Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 questions about the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 tragedy

By Laura Smith-Spark and Ashley Fantz, CNN
December 30, 2014 -- Updated 1628 GMT (0028 HKT)
(CNN) -- The discovery of debris from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 means investigators have taken a big step toward answering the questions haunting the families of those aboard the doomed plane. What are the key questions, and what might come next?

What caused the plane to crash?

It's the million-dollar question. And as yet, nobody knows. Ahead lies a possibly months-long investigation into what happened after the Airbus A320-200 lost contact with air traffic control early Sunday.

Shortly beforehand, the pilot requested permission to turn and climb to a higher altitude because of bad weather, according to Indonesian officials.

Some experts have said the aircraft might have experienced an aerodynamic stall because of a lack of speed or from flying at too sharp an angle to get enough lift.

Analysts have also said that the pilots might not have been getting information from onboard systems about the plane's position or that rain or hail from thunderstorms in the area could have damaged the engines.

The key to understanding what happened is likely to be contained in the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, commonly known as black boxes.

"Until we get the black boxes, we won't know what's going on with the engines," Bill Savage, a former pilot with 30 years of experience, told CNN.

How will search crews retrieve bodies?

The recovery of the victims is the first priority for those involved in the operation.

Helicopters can lower divers to help recover bodies and debris from the surface of the water. Surface vessels may also play a role, as may submersibles if bodies are trapped in wreckage below the surface.

There are some victims who will be on the surface of the water and others trapped in the wreckage at the bottom of the Java Sea, about 140 feet (43 meters) down, said Peter Goelz, the former managing director of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

It will be a challenge for divers to reach bodies because that depth is as far as a diver can descend, he said. The divers will probably have to use recovery chambers -- systems to help their bodies acclimate and continue. "It will take time," Goelz said. "You have to find the debris field, and that will take a week or 10 days."

How will they be identified?

Hospitals in the Indonesian city of Surabaya are being prepared to help house and identify bodies recovered off the coast of Borneo.

To help them, heartbroken relatives have already been asked to bring along photographs of their loved ones and to provide DNA samples.

But finding and identifying the bodies of all 162 people on board is a big task. And not all bodies may be found.

A recovered body wasn't wearing a life jacket. What could that indicate?

Goelz said that could mean that whatever happened to the plane, it happened quickly. It's possible that passengers didn't have time to act, said Mary Schiavo, a lawyer and former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Could any of the passengers have survived?

There have been air crashes in the past where there has been a sole survivor, said Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council and former chairwoman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. But finding anyone alive from Flight 8501 would be an incredibly unlikely scenario, she said.

A searcher said he could see the shadow of a plane through the water. If that's true, what then?

If that claim is true, searchers will be able to more quickly recover its flight data recorder, Schiavo said.

With the help of sonar, it shouldn't take long to recover recorders that contain an account of what happened on the plane, said Tim Taylor, a diver with 30 years of experience and an expert on submersible techniques and tools.

The plane's pingers, or underwater locator beacons, are still going off, Taylor said, so that should help speed up recovery of the recorder.

How will they find and retrieve the wreckage?

The debris was found in the Karimata Strait, about 110 nautical miles southwest of the Indonesian city of Pangkalan Bun, AirAsia said. That's just 6 miles from the plane's last known point of contact.

Divers and ships with sonar equipment are being sent to the site, where the water depth varies between 25 and 30 meters (about 80 to 100 feet), said Bambang Sulistyo, head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency.

As was the case in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a towed pinger locator could be used to pinpoint the flight data recorders.

Schiavo said the proximity of the wreckage to the last known radar point suggested that there was not an inflight breakup and that the plane may have hit the water intact.

The shallow depth of the water also means that heavy pieces of wreckage are not likely to have drifted very far before reaching the bottom.

Any large pieces of the plane will be brought up so that they can be reconstructed as part of the crash investigation.

But first, the site must be mapped because the location of the separate pieces is an important part of figuring out what happened, Taylor said.

What does the debris found so far indicate?

The sight of an emergency exit door floating free on the water, as well as some life jackets, may raise questions about whether the crew had time to deploy safety equipment before the plane hit the water. But Schiavo said she has seen other crash sites where the emergency exit door or chutes had popped out without being deliberately deployed.

"In many cases, those things just come apart as the accident aircraft breaks apart in the water -- but we certainly need to know that," she said.

When found, the cockpit voice recorder will probably help determine whether orders were given to prepare for a ditching in water.

What's next for the relatives of the victims?

The families of those on board got the news they were dreading Tuesday with confirmation that the wreckage of the plane had been found.

Some fainted as they live watched a news conference about the discovery of the debris and saw video of a helicopter lowering a diver to what appeared to be a floating body. Others burst into tears.

The key element is to keep the relatives informed while the investigation continues, said Hersman.

"It's about making the decisions to share the information with the family," she said. Those in charge also need to maintain credibility by making sure they have the facts correct and share them in a timely manner, she said.

It's also important to protect families amid the media frenzy, she said, particularly when distressing scenes are broadcast -- for example, of bodies being brought up.

Hersman also pointed to the impact of the news of the AirAsia crash on the relatives of those lost in other air disasters, such as the mysterious disappearance of Flight 370 in March. The search for that plane continues, 10 months later.

"The lack of ability to close things down emotionally is just exhausting," Sarah Bajc told CNN on Monday night. Her partner, Philip Woods, was on board MH370.

When news broke that another plane had disappeared this week, Bajc said, "I just started to shake."

Flight 8501 took off two hours ahead of schedule. Is that something investigators will consider?

Schiavo said they will take that into account. A plane leaving before its scheduled departure time is unheard of in the United States, but that doesn't mean it isn't common practice in other countries, she noted.

"The question I would have is why," she said. "Were they trying to beat the weather?"

CNN's Will Ripley contributed to this report.


Monday, December 29, 2014

What happened to AirAsia flight QZ8501?

Published: 29 December 2014

A child looks on at a viewing gallery overlooking AirAsia planes on the tarmac at Changi Airport in Singapore today. The missing AirAsia plane carrying 162 people is presumed to have crashed off the Indonesian coast, an official said today, as countries in the region offered to help Jakarta in the search and recovery effort. – Reuters pic, December 29, 2014.

A day after it disappeared en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore, mystery surrounds the fate of AirAsia flight QZ8501 and the 162 people on board.

No debris from the Airbus A320-200 has so far been recovered, and Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said today "the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea".
Following are some questions surrounding the disappearance and search, and answers by industry experts.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the twin-engine aircraft around an hour after it left Juanda International airport at Surabaya in East Java at 5:35 am Sunday (2235 GMT Saturday).
Shortly before disappearing, AirAsia said the plane had asked permission from Jakarta air traffic control to deviate from its flight plan and climb above bad weather in an area noted for severe thunderstorms.
Gerry Soejatman, a consultant with the Jakarta-based Whitesky Aviation chartered flight provider, said the verdict is still out on whether bad weather conditions was the "primary factor or just a contributory factor" for the disappearance.
"Based on the public information we have, the pilots turned to the left of its designated route, and also requested to climb to a higher altitude," Soejatman told AFP.
"Approval was given for the left turn but there are indications the plane climbed without approval. If that is the case, the turbulence could have been severe and the pilots made a decision to save the aircraft rather than wait for approval," he added.
Anthony Brickhouse, a member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators, said it "is not atypical to have a pre-programmed flight path and then something happens and the pilots try to adjust it".
"Airliners in general tend to avoid thunderstorms as much as possible to give passengers a smoother ride," Brickhouse, an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, told AFP.
"Right now, the fact that they were trying to avoid bad weather doesn't tell us a lot in the grand scheme of things."
Have there been other plane mysteries like this?
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean far off Australia's west coast after diverting off course for an unknown reason and flying for several more hours over the remote waters.
An intense air and sea search failed to find any wreckage from the aircraft, while an underwater search has been underway for weeks with no result.
Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009 while on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing 216 passengers and 12 crew. Debris was not found for days and it took years to locate the wreckage. Investigators eventually concluded that both technical and human error were to blame.
Adam Air Flight 574 with 102 people on board disappeared from radar in January 2007, also at its cruise phase during a domestic flight in Indonesia. Debris was found nine days later after an extensive search and it took months to recover the plane's black box.
Indonesian authorities said the pilots lost control after becoming preoccupied with malfunctioning navigational equipment.
Was Flight QZ8501 flying too slowly when it disappeared?
Some experts have said initial readings of radar data have shown the plane was flying much slower than it should have been when it disappeared.
In the Air France Flight AF447 crash in 2009, it is believed a build-up of ice on "pitot tube" instruments caused the pilots to receive distorted data on airspeed before the aircraft went down.
"Although any attempt to explain the reason for the disappearance of the AirAsia flight is pure speculation at this time, we can’t but notice at least one apparent similarity with another famous crash: Air France 447," wrote aviation blogger David Cenciotti on
He added that low ground speed could have been caused by strong headwinds.
Soejatman said early readings from a leaked air traffic control image circulating online showed Flight QZ8501 was "extremely slow".
"If the plane happened to be going below stall speed, then well, you will fall out of the sky," he said.
Can we rule out terrorism or a hijack attempt?
Experts say it is too early to rule out any possibility.
"As an investigator, I am trained to keep all possibilities on the table until evidence suggest otherwise," said Brickhouse.
"Right now, I have not seen anything that could be associated with any kind of criminal act."
Why have authorities not picked up signals?
Aircraft have an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), which is designed mainly for when the plane crashes on land and pilots are still trying to control it. In the event of a major crash, it may not work.
The plane also has a "black box" consisting of the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder. If immersed in water they should activate a "pinger" that can draw investigators to the location. However, the sound cannot be heard over long distances.
Soejatman said AirAsia "does not subscribe" to ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) – which sends short messages to ground controllers – even though the Airbus A320-200 is equipped with the system.
He said authorities must move quickly to improve technology that help locate aircraft when they go missing.
"Even with MH370 the beacon did not go off. Why aren't we getting the beacon in large-scale incidents?" he said.
"I am not saying it is a faulty system. The beacon (ELT) is the best thing we have at the moment. But we have to work on improving it," he said.
Brickhouse said "advanced tracking technology is out there" but "financial and logistics ramifications come into play in terms of installing them".
What are the difficulties faced by search teams?
National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said today search teams are scouring an area where the sea is 40-50 metres deep.
He said Indonesia was coordinating with other countries to access any equipment that may be needed to scour the seabed.
Soejatman said despite the shallow water in the search area, "mud and hard rocks" could interfere with sonar pings emitted by the plane's ELT. – AFP, December 29, 2014.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014














Friday, December 19, 2014






       极端的行动包括只要自己不喜欢的东西,就设法禁止别人去做。以美国为例,一群非基督徒不喜欢到了圣诞节佳期使用“Merry Christmas”(圣诞节快乐),施压政府推行“Happy Holidays”(假期快乐)来取代。虽然这群人得逞,越来越多人弃用前者而使用后者,但庆幸美国的圣诞节还看到教会聚会的来宾比平常要多。这证明了美国人仍然是喜欢圣诞节的。




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dengue times: Not much fun

Published: December 17, 2014 07:37 AM
Erna Mahyuni

DECEMBER 17 — While the actual physical experience of dengue was terrible (10/10 would not want to repeat it again), it was entertaining looking back.
My friends were very solicitous and shared their own dengue war stories. They were very useful, honestly as they did prepare me for things like the itching. Why is there not a collective handbook for this? 
Handbooks are boring so instead I will share my dengue chronicles. Warning: very banal and maybe only five per cent useful to actual dengue sufferers who are likely too sick to read this.
Day 1: I have a fever. On the tail-end of my holiday? This sucks. Oh well, suck it up, I will have Panadol and go to the book sale preview. 
Hours later: I am cold. I am tired. I have acquired the 50th anniversary of The Lord of the Rings. I will go to bed now.
Day 2: Still feverish. What is this? Never mind, I will go have a nice lunch in a very nice part of town. I hear the Strato lunch set is excellent value.
Hours later: The only thing I could taste was the strawberry panna cotta. Service was excellent, location excellent. My feelings? Very unexcellent. More Panadol.
I’m still sick but I am on holiday damn it. Off to see the pandas.
Many hours later: I could only bear Zoo Negara for an hour. Fortunately, the pandas felt the same way. The furry things were either asleep or so sick of humans they decided to hide out in their enclosure. 
Day 3: It is Saturday and I am in bed. Normally this would be a delightful state of affairs but I literally can’t get out of bed. Not without wincing anyway. I think I should see the doctor tomorrow.

Day 4: Badger friends to go out for late lunch. Fevers are at least useful ways to guilt your friends into spending time with you. Alas, I am so sick that even the smell of coffee makes me nauseous. I resist the temptation of crying into my cold, lime-y concoction. Can’t drink anything warm despite being cold because they make me want to throw up.
Doctor’s advice: You’ve been feverish this long? Here, take some meds. If your fever doesn’t break by tomorrow, get a dengue test. Oh, perhaps drink some 100 Plus? 
Thanks, doc but the taste of 100 Plus along with 80 per cent of known foodstuffs makes me want to chuck up whatever little dinner I could stomach. I go to bed after taking pain killers, anti-nausea pills and praying I get better by tomorrow.
Day 5: My text to a friend: “I feel like dying.” Cue trip to the nearest GP who does 15-minute dengue tests.
New doctor: Oh my. Yes, you have dengue. Go home and rest and we’ll call you when we get your bloodwork to see if you need to be hospitalised. 
Friends on FB: Get well soon! Drink 100 Plus? How about papaya leaves? Try bathing in pomegranate juice! Don’t die!
Day 6: I don’t have to stay in the hospital hurrah. The meds have perked my spirits somewhat and am amused by all the dengue stories I’m hearing. 
My hands and feet are starting to itch though. It seems this will be at least a two-day state of affairs. Itching won’t kill me, right?
Day 7: I was wrong. The itching was murder. I could sleep through fever, joint pains and my annoying little dog’s barking at the neighbours. But the itching. I want to kill all mosquitoes with a flamethrower. One problem though: even standing for more than 30 seconds gets me winded.
Clinic: Hello, miss. Have you gone for a followup at the hospital? Of course you have to go. You have dengue. 
Doc at hospital: Do you have insurance? You could let it pay for a hospital stay. No, you don’t actually need to stay at the hospital. Your platelet count is 146,000. But your insurance company would pay for it, right? Why are you giving me dagger eyes? You need to sleep from the itching? Fine, then, have some Xanax.
Note to self: Never visiting this hospital again. 
Day 8: The Xanax helped. The antihistamines? Not so much. Less itching. More sleeping. I had sambal sotong. It’s nice to be able to eat without wanting to up chuck everything.
Day 9: And the nausea’s back. I hate the world.
Day 10: Feeling a little better. I can finally stay on Facebook for a record 10 minutes. This is an achievement as dengue had me so tired I can barely manage even a Facebook update. Everything is too tiring. Standing is tiring. Sitting is tiring. Social media is tiring. Tweeting feels like actual work. Haven’t checked my email for days. 

Monday, December 15, 2014




        学生英文水准差,因为我们绝大多数的英文教师不能掌握英文。有个学生投诉说她的英文老师不能分辨“horse”(马)和“donkey”(驴)!政府不该批评私人公司或跨国企业歧视某种族,因为它们录用职员以能掌握英文为重要条件。每年都有好几万大学生毕业,今年刚毕业了10万人。20年以前,大学毕业生非常吃香。现在,你随便丢一块石头都能打中一个大学毕业生!毕业就是失业,尤其今年开始令人担心,因为原油价跌已经影响我国经济,首当其冲就是外资撤导致股市降及马币贬值,加上4个月后实行消费税,我国的竞争力就被削弱。每一年,大学毕业生因为英文不好而失业,政府又花费另外训练他们,这做法只在大马有(Only In Malaysia),这情况也造成我国大学排行榜在400所大学以外。


“Perception” 不是 “印象”


   Perception”被翻译为“印象”乃不正确,其实之前已经有人在《言路版》提起。最近首相纳吉为巫统联邦直辖区联委会大会开幕致词,他提到巫统成为“victim of perception”被有些传媒译为“印象受害者”。当部长说对于贪污猖獗是人民持的“perception”,警方说对于罪案上升是人民对它的“perception”,这些传媒都译为“印象”。


        翻译比写作更难!语文之间的语法不少是前后颠倒的,你必须掌握两种语文。你也不可以按字面直译,因为字或词可以有超过一个意思。你必须看它用在什么性质上。譬如,整年前媒体报道 Hard Rock Café打 算在布城营业,部长说可以,只是不能售酒。某些媒体把“Hard Rock Café”译为“硬石”咖啡厅。“硬石”没表达咖啡厅的营业性质,因为咖啡厅内一贯都会播放或有人驻唱摇滚歌,所以译为“劲(Hard)”“摇滚(Rock & Roll)”咖啡厅才对称。(虽然名称不包括“Roll”,使用“摇滚”比“摇”更佳。)不过它源自西方,目前没有意思设立中文招牌,这导致译者自译,没咨询业者的缘故。

Friday, December 5, 2014

It’s official: America is now No. 2

Published: Dec 4, 2014 11:18 a.m. ET

By Brett Arends

Chinese economy overtakes the U.S.’s to become the largest

Hang on to your hats, America.
And throw away that big, fat styrofoam finger while you’re about it.
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.
It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.
The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.
As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.
To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.
This latest economic earthquake follows the development last year when China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in terms of global trade.
I reported on this looming development over two years ago, but the moment came sooner than I or anyone else had predicted. China’s recent decision to bring gross domestic product calculations in line with international standards has revealed activity that had previously gone uncounted.
These calculations are based on a well-established and widely used economic measure known as purchasing-power parity (or PPP), which measures the actual output as opposed to fluctuations in exchange rates. So a Starbucks venti Frappucino served in Beijing counts the same as a venti Frappucino served in Minneapolis, regardless of what happens to be going on among foreign-exchange traders. 
PPP is the real way of comparing economies. It is one reported by the IMF and was, for example, the one used by McKinsey & Co. consultants back in the 1990s when they undertook a study of economic productivity on behalf of the British government.
Yes, when you look at mere international exchange rates, the U.S. economy remains bigger than that of China, allegedly by almost 70%. But such measures, although they are widely followed, are largely meaningless. Does the U.S. economy really shrink if the dollar falls 10% on international currency markets? Does the recent plunge in the yen mean the Japanese economy is vanishing before our eyes?
Back in 2012, when I first reported on these figures, the IMF tried to challenge the importance of PPP. I was not surprised. It is not in anyone’s interest at the IMF that people in the Western world start focusing too much on the sheer extent of China’s power. But the PPP data come from the IMF, not from me. And it is noteworthy that when the IMF’s official World Economic Outlook compares countries by their share of world output, it does so using PPP.
Yes, all statistics are open to various quibbles. It is perfectly possible China’s latest numbers overstate output — or understate them. That may also be true of U.S. GDP figures. But the IMF data are the best we have.
Make no mistake: This is a geopolitical earthquake with a high reading on the Richter scale. Throughout history, political and military power have always depended on economic power. Britain was the workshop of the world before she ruled the waves. And it was Britain’s relative economic decline that preceded the collapse of her power. And it was a similar story with previous hegemonic powers such as France and Spain.
This will not change anything tomorrow or next week, but it will change almost everything in the longer term. We have lived in a world dominated by the U.S. since at least 1945 and, in many ways, since the late 19th century. And we have lived for 200 years — since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 — in a world dominated by two reasonably democratic, constitutional countries in Great Britain and the U.S.A. For all their flaws, the two countries have been in the vanguard worldwide in terms of civil liberties, democratic processes and constitutional rights.