3/30/14

The tragedy of a plane crashing with hundreds of people on board needs no elaboration. The fact that it is so unique is nothing short of a miracle of technology and human innovation. The bizarre story of ML 370, however, does leave many questions unanswered in spite of unprecedented media coverage. The important ones are:

  • Where is the USA?

The number of countries involved in the search for the downed plane is impressive. We daily get information from satellites—the UK, France, China, Japan, and even Thailand. There is one country whose satellites are blatantly missing from the chase. Why is it that we do not get ANY information from the largest spy/weather/communication/etc. satellite network in the world? The U.S. government has contributed ZERO information from any of its satellites to the search. Why?

Many countries have sent planes and ships to help in the search. The designated search area (although it keeps changing) is huge. It is also very far from any airport and such planes have very limited time to search in the area before they need to turn back. Currently there are about 10 planes participating in the search. As of today, 2 are American, albeit they are the better-equipped and more modern P-8s. Until yesterday only one was American.

According to publically available information, the U.S. possesses about 70 P-3 planes (less so of the more modern and better equipped P-8s). All other navies in the area are throwing a vast percentage of their resources into the search. Why is it that the U.S. is not moving in say 25 P-3s to assist in the search? Tripling the number of planes would substantially increase the effectiveness of the search.

So, zero satellite information, no ships, and only 2 planes as opposed to the 30–50 that could have been allocated. Why? Is that another of the Obama administration’s “lead from behind” philosophy? I do not think, as some conspiracy theorists claim, that the U.S. has something to hide but one has to admit that it is strange. Could it simply be that Obama is so aloof as to simply not care? Can it be that the U.S. satellites have no reach in the relevant areas? It is simply weird. Needless to say, NOT ONE of the disgraceful news media outlets has raised or even pointed out this obvious point/question.

  • What happened to the satellite images?

For most of the three weeks since this plane was lost the search was driven by satellite images. First a commercial UK satellite company concluded based on “pings” that their satellite had been communicating with the plane and that consequently the plane could be in one of two main areas. For some logical reason, one of those two possible areas of the last known location, north of Malaysia, was discarded and searches have been focused on the one in the south. Based on that, according to Inmarsat the plane broadcasted its last ping from an area that is off of Perth, Australia, in the middle of the ocean. This is where the search has been focused for the last 8 days. Since then almost daily we are advised of new satellite images from a host of different countries discovering debris that can be, hopefully may be, from the plane. It started with two items of debris (wow all of TWO items…) spotted by a French satellite (I think French; it’s easy to get confused now) and followed by more pieces seen by a Chinese one and then 100 pieces by a Japanese satellite and 300 by a…wait for it…Thai satellite (not a very obvious country to have satellite capability) as late as 48 hours ago.

Now yesterday we were told, oops, all the calculations were wrong and the real final point the plane could have made it to (due to less efficient flying and consuming fuel faster) is well to the north of the designated search area. So what happened to the Inmarsat Pings? What happened to the hundreds of pieces of debris that were located in the old search area? Could it be that they were just…debris? Nevertheless we are back on the chase in a new area and … wait for it…we discovered TWO, yes all of TWO pieces of debris, which are very credible. Really? Whatever happened to all the hundreds of debris located before? They were credible too.

Another question is why is it so difficult for these satellites to actually identify the stains on the water as debris and exactly what is it that they are seeing? Are we not told by all the experts that satellites these days can read a license plate on a speeding car. Something is weird here.

  • Where are the Vietnamese?

The most amazing fact of this whole mystery is how is it that we hear nothing about the role of the Vietnamese in this saga. None of the so-called experts (most of whom are just plain headline grabbers without any expertise other than self-promotion), none of the news organizations, but most importantly no official be it Malaysian or otherwise has raised this issue and I want to know why.

The flight signed off with Malaysian air traffic control (ATC) at about 1:17 a.m. Two minutes after that it disappeared from Malaysian ATC radar we are told by turning its transponder off. But the Malaysian controllers were expecting the flight to disappear off their radar screen, right? They just signed off, so it means that they were about to leave their range, their control. Soon after that they were supposed to establish contact with Vietnamese ATC. They never did that. The Vietnamese ATC surely knew that they were coming. They may have expected them by 1:20 a.m. or by 1:30 a.m. but by 1:45 a.m. when no contact was created, they MUST have known that something was badly wrong. Why did they not raise the alarm then?

I am no expert (and neither are the vast majority of the people appearing on the air these days and claiming to be) but there must be some sort of protocol for Vietnamese ATC to contact the Malaysian ATC if the flight that was expected to create contact never does. Did they do that? If they didn’t do it, why not? Were they asleep on the watch? Is that not a HUGE piece of CRITICAL missing information? Surely if the alarm was set off at 1:30 or even as late as 1:45, one assumes that all the military radars that ostensibly were tracking an unidentified flying object (supposedly this airplane) would have been alerted to the fact that a plane is missing. Maybe they would have scrambled some air force planes to see if they could find the missing plane and specifically, what is this unidentified object, right? Why is it that in such an exhaustive, suffocating coverage of this event, no one has tried to clarify this CRITICAL missing piece of the puzzle? This is where it all started. In using here a saying that became famous in the context of political scandals: What did the Vietnamese ATC know and when did they know it?

  •  Will we ever know what really happened?

The probability of finding the plane (in my mind, anyway) is close to zero. I have no faith in the new area of search. I have no faith in the new debris found (although the pieces were spotted by planes which seem better than satellites, but it is only two pieces of debris that can be from hundreds of different sources, and was later found to be relating to a fishing vessel). I do not believe that all these researchers actually know what they are talking about. They are all speculating. Even if we do find the plane, it is nearly 100 percent certain that the cockpit voice recorder will prove to be of zero value. It records the last two hours of flight only. This plane according to current speculative information flew for hours and hours either without ANY pilots in the cockpit (live ones) or with one who was intent on committing suicide and hiding it so well that he flew the plane to the end of the world—and the deep end at that. He would not be talking to himself knowing that we may hear it.

According to this theory he was trying to hide his motives. So we will be left with the flight data recorder. It will either show a massive sudden mechanical event (say decompression) that incapacitated both pilots. But it will not explain why they turned off the transponder two minutes after saying, “Alright, good night,” or why they programmed the strange new route on the plane’s auto-pilot system BEFORE the last communication and said nothing about it. And if the flight data recorder shows no mechanical issues, then we will still not know why the suicidal pilot flew all these hours to oblivion. He could have just plunged into the ocean. What did he do to all the passengers and crew in the back of the plane during all these hours? Did he kill them by causing loss of pressure on purpose? Was he a homicidal maniac? (Suicidal people are not usually homicidal maniacs.) Did he continue to fly for all these hours with these passengers shouting, screaming, and trying to knock down the door to the cockpit? Alien abduction makes sense but I do not subscribe to the basic theory of aliens so that too is not an option. So what? I suspect that we will never know. This whole thing does not make sense.

My best bet would be on a combination of events—one suicidal pilot and a struggle between the two pilots for control of the aircraft that resulted in massive decompression that killed all aboard including the pilots. Then the plane continued on the last track programmed until it ran out of fuel. Or maybe a similar event but involving a third-person hijacker. But how would such hijacker get into the cockpit? The simple and probably the only sensible explanation is this: The information we have to date is simply WRONG. It would not shock me if in the end, years from now, we find some debris very close to where the flight disappeared originally and it would transpire that all these calculations and pings were all wrong.

  • Who the F… is head of CNN?

The media in general, as always, deserves scorn and derision for being such a bunch of losers, ignorants, lazy, and worse. Of course, one understands the allure of this mystery. What I do not understand is why, if you are reporting on an event, are you so ignorant and indeed sometimes plain stupid? Some of the mistakes that these anchors (throughout the broadcast media) made, some of the more weird suppositions, some of the more stupid questions and lack of comments on commentary which made no sense, was just unbelievable even to someone like me who has a very low esteem for the media.

The media continuously criticize the Malaysian authorities as if there was something that they could do differently. Maybe they could manage the families of the victims a little better but is there any way to get it right when you have to tell people that their loved ones, all 250 of them, are dead and you do not where, when, how, and why? How would these great media doyens handle it differently? Also, let’s not forget that this is a different culture. This is not the U.S. where the right of the public to know is paramount and people regularly wash their emotions in public. Stop bashing people all the time and look yourself at the mirror first. This goes to all of the media broadcast outlets, but as always the worst of them all is CNN.

It seems that after the first few days, some brilliant executive at CNN realized that this story was giving CNN good ratings. The result was the WORST, and CNN is known to be bad to start with in cases of wall-to-wall saturation, and in this case, even suffocating coverage of this story for 20 hours a day (they did give it a rest for few hours between midnight and 4:00 a.m., or so it seems), 7 days a week for nearly three weeks now.

Russia annexes Crimea, and about 90–100 people DIED (or so it seems, the number maybe “only” 50 or so) in a terrible accident in Washington state. Russia is gathering forces possibly threatening an invasion of Ukraine but for CNN, it is all about the plane. You cannot turn to CNN at ANY time without hearing the same baseless speculations, theories, and continuous repetitions of the same so-called “breaking news” reporting the same non-news for every little piece of news (that will probably later be proven to be wrong anyway). That happened time and time again, hour after hour. CNN’s obsession with this story is simply nauseating.

EVEN if the rating is holding high, and I find that hard to believe, is there ANY element of responsibility left in CNN? ANY tad of professional integrity? Is NEWS only about what we want to hear, or maybe should some element of what we NEED to hear should be there too? And that is from the network that self-describes as: “the most trusted name in news.” Should there be any element of public service or mission statement? With all due respect to this story, the Russian story has HUGELY more importance and significance to all our lives than this personal tragedy.

CNN is the pit of shame and disgust.