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Senin, 31 Maret 2014

Search for MH370 reaches calmer waters as Malaysia reaffirms commitment

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Fresh objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean has renewed hopes for families of those aboard the missing Malaysian flight MH370 but uncertainty still surrounds even three weeks after its disappearance.

Orange items over two meters have been spotted in the remote Indian ocean region where search operations are ongoing but they are yet to be confirmed as belonging to MH370.

Search for the missing flight resumed on Monday with 10 aircraft and 10 ships. Australia who is spearheading the search operations has insisted that they will continue expanding the search until debris are found.

Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, fitted with a "black box" detector and an autonomous underwater vehicle, is also engaged in the search and officials are battling the clock as they attempt to uncover the plane's black box, the flight data recorder, whose batteries are designed to last about 30 days.

The plane, with 239 passengers and crew on board, disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

Relatives of the 239 passengers and crew have begun arriving in Kuala Lumpur seeking more information from Malaysian officials. They have also requested that officials continue to search for survivors no matter how remote it is.

Malaysia's Acting Transportation Minister Hishamuddin Hussein who met relatives on Saturday assured greater engagement and agreed not to close the door on the possibility of survivors.

He also called for calm from relatives as emotions ran high between them and the Malaysian government. "As long as there is even a remote chance of survival we will pray and do whatever it takes," he promised.

"What they (families) want is a commitment on our part to continue the search, and that I have given," Hishammuddin said. " For me, as the minister responsible, this is the hardest part of my life at the moment," he told reporters.

"Miracles do happen, remote or otherwise, and that is the hope that the families want me to convey -- not only to the Malaysian government, MAS (Malaysia Airlines), but also to the world at large."

An international panel on aviation security along with a parliament select committee may be appointed by the Malaysian government to probe overall airline safety.

Steps are also being taken to step up security in the entire aviation industry in the long term. "On the point of responsibility I've indicated that not only the Malaysian air force is doing the panel of inquiry, the Ministry of Transport is coming up with an international panel, which is being formed at the moment. The Malaysian government is to decide whether it would have a parliamentary select committee or royal commission and I believe all our partners would like to see what we have discovered through this exercise," he said.

Hishammuddin pointed out that aviation industry stakeholders including Boeing, Rolls Royce, the FBI, Chinese agencies and AAIB from Britain are involved in the search operations, which made the right platform to also discuss future security measures for the aviation industry. "You practically got everyone in the aviation industry involved. This is the best time for everybody to relook, not only at the aviation landscape but also on the issue of security and defense."

Meanwhile, arrangements to fly families of passengers to Perth will only be done after recovered debris is confirmed as from MH370.

Releasing a short statement, Malaysia Airlines clarified it will be making arrangements to fly family members to Perth, only once it has been authoritatively confirmed that the physical wreckage found is that of MH370. "Arrangements will be made as soon as the relevant government agencies have provided clearances for Malaysia Airlines to bring family members to the site where aircraft wreckage will be kept," the statement added.

The statement said a Family Assistance Centre (FAC) will be established in Perth. The FAC will become the focal point for all activities that have been planned for the families including briefings, religious and prayer services. "Malaysia Airlines is fully committed to supporting all efforts by the relevant foreign governments who continue to search for and recover the aircraft, and it continues to cooperate with all authorities involved in the investigation."

The Malaysian government has ordered the country's Attorney General to look into the legal implications of flight MH370 including possible claims of compensation.

Malaysia's powerful Cabinet of Ministers during a meeting on Friday morning decided to alert the Attorney General's department to consider all the legal repercussions that could be faced by the government or Malaysian airlines.

Malaysian airlines is separately consulting lawyers to obtain legal advice on how to proceed with the potential financial compensation that could be demanded from the 239 families of those on board the Boeing 777 flight. "We are obviously talking to various legal parties and also the families on this. So far what we have been requested, especially for the family members, is to identify the evidence affirmatively. That means they are still looking for evidence of the aircraft, so that is why search operations have been focused on," Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in response to questions at the media briefing.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which oversees the search, announced Friday that the search area was being shifted about 1,100 km to the northeast on what was said to be a credible new lead developed from a refined analysis of satellite and radar monitoring of the aircraft before it vanished.

Can Michigan continue hot shooting today vs. Kentucky?

Michigan's Caris LeVert scores against Tennessee's Jordan McRae during the first half action of Friday's game in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — It doesn’t seem possible.

It’s critical for Michigan to shoot well from long range to beat Kentucky today in the NCAA regional final at Lucas Oil Stadium. But after two straight games topping 50% from three-point range, it is possible for them to match or even exceed that today? Recently for the Wolverines, the second game of a weekend often is often played at a higher level. Recall their dominant play against Texas last weekend and last year’s VCU, Florida and the strong start against Louisville in the national title game. “I just think it’s natural, once you’re in here, you’ve practiced twice, played a game, a shoot-around, you extra time, so the background

settings, the surroundings, become a little more familiar each time you come in,” U-M assistant coach LaVall Jordan said. “It’s not like playing at home but you get a little more comfortable each time.

The biggest external challenge to the Wolverines may not be the shooting background or the elevated floor at Lucas Oil Stadium, but instead the crowd, expected to be heavily slanted to the Wildcats with the Big Blue Nation taking over.

“Thank goodness we’ve had a pretty good road record this season,” Jordan said, as U-M is 15-6 away from home, 7-4 in true road games, which this may feel like. “They’re going to come out. But our fans are going to come out too, so we’ll see if we can match it.”

North and South Korea Trade Fire as Residents Evacuate

SEOUL, South Korea March 31, 2014 (AP)

By HYUNG-JIN KIM and JUNG-YOON CHOI Associated Press

PHOTO: South Korean marine LVT-7 landing craft sail to shores through smoke screens during the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises called Ssangyong, part of the Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea, March 31, 2014.

South Korean marine LVT-7 landing craft sail to shores through smoke screens during the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises called Ssangyong, part of the Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea, March 31, 2014.

Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo

North and South Korea fired artillery shells into each other's waters Monday, a flare-up of animosity between the rivals that forced residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters, South Korean officials said.

The South Korean artillery fire came after shells from a North Korean live-fire drill fell south of the Koreas' disputed western sea boundary, an official with South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, said the official, who provided no other details and spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules.

The exchange of fire followed Pyongyang's earlier, unusual announcement that it would conduct live-fire drills in seven areas north of the poorly marked Yellow Sea boundary between the countries. North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean, but it's rare for the country to disclose such training plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang's frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid.

In addition to sending residents of five front-line South Korean islands to shelters, Lee Han-seok, an official with Ongjin county, which governs the islands, also said that ferry service linking the islands to the mainland was stopped.

Kang Myeong-sung, speaking from a shelter on Yeonpyeong island, which is in sight of North Korean territory, said he hadn't seen any fighter jets but heard the boom of artillery fire. In 2010, North Korean artillery killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong. Pyongyang said it was responding to earlier South Korean drills in disputed waters.

The North in recent weeks has increased threatening rhetoric and conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. The North calls the South Korea-U.S. drills a rehearsal for invasion; the allies say they're routine and defensive.

Pyongyang threatened Sunday to conduct a fourth nuclear test at some point, though Seoul says there are no signs of an imminent detonation. Wee Yong-sub, a deputy spokesman at the South Korean Defense Ministry, said the North Korean warning about the live-fire drills Monday was a "hostile" attempt to heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula.

A woman who runs a lodging facility on another front-line island, Baengnyeong, said from a shelter that she was still hearing the sounds of artillery fire about 90 minutes after the North began its live-fire drills.

The western sea boundary has been the scene of several bloody naval skirmishes between the Koreas in recent years, including the 2010 artillery attack by the North.

Last spring, tension spiked after a near-daily barrage of North Korean threats, including warnings of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington, following international criticism of Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February of last year. The North has since gradually dialed down its threats and sought improved ties with South Korea in what foreign analysts say is an attempt to lure international investment and aid. There has been no major breakthrough in the North's reported push to win outside aid, however, with Washington and Seoul calling on the North to first take disarmament steps to prove its sincerity about improving ties, analysts say.

The North Korean live-fire drills and the country's hints at a nuclear test are meant to express anger and frustration over what the North sees as little improvement in progress in its ties with South Korea and the U.S., said Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea's Kyungnam University. Lim said the North might conduct a fourth nuclear test and launch other provocations to try to wrest the outside concessions it wants.

The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.

Judge overrules Samsung objection to jury video depicting Apple devices

Samsung argued that the instructional video for jurors suggested that Apple's products were patentable and innovative

By John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

March 31, 2014, 12:14 AM — U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh on Sunday overruled Samsung Electronics' objections to showing jurors a recent instructional video on how patents work, ahead of a trial in a patent dispute between Apple and Samsung.

The South Korean company claimed that the video suggested at a minimum that Apple's products are patentable and innovative. The new video, called "The Patent Process: An Overview for Jurors," was developed by the Federal Judicial Center to provide jurors with an introduction to the patent system, and was posted to YouTube in November last year.

Samsung on Friday objected to the FJC video which it said includes several scenes in which Apple products are depicted and used. It recommended that the jurors be shown an earlier video that was also shown to the jury in another patent dispute between Apple and Samsung in the court, and does not feature products and brands at issue in the trial.

A note from the FJC to the November 2013 video states that individual judges will want to review it and consult with counsel before deciding whether to use it in a particular case, Samsung said in its filing.

At the 2:55 mark on the new video, for example, a series of Apple products are shown, including an iPad, a newer model of a laptop computer, and an iPhone, Samsung said. "The narration during this portion of the video addresses how the disclosure of a patent may 'inspire new inventions,'" Samsung's counsel wrote in a filing to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division.

"At the 4:35 mark, the requirements that a patent be new, useful and non-obvious are shown on the screen in front of a still image of an Apple computer," the counsels wrote in the filing.

"At a minimum, the video strongly suggests that Apple's products are innovative and patentable," Samsung's attorneys wrote. Showing the jury such a video would be prejudicial to Samsung and threaten the impartiality of the jury, according to the filing. In her order on Sunday, Judge Koh wrote that the parties shall bring the November 2013 version of the video, and shall include a handout referenced in the video in the jury binders. In the lawsuit, Apple claims that Samsung infringed five of its patents in 10 models of phones and tablets, while Samsung has counterclaimed that Apple has infringed on two of its patents in nine phones and tablets.

The case covers some of both companies' better known and recent smartphone and tablet models such as the Galaxy S III and the fourth-generation iPad. On Monday, the two parties are expected to start with jury selection.

Facebook Will Build Drones and Satellites to Beam Internet Around the World

A still from the promotional video, currently on

Mark Zuckerberg is putting together a lab where a team of Facebook engineers will build flying drones, satellites, and infrared lasers capable of beaming internet connections to people down here on earth.

Revealed this afternoon by the Facebook CEO and founder, it’s known as the Facebook Connectivity Lab. According to Zuckerberg, the lab’s engineering staff already spans “many of the world’s leading experts in aerospace and communications technology,” including researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA’s Ames Research Center, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. And the company is now adding engineers from a British company called Ascenta, an outfit that helped create the world’s longest solar-powered unmanned aircraft.

All this may seem like a stretch for a social networking company. But it’s a necessary part of Zuckerberg’s efforts to bring the net to the vast parts of the world that still don’t have it — an effort known as that makes an awful lot of sense for a company whose continued expansion depends on the continued expansion of the net. And though the general public may not realize it, Facebook has a long history with building new hardware that can advance its cause. The company declined to comment on the lab, but it confirms that the lab will be run by Yael Maguire, the former MIT Media Lab researcher who played a big role in the Open Compute Project, Facebook’s effort to build a more efficient breed of computer servers and data centers for driving its web and mobile services.

Hinted at in earlier press reports, Facebook’s flying-internet efforts mirror a similar project that’s underway at Google. Known as Project Loon, it seeks to provide internet access to the hinterlands through high-altitude balloons. Like Facebook, Google stands to benefit in big ways if the net expands. The original services built by these two web giants are now used by enormous swaths of the online population, and eventually, the companies must push into an entirely new audience. As public companies, they’re under enormous pressure to continue the growth of their businesses — in perpetuity. In addition to Loon, Google is looking to expand the reach of high-speed internet landlines through a service called Google Fiber.

According to post on the website by — a consortium that also includes such tech outfits as Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, and Qualcomm — the new Facebook lab is exploring the possibility of using solar-powered high-altitude planes to provide internet access in suburban areas. These could “stay aloft for months, be quickly deployed and deliver reliable internet connections,” the site says. Then, for more remote areas, the lab is looking towards low-orbiting satellites. In both cases, it aims to beam internet access to the people using what’s called free-space optical communication, or FSO. Basically, this is a way of transmitting data through infrared lasers.

Facebook’s announcement comes two days after the company acquired a startup called Oculus, saying it would use the startup’s gaming headset as a way of moving its social network into the world of virtual reality. Compared to that, the Connectivity Lab is a rather straightforward business move. On Tuesday, while discussing the Oculus buy, Zuckerberg painted both projects as platforms that represent not the near future of Facebook, but the distant future.

4 p.m. update: Crews continue to battle Secret fire

COCO fire

A 6-acre fire burns Saturday 20 miles southwest of Flagstaff within the Secret Mountain Wilderness. (Coconino National Forest Service/Courtesy)

4 p.m. update:

The Secret fire, at the rim near Secret Mountain about 20 miles southwest of Flagstaff remains at about 6 acres as of 10 a.m. today. According to information from the U.S. Forest Service, the fire remains at 6 acres in size with visible smoke and is 30 percent contained. Nearly 40 Forest Service fire personnel are on scene including the Mesa Hotshots from the Tonto National Forest. Firefighters worked today on dropping snags and catching some spots thrown by the wind. Firefighters experienced strong southwest winds with gusts up to 50 mph and low relative humidity levels.

A line is in place on all sides of the fire.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. A red flag warning has been issued for northern Arizona, and temporary flight restrictions above the area are in place.

7 a.m. Sunday:

Today will be very windy across northern Arizona, with gusts up to 55 mph and visibility reduced to a quarter-mile in some areas due to blowing dust. Meanwhile, a hot shot crew will be on the scene of a 6-acre wildfire that broke out southwest of Flagstaff Saturday but was under control by evening.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning starting at 10 this morning for an area starting just east of Flagstaff and extending to the New Mexico border. Blowing dust will affect travel along the Interstate 40 corridor, and low relative humidity will create fire weather conditions north of the Mogollon Rim.

Winds will subside after midnight, with the rest of the week facing unsettled weather and highs in the low 50s.

A wildfire Saturday 20 miles southwest of Flagstaff within the Secret Mountain Wilderness was reported at 9 a.m. The smoke was visible from Flagstaff and the fire had reached 6 acres in size by the evening.

Heather Noel, a Forest Service spokesperson, said 19 firefighters responded to the remote site and had encircled the blaze with a fireline by nightfall. A National Park Service helicopter dropped water on the fire.

Noel said firefighters were expected to remain on scene overnight, and a type 2 hot shot crew will arrive in the morning as a precaution because of the high winds in the forecast.

Noel said no cause of the fire has been determined, but campers are reminded that all campfires must be out and cold to the touch before leaving a campsite.

Sabtu, 29 Maret 2014

Debris reports offer 'more hope,' but still no confirmation of Flight 370's end

By Michael Pearson, Greg Botelho and Jethro Mullen, CNN March 29, 2014 -- Updated 0147 GMT (0947 HKT)

(CNN) -- Three weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flights 370 set off from Kuala Lumpur, search aircraft set off Saturday from Australia -- hoping to, finally, find the Boeing 777 in the southern Indian Ocean where experts now believe it ended up.

The area that search teams -- including a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 and an Australian P-3 Orion that set off Saturday morning from Perth -- are now focusing on is 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast from where they'd been concentrating for more than a week, and it's closer to the Australian coast. This change is thanks to a new analysis of satellite data that Australian authorities say show the commercial airliner could not have flown as far south as once thought.

Saturday's renewed search comes days after Japan and Thailand both said they'd sent new satellite images to Malaysia showing separate debris fields that could be related to the plane, which vanished with 239 people aboard. Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, commander of Joint Forces New Zealand, told CNN's Erin Burnett five of the dispatched aircraft "located debris in their search area" on Friday. Some of the spottings were "hundreds of miles away" from each other, although Short said this vast expanse is "not unusual" given the ocean conditions and the time passed since the airplane's purported crash.

That includes 11 small objects spotted by one of his military's P-3 planes. CNN's Kyung Lah, who went out on a U.S. Navy P-8 search plane Friday, said the crew of that plane spotted white objects, orange rope and a blue bag. "At one point, sure, everybody on board got a little excited, but it's impossible to tell from that distance what anything is," she said.

Aircraft setting off Saturday will try to relocate those objects, take photos of them for analysis, and direct four ships in the area "to their exact location," according to Short.

But again, the world must wait -- there's no confirmation that anything spotted from the air so far has anything to do with the missing airliner, which authorities have been hunting since early March.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority stressed what's been detected so far "cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships," six of which are to arrive Saturday in the new search area. They could be flotsam, like one distinctive piece of fishing gear spotted in the revised zone. This was not the first time it turned out suspected debris ended up being unrelated to the mystery plane: A Chinese aircraft reported spotting possible aircraft debris early in the search, but that sighting turned out to be nothing. Still, Short said, "Finding debris ... gives a lot more hope."

Malaysia plane saga: Your questions answered Better conditions

The new search zone remains vast -- roughly 123,000 square miles (319,000 square kilometers). It is still also remote -- 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) west of Perth.

But John Young of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said conditions there are "likely to be better more often" than they were in the old search area, where poor weather grounded flights two days this week.

Planes will be able to spend more time in the air because the new search zone is closer to land, Young said. U.S. flight crews involved in the search aren't frustrated or disillusioned by the sudden change in the search, Cmdr. William Marks of the Navy's U.S. 7th Fleet said.

"For the pilots and the air crews, this is what they train for," he said. "They understand it." Marks told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Friday night that finding the debris is just part of the goal. Oceanographers could then analyze data about current, winds and more, then, to chart where they believe the bulk of the plane lies deep underwater "Finding the debris in of itself is OK. But it's working backwards to that starting point," Marks said aboard the USS Blue Ridge. "And this area will be, hopefully, much better (than the previous search area) for that." If and when the body of the 777 is found, the question still remains: Why did it go down? That may not be answered until investigators undertake the arduous process of retrieving the aircraft and trying to, literally, piece together what happened to it.

Wasted time? Some analysts have raised their eyebrows at the sudden search area shift. "Really? That much debris and we're not going to have a look at it to see what that stuff might be?" said David Gallo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who helped lead the search for the flight recorders from Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.

Others lamented the amount of time, money and resources that were spent in the old search area. "This is time that has been wasted, there's no question," said CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien. Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein disputed that suggestion.

"I don't think we would've done anything different from what we have done," he said. CNN safety analyst David Soucie said it was "a good sign" that experts had adjusted their assumptions. "Assumptions are the key to all of this," he said. "If you assume something and you end up with a final conclusion, you have to constantly review that."

Vast, evolving search The shifting hunt for Flight 370 has spanned oceans and continents.

It started in the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, where the plane went out of contact with air traffic controllers. When authorities learned of radar data suggesting the plane had turned west across the Malay Peninsula after losing contact, they expanded the search into the Strait of Malacca.

When those efforts proved fruitless, the search spread north into the Andaman Sea and northern Indian Ocean. It then ballooned dramatically after Malaysia announced March 15 that satellite data showed the plane could have flown along two huge arcs, one stretching northwest into the Asian landmass, the other southwest into the Indian Ocean. The search area at that point reached nearly 3 million square miles.

On Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that further analysis of the data had led authorities to conclude the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean, far from land. Malaysian officials told the families of those on board that nobody would have survived. But many relatives have said that only the discovery of wreckage from the plane will convince them of the fate of their loved ones.