3,578 thoughts on “The General Discussion Thread

  1. John,

    Any spook who doesn’t know in advance that the IP address of people who leave comments is clearly displayed to admins by WordPress – no need to even dig into the webserver logs – isn’t much of a spook :-)

    A few visitors here come in via Tor or hidemyass or similar to hide their real IP address but Habbabkuk doesn’t. But that’s all I’ll say on the matter as I have no intention of leaking personal information from the logs.

  2. Thanks for the explanation Squonk. Fortunately I don”t need Hidemyass. It might be different if the Yanks get world domination because I will probably be one of the first in their newly-built FEMA prisons. I nearly put a smiley face but thought better of it.

  3. Craig’s new posts used to rally a grand tour of posters, many of which obviously lurk for the most part, but also follow with some commitment. Lately, the comments are sparse and far apart. Subject matter?

  4. Ben,

    Craig has 6000 followers on twitter including me and every new blog post is auto-tweeted. At the moment I am following so many sources for Ukraine news that Craig’s tweets are not so easy to spot in the deluge. May also be the case for others.

  5. Not that Clark as it happens with the basic WordPress built-in recent comment feature. I’m sure I could track it down if I looked hard enough. Hoping it may be fixed in latest WP plus plugins for new threads.

  6. Ben

    I left it there because I thought it could stand on its own but I’ll delete it now. And you’ve just posted another one in the thread for me to delete. I’ve wasted hours on this tonight and had to break a family engagement early when squonk hung earlier today (I was worried the server had been hacked at first) so I really cannot be arsed with any more work tonight – 2AM in the morning here.

    Again my fault for posting in that thread to macky in the first place. The Ukraine thread was not the place for all the off-topic stuff considering today’s events.

  7. The haste with which you made that decision flies in the face of your normal procedure.

    I’m not quite sure why you did it. That is all.

  8. Ben,

    I’d said earlier in the thread I was going to delete it once the problem was over. Very simple – perhaps 100+ dead today. That thread was not the place for it and certainly not today. If I could move it easily to general without some work I would have.

  9. For the people who wonder what this is about. Brief summary. Macky’s IP, was unknown to them, effectively mounting a denial of service attack against my little server. Took the server effectively down when I was with family away from my own home earlier today . I changed the server settings to allow it to continue to operate (turned KeepAlive off for the technically minded) when the problem restarted this evening while talking Macky through trying to resolve the problem – which looks like malware on their PC – but might just be some other bizarre problem. Anyway, problem resolved at least for tonight.

    All of the discussion was unfortunately on the Ukraine thread.

  10. AA/ Squonk

    i remember Mary asking if we could all kinda chip in for enhanced STUFF as it were…. ( of Types i know not )…. But help oot a bit… a shame when it fucks up yir wee family Do’s

  11. Brian,

    It’s a setting for best response times for the server that made it so easy to tie up. It really only slightly slows the page load times if it is left turned off (it is off now).

    Until 2 weeks ago squonk wouldn’t have been so vulnerable as most of the page content was offloaded to Amazon S3 (near infinite capacity). However as I’m looking to move away from Amazon before the free period is up, I’m currently running as an experiment on alternative cheap hosting so I didn’t have the backup of Amazon and it was easy to tie up all resources with KeepAlive on. However I can probably stay with cheap hosting but still offload the “static” content to Amazon for very little cost.

    Will see how things go. I’m thinking about things.

  12. Okay now another IP address is continually requesting the same image over and over again.

    This is really bizarre. In any case I need to go to bed. Hopefully squonk stays up but if it doesn’t I’ll sort it when I can.

    Macky it is just possible this is some bizarre problem not especially related to anything at your end (although it did stop when you switched to chrome) now that I have seen it (briefly) from one other IP. I need to get to the bottom of this though.

  13. It’s Troll Holidays so I’m not supposed to be writing this, but I’m missing you all, and anyway I bet Dad’s secretly tapping away in the jacuzi (maybe he’s got the power cord connected) or sipping his vintage port from a cut crystal glass in the lounge, so I’m going to write anyway.

    Wish you were here and all that,


    This is the most boring place on earth…really full of old living – fossils (kinda), and slimey 40 somethings, slinking around and Dad is just in heaven, as if this is the life he is entitled to, not just a bonus for irritating people and starting fights.


    Not a bad choice. Zappa will never, ever, get boring at any rate.

    Glad you liked Coumba.

    Ah, Africa…Africa…


  14. Hi Squonk,

    I can only apologise that my pc has & is causing you all this trouble; I’m using my main laptop right now to see if the problem is still occuring; if it is please advise your email again.

  15. Sofia I think Habba the Hut lives on the continent. Caught him out on the time difference between BST and the time he quoted for posting something at BST +1. Trivial I know. Good riddance anyway IF he has gone.


    I am disgusted at how many establishment types the BBC and Sky have had on to attempt to justify the photos of RAF personnel with dead Taliban and showing their thumbs up.

    RUSI, John Tusa’s son Francis , Alex Deane a PR type who was a Cameron speechwriter, Col Bob Stewart!, etc etc. The only ones missing are the female war mongers, Caroline Wyatt and Lyse Doucet.

    Such remarks as ‘easily happens when personnel have just been involved in a fire fight….’ ..’in the heat of the battlefield’… ‘it’s what happens when you put young men and women into those situations’.

    Little or no mention of this Geneva convention… Respect for the Dead.

  16. How wrong could I be! Creepy crawling again.

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !
    10 May, 2014 – 10:23 am

    Craig Congratulations for both your wife and your new book, in that order. You’ve a lot to be happy about!

  17. Mary.

    As I suspected the old fecker was in the jacuzzi all along, breaking the rules with his laptop.

    But don’t worry. He’s got a dodgy battery and I’ve spread TK gell on the side of the bath where he puts the transformer……it’s only a matter of time!

  18. Macky, I’ve e-mailed you Squonk’s e-mail address, and some instructions for bypassing Windows in case you’re feeling adventurous.

  19. Macky,

    Everything seems okay at the moment. Email is squonkadmin at squonk.tk if you need to contact me. But so far today I’m not seeing the problem at your end.

  20. Ok AlcAnon, fingers crossed the problem is over; thanks for your understanding & assistence.

    Thanks also Clark, for the emailed info.

  21. This seems to have been a very odd fault. It seems most unlikely that two instances of different versions of Firefox would have started and stopped displaying exactly the same fault at the same times.

    Macky, does your router have lights that flash when traffic is flowing? And if so, can you remember, were they flashing when this problem was happening?

  22. Clark,

    I believe that turned out to be because Macky had two machines switched on. One with FF28 and one with FF29. Both machines were hammering the server. Current Firefox is FF29.

    Some malware that installs itself with dodgy sourced games etc. embeds itself into the browser. the browser behaviour may then become “erratic” to say the least. Can’t say for sure that was Macky’s problem but it is a possibility which is why I recommend a complete uninstall and re-install of firefox to be on safe side. When Macky used Chrome instead of Firefox it was behaving correctly.

  23. Btw,

    A friend of mine had his Firefox effectively “go nuts” when his son was about 11. All sites visited, searches. bookmarks etc. were being sent off to some company which presumably sold the data plus the browser would hang frequently and seemed to generate “clicks” on its own – goodness knows what else it was doing. His son is now 15 and knows what he is doing now fortunately!

  24. Now here’s something that may be interesting.

    I’ve just noticed that Mozilla released Firefox 29.0.1 as a security and bug fix release yesterday (previous was 29.0) . I wonder if something to do with the attempted Firefox auto-updates could have been screwing things up – possibly confusing any malware into the bargain? Maybe nothing to do with it but the timing is at least something to ponder.

    In any case I would advise all FF users to make sure they are on 29.0.1 (or earlier “extended support release” (ESR) – Use “About Firefox” in Firefox help to check.

  25. @Squonk & Clark, I have a desktop plus two laptops, normally all connected & turned on most of the time; I use one of the laptops as my main online browser running Windows 7, but this is also the same one that my son uses for his games; recently it almost became a nightmare to use because of all the random pop-ups & other suspects add-ons, things like mysearchdial & buenosearch plus a host of others; I uninstalled some using the Programs & Features in Control Panel, and then ran Roguekiller, which also found a few things & deleted them.

    Everything seems normal now, except strangly enough, the Chrome browser, which has switched from English to now being in Spanish, and it still has that buenosearch as a default start-up tab.

    Yes I would like to quit Window & run a Linux based OS, so your email Clark, advising just this, is very interesting, but I’m not too clued-up on PC matters, so it does seem a big & daunting step to take. Also I did come across this piece of relevant advice, and would be interested if either of you have any views on it;


  26. Macky,

    Personally I use linux on my two 9 year old laptops. I tend to use linux but do have Windows still on my main PC installed dual boot with Linux.

    Puppy linux is a nice simple Linux to start off with (as mentioned in the comments at your link) and it can be installed inside the Windows file system so there’s no need to reformat or partition disks or anything like that. It can also boot from CD or flash drive so you don’t need to install it at all to try it.

    This is the latest release of Puppy http://puppylinux.org/main/Download%20Latest%20Release.htm

    I use a different variant of Puppy (Upup – Ubuntu based) but Slacko is the current default version for new users. There are more secure variants of Linux (“out of the box”) than Puppy but it is much, much safer against typical malware than Windows.

    Squonk normally runs on Amazon Linux 2014.03 but is currently running under CentOS 6.5 – both these distributions are Red-Hat type variants which are geared for stability of servers rather than very latest software.

  27. Macky, yes, good advice in the article to install AdBlock, and preferably to install and learn to use NoScript, too. I also enjoyed this article linked from there:

    Regarding this paragraph:

    Which brings me to one small word of caution. There is what I call “corporate Linux” out there. Names like Ubuntu, RedHat and others. My advice – stay away from them and their products. However, products derived from them like Mint or Xubuntu are okay to use as long as they are piloted by a community, not a corporation.

    Yes I agree, but I still generally recommend Ubuntu, specifically the Long Term Support (LTS) releases. These are released in April of even-numbered years, and the version numbers represent year-dot-month. My favourite was 10.04, released April 2010. Ubuntu has been getting increasingly commercial since then, which I dislike. However…

    When you use a Linux distribution, whether a Live session (as I described by e-mail) or a system installed onto your hard disk, your local system is just the tip of the iceberg. There is twenty times as much software stored at the distribution’s Repository, available across the Internet. “Package Management” software on your local system is already set up to connect securely to the repository, providing you with indexing and search facilities for the entire distribution. To add or remove software, you tick or un-tick the appropriate check-boxes, click “apply” and the system does the rest, quickly and efficiently. Software removal is nearly always clean and complete, unlike in Windows. The package manager also keeps all the software on your system up-to-date with a single regular process.

    Incoming software is cryptographically checked against the repository’s checksums, so you know that it hasn’t had anything nasty added. Contributions to repositories are logged by username and the repositories are open to community scrutiny, so any contributor who tried to sneak in some malware would lose their reputation and their repository access. I find this arrangement more reassuring than the “Checked 100% Virus Free!” signs at download sites for Windows software.

    It’s the composition of these repositories that make a distribution more or less corporate and proprietary. Certain software, notably some device drivers and media codecs, are only available under proprietary, restricted licenses. The more commercial distributions such as Ubuntu include this software in their repositories. Such distributions also have large user-bases and communities which helps to keep the repositories well-maintained and up-to-date. I’ve occasionally had trouble with the repositories of some of the Ubuntu derivatives, so for beginners I still recommend Ubuntu despite its corporate taint, basically just because it’s so mainstream. I haven’t tried Puppy since version 4, but at that time I thought it was one of the best small-team distributions.

    Once you get used to Free Software you’ll find that you can use use any distribution. Unlike Windows, it’s quite easy to keep all your own files but replace your operating system. You can have a bootable USB memory stick, and use it to boot any available computer into your own familiar system. Hardware, OS, and personal files are no longer mulched together in Microsoftium glutamate. “My hardware” and “my software” become decreasingly relevant terms, hardware and software being commonly available to all. The “free” in Free Software refers to freedom, in this case the freedom to manipulate your own data as you wish using any available hardware.

  28. I made a LiveDVD of the new Ubuntu LTS release 14.04 (it’s too big to fit on a CD), booted it up and am now trying it out, posting this comment. It looks a lot like 12.04LTS; I take this as a good omen, a sign of steady improvement rather then radical upheaval. The one search ‘feature’ which brought criticism upon Ubuntu as spyware was easily turned off, but there’s a new Amazon icon on the Launcher. So yes, a bit corporate.

    The included software seems very comprehensive, the performance is smooth apart from optical disc delays, it connected to the repositories and selected the fastest mirror for this country – it all seems very nice and simple to use. According to the System Monitor it’s using 678 megabyte of this machine’s 2 gigabyte RAM.

    I’m running this on an Advent notebook with Intel® Pentium(R) Dual CPU T2310 @ 1.46GHz × 2 processor and Intel® 965GM x86/MMX/SSE2 graphics. It definitely runs better than the pre-installed M$ Vista.

  29. But it’s a Live session so I haven’t got anything turned off or blocked by the browser – so I’ve got Squonk’s blimmin animated icon on my tab bar…

  30. Thank you both, Squonk & Clark for the alternative OS advice & info, as I’m sure it will all prove to be a valuable aid as & when I switch over from Windows; I actually use my desktop for work so I can’t really afford to take any disruptive risks with it, so I either have to brave trying something on one of the laptops, or even better building another desktop pc from all the parts left over from many past upgrades !

  31. One thing about Puppy Linux is that not only can it boot from CD, it can also save your session safely back to the Windows file system. (or CD, or flash drive) so you can install stuff and work away without having to go back to a clean start every time you reboot – even if from CD or flash drive.

    Puppy also has access to the repositories (software libraries), that Clark mentioned, of the full-sized Linux distribution binaries it is based upon. Most common packages have a special Puppy quick install but most other things you need can still be installed from the parent repository. For example Upup Raring can install packages directly from the Ubuntu 13.04 “Raring” repositories.

    So maybe give a thought to downloading a live CD/DVD (Puppy or others) and just booting up from that for a play. Won’t hurt your Windows on the hard drive.

  32. Apropos of nothing, except my shameless self-promotion and egoism, you might see disparate absences because of another diversion from my ‘retirement’.

    I have signed a contract with CalFire as an Equipment/Employee/Rental to assist with the anticipated extreme fire predictions in California. It is not entirely a volunteer status, but has been highly recruited for assistance. They help with the cost of equipment needed (Diesel and maintenance cost, emergency shelter, radio, nomex etc) by paying a daily rate to cover your nut as an independent contractor. Anyhew, that’s it.

  33. Brian.

    I loved the “Free Hugs” video. Thanks.

    Be sure to get your episode recorded and posted here.

  34. Cheers Sofia….Will do…

    Still handsome of course… But…Wish i was younger…. might have Bewitched a babe in the process… .ah well …

    Talkin o bewitched Meet the Grandaughter..


    And Daughter…Two years ago at tall ships race in Greenock


    And my Japanese Team…Glasgow…Japan v Spain


  35. Yes maybe; just noticing certain missing people, like Fred, who didn’t even comment on the-privatised-nhs thread, or RD, as I like to hear his view iro the recent bloodbaths in Ukraine.

  36. Macky, don’t know. Of course RD could have accepted a position for those with Russian language expertise for which the UK has been recruiting. It is worrying that they have been recruiting because it suggests we are going back to the old Cold War situation. My speculation of course could be way off. Perhaps they have gone for a holiday together. Any ideas anybody? I bet you know Habbabkuk, but I believe you specialise in German, with a knowledge of Italian and French.

  37. Just as I questioned RD’s absence on the Craig Murray blog, like the proverbial nickel or dime he chips in with his three penn’orth.

  38. John Goss (to Macky)

    ” I bet you know Habbabkuk, but I believe you specialise in German, with a knowledge of Italian and French.”

    Macky should certainly know me, John: he’s received enough drubbings from me and I’m probably one of the reasons why he threw his toys out of the pram and left CM for lonely exile here! :)

  39. I could never receive a “drubbings” from somebody who not even smart enough to realise when he actually’s being addressed ! :D

  40. Yes Macky I have. Brilliant man.

    I will listen later as I have to go out. Have been dealing with a new wind up merchant on CM. Remember her coming on to CM all sweetness and light? How she loved CM’s blog or somesuch. I would love to know who employs her. Habbabkuk will carry this back to CM no doubt. All there for a purpose and Livni’s visit has brought Hasbara into action..

    Best wishes. Wished you still appeared on CM but I appreciate how you feel. He certainly got a hard time on MLMB.

  41. This is what being extradited to the US to face a Grand Jury indictment drives people to – a retired British couple tried to commit suicide today after all their appeals in the UK courts and to the UK’s Home Secretary and Prime Minister failed. They’d lost everything – their jobs, their home (bankrupted by the legal costs), even their mental health:

    Extradition couple Paul and Sandra Dunham who made suicide pact treated by paramedics

    RT covered the case very well back in January.

    Worse than Death? Unfair UK-US extradition rules see Brits…

    And people ridicule Assange for seeking political asylum in an embassy against US extradition…?

  42. Arbed, I could not agree more, and seeing it on the news this morning reminded me of how ever-ready, like a fully-charged battery or battering-ram, is Theresa May to send our residents like Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmed to Supermax prisons in teh US where they are detained 23 (sometimes 24) hours a day until they confess to something they did not do in what is known as a plea-bargain. What plea-bargain really means is that the country with the worst record for torture and extra-judicial kilings, tortures prisoners into confession by depriving them of human contact and social interaction. Herman Wallace never committed a crime so he would not confess. He was kept in solitary confinement for 42 years. You do not get out unless you lie.


    God Bless America!

  43. Ben,

    I tried to embed your video but liveleak secure (https) embedding doesn’t seem to be working. If I embed it insecurely then browsers complain.

    EDIT: Found a copy on Youtube which does embed correctly.

    Scary fire Ben.

  44. Unbeleivable Mary…

    We had a once in a while ( sometimes in years ) – event… then suddenly over recent months hardly a week goes by without Major incident.. Be it Water supply , Coal derailments, Oil.

    P.S Mary…

    Dont let new Numpty get to you… i was a wee bit surprised to detect a change yesterday… haven’t been over today yet… Stay Merry.

  45. Thanks Brian.

    I heard this morning after a fairly sleepless night (even had a waking dream about BLiar – should that be nightmare) that UK reserves of oil, gas and coal will have been used in five years as will France’s and Italy’s.

    The report has been dismissed as rubbish. I know that coal remains but who would want to be a miner especially after the Soma tragedy.

    This piece does not say who is dismissing it.

    UK’s oil, coal and gas ‘gone in five years’

  46. Same old. Same old. Another privatisation.

    Harrowing pictures. The people are completely devastated.

    Reduced production costs per ton from $130-140 to $28. Bastards. Can you imagine, with safety out of the window, that money is paid to the privateers. Appalling. There is something especially searing seeing tough, hard working, blackened men in tears.

    “Oh God that bread should be so dear and flesh and blood so cheap” – again we say.

    How about the Ergodan thug kicking a protester.

  47. Have you noticed that:

    We have never heard any more …
    about the American helicopter crash in Norfolk, ie why it crashed.
    Ditto the Lynx helicopter crash in Afghanistan
    Not much more about the Clutha crash in Glasgow
    Nothing more about the missing MH370


    Are there no investigative journalists these days?

  48. Hardly any left Mary… some of those still around are damn good though…

    Take Felicity Arbuthnot for example…and this Piece…you just could not make it up…

    President Obama Receives “Ambassador for Humanity” Award

    “It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” (Voltaire, 1694-1778.)

    ” It is impossible not to gain the impression that the criteria for being awarded prestigious honors for services to “peace”, “humanity” or “distinguished public service” is a candidate who is duplicitous, vicious, stone hearted and above all prepared to kill, plan killings or rejoice in killing on an industrial scale as brutally as can be devised. (Not Satire.)

    ” Moments after being informed of the horrific death of Libyan Leader Colonel Muammar Quaddafi in October 2011, then Secretary of state Hillary Clinton said “Wow!” then unforgettably and chillingly laughed telling a television crew: “We came, we saw, he died.” Asked if her recent visit to Libya might have had anything to do with his death, she: “… rolled her eyes” and said: “I’m sure it did.”(1) Six months later, in April 2012, Clinton received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. The following month she received the Champions for Change Award for Leadership and in May 2013, the inaugural Warren Christopher Public Service Award. Madeleine Albright’s comment, when US Ambassador to the UN, on “60 Minutes” (12th May 1996) that the price of the lives of half a million children who had died as a result of US-driven UN sanctions on Iraq, was: “a hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it”, was no bar to her receiving, under two years later, the 1998 International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award: “For extraordinary contributions to the cause of … human freedom … ..

    ” Three days after becoming Ambassador for Humanity, the US announced a “pilot programme” which is sending anti-tank weapons to terrorists in Syria. Lest it be forgotten, these groups have been videoing themselves crucifying, beheading, removing and eating the organs of victims, chopping off hands and dragging people behind moving vehicles. Under the Commander in Chief aka Ambassador for Humanity, the “pilot project” is an experiment trying to establish whether the weapons will “fall in to the wrong hands.” Nauseatingly farcical.

    By Felicity Arbuthnot

    Full Piece @


    Yo Squonk People… i’m off to a wee island on the Atlantic for a week…a wee bit incommunicado it is, with no Signal for phone ect… Keep up the good work all…. :)

  49. If GCHQ can do this

    —GCHQ can engage in travel tracking of passengers on airplanes. The program is called “Thieving Magpie.”

    The “top secret” slide reads, “We can confirm that targets selectors are on board specific flights in near real time, enabling surveillance or arrest teams to be put in place in advance,” and, “If they use data, we can also recover email address’s [sic], Facebook Ids [sic], Skype addresses etc,” and, “Specific aircraft can be tracked approximately every 2 minutes whilst in flight.” It specifically was useful against Blackberrys.

    why wasn’t MH370 tracked when it went ‘missing’?

    What’s in New Snowden Documents Published from Glenn Greenwald’s Book ‘No Place to Hide’
    By: Kevin Gosztola Tuesday May 13, 2014 8:56 am

  50. Mary, this is purely speculative, wildly conspiratorial, based only on suggestive but probably unconnected coincidences but something to be going on with, don’t get distracted from your admirable efforts in other fields of worthy endeavour, by this. At the time of the Clutha helicopter crash some sailors, aka the Navy were playing with their latest new toy, all high-tech bristling with computers and with ‘intelligent’ anti-aircraft and anti-missile weaponry – a shiny new addition to the bathtub fleet, with lots of blinking lights, buttons and polished brass, the newly-commissioned undergoing tests and hamfist-proofing HMS Defender Type 45 Guided-Missile Destroyer, just down river at KGV Docks, towards Braehead. It would be interestng to determine if it remained in the area or left the vicinity rather sharpish without fulfilling public obligations -recruitment events, school-group tours etc., the usual militaristic drum banging for another catch of economic conscripts.

    There were no apparent witnesses to any midair explosion or anything like that, but the main eye-witness to it, often cited – had it suddenly dropping like a stone, prominently black against the black night sky, and rather improbably was a carrot munching far from myopic Sun journalist having a smoke hanging out in and hanging out of an adjacent multi-storey car park.

    Accidents happen. I’ve never heard what the officially sanctioned cause or issue or version of events was, there was some speculation or inference of some fuel starvation problem possibly, but it all seemed to be swept under the carpet and the subject became taboo. Commercial sensitivity about flawed designs or products, hazardous processes and waste, and heaven-forfend (I did grope for a secular alternative) such matters impacting on share prices and profit have no doubt in our turbo-capitalist corporatocracy, priority and irresistible clout over public interest or safety, and governments role is to cover for these corporations who can buy politicians and governments by default eager to please whilst keeping the restive captive natives down.

    Pity it were a Destroyer it could have become known as Frigate-gate or Frigate in the Briggait. I submit this to the hive mind for cogitation.

  51. Thanks for putting that up Tony M. A lot of food for thought there. Cheers anyway.

    I was looking to see if there was any more about the suicide of the Indian nursing sister who took the hoax call at King Edward VII hospital when ‘Kate’ was an I/P with morning sickness. I came across the name of Lord Glenarthur who was the hospital governor at the time but not now it would appear from his register of interests for the HoL.

    His Wiki entry almost runs out of space with all his business and other interests.

    You will see he is still chairman of the British Helicopter Association (mainly operators and manufacturers)

    Here he is in a 10 minutes!! HoL debate about the crash. I could see nothing of particular interest having skimmed it. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2013-12-02a.51.4

    There is http://www.britishhelicopterassociation.org/ but its record of ‘accidents’ stops in 2010.

  52. Mary (17h48 on 17 May)

    “why wasn’t MH370 tracked when it went ‘missing’?”

    Perhaps the answer is in your own comment, a bit earlier on:

    “The “top secret” slide reads, “We can confirm that targets selectors are on board specific flights in near real time, …”

    the operative words being “specific flights”.

    Perhaps flight MH370 wasn’t one of those specific flights.

  53. Tony M I remember the newspaper man handily placed. Just a coincidence obviously. ;)

    ‘Gordon Smart, a Scottish newspaper editor, told Sky News: ‘I was in a car park and looked up and saw a helicopter which I think was a police helicopter.
    ‘It was just such a surreal moment. It looked like it was dropping from a great height at a great speed.
    ‘There was no fire ball and I did not hear an explosion. It fell like a stone. The engine seemed to be spluttering.’
    He added that it seemed the propellers of the helicopter were not working as it fell from the sky. ‘

    I can’t find anything about inquests for the 10 people who were killed including the crew or an air accident inquiry.

    Ditto the US helicopter crash in Norfolk. Just this which is the most recent.

  54. Thanks squonk, this was something that occurred to me at the time, and I never voiced the concern as I expected there would be a great deal of inquiry and speculation and that this coincidence would have been one of many areas of interest gone over in detail, to see if it stood up, instead there was none.

    I might have set up a straw man or two, it would not have been necessary for it to have left the scene or indeed to cancel public commitments. Likewise there need not necessarily have been any mid-air explosion: there will be crude and target specific anti-aircraft counter measures available other than launching a missile at Johnny Enemy. Navigational, communications, instrumentation, control systems, fly-by-wire data links, or engine management could all be vulnerable, civilian systems more likely still near wide-open –to remote electronic countermeasures interference or control.

    Something so secret, weaponised that could disrupt and overwhelm aircraft systems in flight within certain range, might seem a bit science fiction, some beam that swats and drops bandits at one o’clock like gnats, but is actually mundane technologically and hardly secret at all, and not always due to a vulnerability, sometimes, designed in: newer cars have long been rumoured to listen on certain radio frequencies for an external generic control transmission, AA and RAC breakdown services have had incidents of cars stopping and not restarting until the car had been removed from specific places, whereupon they started faultlessly, only for the malfunction to recur when the vehicle was returned to the same spot where it first broke down, but such undesired functionality designed into mass-produced items differs from hostile interference which would merely often optimistically produce only unpredictable outcomes and effects, if any at all, the ability to disable, or to end life a product at will once sold to the customer, by time, usage or financial limit is the stuff of capitalist’s fevered dreams, but if present in products, such capabilities become backdoors, exploitable by others, outside than just manufacturers or law-enforcement.

    That Jim Murphy MP, just happened to be idly cruising around Glasgow in his dancing trousers, looking for some action, heard of the incident on local radio in his car and dropped in on the scene in the immediate aftermath, we must just accept too, is just another of these truth is stranger than fiction oddities about this event. Nicola Sturgeon’s address to one of the religious services, banging on abstractly about reaching Zion and building a new Jerusalem – presumably standard Presbyterian Christian Zionist stuff, I couldn’t say what they get up to and what nonsense and fantasist tripe is spouted in their services – was almost as surreal. as it was inappropriate alien and irrelevant to any Scottish audience.

    The more one considers helicopters, it is bloody amazing they do actually fly in an almost controllable fashion at all, as instability seems inherent.

  55. I’ve had a read through the Air Accidents Investigation Branch Preliminary Report. Although they don’t explicitly say so (yet) the initial findings seem to suggest pilot error. The helicopter was in the air with all of its fuel in the main tank and none in the engine tanks. Critically the fuel pumps between the main tank and the engine supply tanks were physically in the OFF position. It was thus impossible for the fuel remaining in the main tanks to reach the engine. Both engine tanks ran dry and both engines cut out.

    Now even at this point that particular helicopter was capable of doing an auto-rotate hard but survivable landing without power. Initial findings suggest no attempt was made to initiate auto rotate landing.

    Although there was no black box various instruments did record certain events. These events included low fuel warnings for both engines, warning klaxons followed by stop of both engines. There is one possible mystery in that

    The Central Panel Display System (CPDS) displays cautions and fuel status information to the pilot. It also records internal display system faults but no information relating to its indications. The displays did record flight duration and work is being carried out to link this duration, and the conditions required to start and stop this recorded duration, to the flight path of the helicopter. A fault relating to one of the display systems was recorded and further work is being undertaken to establish the meaning and possible causes of the fault.

    So quite simply the helicopter crashed because the fuel pumps switches were in the OFF position and the remaining 76kg of fuel couldn’t reach the engines and also because the correct procedure to land with double engine failure was apparently not subsequently followed.

    Now whether something else was happening that so confused the pilot that he was overloaded/confused and either didn’t or couldn’t follow standard procedure still remains to be seen..

    Now on some pilots forums I have read that police flights in the UK if running close to the minimal fuel reserve will typically have transferred all fuel from the main tank into the two engine feed tanks. When this is done the fuel pumps from the main tank are then switched off to prevent the pumps sucking on air. This is normally very close to landing though. Speculation must be that the pilot thought he had transferred all remaining fuel to the engine feed tanks when in fact he had not done so. Switching the fuel pumps back on at any time prior to flame out of the second engine would have allowed the flight to continue to its intended landing site.

    Edited to add: For that flight the final reserve fuel figure should have been 85kg (minimum amount of fuel allowed to be left on landing). At the time of the crash it was almost 10kg below that. The manufacturer issued a bulletin upping that to 90kg fuel final reserve figure after the Clutha crash to allow for gauge inaccuracies. Still a 5kg fuel inaccuracy is one thing but in this case there was still 76kg of fuel left in a tank which was effectively switched to the “empty” position – could it have been falsely reading empty? Even if it was – when fuel starvation became apparent unexpectedly a pilot on that type (as far as I understand) would normally be expected to turn on all fuel-tank pumps regardless of where he thought the fuel was. This wasn’t done either for whatever reason.

  56. Aargh! Please Mary it’s not gargoyle groups, it’s Usenet, which has existed long before the NSA created google, and will exist long after google is nothing more than a bad memory. Can you get an approximate date for the thread start, or from the post you refer to, for me to fetch headers for that group uk.legal, going far enough, to find these using my newsreader client, as *google* is wisely blocked administratively upstream from me here. The subject field of the thread would also be most useful in helping find it.

  57. I notice someone in that newsgroups thread going by the name of “S.P.”

    The EC 135 that crashed in Glasgow still had 95 litres of fuel on board when

    That was written on 13 December 2013. The official report makes clear the helicopter had 76.4kg of fuel on-board when it crashed and that none of the fuel tanks or feed lines ruptured before during or after the impact. The manufacturers say that an emergency situation should be assumed to exist if the helicopter is expected to land at night with less than 85kg (now 90). Two miles from its landing site the police helicopter was already down to 76.4kg. Easily enough still to get it there had the pumps been switched on but as no emergency had been declared it begs the question – might the police helicopter have routinely cut into safety margins for operational reasons? I hope not.

  58. Answering my own question, the date of the topic start in uk.legal is 2013-12-12 and the subject: “Clutha Vaults helicopter crash”. Who’d’ve thunk it.

  59. Can’t the relevance of Scotch Mule’s post in uk.legal though it’s interesting: with or without functioning GPS, the pilot still knows he’s in a helicopter over intimately familiar streets and ground, with a bloody great river to guide and orient himself by.

  60. One other thing from the report. When the engines flared out the generators also stopped and all but non essential electrics powered down. However during an emergency engines out at night procedure a switch “SHED BUS” must be flicked by the pilot from “NORM” to “EMERG” which will power the radio-altimeter and landing lights. The switch was found in the “NORM” position, not the expected “EMERG” position.

  61. Okay a bit more I think I’ve gleaned – assuming the low fuel indications which were recorded were actually displayed to the pilot then it appears he ignored them for over ten minutes. The low fuel sensors are duplicated and totally independent of the main fuel gauges and 10 minutes flight time should be guaranteed from that point. So either the warnings were displayed for over ten minutes and not acted upon or else they weren’t displayed.

    Although the main fuel pumps were switched off the engine prime pumps were found to have been switched on suggesting the pilot was attempting an engine restart and assumed he had fuel in the engine tanks when they were actually empty.

  62. Sounds about right, it seems the engines were only fed by the left and right sub-tanks respectively and not from the main tank containing the majority 76 kg of the total 76.4 kg fuel, and that by the positions of the independent xfer pump manual switches, no attempt was to transfer fuel from the main tank to the smaller two tanks which actually fed each engine, it’s not clear but probable that each transfer pumps output went to a common gallery, but that further solenoid operated valves could direct the either transfer pumps’ outputs to one or the other or both left and right subtanks. As the first warnings came in that tank 1 was low, it should have been selectable as recipient of a top-up, over tank 2. I’m also surprised that a matter of such importance would not be under automated rather than fully under manual control, such that the tanks supplying the engines could not ever become empty under operating conditions whilst fuel to replenish them was still available from the main tank, or that in critical circumstances where the main tank load was low, such systems would not be better directing whatever available fuel there was to a single tank and thus keep a single engine running, than simultaneously transfer perhaps an inadequate amount to both sub-tanks leading to loss of both engines sooner. Often too fuel tanks too, due to the positions of the outlet or self-evidently in aircraft usage, outlets, can never deliver their full contents, by gravity drainage alone so can be empty for all practical purposes even when a surprising amount remains inside; even if optimised for the application of a helicopter in level flight, or in the recommended position or attitude, nose down or up etc. for emergency restart of fuel-starved engine(s).

    The final AAIB report – though there are many more parties too involved in the inquiry – I await, though when it appears it might not consider these sort of bad design issues, and I can see an opposite case, something similar to Risks Digest meat and drink, which would view automation or automated failsafe features, over-riding manual control, as in itself no less alarming than the crude, unsophisticated, human error prone juggling of fuel load manually.

  63. I think ‘prime pumps’ are a misnomer, they’re the actual and only pumps supplying the engines, not some emergency recourse or manually operated measure, they’re on all the time if you want engines to run or stay running.

    anyhow goodnight, lots of food for thought

  64. Tony M,

    According to type qualified pilots the Prime pumps should not have been on in normal flight. A master amber warning will be displayed on the console if these pumps are on. However an amber master warning should also have displayed on the console indicating that the main fuel tank pumps were off so it should not be possible to not notice that they are off. Physically the prime and fuel pump switches are apparently located next to each other.

    Some pilots speculate that the primary display may have failed towards the end of the flight and the limited information available on the secondary system apparently does not display the fuel pumps off warning. However if the pilot was flying with a failed display console that had failed for at least 10 minutes close to expected flying time/fuel limit then why was he still flying routinely over a city centre back to home base?

    Some pilots have pointed out that there may be more information in police radio communications with the ground as opposed to ATC but these (assuming they exist) have not been revealed yet.

  65. One other point. The fuel feed system on that model is designed so that both engines don’t flame out at the same time if fuel is not being fed from the main tank. Simply put one engine feed tank is bigger than the other. There is supposed to be a gap of at least a couple of minutes between engines stopping in the scenario this helicopter was apparently in. With an unexpected engine stop the immediate procedure should have involved a physical check of the fuel pump switches (whether the warning display had failed or not). The fuel pump can then be switched on and the second engine will continue to run an allow for a controlled landing.

    So did the pilot have two minutes to trouble-shoot the first engine problem and then get surprised by the second engine failure – did he think he had switched the fuel pumps on but had switched on the prime pumps by mistake? Again this is only reasonably possible if the primary cockpit display is not functioning.

    If he didn’t get the two minute gap then a purely physical final line of defence (one feed tank bigger than the other) also failed in addition to any other problems.

  66. Then the illustration and text in the preliminary report is more than just inadequate, it is hopeless as it doesn’t even mention the disposition, condition, controls or even existence of any other fuel pumps, i.e. the ones that actually matter if the prime pumps are inoperative for normal running. ‘Prime’ pumps does suggest they’re some barrel-scraping emergency measure to suck from the ‘lowest’ point in the left and right engine supply tanks after running dry, to elimininate airlocks and supply some ‘head’ to the next level of pumps, but this next level of pumps, lets call them the main pumps or primary pumps, which may have been mechanically -engine driven than electrically powered are bewilderingly not mentioned anywhere. In any case these phantom ‘main’ pumps, and the prime pumps had they been activated would have been sucking on air and fumes as all the available fuel, discounting the negligible 0.4kg in tank number 1 (what is 0.4kg in volumetric terms) was sitting high and dry isolated in the main tank.

  67. One pilot elsewhere posted this link without comment

    Published August 20th 2013 just a few months before the Clutha crash.


    Land the Damn Helicopter

    President of Helicopter Association International shares his thoughts on helicopter accidents.

    So, how is your day going? Mine was not that great. I spent it reading National Transportation Safety Board helicopter accident reports. I don’t know about you, but my level of frustration is at an all-time high.

    There were no surprises. No one has yet invented a new way to crash helicopters. The reports noted the usual suspects — fuel exhaustion, continued flight in marginal weather resulting in inadvertent IMC and, in the minority, mechanical failures…

    …With the above in mind and assuming an acceptable landing site is available, why don’t pilots exercise one of the most unique and valuable capabilities of vertical flight — namely, land the damn helicopter! In a high percentage of crashes, this simple act would break the chain of events and prevent the accident.

    I once spoke to a pilot who had survived an accident and asked why he hadn’t used his option to make a precautionary landing. He indicated he had not given it direct consideration and had focused instead on destination and mission completion. He admitted, though, that in the past he had worried about the scrutiny he would incur for making a precautionary landing. This didn’t surprise me. In my early days of flying, I, too, pondered the same issues at times, although luckily I don’t any more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>