Thursday, 30 July 2015


Saturday, 29 March 2014


The likely B-777 scenarios are narrowing down to just one

When the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 vanished almost a month ago speculation was rife about its fate: Suicide, terrorism, criminal acts by passengers or crew, hostage taking, catastrophic structural failure (something that has never happened to a 777 in its 20 year history) were all on the table.

Although widely criticized as incompetent and dishonest, the authorities were wise to play their cards slowly while some form of criminality was considered highly likely. To do otherwise may have played right into the hands of those responsible. But the likelihood of criminal interference, or criminal actions by the pilots, are now receding.

Much news media mileage has been made of the captain’s flight simulator, but lots of pilots have their own simulator and many former pilots regularly ‘fly’ on a simulator. In my own case I’ve spent many hours on various Boeings including the 777. It’s not uncommon to indulge in flight activities that would be most unwise in the real aircraft. For example I sometimes simulate returning to the airport after all power is suddenly lost during climb out at 15,000 to 20,000 feet. Large jets are capable of gliding much further than many people would imagine.

Simulators, airline and private, have have done a lot to make flying safer. They keep pilots ahead of the game, and it’s my belief that the Malaysian pilots were right up with the game until fate took a hand. Every pilot worthy of the title will always fly with an instant action plan in mind to cover every possible emergency.

In the flight plan there may be only one alternate airport for diversion in the event that the destination cannot be used. But every minute of the flight the crew will always know the location of the nearest suitable landing place, and in a life and death emergency turning toward that airport will be the first priority.

We know now that shortly after the last communication the aircraft suddenly turned from a northerly heading to a south westerly heading on a course that would take it into the southern 

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Indian Ocean. But that heading also pointed the aircraft to a 13,000 foot runway in Malaysia that was closer than the departure airport.

The next actions should have been to start the descent and transmit a distress call. The rule is Aviate Navigate and Communicate, in that order. The autopilot would have been used to turn the aircraft onto the new heading and the altitude bug may have been turned off while the pilots selected a new flight level and rate of descent. But programming the autopilot may have been interrupted when the pilots were suddenly incapacitated.

The likely culprit must be decompression, poisonous fumes of some kind; a smoldering tire, or fumes from the consignment of troublesome batteries that were in the cargo hold. The fumes from those batteries can kill within 10 seconds.

So we have a situation where the aircraft is trimmed for the turn (slightly nose up) and is being flown partly manually and partly by autopilot. If the pilots are unconscious at the completion of the turn the aircraft will climb. This may explain why it climbed 10,000 feet above its assigned altitude. At 45,000 feet the 777 would be struggling to fly and left to its own devices the nose would drop quite steeply. As it gained airspeed again it would have leveled off and and started another climb. This may explain the sighting of a jet airliner flying low and fast over the Malaysian Peninsula around the time that MH 370 would have been crossing.

The process may have taken several oscillations before normal flight resumed on the new selected heading, possibly with the altitude increasing slowly as the fuel load burned off. It all depends on the actual settings for the autopilot; heading we can be fairly certain of, but airspeed, altitude and power settings will only ultimately be revealed when the black box is recovered. It is possible that the airspeed at the top of the climb may have been very close to the minimum airspeed to remain airborne, or close to the point of stall. 

When the aircraft ran out of fuel it is likely that one engine failed before the other and the asymmetric thrust at the low air speed would probably disengage the autopilot completely. The remaining engine would wind the aircraft into a graveyard spiral with the airspeed then increasing very rapidly.

The cockpit of a Boeing 777. The autopilot controls are at the top center of the panel

If the last engine failed a few seconds after the first it would make little difference. Once in the spiral without a conscious pilot at the controls the aircraft would in all probability disintegrate before hitting the sea.

In aviation anything is possible once. In most other fields of endeavor the same mistakes can happen over and over again, but aviation is different. Aviation learns from its mistakes. That is why flying is safe.

But that is no consolation for the victims and their loved ones. However, if my scenario is the correct one, then the suffering was probably very brief.

30th July 2015

Wreckage, possibly from MH370, has been found washed up on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean, several thousand kilometres from the search area south west of Perth in Western Australia.

So, was the search being conducted in the wrong place? Possibly not. A study of the ocean currents tends to confirm that wreckage from the search area could indeed be carried on a circuitous route north, west and then south to the area of the find.

Indian Ocean currents/Wikipedia

If the wreckage found is confirmed as coming from MH370 then is can be expected that other wreckage may be scattered over a wide area of the ocean, the drift depending on shape and weight of individual items. For the flaperon to detach from the aircraft, the way it must have, indicates that there may be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of small pieces of wreckage, indicating a possible break-up in the air, possibly in a graveyard spiral after fuel exhaustion. 

This must be regarded as the most significant clue so far in the search for the missing airliner, and those on board.

Sunday, 26 July 2015


US Prison System is an Epic Failure and a Factory for Creating Criminals
By The Free Thought Project on July 24, 2015

(RT) — The mass incarceration policy in America over the last 40 years has created more problems than it has solved. The longer the term served, the higher the rate of reconvicted felons, a new study reveals.
The research from University of Michigan economics professor, Michael Mueller-Smith, has proven that prison terms don’t rehabilitate a criminal and turn them into a law-abiding citizen.
The US penal policy just doesn’t appear to be working. The criminal world is expanding, despite more and more criminals being incarcerated and isolated from society.
The American practice of imprisoning people for even the most trivial offences, not only ruins lives, but tends to act as a college for crime.
Up to 75 percent of former prisoners are rearrested within 5 years of their release date.
The study says that every year spent in prison increases the probability of a return to crime by 12.4 percent (5.6 percent a quarter). Also, those once accused of committing lesser crimes often go on to commit more serious offences after serving a term in prison.

Peter’s Point of View

Prison as a form of punishment has been around for as long as organised government and the availability of written language, leading to the establishment of the first formal legal codes, the best known being the Code of Hammurabi of Babylon about 1750 BC. So imprisonment for criminal offending is not new and during over 3,000 years of universal and continuous use it has undergone only superficial reform.
New York's Sing Sing Prison

It is interesting to note that during this period the world crime rate reached its all-time high and even today’s crime rate cannot match that of 3,000 years ago. During this time the leading causes of death were starvation, murder, war and disease with an average life expectancy of less than 25 years. Slavery was normal and less than 50% of an average country’s population was in paid employment. The gap between rich and poor has never been so wide at any time since, and that is why crime was a problem. Crime was a means to survival.

The purpose of imprisonment has always been for punishment. Although at times rehabilitation and reformation have been of secondary importance, punishment has always been paramount. But in this situation punishment as a word should be interchangeable with revenge. But revenge has never worked in any context. Revenge creates more victims, more ill-feeling, more crime, and lowers the boom for everyone. Ask the Arabs and Israelis if revenge has ever done anything for them.  The reality of crime is that most criminals see themselves as victims too, and in many ways they are. Imprisonment does not reduce crime.

Prison buildings at Norfolk Island
The first truth about imprisonment is that it doesn’t work. The second truth about imprisonment is that there is a popular, but false, belief that it will work if the sentence is long enough and the conditions are harsh enough. The third truth about imprisonment is that politicians are elected to office with a promise to reduce crime be legislating for harsher penalties. But that is simply bait for gullible voters.

Many criminals are born into criminal families and sending them to prison will only help them recruit and train new members to the cause. Many criminals have personality disorders that attract them to violence and dishonesty, or by process of trial and error, it is the only life open to them, and long periods of incarceration will only exacerbate their disorders and lead to further offending.

It is a fact that a majority of prison inmates have either a psychiatric disorder, or a limited education, and are in prison because they were unable to cope in normal society. Removing them from society for an extended period will not inexplicably cure their disorder, and on regaining their freedom they will be even less likely to cope than before.

Prisoners in prison where crime breeds crime
The knee-jerk punishment people love to cry out for fewer privileges for prisoners, wanting phones, televisions, computers, heating, and nutritional food banned. They say that it is not punishment when prisoners are allowed those things. But if prisoners are to cope on the outside they will have a better chance of doing that, if they emerge healthy in a transition that is seamless.  They will also have a better chance of gaining legitimate employment if they are familiar with modern technology and have normal communication and social skills.

In many ways prison life has not changed significantly since the Middle Ages, when prisoners starved if family or friends failed to provide them with food, clothing and medical care. At the end of their sentences, if they were still alive, they were often not released if they, or their family, couldn’t pay the imprisonment fees. The punishment industry is barely more enlightened now, even though the public perception of it may be higher.

Prison has never been a safe place because most criminals are violent, and prisons are violent places. Non-violent criminals, and those who are innocent in prison or awaiting trial (or wrongfully convicted), are caught up in the violence also. Many people who know that there is violence in prisons will approve of it. “Give them a taste of their own,” they will say. Unfortunately, some people with that attitude become prison officers, and that makes them no better than the people they are supposed to be reforming.

Prison reformers have been trying for centuries to persuade the public and politicians. But the public, most of whom have no idea of what it is like inside a prison, will not allow the politicians to get on with the job of introducing meaningful reforms that could reduce crime to levels not seen ever before. The public, and the victims and their families, will cry, “What about the victims?” This writer believes that most prison reformers are also concerned about the victims of crime, but they also understand that with less imprisonment, there will be fewer victims, inside and out.

The state of Pennsylvania in 1786 was one of the first places in the world to introduce public works employment for prisoners in the form of hard labour. It was thought that the hard labour would reform them, and the state would benefit from the free labour. Conditions included access only to religious literature, and a requirement live in complete silence. But crime didn’t reduce in Pennsylvania and concerned citizens who witnessed the abuse of forced-labour convicts helped change the Pennsylvania System.

In England, in the 1700s, crime had reached such epidemic proportions that the people demanded execution for more than 200 different crimes and excessive prison terms for lesser crimes, including the sentence ‘For the term of his or her natural life.’ The politicians complied.  But even with such an extreme regime the crime rate accelerated and the country faced a crises in prisoner accommodation.
So England shipped its over-crowded population to America where they served their hard labour sentences. After the American War of Independence, the USA refused to take any more convicts and for several years surplus prisoners were locked up aboard floating hulks around the coast. But still the crime rate was out of control. The British Government then looked to Australia and the first 700 convicts landed at Sydney Cove in 1788 to establish British rule in a convict colony. Convicts continued to arrive by the thousands for the next 80 years.

But the British convict colony experiment, other than creating a new nation, was a spectacular disaster in crime prevention. If the experiment had been successful then the United Kingdom, the USA and Australia would now be outstanding as having an almost zero crime rate, which they have not, by a long country mile.

On tiny Norfolk Island some hundreds of kilometres east of Australia, the most hardened criminals were held in appalling conditions until an enlightened prison commandant, Alexander Maconochie, took over in the 1830s from Commandant Morisset, the most extreme of all Britain’s punishment enforcers. Maconochie found the prisoners reduced to wrecks in body and spirit, many dead or dying from starvation and torture. Norfolk Island became known as Hell in Paradise. He freed them from confinement, fed them better food, treated them as equals and became their friend. The results were spectacular with some later returning to Sydney and others choosing to remain on Norfolk as free men. For these freed men the rate of recidivism was zero. But the enlightened Maconochie was replaced because he was too lenient.
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Incarceration has a huge negative impact on society. It creates broken families, terminates employment, causes bankruptcy and generates further crime, victims and suffering. The moment a family breadwinner goes to prison, his children’s futures are also most likely condemned to a life of alternating between prison and struggling to survive on the outside.  The crime cycle can only be broken by removing the prison cycle and the prison industry.

With GPS monitoring there is no need for prisons in the conventional sense. Most prisoners, with few exceptions, will be reformed and rehabilitated without going anywhere near a prison. Community based sentences make much more sense. But if criminals must be confined for security or public safety reasons, they would benefit from a boutique family confinement system where the criminal’s family would live with the family of a corrections officer. The supervising families would have to be carefully selected and trained for the role as well as suitably remunerated. It wouldn’t be a job for prison officers as we know them now. These people would be examples of good family living and an example and guiding light to their customer families. They would be charged not just with turning around the life of an offender, but the whole family.

In 2012 America’s prison population reached 2.3 million for the first time and the prison cost was estimated at $75 billion. But the prison cost is only a fraction of the total cost of crime to society. Prison is not working as a deterrent, as a punishment, or as a means of rehabilitation. The system is over 3,000 years out of date, and it is a sheer waste of time and money.

Only a radical new approach to this problem can succeed. At the very least criminals need to be placed with people who will befriend them and set them an example that will turn their lives around. Putting them with other criminals is totally and absolutely counter-productive. History proves it.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Peter FitzSimons to head Australian republic campaign

A prominent journalist and author has been elected to the post of chairman of the Australian Republic Movement and is keen to mount an early challenge to the right of British Royalty to rule the once British convict colony.
Peter FitzSimons

Republicans see the high profile FitzSimons as the man who can make the difference. FitzSimons has been the author of nine books of Australian history. He is a prominent newspaper and radio journalist, and has served on many boards and committees including the Australian War Memorial, the ANZAC Centenary Advisory Board, the Sydney Writers Festival, the Senate of Sydney University, and numerous sporting committees.

FitzSimons was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011 for service to literature, journalism, conservation, disability care, and sporting organisations. As a rugby player, Peter FitzSimons represented Australia against France and New Zealand as a lock from 1989 to 1990. He has a degree in government and political science from the University of Sydney. He also had a year in Ohio on a field scholarship. Peter FitzSimons is a Fairfax Media columnist and is married to Nine Network’s Lisa Wilkinson. They have three children.

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“I do believe that Tony Abbot will be Australia’s last monarchist Prime Minister,” FitzSimons has been reported as saying. “Whatever happens from this point, should it be Labor or should it be another Liberal, in all likelihood there will soon be bipartisan support in the federal leadership for a republic,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has already declared his support for a republic with this statement: “Like all Australians, I have tremendous respect for Queen Elizabeth. She has fulfilled her constitutional responsibilities with grace for many years, but I don’t believe we have to wait for a change of monarch to renew the republic debate.”

Republicanism in Australia as a movement dates from 1832 when Horatio Wills, the son of a convict published The Currency Lad in which he promoted Australia as a republic. In 1854 some participants in the revolt at the Eureka Stockade in Victoria were openly republican and some later republican movements adopted the Eureka flag.

As the Australian colonies moved toward federation in 1901, republicanism was widely debated, but the country was fully engaged in the process of federation, and declaring a republic was seen as one step too far at a critical stage in the constitutional evolution.

Republicanism in Australia was re-awakened by the dismissal of the Gough Government by the Governor-General in 1975, but again the majority were in favour of the status quo.
In recent years the Australian Labor Party has actively pursued the republican aim with Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in favour. But a referendum scheduled to be held in 1998 was replaced by a Constitutional Convention after royalist Prime Minister John Howard ousted labour in 1996. At that time a majority of Australians favoured a republic, but there was disagreement on the structure of it. Finally, a referendum was held in 1999, at a time when many Australians were becoming wearied by the debate, and the republican proposition was defeated.
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Frequent objections to having a republic have been that it would be seen as an insult to the Royal Family. Others believe that Australia would no longer be eligible to be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, but little do they seem to realise that most Commonwealth members are in fact republics, and the Queen still visits those countries as head of the Commonwealth without being offended in the least.

Another frequently expressed objection is that Australia would be too much like America, as though America was the world’s only republic. In fact republics outnumber all other systems of government combined. In the 21st century a republic is the normal and accepted constitutional system, while kingdoms and constitutional monarchies are very much in the minority. Another objection often stated is that the time is not right and the right time would be after a monarch has been crowned. But that is a bit like saying, no time will ever be the right time.

Monday, 13 July 2015


Is the TPPA a big business conspiracy to create a new world order?

Opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is getting a full head of steam in every country that is a party to the secret negotiations.

The TPPA partners are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Peru, but more countries including China and South Korea may join.

The partnership had its roots in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2002, when New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Goh Chock Tong the Prime Minister of Singapore, and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, began negotiations on the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership.

Previous New Zealand governments had negotiated for access for New Zealand produce into the European Economic Community (now the European Union) with considerable success against determined opposition from some EEC members (The United Kingdom Government itself had to contend with determined opposition from its own people).
Former New Zealand
Prime Minister Helen Clark

New Zealand politicians had also negotiated two free trade and economic treaties with Australia, in spite of bitter opposition from the public in both countries on the basis that it was a sell-out and there would be a wholesale loss of jobs and unfair competition. The final free trade agreement between the two countries has been a huge success for both business and employment, and the two countries continue to move closer together.

With that record, New Zealand was seen as a country well capable of punching above its weight on the world stage. Two New Zealand prime ministers, Clark and Mike Moore, have gone on to head two powerful United Nations bodies, further evidence that New Zealand politicians can foot it with the best.

When Brunei in 2006 showed an interest in the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership it was renamed the Trans Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (P4). In 2008 Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Vietnam joined while the negotiations continued and, with 2012 as the target date, the agreement became the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Former Singapore Prime
Minister Goh Chock Tong

From that first meeting in Mexico, the TPPA has grown to be the world’s largest ever trade agreement negotiations and will bring 40% of the world’s trade, employment and economic activity within its scope.

For people who think that big is bad, it’s time for them to consider the opposite of expanding trade blocs; imploding trade blocs. Think about trade and government the way it was two or three centuries ago. In many countries it was illegal to take produce from one town to the next, let alone across international borders, unless exorbitant tariffs were paid. The purpose of the trade barriers were supposedly to protect local industry and workers, but some people, politicians among them, could see that the effect of the barriers was counter-productive. However, the task of convincing the public at large of the advantages of free trade is not an easy one.

It is no coincidence that as nations and trade blocs have expanded over time, the range of products available has grown, employment has grown, life expectancy has increased and people enjoy more leisure time and healthier life styles. It is no coincidence at all. While it would be wrong to claim that freer trade alone has improved the standard of living, it must be recognised that it has played a major part. When the TPPA is finally signed it will help lift the lifestyle of 40% of the world’s population to an all-time new level of prosperity and quality of life.
Former Chilean President
Ricardo Lagos

So, you may ask, if the TPPA has such a glowing future, why are so many people opposed to it?

Quite simply, the answer lies in human nature. Even in the twenty-first century we all have a natural in-built instinct to protect our own little patch and to preserve what we know and understand. In some ways we haven’t progressed much since we lived in caves. We still believe that a caveman should not be allowed to trade with cavemen on the other side of the mountain. Someone might get a bad deal, and may even lose his cave if the deal goes wrong. Of course, this is an extreme and rather ridiculous example in today’s world, but it illustrates just where we have come from.

It is perfectly natural to think that change will be bad, especially if what we know and trust is replaced by something larger. It is easy to think that there is some kind of conspiracy going on, and that we will be the victims of that conspiracy.

The leaders of the 12 nations that were negotiating the TPPA in 2012

When it comes to the TPPA the conspiracy theory is that the whole thing is driven by big business and that only the big business owners and the politicians will be richer as a result. But such a proposition cannot stand up to proper scrutiny. Economic common sense must tell us that if 99% of the population are poor, then the other 1% will also be poor. Even if the 1% owned 99% of the world’s assets, those assets would be worthless. The products and services owned by the 1% would be useless if 99% of the world population could not afford to buy them. Every day we hear that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but that is patently incorrect because it ignores the basic economic reality set out above.

Then there is the suggestion that the TPPA will allow corporations to sue governments. In most parts of the world corporations already have that right. It is also a fact that most agreements, contracts and rules have procedures included to cover breaches. That claim is nothing other than a protestor’s red herring.

The TPPA is driven by far-sighted politicians, skilled departmental advisors and astute business leaders who understand that expanded free trade benefits everyone, except perhaps those countries left out of the loop.

Another reason often given for opposing the TPPA is that it is a conspiracy to create a New World Order (a form of world government) and it is going to be bad for everyone. Well that conspiracy theory has been around for hundreds of years, and we are still waiting.

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Then there is the argument that the negotiations are being held in secret and therefore it must be sinister. This writer has one word to describe that theory: Rubbish! I challenge any reader to give me just one example of a trade agreement that was negotiated publicly. That is not how government to government negotiations are conducted. Any government that tried to negotiate that way would certainly finish up on the losing end of the bargaining, and the people shouting the loudest would be the biggest losers.

Just imagine New Zealand’s four million people all having a say. The farmers would make their demands at the expense of everyone else. Manufacturers would do likewise, and so would teachers, orchardists, fishermen, bankers, lawyers, shop assistants, students, and so on. The delicate negotiations between the nations’ leaders, if carried out in public, would quickly degenerate into a violent lolly scramble of epic proportions. It would probably be enough to trigger a world war.

The negotiations can only be held in orderly private sessions. It is quite simply a case of a majority having elected the political leaders, and now they have to trust them. The politicians will understand that if they fail they will fall unceremoniously from office.

Meanwhile, the protest movement in every partner country is convinced that their country alone will be on the losing end of the deal, while all the other partners will win. Well, they can’t all be right on that score.

The opposition comes from many different quarters, even from some who are regularly accused of being involved in conspiracies. Brother Nathanael Channel writing in Real Jew News has stated that, ‘The Trans Pacific Partnership – now in secret negotiations – is nothing less than Globalization on steroids.’ Sorry, Brother, while the negotiators are working away quietly and resolutely, it is the protestors who are on steroids.

But after the TPPA becomes a fact of life, the world and its people will move on. There will be other negotiations, agreements and advances, and there will be more bitter protests and misinformation, lies and finger pointing. But more people will have a bigger share in a larger slice of cake.

Praise to the New Zealand team for walking away from the TPPA negotiations. For 30 years New Zealand farmers have survived without subsidies or trade barriers, but Canada and the USA cannot expect New Zealand to sign up to a free trade agreement while they protect their farmers with subsidies and tariffs. That wouldn't be free trade. North American farmers need to come into the modern world and accept the fact that trade barriers don't help anyone. If they rethink their stance they may possibly get New Zealand back to the negotiating table and the TPPA may survive.