Lightning Strikes Twice? Malaysia Airline Tragedies

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:10 p.m. DST, 17 July 2014

Malaysia Airline Flight MH17 Fatal Crash - 07.17.14, Painting by Richard Lee

DONETSK, Ukraine -- First, we preface this article with our sympathies for the families and friends of the 295 people who died when a Malaysian Airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine earlier today.

It is a horrific tragedy, in a world which has become increasingly violent, whether by design or happenstance, and for which there is no explanation.

The tragedy of Flight MH17 could also be considered a "smoking gun" for a conspiracy theorist.  By definition a theory is based upon postulation not fact, and to postulate that a conspiracy exists without evidence is the very definition of an infinite loop.

Though not a mathematician, it seems statistically improbable that two Malaysia Airlines' planes would crash, killing 239 and 295 people respectively.  Flight 370 was lost in the Indian Ocean and the reason for its crash has yet to be determined.

According to M.I.T's Sloan School Statistician Arnold Barnett, "if you take one flight a day, you would on average need to fly every day for 55,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash. (Source: ABC)

However, it would seem that the caveat to this postulate is that it only applies if you are not on a flight originating from or flying to Kuala Lumpur.  Both planes disappeared while in a cruising altitude of 10,000 metres (33,000 feet) and otherwise showing no signs of distress.

Flight 370 vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board after it took off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing. Flight MH17 originated from Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur and is reported to have been brought down by a Buk anti-aircraft system.  The possible culprits in this latest Malaysian Airline disaster were quickly identified as a pro-Russian separatists group which admits to previously downing cargo planes, but vociferously denies any involvement in this attack.

Or it could be those pesky Russians, a perfect scapegoat easily maligned given their recent bad behavior and Cold War Era reputation. This is not to state that Russia couldn't have been involved, or that Russia is a country intent upon promoting peaceful coexistence with other countries, a position easily discredited by its current hostilities with Ukraine.

Russia is a perfect scapegoat, but this seems a pedestrian and all together too neat explanation for two catastrophes disparate in every other way except Kuala Lumpur.  Sometimes the most obvious is a distraction, very much like the character Oz in The Wizard of Oz, who upon discovery states "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

Amidst the cacophony of calls by world leaders to investigate the cause of this crash and bring the guilty to swift and harsh justice, there is no one to blame for the deaths of the 239 passengers of Flight 370 who seem to have receded from the public's mind in lieu of more current affairs.

But, what if this was less about the improbability of two airlines from the same carrier crashing just 4-months apart, than a targeted assassination of an individual or individuals who were somehow traveling from or to Kuala Lumpur, and the rest of the family and loved ones were simply 'collateral damage?'

In the light of the pain that many people are experiencing today as a result of this tragedy, this speculation brings no closure, no comfort, and no answers.  But, as initially proffered, there is more to this story than meets the eye, and it is the stuff that conspiracy thrillers are made of.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias

US Hypocritical Response to Ukraine Conflict

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 08:57 a.m. DST, 13 May 2014

IMG_5823  Photo by: Christiaan TriebertDONETSK, Ukraine -- On Sunday, 11 May, two Ukrainian provinces conducted supposed democratic referendums to determine their international identity. The motions were suspicious at best, as 90% of votes counted in Donetsk favored withdrawal from Ukrainian authority and turnout in Luhansk determined 96 of every 100 voters supported provincial autonomy.

Certainly the numbers appear exaggerated. These reports of airtight consensus must be questioned by the rational world. Dissent is pervasive throughout much of Ukraine. So when voting officials came forward on Monday with claims of unprecedented solidarity, the West responded as would the teacher of the struggling student who scores 105% on a self-graded assessment.

But the conflict in Ukraine covers more ground than the Western press are willing to turn over. A thoughtful discussion of modern Ukraine can not endorse the interim Kiev government wholesale, nor should it condemn all separatists as patent burglars. Both approaches are reductive towards the legacy of corruption and organized injustice in Ukraine.

In spite of Western backing, the previous Ukrainian establishment and the placeholder administration are fraught with human rights violations. And while Vladimir Putin exploited political rifting in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, perhaps the United States should also be concerned that Moscow has obviously made off with a whole chapter from the American playbook on how to seize foreign land.

The history of the United States is a clinic on nabbing territory illegally while simultaneously claiming martyrdom. In 1836, the Battle of the Alamo came to symbolize the American attempt to play martyr, while illegally holding Mexican land by whatever means necessary. In the same year, Texans fought the Mexican military in the Battle of San Jacinto and established Texan sovereignty. The slaughter lasted a matter of minutes and left over 600 dead, all but nine were fallen Mexican soldiers.

During the early 19th century, Americans began occupying Texas legally, but it did not take long for the Anglo residents to begin defying Mexican prohibition of slavery and other important legal codes. Americans continued to flood the region and soon outnumbered ethnic Tejanos 4 to 1. With some exception, the Texan army was American born and armed by the mother country, which in 1845 would welcome Texas into the union.

Unlike the takeover of Texas, Moscow did not inundate eastern Ukraine with Russian militants. They have been living in Ukraine for generations. Pro-Russian rebels represent the fragmentation of the Republic, not the forced entry exercised by American citizens and weaponry throughout its history.

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Published: 13 May 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

Perhaps more egregious than the theft of Texas is the coup d'état of the Kingdom of Hawaii, organized by Americans and flanked by US Marine encroachment on the islands.  Wanting to spare bloodshed, Queen Lili'uokalani surrendered her crown and was placed under arrest. The United States' intent to annex the Kingdom was explicit, and during the in-no-way democratic proceedings, a provisional government took charge until American lawmakers brought Hawaii into the fold.

The Crimean Peninsula at the heart of the Ukraine conflict has a joint identity as a Ukrainian and Russian region. During the Soviet era, Crimea was nominally transferred within Ukraine's demarcation. When the Soviet Union disbanded, Ukraine maintained jurisdiction of the region. The peninsula remains divided in terms of religion, ethnic makeup and political affiliation. If the United States is so concerned with the will of the people, there are several well-documented injustices ongoing within American boundaries that could be addressed immediately.

The United States practices selective attention--joining the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Russian involvement in the Ukrainian arm wrestle, while downplaying the United Nations when they become critical of America's parallel behavior. A recent report by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations shows both the longstanding injustice experienced by indigenous peoples in North America and the irony in the United States searching the globe to point out instances of criminality and misconduct.

The Black Hills of South Dakota are some of the oldest mountains in North America and are considered sacred ground to the Lakota-Sioux people. At first, white settlers were uninterested in the land, until surveyors began trespassing on the terrain in 1849. Through a series of treaties, the land was promised to the Sioux, and later expressly removed from Sioux possession when gold prospectors found valuable deposits in the Hills.

Since then, the Black Hills have been the subject of desecration, as the United States government thought it appropriate to carve out the faces of Anglo oppressors into the mountains that the Sioux people so revere. Mount Rushmore stands as a permanent reminder of white tyranny, and an obvious symbol of the ongoing violation of Sioux religious freedom.

In the ongoing international debate over the Ukraine conflict, the United States has very little legal or moral footing on which to base their criticism of Russia. Each day, the United States affirms the right for an empire to occupy land against international law. While the global community generally recognizes Putin's exploits as unjust, the White House has long modeled similar undertakings. The oligarchies in America and Russia imitate each other more than either would like to admit.

What makes the plight of one people more pressing than another?

Washington's unbalanced attention to the sister concerns does not appear very democratic. For the most part, America cannot change the course of action in Ukraine. But if politicians are so bothered by illegally seized land, there are plenty of instances to address within their own jurisdiction. Start with the Black Hills.

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Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom