The pilot gave no distress call before the flight vanished from the radarAn EgyptAir aircraft traveling from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to Cairo “crashed” over the Mediterranean sea with 66 people on board on Thursday, French President Francois Hollande has confirmed.
"We must ensure that we know everything on the causes of what happened. No hypothesis is ruled out or favoured," he said in a televised address.
EgyptAir Flight MS804 went missing at 2:45 am local time with 56 passengers and 10 cabin crew on board, at an altitude of 37,000 feet, the airline said. The Airbus A320 disappeared 10 miles (16 kilometers) after entering Egyptian airspace, some 280 kilometers north of the Egyptian coast. Egyptian military aircraft are searching for the aircraft and Greece has joined the search and rescue operation, dispatching two aircraft.
Egyptian civil aviation spokesman Ihab Raslan had earlier said that the plane had likely crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, while EgyptAir said the cause of the disappearance remained unclear as the search efforts continued. “The cause of the airplane’s disappearance is not yet known,” the airline said.
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told a news conference that the plane fell 22,000 feet and made two sharp swerves before it disappeared from aviation radars.
"The plane carried out a 90-degree turn to the left and a 360-degree turn to the right, falling from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and the signal was lost at around 10,000 feet," Panos Kammenos told a news conference.
"It appears the plane is lost. There are no clear results (from the search) so far," he said.
Both the Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that no theory could be ruled out in the investigation into the plane’s disappearance. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the crash.
Ismail said that there was no “distress call” from the plane but a “signal.” EgyptAir confirmed that a “distress signal” had been received from the flight before its disappearance but it is unclear if this was sent to aviation authorities or the Egyptian military. The Egyptian military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir said in a Facebook statement that the army did not receive a distress call.
The head of Greece’s civil aviation department, Kostas Litzerakis, said that the plane disappeared from radars two minutes after leaving Greek airspace, and reported “no problems.”
The passengers on the flight included 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, one Briton, one Belgian, one Canadian, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese and one Algerian, EgyptAir confirmed. It was also carrying 10 cabin crew.
An EgyptAir pilot, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media, says he has to “sadly agree” with Egyptian aviation officials that the flight has crashed but he hopes “they find them alive in the water.”
“No, according to what I know,” he says when asked if an aircraft can disappear from the radar but still be safe. “But I wish I’m wrong. There is not enough fuel to make it fly that long.”
He adds that the “Airbus is a good plane” when asked about its safety record but said it was unlikely that an extremist act was the cause of its disappearance.
The flight was on its fifth flight of the day and EgyptAir said that the captain of the flight had 6,275 hours of flying experience, with 2,101 on the A320 model.
French President Francois Hollande called his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and both “agreed to cooperate closely” to find out what happened to the aircraft. Valls said that French authorities were “ready” to join the search operation to find the missing aircraft.
The disappearance of the flight comes just weeks after a passenger hijacked an EgyptAir flight, and the same model of aircraft, as it flew to Cairo, forcing it to divert to Cyprus.
Hezbollah says top commander Mustafa Badreddine killed
Top Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine has been killed, the Shiite party said on Friday, the biggest blow since its military chief was killed in 2008.
Badreddine, 55, was one of the highest ranking officials in the group, and assessed by the US government to be responsible for Hezbollah's military operations in Syria, where it is fighting alongside the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A Hezbollah statement said Badreddine was killed in an attack targeting one of its bases near Damascus airport.
The group added that it was working to "define the nature of the explosion and its cause, and whether it was the result of an air strike, or missile (attack) or artillery".
It did not say when the attack happened.
The Lebanese TV station al-Mayadeen earlier reported Badreddine had been killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria.
There was no immediate confirmation from Israel which has struck Hezbollah targets inside Syria several times during the country's five-year conflict.
A US Department of the Treasury statement detailing sanctions against Badreddine last year said he was assessed to be responsible for the group's military operations in Syria since 2011, and he had accompanied Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during strategic coordination meetings with Assad in Damascus.
Badreddine, a brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah military commander, Imad Moughniyah, was indicted by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri.
He was sentenced to death in Kuwait for his role in bomb attacks there in 1983. He escaped from prison in Kuwait after Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, invaded the country in 1990.
For years, Badreddine masterminded military operations against Israel from Lebanon and overseas and managed to escape capture by Arab and Western governments by operating clandestinely.
The US Treasury statement also said he had led Hezbollah ground offensives in the Syrian town of al-Qusayr in February 2013, a critical battle in the war when Hezbollah fighters defeated Syrian rebels in an area near the Syrian-Lebanese border.
Around 1,200 Hezbollah fighters are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian conflict.
Hezbollah accuses Israel of carrying out the 2008 killing of Moughniyah, who was killed by a bomb in Damascus.
REUTERS
SAUDI ARABIA TO GIVE WOMEN RIGHT TO POSSESS COPY OF MARRIAGE CONTRACT
BY JACK MOORE
Saudi Arabia is to give brides a copy of their marriage contracts for the first time in a bid to boost the rights of women, the country’s justice ministry has announced.
Justice Minister Walid al-Samaani has ordered that clerics in the ultra-conservative country must now provide brides with a copy of the marriage contract when they register a marriage.
The move is to “ensure her awareness of her rights and the terms of the contact,” AFP news agency reported on Tuesday. The justice ministry announced the order in a statement published by the Saudi state news agency SPA.
The handing of marriage contracts had only been permitted for men previously but the change seeks to “protect the rights of the woman and to facilitate procedures for her,” the ministry said.
It said that the woman must have a copy of the contract in the event that there is a legal dispute between herself and her husband at a later date.
Women in Saudi Arabia require permission from their male guardians to carry out many tasks, such as opening a bank account, traveling and working.
Saudi women must adhere to the country’s strict version of Islamic law, which forbids them from doing many things permitted for females in the Western world.
Women are prohibited from driving a car by religious norms despite no official law stopping them from commandeering a vehicle. Women must not wear any clothing or makeup that reveals or enhances their beauty, therefore many wear long black Islamic dress.
Some aspects of Saudi life are opening up to women, however. In December 2015, voters elected 17 women into public office in municipal elections after they were allowed to stand for the first time in the country’s history.
Secret 28-page chapter could be released within weeks by intelligence chiefs
THE White House is considering releasing a 'secret chapter' from the inquiry into 9/11 that will show Saudi Arabian involvement in the terrorist attacks.
President George W. Bush decided to withhold the 28-page section of the report in what was believed to be an effort to soothe strained tensions between the US and its oil-state ally.
But outgoing president Barack Obama is understood to be likely to publish the potentially damaging document, which is under lock and key in the basement of the Capitol building in Washington DC.
It is known that the extract contains information about "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States".
And the man who conducted the 832-report, Senator Bob Graham, confirmed he has been told American intelligence services will make a decision on its release within weeks.
The former Democratic senator from Florida said: "I hope that decision is to honour the American people and make it available.
"The most important unanswered question of 9/11 is, did these 19 people conduct this very sophisticated plot alone, or were they supported?"
Another high-ranking US politician who worked on the inquiry and has read the secret chapter three times is Tim Roemer, an ex-Democratic congressman.
He said: “There were clues. There were allegations. There were witness reports. There was evidence about the hijackers, about people they met with - all kinds of different things that the 9/11 Commission was then tasked with reviewing and investigating.”
The 2001 attacks killed almost 3,000 civilians when three hijacked American Airlines planes crashed into high-profile buildings, while another was ditched into the ground when passengers fought back against the hijackers.
Al-Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist group led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the atrocities.
Two of the planes slammed into New York’s iconic World Trade Center skyscrapers.
Both buildings collapsed leaving thousands dead as a cloud of toxic dust engulfed the city.
Another plane left more than a hundred dead when it hit the Pentagon in Washington.
The fourth aircraft, believed to be heading for either the White House or the Capitol building, crashed in a field near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The 2002 report into the attacks found no evidence of a Saudi government conspiracy.
However, of the 19 hijackers, 15 hailed from the Middle Eastern power player.
And while the report did not accuse the oil-state of sponsoring the attack, it did not absolve it of all responsibility.
Roemer added: “We did not discover Saudi government involvement at the highest level of the 9/11 attacks.
“But we certainly did not exonerate the Saudis. Saudi was a fertile ground for fundraising for al-Qaeda.
“Some of these issues continue to be problems today. That's why we need to continue to get to the bottom of this.”
BY EMMA ASHFORD 
WHAT PART DID THE SAUDIS PLAY IN THE 9/11 ATTACKS?

Yet these developments—a congressional bill that allows Americans to sue foreign governments for supporting terrorist groups, and growing calls to declassify the remaining 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report—are unlikely to substantially impact the U.S.-Saudi relationship, which is already on a downward trend due to other, more substantive factors.
Certainly, the bill would have major legal implications for relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks, who have previously tried to sue the Saudi government for their possible involvement. However, their hope that the declassified report would yield a better understanding of the scope of that involvement is unlikely to yield any smoking gun revelations.
Some of the purported revelations are, in fact, already known. It has been long known that Saudi Arabia has had a hand in the spread, through schools and philanthropic endeavors, of a certain kind of extremist Islamic philosophy often described as Wahhabism. That this philosophy is shared by various radical groups including ISIS and Al-Qaeda is likewise well known, but there is no evidence that the Saudi government ever provided material support to either group.
Though lesser-known, it is also the case that many private Saudi citizens haveprovided funding to extremist groups over the years. And while it did not come from the government, as Ben Rhodes, the president’s Deputy National Security Advisor noted this week, the Saudi government often paid “insufficient attention” to such funding, particularly prior to 2001.
The 9/11 Commission report, though likely to be less detailed than many of the studies of this phenomenon conducted over the last decade, may well include data on the extent to which the Saudi government turned a blind eye to terrorist funding.
Comments from those who have read the reports, and previously declassified information, also suggests that junior Saudi officials may even have played some role in the 9/11 attacks themselves. Indeed, perhaps the best known line in the 9/11 report itself is the assertion that the Commission found “No evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” an obvious loophole that leaves little to the imagination.
Yet it is worth noting that any such revelations contained in the report would be at best preliminary, based on unvetted and unverified intelligence.
In fact, while the Saudi government has not objected to declassification of the report, it clearly perceives the congressional bill as a larger concern, threatening economic reprisals. The threat to sell-off American assets if the bill passes is likely an empty one, but it certainly underscores the concern Saudi leaders feel about the potential for such lawsuits.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this whole episode is that it is happening at all, a development at least partially driven by the deteriorating U.S.-Saudi relationship. President Obama’s trip to Riyadh will not be an entirely pleasant one, given all the tensions in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Indeed, only a few weeks ago, Obama himself publicly questioned the Saudi alliance in an interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.

Ultimately, the Saudi alliance is changing. Once thought unshakeable, common U.S.-Saudi interests such as energy security and anti-communism have diverged or disappeared entirely. Meanwhile, disagreements on regional stability, Saudi involvement in conflicts like Syria and Yemen and their support for various extreme groups have helped to sour the relationship.
Whether or not the 9/11 Commission report is declassified, it is these larger tensions that present the major obstacle to smooth U.S.-Saudi relations in the future.
What Led to Failure at Doha and How Will It Affect Oil
Oil tumbled to two-month lows on Sunday after the world’s biggest producers failed to agree on freezing oil production. This lack of unanimity threatens to trigger a harsh drop in prices and may lead to the demise of OPEC in its present form.
Oil ministers of Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Algeria and eleven other nations gathered in the Qatari capital at the weekend in a bid to stabilize the global market.
However, the attempt, which stretched a good ten hours beyond its initially scheduled conclusion, failed after Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf nations refused to sign a deal unless all OPEC members joined including Iran, which wasn’t present at the meeting.
Delegates said Saudi Arabia had in effect torn up an earlier draft of the deal after Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the kingdom wouldn’t restrain its production without commitments from other all other major producers including Iran, which has ruled out freezing for now.
Earlier in April, the Saudi Prince also predicted the looming twilight of the oil age and shared the country’s plans to transform the oil state into a country which will not depend on the black gold.
Tehran had refused to join the freeze, stressing that the sanctions had been lifted recently and Iran wanted to rebuild its oil exports to pre-sanctions levels.
The next oil meeting would be held in June after the cartel members agreed concerted position on the proposed freeze, according to Nigerian Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu.
Failed talks in Doha led to a noticeable drop in oil prices with crude losing more than 5 percent on Monday morning in Asia.
Brent, the international benchmark, was down 5.2 percent at $40.87 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, shed 5.7 percent to $38.07 a barrel.
Oil prices may go down to 30 dollars a barrel. If the oil producing nations agreed to freeze their output – something they pledged to do back in February – the prices would go up to $45 per barrel and could even spike to $50 if Iran joins in.

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