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18
February

An RSAF F-15SG fighter jet and Apache helicopter perform during a preview of the Singapore Airshow on Feb 18, 2024. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman) - 

 

 

Voinews, Singapore - The Singapore Airshow returns next weekend with public visiting days for the first time in four years and new stunts by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).

The biennial event was closed to the public during its last edition in 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the trade show will be held at the Changi Exhibition Centre from Feb 20 to Feb 23, with public visiting days on Feb 24 and 25. The aerial displays will also be streamed live on Feb 20 and 24.

The RSAF’s presentation is among this year’s eight aerial displays from six air forces and two commercial companies, which will also see the airshow debut of China’s C919 airliner.

A total of 12 stunts will be performed by an RSAF F-15SG fighter jet and an AH-64D Apache helicopter – four solo stunts each, and four “integrated” stunts interweaving both aircraft.

The RSAF’s aerial display team will debut two new integrated stunts dubbed the “double helix” and “slingshot”.

The slingshot opens the display with the Apache charging into the centre of the show as the F-15 makes a 360-degree high-G turn around the helicopter.

But it is the double helix – named for the way the Apache makes a steep spiral descent while the F-15 climbs up by it – that RSAF pilots described as the most difficult stunt in the show.

 

“There is a massive difference in the performance platforms” of the two aircraft, said Major Paul-Matthew Lim, 36, team lead for the F-15SG aerial display.

 

The F-15 moves faster and makes tighter turns but has a bigger radius, while the Apache is “more graceful and manoeuvrable”, making integration of the two platforms’ capabilities a challenge, he said.

MAJ Ingkiriwang Reeve, 37, team lead for the AH-64D aerial display, pointed out that the Apache descends about 1,600ft over the course of the double helix.

 

“Apart from managing the height and speed of my aircraft, I have to deal with the wind’s varying intensity and direction at each altitude level,” he said.

 

“At the same time, I must be visual with the F-15 at all times making a turn around us and climbing. So all these variables make it very difficult as compared to the other three manoeuvres.”

 

Executing the move therefore requires precise coordination between the two aircraft, as well as between himself and his co-pilot, he said.

The performance crew are from operational squadrons rather than a full-time aerial display team, pointed out Lieutenant Colonel Max Ng, chairman of the RSAF flying display committee. They started preparations last November.

“We hope to demonstrate our professionalism, precision and passion in all that we do in the aerial display,” he said.

RSAF’s full array of aircraft and ground-based air defence systems will also be on display on the public viewing days of Feb 24 and 25.

 

For the first time, this will include a CH-47F Chinook helicopter. The RSAF started taking delivery of the aircraft to Singapore in 2022, to replace its older Chinooks that have been in service since 1994.

 

Members of the RSAF’s ground crew said they hope Singaporeans will go to the airshow to enjoy and learn from the displays, and maintain confidence in the air force’s capabilities to protect Singapore’s skies.

 

For full-time national serviceman (NSF) Third Sergeant Yap Kah Wei, getting involved in the airshow was an honour and a “once in a lifetime” experience, although working with the RSAF’s assets felt daunting at times.

“There’s obviously pressure because it’s a multimillion (dollar) jet and I’m just an NSF,” said the 20-year-old air force technician for the F-15 aerial display team.

“But I believe that I’m confident in myself and in my abilities to do my tasks with the training given by my superiors,” he said.

“I have (learnt) many things that I can take away, that I can carry with me for the rest of my life.”//CNA-VOI

 

 

 

15
February

 

(LtoR) German and a Chinese flag are seen flying in the wind from the Chancellery, as the dome of the Reichstag building, which houses the German lower house of Parliament, can be seen in the background, in Berlin on June 19, 2023, during a visit of China's Premier to Germany. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

(LtoR) German and a Chinese flag are seen flying in the wind from the Chancellery, as the dome of the Reichstag building, which houses the German lower house of Parliament, can be seen in the background, in Berlin on June 19, 2023, during a visit of China's Premier to Germany. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

VOInews, Jakarta: China's top diplomat Wang Yi will visit Germany for the Munich Security Conference then travel to Spain and France in the coming days, Beijing's foreign ministry said Thursday.

 

"From February 16 to 21... Minister of Foreign Afairs Wang Yi will attend the 60th Munich Security Conference where he will deliver a speech," a spokesperson said in a statement. 

 

He will then visit Spain and France, where he will "hold the China-France Strategic Dialogue", they added.

 

The annual security gathering in Munich brings together military elite from around the world and is seen as a barometer of transatlantic relations. It starts on Friday.

 

Wang will use his speech there to "elaborate on China's propositions on building a community with a shared future for mankind and advocating an equal and orderly multipolar world", the foreign ministry said.

 

His visit to Spain will be the Chinese foreign minister's first there in six years, Beijing said.

 

China said the visit will "consolidate mutual trust, enhance friendship, promote cooperation and enrich the China-Spain comprehensive strategic partnership".

 

Beijing also hopes to "deepen strategic communication, consolidate political mutual trust, advance practical cooperation and people-to-people and cultural exchanges" with France, it said.

 

Source: AFP

15
February

A man stands in the ruins of a building that was destroyed during Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 14, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

A man stands in the ruins of a building that was destroyed during Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 14, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

 

 

VOInews, Jakarta: The leaders of Australia, Canada and New Zealand on Thursday warned Israel against a potentially "catastrophic" ground ofensive in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, amplifying a growing chorus of international concern.

 

 

Urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "not to go down this path", the trio of Commonwealth nations issued a rare joint statement expressing deep and growing worry about Israel's prosecution of the months-long war.

 

 

"About 1.5 million Palestinians are taking refuge in the area, including many of our citizens and their families," the group of US allies said. 

 

"An expanded military operation would be devastating. We urge the Israeli government not to go down this path. There is simply nowhere else for civilians to go."

 

 

In the face of mounting international pressure and a death toll that Gaza authorities say has now topped 28,000, Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead.

 

 

He has promised Israeli forces will soon conduct a "powerful" operation in Rafah -- a city filled with countless Gazans displaced by fighting elsewhere in the territory.

 

 

Israel believes that Hamas operatives responsible for the October 7 attacks that killed around 1,160 people in Israel are holed up in the area, along with some of an estimated 130 hostages seized by the Palestinian Islamist group.

 

Source : AFP

14
February

FILE PHOTO: EU flag and TikTok logo are seen in this illustration taken, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration - 

 

 

Voinews, Brussels - ByteDance-owned social media platform TikTok said on Wednesday it will ramp up its fight against fake news and covert influence operations in the run-up to European Parliament elections in June with a local language app in all 27 countries.

Tiktok said the individual local language "election centres" build on work it first started in 2021, which accelerated last year when Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Spain went to the polls.

Quoted from CNA News, The app is designed to better inform Europeans about the electoral process.

Governments and politicians around the world are concerned about the spread of misinformation and the use of AI-generated deepfakes to influence elections and especially the role of social media platforms.

Some 30 per cent of European Parliament lawmakers use TikTok, the company said.

"Next month, we will launch a local language Election Centre in-app for each of the 27 individual EU member states to ensure people can easily separate fact from fiction," TikTok's head of trust & safety EMEA Kevin Morgan said in a blogpost.

"Working with local electoral commissions and civil society organisations, these Election Centres will be a place where our community can find trusted and authoritative information," he said.

The company worked with news checkers to produce educational videos about the electoral process and misinformation via the election centres during national elections in previous years.

Morgan said TikTok, which currently works with nine fact-checking organisations in Europe, plans to expand its fact-checking network and launch nine additional media literacy campaigns this year.

It will introduce dedicated covert influence operations reports in the coming months to increase transparency and accountability//(CNA-VOI)

 

14
February

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a bilateral meeting with Kenyan President William Ruto at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Shuji Kajiyama/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo - 

 

 

 

Voinews, Tokyo - In a world first, Japan auctioned sovereign climate transition bonds on Wednesday although the bonds met with slightly weaker-than-expected demand.

Quioted from CNA News, Climate transition bonds are a relatively new class of bonds which aim to fund shifts by companies, or in this case a government, to having a lesser impact on the environment.

They are distinct from green bonds where the proceeds are earmarked for a specific project or are focused on the profile of the issuer.

The sale of 800 billion yen ($5.3 billion) in 10-year transition bonds was the first in Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's plan to sell 20 trillion yen of climate bonds over the next decade to help the nation with its goal of cutting greenhouse gases to zero by 2050.

The proceeds are expected to go towards projects such as low-cost wind power generators and airplanes that use alternative fuels.

The bonds were priced to yield 0.74 per cent on Wednesday, with pricing somewhat lower than expected. Yields on the bonds were 0.655 per cent a day earlier in the so-called "when-issued" market, which is a market for securities yet to be issued. Yields on bonds move inversely to prices.

"I would say expectations prior to the auction were too high. Still the yield on climate bonds was little lower than the yield for 10-year JGBs, which means the bonds enjoyed a premium," said Keisuke Tsuruta, a fixed income strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Regular 10-year Japanese government bonds were yielding 0.755 per cent on Wednesday.

Japan's finance ministry plans to sell 800 billion yen of five-year transition bonds on Feb. 27, which will be followed by 1.4 trillion yen of transition bonds in the fiscal year starting in April//(CNA-VOI)

 

14
February

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare shake hands at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jul 10, 2023. (File photo: Reuters/cnsphoto) - 

 

 

Voinews, SYDNEY - Solomon Islands is expected to next week call a national election for April, with China security ties emerging as a key issue as political parties launch campaigns in the Pacific Islands nation.

Quoted from CNA news, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China soon after the 2019 election that brought him to power, later forging a security pact with Beijing that alarmed Washington and Canberra, and set off a race for influence in the strategically located Pacific Islands.

A prominent opposition party figure, the United Party's Peter Kenilorea, said he wanted the China security pact reviewed, and would also seek to re-establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the Solomon Star newspaper reported on Wednesday (Feb 14).

Opposition leader Matthew Wale said at a campaign launch for a coalition of democratic parties on Wednesday that a referendum could be held to decide the country's relationship with China.

"China is a superpower both militarily and economically, and there is much also to be gained from a relationship with China ... We need to see what our national interest is," Wale said at the livestreamed event.

He criticised Sogavare for not consulting the provinces before switching ties to China, which led to the largest province, Malaita, refusing to cooperate with Beijing for several years.

"The possibility of a referendum is a very real possibility to decide it once and for all," Wale said.

At his campaign launch, Sogavare pointed to the Pacific Games held in Honiara, with stadiums donated by China, as a major achievement.

His party pledged to "strengthen the relationship with China through a 'look North' foreign policy while nurturing ties with other traditional partners such as Australia", a statement said.

The election will officially be called by the country's governor-general on Feb 20.

Wale said Apr 17, expected to be the polling date, was "a day for accountability", after Sogavare had "prioritised Pacific Games over medicines".

Honiara's operating theatres leaked in the rain and patients slept on the floor at the hospital, he said.

In his campaign speech, Wale was critical of "elite capture".

"We have a government that is not controlled by Solomon Islanders ... A government that receives money to make sure that the status quo continues," he said.

Wale did not name China in the speech, but the Prime Minister's Office previously confirmed China had provided US$2.49 million for a fund spent at Sogavare's discretion, with payments made to 39 out of 50 lawmakers.

Sogavare's office has previously rejected claims the money was used to maintain power//(CNA-VOI)

14
February

Farmers gather along a highway blocked by police as they try to march towards India's capital (Photo: AFP/Shammi MEHRA) - 

 

 

Voinews, India - Indian riot police fired tear gas on Wednesday (Feb 14) at columns of farmers on tractors seeking to breach heavily guarded roadblocks and march on the capital to demand guaranteed crop prices.

Farmers in India this week launched the "Delhi Chalo", or "March to Delhi", in an echo of January 2021, when they broke through barriers and rolled into New Delhi on Republic Day during a then year-long protest.

But this time around, the lines of hundreds of tractors have been stalled by fearsome barricades of concrete blocks and lines of razor wire.

Quoted from CNA news, the farmers are demanding a law to fix a minimum price for their crops, in addition to a clutch of other concessions including waiving loans.

Tear gas was fired at Shambhu, about 200km north of the capital on the border between Punjab and Haryana states where the main group of farmers has been stopped, AFP reporters at the scene said.

"The police are treating us as if we have come from an enemy country," said Mohan Singh, a 65-year-old farmer from Punjab's Kapurthala district, some 415km by road from Delhi.

"All we want to do is go to Delhi and ask for our rights, but more than 150 of us have been injured."

Haryana state police said in a statement on Tuesday night that "heavy stones" were hurled at police and 24 officers had been hurt.

Farmers in India have political influence due to their sheer numbers, and the renewed protests come ahead of national elections likely to begin in April.

Two-thirds of India's 1.4 billion people draw their livelihood from agriculture, accounting for nearly a fifth of the country's GDP, according to government figures.

After first deploying tear gas on Tuesday, police fired fresh barrages on Wednesday, including dropping canisters from the air by drone as tractor-driving farmers tried to open the road by dragging barricades away.

"We are just waiting for the green signal from our leaders," said Santokh Singh, 65, from Ludhiana in Punjab. "Once that comes, we will break all the barriers."

But farm union leaders used microphones to call for restraint from supporters.

"We will win this battle and go to Delhi," one of them shouted. "But we cannot afford to get carried away."//(CNA-VOI)

12
February

Skyline of Doha, capital of Qatar at night as of 2020. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Thameur Belgith)

 

VOInews.id: India's foreign ministry said Monday that Qatar had freed eight ex-navy personnel. As reported by AFP on Monday (12/2/2024), they had previously been arrested and sentenced to death, reportedly for spying for Israel.

12
February

Responders conduct rescue operations at the site of a landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro, Philippines on Wednesday (7/2/2024). (Photo: AFP/OFPM Davao de Oro)

 

VOInews.id: The death toll from a massive Philippine landslide near a gold mine abruptly rose to 54 on Sunday (11/2/2024), local officials said. Nineteen bodies were recovered from beneath the rubble in the southern mountain village of Masara on Sunday, with 63 other miners and residents still missing, said the municipality of Maco, and provincial disaster official Randy Loy. As reported by AFP, the previous death toll given stood at 35.

05
February

Namibian former president, Hage Geingob in 2018. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/UNCTAD Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

 

VOInews.id: Namibian President Hage Geingob died early on Sunday (04/02/2024) morning, a month after announcing he was suffering from cancer. The 82-year-old man revealed his illness to the public in January. Meanwhile, the president's office announced that Geingob will undergo treatment in the United States and return home on Friday (02/02/2024).

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