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Indonesian Plane with 189 Aboard Crashes into Sea

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An Indonesian aircraft with 189 people on board crashed into the sea and sank on Monday soon after taking off from the capital, Jakarta, on a flight to a tin-mining region, officials said.

relatives of passengers thrown into mourning

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency confirmed the crash of Lion Air flight, JT610, adding that it lost contact with ground officials 13 minutes after takeoff, and a tugboat leaving the capital’s port saw it fall.

“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” agency head Muhammad Syaugi told a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.

“We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”

Items such as handphones and life vests were found in waters about 30 meters to 35 meters (98 to 115 ft) deep near where the plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, lost contact, he said.

“We are there already, our vessels, our helicopter is hovering above the waters, to assist,” Syaugi said. “We are trying to dive down to find the wreck.”

Ambulances were lined up at Karawang, on the coast east of Jakarta and police were preparing rubber dinghies, a Reuters reporter said.

At least 23 government officials were on board the plane, which an air navigation spokesman said had sought to turn back just before losing contact.

“We don’t dare to say what the facts are, or are not, yet,” Edward Sirait, the chief executive of Lion Air Group, told Reuters. “We are also confused about the way since it was a new plane.”

The privately owned airline said in a statement, the aircraft, which had only been in operation since August, was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot together having accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time.

The head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, which would have to wait until the recovery of the plane’s black boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder are known.

“The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane, and that we will review too. But the most important is the black box,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono.

Safety experts say nearly all accidents are caused by a combination of factors and only rarely have a single identifiable cause.

The weather at the time of the crash was clear, Tjahjono said.

Investigators will focus on the cockpit voice and data recorders and building up a picture of the brand-new plane’s technical status, the condition and training of the crew as well as weather and air traffic recordings.

The effort to find the wreckage and retrieve the black boxes represents a major challenge for investigators in Indonesia, where an AirAsia Airbus jet crashed in the Java Sea in December 2015.

Under international rules, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will automatically assist with the inquiry into Monday’s crash, backed up by technical advisers from Boeing and U.S.-French engine maker CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and Safran.

Boeing was deeply saddened by the loss, it said in a statement.

“Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation,” it said, adding that in accordance with the international protocol, all inquiries should be directed to Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.

The flight took off from Jakarta around 6.20 a.m. and was due to have landed in Pangkal Pinang, capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining region, at 7.20 a.m., the Flightradar 24 website showed.

Data from FlightRadar24 shows the first sign of something amiss was around two minutes into the flight when the plane had reached 2,000 feet (610 m).

Then it descended more than 500 feet (152 m) and veered to the left before climbing again to 5,000 feet (1,524 m), where it stayed during most of the rest of the flight.

It began gaining speed in the final moments and reached 345 knots (397 mph) before data was lost when it was at 3,650 feet (1,113 m).

Its last recorded position was about 15 km (9 miles) north of the Indonesian coast, according to a Google Maps reference of the last coordinates from Flightradar24.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s workhorse single-aisle jet.

Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, but its safety record is patchy.

“The industry has grown very quickly and kept pace with that growth is challenging in keeping the safety culture intact,” said Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor of industry publication Flightglobal, which keeps an accident database.

If all on board prove to have died, the Lion Air crash would rank as Indonesia’s second-worst air disaster, after a Garuda Indonesia A300 crash in Medan that killed 214 people in 1997, he said.

Founded in 1999, Lion Air’s only fatal accident was in 2004, when an MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City, killing 25 of the 163 on board, the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network says.

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Global counterfeit drugs market hits $200b

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The counterfeit drug market is worth around $200 billion worldwide annually, the World Health Organisation (WHO) report has said. It lamented that it has become the most lucrative trade of illegally copied goods with devastating impact on innocent users.

Almost half the fake and low-quality medicines reported to the WHO between 2013 and 2017 were found to be in sub-Saharan Africa, said the report, also backed by Interpol and the Institute for Security Studies.

“Counterfeiters prey on poorer countries more than their richer counterparts, with up to 30 times greater penetration of fakes in the supply chain,” said the report.

Substandard or fake anti-malarials cause the deaths of between 64,000 and 158,000 people per year in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.

When Moustapha Dieng came down with stomach pains one day last month he did the sensible thing and went to a doctor in his hometown of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital.

The doctor prescribed a malaria treatment but the medicine cost too much for Dieng, a 30-year-old tailor, so he went to an unlicensed street vendor for pills on the cheap.

“It was too expensive at the pharmacy. I was forced to buy street drugs as they are less expensive,” he said.

Within days he was hospitalised – sickened by the very drugs that were supposed to cure him.

Tens of thousands of people in Africa die each year because of fake and counterfeit medication, an E.U.-funded report released on Tuesday said. The drugs are mainly made in China but also in India, Paraguay, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

Nigeria said more than 80 children were killed in 2009 by a teething syrup tainted with a chemical normally used in engine coolant and blamed for causing kidney failure.

For Dieng, the cost can be measured in more than simple suffering. The night in hospital cost him more than double what he would have paid had he bought the drugs the doctor ordered.

“After taking those drugs, the provenance of which we don’t know, he came back with new symptoms … All this had aggravated his condition,” said nurse Jules Raesse, who treated Dieng when he stayed at the clinic last month.

Fake drugs also threaten a thriving pharmaceutical sector in several African countries.

That has helped prompt Ivory Coast – where fake drugs were also sold openly – to crack down on the trade, estimated at $30 billion by Reuters last year.

Ivorian authorities said last month they had seized almost 400 tons of fake medicine over the past two years.

Able Ekissi, an inspector at the health ministry, told Reuters the seized goods, had they been sold to consumers, would have represented a loss to the legitimate pharmaceutical industry of more than $170 million.

“They are reputed to be cheaper, but at best they are ineffective and at worst toxic,” Abderrahmane Chakibi, Managing Director of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi’s sub-Saharan Africa branch.

But in Ivory Coast, many cannot afford to shop in pharmacies, which often only stock expensive drugs imported from France, rather than cheaper generics from places like India.

“When you have no means you are forced to go out onto the street,” said Barakissa Cherik, a pharmacist in Ivory Coast’s lagoon-side commercial capital Abidjan.

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Donald Trump loses out in mid-term elections

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Donald Trump and the Republican party were dealt a decisive blow after the Democratic Party regained control of the House after a resounding victory at the mid-term elections. 

President of the United States, Donald Trump

Democratic majority in the lower chamber for the first time in eight years will restrict his ability to steer his programme through Congress.

But Mr. Trump’s Republicans are set to strengthen their grip on the Senate.
Tuesday’s vote was seen as a referendum on a polarising president, even though he is not up for re-election till 2020.
The election confirms a historical trend for the party that is not in the White House to make gains in the mid-terms.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi – who is set to become speaker, a position she held from 2007 to 2011 – told cheering supporters in Washington: “Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America.”

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Oil prices soar despite US sanctions on Iran

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Oil futures climbed yesterday, finding solid footing on higher ground as U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil take hold, though the Trump administration’s decision to grant waivers to eight buyers of the country’s crude has helped to limit the price gains.

 US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing the White House for the G7 summit in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2018. 

The rebound sees crude attempting to bounce back from a sharp October selloff that pushed both the global and U.S. benchmarks into correction territory.

Meanwhile, natural-gas futures jumped by more than seven percent yesterday dealings, buoyed by expectations that cold weather will lead to a significant lift in demand.

West Texas Intermediate crude for December CLZ8, +0.29 percent rose 56 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $63.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. January Brent crude LCOF9, +0.44 percent the global benchmark, rose $1.05, or 1.4 percent, to $73.88 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The renewed sanctions took effect yesterday, but the Trump administration late last week announced it granted waivers to eight countries, which it identified yesterday as China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey, who can temporarily continue importing Iranian crude.

Other countries not granted the waivers, but that are significant importers of Iranian oil include France, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, said James Williams, an energy economist at WTRG Economics.

“The important thing to remember is that those waivers are not 100 percent but rather some unknown reduction. Some will go to zero eventually,” he said.

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Sexually abused maid executed in Saudi Arabia for killing employer in self-defense

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Saudi Arabia has executed an Indonesian immigrant, Tuti Tursilawati, without first informing the Indonesian Government, according to Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tuti Tursilawati was sentenced to death in 2011 for murdering her employer in Saudi Arabia, out of self-defense. According to Tuti, she killed him because she was being sexually abused. She was sentenced to death in 2011 and was executed on the 29th of October, 2018.

Monday’s execution marks the fourth time Saudi Arabia has failed to give notice to the Indonesia Minister of foreign affairs, before carrying out a death penalty on an Indonesian migrant worker in the past three years.

This comes as Saudi Arabia continues to face calls to explain the death of a prominent journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The death penalty was carried out despite appeals against the death sentence by the Indonesian Government both in court and in a letter to the Saudi Arabian King.

Currently, there are 18 Indonesian migrant workers on death row in Saudi Arabia.

In March, an Indonesian migrant worker, Muhammad Zaini Misrin, was executed for killing his employer, and two other Indonesian female domestic help, Siti Zaenab, and Karni, were beheaded in April 2015.

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