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Video: Germanwings Black box found in Alps

Source: Fox News Business

Recovered: ‘black box’ after Germanwings jet crashes in French Alps with 150 aboard

(Fox News) Search teams found a “black box” from the plane that crashed early Tuesday in a remote section of the French Alps, providing the first possible clue as to what caused the Dusseldorf-bound aircraft to suddenly lose altitude and crash, likely killing all 150 people aboard.

The French Interior Ministry Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed searchers had recovered the flight data recorder in a debris field where “everything is pulverized,” according to one local official.

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence lawmaker Gilbert Sauvan said the debris is spread over an area that is the size of one-to-two football fields.

“Everything is pulverized,” Sauvan said. The largest pieces of debris are the size of a small car, he said.

The official said no one can access the site from the ground, but that helicopters are circling the area to get information and 500 firefighters and gendarmes are in the area.

“A black box that we found a few hours after the crash will immediately be examined to help the investigation move forward quickly,” Cazeneuve told French media.

The first helicopter that managed to land near the mile-square crash site in the Alpes de Haute Provence region, about 65 miles north of Nice found no survivors, according to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The flight data recorder and the other black box, the cockpit voice recorder, should help investigators determine the circumstances behind the crash of the Airbus 320, which French President Francois Hollande called “a tragedy that has occurred on our land.”

The plane, operated by German carrier Lufthansa’s budget airline, Germanwings, was 44 minutes into its flight from Barcelona in relatively clear weather when it dropped from a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to around 6,800 feet over the town of Barcelonnette. The eight-minute descent was described as unusually rapid, but possibly controlled though it left the plane too low to navigate the mountains.

“We will do everything possible the clarify the causes of the accident as quickly as possible,” Germanwings official Thomas Winkelmann said at a Tuesday news conference hours after the crash. “We want to know what happened. That is our obligation.”

“This is a mourning period that we need to overcome because it’s a tragedy that has occurred on our land.” – French President Francois Hollande.

Hollande was scheduled to talk to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spain’s King Felipe as most of the crew and 146 passengers,including two babies, were likely from those countries. The airline and the route are both popular for vacationers from both nations. No names of passengers were released, as the airline and authorities sought to contact family members. Reports said about 45 people on the plane had “Spanish surnames,” and 67 were believed to be German.

Sky News said 16 students from a German high school and two of their teachers were aboard the plane. The students were part of an exchange program in Spain. A German opera star Oleg Bryjak was also on the flight. Dusseldorf Opera House director Christoph Meyer said “we have lost a great performer and a great person in Oleg Bryjak. We are stunned.”

At a White House press conference Tuesday afternoon alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, President Obama expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends in Europe, especially the people of Germany and Spain following a terrible airplane crash in France,” he said. “It’s particularly heartbreaking because it apparently includes the loss of so many children, some of them infants.”

Obama said the State Department was working to confirm how many Americans may have been on the plane.

“This is a mourning period that we need to overcome because it’s a tragedy that has occurred on our land,” Hollande said.

U.S. officials quickly ruled out terrorism as a cause of the crash.

“There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time,” said Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

The owner of a campground near the crash site, Pierre Polizzi, told The Associated Press he heard a noise from the plane shortly before it crashed.

“I heard a series of loud noises in the air,” he said. “There are often fighter jets flying over, so I thought it sounded just like that. I looked outside, but I couldn’t see any fighter planes.”

He added that the search teams would have a difficult task. The nearest road to the crash site is two hours away.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get there,” he said. “The mountain is snowy and very hostile.”

Former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall told Fox News a crash in midflight was extremely rare and said “criminal activity” cannot be ruled out.

The plane was built in 1991 and had always been in Lufthansa’s fleet. Winkelmann said the pilot had more than 10 years’ experience and that the plane had been thoroughly inspected a day earlier.

AFP initially reported that the plane had issued a distress call at 10:47 a.m. local time, but later retracted the report. Germanwings officials could not immediately say whether a call was made.

The sudden descent could point to engine failure, an electrical problem or onboard fire, Kenneth Honig, former commanding officer of New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports, told Fox News.

“They had something going on that was causing them to lose altitude quickly,” Honig said.

 March 24, 2015: A Germanwings Airbus 320, like the one pictured above, crashed in the French Alps while en route to Dusseldorf, Germany from Barcelona, Spain.


Honig said the recordings captured on the “black box” will aid in the crash investigation because they will capture the dialogue between the pilot and co-pilot and what they were saying to one another as they tried to work through the problem.

“We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525,” Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told Sky News. “My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525. If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors.”

Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney told Fox News he was puzzled that the plane did not divert its course away from the mountains after losing altitude.

“If it disappeared [from radar], it means it got into the mountains,” McInerney said. “There’s probably quite a bit of [cockpit] dialogue that we’re not getting yet.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


#ReligiousRights: Navy bans chaplain from ministering to family of dead sailor

(Fox News) It really takes a special kind of lowlife to stop a chaplain from ministering to the family and colleagues of a dead sailor.

But that’s exactly what happened last week at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C., according to attorneys representing Chaplain Wes Modder.

It’s become clear to me Navy leadership cannot be trusted to protect religious liberty within the ranks. It’s time for our elected officials to intervene before Chaplain Modder’s commander brings more embarrassment and shame to the Armed Forces.

“For this Navy to bar a chaplain from comforting and ministering to sailors and families is a reprehensible violation of religious freedom and common human decency,” said Kelly Shackelford, the president of Liberty Institute, a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases.

Some quick background before I explain what happened:

Chaplain Modder is facing the end of a stellar, 19-year-career in the Navy because he expressed his faith-based views on marriage and human sexuality during private counseling sessions with sailors.

Last December, a gay officer took offense at Christian chaplain’s take on homosexuality. Modder, who is endorsed by the Assemblies of God, was accused of discrimination and failing to show tolerance and respect, among other things.

Just a few months earlier, Modder’s commander had called him the “best of the best” and a “consummate professional leader.” But now he’s on the verge of being kicked out of the military.

Modder was relieved of his duties and temporarily reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation. The Navy has since denied the chaplain’s request to be reinstated.  for religious accommodation.

So that brings us to an incident that occurred last week, when a sailor in Modder’s previous unit unexpectedly died.


Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry tells me Modder was about to reach out to the sailor’s grieving family when he was stopped by a member of the command.

He was slapped with a “no contact” order – the Navy’s version of a restraining order – banning him from providing counsel or ministering to any members of his unit.

“This Navy official is using the ‘no contact’ order as a weapon to punish and humiliate a decorated military chaplain,” Berry said. “To deny Chaplain Modder of the ability to minister to a grieving family and other sailors is deplorable.”

The Navy went so far as to banish Modder from the base on the day of the sailor’s memorial service. The chaplain said that was adding “insult to injury.”

“One of the most important things chaplains do is to provide comfort and care after a tragic death,” Modder said. “I am heartbroken for the family, and yet the Navy won’t allow me to do my job of helping them grieve and mourn.”

It’s beyond me why the Navy would treat a Marine and highly decorated chaplain with such derision. This is a man who was deployed multiple times during the War on Terror. This is a man who once led chaplains who ministered to Navy SEALs.

Tens of thousands of Americans have petitioned the Pentagon to reinstate Modder, and a number of high profile-political and religious figures – including Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz, Franklin Graham and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins – have offered their support.

I reached out to the Chief of Chaplains’ office for comment, but they did not return my call. I can only hope the reason is because they are just as speechless as I am.

It’s become clear to me that Navy leadership cannot be trusted to protect religious liberty within the ranks. It’s time for our elected officials to intervene, before Chaplain Modder’s commander brings more embarrassment and shame to the Armed Forces.


Netanyahu in US for ‘Fateful, Historic Mission’-Video

(CBN News) One day before his address to the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a rousing reception Monday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering in Washington.

After weeks of controversy over his appearance in the capital, Netanyahu downplayed differences with President Barack Obama, saying the strong bond between Israel and the United States will continue in spite of deep differences over the approach to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the office he holds,” Netanyahu said. “I have deep respect for both. I am deeply grateful for his support and show should you be.”

Israel’s second-longest serving prime minister also highlighted sharp disagreements between U.S. and Israeli leaders in the past, including Secretary of State George Marshall’s “vehement” objection to Israel’s declaration of statehood in 1948, which Israeli Prime Minister went ahead with over Marshall’s protest.

About Iran, Netanyahu said it “envelops the entire world with its tentacles of terror.”

“This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons. And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.”

For the Israeli prime minister, this trip to the U.S. is a “fateful, even historic, mission.”

Netanyahu says he sees himself as an emissary for all Israelis and for the Jewish people. His mission, he believes, is to protect Israel and the Jewish people from the threat of a nuclear Iran.

“As prime minister of Israel, it is my obligation to see to the security of Israel; therefore, we strongly oppose the agreement being formulated with Iran and the major powers, which could endanger our [Notes:Israel’s] very existence. In the face of this danger we must unite and also explain the dangers stemming from this agreement, to Israel, to the region and to the world,” he said before boarding his flight.

Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday evening ahead of his speeches at the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, and what has become a politically controversial address to Congress Tuesday on Iran.

Democrat lawmakers reportedly plan to sit out Netanyahu’s speech, calling it an affront to the president because it was allegedly set up without consulting the White House.

Netanyahu considers any deal with Iran that doesn’t end its ability to produce nuclear weapons unacceptable — a clear contrast to the diplomatic negotiations that President Barack Obama is spearheading to try to make a deal with Iran over that program.

And according to a Bethlehem-based news agency, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported Saturday that Obama prevented an Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry said the diplomatic nuclear deal with Iran will help ensure Israel’s security.

“We want to recognize the main goal here is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And on that, Israel and the United States agree. And the testimony, in fact, to the efficiency with which we’ve been able to pursue that is the interim agreement that is in place today. Israel is safer today because of the interim agreement that we created,” Kerry stated.

U.S. and Iranian officials reported progress in the latest talks on a deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear program for 10 years but then allow it to slowly restart during the final years.

Netanyahu hopes to encourage U.S. lawmakers to question the administration’s plan and delay the March 24 deadline for an agreement.