating piracy. Reports suggest its captors are heading to Somalia.

Retired British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler were released after their yacht Lynn Rival was captured near the Seychelles en-route to Tanzania 388 days ago, in October 2009. An injunction prevented reporting the release until 56-year-old Rachel and 60-year-old Paul, from Kent, were out of Somalia.

“Men with guns came aboard,” Paul told ITV News over the phone a week after their capture. “Then we were forced to sail … toward Somalia.” The seizure was witnessed by UK refueling ship RFA Wave Knight but they were not helped for fear their lives would be endangered. “This is not piracy and must not be reported as such,” Paul said in custody. “It is kidnapping and extortion and even torture.” It is unclear if money changed hands; US$7 million was originally demanded but UK government policy forbids ransom payments. “We’re fine,” said Paul. “We’re rather skinny and bony but we’re fine.”

New figures show 790 people have been kidnapped by Somali pirates this year, on course to beat last year’s record of 867. Of these, 435 remain hostage. Dr Alex Coutroubis and George Kiourktsoglou of London’s University of Greenwich say crews are repelling more attacks, and attackers have responded with increased violence. “As it gets harder for pirates to capture ships, the Somali gangs are more likely to fire at sailors with automatic weapons in order to force vessels to stop”. Some tankers have had rocket propelled grenades fired at them.

Last year saw 217 hijack attempts. This year, to date, 140, and 40 ships seized – versus 47 for the whole of 2009.



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  • “Somali pirates threaten to kill British hostages in days” — Wikinews, January 23, 2010

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March 31, 2010

US Navy aircraft crashes after Afghanistan mission

US Navy aircraft crashes after Afghanistan mission

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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According to the US Navy, an aircraft has crashed in the Arabian Sea while returning from a mission in Afghanistan.

The US Navy Fifth Fleet said in a statement that the aircraft, an E-2C Hawkeye surveillance plane, had crashed into the ocean after experiencing “mechanical malfunctions,” in what the statement termed a “mishap.” The incident reportedly occurred at around 1400 local time (1000 UTC). The aircraft and crew had been stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), and were “returning from conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.”

The aircraft was carrying four crew at the time of the incident, of which three have been rescued. A search for the remaining crew member is currently under way. Pending notification of next-of-kin, the military has not released the identities of the personnel involved. An investigation has also been opened into the incident.

The type of aircraft involved. E-2C Hawkeye, was designed to provide an effective airborne early-warning system, as well as conducting surveillance missions, co-ordinating combat operations and running search and rescue missions. The plane that crashed was used for missions around the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, including command and control operations, as well as longer-range surveillance missions, such as the one it was returning from when it crashed.



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March 13, 2010

Pakistan Navy fires test missiles

Pakistan Navy fires test missiles – Wikinews, the free news source

Pakistan Navy fires test missiles

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

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The Pakistan Navy has announced the firing of test missiles from ships, submarines, and aircraft during operations in the Arabian Sea.

Pakistani officials said that the tests were a display of commitment to the protection of Pakistan and sent “a message of deterrence to anyone harbouring nefarious designs against Pakistan”. The statement, released shortly after the operation, also said that the tests were designed to measure the “lethality, precision and efficacy” of the weapons.

Pakistan’s Naval Chief, Admiral Noman Bashir, was a witness to the event, and said that he was pleased with the tests, saying that he was satisfied with the state of the Pakistani Navy. He also commended the performance of the Navy personnel involved with the tests.

The maneuvers included tests of newly acquired missiles of a Chinese design, and came just a month after India tested a missile of similar design to some of the Pakistani weapons. India’s test involved a missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons, although it was unclear if Pakistan’s test included weapons capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.



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June 10, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: June 10, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: June 10, 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: June 10, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, June 10, 2007.

Bush speaks for Kosovo independence

Location of Kosovo.

U.S. President George W. Bush said today the United Nations needs to act on independence for the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo. “We need to get moving… and the end result is independence,” Bush said at a news conference in Albania.

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Sultan of Brunei’s daughter wedded in lavish, two-week ceremony

Location of Brunei.

The newlywed daughter of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah was presented to the public in a lavish ceremony today in Bandar Seri Bagawan, the culmination of two weeks of celebration, steeped in Malay Muslim tradition.

Princess Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah, 31, the 11th daughter of one of the world’s richest men, and Khairul Khalil, 32, an official in the prime minister’s office of the tiny, oil-rich country on Borneo, exchanged their vows on Thursday. The celebration continues tomorrow, with a banquet hosted by the sultan.

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At least 61 dead from Cyclone Gonu in Middle East

Cyclone Gonu on June 4.

At least 61 people died in Iran and Oman in last week’s Cyclone Gonu, the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the Arabian Sea.

Iranian state media reported a total of 12 deaths today. In Oman, 49 deaths have been reported, with 27 people missing.

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Deadly floods sweep southern China

Map shows annual precipitation in China.

Four days of heavy rains in southern China caused flooding and landslides that have left at least 66 people dead today.

“Floods caused by heavy rains have affected about 294,800 hectares of crops, completely destroying 53,000 hectares of them,” a Ministry of Civil Affairs official was quoted as saying by Xinhua. The storms have destroyed 48,000 homes and forced about 591,000 people to evacuate from their homes in Hunan, Guandong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jianxi and Fujian provinces.

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April 11, 2006

Straw and Bush respond to Iran situation

Straw and Bush respond to Iran situation

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Iran’s nuclear program
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw dismissed the nuclear ‘first-strike’ plan reported in the New Yorker magazine on Saturday.

According to the New Yorker story, written by Seymour M. Hersh, American military and intelligence officials were making plans for a massive nuclear strike on Iran in order to stop the country developing nuclear weapons. The story also said that US special forces were already operating in Iran gathering target information.

The Iranian government insists that its nuclear development program is purely for meeting civilian energy needs, but several intelligence agencies around the world believe that Iran’s true goal is to develop nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that it has not seen indications of diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices after several years of intensive inspections in Iran, but has also expressed uncertainty about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program and called for confidence building measures from Iran.

A former US intelligence official claimed that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is referred to as “the new Adolf Hitler” within the White House. Some military officials believe that Bush wants a “regime change” in Iran. President Ahmadinejad has previously disputed the existence of the Holocaust and at a conference discussing Zionism, he described Ayatollah Khomeini’s statement that Israel as an occupying force in Palestine should be “wiped off the map” as “a wise statement”.

An anonymous Pentagon official said “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war. It also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.”

US aircraft flying from carriers in the Arabian Sea have been flying practice nuclear weapon missions within range of Iranian radar, widely seen as an effort to intimidate Iran.

In the last few years Iran has been constructing a series of underground facilities to support its work. Colonel Sam Gardiner, a military analyst, says there are over 400 targets in Iran that would need to be destroyed to end Iran’s nuclear program. In one option of a plan reportedly presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, “bunker-busting” mini-nuclear weapons would be used to penetrate the deepest-buried facilities, some of which are 75 feet below the surface.

An insider claimed that the Joint Chiefs of Staff tried to remove the nuclear option from the plan, citing problems of huge casualties and radioactive contamination, but the White House retained it. Another source claimed that while nuclear weapons were seeing more interest amongst civilian staff and within “policy circles”, military officers remained very much opposed to their potential use, with some high-level officers threatening resignation.

The insider said “if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen”.

When asked about the veracity of the claims made in the New Yorker article, the White House said “As the President has indicated, we are pursuing a diplomatic solution”. The Defense Department also said that Iran was being dealt with through “diplomatic channels”. The C.I.A. said that there were “inaccuracies” in the account.

Since then, Bush has described the plan as “wild speculation”, without denying it, in a speech delivered at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC.

“The doctrine of prevention is to work together to prevent the Iranians from having a nuclear weapon,” he said. “I know here in Washington prevention means force. It doesn’t mean force necessarily. In this case it means diplomacy. What you are reading is just wild speculation which happens quite frequently here in the nation’s capital.”

Jack Straw said “the idea of a nuclear strike on Iran is completely nuts.” Speaking on a BBC television show, Straw said “I have made clear the British Government’s position on this time and time again which is widely shared across Europe.”

“The American administration, Condoleezza Rice, [and] President Bush use slightly different language. They say that it is not on the agenda. They are very committed indeed to resolving this issue – it is a complicated issue – by negotiation and, yes, by diplomatic pressure. “

Straw stated that the UK would not launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, going on to say that he was as “certain as he could be” that neither would the US.



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April 22, 2005

NASA study: warming and snow melt chokes sea life 1000 miles distant

NASA study: warming and snow melt chokes sea life 1000 miles distant

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How snow melt causes large blooms of phytoplankton

Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth science experts studying ocean currents and their relationship to snow melts have discovered that an unusual heating of the ground in one place on our planet can choke off sea life over a thousand miles away.

In a new NASA funded study, they have found that a decline in winter and spring snow cover over Southwest Asia and the Himalayan mountain range is creating conditions for more widespread blooms of ocean plants in the Arabian Sea.

The decrease in snow cover has led to greater differences in both temperature and pressure systems between the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Sea. The pressure differences generate monsoon winds that mix the ocean water in the Western Arabian Sea. This mixing leads to better growing conditions for tiny, free-floating ocean plants called phytoplankton.

The senior researcher and lead author of the study is Joaquim Goes, from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Goes and his colleagues used observations from satellite imagery of the ocean’s colors to show unusual blooms, or growth, of phytoplankton concentrations in the Western Arabian Sea. His work shows an increase of more than 350 percent over the past seven years.

Since 1997, a reduction in snow has led to wider temperature differences between the land and ocean during summer. As a consequence, sea surface winds over the Arabian Sea have strengthened leading to more intense upwelling and more widespread blooms of phytoplankton along the coasts of Somalia, Yemen and Oman.

According to Goes, while large blooms of phytoplankton can enhance fisheries, exceptionally large blooms could be detrimental to the ecosystem. Increases in phytoplankton amounts can lead to oxygen depletion in the water column and eventually to a decline in fish populations.

The study is in this week’s SCIENCE magazine.

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