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Air Algerie AH5017 crashes with 110 passengers and 6 crew, reportedly in Niger

RT -

Initial reports of the crash were confirmed by Algerian aviation authorities. "I can confirm that it has crashed," an anonymous official told Reuters. While details of the whereabouts of the plane remain unclear, early reports from the CCTV network and Algerian TV suggested that it went down in Niger.

A spokeswoman for Spanish private airline company, Swiftair, confirmed that it had lost contact with one of its planes operated by Air Algerie on Thursday. The plane was an Air Algerie MD-83, flight AH5017.

"Air navigation services have lost contact with an Air Algerie plane Thursday flying from Ouagadougou to Algiers, 50 minutes after take-off,"the airline said.

Swiftair said that there had been “no contact” with the missing aircraft since.

French Transport Minister, Frederic Cuvillier, told reporters that it was “likely many” French passengers were on board the flight.

"There are 110 passengers and 6 crew traveling on the plane, of which four are pilots and two cabin crew," the Swiftair statement confirmed.

The six crew members are Spanish.

Air Algerie/Swiftair flight #AH5017 EC-LTV is now confirmed crashed in Niger. Still no info about passengers and crew pic.twitter.com/rq0YwHsXxQ

— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) July 24, 2014

Burkina Faso’s transport minister confirmed that the Air Algerie flight had asked to change course at 1:38 am GMT because of a storm.

Weather at time of #AH5017 loss. Storm on flightpath: Clouds all rising above 40,000ft @eumetsat @thatjohn@RAeSTimR pic.twitter.com/efNHSbo47C

— Simon Proud (@simon_rp84) July 24, 2014


Meanwhile, an Algerian aviation source, who wished to remain anonymous, told AFP that “the plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route.”

The number of French citizens on board the plane remains unconfirmed. A representative for the airline stated that, according to passenger lists, some 50 French nationals were traveling on the route, while French and Spanish media are suggesting the number may be even higher.

“We are totally mobilized, both in Paris, and at crisis centers in Algiers and Ouagadougou, where our embassies are in constant contact with local authorities and the airline,” the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on their website.

Two French fighter jets have been dispatched to help locate the flight, a French army spokesperson told Reuters.

"Two Mirage 2000 jets based in Africa were dispatched to try and locate the Air Algerie plane that disappeared on Thursday." Gilles Jaron said. "They will search an area from its last known destination along its probable route," he added.

Among the other passengers were citizens of Algeria and Burkino Faso. Information on whether there may have been any Russians on board remains unavailable. “We continue to clarify the nationality of the passengers through contact with local authorities,” a spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Algiers told Itar-Tass.

The Cyprus issue: 40 years' resolution and the matter of natural gas

RT -

The so-called Attila-1 offensive was a military intervention aimed at bringing a halt to a bloody operation of "ethnic cleansing" (though the term still had to be invented at the time) which was targeting the Turkish population of the island. The Turkish Armed Forces subsequently occupied a fair share of the island's territory (37 percent), an area that was turned into the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983 – a mini-state that has only been recognized by the Republic of Turkey.

Even now that the southern or Greek-populated part of the island (the so-called Republic of Cyprus) has joined the EU (on 1 May 2004) and even become part of the eurozone (on 1 January 2008), a solution for the problems of partition and inter-communal distrust has remained elusive and apparently much-sought after.

Still, on the occasion of this year's anniversary, the soon-to-be-replaced President of Turkey Abdullah Gul publicly said the following: "We hope that there will be another opportunity for talks and we will reach an affirmative point as a result of negotiations so it won’t be open ended talks. We hope that the two sides would reach an agreement within the parameters of the United Nations". Sooner rather than later, he even seemed to be thinking.

The beginning of the conflict

To this day worldwide public opinion persists in viewing the Turkish actions of 1974 as unwarranted acts of aggression tantamount to a war crime – for instance the pan-European news organization Euronews states that "Turkey claimed [that the Attila-1 offensive's aim] was to protect Turkish Cypriots", whereas "Greek Cypriots called it an occupation", or nothing but a violent land grab, in other words.

The seeds of the still ongoing conflict were apparently sown when "Britain occupied Cyprus by virtue of the Anglo–Turkish Convention signed on 4 June1878", formally annexing the island in 1914. Britain used both communities as ploys to "divide & rule" the island. The Al Jazeera correspondent and New Athenian, John Psaropoulos relates that after "the Second World War, Greek-Cypriot Lieutenant Colonel Yiorgos Grivas set up EOKA, a guerrilla organization, which attacked British troops and installations as part of its goal to merge Cyprus with Greece. Its battle cry was “Enosis”, or “Union”.”

Subsequently, inter-communal violence became the norm on the island, a fact which did not change after the island gained its independence in 1960, "on the basis of a power-sharing agreement negotiated by Greece and Turkey, [but] not by the Cypriots themselves".

At the time of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the Turkish press was inundated with reports of unspeakable atrocities committed by Greek Cypriots – families being buried alive and houses burned, next to accounts of summary executions and other atrocities that made Turkish blood boil and led then-PM Bulent Ecevit to order the Turkish army to intervene. This bold move earned the leftist politician the sobriquet "Conqueror of Cyprus", as Ecevit's audacious policy decision arguably saved the lives of untold numbers of Turkish Cypriots.

For instance, on 2 September 1974, the well-respected Turkish daily Milliyet reported an atrocity involving 88 dead, including women, children and the elderly, that had occurred in the Turkish villages of Murataga and Sandallar, 25 kilometers from Famagusta on 14 August previously.

In their turn, many Greek Cypriots and their sympathizers now claim that the Turkish military killed and maimed numerous Greek Cypriots, accusing Turkish soldiers of having committed war crimes and other unwarranted acts of unprovoked violence. In addition to having chased some 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes in the north of the island.

Oil-rich resort

As a result, the island has effectively been split in two since 1974 with the northern part necessarily turning to Turkey for aid and support in view of its isolation inside the international community. As such, the KKTC has become a bit of a favored holiday spot for many rich and famous as well as numerous less well-off Turks.

Many plans and strategies have been tried over the years in attempts to bring peace to the island, most notably the Annan plan of 2004 that was rejected by a popular referendum. Still, ten years later President Gul appears optimistic that a resolution is to be found shortly and both parties "reach an agreement within the parameters of the United Nations.”
The main difference today is that a gas field – the so-called Aphrodite gas field – has been discovered off the southern coast of Cyprus, located about 34 kilometers (21 mi) west of Israel's notorious Leviathan gas field.

Turkey wants to be the transit route for Israeli gas, providing easy access to international markets, and arguably aims at fulfilling a similar role with regard to the gas pumped by the Greek Cypriots. Additionally, a re-unified Cyprus would also allow the north to reap some benefits from this new-found undersea wealth, while also constituting a direct accession to the EU and the eurozone. And a re-united Cyprus would also augur well for reviving Turkey's now all but defunct EU ambitions. As a result, the time has now really come to bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones. In fact, over the past months, the US Assistant Undersecretary of Defense for Europe and NATO issues James Townsend, and Amanda Sloat, the Assistant US Undersecretary of State for European Affairs, and even US Vice President Joe Biden visited the Republic of Cyprus. The presence of these high-powered Americans on the island signals that it is not just Turkey (or Cyprus) that favors a swift resolution to the decades-old conflict.

As a result, the fires of Greek and Turkish nationalism burning on Cyprus now seem to be on the verge of being quelled by 3.6 to 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas assumed to be present in the Aphrodite gas field and such a development would not just be beneficial to Cyprus, but arguably also to the Republic of Turkey that at present is still maintaining 40,000 armed troops in the KKTC at an estimated cost of $480 million annually.

DRIP displays British ‘intelligence’ in dealing with the world

RT -

A yarn attributed to Sean McBride recounts an interview from the 1950s when, while serving as Irish Foreign Minister, a journalist asked him: "What about the role of British Intelligence in Dublin?"

"If the British had some intelligence, that'd be great," replied the man who once led Amnesty International.

The British might often lack intelligence when dealing with the wider world, but their government intelligence services are amongst the most intrusive.

Amnesty - which McBride described as 'one of my children' - has been busy in recent weeks fighting new legislation in the UK that in the words of one Labour party MP is "democratic banditry resonant of a rogue state." The member in question, Tom Watson, added that "parliament has been insulted."

The issue is the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (or DRIP, as everyone seems to be calling it) bill. The legislation enables GCHQ, the UK government's electronic communications-monitoring agency, to continue snooping on the email and mobile phone activity of British residents and others further afield.

British lawmakers managed to rush DRIP through in a mere seven days. In a parliament where Charles Stuart Parnell's Irish Home Rule Party used to make all-night speeches to obstruct proceedings, once reaching a record 22 hours, this is almost unheard of.

The Conservative Party-led British administration argues that DRIP was necessary because of a ruling by the European courts in April, which decreed that the intelligence services' powers to retain 'private' communications for two years was out of order. The Euro judges decided that such powers breached basic human rights and insisted that telecoms companies destroy the information - David Cameron's cabinet didn't like this.

Now, their spooks have even more powers than before - they can even force foreign companies to ensure their systems are capable of snooping, and have increased the powers so that email providers like Gmail can be compelled to hand over data. Great news for British intelligence but bad news for ordinary 'subjects' (the British haven't evolved to citizenship yet in legal terminology).

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is fighting DRIP on the basis that the law breaches the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the UK's own Human Rights Act. Jim Killock, its director, complains that "the government has ignored a court judgment, ridden roughshod over our parliamentary processes and denied the public the debate they deserve."

"Blanket data retention is unlawful and we will fight against this legislation. Our message to Theresa May is: see you in court," he continues.

The aforementioned Ms May is the Home Secretary, a quaint term that survives an age when the English had more than 'Home' to govern. Nowadays, short of sitting in a dark room, closing their eyes and whistling Rule Britannia while their minds turn to long-gone halcyon days, 'home' is about all they need concern themselves about - and that might get even smaller if the Scottish decide to rule their own 'home' in September.

Ms May claims that DRIP is needed to register in law "powers and capabilities that exist today" which were hampered by the European court ruling back in spring. In other words, to hell with the human rights thing, British ways are best and our 'intelligence' says so.

Why the rush? Why a mere seven days (and just before the summer recess)? "If we delay we face the appalling prospect (that) police operations will go dark, that trails will go cold, that terrorist plots will go undetected - if that happens, innocent lives may be lost," Ms May elucidates. This sounds scary, but fear is an established British tactic to quell the populace when passing through laws which hinder their freedoms.

However, a group of 15 leading experts in technology law wrote an open letter to the London authorities last week explaining that this emotive claim was hokum. "The legislation goes far beyond simply authorizing data retention in the UK. In fact, DRIP attempts to extend the territorial reach of British interceptions powers... it introduces powers that are not only completely novel in the United Kingdom, they are some of the first of their kind globally."

The group, which includes academics from the usual suspects, Oxford and Cambridge, as well as LSE and Edinburgh, continues that DRIP is a "serious expansion of the British surveillance state."

Amnesty is also on the case and last week brought a legal challenge against a mass surveillance operation called Tempora, following revelations by Edward Snowden about UK and US intelligence practices. Of course, London has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of the operation. Amnesty's media lead Maxim Tucker says that "(it’s) dangerous for GCHQ not to measure whether surveillance is proportionate and necessary against a specific goal they want to achieve." The tribunal became farcical when Snowden's examples of data collection programs were barred from discussion. If it wasn't such a serious matter, it might be funny, but it is, so it’s not.

GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, an English town more famous for its annual horse racing festival, is the 'signals' branch of the UK intelligence services. It operates in partnership with the NSA and equivalent agencies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand - together these groups are often termed the 'five eyes.'

Edward Snowden claims that GCHQ is 'even worse than the NSA' and is permitted to go further in surveillance than similar agencies in other Western countries. He told The Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, in a recent Moscow interview that "they enjoy authorities that they really shouldn't be entitled to. Tempora is really proof... that GCHQ has much less-strict legal restrictions than other Western government intelligence.

"And what that means is UK citizens (sic) and UK intelligence platforms are used as a testing ground for all of the other five eyes partners," Snowden added. Tempora is a formerly secret operation which Snowden claims even goes so far as to monitor Facebook entries, from cat videos right up to birthday greetings - it's rather ludicrous to even fathom that terrorists would be organizing their campaigns on Facebook. But British intelligence thinks otherwise.

However, it's not just kitty videos that GCHQ are after. A leaked GCHQ document called 'JTRIG Tools and Techniques' alleges that they have developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, likely of the kind witnessed after the MH17 disaster in Ukraine. It also insists that the Cheltenham spooks can manipulate the results of online polls (who's hot? Kimye or Brangenlina? They decide!) and artificially inflate page view counts on websites to make fake pages look more legitimate or popular. Furthermore, they can connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call, which is something myself and my teenage friends used to do in the 90's from pay-phones when we were bored.

Additionally, the leaked document reports that GCHQ use "fake victim blog posts," "false flag operations" and "honey traps" as part of their arsenal, as well as monitoring Youtube and Facebook users and visitors to selected websites. It goes on to suggest that Cheltenham can monitor Skype users in real time - which raises questions about Microsoft's co-operation - and can spoof email addresses and send emails under that identity. So, the next time the Nigerian Lottery inform you of a big win, be careful, it could be GCHQ looking for your bank account details, which might be even worse.

Another alleged technique is that GCHQ employees may be using multiple anonymous Twitter accounts to discredit and harass journalists and activists that take a line contrary to the UK government’s position.

British intelligence has a track record of getting things majorly wrong. Back in 2003, they compiled what was known as the 'Dodgy Dossier', which was used to justify UK involvement in the US-led invasion of Iraq. The report claimed that Iraq could deploy biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so. It later emerged that Iraq didn't even have such weapons at all.

In the 1970s and 80s, the spooks masqueraded as bar staff in Irish pubs across Britain in an attempt to gather information on IRA activities. The IRA were aware of this tactic and preferred to meet in the more rarified surrounds of bookshops and libraries according to former member Sean O'Callaghan - rendering the MI5 tactic a complete waste of time.

If other nations were so completely monitoring their citizens electronic activities, British liberals would be terming them 'rogue states' or 'totalitarian societies.' However, it's at home that these practices are being used, and despite some spirited campaigning by organizations such as Amnesty and ORG, the UK political class have closed ranks and continued to facilitate widespread snooping.

diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development

LXer -

Once in a while someone points out a POSIXviolation in Linux. Often theanswer is to fix the violation, but sometimes LinusTorvalds decides thatthe POSIX behavior is broken, in which case they keep the Linux behavior,but they might build an additional POSIX compatibility layer, even if thatlayer is slower and less efficient.

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