Daily Archives: June 9, 2009

Flight 447 and the ITCZ

I had never felt airsick before, or since. But now I was a nauseated rag doll flopping around in the middle row of a six seater prop plane and I was ready to hurl at any moment.


BBC depiction of the path of Flight 447. I find it astonishing that the most important weather related feature on the planet is a “place where there are a lot of thunderstorms” or often not even identified at all. This is equivalent to a plane crashing into the Cascades and the news reporting that the aircraft went down in a “place with some hills” or not even noting the existence of the mountain range at all, as though it did not matter. (Note: We still do not know the cause of this crash. See text.)

The turbulence was epic, both of the plane and of my stomach, which fortunately was totally empty at the time. They told me that we’d stop in Uganda for lunch, and we were just now heading for Entebbe airport near Kampala, Uganda’s capitol. But I wasn’t sure I wanted lunch.

I was flying out of the Congo (then known as Zaire) for the first time, and since my route in had taken me to the capitol, Kinshasa, this was my first time flying over or into East Africa. There was just me … the passenger … and a pilot and copilot. That seemed strange, but this was a semi-regular international flight that would usually have five or six passengers on board, connecting Beni, Zaire to Nairobi, Kenya. But, for some reason, I was the only passenger on this particular day. Which is a good thing because it seemed pretty likely that I would throw up on someone any second now …
Continue reading Flight 447 and the ITCZ

Shell Folds in Nigerian Killings Case

Royal Dutch Shell has agreed a $15.5m (£9.7m) out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria.

It was brought by relatives of nine anti-oil campaigners, including author Ken Saro-Wiwa, who were hanged in 1995 by Nigeria’s then military rulers.

The oil giant strongly denies any wrongdoing and says the payment is part of a “process of reconciliation”.


Human rights experts around the world generally agree that Shell was in fact involved in the killing of these people.

The trial was about to start next week. As a trial judge once said to me: “Usually, the plaintiff or the defendant folds when they get a look at the jury and the reality that they are looking for the facts and that a judgement will happen sinks in.” (Or words to that effect.)