With no sign of missing plane, search spreads far across land and sea
By Stuart Grudgings KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner expanded on Wednesday to cover an area stretching from China to the Andaman Sea, with authorities no closer to explaining what happened to the plane or the 239 people on board. Vietnam briefly scaled down search operations in waters off its southern coast, saying it was receiving scanty and confusing information from Malaysia over where the aircraft may have headed after it lost contact with air traffic control. China also said its air force would sweep land areas, although it did not specify where. "We are expanding to the east of the expected route of the flight and on land," Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Vietnam's deputy army chief of staff and spokesman for its search and rescue committee, told reporters.
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 01:44:41 -0400
Ukraine appeals to the West as Crimea turns to Russia
By Andrew Osborn and Alastair Macdonald SEVASTOPOL/KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's government appealed for Western help on Tuesday to stop Moscow annexing Crimea but the Black Sea peninsula, overrun by Russian troops, seemed fixed on a course that could formalize rule from Moscow within days. With their own troops in Crimea effectively prisoners in their bases, the new authorities in Kiev painted a sorry picture of the military bequeathed them by the pro-Moscow president overthrown two weeks ago. The prime minister, heading for talks at the White House and United Nations, told parliament in Kiev he wanted the United States and Britain, as guarantors of a 1994 treaty that saw Ukraine give up its Soviet nuclear weapons, to intervene both diplomatically and militarily to fend off Russian "aggression".
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:42:47 -0400
Special Report: How China's official bank card is used to smuggle money
By James Pomfret MACAU (Reuters) - Growing numbers of Chinese are using the country's state-backed bankcards to illegally spirit billions of dollars abroad, a Reuters examination has found. This underground money is flowing across the border into the gambling hub of Macau, a former Portuguese colony that like Hong Kong is an autonomous region of China. And the conduit for the cash is the Chinese government-supported payment card network, China UnionPay. ...
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 20:29:55 -0400
Front companies, embassies mask North Korean weapons trade: U.N.
By James Pearson SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has developed sophisticated ways to circumvent United Nations sanctions, including the suspected use of its embassies to facilitate an illegal trade in weapons, a United Nations report issued on Tuesday said. It said North Korea was also making use of more complicated financial countermeasures and techniques "pioneered by drug-trafficking organizations" that made tracking the isolated state's purchase of prohibited goods more difficult. The report, compiled by a panel of eight U.N. experts, is part of an annual accounting of North Korea's compliance with layers of U.N. sanctions imposed in response to Pyongyang's banned nuclear weapons and missile programs. "From the incidents analyzed in the period under review, the panel has found that (North Korea) makes increasing use of multiple and tiered circumvention techniques," a summary of the 127-page report said.
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 21:55:46 -0400
U.N. refugee chief warns world powers not to forget Syria conflict
By Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the United Nation's refugee agency said on Tuesday it must be ready in case Ukraine's crisis causes refugees to flee Crimea, but his biggest worry is that "a total disaster" could occur if the international community diverts its attention away from Syria's conflict. Antonio Guterres, the head of the U.N.'s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), said in an interview that little progress was being made in efforts by the United States and Russia, now at loggerheads over Ukraine, to bring Syria's warring sides together after the collapse of talks in Geneva last month. "In the moment in which we need the most relevant countries in the world to be able to come together to narrow their differences and to try to find a way to move into peace for Syria, this tension around Ukraine will obviously not help," Guterres told Reuters while visiting Washington to discuss Syria's refugee crisis.
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 01:34:14 -0400
Once-genteel Caracas plaza is ground zero for protests
By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - An elegant 1940s square in an affluent area of the Venezuelan capital has become a charred battleground at the heart of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government. A couple of months back, Plaza Altamira was hosting book fairs, food festivals and open-air concerts around its landmark obelisk. Children played, and lovers sat round a fountain in one of Caracas' most pleasant open-air spaces. Now though, the protesters have made the square their base of operations, with a militant hard core battling security forces most evenings.
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 01:03:06 -0400
Malaysia Airlines: 'No reason to believe' crew caused disappearance of aircraft
A senior Malaysia Airlines' executive said on Wednesday that the airline has "no reason to believe" that any actions by the crew caused the disappearance of a jetliner over the weekend. Hugh Dunleavy, the commercial director of Malaysia Airlines, told Reuters in an interview that "we have no reason to believe that there was anything, any actions, internally by the crew that caused the disappearance of this aircraft." The search for the jetliner expanded on Wednesday to cover an area stretching from China to the Andaman Sea, with authorities no closer to explaining what happened to the plane or the 239 people on board.
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:38:10 -0400
Top Asian News at 6:30 a.m. GMT
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) More than four days after a Malaysian jetliner went missing en route to Beijing, authorities acknowledged Wednesday they didn't know which direction the plane carrying 239 passengers was heading when it disappeared, vastly complicating efforts to find it. Amid intensifying confusion and occasionally contradictory statements, the country's civil aviation authorities and the military said the plane may have turned back from its last known position between Malaysian and Vietnam, possibly as far as the Strait of Malacca, a busy shipping lane on the western side of Malaysia.
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:32:56 -0400
Bachelet returns to power in Chile pledging greater equality
Socialist Michelle Bachelet promised to tackle inequality as she took the oath of office, returning to power after four years to lead this prosperous South American country once more. "Chile has but one great enemy, and its name is inequality. The 62-year-old was sworn in at a solemn ceremony in Congress charged with symbolism. "Yes, I promise," she said as she took the oath from the new Senate leader Isabel Allende.
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:32:45 -0400
Anti-government rally called in Caracas amid new violence
Students and opponents of the Venezuelan government have called a new rally for Wednesday to mark a month of protests in Caracas, as the death toll from demo-related violence reached 21. President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government has outraged many, particularly with shortages of basic goods like toilet paper and food, and amid spiraling violent crime and corruption. Political scientist John Magdaleno said anti-government protests would carry on but might start losing steam because they have yielded little. Daniel Tinoco, 24, was killed Monday night in the western city where nationwide protests against the leftist government of Maduro first ignited February 4.
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:28:51 -0400
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