QUESTIONS remain over Flight MH17 disaster
For the families of the 298 people killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, the Dutch investigator’s final report into the disaster makes for distressing reading.
The plane, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was brought down, the report says, by a Russian-made Buk warhead which exploded close to the cockpit, instantly killing the three crew members.
However, it is unknown how long it took for other passengers – including the ten Britons aboard and 190 Dutch people – to lose consciousness while the plane was falling out of the sky, to crash one and a half minutes later on the ground below.
It is not known who fired the missile – indeed, the weapon is thought to be one held by both Russian and Ukrainian armies. The West and Ukraine claims it was Russian-backed rebels which brought down the Boeing 777, claiming that only trained Russian serviceman could have operated such a missile, but Russia blames Ukrainian forces.
The report, which does not apportion blame, says the warhead was fired from an area, where, it is known, pro-Russian separatists were active. In response, the state-owned Russian firm which manufactures the missiles claims it was an outdated model no longer used by Russian troops.
The truth may never be fully revealed, although further questions must be asked, pressure must be put on leaders of the warring sides to establish what happened on that day in July 2014. At the moment, that looks unlikely. Earlier this year, Russia vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council to set up an international tribunal into the incident.
A separate Dutch-led criminal investigation is currently under way.
But one lesson which desperately needs to be learned from this is what can be done to prevent such a disaster from happening again. Conflicts will continue to rage in various parts of the world. The international community needs to work together to ensure that innocent passengers of commercial jets are not, once again, ever again, caught up in the crossfire.
The Dutch Safety Board says that the airspace over eastern Ukraine should have been closed. However, it was not, putting not only Flight MH17 – but the other 160 planes which passed over the region that day – at risk.
Air space above 32,000ft was open to commercial flights on the day the plane crashed, even though several military aircraft had been shot down at lower altitude in the preceding days.
One family who lost a loved one in the crash, Glenn Thomas from Blackpool, have called on Russian president Vladimir Putin to speak to the grieving relatives of the victims, pointing to his ability to take time out from his busy schedule just a few days ago to speak to singer Elton John about gay rights.
And perhaps he should. Whatever a leader’s stance on the conflict which caused the plane to crash, whichever side caused the incident which sent the aircraft plummeting to the ground, innocent people have been killed.
The loved ones of those people have the right to expect lessons to be learned from their deaths.
Playboy bans nudes at last
Playboy has finally entered the 21st century. Even so, the news that the American magazine is to ban pictures of naked women from its pages comes as something of a surprise, especially considering its founder, the smoking jacket-clad octagenarian Hugh Hefner, still technically holds the reins at the publication.
From his lair inside the notorious Playboy mansion, Hefner has given the go-ahead to his new chief content officer to do away with the one thing the magazine is best known for.
Instead, it is trying to make its offering more palatable to modern men who, it is fair to say, are probably not too keen to be spotted reading nudey mags while travelling to work on the bus.
It is trying to position itself as the publication for the thinking, working gentleman, focusing instead on more tasteful pictures of attractive women and features about alcohol and art.
The move comes less than a year after tabloid newspaper The Sun finally took a similar stance and finally got rid of its topless page three girls.
It is ironic, however, that it is the very phenomenon that Playboy helped to create – readily accessible pornography – that has had the most impact on its decision. Editors at the magazine said that the readily available graphic images of nudes and sex acts broadcast on the internet has meant that nude images are now “passé”.
Some critics have claimed that removing softer porn from mainstream society pushes porn further into being a secret, online world.
But surely societal acceptance of parading naked women around on a daily basis cannot improve women’s rights.
Playboy has made a decision which can only be a sign to the world that viewing females as sex objects cannot be tolerated in the modern world.
And it is about time.