- New Japan satellite to survey disasters, rain forests
- Thai cabinet barred from using crisis headquarters: official
- Thailand’s Army chief in charge
Posted: 20 May 2014 09:50 PM PDT
TOKYO: Japan is scheduled to launch a new mapping satellite on Saturday that will be used to survey damage from natural disasters and changes affecting rain forests.The Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 (ALOS-2) will be released by the nation's H-IIA rocket, which will lift off shortly after noon (0300 GMT) Saturday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
ALOS-2 will be able to monitor scars left by natural disasters as well as progress made in reconstruction, JAXA said.
The service is important for Japan, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences 20 percent of all major earthquakes felt by humans every year.
Memories are still fresh of the deadly 9.0-magnitude earthquake in March 2011, which released a killer tsunami that destroyed the northern Pacific coast and triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The volcanic island nation is routinely hit by earthquakes and typhoons, with scientists expecting Mount Fuji to erupt sometime soon.
The satellite is different from spy satellites that Japan already has to monitor risk states such as North Korea.
The new satellite, nicknamed "Daichi-2", will "conduct a health check mainly of the Earth's land areas in detail," JAXA project manager Shinichi Suzuki said in a statement.
Daichi-2 will collect data related to deformation of the Earth's crust, but also the impact of floods and landslides, he said.
The satellite's predecessor was used to monitor damage caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Suzuki said.
The device uses a special radar to observe the planet's surface even at night, during bad weather and even through vegetation, JAXA said.
JAXA plans to use the new satellite to regularly study tropical rain forests, which are difficult to observe because of the thick clouds that frequently cover them. It will also be used to observe snow and ice conditions in the polar areas. - AFP
Posted: 20 May 2014 09:48 PM PDT
BANGKOK: Thailand's cabinet has been barred from using its crisis headquarters and is working from a secret location, a government official said Wednesday, a day after the military imposed martial law.The office of the permanent secretary for the defence ministry told the embattled government it could no longer use the facilities where it had been meeting since opposition protesters surrounded its main headquarters months ago, said the official, who did not want to be named.
"The government is now using a safe house," added the official.-AFP
Posted: 20 May 2014 09:46 PM PDT
BANGKOK: With martial law in place, Thailand's army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha intends to bring together all stakeholders in the political conflict to break the deadlock, as he says the country cannot continue in this crisis any longer.
Prayuth decided to impose the strict law after senators failed to find a way to appoint a neutral Prime Minister to end the political crisis, and the military detected the possibility of the warring parties engaging in violence, a source said.
"May I beg all Thai people to take off all 'coloured' shirts. We begin from square one to take the country forward to calm, peace and order. We have to look forward to the future and how we can move on," Prayuth told a press conference on Tuesday.
MEETING WITH ACTING PM
The commander will meet acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan, anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and acting Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboon-lertchai, who are all involved in the power play.
The caretaker government and its red-shirt supporters want to have an early election to facilitate their return to power, while the protesters and senators are looking for an unelected "neutral" premier to form an interim government to carry out their "reform" agenda that would somehow remove the Thaksin Shinawatra camp from politics.
Prayuth clarified while declaring martial law early Tuesday that it was not tantamount to a coup and people should not be concerned.
Niwattumrong, meanwhile, dismissed rumours that he was planning to suspend Prayuth as Army chief, adding that he would meet the top brass this week.
The military is seeking to restore order and is asking political groups to halt their protests, he said. He also urged the public to continue their lives as usual
Asked if he had informed the government about the declaration of martial law, Prayuth said: "Where is the government now? I don't know. Let them do their work. They should work, if they can work.
"But I don't bother the government. Now, the civil servants and the military are working for the country. I don't care about the others," he said.
Prayuth said life would continue as usual.
"We'll try not to impinge on rights too much," he said. "We will not create trouble for the people. Many articles (in martial law) have not been enforced yet."
The caretaker government, meanwhile, called cabinet members to a meeting at SC Park Hotel in the Rama IX area to evaluate the situation after the declaration of martial law, PM's secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said.
Reacting to the military move, Niwattumrong issued a statement saying it should be binding on all equally and peacefully under the rule of law and the Constitution.
Separately, when asked if there would be an early election, Prayuth pretended he had not heard the question, but later joked: "Perhaps I need to consult an ear doctor."
Prayuth called a meeting of heads of state agencies, including permanent secretaries and directors of ministries, representatives of independent organisations, professional associations and civic groups to explain his plan after announcing martial law.
The military's Peace and Order Maintaining Command was set up under the martial law, replacing the government's Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order. The military took over all security operations and other agencies, mainly police who worked to keep order in the capital, returned to their posts and offices.
Troops were seen guarding many key locations and media offices, while some media outlets were forced to close to stop provocative messages.
Prayuth specifically told the chief of the Department of Special Investigation, Tarit Pengdith: "Stop. Enough. If you want to sue anybody, sue me instead," a source in the meeting quoted the commander as saying, referring to Tarit's role over the past months in trying to bring protest leaders to justice.Regarding the election, Prayuth said: "If the election cannot be held, we should not have the election. If we need to sacrifice the blood of the people, we should not have the election," according to Election Commission secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong. – The Nation/ANN
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