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BRITAIN



Published: Mon, July 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Times, London, July 3: Mid-air collisions are mercifully rare. But with the skies over Western Europe becoming ever more crowded, air traffic control experts must take an urgent new look at all the factors that narrow the margins for safety and appear, tragically, to have led to the fatal collision over Germany of a Russian charter jet and a cargo plane.

The spate of near misses at Heathrow has highlighted the volume of traffic, fine margins for error and dangers of human fatigue and misunderstanding.

Narrow bands

The sky may look a big place, but planes are concentrated into narrow bands -- partly because they have to approach and depart from runways in corridors determined by wind, noise and the demands of safety; partly because they cruise at the relatively narrow optimum altitude of around 35,000 ft. and partly because much of Europe's airspace has been commandeered for military use.

There is clearly cause for concern if aircraft on a collision course were set flight paths at precisely the same altitude.

One insistent question that must be addressed is the decision in January to halve the minimum separation between European air lanes above 29,000 ft. from 2,000 ft. to 1,000 ft. The change was introduced to squeeze 20 percent more traffic and relieve overcrowding.

In principle, the new slots should make flying safer, but only if planes are assigned different altitudes and carry the necessary upgraded instruments, which are subject to regular inspection. The thoroughness of past crash investigations has contributed to the safety of modern aviation. Regulators should act as quickly as possible to draw lessons from this tragedy.

ITALY

La Stampa, Turin, July 2: The International Criminal Court -- established by the Rome Treaty in 1998, and accepted by 69 countries -- risks dividing Europe from the United States more than steel tariffs and mass culture. This division may endanger the good results obtained by the West in the Balkans and, in particular, in Bosnia.

Europeans need to understand the sense of psychological and military vulnerability which, paradoxically, affects the world's only superpower. By contrast, the U.S. administration has to appreciate that trustworthy allies have signed the treaty, including Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

The new tribunal can be a very useful instrument in the fight against terrorism, dictatorships and genocide.

Hypocritical

However, the West, which enjoys both military strength and technological superiority, risks appearing hypocritical to the rest of the world because of its double moral standards. The United States was the first country to use international law, amid general skepticism, through the United Nations and the Nuremberg international tribunal.

Why should it forget that lesson? Human rights are universal. The court is a step forward which must be encouraged and not hindered.

JAPAN

Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, July 1: It should be said that the 2002 World Cup, the first ever held in Asia and co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, ended in success, thanks to the strenuous efforts of the players, fans and organizers in the co-hosting countries.

On the other hand, the response of FIFA, soccer's world governing body, to the ticketing problems that left a large number of seats empty in the early matches hurt the feelings of soccer fans.

Excessive commercialism

With the charges for broadcast rights soaring, it was impossible to broadcast every match on conventional television. Excessive commercialism betrays the expectations of fans. FIFA's self-righteous stance, which runs counter to soccer's increasing popularity worldwide, should be put under scrutiny.

Problems related to the poor performance of some referees also caused major repercussions

On the home front, the issue of how to make use of the stadiums constructed for the 2002 World Cup will become a future challenge.

The gala event has ended. While the echoes of excitement remain, it is a matter of urgency that the problems left behind be dealt with.




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