Three To Get Ready

Is it the influence of the waning moon phase — or some other occult but powerful force– at work?   The past few days have been filled with news items that would definitely press Lunghu’s hot buttons, if he knew what and where they were.

First, hats off to the little tigers.   Lunghu is glad that somebody can take a hint:   no sooner does he post about khat-addled Somali pirates than the navies of Malaysia and Korea try to out-do each other in wresting their nations’ merchant vessels from the grasp of bumbling buccaneers.  Judging by the equipment at the pirates’ disposal, it looks as though this may have been a poorly-capitalized startup operation attempting to crack a tough, tough market.

credit: Republic of Korea Defense Ministry

Any bets on which are tougher interrogators  –Koreans or Malaysians?   Lunghu’s money is on the Koreans, since the Malaysians might take it easier on fellow Muslims … at least until sharia law is applied.

Second, a report from Europe that seems as though it could actually be a tasteless ethnic joke masquerading as a news item:

The Polish government plans to use its second Tu-154 plane to reconstruct the [April 10, 2010] crash that killed 96 people, including President Lech Kaczynski, said Miroslav Grokhovsky, deputy head of the Polish investigation commission.   The plane remains the only vehicle of this type at the disposal of the 36th Special Aviation Regiment of the Polish Air Force, which transports high-level Polish officials.  … Grokhovsky said security will be stepped up during the experiment, [and] experts will not try to reconstruct the weather conditions during the crash.

(Even Poles can’t conjure dense fog out of a clear sky.   Or vice versa.)

credit: Denis Sinyakov

A Polish commission investigating the Smolensk air crash said on Tuesday [Jan 18 2011] that Russian air traffic controllers were under pressure, made a number of errors and failed to warn the Polish pilots that they were off course.   “A good crew of a serviceable plane … just won’t perform the landing in that manner.   Even if that was what the air traffic control instructed them to do.   They must know their aircraft’s course,” said Edmund Klich, Poland’s special envoy to the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC).

The crew had been told that visibility on the ground was 800m whereas it was down to 200m.   Minutes before landing when the Polish plane was in fact “too high by 130 meters and 80 meters off course Russian air traffic controllers told the crew it was on the correct course rather than warning them to adjust their course,” a senior Polish investigator, Robert Benedict told reporters.

Lunghu’s only comment:  What part of GPS spoofing don’t you understand?

Finally, there’s Viktor Bout.

Bout made a brief court appearance [on Jan 21 2011], with his mother Raisa, daughter Liza and wife Alla there as support, to hear that his trial would begin on September 12.

At pretrial hearings the family was able to see Bout for the first time over the past few months.
“We –-his mother, our daughter and I–- all were shocked to see Viktor –he has became so thin, haggard, pale and aged,” said Alla.  “He is still being kept in a punishment cell, without daylight and a chance to communicate with anybody.   We believe that the whole procedure is aimed at breaking his morale, at forcing him to abandon the trial and to make a deal with the investigation.”

Bout’s wife, daughter and mother are staying in a rented New York apartment.   Family matters will have to wait a few more days, however.

“We are allowed [our] first meeting [since extradition] on Monday, January 24, from noon to 3 p.m.”  Alla Bout said the authorities allowed a three-hour meeting even though the standard meeting time is one hour, but added that she [will not be] allowed to take any items, even a pen, with her.

Alla Bout told the Russia Today television channel that she was afraid that U.S. officials could put her under official pressure. “Any measure can be taken, right up to arrest.”
She also expressed doubts that she would be allowed back into the United States if she left the country.  “There are rumors that they can simply refuse me entry,” she said.

Priceless.  “If I return to Russia, I’ll be barred reentry to the United States before the trial.”  Lunghu is lovin’ the script more & more with each successive episode.

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