Crash "Inexplicable," Ukraine Oligarchs Feud, X-Files Truth

BLACK BOX EXAMINED AFTER GERMANWINGS CRASH
Photo: Maxppp/ZUMA
A search and recovery operation continues in the French Alps, as investigators have started examining the black box of the Germanwings flight travelling from Barcelona to Düsseldorf that crashed yesterday with 150 people on board. French officials told reporters that the first findings from the recording devices would be available by the end of the afternoon, Le Figaro reports. Germanwings’ mother company Lufthansa said the crash is “inexplicable” and that the plane was “in perfect condition.”

  • Speaking on RTL, France’s Interior Minister appeared to rule out a terrorist attack since the plane had not exploded.
  • It now appears that the plane gradually shed height for 18 minutes, instead of the eight minutes initially reported, The Independent writes. But experts are still at a loss to explain why this happened.
  • Bernard Chabert, an aircraft specialist, told French radio station Europe 1 that the gradual dive was “likely voluntary” and that this generally happens “when there’s a problem.” Soon after however, as the crew stopped responding on radio, it’s possible there was “nobody conscious inside the cockpit.” He suggested the accident could have been provoked by the explosion of lithium batteries on board. When they catch fire, those batteries release fumes “that can kill in a few seconds,” Chabert said. Such incidents have happened in the past and have caused plane crashes.
  • The German town of Haltern am See is mourning the 16 schoolchildren and two teachers who were aboard the doomed flight, returning from a one-week exchange with a school in Barcelona. Families and friends lit candles on the steps outside the school and left messages in memory. “Yesterday we were many. Today we are alone,” one message read. It was “certainly the darkest day in the history of our town,” Haltern’s mayor said.
  • The tragedy dominated the front pages of Europe’s newspapers on Wednesday.
YEMEN HOUTHI REBELS ENTER ADEN
Yemen’s Shia Houthi rebels have entered the coastal city of Aden, where toppled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi had been based since January, the BBC reports. News reports have said that Hadi had fled Aden, other that he’d left the country altogether, though two close aides denied these reports. The rebels have seized the country’s largest air base in Aden and also captured Hadi’s Defense Minister, according to Iranian network Press TV. A spokesman for the Houthi rebels (who are believed to be supported by Iran) said their goal was to fight the Sunni terrorist organization al-Qaeda and Hadi.

ON THIS DAY
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Happy birthday, Venice! Check out what else happened on this day, thanks to your 57-second shot of history.

TALIBAN VOW TO CONTINUE FIGHTING IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan’s Taliban reacted angrily to President Barack Obama’s decision yesterday to maintain 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan until the end of the year. “This damages all the prospects for peace,” a Taliban spokesman told AFP in reference to a peace process initiated by President Ashraf Ghani after coming to power last year. “This means the war will go on until they are defeated,” the spokesman said.

VERBATIM
“We need peace, we need stability in our region in Asia-Pacific. So that means Indonesia is ready to play a consultative role as an honest broker,” Indonesia President Joko Widodo told the South China Morning Post ahead of its visit to Beijing where he’ll meet Xi Jinping. The two leaders are expected to sign bilateral trade deals and to discuss China’s plans to establish a maritime Silk Road.

UKRAINE OLIGARCH RESIGNS AS GOVERNOR
Igor Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, has resigned as governor of the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, just over a year after he was appointed following the Maidan revolution. The Wall Street Journal reports that the previously staunch supporter of the new government in Kiev has increasingly clashed with President Petro Poroshenko, especially over the management of key energy companies. Gunmen believed to be part of Kolomoisky’s private militia occupied the offices of an important energy company on Friday. The controversial oligarch, who has been personally financing Ukrainian battalions to combat pro-Russian fighters, was accused last year in Russian media of being behind the torching of a building in Odessa in which dozens of anti-Kiev protesters were killed.
Le Monde profiled Kolomoisky last year, translated by Worldcrunch here.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Bad urban planning, pollution, corruption ... Mumbai offers lessons on exactly how not to run your city, Les Echos’ Patrick de Jacquelot reports: “Hidden, though poorly, behind the sumptuous Victorian Gothic facades of the colonial era buildings are ‘very traditional power structures that associate mafias, politicians and bureaucrats,’ explains urbanist Prasad Shetty. With a population packed on a peninsula that seeks to expand on the sea, Mumbai's density reached a record-high 270 people per acre in 2011, compared with just 65 in Hong Kong and 104 in New York. And it's about to get worse. McKinsey's forecasts show that the city will reach 26.2 million inhabitants by 2025. Which raises the inevitable question: Will Mumbai still be livable in 20 years?”
Read the full article, Mayhem In Mumbai, The Antithesis Of A Smart City.

AUSTRALIA TO JOIN CHINA’S INFRASTRUCTURE BANK
Australia is readying itself to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying he was “well and truly” willing to be part of the institution, The Australian Financial Review reports. But before deciding, Canberra is seeking assurances that the organization’s governing board will be independent. Despite Washington’s warning against joining the bank, its allies Britain, France, Germany and Italy have already announced they would be part of it. According to Reuters, the AIIB could be “a significant and possibly historic setback to U.S. efforts to extend its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.”

10.5 MILLION
An estimated 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school, the highest number in the world, according to the United Nations. Many fear that will make the Boko Haram insurgency, which is responsible for the destruction of countless schools, even easier if the government doesn’t invest to reverse the trend.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
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MULDER AND SCULLY ARE BACK
It once was a crazy rumor, but now the news (and truth) are out there: The X-Files will return on FOX for a six-episode series.
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Mariam Nabattu, a religious studies teacher, must work at two schools in central Uganda to make ends meet.

Patricia Lindrio/GPJ Uganda
Edna Namara and Patricia Lindrio

KAMPALA — Allen Asimwe has dedicated more than two decades to teaching geography at a large public high school in southwestern Uganda. Her retirement age, as a public servant entitled to benefits, is just six years away.

She doubts she will wait that long.

“I am determined, I want to quit,” she says, calculating that she could earn more by shifting full time to the salon she opened six years ago to supplement her income. “Given the frustration, I cannot continue in class anymore.”

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