Thursday Reads

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Good Morning!!

Another missing plane story tops the news right now. This time it’s an Algerian that has disappeared in Mali. According to the Wall Street Journal: Air Algérie Flight Reported Missing With 116 on Board.

Air Algérie lost contact with Flight 5017 after takeoff from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, as the jetliner headed to Algiers with 116 people on board, Algeria’s state news agency and the plane’s operator said Thursday.

French Secretary of Transport Frédéric Cuvillier told reporters the plane disappeared over Northern Mali, where Islamist militants are fighting the Malian government and French forces. Numerous French nationals were probably aboard the missing plane, Mr. Cuvillier said.

Contact with the Boeing Co. BA -0.95%MD-83, carrying 110 passengers and six crew members, was lost at about 1:55 a.m. local time, 50 minutes after the jet had taken off, the Algerian government’s official news agency said in a statement. “Air Algérie launched [an] emergency plan,” the agency added. It gave no other details.

An official at the directorate of Ouagadougou Airport said there had been an incident, “but for the moment we don’t know anything more.” He refused to give his name because he wasn’t authorized to speak to reporters.

Was this plane shot down like Malasian Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine?

The flight path of the missing Algerian jet isn’t yet clear but the FAA has warned airlines to be extra vigilant when flying over Mali.

There is no indication the jet was shot down and no confirmation of a crash.

Still, amid questions by airline executives and regulators over whether MH17 should have been flying over eastern Ukraine, the Air Algérie jet’s flight path will be closely scrutinized.

The FAA has banned U.S. carriers of flying over Mali at lower altitudes. The FAA cited “insurgent activity,” including the threat of antiaircraft missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and rockets. Apart from worries about insurgent threats in Mali, the Algerian government has been keeping a close watch on airspace on its eastern border, where violence in Libya has led to flight bans there.

The missing plane was owned by Swiftair, a Spanish charter company. NBC News reports: Air Algerie Jet Chartered by Spain’s Swiftair Vanishes in Africa.

Air Algerie Flight AH5017 vanished about 50 minutes after it left Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, according to the Algerian Press Service. The jet took off at 1:17 a.m. local time (9:17 p.m. ET on Wednesday) bound for Algiers, Algeria.

 In a statement, Madrid-based Swiftair confirmed it had chartered the missing McDonnell Douglas MD-83. Swiftair said 110 passengers and six crew were aboard the jet. It had been due to land in the Algerian capital at 5:10 a.m. local time (12:10 a.m. ET). The flight was missing for hours before the news was made public….
Issa Saly Maiga, the head of Mali’s National Civil Aviation Agency, told Reuters that a search was under way for the missing flight. “We do not know if the plane is Malian territory,” he added. “Aviation authorities are mobilised in all the countries concerned – Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain.”
UPDATE: Algerian officials say the plane has crashed, but the crash site has not yet been located–see in a comment below.

dog and cat reading

Updates on Malaysian Airlines MH17

There is some new information on the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH17 over Ukraine. According to an article in Corriere Dela Sera, reporter di Lorenzo Cremonesi learned from “pro-Russian militiamen” that they were told by “superiors” that the plane carried Ukrainian paratroopers.
“We thought we were going to fight but instead we found dead civilians”
“We thought we would have to fight baled out Ukrainian pilots but instead we found dead civilians. All those poor people with baggage that certainly wasn’t military”. We spoke to a militiaman from the Oplot (stronghold) combat unit at midday yesterday on the concrete platforms of Torez railway station. He was standing beside five rail wagons – four refrigerated and the fifth with the refrigeration unit’s diesel geneerators – containing the human remains collected among the sunflower fields in pro-Russian separatist-held Ukraine. His words are revealing because he spoke them quite naturally, without reflecting, after telling us about the international representatives’ recently completed inspection of the bodies and his unit’s orders to stand guard over the wagons. In its innocence and simplicity, the story is significant. In fact, it could provide new evidence for those who blame the pro-Russians for mistakenly launching the fatal missile under the impression that their target was a Ukrainian military aircraft.
Read the rest at the link.
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And from The Guardian, MH17: Ukraine separatist commander ‘admits’ rebels had Buk missile system . . . and then “changes his story.
A top rebel commander in eastern Ukraine has reportedly said that the armed separatist movement had control of a Buk missile system, which Kiev and western countries say was used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane last week.

Alexander Khodakovsky, who leads the Vostok battalion – one of the main rebel formations – said the rebels may have received the Buk from Russia, in the first such admission by a senior separatist.

“That Buk I know about. I heard about it. I think they sent it back. Because I found out about it at exactly the moment that I found out that this tragedy had taken place. They probably sent it back in order to remove proof of its presence,” Khodakovsky told Reuters.

Russian news agencies later said people close to Khodakovsky denied he made the admissions. Khodakovsky himself told Life News, a Russian news agency with links to Moscow’s security services, that he was misquoted and had merely discussed “possible versions” with Reuters. Khodakovsky said the rebels “do not have and have never had” a Buk.

As two further Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down, apparently by missiles fired from within Russia, Khodakovsky appeared to imply that MH17 was indeed downed by a missile from the Buk, assuming the interview with Reuters is confirmed. He blamed Ukrainian authorities, however, for allowing civilian jets to fly over its airspace when the rebels had such capabilities.

More details at the link.
Another article at BBC News quotes rebel “prime minister” Alexander Borodai as admitting to receiving support from Russia, and making a number of excuses for the ghastly treatment of the bodies from MH17, Ukraine rebel leader Borodai admits to Russia links.
Mr Borodai admitted that the rebels had received support from “the whole Russian people” in their fight against the Ukrainian government.

“Volunteers are joining us,” he told the Newsnight programme, describing himself as one of them – “a resident of the city of Moscow”.

“It just so happened that, instead of sitting in a trench with a rifle or a machine gun, I now have the post of prime minister. Well… that’s fate.”

He denied that he was a member of a Russian intelligence agency, as has often been alleged.

However, he admitted to having contact with other members of the secret services in Russia – as, he said, would anyone “who has dealings with the elite of society”.

On the treatment of the bodies,

“We wanted to collect the bodies from the very beginning,” said Mr Borodai.

“But we were under extreme pressure from the OSCE representative, who said to us: ‘I represent 57 countries. Don’t you dare touch the bodies of the dead. Under no circumstances. Or else all the 57 countries of the OSCE will do this and that to you.'”

“So we wait a day. We wait a second day. A third day. Come on! Not a single expert…. Well, to leave the bodies there any longer, in 30C heat, it’s absurd. It’s simply inhuman. It’s a scene from a horror movie.”

However, an OSCE spokesman told the BBC that the organisation had not warned the rebels against moving the bodies.

More obfuscation at the link. Thank goodness the bodies are now being returned to the Netherlands.

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Do Dogs Experience Emotions?

There’s a story in The New York Times about research on dogs and emotions with a somewhat cutsie headline and introduction, Inside Man’s Best Friend, Study Says, May Lurk a Green-Eyed Monster. Do dogs experience jealousy?

The answer, according to Christine Harris, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, is that if you are petting another dog, Roscoe is going to show something that Dr. Harris thinks is a form of jealousy, even if not as complex and twisted as the adult human form.

Other scientists agree there is something going on, but not all are convinced it is jealousy. And Roscoe and the rest of his tribe were, without exception, unavailable for comment.

Dr. Harris had been studying human jealousy for years when she took this question on, inspired partly by the antics of her parents’ Border collies. When she petted them, “one would take his head and knock the other’s head away,” she said. It certainly looked like jealousy.

But having studied humans, she was aware of different schools of thought about jealousy. Some scientists argue that jealousy requires complex thinking about self and others, which seems beyond dogs’ abilities. Others think that although our descriptions of jealousy are complex, the emotion itself may not be that complex.

Read more, including reactions from other scientists at the NYT.

Another researcher, Greg Berns of Emory University, has been examining the question of how dogs think and how they relate to humans.

“The more I study dogs and the more I study their brains, the more similarities I see to human brains,” Berns told WGCL-TV. “They are intelligent, they are emotional, and they’ve been ignored in terms of research and understanding how they think. So, we are all interested in trying to develop ways to understand how their minds work.”

Dr. Berns uses an MRI to test a dog’s brain.

“So, we’ve done experiments where we present odors to the dogs and these are things like the scent of other people in their house, the scent of other dogs in the house, as well as strange people and strange dogs,” Berns said. “And so what we found in that experiment is that the dogs reward processing center, so basically the part of the brain that is kind of the positive anticipation of things responds particularly strongly to the scent of their human.” ….

“Currently, we are trying to understand what dogs perceive about the world,” Berns said. “You know, what do they see when they see humans, dogs, other animals, cars, etc. so the idea is, at least in humans and even in certain chimpanzees and monkeys, there are parts of the brain specialized for visual processing of all of these things and so what we are trying to determine is whether a dog has that same kind of specialization.

Here’s Dr. Berns’ home page. He has written a book called How Dogs Love Us.

Anyone who has ever spent time with dogs (or cats for that matter) knows that pets express emotions through body language, facial expressions, and vocalizations; it’s nice to see there are some serious researchers trying to understand their emotions and thinking processes.

 dog reading to puppy

A couple more interesting reads . . .

At Talk to Action, the first two-parts of a three-part article on the influence of fundamentalist Catholocism on the Supreme Court by Frank Coccozelli: An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? A brief excerpt:

Beyond the creeping erosion of Roe, there is the disturbing reliance upon traditionalist Catholic teaching on grey area issues, such as a pregnancy endangering the life of the mother.  As Justice Ginsburg noted in here dissent:

Today’s decision is alarming. It refuses to take Casey and Stenberg seriously. It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It blurs the line, firmly drawn in Casey, between previability and postviability abortions. And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman’s health.

Where does this leave a Jewish woman whose life is endangered by a pregnancy? By the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Carhart, the Jewish teaching of saving the mother’s life in such circumstances is not respected. Vatican teaching is completely different. Instead it prohibits any abortion procedure that would be required not only if the choice is between the life of the mother and the fetus, but also where if no procedure is performed, a stillborn would result. That is an extreme teaching that many mainstream Catholics reject outright.

Read Part one here and Part two here.

At Pando, Yasha Levine has a fascinating story about the bizarre and twisted interactions between the encryption service TOR and its most prominent employee Jacob Applebaum, the Department of Defense, the CIA, Edward Snowden, and Glenn Greenwald, Hall of Mirrors: Wikileaks volunteer helped build Tor, was funded by the Pentagon. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the Snowden story. Also check out Levine’s earlier article, Almost everyone involved in developing Tor was (or is) funded by the US government.

Also for Snowden junkies, Michael Kelley at Business Insider writes about “An 11-Day Hole In Snowden’s Story About Hong Kong.”

Why doesn’t the mainstream media ask any serious questions about Snowden and his closest supporters?

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today?

 

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25 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    They’re still fighting in Gaza, but I decided to skip those stories this morning.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Update on the missing plane. It has now crashed, but hasn’t been located yet. (Reuters)

    Missing Air Algerie plane from Burkina Faso has crashed: Algerian official

    An Air Algerie flight crashed on Thursday en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers with 110 passengers on board, an Algerian aviation official said.

    There were few clear indications of what might have happened to the aircraft, or whether there were casualties, but Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedrago said it asked to change route at 0138 GMT because of a storm in the area.

    “I can confirm that it has crashed,” the Algerian official told Reuters, declining to be identified or give any details about what had happened to the aircraft on its way north.

    Almost half of the passengers were French citizens, an airline official said.

    Two French fighter jets based in the region have been dispatched to try to locate the airliner along its probable route, a French army spokesman said. Niger security sources said planes were flying over the border region with Mali to search for the flight. Algeria’s state news agency APS said authorities lost contact with flight AH 5017 an hour after it took off from Burkina Faso, but other officials gave differing accounts of the times of contact, adding to confusion about the plane’s fate.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Journalist working for CNN abducted in Ukraine

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/24/world/europe/ukraine-cnn-fixer-abducted/

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Another execution horror story:

    Arizona execution lasts nearly two hours; lawyer says Joseph Wood was ‘gasping and struggling to breathe’

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/07/23/arizona-supreme-court-stays-planned-execution/?hpid=z2

  5. RalphB says:

    BB, Remember back after 9/11 when Rumsfeld was trying to take over intelligence gathering and move it into the DOD? I wonder if some of that weird rivalry is coming on display now with Applebaum, Tor and all those associations.

    • dakinikat says:

      It’s back to the cold war for us !!!!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hi Ralph,

      Maybe so. Sometimes I wonder if Snowden was working for the CIA all the time and this is just one big black op. After all, no one really leaves the CIA.

      I don’t know what to think. But it’s so weird that Applebaum’s job is spreading U.S. propaganda, and at the same time he’s involved in Wikileaks and the Snowden operation. Maybe eventually we’ll find out what’s really going on.

  6. dakinikat says:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/24/isis-women-girls-fgm-mosul-un?CMP=fb_gu

    News
    World news
    Isis
    Isis orders all girls and women in Mosul to undergo FGM, UN report says
    Report says ‘fatwa’ issued by militant group in and around Iraqi city could affect 4 million, but doubts expressed on social media

    • bostonboomer says:

      That is horrendous! If something like that happened to men, the entire world would be intervening.

  7. RalphB says:

    Raw Story: Dallas judge risks his political future by seeking to house 2,000 immigrant children

    DALLAS (Reuters) – Images of protesters trying to stop buses loaded with illegal immigrants may dominate the news, but in the heart of Texas, one county judge is taking on friends and foes by trying to find shelter for child migrants flooding across the U.S. border.

    Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins, 50, offered federal authorities empty buildings to house 2,000 children from Central America in a risky political move as he faces re-election in November for the top political office in Dallas County.

    “These children need our help now. If I lose an election over this, so be it,” said Jenkins, who has offered the use of two empty schools and a warehouse and has the unilateral power to do so under the way the county commission operates. …

    If I lived in Dallas County, I’d probably be voting for this guy until one of us died.

  8. RalphB says:

    Seems like a very good idea and well done.

    KUT: How Austin Turned a Dead Department Store Into a Community College

  9. bostonboomer says:

    A Minnesota man says he was removed from a Southwest flight because of a tweet he posted about a gate agent.

    Duff Watson initially told a CBS affiliate in Minneapolis that the dispute started over boarding procedures: Watson is an A-list flyer with Southwest and says he is used to boarding with his children, but this time, a gate agent in Denver wouldn’t let his 6- and 9-year-old kids have priority boarding status with him.

    “In leaving I said, you know, ‘Real nice way to treat an A-list. I’ll be sure to tweet about it.’” So he did. “Something to the effect of, ‘Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA.’”

    Watson and his children eventually boarded the plane, but before it took off, they were asked to leave the flight, allegedly because the gate agent said she felt threatened by Watson’s tweet. Watson also said that the agent threatened to call police unless he deleted the tweet, so he did.

    He and his children were allowed to board the flight again after he deleted the tweet.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    The Christian Science Monitor has a longer article on the study of jealousy in dogs.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2014/0724/Dogs-display-signs-of-jealousy-say-scientists

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Fred Kaplan at Slate:

    America’s Flight 17: The time the United States blew up a passenger plane—and tried to cover it up.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2014/07/the_vincennes_downing_of_iran_air_flight_655_the_united_states_tried_to.html