CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The discovery of a piece of aircraft wing on an island in the western Indian Ocean is unlikely to alter the seabed search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner in the southern Indian Ocean, the search leader said Thursday.
Air safety investigators are examining aircraft debris found on Reunion Island just off Madagascar to see if it is part of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared on March 8 last year.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan, who heads the seabed search, said searchers’ drift modelling indicated that debris could have floated to the island from where they believed the missing plane crashed 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) southwest of Australia.
So if the find proved to be part of the missing aircraft, it would still be consistent with the theory that the plane crashed within the 120,000 square kilometer (46,000 square mile) search area.
“It doesn’t rule out our current search area if this were associated with MH370,” Dolan told The Associated Press. “It is entirely possible that something could have drifted from our current search area to that island.”
“It’s unlikely to change the search plans. It would give us confirmation that there is an aircraft definitely in the Indian Ocean,” he said.
Dolan said search resources would be better spent continuing the seabed search with sonar and video for wreckage rather than reviving a surface search for debris if the find proved to be from Flight 370.
Confirmation that the wing part was the first trace of Flight 370 ever found would finally disprove theories that the airliner might have disappeared in the northern hemisphere,” he said.
The seabed search jointly funded by Australia and Malaysia has so far search 55,000 square kilometers (21,000 square miles) of remote seabed.
Dolan said he had seen detailed photographs of the find and “it certainly looks like an aerofoil from a large aircraft.”
Flight 370 vanished with 239 people on board while traveling from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A raucous crowd attacked Uber drivers and their vehicles with clubs and stones outside the Mexico City airport, the company said Wednesday, as licensed taxi drivers demonstrated to demand a “total halt” to app-based rideshare services in the capital.
Video of the incident showed people throwing eggs and flour inside the windows of vehicles, kicking doors and trying to rip off side mirrors. One man destroyed a sedan’s rear window with a large rock.
“What happened is a very grave attack on everyone’s freedom and right to make a living in a dignified manner,” Uber said in a statement. “Incidents like this are completely unacceptable, and we trust that authorities will act so that justice is done.”
The assault and the taxi drivers’ demonstration outside the Colombian Embassy to proclaim solidarity with cabbies in that country and around the world are a clear signal that recently issued regulations designed to create a legal framework for Uber and the smaller Cabify have not put an end to Mexico City’s simmering taxi dispute.
Uber spokeswoman Rocio Paniagua told Televisa news that between 10 and 12 cars were damaged in the attack Tuesday. Some drivers were struck, but there were no reports of serious injuries.
She said taxi cabs were used to block off the street, but those who took part were not carrying anything to identify who they were.
At Wednesday’s protest, leaders of the Organized Taxi Drivers of Mexico City union denied any involvement in the “regrettable” incident. They promised to pursue only legal avenues, and said the attack was carried out by people fed up with Uber drivers parking in their neighborhood for airport pickups.
“They are decisions that the neighbors of the area made, but we have nothing to do with it,” union spokesman Juan Carlos Rovira said. “We say so categorically.”
Earlier this month Mexico City became the first city in Latin America to set down official regulations for smartphone-based ride services like Uber.
They call for the companies to pay 1.5 percent of fares to a fund for improving transportation; require drivers to register and submit to annual inspections; and bar them from accepting cash or establishing the equivalent of taxi stands.
Cabbies questioned whether Uber drivers may have been breaking that last rule by parking outside the airport. Paniagua said the company’s drivers are not permitted to wait on airport grounds, so they stay in the surrounding streets until customers who summoned rides are in a place where they can be picked up.
Several dozen medallion-cab drivers rallied at the demonstration, setting off firecrackers. They hoisted signs calling rideshare operators “criminals” and criticizing Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera for letting them operate.
They vowed to continue pushing for the regulations to be repealed or modified until they feel there is a truly level playing field.
“These transnational applications are infiltrating different countries as an economic parasite, endangering the livelihood of thousands of taxi drivers and their families and devouring the market for the legally established service,” union official Ignacio Rodriguez said.
However, Uber is increasingly popular among middle- and upper-class Mexicans as they turn to what they consider a safer, more reliable, more pleasant, convenient and cost-competitive alternative to street cabs.
In a recent poll, 80 percent of Mexico City residents surveyed gave Uber positive ratings, compared with 52 percent for medallion cabs. Just 12 percent said they backed a ban on Uber.
Francisco Rodriguez Esquivel, a 61-year-old who has been driving a cab for 15 years, said the airport attack was the “unfortunate” but unsurprising result of pent-up frustration.
“I think it’s a logical consequence, that people start to get desperate because these companies continue to work and are probably even laughing at us,” Rodriguez said. “The struggle continues, and it is going to continue until this gets fixed.”
Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter—Orsi
MIAMI (AP) — Shakira and pro soccer play Gerard Pique may have another athlete in the family.
On Wednesday, Shakira posted a video to Twitter and Facebook of the couple’s youngest child, Sasha, who was born in January, in which she appears holding her son in front of a soccer ball.
“Kick,” the Colombian star says repeatedly to the baby boy, who raises his leg and succeeds on the first try.
The 12-second video racked up nearly 2 million views on Facebook in an hour.
The couple’s first child, Milan, a boy, was born in January 2013.
Shakira, who also is a coach on NBC’s “The Voice,” last year launched a line of baby toys and a Web series for moms.
NEW YORK (AP) — It took me just a weekend to get comfortable with Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system, something I never did with its predecessor, Windows 8, even after nearly three years.
With Wednesday’s update, Windows no longer feels jarring, as though I’m using two different computers at once.
Best part: This update is free.
Windows 8 was Microsoft’s way of modernizing personal computers, as smartphones and tablets grew more popular. But it came across as trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. It steered people toward tablet-like touch commands, even on desktops and laptops that had keyboards and mouse controls. Apps that weren’t designed for touch — including Microsoft’s Office — got shoved into the basement, known as desktop mode. Desktop mode and tablet/touch mode were like feuding siblings, each seeking to dominate in a high-stakes tug of war.
With Windows 10, everyone gets along. There are still separate desktop and tablet modes, but you largely stick with one or the other depending on whether you have a keyboard. (Microsoft skipped Windows 9, by the way, as though to distance itself from Windows 8 and its criticisms.)
Although there are a few reasons to hold off upgrading, which I’ll explain below, Windows 10 is better than Windows 8 in many ways:
WINDOWS APPS OPEN AS WINDOWS
Apps for Windows 8 were designed to take up the full screen, just like tablets. Although you could split the screen, apps could be placed only side by side, not top to bottom, as you’d probably want when having email and streaming video open at once.
With Mac computers and previous versions of Windows, you can resize windows however you like. With Windows 8, that was limited to apps that hadn’t been adapted for touch — the ones kept in the basement, segregated from the newer apps. Windows 10 restores resizing for all apps, touch or not. It sounds cosmetic, but it makes a big difference in fitting in with your workflow.
SINGLE START SCREEN
With Windows 8, the corner start button in desktop mode got you to a full-screen, graphical start page in tablet mode. You had to return to the desktop mode to run an older app, even though you were sent to tablet mode to launch it.
With Windows 10, the start button functions the way it did with Windows 7 and earlier. The graphical start page from Windows 8 is embedded in that start button, so that it feels modern without making you chuck old habits. You can still get a full-screen start page, but it’s not forced on you.
Internet Explorer is gone as the default browser, replaced by Edge. You get some functional improvements, such as a virtual marker to draw arrows or circle an entry on a Web page to share over email, Facebook and other means.
Even better, you no longer have separate browsers for desktop and tablet modes. With Windows 8, when you opened a website in desktop mode, it didn’t show up in tablet mode. You had to open it again. With Windows 10, it’s a unified browser, so you pick up where you leave off if you switch modes.
Some websites, including those from Google, aren’t as smooth on Edge as they are on other browsers, but the problem might be limited to Microsoft’s Surface tablets. The sites work better on an HP laptop upgraded to Windows 10. You can still get Windows 10 on Surface and install a different browser, such as Google’s Chrome. In addition, IE will still be available for older websites that need it, but it will stay on the sidelines as Edge takes center stage.
BORROWING FROM PHONES
While Windows 8 tried too hard to adopt features from mobile devices, Windows 10 brings two features that make sense.
— An Action Center offers quick access to settings such as Wi-Fi, brightness and “quiet hours” — a way to suspend notifications and sounds if, say, you’re giving a presentation.
— Cortana, the voice assistant akin to Google Now and Apple’s Siri, comes to Windows PCs. Because you might feel awkward talking to your computer, you have the option of typing in commands, such as “Remind me to get milk.”
Cortana is integrated with the Edge browser, too. Right-click to ask Cortana to define a word or provide a restaurant’s hours of operation. A Cortana window temporarily slides over with that nugget of information so you don’t clutter your browser with opened tabs.
LAPTOPS WORK ON THE GO
As Microsoft shifts its focus to online services, it has been steering users to store files on its OneDrive online storage service. As with Dropbox and Google Drive, OneDrive typically keeps copies of all your files on your computer so you have them while offline. Any changes you make sync with the service once you’re back online.
That changed with Windows 8. Copies were grabbed from the Internet only when you needed them, which meant files weren’t always available when using laptops on the go, away from Wi-Fi. Windows 10 restores the approach of keeping copies of everything, unless you limit that because you’re low on storage.
SHOULD YOU UPGRADE?
I’ve been using a pre-release version of Windows 10 for a month without major problems. As with any upgrades, make sure your favorite apps and accessories will work, as it might take time for outside developers and manufacturers to catch up. Microsoft’s Get Windows 10 app will check for known problems. Back up your PC first.
If you’re using a low-end “Home” version of Windows, Microsoft will turn on future updates automatically once you get Windows 10. That is normally a good thing, especially as Microsoft plans to add features regularly, rather than wait for the next major release. But automatic updates might surprise you with incompatible apps and accessories.
You might want to wait a few months to see whether these automatic updates cause any meltdowns for others. In addition, Windows 7 users who use Windows Media Center or have DVD players might need to find replacement software first. The free Windows 10 offer is good for a year, so there’s no rush.
The case is easier for those using Windows 8, including the Home version. The experience is much better, making any potential upgrade hassles worth it.
Technical details: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-specifications
ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year for Rome. But the Eternal City will need a miracle to find anything to feel jubilant about.
Just when Rome needs to be at its best, the city is being shamed by corruption scandals and a breakdown in public services — especially in the mass transit that many of the expected 30 million Jubilee pilgrims will depend on.
Amid a relentless heat wave, bus drivers have been yanking buses out of service, forcing passengers off, often between stops. Others deliberately drive their spine-rattling buses so slowly that it’s faster to walk.
The actions are part of a protest against Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino’s order for bus drivers to punch in the clock like other city employees. The transport breakdown is one of the biggest headaches in a summer of chaos extraordinary even for a city that sees chaos as a way of life.
Meanwhile, Marino has taken the drastic step of getting help from a prosecutor famed for combatting Sicilian mobsters to help root out City Hall corruption. The Mafia-fighter was enlisted following dozens of arrests since late last year of city politicians and businessmen with links to the political right and left.
The scandal’s best-known suspect is none other than Marino’s predecessor as mayor: former neo-fascist street fighter Gianni Alemanno, who denies wrongdoing. He is being investigated for allegedly colluding with businessmen using mafia-like methods to win municipal contracts. Alemanno’s tenure allegedly involved rampant nepotistic hiring, including a go-go dancer as a manager’s assistant.
Corruption and cronyism have direct links to Rome’s current transport woes: Patronage scandals are blamed for helping to bankrupt the municipal transit company ATAC, which might be forced to stop service due to lack of funds. Free-wheeling hiring of friends and other improper practices have also put other municipal agencies like trash pickup in terrible financial condition.
Under Alemanno, bonuses were generously doled out to city workers to reward them for diligently showing up for work at least 110 days a year.
Marino, a liver transplant surgeon who became a politician a decade ago, says he is determined to keep Rome from collapsing in dysfunction. The problem is he’s desperately trying to save the patient while seeing his own operating team disappear. Several commissioners have quit in despair.
On Tuesday, replacing his second budget czar, Marino drily recalled the shock that greeted him shortly after being elected in 2013: “I never imagined I’d find the coffers empty,” he said. “Nearly a billion (euros) in the red, organized crime, corruption.”
“About all that was lacking along the way were land mines,” the mayor told reporters.
Marino fired his transport commissioner after a video surfaced on the Internet showing a crammed subway car filled with commuters hurtling through the underground with doors wide open.
“The trains are old, they aren’t maintained, they are dirty. It seems like there isn’t even anyone who cleans them,” said Claudio Laudi, waiting at a stop near the Piazza del Popolo. “I just don’t think you can compare (Rome) to other European capitals. Madrid is different. Paris is different, we have been left behind.”
Premier Matteo Renzi, whose Democratic Party backed Marino for mayor, is keeping a cautious distance. At a recent political event, Renzi told Marino critics: “Take an opinion survey of Romans and let me know how it turns out.”
Opinion polls have already shown Marino’s losing the popularity he enjoyed after he was elected two years ago. On Tuesday, he promised fed-up Romans they would get 200 new buses by year’s end, see roads repaved and have 60,000 new garbage bins for trash, which chronically piles up along the streets.
With ATAC running out of cash, Marino announced he is seeking a private partner to pump in funds. About 300 bus, tram and subway car drivers protested those plans Wednesday outside City Hall, worried that private investors might demand private sector levels of productivity.
The protesters yelled Marino’s name in hopes the mayor would appear, and draped protest banners fashioned from sheets over the elegant buildings on a Renaissance-era square.
Meanwhile, Italy’s interior minister must soon decide whether to pull the plug on Marino’s administration, and put the city in the hands of a special commission. That’s the same humiliating treatment meted out to southern Italian towns whose governments are infiltrated by crime syndicates like Cosa Nostra.
The prosecutor leading the probe has stressed that Marino is himself completely free of suspicions of corruption.
Rome’s corruption has long thrived on the connivance of city politicians, administrators and local gangsters, who have no formal ties to the traditional southern crime syndicates. Lucrative city contracts, prosecutors say, are divvied up, skirting public bidding procedures as the wrongdoers pocket kickbacks or bribes.
But these largely went undetected until probes intensified under Marino’s watch.
Trisha Thomas contributed to this report
Frances D’Emilio can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Portuguese government is recommending its staff try cycling in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save money on gas.
The government has reduced its vehicle fleet from more than 28,000 in 2010 to fewer than 27,000 last year and now intends to buy 1,200 electric cars.
The goal is to save 50 million euros ($55 million) and reduce the government fleet’s CO2 emissions by 20 percent between 2015 and 2020. That also means getting the over half-a-million government employees to think green and encouraging them to use bikes.
Environment chief Jorge Moreira da Silva said Wednesday the government will set up parking lots for bicycles at government buildings, but it wasn’t immediately clear if other incentives would be introduced. Ride-sharing and video conferences will also be recommended.