Wing flap found in Tanzania confirmed to be part of MH370
A wing flap that washed ashore on an island off Tanzania has been identified as belonging to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Australian officials said Thursday. The flap was found in June by residents on Pemba Island, off the coast of Tanzania. Officials had previously said it was highly likely to have come from the missing Boeing 777. An analysis by experts at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is heading up the search for the plane, subsequently confirmed the part was from the aircraft. Several pieces of wreckage suspected to have come from the plane have washed ashore on coastlines around the Indian Ocean since it vanished with 239 people - mostly Chinese - on board during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
The wing flap is the fifth piece of debris that the Australian authority has determined to be almost certainly, or definitely from Flight 370. Another wing piece found a year ago on La Reunion Island, near Madagascar, was positively identified by French officials. Meanwhile, the US$160 million international search for the wreckage has been focused thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.
Myanmar one step closer to integration as us lifts sanctions
The US has declared its commitment to removing all sanctions on Myanmar, marking another milestone for the former pariah state as it integrates further into the global economy. Washington had already lifted sanctions against several state-owned enterprises and banks earlier this year. The news came as Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi toured Washington.
Some are questioning the timing amid worries about human rights violations and the military’s continued dominance. At least two US-based concern groups oppose a sanction-free Myanmar, noting the persecution and genocide of Rohingya Muslims, which Suu Kyi has been criticised for doing little about. Some US lawmakers have demanded Congress have a say in whether sanctions should be lifted.
Indonesia blocks gay apps over ‘sexual deviancy’
Indonesia is blocking three gay networking apps, accusing them of promoting “sexual deviancy”, according to an official. It’s the latest move by the Muslim-majority country against homosexuals, who have faced a sudden backlash this year. The government has decided to block Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy, communications ministry spokesman Noor Iza said, adding they were the apps most clearly promoting gay lifestyles. It followed a request from police to block gay networking services after they busted an online paedophile ring they said used Grindr to pimp teenage boys out to adult men.
The ministry on Thursday sent letters to internet providers requesting them to block the gay apps, and it would likely take a few days for the order to take effect, the spokesman said. Prominent gay rights activist Dede Oetomo accused the government of seeking to “create fear in society”, and added authorities were “experiencing a moral panic”. Activists believe the recent backlash was sparked by anger in Indonesia at an American court ruling last year that legalised same-sex marriage in the US.
Brits approve Hinkley Point project
The British government has approved construction of the country’s first new nuclear power plant in decades, to be built with Chinese investment. The plant in Southwest England will be financed by a Chinese nuclear power provider and French energy group EDF. The approval comes just weeks after Prime Minister Theresa May unexpectedly stalled the deal after she took office in July, saying she wanted to review it. The delay threw into doubt the “golden era” of ties proclaimed by President Xi Jinping during a visit to Britain last year.
Some British politicians and diplomats are wary of the enthusiasm shown by ex-prime minister David Cameron’s government for boosting ties with Beijing. Energy Secretary Greg Clark said on Thursday the Hinkley Point deal “will include a series of measures to enhance security” and ensure it cannot change hands without the government’s agreement. The British government also said it would impose new safeguards on future foreign investment in nuclear power and other critical infrastructure, to ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without “the government’s knowledge or consent”.
Two Singaporeans charged in ‘Fat Leonard’ US Navy bribery case
Two former executives from Singapore-based Glenn Defence Marine Asia (GDMA) have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the US Navy and other offences, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday. The filing of the charges represented a widening of a US criminal probe known as the Fat Leonard case, in reference to the nickname for a Malaysian businessman named Leonard Glenn Francis at the centre of the scandal. Neil Peterson, 38, and Linda Raja, 43, both from Singapore, were taken into custody by authorities in Singapore at the request of the US government, federal prosecutors said in a statement. Peterson and Raja submitted more than US$5 million in false claims and invoices to the US Navy and covered up their fraud by, among other things, creating fake letterhead with graphics copied from the internet, prosecutors said.
It was not clear if Peterson or Raja had obtained an attorney to represent them in the US court system. In June, US Navy Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to federal investigators, making him the highest-ranking officer to be convicted in the case. Gilbeau is awaiting sentencing.
‘Ex-hitman’ dishes dirt on Duterte
A surprise witness provided shocking testimony before a Senate probe in the Philippines yesterday, claiming he personally killed 50 men and women on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte and a few for the latter’s vice-mayor son, Paulo. Edgar Matobato, 57, claimed to be a one-time member of the “Davao Death Squad” and described how criminals were shot or hanged on the orders of police or Duterte, when he was Davao City mayor. “We used a boat to dump bodies in the water. We chopped it up so it won’t float and fish will eat them,” he said. The Senate inquiry was being led by Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign that has left more than 3,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead since he assumed the presidency in June.
Duterte has accused de Lima of having involvement in drugs, alleging that she used to have a driver who took money from detained drug lords. She has denied the allegations. While there is talk of impeachment by Duterte’s critics, it seems highly unlikely due to his overwhelming popularity.