Thursday, April 28, 2011

Air France 447: Part of a Black (Orange, Really) Box Found

My guess is that Air France Flight 447 (June, 2009, Rio de Janeiro to Paris) crashed in the Atlantic because of a combination of storm, regrettable judgment, and possibly equipment failure.

Not that there's much evidence to go on at this point.

So far, searchers have found a little wreckage, a few bodies and - yesterday - part of one of the 'black boxes.' Which are actually orange.

My considered opinion is still what it was, almost two years ago:
"...I don't think that terrorists brought down AF 447.

"I don't think that terrorists didn't bring down AF 447.

"I do think that officials investigating the incident don't seem to know what happened, yet...."
(June 10, 2009)

The Good News is What's Not in the News

There may be a sensational story being run in the news somewhere, about Air France Flight 447 and terrorists: or AF 447 and space aliens; or some other so-far-unsupported speculation.

I think it's more likely that terrorists might be involved in what happened to AF 447, than the 'space alien' idea - but that a more prosaic explanation is much more likely.

Hats off to news media, for not fueling sales and viewership by touting tentative terrorists.

That's not because I don't think terrorists of some sort would want to kill everybody on an airliner - that's a 'been there, done that' situation for everybody except the true believers who think the CIA blew up New York City's World Trade Center. And that's almost another topic.

Apart from names on the passenger list matching names on a terror list, there's no evidence that a deliberate act brought Air France 447 down.

I'd be more impressed by those matching names, if I hadn't been list manager for a small business for a decade - a remarkable number of names are not unique to one individual. Which is why America's used Social Security Numbers for so long - and that's yet another topic.

Bottom line? I'm much more hopeful now, than I was a month ago, that we might learn just what happened to AF 447.

Here's an excerpt of what got me started on this post:
"Search teams have found a part of the crucial 'data recorders' of the Air France flight which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, says France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA).

"The orange-colored recorder 'chassis' was found on Wednesday during the second day of an operation which also hopes to retrieve bodies from the wreckage site.

"All 228 people aboard the Airbus A330 Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris were killed.

"The find - which comes more than three weeks after search teams found the tail section of the aircraft -- does not include the 'memory unit' which holds the recorded data that could eventually help investigators determine the cause of the crash.

"Martine Del Bono, a spokeswoman for the Paris-based BEA says there is a good chance the memory unit, which records any instructions sent to the aircraft's electronic systems, will still hold retrievable data....

"...Steve Saint Amour, director of commercial operations, Phoenix International, offered the BEA use of a remote-controlled submarine known as the Remora 6000.

Each round trip for the Remora takes some 14 to 16 hours says Del Bono, taking over two hours to descend to the wreck site, estimated to lie at a depth of between 2,000 to 4,000 meters (6,562 to 13,124 feet)....
Related posts:In the news:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Act of Terrorism in Colorado, Sort of

A homemade explosive device was found and dealt with at a Colorado shopping mall earlier this month. It looks like prosecutors are going to call the crime an act of terrorism. I figure they know what they're doing - but I also think that this may not be the sort of ideologically-motivated terrorism we're used to.

Reviewing the last week or two in the news:
"A man suspected in an attempted bombing at a Denver-area shopping mall was arrested in nearby Boulder on Tuesday.

"Earl Albert Moore, 65, a former convict with an extensive criminal record, was captured at a grocery store six days after authorities found a pipe bomb and two propane tanks while extinguishing a small fire in the food court at the Southwest Plaza mall in Littleton...."
(April 27, 2011, Los Angeles Times)

"...Moore, who is considered dangerous, was released from federal prison April 13 after serving time for his conviction in the May 2005 robbery of a West Virginia bank, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Federal court records show that Moore pleaded guilty to robbing the bank in Crab Orchard, W.Va., of $2,546.

"A judge sentenced Moore to between 15 and 19 years in prison, but a federal appeals court in 2006 ruled his stiff sentence was 'unreasonable' and Moore's sentence was reduced to seven years...."
(April 25, 2011,

"...Federal law enforcement officials have called the planned mall bombing an act of 'domestic terrorism.'..."
(April 25, 2011, Fox 31 (Denver))

"A busy shopping mall near Columbine High School was evacuated on Wednesday after authorities responding to a small fire at the retail complex found two propane tanks and a pipe bomb, officials said.

"Twelve years to the day after two Columbine High School students shot dead a teacher, 12 students and themselves on April 20, 1999, the devices were discovered at Southwest Plaza Mall, about a mile from Columbine...."
(April 21, 2011, Reuters)

Nobody Got Hurt - This Time

I'm sincerely glad that Earl Albert Moore, who apparently planted that bomb, has been caught. I'm also sincerely glad that nobody got hurt or killed. And I hope - very sincerely - that the American judicial system will decide to restrain Mr. Moore for a very, very long time.

Assuming that he actually did plant the bomb - and DNA evidence points that way (CBS News) - I don't think it's particularly safe to let Mr. Moore run around loose.

So, does this prove that:
  1. Retirement-age men are terrorists?
  2. Shopping malls encourage terrorism?
    • And therefore should be banned?
  3. American judges are nitwits?
No, across the board.

On the other hand, all three points are (slightly) true.

#1 Retirement-age men are terrorists?

No, not all men in their mid-60s are plotting to kill people. On the other hand, it doesn't look like all terrorists are poverty-stricken teenagers and twenty-somethings. Osama bin Laden is a case in point.

#2 Shopping malls encourage terrorism?

In a way, the folks who say that New York City was asking for it, having a World Trade Center, have a point. America is a large, prosperous country: one which folks are trying to break into, not the other way around. That makes the high-profile examples of our economy and society prime targets for folks who can't stand the thought of anybody not in lockstep conformity with some impractical set of preferences.

That doesn't mean that I think America is the cause of all the world's ills. I've gone over this sort of thing before:

#3 American judges are nitwits?

Let's remember that it was an American court that sentenced Mr. Moore to "between 15 and 19 years in prison." And some dude in a federal appeals court who made the April 20, 2011, attempted bombing possible.

Not all American judges are nitwits, in my opinion. But some are: again, in my opinion. I think a more charitable explanation might be that many of America's judges honestly, sincerely, believe in an ideology that looks good on paper - but has very little applicability in the real world. And that's another topic.

I do think it's interesting that Mr. Moore had been out of prison for one week, when he apparently tried to kill people at that Colorado Mall. His release date, as given in the news, was April 13 ,2011. The attempted bombing happened on April 20, 2011.

Terrorism and Having a Mean Streak

I haven't run into speculation about why Mr. Moore may have planted that bomb.

It might, maybe, have been because he rejects the capitalistic warmonger policies of the white male authoritarian power structure in Amerika. I doubt that very much: but it is, based on what little I've read, possible.

Maybe Mr. Moore liked it in prison, and wants to go back. Again, it's possible. Likely? I don't know.

Or maybe Mr. Moore simply doesn't like people who didn't rob banks and get sent to prison. From some points of view, it isn't 'fair' that all those folks in the mall were free when he was in prison.

Or maybe Mr. Moore was bored, and wanted something to do that day. That, I think, is quite unlikely.

What to do With Folks Like Mr. Moore

Quite a few folks say that anybody who robs a bank, or kills someone, or commits a serious crime, should be killed. From an emotional point of view, I think I understand that desire. I also think that 'feeling like killing someone' isn't a good reason for killing someone.

I also think that America is a very wealthy country. Folks who can spend what we do on Super Bowl advertising can afford, I think, to restrain the Mr. Moores among us.

Finally, I - do - not - trust - the American judiciary to make life-and-death decisions. When the United States Supreme Court can raise someone from the dead - maybe I'll change my mind.

I've discussed capital punishment (and thinking with one's endocrine system), mostly in another blog:Somewhat-related posts:
In the news:

Barack Obama's Birth Certificate, and Getting a Grip

As I've said before, this isn't a political blog. Not in the sense that I say one person or party is always right, and everybody who doesn't agree is stupid. I can't ignore politics, either, since this blog's topic is the war on terror - and politics affects decision-making.

I didn't vote for President Obama in the 2008 election, and I do not agree with many of his policies. But I am not "against" him as an individual. I think America could have a better president - and that's another topic.

Some reactions to candidate Obama and President Obama remind me of the way another set of folks reacted to George W. Bush. And that's not another topic.

There's been a sort of conspiracy theory going around that Barack Hussein Obama isn't a 'real' American. My guess is that the notion will be as firmly-planted in popular culture as the idea that the CIA blew up New York City's World Trade Center. Or that Elvis lives - although the latter seems to be fading.

Today's news is, in my opinion, interesting: but hardly a surprise; and almost certainly not the end of 'Obama ain't no reg'lr American.'

President Obama's Birth Certificate

A selection of news about Obama's birth certificate:
"This is the document the 'birthers' have clamored for -- President Obama's long-form certificate generated at the time of birth, with more details than the short-form summary the president previously had produced.

"His failure to make this document public is what the birther movement has used to argue Mr. Obama is not a U.S. citizen. They say the short-form (even though certified by the state of Hawaii) could be a phony document created well after the fact...."
(CBS News)

"The White House has released President Obama's long-form birth certificate, saying the document is 'proof positive' the president was born in Hawaii.

"The release marked an unexpected turn in the long-simmering, though widely discredited, controversy over Obama's origin. Obama's advisers have for the better part of three years dismissed questions about the president's birth, directing skeptics to the short-term document released during the 2008 campaign. But as the issue gained more attention at the state level and particularly in the 2012 presidential race, Obama said Wednesday that it was starting to distract attention from pressing challenges like the budget...."

"President Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate, saying he wanted to end the "silliness" of false claims he was born outside U.S. that were distracting from urgent debates over the nation's future.

"Renewed questions about his birth have dominated the news in recent weeks even as the country is in the middle of a debate about the federal budget and how to cut the nation's debt, Obama, 49, said at the White House. He said the issue should have been settled during the 2008 campaign and that he wouldn't normally engage critics who are raising the issue...."
(The San Francisco Chronicle)

(, via, used w/o permission)

Could it be a forgery? Is this part of a massive conspiracy? Are space-alien, shape-shifting, lizard-men involved?

Could be, but I doubt it.

Barack Obama, and Plan 9 From Outer Space

I've discussed the president's birth record before:
"...All public knowledge of Barack Obama indicates - strongly - that he was born about 10 years after I was, in the State of Hawaii. And it turns out that he may not have a 'long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate ... within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.'1

"Does this mean he's not 'really' an American? Or that 'the truth is out there,' and some vast conspiracy is keeping 'regular Americans' from knowing it?

"At this point, I don't think so. Or, rather, I don't think there's reason to assume that Barack Obama isn't, legally, an American citizen, born in one of the 50 states.

Although just barely. Hawaii became a state in 1959. Oddly, I haven't run into anybody claiming that Hawaii isn't really a state in this country. And that's almost another topic....
(January 29, 2011)
I think that most folks, if they've tried dealing with government bureaucracies, would agree that a state office taking a year or so to dredge up a particular record - isn't really all that surprising.

In my considered opinion, I think that President Barack Obama:
  • Is definitely not a WASP
  • Has a distinctly non-British name
  • Was
    • Born in Hawaii
    • A legal candidate in 2008
    • The current president of the United States
I also think that the CIA did not blow up New York City's World Trade Center.

Conspiracy theories can make entertaining stories. But the notion that Barack Obama isn't 'really' an American? I think that's as plausible as the screenplay for Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Why Release the Birth Certificate Now?

As I said, this isn't a political blog - but who wins the 2012 presidential election will make a difference in how America reacts to folks who want to kill Americans.

I ran into this opinion on televised news: that Obama released his birth certificate now, because Donald Trump has been making an issue of it. I think that's a plausible bit of speculation.

The argument is that Obama wants to win the 2012 presidential election - and to do so will have to get more votes than the Republican candidate. Donald Trump apparently wants to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 - and Barack Obama wants to run against Donald Trump.

Related posts:
News and views:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

With Friends Like These, Islam Doesn't Need Enemies

Mohamed Imran lived in Pakistan, and was accused of blasphemy. It's anyone's guess just what he said or did that someone thought was "blasphemous." That's a detail that wasn't included in the charges.

Mohamed Imran was tried - and found not guilty by a Pakistani court.

He was a free man, until some fellows came and shot him. Presumably to finish the job that Pakistan's courts decided to skip.

As I've said before, with friends like these, Islam doesn't need enemies.

Pakistan isn't the only frightfully Islamic country where weirdly anachronistic customs (in my opinion) are enforced. Saudi Arabia has been a fairly regular source of 'I am not making this up' incidents. And a few years ago Sudanese authorities were defending Islam against a blasphemous - you can't make this sort of thing up - teddy bear. (November 28, 2007)

Islam, Muslims, and Getting a Grip

After those first five paragraphs, I might be expected to launch into a diatribe against 'those Muslims.'

That's not gonna happen.

I've made the point, often, that not all Muslims are terrorists. (August 9, 2007) Any more than (this isn't an exact parallel) all Euro-Americans are white supremacists.

Assuming that 'they're all Muslims' is - in my considered opinion - a huge over-generalization. Also profoundly unhelpful, and that's almost another topic. (December 29, 2007)

What happened to Mohamed Imran reminded me of the sort of incident that occurred occasionally in my youth, here in America. Long before Timothy McVeigh and a few others killed all those folks in Oklahoma city, the Ku Klux Klan was protecting America from blacks, Jews, and people like me.

I'm a practicing Catholic: which may not mean what you've read in the papers. I'll get back to that, briefly.

The reason I'm citing the Klan in this post is that, like Al Qaeda and (probably) the anonymous killers in yesterday's news, the Klan said that they were protecting their country from bad people.

Sadly, the Klan gave Christianity a public relations problem here in America. I discussed this in another blog:
"...Earlier in the 20th century, the KKK had used burning crosses as a sort of propaganda weapon against people they didn't approve of....

"...Most - many, anyway - Americans probably know that the various iterations of the KKK weren't all that happy with black people being free. Or being around, for that matter.

The KKK's Attitude Toward Catholics, Jews, and Other 'Furriners'

What isn't as obvious to someone immersed in American culture is the Klan's attitude toward Jews, Catholics, and other people who weren't just like them. (Jackson 1992 ed., pp. 241-242. Jackson, Kenneth T. (1967; 1992 edition). 'The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930.' Oxford University Press, as cited in a Wikipedia article)

"I would be upset about white supremacists' expressed hatred toward blacks, even if that were the only group they despised.

"But I think it's okay to point out that some cliques of 'real Americans' are none too well-disposed toward other groups, too...."
(A Catholic Citizen in America (January 22, 2010))
Like I said, I'm a practicing Catholic: which, in the context of Mohamed Imran's death, is relevant to this post. I take my faith very seriously. I think I understand the emotions experienced by folks who think that someone blasphemed.

That does NOT mean that I condone killing people who don't conform.

Even if I hadn't grown up in America, and learned about freedom of religion from the then-contemporary culture, I'd believe that religious freedom is important.

The Catholic Church says that religious freedom is important. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109) It has to do with free will - and that's a topic for another blog.

Pakistan, Poverty, and Assumptions

When I read about Mohamed Imran's exoneration - and execution - I also read what the article's author seems to think is at the root of the trouble in Pakistan: "generations of poverty, decades of what many see as government ineptitude and years of foreign intervention."

He's probably right, to an extent.

"Generations of poverty" probably won't help folks get a global, cosmopolitan perspective - but wealth is no guarantee of behavior, either. Which seemed to perplex old-school journalists a few years back. (July 3, 2007)

I don't doubt that many Pakistanis are fed up with the politicos who allegedly run their country: I'm none too pleased with the lot who's in charge, here in America. And that's almost another topic.

The "years of foreign intervention" may be a factor, too: but I suspect that even if all the Yankee imperialists, or whatever, left Pakistan today - folks like Mohamed Imran would still be killed now and then, when some 'defender of Islam' got in a snit.

Here's an excerpt of the article that got me started writing this post:
"Mohamed Imran had been accused, jailed, tried and cleared: if anything, society owed him a debt as a man wrongfully accused.

"But his crime was blasphemy. He was meant to have said something derogatory about the prophet Mohammed, so in Pakistan justice worked a little differently.

"Two weeks after he returned to his small patch of farmland on the rustic outskirts of Islamabad, his alleged crime caught up with him.

"Two gunmen burst into the shoe shop where he was sat talking to a friend. Imran tried to duck, to seek cover behind the man next to him -- terrified so greatly for his own life that he perhaps forgot about those around him....

"...Now Ikram [Mohamed's brother] has only his brother's unmarked grave to visit, next to the plot of land close to what was once the source of Mohamed Imran's livelihood. This farmland no longer feeds his family, who have moved away to live under the charity of a friend. The threats remained.

"We found his daughter, four-year old Kazma who knew her father was dead but somehow felt he would come back. His wife was in tears, but remarkably maintained that the blasphemy laws were important as they protect the Muslim faith. It was hard to tell whether she believed that or was speaking out of self-preservation.

"Two high-profile politicians have this year been assassinated for their criticism of the blasphemy laws: Punjab governor Salman Taseer and minorities minister (and Christian) Shahbaz Bhatti....

"...The curious part about this blasphemy case -- and many other such convictions and allegations under the controversial law -- is that they do not specify what the accused is meant to have said.

"The first complaint delivered to the police in 2009 refers to a conversation Imran allegedly had with another man in a cafe, but says the exact blasphemous phrase cannot be repeated as that too would be an act of blasphemy....

"...As soon as we got out of the car near the mosque and showed our cameras, tempers frayed. They didn't care why we were there, they just saw us as outsiders, perhaps American spies.

"We left promptly, ever more aware of the growing rage on Pakistan's ordinary streets, fueled by generations of poverty, decades of what many see as government ineptitude and years of foreign intervention."
Somewhat-related posts:
News and views:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Iran, a Nuclear Weapons Program to Cure Disease, and Centrifuges

Maybe Iran's ayatollahs really are planning to cure incurable diseases with research reactors.

Maybe Iran has no intention at all of producing nuclear weapons.


Then again, maybe not.

A pacific, beneficent nuclear program - even one pursued in defiance of United Nations demands - would be a nice change of pace from "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." (October 6, 2007)

If it wasn't the same lot in charge in Tehran, I might be more willing to believe what Iranian officials said today.

From recent news:
"Iran gained another nuclear achievement as it marked the National Day of Nuclear Technology.

"The Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Fereidoun Abbasi said on Saturday that the country is to launch a unit of Ceramic Grade Uranium Dioxide with natural purity at uranium processing firm in central city of Isfahan soon....

"...He also added Tehran and Arak research reactors enjoy unique facilities to produce medical radioisotopes for incurable diseases."

"Iran's foreign minister has confirmed claims by an exiled Iranian opposition group that a factory west of Tehran is manufacturing centrifuge parts.

"Ali Akbar Salehi, quoted by the state news agency IRNA, says the facility is no secret and that many other facilities in the country are involved in manufacturing parts for Iran's nuclear program.

"Iran has long said it produces centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, a process that the U.N. has demanded Tehran halt...."
(Associated Press, via

"...The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi came two days after the Mujahedeen-e Khalq announced at a press conference in Washington that its spies identified the factory, called the TABA facility, saying workers there produced centrifuge casings, molecular pumps, tubes and bellows for the centrifuges.

"Iran has long said it is producing its own centrifuges for its uranium enrichment program. Enrichment can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a nuclear warhead...."
(Associated Press)
Related posts:
In the news:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Department of Homeland Security's New Two-Tier System: My Take

The Department of Homeland Security is dropping the old - and much-maligned - five-step color system for alerting folks in America on how wary we should be.

The new system includes a Twitter account - which I'm now following. They haven't tweeted anything yet: which is good news, in a way.

My guess is that the new system will be praised by some, reviled by others - and prove to be imperfect.

Before anything else, here are two links. I put these, and more, under "Background," at the end of this post:

Following the KISS Rule

Back when I was doing marketing for a small publishing house, I ran into the KISS rule. Or, for the more polite and/or sensitive, the KIS rule. Here's the full version:


If you follow this blog (thank you!), you know that I don't always follow that excellent advice.

Looks like the Department of Homeland Security decided to embrace KISS, though. In principle, anyway.

National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS): Two Tiers; No Colors; Online

Like I said, I'd be very surprised if the new system was perfect.

I'm also pretty sure that some folks will hate it, some will love it - or say they do - and most of us will try to use it. At least, I hope that most Americans will pay attention. I'm on Twitter (where I'm Aluwir ), and started following NTASAlerts earlier this afternoon. So far, "@NTASAlerts hasn't tweeted yet." Which is fine by me, considering possible implications of an alert.

About those alert levels:
    • A credible threat against the U.S.
    • Probably not specifying when or where an attack might happen
    • Giving Information which officials think should be shared
      • To prevent the attack
    • Expiration date
      • No more than 30 days from first issue
      • May be extended
  • Imminent
    • Warning about a terrorist threat or attack against the U.S. which is
      • Credible
      • Specific
      • Impending
    • Expiration date
      • No more than seven days from first issue
      • May be extended
    (Information from Associated Press, via
I think this two-tier system makes sense, at least on paper. Having expiration dates will help, I think, avoid the 'boy who cried wolf' situation.

Still, this system is designed and administered by human beings - and we've got a knack for making mistakes.

And, it'll be used by human beings.

I'm pretty sure that some of the alerts will be massively misunderstood. And some may be - imprudently written.

Like I said, we're all human beings.

With the new system, I think there will be less room for foul-ups. And, happily, folks who are interested can go directly to Twitter or Facebook (see "Background," below) and see what the DHS actually said. Not what a reporter says an expert thinks about what the DHS said.

A few excerpts, and I'm done:
"The U.S. government's new system to replace the five color-coded terror alerts will have two levels of warnings - elevated and imminent - that will be relayed to the public only under certain circumstances for limited periods of time, sometimes using Facebook and Twitter, according to a draft Homeland Security Department plan obtained by The Associated Press.

"Some terror warnings could be withheld from the public entirely if announcing a threat would risk exposing an intelligence operation or an ongoing investigation, according to the government's confidential plan.

"Like a gallon of milk, the new terror warnings will each come with a stamped expiration date...."

"...According to the draft plan, an 'elevated' alert would warn of a credible threat against the U.S. It would not likely specify timing or targets, but it could reveal terrorist trends that intelligence officials believe should be shared in order to prevent an attack. That alert would expire after no more than 30 days but could be extended.

"An 'imminent' alert would warn about a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat or an on-going attack against the U.S. That alert would expire after no more than seven days but could be extended...."
(Associated Press, via FoxNews)

"...The new system, called the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), reflects the reality that we must always be on alert and ready. Under the new, two-tiered system, DHS will coordinate with other federal entities to issue formal, detailed alerts regarding information about a specific or credible terrorist threat. These alerts will include a clear statement that there is an 'imminent threat' or 'elevated threat.' The alerts also will provide a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals and communities can take....

"...The alerts will be more focused to a two-tier system - 'imminent' or 'elevated threat.' At a minimum, alerts will include a statement of whether there is an imminent or elevated threat...."
("Sharing the Responsibility for Our Collective Security," Secretary Janet Napolitano, The Blog @ Homeland Security (January 27, 2011)

Somewhat-related posts:
In the news:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Air France Flight 447 Wreckage Found: My Take

When an airliner disappears, and nearby pilots report a bright flash, I think there's a tendency these days to assume that terrorists blew up the plane. Particularly when the names of people linked to terrorism are on the passenger list.

It's 'obvious.' Provided that a writer weaves a tale focusing on terrorism, the names, and that bright flash.

I think the reported flash isn't quite so conclusive, since there were thunderstorms in the area, as well as the missing airliner.

This post is a followup on Air France Flight 447, that disappeared over the Atlantic in 2009.

What's left of the Airbus was found - fairly intact - as well as quite a few bodies. It looks like the airliner was in one piece, and pressurized, when it hit the water:
"Search finds bodies 2 years after mystery crash"
Niki Cook, CNN World (April 4, 2011)

"Nearly two years after an Air France plane mysteriously fell out of the sky, killing 228 people, the bulk of the wreckage has been found with bodies still aboard, French officials said Monday.

"The human remains will be brought to the surface and identified, French Ecology and Transportation Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said at a news conference.

"Submarines searching for the wreck spotted two engines, the fuselage and landing gear over the weekend, officials said.

"But the flight data recorders have not been recovered, leaving investigators as puzzled as ever about why the plane crashed in stormy weather on June 1, 2009....

"...'The fact that we found various pieces, a lot of pieces of the plane in a quite concentrated area is a good hope for finding the black boxes, but we have no assurance,' she [Kosciusko-Morizet] said.

"It is impossible to tell how many bodies remain in the wreck, he [soon-to-be head of the recovery operation Alain Bouillard] added. Fifty bodies were recovered in previous searches, leaving 178 victims still missing....

"...The debris is dispersed over "quite a compact area" of about 600 meters by 200 meters (1,960 feet by about 650 feet), he said.

"All the wreckage will be brought to the surface and sent to France for study, said Jean-Paul Troadec, head of the French air accident investigation agency, the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses, or BEA....

"...Studies of the debris and bodies found after the crash led the BEA to conclude the plane hit the water belly first, essentially intact. Oxygen masks were not deployed, indicating that the cabin did not depressurize, the agency said in a 2009 report.

"Automated messages sent from the plane in the minutes before the crash showed there were problems measuring air speed, investigators have said, though they said that alone was not enough to cause the disaster...."
A determined conspiracy theory enthusiast might find the two years it took to find the wreckage sinister. I figure it's because what's left of the airliner and people came down where the sea floor is mountainous. Also that it seems to have drifted from the surface impact point.

Today's news hasn't changed my opinion about what, exactly, caused Air France Flight 447 to come down in the Atlantic: not much, anyway.

Given the condition of the wreckage, and the conclusions that folks who make a career out of drawing sensible conclusions, I think it's now less likely that the Airbus was knocked out of the sky by terrorists. That flash could have been from a bomb on the flight - and the logical consequence of hot jet fuel sprayed into air. Now it looks like those pilots saw - no surprise - lightning in a thunderstorm.

Was it wrong for the pilots to report the flash? In my opinion, no. It was an observation they made - and one more piece of evidence for investigators to evaluate.

Was it wrong for news services to pass the pilots' report along? In my opinion, no. However, I do think that reporters - and more particularly editors - occasionally failed to put the flash in context.

Sure, it's more dramatic without the picky detail about the weather. But I'd like to see 'thorough,' as well as 'dramatic' reporting. I'd also like to see a million dollars, tax-free: and I'm not sure which I'm more likely to get.

My opinion about the cause of A. F. Flight 447's end is still - I have no opinion. There's simply not enough evidence in the public domain yet. It's like I wrote, about two years ago:
"Air France Flight 447 Investigators Find Terror List Names: Suggestive, But Far From Proof"
(June 10, 2009)

"...I might think that finding the names of terrorists on the passenger list was a strong indication of foul play, except for two things.
  1. "In my ten years as a list manager for a small publishing company, I developed an appreciation for how common some names are
  2. "About two years ago, an eight-year-old boy was fingered as a terrorist because his name was on a no-fly list (July 20, 2007)
"Which is why French investigators are looking into birth dates and family connections. ... There are quite a few people in America, for example, who have the same name that I do. But none of them is going to have the same birth date and relatives.

"Air France 447 - My Opinion

"I don't think that terrorists brought down AF 447.

"I don't think that terrorists didn't bring down AF 447.

"I do think that officials investigating the incident don't seem to know what happened, yet.

"I do think that there will be more assertions about what 'obviously' happened: and that the statements will reflect what the writers believe should have happened...."
I think it's one thing to 'not have an opinion' because facts point at an unwanted conclusion. When there's a lack of facts to work with - no opinion can be better than a baseless one.

More-and-less-related posts:
In the news:

Eman al-Obeidy: Alive, Still in Libya

Eman al-Obeidy is in the news again. She's the woman who showed up in a Tripoli hotel with rope burns, heavy bruising, and a claim that the Libyan colonel enforcers had raped her. (March 26, 2011)

She'd been talking with journalists, when "Security forces moved to subdue the woman," as CNN put it. The official line was that she was "mentally ill" and being taken to a "hospital." After the "security forces" broke one of CNN's cameras.

That was March 26, 2011. Today:
"Eman al-Obeidy, the woman who said she was raped by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, is no longer in government custody and has spent time with family in Tripoli, she told CNN...."
Apparently there'll be an interview with her tonight, on Anderson Cooper's AC360 CNN blog.

Perhaps I'm being overly-cynical or pessimistic: but my guess is that, since she and her family were still in Tripoli, Eman al-Obeidy will downplay her previous rape accusation.

Maybe she'll even explain that she tied herself up and fell down a flight of stairs.

Or, maybe not.

Bottom line, I'm glad - and relieved - to learn that she's still alive.

Somewhat-related posts:
In the news:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.