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Search Teams find main Flight Data Recorder from Russia Plane that crashed in the Black Sea

The device would be delivered to Moscow for analysis, as investigators try to figure out what caused the crash

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Two submersibles stand ready to join the search for bodies and fragments of the crashed plane, on a pier just outside Sochi, Russia, Dec. 26, 2016. VOA

Moscow, December 27, 2016: Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday search teams have found the main flight data recorder from a military passenger plane that crashed over the weekend in the Black Sea.

Russian news agencies said the device would be delivered to Moscow for analysis, as investigators try to figure out what caused the crash.

Officials say that terrorism has not been ruled out in Sunday’s crash, but that it is extremely unlikely.

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All 92 people on board the plane were killed. The Defense Ministry said that as of early Tuesday, search crews had found 12 bodies and many more body parts.

On Monday, the Emergency Situations Ministry reported 45 ships and 135 divers from across Russia found parts of the jet about 1.5 kilometers from shore and 25 meters under the sea.

Russian media reports speculated on possible causes such as a technical problem, human error, or that the plane may have been overloaded.

“The Tu-154 has not been manufactured for quite a while and the Ministry of Defense was practically the only user of the aircraft,” says Maxim Pyadushkin, managing director of Air Transport Observer magazine. “But the Defense Ministry stated that it had passed through the capital maintenance. That means its condition was under control. We can’t so far state whether there were some technical issues. The results of the investigation will show.”

People hold portraits and printed names of victims of the Tu-154 plane, which crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria on Sunday, during a memorial event in Rostov-On-Don, Russia, Dec. 26, 2016. VOA

Day of mourning

Russia held a national day of mourning Monday to honor the people who died when the 33-year-old Tu-154 aircraft crashed into the Black Sea on its way from Sochi to a Russian military base in Syria.

Among the victims were 68 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, a military choir, orchestra and dance group that was to give a New Year’s performance for Russian airmen at the military base near Latakia.

Mourners in Moscow lit candles and left flowers outside a concert hall where the group had performed.

A Russian video news agency showed mourners gathered on the Black Sea coast laying flowers, lighting candles, dropping cloves into the water during a vigil on the Grafskaya piers in Sevastopol to honor the victims of the disaster.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, a former member of the Alexandrov Ensemble, came to pay his respects to crash victims.

“I know all of them. I cannot believe it, can’t collect myself,” Kuznetsov told AFP.

“They knew us all over the world, we went everywhere,” he said of the group while holding a candle in a plastic cup.

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Russia state television cancelled entertainment programs and broadcast black and white pictures of the victims.

Nine Russian journalists and a well-known human rights activist, Elizaveta Glinka, known as “Dr. Liza,” were among those killed. Glinka was said to be taking medical supplies to help victims of the nearly six-year Syrian conflict.

FILE – Russian warplanes fly over the Mediterranean coastal city of Latakia, Syria. VOA

Investigation

While Russian officials downplay the possibility of a terrorist attack, there are concerns that Russia’s intervention in Syria has made it more a target for extremists.

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated last Tuesday in Ankara by a police officer apparently motivated by the Russia-backed assault on Aleppo by Syrian forces.

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Russia has defended its backing Syrian forces as a fight against terrorism, while critics say rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar-al Assad were the main target.

Some Russian media reports said victims of Sunday’s crash were found in lifejackets, indicating that a sudden explosion from a bomb was unlikely.

“A version about a terrorist act is so far a mere assumption,” Pyadushkin said. “Only investigation could provide some proof. One would like to hope that the Russian aviation commission together with the military could conduct an efficient investigation of the catastrophe.” (VOA)

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Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption

Here is the list of other courageous people who paid a heavy price for their honesty

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Not just Ram Chandra, 9 more activists bore the brunt of speaking truth and fighting corruption in India
Many people have been murdered for speaking truth and protesting corruption. Pixabay

Aug 30, 2017: We live in a strange world, here, you get butchered for speaking truth and protesting corruption, and you are exalted for committing monstrous sins.

The conclusion of the rapist, Baba Ram Rahim case, was the first tribute to the family of the brave journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati who was murdered for exposing Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

Ram Chander isn’t the only one who sacrificed his life for the nation.

Here is the list of other anti-corruption activists people who paid a heavy price for their honesty:

Narendra Kumar

Narendra Kumar, the Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, was killed by a sand mining mafia, who was carrying illegally mined stones on the tractor in Madhya Pradesh. The murder of the officer in 2002 also raised a debate on corruption, and many activists including Anna Hazare protested against the episode. A tractor was run over the officer after he tried to stop it. 

Pravin Mohare

Pravin Mohare was the film agent in Mumbai, who used to procure film certificates from the Censor Board of India. He dared to expose the former CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for accepting bribe worth Rs 50,000 to provide a film certificate. In 2014, Mohare was praised for the brave act, but sooner his ID was blocked by the CFBC. He was forced to sell vegetables in Mumbai after spending months jobless.

Lalit Mehta 

Lalit, an RTI activist, was murdered in 2008 for exposing racket in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). He was attacked while riding on his way to Chatarpur. Lalit’s face was crushed to an increasing amount that it was unidentifiable.

Also Read: Criminal Babas in India- Rapist Ram Rahim and Rapist Asaram: Why Delay in Justice of these Godmen?

Manjunath Shanmugam 

Manjunath, an IIM graduate, worked as a Sales officer for the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). He was murdered for sealing two corrupt petrol stations in Lakhimpur, UP, which used to sell adulterated petrol. He also led a surprise raid after the petrol station reopened. In 2005, Manjunath was found dead with injuries from six bullets in the backseat of his car.

Niladri Chattopadhyay Niloy

Niladri Chattopadhyay Niloy was human rights activist and a blogger. He used to write about women issues, minority groups and opposed religious extremism. His blog, Mukto Mona, was a community of free thinkers, skeptics, atheists, and rationalists, which was formed by Avijit Roy. Avijit was killed by an Islamic group, which claimed responsibility for the murder. Niladari was the voice for Avijit’s death and met the same fate for supporting him. A group of four Muslim youths butchered Niladari with sharp weapons at his apartment where he was found dead.

Satish Shetty

Satish Shetty was an Indian social activist who had exposed numerous real-estate scams in Maharashtra using Right to Information (RTI). Satish’s engagement with truth earned him many enemies. In 2010, anonymous attackers killed him in Talegaon.

Satyendra Dubey

Satyendra Dubey, a proficient IES officer, was the Project Director of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at Koderma. Coming from a low-income family, he was not fond of corruption and found many discrepancies in the projects of the NHAI at Koderma. He also asked the contractor to reconstruct 6 km of poorly built roads. In 2003, Satyendra was shot dead by the mafia of road construction. His body was discovered aside the road in Gaya, Bihar.

Shehla Masood

Shehla Masood was the environmentalist, businessman, wildlife, and RTI activist. In 2011, she was shot dead at point blank range by an unidentified assailant in Bhopal. The most probable reason for her death was attached to her protest against illegal mining of diamond and strife to save animals who were slaughtered for their skins.

Tej Bahadur Yadav

Tej Bahadur Yadav, a BSF jawan, uploaded several videos on Facebook concerning the inferior quality of food given to the jawans, which the BSF denied. BSF dismissed him, and Tejpal had to go through a three-month long proceeding at a court for tarnishing the reputation of the BSF. Yadav was also withdrawn from post retirement benefits.


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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

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Satellite sends First Quantum Signal to Earth

This is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them

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Micius
Micius satellite. wikimedia
  • An orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth
  • It is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications
  • They can not be cracked by ever-improving computer algorithms

June 18, 2017: It was reported by scientists today that an orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth. It is a big step towards sending quantum keys from satellites — an approach that has been heralded as a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them.

A laser on China’s Micius satellite, which was launched last year and is dedicated to researches related to quantum satellite communications, spit out pairs of entangled photons from its position, 500 km above Earth. Then two telescopes on Earth – about 1200 km apart — had 5 minutes each day to look for them as the satellite passed over both telescopes. It was found that paired photons survived the journey through Earth’s atmosphere. They detected 1 entangled pair per second out of the 6 million sent in that time.

So how exactly does all this work?

A quantum key needs to be generated first by two people who are looking to communicate. Then, one person receives one of the entangled photons in the pair, the other person receives the other. When the received photons have measured the photons, they obtain bits of information strung together to create a key that they both have. That key can be used to encrypt and decrypt a message. The users can also share a portion of the key publicly to check if it has been compromised. In case if someone tries to intercept the communication at any point, they would then notice a difference between their strings.

Also read: NASA’s Curiosity rover finds a Wide Variety of Minerals in Martian Rocks

There is a certain set of problems as well. Caltech’s John Preskill believes even though it is an important proof of concept, the feat doesn’t address one of the biggest problems with quantum communications. Currently, these messages can’t be sent long distances. Photons, using an optical fiber to carry a quantum signal, can only make it about 100 km before the dissipation of the light.

Quantum systems are similar to optical telecommunications here on earth and need repeaters that are able to amplify the message so it can be passed long distances. But amplifying a quantum message in the same way optical ones are done would effectively result in the destruction of the information. That is why satellite-based communication are being eyed by researchers. The reported 500 km from space is an improvement over optical. Quantum signals were measured in another study published today from a satellite 38,000 km away to a single point. But in deploying a global network which would likely be able to combine optical fiber and satellites, the repeater problem still stands.

Preskill has predicted that it is more likely we will first come up with another form of encryption for communication. “There will be other ways of doing classical public key cryptosystems that we won’t know how to break with quantum computers,” he added.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang