Sunday, 24 August 2014

A TWIST OF FATE

Sentenced to hang, an accident gave Bob the chance to run for his life

Sixteen-year-old Bob Asker has been framed, convicted and sentenced to hang for murder, but then they have to try and catch him. A Twist of Fate has suspense, mystery and intrigue all the way to a stunning conclusion.

Below is a free sample read from the e-book A Twist of Fate by Peter Blakeborough:

Like everyone else in New Zealand the Reynolds family knew all about the murder, trial and escape, but they wanted to hear Bob’s version of events. They talked until afternoon when Bob suddenly nodded off to sleep, mid-sentence. Two hours later his hosts woke him for a hot bath, dinner and a real bed with a mattress, pillow, sheets and blankets, luxuries he had not experienced for six months. He slept for twelve hours and woke in the morning just as sixteen-year-old Janet Reynolds was leaving for school.
‘Did you have a good sleep?’ she asked.
‘Yeah. Too right. I slept like a baby. By the way, I’m Bob Ask…’
‘No you’re not!’ she hissed. ‘You’re Bob Doyle, remember?
‘Yes. That’s right. Thanks for reminding me. Who are you?’
‘I’m Janet. Hey, I like you. You’re nice,’ she giggled.
He smiled.
‘So are you. Everything here is nice and especially you. How would you like to fall in love with a murderer?’
‘Enough of that,’ Edna chastised them.
Janet laughed.
‘He’s only kidding, mum.’
‘I know. But you’d better be off to school. You’re going to be late, girl.’
‘See you tonight then.’
‘Yeah. See you tonight.’
Author Peter Blakeborough

Two days later the Cessna landed again at Thames and Tom Laing walked to the Reynolds’ house.
‘It’s all arranged and ready to go,’ Tom said. ‘We fly again at first light.’
‘I really wish I didn’t have to do this, Tom. This is where I belong with my friends and family and the country that I know – the country that has treated me so well until recently.’
‘You have to put all that behind you now, son,’ Morrie said.
‘I know, but it’s going to be hard. I just wish everything could be put back the way it was.’
‘That can’t happen, Bob,’ Tom said. ‘You must never try to contact anyone in Matamata. Houses are being watched around the clock, phones tapped, mail opened. They won’t ever stop looking for you. The authorities don’t like being beaten.’
An hour before sunrise the Reynolds’ household was awake and sitting down to an early breakfast. Janet, sitting next to Bob, waited for a moment when the others were distracted and whispered in his ear.
‘I’ll be your link with home, Bob, if it’s all right with you.’
‘How?’ he whispered back.
She grinned shrewdly.
‘Newcastle post office, midday, first of January 1956. I’ll meet you there.’
‘Serious?’
‘Serious. I’ll be there and I’ll bring you up to date with everything at home. I promise.’
‘It’s a deal.’
They were interrupted by a casual sounding question from Tom.
‘What’s your date of birth, Bob?’
‘Twenty-second of April, 1938. Why?’
‘Wrong, Bob. Ninth of November, 1937, remember?’
‘Sorry. I forgot again.’
‘Have you signed your passport?’
‘Yes. Done that.’
‘The same as the signature on Ray’s licence?’
‘Exactly.’
‘Excellent. Now remember you have an Australian passport and a New Zealand driver’s licence. How will you explain that?’
‘I was born in Australia and lived for a while in New Zealand.’
‘Where in Australia were you born?’
‘Griffith, New South Wales.’
‘Do you know anyone called Asker?’
Bob hesitated for a moment.
‘No.’
‘Okay, Bob Doyle, you’ve passed the test. Are you ready to go?’
‘Ready.’
Morrie Reynolds shook his hand and wished him luck. Edna hugged and kissed him. Janet kissed him too and whispered in his ear.
‘First of the first, fifty-six, Newcastle post office, midday.’
‘It’s a date, Janet.’
‘Okay. Break it up, you two. Gotta go,’ Tom ordered.
As Bob headed for the door he looked back for the last time.
‘I won’t ever forget the nicest family in Thames… the nicest family in the world. Thanks for everything.’
‘Good luck, Bob.’
To buy A Twist of Fate, or to read
another free sample first, just
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A few minutes later the Cessna was airborne and climbing on a south-easterly course. At three thousand feet Laing levelled off and Bob watched the indicated airspeed creep up to 140 miles an hour. It was a much faster machine than his father’s  Tiger Moth. Paeroa and Waihi slipped by under the wings and then they were over the sea. Anyone watching the aircraft cross the coast would have thought it was going to White Island, an active volcano fifty miles out to sea. An Auckland charter company had been conducting scenic flights to the volcano since it had become active again some weeks earlier. But twenty-five miles short of the island volcano Tom Laing changed course to the north. Other small islands appeared on the horizon ahead of them and slipped behind. The East Coast of the North Island was many miles away to the west. The sky was deep blue and the sea below was turquoise between a patchwork of isolated cloud shadows. Volcanic Mayor Island slipped passed the left wing several miles away and they were soon skirting around the Alderman Islands, the Slipper and the Shoe. Further on they passed to seaward of the Mercury Islands and Cuvier Island. It was a wonderful morning for flying. The air was as smooth as silk. Ahead of them Great Barrier Island lay on the horizon. Laing eased the nose down a little and the Cessna gathered speed on a long descent to the rocky coast. Bob was surprised at how mountainous the island was.
‘Are you sure there’s somewhere to land here?’ Bob asked.
Laing laughed.
‘Oh, yes. There’s an aerodrome at Claris, but we won’t go there today. Who knows who might be watching? No, we’ll use a topdressing strip. Don’t worry. It’s all arranged. The strip belongs to another of your supporters. They’re everywhere, Bob, and the local people on the island are so accustomed to seeing topdressing aircraft that they don’t take any notice these days.’
The Cessna rounded a headland between two sandy bays and Bob saw the airstrip extending up to the apex of a ridge a few hundred feet above the tide. Laing pulled the power off, raised the nose and lowered the flaps. A moment later the wheels brushed the grass and the momentum carried the Cessna to the top of the airstrip. A bearded man in his forties waited for them beside a late model Chevrolet.
‘I’m Mike Hall,’ he said when the doors opened.
‘Pleased to meet you, Mike. I’m Tom Laing and this is your trainee sailor.’
Hall held out his hand to the youth.
‘Well, I’m pleased to meet you, mister trainee sailor. Are you ready to go?’
Bob liked Mike Hall from first sight. He had the appearance of a rough diamond but underneath the fa├žade he could see a sharp mind, an adventurous spirit and a man of true loyalty to his friends and anyone in need.
‘Aye, aye, captain. I’m ready to go.’
Then Bob turned to Tom Laing.
‘I really don’t know how to thank you. Perhaps someday I’ll come back and be able repay you in some way. You’ve been a true friend.’
‘Good luck, son. I’ve got a feeling you’re going to be okay.’
‘Please tell my mother that I’ll be thinking of her every day.’
They got into Hall’s car and drove down the winding farm road passed the homestead and onto the road to Tryphena harbour.  Bob wished he could stay in New Zealand and learn to fly like Tom Laing and like his father. But he had to go. It was hard for his mind to keep pace with events. So much had happened in such a short space of time.
They arrived at the tranquil harbour and Mike parked the Chevrolet in the shed near his seaside cottage and without further preamble they got into a dinghy and rowed out to the Sinbad. Hall had already prepared the yacht for a speedy departure. He had only to start the auxiliary engine and haul up the anchor.
Within minutes they had left the shelter of the harbour, raised the sails and shut down the engine. Bob looked back with nostalgia at the receding landscape and wondered if he would ever see New Zealand again. A lump came to his throat as he thought about his mother, his friends, his younger brother and sisters, and his supporters, and Heather. If only the clock could be turned back – even for a little while – he would feel better. He watched the shore silently while Mike adjusted the sails and kept busy with numerous other tasks. He was pleased that Mike allowed him those few moments of privacy.
Above the sound of sails and rigging Bob heard a more familiar sound and turned his eyes in another direction. The Cessna, small at first, was skimming across the water on a course that would take it passed the stern of the Sinbad. As it drew rapidly closer Bob stood up in the cockpit and waved to the pilot. For a fleeting moment before the machine flashed passed he saw a hand waving back. It turned towards the mainland and he watched until it became a mere speck in the limitless sky. When he could no longer see it he turned his attention to the voyage of the Sinbad and to the future.
‘I’m ready for Australia, Mike. How long will it take?’
Hall came and sat alongside him.
‘Ten days, two weeks, maybe more. Depends on the winds. The Tasman Sea can be a bitch at the best of times. From here we’re going to sail around the southern end of the Barrier and head east until we’re out of sight of land, just in case anyone should be watching. Then we’ll sail north until we’re well clear of North Cape. Then we’ll go west until we’re within a hundred miles of the Australia coast. We’ll turn south again to Port Stephens. It’s a pretty isolated harbour with just a few scattered villages. No one will be any the wiser.’
‘Are you going to teach me how to sail?’
‘Sure thing, Bob. By the end of the journey you’ll be an experienced watch captain. We’ll take turns at the helm. Four hours on, four hours off.’
‘I’m looking forward to it, Mike.’
‘Good on you, lad.’



 Available from Smashwords


Friday, 22 August 2014

POLYGRAPH TESTING

What is the real truth about lie detector testing?

The Polygraph was invented in 1921 by a medical student, John Larson, at the University of California at Berkeley and a police officer at the Berkeley Police Department, and proponents of the system, according to others, have been living a lie ever since. So what is the truth about lies and how to detect them?


Well, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, commonly regarded as the world’s most authoritative reference work, put the polygraph on its 2003 list of the world’s greatest inventions. But unfortunately for Britannica, Britannica itself has been judged by a panel of encyclopedia experts to be only 87% accurate and not top of the list. So has Britannica, through its authoritative ineptitude, helped a lie to live on?

The Polygraph, or lie detector, measures while answering serious questions, the blood pressure, pulse, respiration and skin conductivity, or the amount of electricity in the skin. Skin electricity must be the stuff that goes bang when you step out of a car and close the door. This must mean that John Larson also unwittingly invented a cure for bodily static electricity. If you don’t tell lies before you get out of the car you won’t get a shock.

Lately, the lie detector has been back in the news again on the Jeremy Kyle Show. That’s the TV show where unfaithful spouses and their accusers can shout the house down and rush off the stage and out into the street as though afflicted by mad cow disease. Whenever I watch this show, and fortunately I don’t have time to suffer it often, I can usually tell from the body language, 80% of the time, who is telling the truth and who is lying.

In one recent Jeremy Kyle Show I was surprised to find that a woman, who had me convinced of her honesty, was found by the lie detector to have lied. She immediately disputed the accuracy of the test. Some participants on the show decline to take the lie detector test with the result that their credibility is questioned on the assumption that they did not want to fail the test. But they may have declined because they did not trust the test to provide an honest result.

Polygraph testing is regularly used in the United States and Canada for criminal investigation and pre-employment screening. Polygraph evidence is admitted in court in only 19 of the 50 US states, and at the discretion of the judge in federal courts. In five states it is illegal for an employer to polygraph an employee suspected of wrongdoing.

Lies and liars in this crime thriller
To download a free sample of this
e-book click here
Outside North America polygraph testing is rare. However, recently an Indian woman accused of murder was convicted on the basis of a polygraph test, but that case was later thrown out by a higher court.

So why has the polygraph failed to gain acceptance? The polygraph is regarded by the scientific community as pseudo-science. In other words its reliability can not be proven by any scientific method. Proponents of the polygraph, usually police officers and prosecutors, claim that it is 80% accurate, but even that figure may be a lie. So what we may have here is liars trying to catch liars, which reminds me of something my mother told me long ago: “Don’t trust people who repeatedly tell you how honest they are.”

In 2003 the United States National Academy of Sciences issued a report on polygraph testing and concluded that proponents of the system were using research material that was flawed, unscientific, unreliable and biased.

Opponents of polygraph testing say that it is too easy for innocent people to fail the test and for skilled liars to beat the test.

But there is also another argument for banning polygraph testing which has nothing to do with its accuracy. By forcing a defendant to submit to the test may be requiring the defendant to be a witness against himself, which would be a breach of his human rights in any country that claims to be a democracy. But there are other tests, proven scientifically, which also put a defendant in that same situation; breath and blood testing for alcohol or drugs.

Of necessity, the margin between upholding rights and upholding the law to protect others needs to be just a little flexible at times, but tests that have no scientific foundation should have no place in any country’s justice system. Polygraph testing is nothing more than twentieth century witchcraft.



Monday, 18 August 2014

AVIATION DOWNUNDER

How WW2 entrepreneur pilots changed New Zealand farming
Ever since the Wright Brothers made the historic first successful flight at Kitty Hawk pilots have never tired in their efforts to find new and revolutionary uses for aircraft.
At first aircraft were used to set duration, distance and altitude records and that was quickly followed by revenue earning flights for sightseers and thrill seekers. Then along came the Great War of 1914-18, and aircraft became fighting machines. With the peace that followed, labor markets were flooded with returning servicemen including former pilots, many of whom would rather have stayed airborne.
A James Aviation DH 82A Tiger Moth in a museum
The entrepreneurs among them quickly found new ways to keep flying. Using crudely designed and built machines they started hiring out their skills as joyriding and charter pilots and eventually as barnstorming flying circus operators. As pilots gained more experience and aircraft designs improved the sky was the limit. Suddenly there were continents to cross, oceans to fly over.
Soon aircraft were being used for scheduled air services, moving urgent and perishable freight, aerial photography and mapping, science and exploration.
In New Zealand a little known event in 1906 paved the way for commercial agricultural aviation to start almost half a century later. The event involved John Chaytor and a hot air balloon. Chaytor spread seed over a swamp at Wairoa. In 1936 Harold McHardy used a de Havilland Gypsy Moth to sow seed on his farm in Hawkes Bay.
In 1939 Alan Pritchard, a pilot with the Public Works Department carried out some experiments by throwing seeds from a Miles Whitney Straight aircraft near Ninety Mile Beach. But then along came World War Two and when peace came again most pilots were suddenly out of work again, this time tens of thousands of them all over the world.
A Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber on a carrier
New Zealand pilots made a major contribution to the war effort considering the size of the nation at the time, but only a few were able to stay on in the tiny Royal New Zealand Air Force and the airline business also had limited opportunities. Only a handful of aero clubs employed full-time instructors. Most pilots were obliged to find employment away from flying, but many longed to fly again.
Meanwhile, New Zealand hill country farmers and the government became aware that production could be increased significantly if they could find an efficient and economical way of getting fertilizer onto marginal land that was out of reach of land vehicles. It was known that vast areas of New Zealand were deficient in trace elements such as cobalt, copper and selenium. The solution to this deficiency lay in spreading fertilizer, or topdressing.
Doug Campbell, an agricultural academic had been pressing for the introduction of aerial topdressing since the 1930s and in 1946 he teamed up with Pritchard and they built a sheet metal hopper for the Whitney Straight, ZK-AFH. In July that year they spread fertilizer on a copper-deficient farm of 1,100 acres near Taumarunui in the central North Island. People talked of using war surplus aircraft to spread fertilizer and several tests were carried out by the Air Force using Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers.
A Tiger Moth being loaded with super-phosphate
In 1949 a Research and Development Flight was formed in the Air Force commanded by Stan Quill comprising three Avengers and a DC-3 (C-47), and they ordered two Miles Aerovans and 12 Bristol Freighters, all to be equipped with hoppers for spreading fertilizer. It was even proposed that four-engine Handley Page Hastings transports could be used.
In 1947 New Zealand’s airlines had been nationalized by the left-leaning Labour Government of Peter Fraser and in 1949 the indications were that the government wanted a monopoly on the coming aerial topdressing industry too.
There were stumbling blocks to progress for the private entrepreneurs. At that time it was illegal to drop anything from an aircraft and the government bureaucracy was taking too long for the men impatient to fly again. Changes to the regulations and a licensing system for operators could be years away, and may have possibly been put on hold forever.
A British Auster Agricola designed for
New Zealand conditions attracted few buyers
The entrepreneurs were not prepared to wait any longer and took the proverbial bull by the horns. They had a simple uncomplicated approach to the business and purchased war-surplus de Havilland DH 82A Tiger Moth trainers, removed the front seat and installed a hopper in its place. With the Tiger Moths they could load the fertilizer from bags directly into the hopper and fly from the farm of any farmer willing to pay for the service. The Tiger Moths were available at £100 each.
In 1949 at least five private operators purchased Tiger Moths from the Air Force, which by this time was going cold on the idea of aerial topdressing, and instead wanted to deal with the rising threat of communism. The operators included Airwork, Christchurch (five Tiger Moths); James Aviation, Hamilton (three); Aircraft Services, Auckland (three); Gisborne Aerial Topdressing (one); and Southern Scenic Air Services had converted one Auster for topdressing.
A novel about a pioneer pilot's family.
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e-book just click 
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Other early operators included Rex Garnham of Rangitikei Air Services (who was later granted the first operator license) and Wally Harding a farmer who launched Wanganui Aero Work with a Tiger Moth. John Barr, founder of Barr Brothers, had the misfortune to be the first topdresser to have an accident when he crashed on his first flight and spent some time in hospital. Other early birds included Miles King (Rural Aviation) and Guy Robertson (Robertson Air Services),
Although within five years more than fifty companies had been formed to provide farmers with aerial topdressing services, the early pioneers mentioned above became the ones to dominate the industry for the next several decades. Mergers and take-overs enabled them to grow, while for others competition and accidents reduced their numbers. Arthur Esmond Gibson, the Director of Civil Aviation at the time, was the pilot’s and operator’s friend and did much to legalize aerial work operations with regard to dropping material from the air, low flying, landing places and overloading.
Most operators kept their aircraft busy for most of the year with weed control, rabbit poisoning and supply dropping operations outside the short topdressing season.
The pilots were glad to get back in the air again and they were soon joined by younger aero club trained pilots with little experience. But with relaxed flying rules, little specialized training, under-powered aircraft and low flying over difficult terrain, the accident rate was high and the first fatal accident occurred in 1950 when an overloaded and under-powered Cessna 170 crashed on take-off from a farm airstrip. Others soon followed.
A New Zealand built Fletcher FU-24
It was a special breed of pilot that went into New Zealand’s aerial topdressing industry. Many were hard-working, hard-drinking, yarn-spinning dare-devils in the early days. The survival rate was barely better than the war-time flying that many had already survived.
For the first several years the Tiger Moth was the backbone of the industry, not because they were suitable for the job, but simply because at first there was an endless supply of them at budget prices. In reality, the Tiger Moth was probably the most unsuitable aircraft for the job. It was a development of the 1920s de Havilland DH 60 Gypsy Moth. The first DH 82 Tiger Moth took to the air in 1931, an open cockpit biplane trainer. Initially, there were no drawings for the Tiger Moth. De Havillands simply pulled a DH 60 apart and shortened some parts and lengthened others to give easier access to the front cockpit. They also inverted the engine to improve ground clearance for the propeller. Then they re-assembled it and flew it. The Tiger Moth was said to be delivered new with a built-in head wind. It was flimsy, clumsy and top-heavy, but many pilots like them, either because they lacked experience of anything better, or they loved the challenge of taming a Tiger.
As the supply of Tiger Moths dried up, mostly due to accidents, operators were forced to look for suitable replacements. The main contenders were British Austers, American Cessnas and Pipers, and Canadian Beavers, but these too, although better than the Tiger Moths, were barely an improvement. They were still converted trainers or touring aircraft. The industry needed a purpose-built aircraft.
From the middle 1950s new types emerged, purpose-built for New Zealand conditions, and they came from Australia, USA and England. Many types were tried with limited success and some were total failures. However, one type emerged that would dominate the industry for decades to come and that was the California designed Fletcher FU-24, a design based on the FD-25 Defender from 1951. The first one arrived in New Zealand in 1954 and a Hamilton company, Air Parts Limited, secured a license to build them in New Zealand. The first one had a large open cockpit, a 225 hip. flat six engine, a wide and sturdy tricycle undercarriage, and thick high-lift wings. The Fletcher could carry twice the load of a Tiger Moth and had excellent slow flight characteristics.
After the first 257 Fletchers had been built with 260 and 310 hp Continental engines the type was upgraded as the FU-24-950 with a 400 hp. Lycoming flat eight engine. Further development in the 1970s saw turbine power units being installed and later still the type was redeveloped again as the Pacific Aero Space Cresco. Fletchers and Crescos have been exported from New Zealand to many parts of the world where they operate as topdressers and sprayers, and are used in skydiving operations and charter work.
During the period from 1955 to 1985 a number of companies operated large twin-engine aircraft on topdressing operations of which the most successful was the faithful old 1934 designed Douglas DC-3 (C-47). With five tons of fertilizer and operating mostly from regular airports, the DC-3s could cost-effectively spread their load on some of New Zealand’s largest farms. These aircraft were all modified enabling operation by a single pilot.
By 1958 the New Zealand agricultural aviation industry had grown to 73 companies and 279 aircraft operating from more than 10,000 farm airstrips.
The airstrips were almost exclusively in hilly or mountainous terrain. They were short, narrow and usually steep, with take-offs always downhill and lands always uphill. Most strips could only be used in near calm conditions, the approaches and climb out paths were often crowded by lethal obstructions including hills, trees, buildings or electricity lines. With almost all airstrips a go-around was impossible. It was first time correct, or die, and that wasn’t a once a day event. Typically, a pilot would be in the air for only three minutes at a time with only 45 seconds on the ground for loading and a hundred take-offs and landings constituted a fairly normal day.
As larger aircraft became available the fleet size began to shrink while the tonnage spread continued to increase until a farming recession in the 1980s caused the industry to shrink. Environmental concerns have also affected the number of operators and tonnages during recent times.
But the exploits of the early pilots, the Supermen, who spread the super-phosphate on the hillsides Downunder, are legendary. One pilot called his company one day to report that “my engine is missing.” When told to check the spark plugs, he replied, “No no. I mean I can’t find the engine!” Indeed the engine was missing. It had parted company with the aircraft when one blade of the propeller flew off. The aircraft, a Cessna 180, did three quick loops due to the catastrophic change of trim. At the top of each loop the pilot cranked down another notch of flap and the last loop ended with a perfect three-point landing at almost zero airspeed. Another engine and propeller were installed the next day and pilot and Cessna went back to work again.
Another pilot wrote in an accident report: “I was coming in to land when the sun got in my eyes, but that wasn’t a problem because it was my seventh landing of the day and I knew exactly where the strip was. Unfortunately, as I peered into the sun I didn’t see the cow that had wandered onto the strip, but I managed to avoid it at the last moment by swerving across a ditch. After that I opened the throttle to go around again, but the propeller dug itself into a bank as the ditch ripped off the undercarriage which in turn caused the aircraft to slide into a tree where the starboard wing was ripped off. As I steered the aircraft back toward the strip, the port wing struck a tree stump which was hiding in the long grass, the stump ripped the underside out of the fuselage and then I lost control.”
Aerial topdressing company, Fieldair, had a strangled goose as its logo. The legend was that a pilot flying between jobs saw a goose going the same way. So he closed the gap until they were flying in close formation. He felt like some goose for dinner. When the goose was a little over an arm’s length away from the Tiger Moth cockpit, the pilot cunningly initiated a gentle sideslip towards the feathered flyer. But the goose saw him coming and moved away. By this time the pilot was feeling quite hungry for some cooked goose and went all out to cook the goose’s goose, so to speak. A dog-fight started and the two flyers got lower and lower. For a moment the pilot lost sight of the goose until he was suddenly alarmed to see that the goose had gone on the offensive and was on a collision course with the propeller. Well, the propeller flew to bits and the pilot put down on the only even ground in sight and pulled the broken goose out of the flying wires. When the pilot reported to the company that he had suffered a bird-strike there was an element of truth in it. But his story was undone when the farmer called Fieldair and asked them to spread some fertilizer for him. He explained, “Your company has the world’s best pilots. One of them just chased a goose all over my farm, narrowly missing every tree and hill on the property until he cut the goose in half with the propeller and then landed to pick it up.”



Friday, 15 August 2014

STEALING FROM THE DEAD

Money stolen from accounts of MH370 passengers
NZ Herald, Friday Aug 15, 2014
More than $41,000 has been stolen from four passengers aboard the doomed MH370 flight.
Five months after the Malaysia Airlines flight went missing, mysterious withdrawals totaling 111,000 RM (NZ $41,108) have been recorded, reports claim.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777
A bank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, reported the apparent discrepancies in their accounts on July 18, before lodging a police complaint, Assistant Commissioner to the crime investigation department Izany Abdul Ghany revealed.
It comes as the search team prepares to conduct a deep-water search across 60,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean.
According to reports, the transactions were made on July 18 when money from the accounts of three passengers was transferred to the account of a fourth passenger before it was removed.
"We are investigating the case as unauthorised access with intent to commit an offence," Izany said, according to the Mirror.
"We are getting CCTV footage from the bank to identify the suspects involved."
A source told the New Straits Times: "We believe the suspect withdrew the money through the fourth victim's account via several automated teller machines (ATMs) in the Klang Valley."

Efforts to locate Flight MH370 have spanned more than five months, making it one of the most expensive searches for a plane in aviation history . . . .
More in the nzherald

Peter’s Piece

Already posts are appearing on Facebook claiming this revelation is prove that the missing aircraft landed safely somewhere and terrorists are withdrawing money from passenger bank accounts.

It’s the stuff that movies and novels are made of, but it only proves that money may have been removed from accounts.

For the aircraft to land in one piece and be hidden from view for five months would require at the minimum a mile long runway and a very large building to hide it, and more large buildings to conceal the passengers and crew. A small army would be required to run the operation and keep it secret from the world. And for what purpose? All that to steal $111,000? I don’t think so. However, it would indeed make a great movie.
To download a free sample of this
thriller e-book, click here

For many people the clincher will be the involvement of the fourth passenger, because to them it is proof that the fourth passenger is alive. Not so. Work the plot backwards.

Defrauding the bank accounts of dead or missing people is not new. It happens all the time. A person committing such a crime does not want to be discovered, so using a false name or stolen identity is a common tactic. And there is no better identity to use than that of someone who is dead or missing. They can’t complain and they can’t be interviewed by investigators. All four passengers have been victims twice; they have died and their estates have been defrauded.

I used this dead identity ruse several times in my novel A Twist of Fate. It works beautifully.
I believe that both the aircraft disappearance and the bank account thefts will be solved in time, but I don’t believe that both were part of the same master plan. One was an as yet unexplained accident and the other was simply a criminal opportunity that arose from it, just like a looter in a ruined shop or house after an earthquake.




Thursday, 14 August 2014

WORLD TOURISM

France again the most-visited country in the world
Tuesday Aug 12, 2014 NZ Herald
France welcomed 84.7 million foreign tourists in 2013 making it once again the most-visited country in the world, according to a new study.
The 1889 Eiffel Tower in Paris
The figure topped the 2012 number by two percent, and meant that when it comes to attracting foreign visitors, France easily beats the United States and Spain who had 69.8 and 60.7 million foreign visitors each.
The study - which showed figures for France up from 83 million in 2012 - is published annually by the economy ministry's DGCIS international competitiveness agency and by the central bank (Banque de France).
According to the report, France saw an increase in European tourists, of 1.2 percent on the previous year, driven by German and British visitors, although the number of tourists from Belgium, Luxembourg and crisis-hit Italy and Spain decreased.
After a big drop in 2012, North American tourists made a return, with the number of visitors crossing the Atlantic up by 5.8 percent. However the biggest boom was seen in Asian visitors, with the number of Chinese tourists up by almost a quarter.
Asian tourists now number 4.5 million a year, up 13 percent, with Chinese visitor numbers in particular up by 23.4 percent to 1.7 million . . . .

Peter’s Piece

Are you surprised that France is world number one for tourist arrivals? I was, so I checked with the United Nations World Tourism Organization website and found that France is a long way from top when it comes to tourism receipts.
New York's Statue of Liberty,
an 1886 gift from France
In 2013 there were 1.087 billion tourist arrivals worldwide with growth up 5.0% on 2012. The top ten for arrivals were France, United States, Spain, China, Italy, Turkey, Germany, United Kingdom, Russia and Thailand.
Six of the top ten countries are in Europe and, by my reckoning that makes Europe, not France, the top destination for travelers. France may be merely another place to pass through on the way to a typical tourist’s main destination; the Alps, a Rhine cruise, Rome, a Mediterranean cruise, or perhaps a bull-fight or beach in Spain.

Europe has many fine attractions, wonderful scenery and historic buildings, but tends to be a little on the expensive side. Cost may be causing many tourists to take shorter, once in a lifetime, trips through the region. For many people cost is critical.

On the other hand, the United States also has excellent attractions and nice scenery. But importantly, travel, accommodation, food and shopping are all reasonably priced in the land of Uncle Sam. Tourists entering the United States tend to stay longer, travel further, and spend their whole time in the one country. There is little onward travel to other countries in the region.
Auckland's, New Zealand's
 Skytower and casino

In the tourism earnings stakes the United States heads the UN list with $139.6 billion (12.0% of world tourism income) for 2013. Spain is second, and a long way back, with $60.4 billion and France is third with $56.1 billion.

But further down the list a surprise awaits: China, Macau and Hong Kong are listed separately at $51.7 billion, $51.6 billion and $38.9 billion, but they are all now part of the Peoples Republic of China and their combined income from tourism was $142.2 billion in 2012. That puts China $2.6 billion ahead of the United States and top of the list.

Others on the top ten earners list include Italy, Thailand, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia and Turkey.

When tourists plan vacations they look for low cost and great attractions, but their requirements don’t end there. They also want safety. They want safe travel free from worries about, health, criminals, wars and political instability.
Australia's Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge


Australia and New Zealand, which is not on the list yet, offer exactly what most tourists want; low cost, safety, and wonderful scenery and attractions. The downside is that we are Downunder and we are a long haul from the world’s major population centers. But after working in tourism for the last 35 years, I can assure would-be visitors that the extra flight time will always result in an extra good time being had.

The United Nations Tourism Organization does a great job making the statistics available, but there are other United Nations organizations that could do a lot more to make the world safer for travelers (and everyone), and, in doing so, created jobs for more people.



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