Home' Greymouth Star : March 7th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
year on from the
disappearance of Malaysia
Airlines Flight MH370,
an extraordinary amount
of key data remains
unknown — fuelling
conspiracy theories and heated on-line
debate about one of aviation’s biggest
An information vacuum has nourished
a cottage industry of experts and
amateurs in cyberspace who continue to
exhaustively pick the case apart in a bid to
find out just what happened to the plane
and its 239 passengers and crew.
The resulting theories range from
the wild — alien abduction, MH370
and its doomed fleetmate MH17 were
the same plane — to sober, science-
based arguments that the plane is in
the southern Indian Ocean, but not
necessarily in the current search area.
What they all agree on is that some key
pieces of the puzzle are missing.
“It’s amazing how much information we
don’t have after looking at this case for
all this time,” said Jeff Wise, an aviation
expert whose recently published Kindle
book The Plane That Wasn’t There,
reached No 1 on Amazon’s bestseller lists.
The Boeing 777 lost contact with air
traffic control shortly after taking off from
Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing, early
on March 8, 2014, as it flew across the
Gulf of Thailand close to a navigational
waypoint called Igari.
Just about everything that happened
thereafter is hotly debated.
Malaysia’s air force said its radar tracked
the plane as it turned back, re-crossed the
Malay Peninsula and flew out of range off
the north-west coast.
Official investigators used analysis from
British firm Inmarsat of “pings” to its
satellite from MH370 to plot two vast
arcs — one to the north and one to the
south — across which it may have flown.
Combining those faint pings with data
from the plane, they concluded it had
turned south and flown for hours before
crashing into the southern Indian
That conclusion has been challenged
by aviation bloggers and freelance
investigators, who have questioned key
radar plots and assumptions about the
speed and fuel burn of the jet.
Lending credence to some of the
sceptics, Tim Clark, head of Emirates
Airlines, said last November he believed
information was being withheld and
questioned the Malaysian military’s
assertion that it took no action because it
identified MH370 as “friendly” when it
suddenly reversed course.
The Malaysian government, which
is due to release an interim report on
the investigation before the March
8 anniversary, has always denied
withholding information and said its
position was unchanged.
New York-based Wise, like many
others, confessed to becoming somewhat
obsessed, even buying additional satellite
data in an attempt to confirm his theory
the plane flew north along national
borders to avoid radar before landing in
Another independent investigator,
retired legal investigator John Fiorentino,
whose early challenges to reports of
sightings of wreckage in the Indian Ocean
were taken up by families’ group Voice
370, has pressed on despite ill-health.
That level of devotion has led to bad
blood between supporters of rival theories.
The Independent Group (IG),
comprised of around a dozen satellite,
data, maths and aviation experts, expelled
Wise this week following articles linked
to his book.
“It’s a bunch of garbage,” said New
Zealand-based IG member Duncan Steel.
Wise, a former pilot, has himself banned
anybody who uses the word “lightning”
from his website. Fiorentino has been
blocked from several blogs for, he says,
And those theories run the gamut.
Alongside Wise’s Russian theory is the
suggestion by the boss of former French
regional airline Proteus, Marc Dugain,
that the plane flew towards the US Navy
base at Diego Garcia and was shot down.
IG, perhaps the most credible of the
groups, has maintained that the plane is in
the southern Indian Ocean, near the so-
called “7th arc” currently being searched
by an Australian-led international team,
with whom it has been in regular contact.
But the group stresses that missing data
would more clearly pinpoint the resting
place and that it may well be outside the
current search area.
Many of the bloggers cite the right for
relatives and loved ones of the missing to
know what happened as a driving factor.
Sarah Bajc, the partner of passenger
Phillip Wood, is thankful for the
persistence of those who continue to
pursue their own investigations into what
“I’m exceedingly grateful for the efforts
put forth by the IG ... they are invaluable
to point out the inaccuracies of the
fabricated story we have been told,” Bajc
said by e-mail.
Bajc, however, does not subscribe to IG’s
theory, believing that the plane is not in
the southern Indian Ocean at all.
“I want an independent investigation ...
perhaps led by the UN,” she said. “Despite
extensive efforts we still have no idea why
MH370 went silent at Igari, or where the
plane is now.”
4 - Saturday, March 7, 2015
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to email@example.com
uLetters to the editor
1774 - The British close the port of Boston to
1809 - Aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard —
the first person to make the an aerial voyage
in the New World - died on March 7, 1809, at
the age of 56.
1827 - Ellen Turner, a wealthy heiress in
Cheshire, England is abducted by
Edward Gibbon Wakefield, a future
politician in colonial New Zealand.
1876 - Alexander Graham Bell is
granted a patent for the telephone.
1912 - French aviator, Heri Seimet
flies non-stop from London to Paris
in three hours.
1927 - A Texas law that bans
Negroes from voting is ruled unconstitutional
by the Supreme Court.
1933 - The board game Monopoly is
invented. The film King Kong premieres in
New York City.
1935 - Malcolm Campbell sets an auto speed
record of 276.8mph in Florida.
1936 - Hitler sends German troops into the
Rhineland, violating the Locarno Pact.
1951 - Ezzard Charles beats Jersey Joe
Walcott for heavyweight boxing title.
1968 - The Battle of Saigon, begun on the
day of the Tet Offensive, ends.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Stephen Hopkins, signatory to the
Declaration of Independence (1707); Piet
Mondrian, Dutch abstract painter,
leader of the movement known as
“de Stijl.” (1872); Maurice Ravel,
composer (“Bolero”) (1872); Helen
Parkhurst, educator, developed a
technique later known as the Dalton
Plan (1887); Reinhard Heydrich,
German SS leader and architect of
the “Final Solution. ” (1904); Rolf Jacobsen,
Nor wegian poet (1907); Anna Magnani,
Italian actress (1908).
“The miracle is this, the more we share the
more we have” — Leonard Nimoy.
“ For though I am free with respect to all, I
have made myself a slave to all, so that I might
win more of them. ” — (1 Corinthians 9.19).
After having his leg
crushed between two
full boxes of coal at
the Dobson colliery
yesterday evening, 35-year-old Mr Steve
Gugum’s condition was reported as satisfactory
by the Greymouth Hospital today.
Mr Gugum’s accident occurred at 6.30pm
yesterday at the bottom of No 1 Dip in the
mine. Of 152 Bright Street, Cobden, Mr
Gugum was pushing two full boxes along a
track when another box came from behind and
crushed his leg between the buffers.
There will be a 24-hour stoppage at the
Dobson State coalmine tomorrow — a non -
producing day. It will be a mark of repect for
former Dobson miner Mr Paddy Brereton who
died yesterday morning in Greymouth.
Only the dogwatch and the maintenance
dayshift will be affected in this gesture for the
60-year-old Tasmanian who worked in the
Dobson mine for 12 years.
The Cobden-Kohinoor Soccer Club has
scored a first in that it is the only club ever on
the West Coast to car ve out its own field. The
first stage of clearing the land by bulldozer
has already been completed and the site, on
Cobden Island, will be graded in a few week’s
time. Then, if the finances prove adequate, it
will be ploughed and seeded and made playable
for later in the season.
Mr A Pizzato, of Runanga, said no dressing
sheds were planned as yet. He said the need for
the ground came about after the establishment
of three grades of football — senior, senior
reser ve and schoolboys.
uFood for thought
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu has finally given his
much ballyhooed speech to the
United States Congress, and the
heavens have not fallen.
He issued the same
bloodcurdling warning that Iran
is on the brink of getting nuclear
weapons that he has been making
for 20 years now, and nobody
called him on it. Instead, the Republican
members of Congress, and those
Democrats who bothered to show up,
gave him the usual standing ovations.
President Barack Obama was deeply
miffed by Netanyahu’s attack on his
policy of negotiating with Iran, and
refused to meet him while he was in
Washington. Secretary of State John
Kerry was so outraged by Netanyahu’s
assertion that the deal he is working on
with Iran could pave its way to the bomb
rather than block it, that he publicly said
the Israeli prime minister might not be
It is unprecedented for an American
president to refuse to meet a visiting
Israeli prime minister, or for a senior
US official to suggest that the aforesaid
prime minister might be wrong, but the
reflexive American support for Israel
will sur vive for quite a while yet. And
Netanyahu’s gamble may pay off in extra
votes for his Likud Party in the Israeli
election on the 17th, which is what the
visit was really about.
Netanyahu knows his Israelis, and he
has been playing successfully on their
existential fear that somebody else in
the Middle East might also get nuclear
weapons ever since he entered politics.
Israelis do not really require proof that
the Iranians (or anybody else) are actually
working on such weapons. Indeed, their
anxiety on the issue is so deep-rooted
that it resists all the reassurances by
Israel’s own military and intelligence
communities that Iran is not working on
Last week, a cache of secret documents
about South African contacts with other
countries’ secret services was leaked to
al-Jazeera. It included a 2012 cable from
Israel’s Mossad intelligence ser vice saying
that Iran was not performing the activity
necessary to produce (nuclear) weapons.
Did the Israeli public heave a great sigh
of relief ? Certainly not.
Last Sunday, 180 former generals and
commanders of the Israeli Defence
Forces, Mossad intelligence agency, Shin
Bet domestic security and National Police
held a joint news conference begging
Netanyahu not to damage the US-Israeli
strategic relationship further by making
his inflammatory anti-Obama speech in
Congress. Did ordinary Israelis join in
the outcry? They did not.
Polling shows that two-thirds of Israelis
would like to see the back of Netanyahu,
mainly because he has presided over
a huge rise in the cost of living, and
especially the cost of housing. But on
security issues a majority of Israelis are
with him, so naturally those are the issues
he concentrates on.
The Israelis are probably wrong to worry
so much about Iranian nuclear weapons.
There were two periods during which
Iran seriously considered making nuclear
weapons and did some preliminary
work on weapons design and uranium
enrichment, but in neither case was it
The first time was in the 1980s, when
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq attacked Iran
(with American backing) in a war that
ultimately cost a quarter-million Iranian
lives. At that time Saddam actually was
working on Iraqi nuclear weapons, and
Iran felt obliged to follow suit.
But after Saddam was defeated by
western and Arab armies in the Gulf
War of 1990-91 and the United Nations
inspectors went in to dismantle Iraq’s
nuclear programme, the Iranians lost
interest in developing their own nuclear
weapons. Then they got alarmed again
and restarted the programme in 1998
when another neighbour, Pakistan, tested
its own first nuclear weapons.
They did not make much progress, but
they kept on working at the problem
in a desultory way until 2002, when
an anti-regime terrorist group called
Mujahedin-e -Khalq (partly financed
by Israel) revealed the existence of the
weapons programme and Teheran shut it
down. And for the past 13 years, nothing.
The great danger Netanyahu faces is
not Iranian nuclear weapons but ejection
from office by Israeli voters. His response
has been the same as always: to promote
himself as the only man who can keep
Israel safe; even if that means burning his
bridges with an American president who
still has two more years in office.
In terms of his own interests, he may
be making the right call. His right-wing
Likud Party and the centre-left coalition
called the Zionist Camp have been
running neck-and-neck in recent polling,
but if his grandstanding in Washington
brings in just a few more votes he could
be back in power until the end of the
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Iran’s ‘bomb’ — or Netanyahu’s re-election?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addresses a joint meeting of Congress, as United States Speaker of the House, John
Boehner looks on.
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Pope Francis’ Lenten message begins
with the statement that Lent is a time of
renewal for the whole Church, for each
community and every believer. It is a time
when we are asked to turn away from
sin and be faithful to the Gospel. The
Pope speaks to us of God’s love for us.
“Each of us has a place in His heart, He
knows us by name, He cares for us and
seeks us out whenever we turn away from
him. His love does not allow Him to be
indifferent to what happens to us. Usually
when we are healthy and comfortable we
forget about others, we are unconcerned
with their problems, their sufferings, and
the injustices they endure. Today this
selfish attitude of indifference has taken
on global proportions, something we
Christians need to confront.”
The time we are given in Lent each
year is a time for us to see just how
hardened we have become in our
attitudes. Only the most horrendous
events we see portrayed on tv seem to
move us. While things go well for us,
we think of ourselves, but push God and
those around us who could do with our
assistance, into the distance.
The Pope says “God is not indifferent
to our world, He so loves it that He gave
His Son for our salvation.” Let us try
to make these weeks of Lent a time of
renewal, a time of grace, acknowledging
the great love shown us in the suffering,
death and resurrection of Jesus, doing
our best to reflect that love in our own
devotion and in our reaching out to those
in need around us.
Monsignor Gerry O’Connor
St Patrick’s Catholic parish
Lent, a time of renewal
The shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion maritime search aircraft can be seen on low-level clouds as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for
missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
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