Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dutch police are training eagles to take out drones

DutchNews, February 1, 2016

Dutch police are involved in training birds of prey to take out drones flown by criminals and terrorists. 

The police, counter-terrorism agency NCTB and the ministries of justice and defence are working on a range of measures to combat drones, broadcaster Nos said. 


Video footage released by the police at the weekend shows a bird of prey grabbing a drone in its talons and bringing it to the ground. The project is still in test phase but a spokesman said there was a ‘very real possibility’ that birds of prey could be used.

‘The bird sees the drone as prey and takes it to a safe place, a place where there are no other birds or people,’ project spokesman Marc Wiebes said. ‘That is what we are making use of in this project.’ 

Attack

‘Everyone can get hold of a drone, and that includes people who want to misuse them,’ police spokesman Michel Baeten told Nos. ‘It is a multifunctional piece of equipment and that means you can launch an attack with them as well.’ 

As well as birds of prey, officials are also looking into the use of high-tech detention systems and equipment which can remotely take over control of a drone. Another potential measure could be a drone which is programmed to fire at or capture an enemy drone. 

A decision on whether or not to use eagles to take out drones will be made in a couple of months.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Dutch get ready for road trials of driverless car

DutchNews, January 28, 2016

Experiments with self-driving cars will take a new direction on Thursday when the WEpod trials in Wageningen take to the university campus roads. 

The WEpod shuttle buses, which have no steering wheel or pedals, are electric and have a maximum speed of 25 kph. 

If the campus trials are a success, June will see the shuttles begin to use public roads, travelling a pre-programmed route between Bennekom and the Ede-Wageningen railway station. The Dutch driving authority RDW has given official permission for the trials to take place. The project owners say this is the ‘test phase of the first pilot in the world of a self-driving vehicle on a public highway‘. 

The shuttle buses cannot be used at night or in bad weather and each will have a steward on board who will use a joystick control on two busy sections of the route. 

The WEpods project is a joint venture between the Gelderland university, Delft University, the TNO research institute and others. Gelderland province has put €3.4m into the project as part of its efforts to find flexible and more sustainable options than traditional regional bus services.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Iran plans to buy aircraft from France to build up ageing fleet

Tehran has said it will buy over a hundred airplanes from France. The deal will be signed during President Rouhani's visit to Paris this week.

Deutsche Welle, 24 January 2016


Tehran's transport minister said on Sunday the country planned to acquire 114 Airbus planes in an effort to refurbish its ageing passenger fleet.

Iran Air will sign the deal when President Hassan Rouhai visits France next week.

The Iranian transport ministry was quoted as saying it had been negotiating for the planes for the past ten months but couldn't pay for them due to the international sanctions implemented against Iran.

The announcement came as aviation industry experts convened in Tehran.

"It's a really exciting time, there's never been a situation like this," aviation consultant Peter Harbison told the AFP news agency. "A whole array of different aviation services and new jobs are obviously going to be created."

More plans to expand fleet

Iran hopes to boost tourism to the country following its nuclear accord with the United States, Europe and other countries last year. It says it wants to acquire 400 long- and mid-range and 100 short-range planes.

Only nine of the country's 67 airports are even operational.

The transport ministry also said it plans to negotiate with the American company Boeing, although no deals are yet in place.

Rouhani is visiting France and Italy in an effort to boost economic ties with Europe.

blc/rc (AFP, Reuters)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

CIA Pilot Swears Oath: Planes Did Not Bring Towers Down On 9/11

If they cannot or do not rebut the theory, the US Government will by omission be allowing that the official account provided by the 9/11 Commission is not the truth.

YourNewsWire, Posted on January 20, 2016 by Baxter Dmitry in Conspiracies


Former CIA and commercial pilot John Lear has come forward and sworn an affidavit stating that the Twin Towers were not bought to the ground by planes crashing into them. 

In his expert opinion the official version of events that claims two planes crashed into the towers is actually “physically impossible.”

With reports from the Kremlin this week that President Putin is ready to release satellite images proving that the Twin Towers were destroyed by “controlled demolition” rather than by the force of two planes, enormous strides towards disproving the official 9/11 Commission version are taking place.

An affidavit is serious business in law. Unlike any other form of statement, an affidavit becomes “truth in law” if it is not rebutted. It is now up to the opponents of John Lear’s theory to present evidence and attempt to disprove his statement point by point.

If they cannot or do not rebut the theory, the US Government will by omission be allowing that the official account provided by the 9/11 Commission is not the truth.

And believe me, John Lear’s statement makes a very strong case. He is not just a simple pilot throwing his opinion around. He is as close as you can come to being American intelligence and aerospace aristocracy.

The grandson of Learjet founder Bill Lear, John himself is a retired airline captain and former CIA pilot who has flown over 100 different types of plane during 40 years of active flying. He holds more FAA airman certificates than any other FAA certified pilot. He has flown covert CIA missions in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

John Lear, a retired airline captain and former CIA pilot with over 19,000 hours
 of flight time, has sworn an affidavit stating that no planes flew into the Twin
Towers as it would have been “physically impossible”.

Basically, you don’t want to argue with John Lear about flying and planes. You don’t want to argue with him about planes flying into tall buildings and bringing them to the ground. Here is what he has to say in his sworn affidavit about the planes that supposedly bought down the Twin Towers:

No Boeing 767 airliners hit the Twin Towers as fraudulently alleged by the government, media, NIST and its contractors. Such crashes did not occur because they are physically impossible as depicted, for the following reasons:

In the case of UAL 175 going into the south tower, a real Boeing 767 would have begun ‘telescoping’ when the nose hit the 14 inch steel columns which are 39 inches on center.

The vertical and horizontal tail would have instantaneously separated from the aircraft, hit the steel box columns and fallen to the ground. The engines when impacting the steel columns would have maintained their general shape and either fallen to the ground or been recovered in the debris of the collapsed building.

No Boeing 767 could attain a speed of 540 mph at 1000 feet above sea level ‘parasite drag doubles with velocity’ and ‘parasite power’ cubes with velocity. The fan portion of the engine is not designed to accept the volume of dense air at that altitude and speed.

The piece of alleged external fuselage containing 3 or 4 window cutouts is inconsistent with an airplane that hit 14 inch steel box columns, placed at over 500 mph. It would have crumpled.

No significant part of the Boeing 767 or engine could have penetrated the 14 inch steel columns and 37 feet beyond the massive core of the tower without part of it falling to the ground.

The debris of the collapse should have contained massive sections of the Boeing 767, including 3 engine cores weighing approximately 9000 pounds apiece which could not have been hidden. Yet there is no evidence of any of these massive structural components from either 767 at the WTC.

Such complete disappearance of 767s is impossible.

It takes a highly skilled pilot to interpret the “EFIS” (Electronic Flight Instrument Display) display, with which none of the hijacker pilots would have been familiar or received training on, and use his controls, including the ailerons, rudder, flaperons, elevators, spoilers and throttles to effect, control and maintain a descent.



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What Really Happened on 9/11? (Matthew’s Message, April 26, 2005)



Question (2002): Dear Kryon, A friend and I are meditating on the recent shark attacks and feel that it has to do with the planetary changes. We just can’t understand why they have become aggressive. What is the message the sharks are bringing? Why is this happening?
—Thank you,
Maryann

Answer: Indeed there are changes with the environment and also with biology regarding the 12-year grid change. I will first give you what was happening in general: What you are seeing are mammals, amphibians, insects, and even fish that are in areas that are new to them. Every life-form that migrates is effected by magnetics. All life forms that follows certain feeding scenarios and are “following the food” have the potential to be affected. This is due to the changing of the magnetic ley lines of the earth as we have stated before.

The areas where you can see in the ocean most clearly are within those migration patterns closest to the land. Where the ocean interfaces with the land, there are challenges for all these creatures for at least one of their generations. Whales will beach themselves by following old magnetics headings that now “drive” them into peninsula’s and other land areas that were marginally on the edge of their old paths. Birds, amphibians, and insects will be seen to do odd things for awhile.

So these shark fish may be in greater numbers in these coastal areas than in the past, but the increased aggressive behavior was actually something else: There was a tremendous “release” of energy due to the Sept. 11 event. Much like the energy of earthquakes and other earth movement, much of the environment “feels it” coming. We have spoken about how the Sept. 11 event was not a surprise to the earth. [See Lee’s article “Did Kryon give us hints”] So, some of the new actions of these fish were due to an actual energy buildup of coming events... of which you now understand.

If you are paying attention, therefore, you might ask, “Does this mean that Human consciousness issues affect the actual earth?” Yes they do! Finally you may begin to see how global consciousness is tied into the environment, and even to basic physics and reality. They are not separate, and never were. The indigenous knew it, and now the “modern” world is beginning to wonder.

Blessed is the Human Being who understands that what they think, do, and intend, actually drives the reality of the dirt of the planet!


Kryon Q&A

Question (Sep 21, 2001): Lee, how could Kryon have been so wrong? He said there would be no war, and that all would be good in these end times?

Answer: Questions like this are uncommon, since most who follow the Kryon work know that this is not what Kryon said at all. For clarity, however, and for those who may have only read one book in the series, I wish to summarize what Kryon has told us of our future potentials.

First of all, Kryon told us twelve years ago in Kryon Book One, The End Times, that we had changed the paradigm of the future on earth. We had voided the Armageddon as prophesied, and were headed toward the potential of a new consciousness on the planet… one of great promise. He indicated that the magnetic grid of earth would change to accommodate our new abilities (it did) and he told us that all the wars in these times would be tribal (they seem to be). Then he said that up to one percent of earth’s population might have to leave to accomplish all this (hardly a feel-good fact! - page 97). Do you remember this statement on page 101 regarding the future? “… many will terminate and return with new powers. Also, the transition to this new age of self determination and power will be filled with changes. Things will not remain the same for any of you…” He also gave us a date of 1999 where we might have an unbalanced leader creating chaos (page 23) This could have been Bosnia, or the beginning of what just happened. All of this was given within the first Kryon book, over a decade ago.

Indeed, communism fell over all by itself in the late 1980’s and there was no nuclear war. The time-line for the Armageddon as prophesied, passed, and many were aware that we were headed in a new direction – one that nobody had foreseen.

As the Kryon books unfolded into the new millennium, he gave us a great deal of personal information and methods for finding the divinity within ourselves. He always indicated that peace on earth began with individual work, and gave us invitations to change our DNA. Within the books he told us of the profundity of the 11:11 many times, where Humans had given permission to change the end. Then came Book 8, Passing the Marker. As I have indicated before, Book 8 probably gave us more information about what we are experiencing than any other. He told us that there would be "no more fence sitting." (page 217). This meant that there could be no more "in between" attitudes regarding what was happening on the planet-that the old vs. the new would create this. Many would be "torn off the fence," he said. On Sunday September 30, 2001, both Colin Powell, the United States Secretary of State, and the King of Jordan, HM King Abdullah II, were interviewed at separate times. Both used the phrase, "Getting off the fence."

Kryon also indicated a "pull backwards" of apparent stability and peace, and even predicted the potential of the uprising of Israel in 2000 (page 182). He used the term "spiritual rage" for the first time, as well, and also told us that we were in for a Battle between the old and new. He said, "Don't be shocked and surprised if that war is not over. In fact, in some cases, the battle has just begun!" (page 183).

In August, a few weeks before the tragedy, the channelling in Vancouver was on world unity! Listen to what he said about the United States (to be published shortly in the Sedona Journal of Emergence). “The United States is currently in its greatest learning period.” Then for both Canada and the U.S., he said the following: “…There must be decisions. Things cannot remain the same. Honored are those who understand that changes which are important are afoot. The biggest changes in all of these places will be the old vs. the new. We’re here to tell you that the Human Being who sits here and who reads these words is the one who can change this. It cannot stand as it is. The potential for the most profound creative changes come in the year of the three.” (2001)

I personally feel that hints were given all along regarding the potentials of our 11:11. I received the facts below from many on the Internet who noticed the 11 synchronicity.

• The date of the attack: 9/11 - 9 + 1 + 1 = 11
• September 11th is the 254th day of the year: 2 + 5 + 4 = 11
• After September 11th there are 111 days left to the end of the year.
• 119 is the area code to Iraq/Iran. 1 + 1 + 9 = 11 (reverse of the 911)
• Twin Towers - standing side by side, looks like the number 11
• The first plane to hit the towers was Flight 11
• State of New York - The 11 State added to the Union
• New York City - 11 Letters
• Afghanistan - 11 Letters
• The Pentagon - 11 Letters
• Ramzi Yousef - 11 Letters (convicted or orchestrating the attack on the
WTC in 1993)
• Flight 11 - 92 on board - 9 + 2 = 11
• Flight 77 - 65 on board - 6 + 5 = 11

Coincidence? We must look at the numbers… always. Kryon has told us from
the beginning that the energy of the end times is the “9” and the “11.” This was given in the first book, (Book one), and the last released book (Book eight). It was about completion and permission. It’s now becoming clear what this all means. Remember this, as well: 666 =18 = 9. Could it be that what we are seeing was also prophesied in veiled ways in scripture? Remember that most scripture is written in metaphors. According to Gregg Braden, even the prophet Isaiah told us that we had the ability to change the future. I believe we just have.

Kryon has now indicated that through Human free choice, we have opted to advance the process of creating unity on the planet… that this tragedy will be seen in history as the turning point for planetary change. In this light, therefore, we see a glimpse of how heretofore unthinkable things might happen—that nations might agree to come together and form coalitions to agree on what “civilization on earth” will permit and not permit—that millions may have just been “torn off the fence” through spiritual rage, and that they will have to decide one way or the other what energy they are going to join or not join.

This is what Kryon spoke of time and time again, and it has been published for
all to read. Now that it begins, and is of our own creation and free will, it will allow for that elusive phrase to come about… the eventual creation of “The New Jerusalem.” Kryon also said these words over and over: “As go the Jews, go Earth.” Perhaps we are beginning to see how this all fits?

What’s next? We still have free choice. Suddenly, however, we must decide to either wallow in the old ways, or clean up our earthly act. We have until 2012, according to Kryon. Whatever our energy then, will be our “stamp of intent” for Humanity.

I have said it before: Someday I will go home. When I do, I wish to have a meeting with almost 6,000 of our family who was lost this week. I want to tell them that what they did made a difference for hundreds of millions on earth, for their future children, and for the Universe. Then I want to hug each one and sing a hero’s song… one with lyrics about the 11:11… the day that Humans decided what they really wanted on earth, and took control to create it.

Given in Love
Lee Carroll

* This information was given to Lee in channel personally. He rephrased it with his personal comments for clarity, and for this E-publication.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Renault recalls vehicles amid failed emissions test

Yahoo – AFP, January 19, 2016

Renault, France's second biggest auto manufacturer -- in which the French state
owns nearly 20 percent -- is under the spotlight after it emerged last week that
 anti-fraud investigators had raided several company sites, sending stocks plunging
(AFP Photo/Bertrand Guay)

Paris (AFP) - Renault said Tuesday it was recalling thousands of vehicles to make engine tweaks as the French carmaker grapples with emission levels found to exceed anti-pollution norms in some of its cars.

Some 15,800 diesel vehicles are being called back due to an error "detected and corrected" in mid-2015, Renault's head of engineering said, broadly confirming an earlier announcement by the ecology minister.

France's second biggest auto manufacturer -- in which the French state owns nearly 20 percent -- is under the spotlight after it emerged last week that anti-fraud investigators had raided several company sites, sending stocks plunging.

Amid fears Renault could be caught up in an emissions scandal similar to the one engulfing Germany's Volkswagen, officials announced that no pollution cheating software was found on Renault cars.

However a French government-appointed commission said the company's diesel cars had failed pollution tests.

Director of Engineering Gaspard Gascon-Abellan told reporters Tuesday that Renault had discovered in July "a calibration error" in the emissions cutting system of its diesel engines.

The problem led to nitrogen oxide and sulphur not being properly eliminated so that the particle filter was "completely losing its efficiency", he told a news conference at Renault headquarters.

The error was fixed at the start of September and the recall began two months later, he added.

Renault had already announced last month that it would spend 50 million euros
 ($54 million) on emissions reduction after German consumer body Umwelthilfe 
found what it called "frightening" pollution levels when testing a Renault Espace 
Diesel model (AFP Photo/Loic Venance)

The recall concerns Renault's diesel Captur model produced in Europe between February and September last year.

Earlier Ecology Minister Segolene Royal, whose portfolio includes transport, said on RTL radio that Renault was recalling 15,000 new vehicles "to check them and adjust them correctly so that the filtration system works" in all temperatures.

"New cars must meet the norms," she said, adding that the adjustment could be quickly done. "To correctly adjust an engine takes half a day," she added.

She also said other carmakers found to have exceeded the norms had agreed to appear before the commission but declined to name them.

The commission, set up in the wake of the VW case, tested vehicles from a total of eight foreign and French brands, finding carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen dioxide emissions (NOx) from Renault cars to be too high, as well as those in some non-French models.

Renault's deputy director for competitiveness Thierry Bollore also insisted during Tuesday's news conference that the company "respects all the norms".

Renault on Monday pledged to draw up a "technical plan" over coming weeks to bring down harmful emissions.

It involves improving pollution cutting systems in diesel engines to be modified through a software update from July. "There will be a proposal to customers but not a recall since the vehicles conform," Bollore told reporters.

Renault sales director Thierry Koskas insisted Monday that the company was not cheating but acknowledged a problem had emerged between test and real conditions on the road.

"I want to restate this very firmly," he said, presenting the group's 2015 sales results. "We are not using any software or other (fraudulent) methods."

"In test conditions, we respect emissions norms," he added.

"But when we are no longer in test conditions, there is indeed a difference between real conditions and control conditions, that is a fact," he said.

Renault had already announced last month that it would spend 50 million euros ($54 million) on emissions reduction after German consumer body Umwelthilfe found what it called "frightening" pollution levels when testing a Renault Espace Diesel model.

Shares in Renault and other car companies fell last week amid fears that the emissions scandal embroiling VW may be spreading sector-wide.

The German giant was forced to admit in September that it had fitted 11 million diesel engines worldwide with devices aimed at cheating emissions tests.

Renault stocks slumped by more than 20 percent during Thursday's trading session after unions reported the raids by anti-fraud investigators in early January, before closing around 10 percent lower.

On the Paris stock exchange Renault shares clawed back some the previous sessions' losses, closing 3.3 percent higher at 76.62.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Germany gives green light to bicycle highways

Yahoo – AFP, Pauline Houede,  December 29, 2015

Fans hail the smooth new velo routes as the answer to urban traffic jams and air
pollution, and a way to safely get nine-to-fivers outdoors (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

Berlin (AFP) - It's every cyclist's dream: no red lights, no trucks, just a clear, smooth lane to zoom down with the wind in your face. Welcome to Germany's first bicycle Autobahn.

Fans hail the smooth new velo routes as the answer to urban traffic jams and air pollution, and a way to safely get nine-to-fivers outdoors.

As a glimpse of a greener urban transport future, Germany has just opened the first five-kilometre (three-mile) stretch of a bicycle highway that is set to span over 100 kilometres.

It will connect 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum and Hamm and four universities, running largely along disused railroad tracks in the crumbling Ruhr industrial region.

Almost two million people live within two kilometres of the route and will be able to use sections for their daily commutes, said Martin Toennes of regional development group RVR.

A cyclist enjoys the first five-kilometre (three-mile) stretch of a bicycle highway 
in Mulheim an der Ruhr, which will connect 10 western cities including Duisburg,
Bochum and Hamm and four universities (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

Aided by booming demand for electric bikes, which take the sting out of uphill sections, the new track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day, an RVR study predicts.

The idea, pioneered in the Netherlands and Denmark, is gaining traction elsewhere in Germany too.

The banking centre of Frankfurt is planning a 30-kilometre path south to Darmstadt, the Bavarian capital of Munich is plotting a 15-kilometre route into its northern suburbs, and Nuremberg has launched a feasibility study into a track linking it with four cities.

In the capital Berlin, the city administration in early December gave the green light to a feasibility study on connecting the city centre with the leafy southwestern suburb of Zehlendorf.

Rapid track

The new velo routes are a luxury upgrade from the ageing single-lane bike paths common in many German cities, where tree roots below can create irregular speed bumps and a mellow cycling lane can suddenly end or, more alarmingly, merge into a bus lane.

The new velo routes are a luxury upgrade from the ageing single-lane bike
paths common in many German cities (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

The new type of bike routes are around four metres (13 feet) wide, have overtaking lanes and usually cross roads via overpasses and underpasses. The paths are lit and cleared of snow in winter.

Like most infrastructure projects, the bicycle Autobahn is facing headwinds, however, especially when it comes to financing.

In Germany, the situation is complicated because while the federal government generally builds and maintains motor-, rail- and waterways, cycling infrastructure is the responsibility of local authorities.

For the Ruhr region's initial five-kilometre rapid track, the cost was shared, with the European Union funding half, North Rhine-Westphalia state coughing up 30 percent, and the RVR investing 20 percent.

Toennes said talks are ongoing to rustle up 180 million euros ($196 million) for the entire 100-kilometre route, with the state government, run by centre-left Social Democrats and the Greens party, planning legislation to take the burden off municipalities.

The German Bicycle Club ADFC argues that, since about 10 percent of trips in 
the country are now done by bicycle, cycling infrastructure should get at least
10 percent of federal transport funding (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

"Without (state) support, the project would have no chance," said Toennes, pointing to the financial difficulties many local governments would have in paying for maintenance, lighting and snow clearance.

In Berlin, a heavily indebted city-state, the conservative CDU party has proposed a private financing model based in part on advertising along the route.

"The bike highways are new in Germany," said Birgit Kastrup, in charge of the Munich project. "We must find a new concept for funding them."

The German Bicycle Club ADFC argues that, since about 10 percent of trips in the country are now done by bicycle, cycling infrastructure should get at least 10 percent of federal transport funding.

"Building highways in cities is a life-threatening recipe from the 1960s," said its manager Burkhard Stork. "No one wants more cars in cities."

Indonesia's Muslim women hail female-only motorbike taxis

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Rondonuwu, December 30, 2015

Several motorbike taxi services with women drivers entered the Indonesian
 market in 2015 after years of growing piety in the country (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Female motorbike taxi drivers in headscarves zig-zag through heavy traffic in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the latest two-wheeled transport service for women making a dent in the male-dominated world of ride-hailing apps in the Muslim nation.

A flurry of new motorbike taxi options have in the past year appeared in the metropolis of 10 million, led by popular service Go-Jek, giving Indonesia's growing middle class a greater choice of transport to get through some of the world's worst traffic jams.

The services -- many inspired by ride-sharing app Uber and accessible on smartphones -- are a challenge to traditional motorbike taxis in Indonesia, known as "ojeks", which are ubiquitous but have drawn criticism with their dishevelled, dangerous drivers and unpredictable pricing.

Several services with women drivers entered the market in 2015 after years of growing piety in Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, and amid heightened safety concerns following reports of attacks on women by male motorbike taxi drivers.

They are in part designed with religious sensitivities in mind, as an increasing number of Muslim women wear headscarves and follow strict interpretations of Islam that forbid close contact with the opposite sex, except between married couples.

"The need for transportation for women is huge, especially in big cities where rates of crime and sexual harassment are very high," Evilita Adriani, co-founder of motorbike taxi company Ojek Syari, told AFP.

Only Muslim drivers

Popularly known by its nickname "Ojesy", it is the service that aims most clearly at devout female passengers, requiring its drivers to be Muslim women wearing headscarves and loose-fitting clothes.

Ojesy drivers can currently only be hailed by a phone call or through mobile messaging service WhatsApp, but the service is also developing an app that was being tested out this month.

The service, which began in Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya in March before expanding across the main island of Java, only accepts female passengers or children.

"I feel more comfortable sharing a ride with a fellow Muslim woman," said Nurlaila, a Surabaya housewife who goes by one name.

She uses the service to take her children to school -- a common practice in the country where whole families often travel squashed together on a motorbike.

"Thank God for Ojesy."

The company says business is booming -- after starting in March with Adriani as its only driver, it now has 350 drivers.

Other motorbike taxi companies vying for a stake in the female market include app-based service LadyJek, whose drivers dress in pink jackets and helmets, and Sister-Ojek, a start-up that began operations earlier this year with capital of just $100.

Indonesia stands out for the number of motorbike taxi services aimed at women that it boasts, with female drivers relatively rare in many developing nations where the mode of transport is popular.

But they do exist in some other countries, including in Liberia where a group of female drivers, sick of being robbed, took to the wheel, reportedly donning pink helmets and jackets and calling themselves "The Pink Panthers".

The trend for motorbike taxi-hailing services started in earnest last year with Go-Jek in Jakarta, a general service for anyone wishing to order a motorbike ride, which was quickly followed by others such as GrabBike and Blu-jek.

Tough security measures

The women-only services are slightly more expensive than others, but insist they have better security measures.

Calls have been growing for heightened security after reports of women being stalked and harassed by male motorbike taxi drivers, while the rape of a young woman in India by an Uber driver last year also added to safety concerns about ride-hailing services.

LadyJek drivers can activate a loud alarm if they are attacked or feel threatened, while Ojesy and Sister-Ojek only operate between sunrise and sunset.

However the services are unlikely to overtake major competitors like Go-Jek as many women in Indonesia, where the majority practise a moderate form of Islam, have few qualms about taking a motorbike taxi driven by a man.

The services also try to make themselves attractive to drivers, with Ojesy allowing Muslim housewives and university students to work part-time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SpaceX rocket landing opens 'new door' to space travel

Yahoo – AFP, Kerry Sheridan, December 22, 2015

This 9-minute time exposure shows the launch, re-entry, and landing burns
 of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which successfully landed in an upright position
on December 21, 2015 at Cape Canaveral in Florida (AFP Photo)

Miami (AFP) - SpaceX successfully landed its powerful Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, a major milestone in the drive to cut costs and waste by making rockets as reusable as airplanes.

Its engines burning bright orange against the dark night sky, the Falcon 9 made a graceful arc back to Earth and touched down upright at Cape Canaveral, Florida, minutes after launching a payload of satellites to orbit, video images showed.

"The Falcon has landed," a commentator said above the screams and cheers of people gathered at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX, headed by Internet tycoon Elon Musk, is striving to revolutionize the rocket industry, which currently loses many millions of dollars in jettisoned machinery and sophisticated rocket components after each launch.

"I still can't quite believe it," Musk said in a teleconference after the landing.

"I think this is a revolutionary moment. No one has ever brought an orbital class booster back intact."

Previous attempts to land the Falcon 9's first stage on a floating ocean platform have failed -- with the rocket either colliding with the autonomous drone ship or tipping over.

But this time, video images on SpaceX's live webcast showed the tall, white portion of the rocket -- known as the first stage -- appearing to settle down firmly and stick the landing.

The rocket reached a height of 125 miles (200 kilometers) before heading back to Earth and touching down at a former US Air Force rocket and missile testing range that was last used in 1978.

Video images were cut off within seconds of the landing, and the SpaceX live webcast returned to its commentators, who described the successful deployment of the rocket's payload of 11 satellites for ORBCOMM, a global communications company.

The US space agency NASA applauded the feat.

"Congratulations @SpaceX on your successful vertical landing of the first stage back on Earth!" NASA said in a tweet.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket pictured on December 16, 2015 (AFP Photo)

High stakes

The stakes were high for SpaceX, which has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to supply the astronauts living at the International Space Station over numerous back-and-forth trips with its Dragon cargo ship.

Just six months ago, a devastating explosion -- caused by a faulty strut -- destroyed the Falcon 9 about two minutes after launch, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo and equipment bound for the ISS.

The company fixed that problem and also made the newest version of the Falcon 9 about 30 percent more powerful than previous iterations, Musk said.

Adding to the competitive nature of the commercial space industry, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's rocket company Blue Origin announced last month it had successfully landed its New Shepard rocket after a suborbital flight.

"Congrats @SpaceX on landing Falcon's suborbital booster stage. Welcome to the club," Bezos said on Twitter Monday night.

Analysts have pointed out that although New Shepard was first, that SpaceX's feat would be harder to accomplish because the Falcon 9 flies higher in altitude.

"Because SpaceX's vehicle was designed to place a constellation of satellites in orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage flew at significantly greater speeds and more than double the altitude of what New Shepherd reached last month," the Commercial Spaceflight Federation said in a statement.

It called the landing an "incredible achievement" in an industry that is seeking to drive down costs and make spaceflight cheaper and more accessible to tourists and adventurers.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield added his congratulations.

"That was a hard landing to stick. Opens a brand new door to space travel. I look forward to the details," he wrote on Twitter.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Regular flights to resume between US and Cuba: State Department

Yahoo – AFP, December 17, 2015

The United States announced Thursday the resumption of regular
flights to and from Cuba (AFP Photo)

Washington (AFP) - The United States and Cuba announced Thursday plans to resume flights between the two countries, erasing another vestige of what had been strained ties rooted in the Cold War.

The latest progress as the countries work to build on their restoration of full diplomatic relations this summer was made public a year to the day after Barack Obama and Raul Castro first said they would bury the hatchet.

In a short statement, the US State Department said that on Wednesday Washington and Havana had reached "a bilateral arrangement to establish scheduled air services between the two countries."

An old American car passes by the
 US Embassy in Havana on December 17,
 2015 (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)
But this does not mean American tourists can now start flocking to communist-run Cuba to lie on beaches, sip rum and fire up cigars.

Such travel is still illegal, as the trade embargo that the Americans slapped on Cuba in 1960 after Fidel Castro came to power in a communist revolution remains in effect.

In a statement marking the anniversary of the start of the reconciliation, Obama renewed his call for the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the embargo, which he termed the "legacy of a failed policy."

Republicans are wary of rewarding Cuba until it improves its human rights record.

Until now only charter flights were allowed. Current US law also allowed for special permits to visit Cuba, and the criteria for getting one of these have been looser since January.

The charter flights will continue under the new agreement, and scheduled flights for non-tourist purposes will also start, according to the US statement.

Although the ban on tourist travel remains in force, the new accord will "facilitate an increase in authorized travel, enhance traveler choices, and promote people-to-people links between the two countries."

It added: "a stronger civil aviation relationship will facilitate growth in authorized travel between our two countries."

The Cuban Embassy in Washington said the two countries had reached preliminary agreement on a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of regular flights.

Its adoption by the two governments will be confirmed in the next few days, the embassy added.

Airlines eager to fly

Under the new arrangement airlines in the two countries can now strike deals in such areas as code-sharing and aircraft leasing, the embassy said.

Ever since the historic thaw began a year ago US airlines have been eager to start flying to Cuba and tap its potential as a new market.

Tourists visit the Old Havana, on December 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)

These include American Airlines, which runs 22 weekly charter flights to Cuba from New York and Newark, New Jersey.

JetBlue and United, which also fly charters to Cuba from those two cities, are also chomping at the bit to begin all-out service to the island.

The United States and Cuba formally restored diplomatic relations in July and re-opened embassies in each other's capitals.

Obama said he had made the decision because he had concluded that 50 years of trying to encourage democratic and economic change in Cuba by isolating it had simply failed. It is better to engage Cuba and work with it, he said.

The countries are now attempting the arduous task of achieving fully normal relations, like those of any other countries without a historic bone to pick.

As part of that process the countries set up commissions to address specific issues and accords have been reached in such areas as migration, mail service and cooperation on science and the fight against drug trafficking.

But in April Raul Castro said full normalization would take time.

Cuba wants the embargo lifted, payment of damages for what it calls lost revenue as a result of that embargo, and talks on recovering the land which it leases to the United States and that houses a US naval base and the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.

Washington for its part is seeking damages for property that Cuba seized from US companies and citizens in the early 1960s, and also wants to see democratic and free-market reforms on the island.