Emirates president Tim Clark said he is carefully watching developments at alliance partner Qantas, but ruled out throwing a financial lifeline to the embattled Australian flag carrier, in comments reported on Monday. Earlier this month, Qantas forecast a half-year loss of up to Aus$300 million (US$269 million) and said it would axe 1,000 jobs, leading to a credit downgrade from Standard & Poor's, which cut its rating to "junk" status. Qantas blamed its predicament on record fuel costs and fierce competition from subsidised rivals, particularly Virgin Australia, which is majority owned by state-backed Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Etihad. Chief Alan Joyce has been lobbying the government to relax the Qantas Sale Act, which limits foreign ownership in the national carrier to 49 percent, arguing the cap hurts its ability to compete, particularly against Virgin Australia. But even if the government decides to lift the foreign ownership restrictions, which it has indicated … [Read more...] about Emirates rules out financial lifeline for Qantas
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An Australian teenager who converted to Islam before reportedly carrying out a suicide bombing for Islamic State in Iraq shows the growing threat of self-radicalization through the Internet. Authorities are seeking to verify reports that Jake Bilardi, 18, was killed in a coordinated attack in the city of Ramadi on Wednesday, after the extremist group released images of the so-called “white jihadi” and said he was involved. Bilardi, who converted to Islam after his mother died of cancer in 2012 and traveled to the Middle East last year, had written blog posts denouncing the U.S., Israel and Australia and described how he learned about Islamic State online, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Police in his home state of Victoria say they found bomb-making chemicals in his Melbourne home after he was reported missing last year. “Potential threats don’t just come from people with an ethnic background,” said Nick O’Brien, a former U.K. anti-terrorism … [Read more...] about Australian teen turned Iraq bomber shows radicalization threat
When Russians crossed the border to fight with rebels in eastern Ukraine earlier this year, Moscow said the soldiers had not been deployed but had gone on their own vacation time. When Estonia was the victim of a cyber attack in 2007 and blamed Moscow, the Kremlin responded that it could not always control patriotic Russian hackers. Western strategists who built their defenses to counter a massive invasion, nuclear missiles or terrorism are still trying to work out how to cope with this sort of threat that disrupts and destabilizes from behind a mask of deniability. After soldiers without insignia took control in Crimea last March, Western military officials developed their own nickname for Russian personnel operating in unmarked uniforms or in plainclothes: Little Green Men. NATO is considering how to counter such "ambiguous warfare" techniques should Russian President Vladimir Putin try something similar in the Baltic member states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It has deployed … [Read more...] about West struggles with Russia’s ‘ambiguous warfare’ tactics
In just a few weeks, international judges will begin to consider the legality of China's 'U-shaped line' claim in the South China Sea. The venue will be the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and the Court's first step - during deliberations in July - will be to consider whether it should even consider the case. China's best hope is that the judges will rule themselves out of order because if they don't, and the Philippines' case proceeds, it's highly likely that China will suffer a major embarrassment. The Philippines wants the Court to rule that, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China can only claim sovereignty and the rights to resources in the sea within certain distances of land territory. If the court agrees, it will have the effect of shrinking the vast 'U-shaped line' to a few circles no more than 24 nautical miles (about 50km) in diameter. China is not formally participating in the case but it has submitted its arguments indirectly, … [Read more...] about The importance of evidence: Fact, fiction and the South China Sea
PANO - Recently, some China’s orthodox mass media, including the Global Times, the International Herald Leader published articles on China’s illegal placement of the drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 deep in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. These articles are written by Ke Xiaozhai, Zun Xiaoying, Lu Jianren of the Southeast Asia Research Institute under the Guangxi University. A Vietnamese researcher Hoang Truong, out of his curiosity had thoroughly read these articles and arrived at a conclusion that these articles are nothing but the chaotic and unscientific arguments on the phenomenon and nature of the incident. The researcher, in his writing to the People’s Army Newspaper on June 7th, cited the article of Ke Xiaozhai with the so called scientific analysis of the four labyrinths that drive Vietnam to take adventurous acts. Having read the article, researcher Hoang Truong stated that what Ke Xiaozhai had written proved that the author … [Read more...] about Why Chinese scholars under the cloak of scientists act unscientifically?