“Why did seasoned space co-pilot pull Virgin Galactic lever nine seconds into flight? Michael Alsbury blamed for action that killed him and seriously injured pilot
Spaceship broke apart in mid-air following serious braking error
‘Feathering’ system usually enables the craft to rapidly reduce speed
It was deployed early as co-pilot engaged the system by pulling lever
Investigators say establishing exact cause of crash could take up to a year
PUBLISHED: 07:02 GMT, 3 November 2014 | UPDATED: 07:29 GMT, 5 November 2014
An investigation is underway to determine why a seasoned space co-pilot would prematurely unlock the Virgin Galactic craft’s moveable tail section, setting off a chain of events that led to destruction of the ship and his death.
Co-pilot, Mike Alsbury, 39, was killed, while pilot, Pete Siebold, 43, survived the crash, parachuting to the ground with a shoulder injury.
NTSB officials have said it was Alsbury, flying for the ninth time aboard SpaceShipTwo, who unlocked the tail section, designed to pivot upward during atmospheric re-entry to ease descent of the craft.
Disaster: An investigation has revealed that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo did not explode in mid-air due to fuel ignition – but it could have come apart for mechanical reasons after one of the pilots pulled a lever
Alsbury was supposed to have waited until the ship was traveling at 1.4 times the speed of sound, fast enough for aerodynamic forces to hold the tail in place until time to actually move it into descent position, sources familiar with the spacecraft’s operation told Reuters.
Instead, for reasons unknown, he released the locking mechanism roughly 9 seconds into a planned 20-second firing of the space plane’s rocket engine, while the ship was moving at about Mach 1, the speed of sound, the sources said.”
“HSBC ‘sorry’ for aiding Mexican drugs lords, rogue states and terrorists
Executive quits in front of US Senate as bank faces massive fines for ‘horrific’ lapses that resulted in laundering money for drugs cartels and pariah states
Lawmakers hammered the British-based bank over the scandal, demanding to know how and why its affiliates had exposed it to the proceeds of drug trafficking and terrorist financing in a “pervasively polluted” culture that persisted for years.
A report compiled for the committee detailed how HSBC’s subsidiaries transported billions of dollars of cash in armoured vehicles, cleared suspicious travellers’ cheques worth billions, and allowed Mexican drug lords buy to planes with money laundered through Cayman Islands accounts.
Other subsidiaries moved money from Iran, Syria and other countries on US sanctions lists, and helped a Saudi bank linked to al-Qaida to shift money to the US.
David Bagley, HSBC’s head of compliance since 2002, and who had worked with the bank for more than 20 years, resigned before the committee.
“Despite the best efforts and intentions of many dedicated professionals, HSBC has fallen short of our own expectations and the expectations of our regulators,” he said.
The bank has been under investigation for nearly a decade, and faces a massive fine from the US justice department for lapses in its safeguards. Senators Carl Levin and Tom Coburn, who conducted the hearing, said the permanent subcommittee of investigations had examined 1.4m documents as part of its review and thanked the bank for its co-operation.
The bank has apologised for its lapses and said reforms had been put in place. Paul Thurston, chief executive of retail banking and wealth management, who was sent in to try and clear up HSBC’s Mexican banking business in 2007, said he was “horrified” by what he found.
“I should add that the external environment in Mexico was as challenging as any I had ever experienced. Bank employees faced very real risks of being targeted for bribery, extortion, and kidnapping – in fact, multiple kidnappings occurred throughout my tenure,” he said.
The committee had released a damning report on Monday, which detailed a collapse in HSBC’s compliance standards. The report showed executives at the bank has consistently warned of problems. At its Mexican subsidiary, one executive had warned the bank was “rubber-stamping unacceptable risks”, according to one email gathered by the committee.
HSBC’s Mexican operations moved $7bn into the bank’s US operations, and according to its own staff, much of that money was tied to drug traffickers. Before the bank executives testified, the committee heard from Leigh Winchell, assistant director for investigative programs at US immigration & customs enforcement. He said 47,000 people had lost their lives since 2006 as a result of Mexican drug traffickers.
The senators highlighted testimony from Leopoldo Barroso, a former HSBC anti money-laundering director, who told company officials in an exit interview that he was concerned about “allegations of 60% to 70% of laundered proceeds in Mexico” going through HSBC’s affiliate.
“In hindsight,” said Bagley, “I think we all sometimes allowed a focus on what was lawful and compliant rather than what should have been best practices.”
Levin and Coburn directed particular ire at a Cayman Islands subsidiary set up by the Mexico division of HSBC. That bank handled 50,000 client accounts and $2.1bn in holdings, but had no staff or offices. Money from the Cayman Islands was used to buy planes for Mexican drug traffickers, said the senators. Bagley said those accounts were all now in the process of being closed.
“Forget hindsight,” said Levin. “Is there any way that should have been allowed to happen?”
“No, senator,” said Thurston.
Levin repeatedly said that HSBC must have been aware of the problems. “This is something that people knew was going on at the bank,” he said.
Bagley and Thurston said that HSBC’s compliance had been fragmented and that oversight had been poor. They said that had now been changed. The bank has now adopted a global compliance structure and doubled the amount of money it is spending on oversight.
“Criminals operate globally and if we are to combat them and stop them from accessing and abusing the financial system, we must look at issues from a global perspective. Institutions which operate internationally, like HSBC, will be targeted by these criminals, and our experience in Mexico vividly demonstrates that you are no stronger than your weakest link,” said Thurston.
While much of the hearing focused on Mexico, the senators also slammed the bank for dealings in Iran, Syria, Cuba, and other countries on US sanctions lists. HSBC executives continued to so business with Al Rajhi Bank in Saudi Arabia, even after it emerged that its owners had links to organizations financing terrorism and that one of the bank’s founders was an early financial benefactor of al-Qaida.
While Coburn was unsparing of his criticism of HSBC, he thanked the bank for its co-operation and said there were issues at other institutions including Citigroup, Wachovia and Western Union.
But the report comes at a highly sensitive moment for British banks in the US. Following Barclays fine in the Libor-interest rate scandal and the massive losses at JP Morgan Chase’s London offices US politicians have become increasingly critical of the UK’s financial services sector.
At a recent hearing into the JP Morgan losses, Carolyn Maloney, a Democratic representative from New York, said: “It seems to be that every big trading disaster happens in London.””
“BARACK OBAMA’S CAMPAIGN BENEFITTED DIRECTLY FROM MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS – Drug Money-Laundering Bank Was Big Obama Donor
Published on 12-12-2012 07:00 PM
Due to poor AML controls, HBUS exposed the United States to Mexican drug money, suspicious travelers cheques, bearer share corporations, and rogue jurisdictions. President Barack Obama received more than $75,000 from HSBC during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. HSBC used its U.S. bank as a gateway into the U.S. financial system for some HSBC affiliates around the world to provide U.S. dollar services to clients while playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules.
BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
December 6, 2012 5:33 pm
Europe’s largest bank, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), is negotiating a settlement with U.S. federal prosecutors for violating anti-money laundering laws, according to Reuters.
HSBC Holdings Plc might pay a fine of $1.8 billion as part of a settlement with US law-enforcement agencies over money-laundering lapses, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The settlement with Europe’s biggest bank—which could be announced as soon as next week—will likely involve HSBC entering into a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
President Barack Obama received more than $75,000 from HSBC during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
HSBC was hardly blindsided by the probe. The bank set aside $1.5 billion last month in preparation for a similar fine owed to the Mexican government for related violations. The cost for breaching laws in America may be “significantly higher,” according to Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver.
A July Senate Subcommittee report revealed that HSBC “exposed the U.S. financial system to a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks due to poor anti-money laundering (AML) controls.” Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) was the subcommittee chairman who oversaw investigations:
HSBC used its U.S. bank as a gateway into the U.S. financial system for some HSBC affiliates around the world to provide U.S. dollar services to clients while playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules. Due to poor AML controls, HBUS exposed the United States to Mexican drug money, suspicious travelers cheques, bearer share corporations, and rogue jurisdictions. The bank’s federal bank regulator, the OCC, tolerated HSBC’s weak AML system for years. If an international bank won’t police its own affiliates to stop illicit money, the regulatory agencies should consider whether to revoke the charter of the U.S. bank being used to aid and abet that illicit money.”
Alastair Lyons CBE*
Leonard V. Broese van Groenou*
Christopher Hyman CBE [On 48th floor of WTC#1 on 9/11; resigned after offender tagging scandal; shares collapsed; Churchill grandson Rupert Soames CEO as of April 1, 2014!]
^Senior Independent Director
16 Bartley Wood Business Park
Serco Group plc is registered in
England and Wales, No. 2048608
HSBC Bank PLC [Dirty bank – Paid $1.9 billion fine into DOJ Asset Forfeiture Fund]
8 Canada Square [Alleged Sidley snuff film archive at D2 Banking, 1 Canada Square]
“Old RAF Oakhanger 1001 Signals Unit (now staffed by Paradigm Services, a private commercial technology company). It is now home to military communications experts, working on the Government’s new “Skynet 5” satellite project. The original RAF signals site is now Paradigm’s “TCS” – Telemetry and Command Station.
Skynet is a family of military satellites, operated by the UK Ministry of Defence, which provide strategic communication services to the three branches of the UK Armed Forces.”
“The Paradigm Team is led by Paradigm Secure Communications. Paradigm Services are contracted to deliver the full Skynet 5 Service and EADS Astrium to design and manufacture the Skynet 5 satellites and ground systems. These three key players are all wholly owned by EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, and form part of the EADS Space Division.
Paradigm Secure Communications
Paradigm Secure Communications under contract to the UK MOD for Skynet 5 is, for the first time delivering secure global military satellite communications (milsatcoms) to the UK armed forces in the form of a service provision contract. Worth around 2.5 billion over the 15 year period, this service is being procured under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Paradigm is able to offer similar services to other armed forces and organisations. Paradigm is delivering similar services to Armed Forces and other organizations including NATO.”
“Paradigm, Serco Announce Skynet 5 Tie-Up
Paradigm Services signed a deal with its Skynet 5 partner, Serco, for a new operations building on the Paradigm Services Hawthorn site in the United Kingdom.
The operations building is scheduled for completion in February. The new building at Paradigm’s Main Operations Centre will accommodate Paradigm Services and its subcontracted staff, together with Defense Communications and Services Agency staff managing the Skynet 5 contract. Paradigm won the GBP2.5 billion ($4.5 billion) contract with the U.K. Ministry of Defense in 2003 for the provision of military satellite services until 2018.”
“Paradigm to provide secure communications
18 June 2009
Stevenage, 18 June 2009 – Paradigm Secure Communications, a subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space Services, has entered a service agreement with the Ministry of Defence, on behalf of the Cabinet Office. Paradigm will supply Cabinet Office crisis management facilities and key crisis management centres across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with a High Integrity Telecommunications System (HITS).
The service has been developed to support Responders in fulfilling their obligations within the Civil Contingencies Act and significantly increases the Government’s preparedness to support regional / local government in the event of short / no notice disruptions to the national telecommunications infrastructure.
High Integrity Telecommunications across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Irelan
Resilient communications not reliant on the Public Switched Telephone Network
The service capitalises on the successful Skynet 5 satellite communications PFI programme and marks the start of a new phase for Paradigm under which it is able to offer enhanced services to civil government departments and agencies. Keith Norton, Managing Director Paradigm said: “Up until this year, Paradigm’s focus was entirely on rolling out the new Skynet infrastructure and delivering first class service to MoD as our foundation customer. Now that the infrastructure is bedded in, including three new state of the art satellites and an upgraded ground network, we are able to turn more attention to exploring ways of expanding the use of this unique asset in the national interest.”
The HITS service comprises a satellite communications overlay, complemented by terrestrial links, and will provide a resilient communications capability that is not reliant on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). To supplement flexibility the service includes a number of satellite communications terminals. The terminals are distributed across the country enabling them to be dispatched anywhere at very short notice by land or air. The use of open standards allows interconnection of the HITS with other current and future UK Government IT systems.
The HITS service will be fully managed on behalf of the Cabinet Office from Paradigm’s 24/7 fully redundant operational headquarters in Wiltshire. Paradigm will support the regional sites from a number of Airbus Defence and Space and other partner operational centres across the UK to ensure a rapid response to any local problems with the infrastructure.
The service will begin operation with the first sites going live in Q4 2009, with all sites and transportable terminals fully operational by 2012.
Keith Norton, Managing Director Paradigm said: “This demonstrates how excellence in service delivery within an MOD/PFI contractual environment, can be exploited by other government departments to provide best in class service and value for money.””
“Serco supported the AFSCN communications support squadron in partnering with military and government contractors to supervise an Air Force Satellite Control Network test effort at Oakhanger, United Kingdom. Their innovative test procedures and creative solutions provided a viable implementation plan designed to improve communications capability .. The team’s outstanding support and will bring new capabilities and enhanced services to our critical warfighting mission.”
– Maj Gen Dale W. Meyerrose, Air Force Space Command
Director of Communications and Information
“Ultra-Secure AEHF Satellites Connect United Kingdom Users for First Time
U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, U.K. Begin Coalition Testing
SUNNYVALE, Calif., June 10, 2014 – All partner nations are now using the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) protected communications satellite system after the United Kingdom connected earlier this year. Four nations will use the Lockheed Martin-produced [NYSE: LMT] satellites for their most important transmissions, from commanders-in-chief to troops in the field.
The U.K. connection follows Canada’s first successful call in May, 2013, and The Netherlands’ initial connection came two months later. Over the past year AEHF facilitated many connections between international users, and U.S.-led tests in April included all four partners.
“AEHF is a keystone in global security. It is the only system that can provide highly-protected communications, circumventing our adversaries’ jammers in most wartime operations,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Protected Communication Systems at Lockheed Martin. “We are committed to driving this capability forward. All four partners are connected, and we are marching steadily toward Multi-Service Operational Test and Evaluation.”
U.K. armed forces started to connect over the course of several weeks beginning Feb. 25. They used two terminal variants to communicate with AEHF-2: One made for connections on land and another designed for users at sea. Service members contacted the satellite at Colerne Airfield, Wiltshire, with the shore variant of the Navy Multiband Terminal (NMT). In separate tests, U.K. users connected via the NMT ship variant from [Airbus] Telemetry & Command Station Oakhanger, Hampshire.
“AEHF not only delivers higher-bandwidth communications for the U.K., it makes communications with allies faster and easier,” Calassa said. “AEHF is showing it can handle the demands of protected coalition communications at high speeds, connecting nations with their own users and allied users across the globe.”
The four-nation AEHF program is led by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver the Mission Control Segment and six AEHF satellites, which are assembled at the company’s Sunnyvale, California, facility.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.”
“SIDLEY TEAMS WITH LONGTIME CLIENT AIRBUS TO PREVAIL IN WTO RULING
In what has become a long-running duel of epic proportions, Sidley recently achieved an important legal victory for the European Union and longtime client Airbus, Europe’s aircraft-making leader. Judges from the World Trade Organization (WTO) recently upheld an earlier ruling that Airbus’s rival, Boeing Co., received billions of dollars of government subsidies to compete with Airbus, ultimately causing harm to the latter’s sales and market share.
This result was unprecedented. In 2011, for the first time in the decades-long history of this fight over government subsidies, Airbus secured a multilateral finding that the United States was providing illegal subsidies that caused serious commercial harm to Airbus. The ruling enabled the European Union to request authorization to take retaliatory action against U.S. exports for $12 billion annually, to counter the illegal U.S. practices.
This result was achieved through the coordinated efforts of Sidley’s International Trade group and Airbus, which have worked together for nearly 13 years. The Sidley team, led by Todd Friedbacher, a partner in Sidley’s Geneva office, consisted of dozens of professionals from the firm’s offices in Geneva, Brussels, London and Washington, D.C. Lawyers in D.C. focused on various support measures for Boeing under U.S. law, while lawyers in Brussels and Geneva focused on measures for Airbus from France, Germany and Spain. Colleagues in London advised on matters pertaining to English law. Close coordination among these offices facilitated the alignment of arguments—without close coordination, it would not have been possible to manage the complexities of WTO cases alleging harmful subsidies to each manufacturer.
The history of the subsidies fight between Airbus and Boeing spans decades since the 1960s, with each manufacturer and their respective governments accusing the other of providing and receiving unfair trade subsidies. Friedbacher puts the scale of the disputes in context, saying they are by far the biggest the WTO has ever handled since its inception in 1995. “Boeing and Airbus are the United States’ and the European Union’s largest exporters. If things go poorly for either company, it can affect hundreds of thousands of jobs and their national economies.”
“You really have to get inside the machine and form a cohesive team with the client and other stakeholders in a case like this,” says Friedbacher, who, together with his group, works with numerous departments inside Airbus’ global enterprise, including its legal, finance, sales and procurement divisions. Moreover, Sidley’s team has unparalleled experience with the substantive elements of WTO law, and the unique procedural challenges of WTO dispute settlement needed to work effectively before the WTO courts. As WTO dispute settlement is a government-to-government exercise, the Sidley team assists the EU, on behalf of Airbus, in the preparation of EU submissions before the WTO courts, and also works with the four principal EU member States hosting Airbus — France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
In terms of the volume of economic activity at stake, said Friedbacher, “The 20-year outlook for large civil aircraft sales exceeds $2.6 trillion—not even mentioning Airbus parent EADS’ and Boeing’s lucrative defense businesses. Our goal is to ensure that our client gets a fair shot at securing as much of that market as possible, by using global trade rules to ensure a level playing field.””
“Virgin Airlines drops in-flight 9/11 conspiracy movie
Airline’s mind already made up
Virgin Airlines has pulled a controversial internet documentary on 9/11 from its in-flight entertainment system after complaints from bloggers and radio shows.
Virgin was going to show this month Loose Change, an 81 minute long documentary which alleges that the 9/11 attacks were not the result of terrorism, but a series of cleverly executed events carried out by the Bush administration. It suggests that American Airlines Flight 77 could not have crashed into the Pentagon, that the actual collapses of WTC 1, 2 and 7 were triggered by explosions, and originally that UA Flight 93 did not terminate in rural Pennsylvania, but landed safely at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
Although the movie has been thoroughly debunked since, it has been a huge success on the internet, and downloaded by millions of users.
Since Virgin also showed Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore’s searing examination of the Bush administration’s actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11, the company probably decided Loose Change was a logical follow-up, citing freedom of speech as the main incentive.
The announcement in its flight magazine read: “Was 9/11 a government set up? Were the twin towers brought down in a controlled explosion for an insurance payday? These questions and more are posed in this controversial film, seen by millions, derided by many. Now it’s your chance to make up your own mind.”
The idea that a documentary about hijackings may scare already nervous passengers obviously didn’t occur to the airline.
However, when the blogosphere learned about Virgins intentions it didn’t take long for the critics to respond.
“I thought since that since Virgin Airlines was going to give us a ‘chance to make up ‘your’ own minds’ with regard to the 9/11 attacks on America, by showing the Loose Change movie in-flight, we all would greatly appreciate seeing the works of Leni Riefenstahl so we could ‘make up our minds’ about Nazis,” someone from California wrote. “And, how about all those wonderful German documentaries from 1939-1945 showing how subhumans are destroying European culture, and how Germania is a bulwark against the Bolshevik hordes and jazz-spouting American apes.”
Producer Nick Rizzuto from Andrew Wilkow’s Sirius satellite radio show decided to call the Virgin office. After a heated 20 minute conversation where the producer promised them a media firestorm, Virgin finally bowed to its critics. In a statement Virgin Atlantic now says that although viewers have the choice over what to watch on board, they may be offended.
Earlier this year Irish public broadcaster RTE dropped Loose Change from its schedule after similar complaints.
Virgin isn’t exactly lucky these days when it comes to movies. British Airways has airbrushed a scene of arch-rival Sir Richard Branson out of its in-flight James Bond movie “Casino Royale.” Shots of the tail fin of a Virgin plane have also been obscured.®”
Field McConnell, United States Naval Academy, 1971; Forensic Economist; 30 year airline and 22 year military pilot; 23,000 hours of safety; Tel: 715 307 8222
David Hawkins Tel: 604 542-0891 Forensic Economist; former leader of oil-well blow-out teams; now sponsors Grand Juries in CSI Crime and Safety Investigation