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Downing Of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 Evokes Memories Of Iran Air Flight 655 Shootdown

Iran announced on Saturday that its military “unintentionally” shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

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Downing Of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 Evokes Memories Of Iran Air Flight 655 Shootdown
Photo Credit: Mint Press News

Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

UPDATE: Iran just announced that its military “unintentionally” shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, killing all 176 aboard.

The statement came Saturday morning and blamed “human error.”

“I’ll never apologize for the United States of America, ever; I don’t care what the facts are, “said Vice President George H. W. Bush after the US Navy shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, killing 290 innocent people, including 66 children.

It’s too early to tell whether or not Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after the Boeing 737-8KV took off in Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. One thing seems almost certain—if Iran did shoot down the plane, it was by accident. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson, his British counterpart, both claim to have intelligence and other evidence that Flight 752 was hit by one or more surface-to-air missiles, while US President Donald Trump opined that “somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.” It’s practically impossible to imagine a scenario in which Iran would intentionally target a Ukrainian commercial flight; fortunately, cool heads seem to be prevailing ahead of investigations of the incident.

‘I’ll Never Apologize for the United States of America’

For many Iranians, the Tehran tragedy brought back painful memories of a similar incident from more than 30 years ago during a period of similarly heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. On July 3, 1988 the US guided missile destroyer USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655, an Airbus A300 flying in Iranian airspace and carrying 290 civilians from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, killing all aboard. The victims included people from six countries, including 66 children. The US maintains this was an accident, while Iran accused the US of an intentional act of state terrorism.

According to the official US account, the Vincennes’ crew misidentified the civilian airliner, claiming its flight profile was similar to that of the US-made F-14 Tomcat fighters sold to the Imperial Iranian Air Force during the last years of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s dictatorship. The latter years of the Iraq-Iran war—which began in 1980 after the US encouraged Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to invade his much larger neighbour — saw periodic skirmishes between US and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. On the morning of July 3 a US helicopter came under small arms fire from Iranian patrol boats; the Vincennes gave chase into Iranian waters, where it fired two surface-to-air missiles at the doomed airliner.

Serious questions were raised by the US account of the incident. First, the Vincennes’ Aegis Combat System, a state-of-the-art computer and radar tracking and guidance system, indicated the plane was climbing and not descending as an attacking F-14 would. Second, Flight 655 was transmitting the correct transponder “squawk” code for a commercial airliner, while maintaining radio communication in English with nearby air traffic controllers. Third, Iran argued that even if the plane had been a fighter jet, the US had no right to shoot it down, as it was in Iranian airspace and its flight path couldn’t possibly indicate an attack profile as it was climbing when attacked.

The Reagan administration told lie after lie about the incident. It claimed the Vincennes was in international waters at the time of the attack It was not. It said the ship acted in self-defence against the “descending” plane; Flight 455 was climbing when it was shot down. It also claimed the flight had strayed from its usual route. It did not. It told the United Nations that the Vincennes was rushing to defend merchant shipping from Iranian attack, a complete fabrication.

President Ronald Reagan swiftly apologized to Iran for the incident, while Vice President George H.W. Bush—who was running for president that year—shocked the world with his response to his country’s mass killing of 290 innocent civilians. “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America, ever,” he said on August 5. “I don’t care what the facts are.”

A subsequent Pentagon investigation concluded that Flight 655 “was on a normal commercial air flight plan profile, in the assigned airway, squawking Mode III (civilian), on a continuous ascent in altitude from take-off at Bandar Abbas to shoot-down.” In 1996, the United States agreed to pay over $60 million, or just over $213,000 per passenger, to families of Iran Air Flight 655 victims, without admitting any legal liability.

For the sailors of the USS Vincennes, praise, not punishment, was the order of the day. All received combat action ribbons, while the ship’s air warfare coordinator was awarded a commendation medal for the “heroic achievement” of “quickly and precisely completing the firing procedure” that shot down Flight 655. Captain Will Rogers III was honoured with the Legion of Merit for his “outstanding service.”

‘A Bus with 73 Dogs’

While Iran Air Flight 655 was almost certainly a tragic accident, an earlier attack on a commercial airliner closer to home bears much more sinister US fingerprints.

On the balmy afternoon of October 6, 1976, Cubana de Aviación Flight 455, a DC-8 carrying 73 passengers, many of them teenage members of Cuba’s junior Olympic fencing team, took off from Barbados bound for Jamaica. The plane made a brief stop in Trinidad and Tobago, where two anti-Fidel Castro terrorists planted a pair of bombs, cleverly hidden inside a camera and a tube of toothpaste, aboard the plane. They exploded shortly after take-off, blasting a hole in the plane and sparking a fire as it plunged into the sea. There were no survivors of what was, until September 11, 2001, the worst-ever act of airborne terrorism in the Western Hemisphere.

Shortly after the attack, one of the terrorists, Hernán Ricardo, phoned Orlando Bosch, a CIA-backed, Miami-based Cuban exile militant who, along with fellow anti-Castro terrorist and long-time CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles, planned the bombing. “A bus with 73 dogs went off a cliff,” Ricardo told Bosch. “All got killed.”

The CIA, under its new director at the time—none other than George H. W. Bush—knew as early as June 1976 that Cuban exiles were plotting to blow up a Cubana airliner, but did not warn Havana. Ricardo and his accomplice Freddy Lugo were arrested in Trinidad and Tobago. They confessed to the bombing and fingered Bosch and Posada Carriles as the masterminds of the attack. The four men were jailed in Venezuela but Bosch and Posada Carriles escaped. They eventually made their way back to Florida, where they were welcomed as heroes—the city of Miami even declared an official Orlando Bosch Day—and protected by Bush, who was now president. This, despite the Justice Department calling Posada Carriles, the hemisphere’s most wanted terrorist, “an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks.”

Bosch and Posada Carriles lived out the rest of their lives in sunny South Florida while relatives of Flight 455 victims waited for justice that was never delivered. Posada Carriles pursued a successful art career while Bosch made frequent media appearances, always insisting that “there were no innocents on that plane.” Roseanne Nenninger Persaud of Guyana, whose 19-year-old brother Raymond died on Flight 455, told the New York Times in 2006 that the perpetrators of the bombing should be “treated like [Osama] bin Laden.”

If this were a plane full of Americans, it would have been a different story,” she said.

By Brett WilkinsCommonDreams.org | Creative Commons

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

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An Asteroid The Size Of A Football Stadium Is Flying Toward The Earth This Week: NASA

NASA is keeping watch on a humongous asteroid that is quickly approaching Earth every day.

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Photo Credit: Times Now

(TMU) – NASA is keeping watch on a humongous asteroid that is quickly approaching Earth every day. The NASA website’s Asteroid Watch Widget shows the next five asteroids and comets that are expected to make relatively close approaches to earth in the next few days.

Among these is a large comet that is expected to be 1,100 feet wide (335 meters), approximately the size of a football stadium or the Wilshire Grand Center skyscraper in Los Angeles and larger than New York’s Empire State Building.

The asteroid, which is named 2002 NN4, is expected to come closest to our planet on Saturday, June 6th, according to NASA. The space rock is categorized as an Aten-class Asteroid, but is also classified by the space agency as a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) and Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), reports Tech Times.

Scientists are making it clear that any possibility of a collision here on Earth is EXTREMELY remote – in fact, its closest approach will be a distant 3,160,000 miles (over 5 million km.) away from home base.

While the asteroid is considered somewhat small in relation to the much larger rocks shooting across our galaxy, the 2002 NN4 is also 90% larger than the four others listed. These include three others about the size of a plane and another size of a house that are approaching the Earth. The closest one is expected to come within 1,830,000 miles of Earth today.

Researchers say that the asteroid completes its orbit around the sun every 0.82 years, or 300 days.

Scientists predict numerous “close approaches” of the asteroid to the Earth in the future. While only 30 close approaches are forecast at the moment, 2002 NN4 will return to our neighbourhood in nine years, on June 29 – so if you want to wave at this distant traveller, Saturday will be your only chance for some time.

Space.com has also reported that small asteroids pass by our planet on a monthly basis. One such small asteroid, 2020 HS7, safely passes near Earth several times each month, NASA Planetary Defence Officer Lindley Johnson said in an April 28 statement.

“It poses no threat to our planet, and even if it were on a collision path with Earth it is small enough that it would be disintegrated by our Earth’s atmosphere,” the planetary defence official added.

Yet 2020 HS7 was still came startlingly close to the planet, coming a mere 26,550 miles (42,735 km) within the Earth’s center and only 750 miles (1,200 km) from the closest satellite in geostationary orbit, which is one of the more distant satellite rings surrounding Earth. The space rock passed well below the satellite, however, leaving it unscathed.

The flybys are a good display of our planetary defence apparatus in action. Space authorities like NASA and the European Space Agency identify the asteroids in our galactic “neighbourhood” beginning with the largest, while tracking their orbital trajectory. As scientists compile more and more data on these space rocks, they are able to plot their orbits more accurately and calculate the probability – or lack thereof – of any impact with our planet.

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Swarm Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Renews Fears Of Supervolcano Eruption

A swarm of earthquakes has caused renewed concern over the area’s underground supervolcano.

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Swarm Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Renews Fears Of Supervolcano Eruption
Photo Credit: The Mind Unleashed

(TMU) – The US Geological Survey says it is monitoring the area near Yellowstone National Park where a swarm of earthquakes has caused renewed concern over the area’s underground supervolcano. Although statistically unlikely, a supervolcano eruption would release the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs and wreak unprecedented destruction.

The area, West Yellowstone in Montana, reported around eleven earthquakes on Friday and a total of 34 in the last month. Though considered low-magnitude quakes, the tremors extended three miles underground.

According to Yellowstone National Park’s website:

“Yellowstone is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States….Approximately 700 to 3,000 earthquakes occur each year in the Yellowstone area; most are not felt. They result from the extensive network of faults associated with the volcano and surrounding tectonic features.”

Situated in northwest Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park brings in millions of annual tourists, who marvel at the geysers, steam vents, and bubbling eddies of exothermally heated water.

Park officials say that earthquakes there are caused by volcanic fluids entering shallow rock fractures.

Yellowstone sits atop one of only two supervolcanos in the US. Contained within three overlapping calderas that represent past eruptions from hundreds of thousands and even millions of years ago, scientists say the Yellowstone volcano is roughly 34 by 45 miles wide and only three miles below the surface. Its last eruption was 640,000 years ago when it is estimated to have dumped over 2,000 times the amount of ash as the Mount St. Helens eruption.

Swarms of earthquakes are not unusual in the area. In 2018, the park recorded a swarm of 153 quakes. The US Geological Survey says the odds are only one in 730,000 that the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt this year.

However, the supervolcano eruption threat has become a predictable meme in recent years, usually resurfacing during earthquakes swarms. The reason is that if the supervolcano did go off, it would definitely be a game-changer. A BBC feature on supervolcanos described the aftermath: “The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.

Volcanists insist there is no imminent threat of a supervolcano eruption at the moment but larger earthquakes and hydrothermal blasts could present a real danger to tourists. Over the years, over 300 people have died at Yellowstone, in accidents ranging from driving off of 800-foot cliffs to unknowingly diving into 200-degree boiling water and succumbing to the fumes emitted by hydrothermal vents.

In 2016, a 23-year-old man fell off a boardwalk overlooking the Norris Geyser Basin and was incinerated in the high-temperature, acidic geyser below.

So while this summer’s tourists probably don’t have to worry about the earthquakes representing the eruption of the supervolcano, Yellowstone National Park visitors should bring a healthy respect for the powers of nature.

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A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Is Happening During The Full Moon This June

On June 5th and 6th, the Strawberry Full Moon will also pass through the faint outer shadow of the Earth, known as a penumbral lunar eclipse.

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Penumbral Lunar bbc
Photo Credit: Truth Theory

(TMU) – On June 5th and 6th, the Strawberry Full Moon will pass through the faint outer shadow of the Earth, known as a penumbral lunar eclipse, the second of four penumbral lunar eclipses this year. Weather permitting, those of you in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and the South Eastern areas of South America might notice the Moon turn slightly darker, or seem less bright, during the maximum phase of the eclipse. A penumbral lunar eclipse can be subtle and sometimes difficult to distinguish from a normal full moon.

While June’s Strawberry Full Moon eclipse may be visible from start to finish from some areas – a total of 3 hours 18 minutes – other areas will only experience the Moon rise or set during the eclipse. Check the time of the Full Moon eclipse in your city or town by clicking here, and set that time aside to watch the event. Unfortunately, for North America and most of South America, this event will be happening below their horizon.

Image Credit: www.timeanddate.com

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth aligns between the Full Moon and the Sun, blocking the Sun’s rays from reaching the Full Moon.

A total eclipse occurs when Earths umbra – the central, dark part of its shadow – obscures all of the Moon’s surface. During a partial eclipse only a part of the Moon’s surface is obscured by Earth’s umbra. A penumbral lunar eclipse happens when Earth’s faint penumbral, outer shadow falls on the Moon, like the one we already experienced on January 10th and are what the remaining three lunar eclipses will be this year on June 5th, July 5th and November 31st.

The early Indigenous people of North America kept track of the seasons and lunar months by naming them according to events during that time. June’s Full Moon is either the last full moon of spring, or the first of the summer, and is called the “Strawberry Moon”. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the name originated with Algonquin tribes in eastern North America – and was used as a signal to gather the ripening wild strawberries. Colonial Americans adopted some of the indigenous moon names and applied them to their own calendar system – which is still used today.

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Trump To Sign Social Media Executive Order After Threatening To Shut Down Platforms

US President Donald Trump might be one of Twitter’s most active users, but he has had harsh words for the social media platform this week.

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Trump signs executive order threatening social-media companies after Twitter fact-checked his tweets
Photo Credit: Financial Times

(TMU) – US President Donald Trump might be one of Twitter’s most active users, but he has had harsh words for the social media platform this week, after the site fact-checked one of his claims about voting by mail.

Trump even went so far as to threaten to “strongly regulate” or even potentially shut down social media websites for attempting to interfere with political speech and election results.

This is the first time that Trump has been fact-checked on the site, as public figures are often given a pass in circumstances like this because their comments are a matter of public discourse, as offensive as they may be at times, but increased calls for the moderation of Trump’s tweets have led to increased scrutiny over his profile.

President Trump was so incensed by the actions against his profile that he is now promising to sign an executive order in regards to content moderation on social media sites.

“These platforms act like they are potted plants when [in reality] they are curators of user experiences, i.e. the man behind the curtain for everything we can see or hear,” an administration official familiar with the issue told Politico on Wednesday night.

While the content of the executive order is not entirely clear, some have speculated that it could be related to a 1996 statute that protects these companies from lawsuits. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives tech companies a limited legal liability for user-generated content, which is a great thing at face value, but it also protects these companies from any legal action for “taking good-faith efforts to curb illicit material.”

In the years since, frequent conflicts have arisen over content moderation, while “good faith efforts” and “illicit Material” are still poorly defined, allowing these companies to remove content based on arbitrary whims, which are often directed by personal politics, and the temperaments of advertisers.

Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey defended the site’s actions on Wednesday night, saying that he was not censoring Trump, but providing other sources so people could look deeper into the issue. He also said that the site will continue to fact check the information that they find to be incorrect or disputed, especially when it comes to elections.

“Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves,” he said.

He also says that he will be taking full responsibility for the company’s actions and will be willing to admit mistakes if any are made.

Last year, Twitter announced it would ban all political ads from its platform. At the time, Dorsey said that he believed online reach for political messages “should be earned, not bought.”

Mark Zuckerberg responded to the controversy this week also, saying that Twitter made the wrong call, and falsely claimed that Facebook takes a hands-off approach to moderating political content.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that,” Zuckerberg said.

While Twitter is traditionally less aggressive with content moderation than Facebook when it comes to issues like foreign policy, police brutality, or nudity, they have become very serious about policing hate speech and political misinformation.

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