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18 Jul 09:15

Hilariously Useless Comments About Science from the US Supreme Court

by Katharine Trendacosta

Hilariously Useless Comments About Science from the US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is not composed of scientists. We've seen this before . But they do end up hearing a lot of cases that involve science, and are forced to describe the concepts and technology before them. They do not always rise to the challenge.


18 Jul 11:20

The Obama Administration Just Took Obamacare Away From The Territories

Looking for a place where Obamacare doesn't exist? Try moving to the U.S. Territories, where the Obama administration just provided a pretty big waiver from the law's major coverage provisions.
18 Jul 03:31

Airlines Warned To Avoid Ukrainian Airspace Before MH17 'Attack' But Continued As It Was 'Cheaper'

Airlines had been warned to avoid the route over Ukraine because of the violence below, however many carriers continued to use it because it was shorter and therefore cheaper, according to aviation experts.
18 Jul 15:50

I was poor, but a GOP die-hard: How I finally left the politics of shame -

by djempirical

I was a 20-year-old college dropout with no more than $100 in the bank the day my son was born in 1994.  I’d been in the Coast Guard just over six months. Joining the service was my solution to a lot of problems, not the least of which was being married to a pregnant, 19-year-old fellow dropout.  We were poor, and my overwhelming response to poverty was a profound shame that drove me into the arms of the people least willing to help — conservatives.

Just before our first baby arrived, my wife and I walked into the social services office near the base where I was stationed in rural North Carolina. “You qualify for WIC and food stamps,” the middle-aged woman said.  I don’t know whether she disapproved of us or if all social services workers in the South oozed an understated unpleasantness.  We took the Women, Infants, Children vouchers for free peanut butter, cheese and baby formula and got into the food stamp line.

Looking around, I saw no other young servicemen.  Coming from the white working class, I’d always been taught that food stamps were for the “others” — failures, drug addicts or immigrants, maybe — not for real Americans like me.  I could not bear the stigma, so we walked out before our number was called.

Even though we didn’t take the food stamps, we lived in the warm embrace of the federal government with subsidized housing and utilities, courtesy of Uncle Sam.  Yet I blamed all of my considerable problems on the government, the only institution that was actively working to alleviate my suffering. I railed against government spending (i.e., raising my own salary).  At the same time, the earned income tax credit was the only way I could balance my budget at the end of the year.

I felt my own poverty was a moral failure.  To support my feelings of inadequacy, every move I made only pushed me deeper into poverty.  I bought a car and got screwed on the financing.  The credit I could get, I overused and was overpriced to start with.  My wife couldn’t get or keep a job, and we could not afford reliable day care in any case.  I was naive, broke and uneducated but still felt entitled to a middle-class existence.

If you had taken WIC and the EITC away from me, my son would still have eaten, but my life would have been much more miserable.  Without government help, I would have had to borrow money from my family more often.  I borrowed money from my parents less than a handful of times, but I remember every single instance with a burning shame.  To ask for money was to admit defeat, to be a de facto loser.


To make up for my own failures, I voted to give rich people tax cuts, because somewhere deep inside, I knew they were better than me.  They earned it.  My support for conservative politics was atonement for the original sin of being white trash.

In my second tour of duty, I grew in rank and my circumstances improved.  I voted for George W. Bush.  I sent his campaign money, even though I had little to spare. During the Bush v. Gore recount, I grabbed a sign and walked the streets of San Francisco to protest, carrying my toddler on my shoulders.  I got emotional, thinking of “freedom.”

Sometime after he took office, I watched Bush speak at an event.  He talked of tax cuts.  “It’s the people’s money,” he said.  By then I was making even better money, but I didn’t care about tax cuts for myself.  I was still paying little if any income tax, but I believed in “fairness.” The “death tax” (aka the estate tax) was unfair and rich people paid more taxes so they should get more of a tax break.  I ignored my own personal struggles when I made political decisions.

By the financial meltdown of 2008, I was out of the military and living in Reno, Nevada —  a state hard hit by the downturn.  I voted libertarian that election year, even though the utter failure of the free market was obvious.  The financial crisis proved that rich people are no better than me, and in fact, are often inferior to average people.  They crash companies, loot pensions and destroy banks, and when they hit a snag, they scream to be rescued by government largess.  By contrast, I continued to pay my oversize mortgage for years, even as my home lost more than half its value.  I viewed my bad investment as yet another moral failure.  When it comes to voting and investing, rich people make calculated decisions, while regular people make “emotional” and “moral” ones.  Despite growing self-awareness, I pushed away reality for another election cycle.

In 2010, I couldn’t support my own Tea Party candidate for Senate because Sharron Angle was an obvious lunatic.  I instead sent money to the Rand Paul campaign.  Immediately the Tea Party-led Congress pushed drastic cuts in government spending that prolonged the economic pain.  The jobs crisis in my own city was exacerbated by the needless gutting of government employment.  The people who crashed the economy — bankers and business people — screamed about government spending and exploited Tea Party outrage to get their own taxes lowered.  Just months after the Tea Party victory, I realized my mistake, but I could only watch as the people I supported inflicted massive, unnecessary pain on the economy through government shutdowns, spending cuts and gleeful cruelty.

I finally “got it.”  In 2012, I shunned my self-destructive voting habits and supported Obama. I only wished there were a major party more liberal than the Democrats for whom I could vote.  Even as I saw the folly of my own lifelong voting record, many of my friends and family moved further into the Tea Party embrace, even as conservative policies made their lives worse.

I have a close friend on permanent disability.  He votes reliably for the most extreme conservative in every election.  Although he’s a Nevadan, he lives just across the border in California, because that progressive state provides better social safety nets for its disabled. He always votes for the person most likely to slash the program he depends on daily for his own survival.  It’s like clinging to the end of a thin rope and voting for the rope-cutting razor party.

The people who most support the Republicans and the Tea Party carry a secret burden.  Many know that they are one medical emergency or broken down car away from ruin, and they blame the government.  They vote against their own interests, often hurting themselves in concrete ways, in a vain attempt to deal with their own, misguided shame about being poor.  They believe “freedom” is the answer, even though they live a form of wage indenture in a rigged system.

I didn’t become a liberal until I was nearly 40. By the time I came around, I was an educated professional, married to another professional.  We’re “making it,” whatever that means these days.  I gladly pay taxes now, but this attitude is also rooted in self-interest.  I have relatives who are poor, and without government services, I might have to support them.  We can all go back to living in clans, like cavemen, or we can build institutions and programs that help people who need it.  It seems like a great bargain to me.

I’m angry at my younger self, not for being poor, but for supporting politicians who would have kept me poor if they were able.  Despite my personal attempts to destroy the safety net, those benefits helped me.  I earned a bachelor’s degree for free courtesy of a federal program, and after my military service I used the GI Bill to get two graduate degrees, all while making ends meet with the earned income tax credit.  The GI Bill not only helped me, it also created much of the American middle class after World War II.  Conservatives often crow about “supporting the military,” but imagine how much better America would be if the government used just 10 percent of the military budget to pay for universal higher education, rather than saddling 20-year-olds with mortgage-like debt.

Government often fails because the moneyed interests don’t want it to succeed.  They hate government and most especially activist government (aka government that does something useful).  Their hatred for government is really disdain for Americans, except as consumers or underpaid labor.

Sadly, it took me years — decades — to see the illogic of supporting people who disdain me.  But I’m a super-slow learner.  I wish I could take the poorest, struggling conservatives and shake them.  I would scream that their circumstances or failures or joblessness are not all their fault.  They should wise up and vote themselves a break.  Rich people vote their self-interest in every single election.  Why don’t poor people?

Original Source

18 Jul 16:27

Your Favourite Gaming Moment

by (Quintin)

Quinns's dad died this week

It's been a weird week. Heck, it's been a weird few years. Let's stop for a second, take a breath, and remember what this is all about.

Everyone! If you feel like it, leave your favourite gaming memory in the comments.

Read More

18 Jul 14:29

thedissolve: Im generally skeptical of macho enterprises...

Courtney shared this story from Super Opinionated.


“I’m generally skeptical of macho enterprises being called out as homoerotic; this happens all the time in reference to sports like football, and it often seems like another volley in the great nerd/jock war. But [Quentin] Tarantino is dead on about one detail: After Maverick succeeds in scoring a dinner date with Charlie at her home, he then mysteriously throws on the brakes when she tries to seduce him. It’s only when she appears in the elevator, dressed like a man, that she finally gets romantic attention from him. Nevertheless, if you don’t buy Top Gun as a subversive gay narrative, surely we can agree that the heat in this movie is entirely of the guy-on-guy variety.”

Our Movie Of The Week discussion of Top Gun wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the (in)famous volleyball scene, and the film’s reputation for homoeroticism, which was goosed considerably by Quentin Tarantino’s rant about the movie in Sleep With Me. Our Top Gun forum discussion dissects this and more. [Read more…]

This movie doesn’t even make sense any other way.

18 Jul 17:15

Malaysia Airlines crash: flight recorder found as anger at Russia mounts – live updates



The commander of the rebel unit, a man called Ilya who is known as Commander Glum, expressed annoyance as the OSCE team stood its ground, keen to access the scenes of carnage.

"OSCE came here without negotiating," he shouted, as they prepared to leave. "Now there are none of our bosses here who can be in charge of making a decision, so go away, and when you negotiate this come back.

"We didn’t agree to meet the OSCE here, go away," he added, firing a warning shot.

The five-strong convoy departed rapidly.

10 Jul 09:40

I can’t even… #9gag

I can’t even… #9gag

18 Jul 14:16

‘How Ramen Noodles Are Made’, A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of the Popular Japanese Food

by Brian Heater

“How Ramen Noodles are Made” is a behind-the-scenes video by YouTube food channel Potluck Video that focuses on New Jersey “artisan ramen noodle maker” Sun Noodles to show the process behind producing the popular Japanese food. The plant makes around 20,000 servings of noodles each day.

via Digg

18 Jul 15:59

nerdygirllove: frxdo: robofists-revenge: I once went to the...




I once went to the Renaissance Fair dressed as Marty McFly, and nobody got the joke.

That will forever be one of the most disappointing moments in my life.

This is my favorite photoset rn

I totally get this guy. A whole fair of nerds and no one got a awesome 80s pop culture reference. Shame. The faces are amazing.

18 Jul 16:21

GoPro Video of an Angry Ram Attacking a Motorcyclist Over and Over Again

by Rollin Bishop


New Zealand-based Marty Todd captured some amusing footage of an angry ram that lives on his property that loves to attack to him while he’s riding around on his dirt bike. The video was shot using GoPro HD Hero3+ cameras

Marty Todd stumbles across a ram, who’s not the biggest fan of dirtbikes, while riding in New Zealand.

18 Jul 04:38


18 Jul 12:38


18 Jul 14:41

oldbookillustrations: Yet Hallblithe speaketh with the...


Yet Hallblithe speaketh with the king.

Walter Crane, from The Story of the Glittering Plain, by William Morris, Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press, 1894.


18 Jul 15:41

On the lam for decades, fugitive’s Facebook account dooms him

by David Kravets

A fugitive on the run for 21 years is learning the hard way that it's best not to have a Facebook account if you're trying to avoid the long arm of the law.

Apparently, fugitive Francisco Legaspi didn't get that memo. The former California tax-preparer pleaded guilty Thursday in a San Francisco federal court to charges (PDF) that he fled prosecution for filing false tax returns in 1993, initially landing in Mexico and eventually settling in Canada.

US Attorney Melinda Haag's office in San Francisco said the 61-year-old fugitive was apprehended "after the US Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security researched social media websites and found Legaspi's Facebook page. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police used the information to apprehend Legaspi."

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

18 Jul 14:41

Tennis player needs chair to congratulate giant opponent

by James Dator

This is a pretty ingenious way to hug someone, that's for sure.

Being short isn't necessarily an impediment, sometimes it just means you need to be a little more resourceful. Nobody knows this better than the absolutely-not-short Dudi Sela, who's 5'9 but looked tiny after losing to the mountainous 6'10 Ivo Karlović at the Claro Open in Columbia.

Sela had a decision to make after falling to Karlović in two sets. He could either walk to the net and stare up at his opponent to congratulate him, or he could take the path less traveled and use a prop so he could give him a hug. Using a chair like this hearkens back to fond memories of trying to steal a cookie from the jar your mom always placed on the top shelf.

We love you sports.

18 Jul 15:00

The best quarterbacks of the 1980s, according to rap lyrics

by Ryan Nanni

QB rating? QBR? Overall record? Super Bowl rings? How can you best measure who the best NFL quarterbacks of the 1980s were? Easy: rap lyrics.

A metric exists for almost every conceivable measure of quarterback accomplishment, from simple yardage and touchdown totals to adjusted yards per attempt and passer ratings. Which one you choose to argue the comparative merits of one quarterback against another says as much about your own personal preferences and biases as it does about which player's actually better. There's just no single statistic you can point to as definitive proof of superior talent.

Until now.

Behold, the definitive rankings of 1980s quarterbacks by the number of times they've been referenced in hip-hop lyrics!


Joe Montana. Four Super Bowl victories and a long-term partnership with the best receiver in league history tends to attract attention. Throw in that Montana's name isn't that hard to fit into a rhyme structure (cabana, bandana, Sajak & Vanna) and it only make sense that Cool Joe's at the top of this list. Of course, not all the references are necessarily flattering:

"That Corvette remind me of Joe Montana, man, it's just so white." - Sir Michael Rocks in "NWO"

Randall Cunningham. A fitting place for a player who changed our collective understanding of what a quarterback could be, even if he didn't play in a Super Bowl. Some* might argue getting name-checked by Jay-Z is a more meaningful achievement.

*Brian Billick

Warren Moon. Should definitely be more highly ranked. I blame the CFL's refusal to embrace any rapper other than Drake. You can do something about this, Bun B, and I humbly encourage you to do so.

Boomer Esiason. Zero chance he cracks this list if he goes by his actual birth name. Nobody's writing a lyric about Norman Esiason.

Joe Theismann. Well, I'm sure these are about his accomplishments as a playe-

"Linebacker, with hits that hit like LT / Watch the blitz, you'll get a Joe Theisman injury" - Defari in "Keep It On The Rise"

-r. Now I understand why you only listen to smooth jazz, Joe.

Jim Plunkett. The bulk of his career took place in the preceding decade, but Plunkett's greatest successes came in the '80s with the L.A. Raiders. This is a good thing, because rappers have a truly disappointing lack of appreciation for badass quarterbacks of the '70s. You could write an entire album about Ken Stabler.

Dan Fouts. Sure. Why not.

Bernie Kosar. A little surprising to find him this low on the list until you remember that Cleveland's main contribution to hip-hop is Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and "Tha Crossroads" is about watching Eric Zeier.

Doug Williams. The stigma of playing for the early Buccaneers is hard to shake.

18 Jul 15:34

Washington tries to bribe American Indian tribe with a skate park

by Alfie Crow

Washington continues to make fools of themselves in defense of their team nickname.

The Washington National Football League team cannot get out of their own way regarding the debate over their nickname. Their latest blunder: The Washington team-backed Original Americans Foundation (OAF) attempted to assist the Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe in Winterhaven, CA efforts to fund a skate park. The attempt did not go well.

"We respectfully listened to their presentation," President of Kwatsan Media Inc., Kenrick Escalanti told Indian Country Today. "But when Gary Edwards referred to himself as a 'redskin' in front of our Nation's officials, I knew that their visit had ulterior motives."

Edwards, a Cherokee Indian, was appointed to be the head of the OAF foundation by Washington owner Daniel Snyder back in March. The foundation meets with American Indian tribes in the hopes of bribing them to agree that the team's nickname is not offensive and the visit to the Quechan Tribe was no different.

The OAF (aka the Washington NFL team) essentially offered the Tribe a blank check to build their skate park, in the color scheme of the NFL franchise, burgundy and gold. Furthermore, Edwards told the Quechan Tribe that "You don't even need to say we gave you anything."

Escalanti told Indian Country Today they they immediately refused the offer, stating that they did want to become part of the battle for the team's nickname and that "we know bribe money when we see it."

It didn't end with just a bribe to build the skatepark and provide the Quechan children with iPads, either. Escalanti told Indian Country Today that Edwards also offered a bizarre and offensive defense of Washington's nickname.

Those opposed to the name, Edwards said, are "creating the old assimilation policy now being enacted today." Edwards added that "we [Native Americans] need to get stronger because if we don't they will annihilate us! That is my sincere heartfelt belief."

Edwards told a tribe of Native Americans that being offended by the Washington football nickname is that if American Indians don't "assimilate" and accept it, they'll be "annihilated".

What? Those two buzzwords, assimilate and annihilate, are heavy words in American Indian history and culture. They refer to a time when the aftereffects of American colonialism nearly caused the destruction of Native American and tribal culture.

"We don't need hush money, we need the franchise to respect that the majority of Native America is against the racial slur they use as a team name," Escalanti said.

Washington's attempts to battle and defend their slur of a nickname have been a continuous comedy of errors. The latest attempt to pay off a tribe of American Indians with a blank check for their skatepark is just another absurd notch on their belt.

18 Jul 16:12

Meet the Tour de France's giant butt

by James Dator


All sporting events need giant butts.

And a butt #butt

— Louis Bien (@louisbien) July 18, 2014

The Tour de France truly has it all. Action, excitement, triumph and defeat -- it also has a giant cycling butt.

Don't turn up your noses at this butt. It probably took French derriere artisans weeks to mold its gentle contours. It's a work of pure butt art the likes of which we haven't seen since Ned Flanders.

What we're saying is: Appreciate it. Love it.

18 Jul 04:00

Niobe, n.


'An inconsolably bereaved woman, a weeping woman.'

'Etymology: < ancient Greek Νιόβη (classical Latin Nioba, Niobē), the name of the daughter of Tantalus in Greek legend, supposed to have been changed into stone while weeping for her children.'

18 Jul 03:06

tamorapierce: hernamewastangerine: frenchtoastandpancakes: My...


video on clickthrough




My daughter has chosen the Dark Side

I’m crying.

Every time I encounter this video, I hit replay so many times it’s ridiculous.

Vader child begins her march to ruling the world!

18 Jul 04:27

xombiedirge: Professor x Hodor by Marco...


Professor x Hodor by Marco d’Alfonso / Website / Tumblr

18 Jul 13:31

Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

by Soulskill

via Arnvidr
all carriers suck forever

Barryke writes: Verizon has blamed Netflix for the streaming slowdowns their customers have been seeing. It seems the Verizon blog post defending this accusation has backfired in a spectacular way: The chief has clearly admitted that Verizon has capacity to spare, and is deliberately constraining throughput from network providers. Level3, a major ISP that interconnects with Verizon's networks, responded by showing a diagram that visualizes the underpowered interconnect problem and explaining why Verizon's own post indicates how it restricts data flow. Level3 also offered to pay for the necessary upgrades to Verizon hardware: "... these cards are very cheap, a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that's the case, we'll buy one for them. Maybe they can't afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that's the case, we'll provide it. Heck, we'll even install it." I'm curious to see Verizon's response to this straightforward accusation of throttling paying users (which tech-savvy readers were quick to confirm).

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17 Jul 17:10

al-grave: hkirkh: Corgi and Shiba Inu cross COGE?!?! such...



Corgi and Shiba Inu cross


such cute


18 Jul 15:58

MH17 crash: US ambassador to UN says plane likely downed by missile – live updates | World news |

by gguillotte
"We know at least one american citizen, Quinn Lucas Shanzmen, was killed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
18 Jul 14:02


by adafruit

Scully Likes Science

18 Jul 12:20

UKRAINE: 108 Passengers On Shot Down Airliner Were Bound For AIDS Conference

by Joe Jervis

via Ibstopher

Via the Australian:
More than 100 AIDS activists, researchers and health workers bound for a major conference in Melbourne were on the Malaysia Airlines flight downed in the Ukraine. It is believed that delegates to the 20th International AIDS Conference, due to begin on Sunday, will be informed today that 108 of their colleagues and family members died on MH17. Stunned researchers, activists and development workers arriving at Melbourne Airport paid tribute to AIDS researcher Joep Lange and the other attendees believed killed aboard MH17. Jonathan Quick, head of a not-for–profit medicine supply company working with the Global Fund and the US government in Africa and Latin America, described Professor Lange as a force for change in HIV/AIDS treatment. .
Via the Guardian:
“There’s a huge feeling of sadness here, people are in floods of tears in the corridors,” Clive Aspin, a veteran HIV researcher who attended the pre-conference plenary session in Sydney, told Guardian Australia. “These people were the best and the brightest, the ones who had dedicated their whole careers to fighting this terrible virus. It’s devastating.” Prof. Richard Boyd, director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories, told Guardian Australia he was "gutted" by the losses. "There were some serious HIV leaders on that plane," he said. "This will have ramifications globally because whenever you lose a leader in any field, it has an impact. That knowledge is irreplaceable. "We've lost global leaders and also some bright young people who were coming through. It's a gut-wrenching loss. I was involved in the aftermath of 9/11 in New York and it brings back that level of catastrophe. "But the Aids community is very close-knit, like a family. They will unite and this will galvanise people to strive harder to find a breakthrough. Let's hope that, out of this madness, there will be new hope for the world."
Via the Associated Press:
Nobel laureate Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and president of the International AIDS Society, paid tribute to Lange in a speech in the Australian capital, Canberra. "Joep was a wonderful person — a great professional ... but more than that, a wonderful human being," she said. "If it is confirmed, it will be a terrible loss for all of us. I have no words, really, to try to express my sadness. I feel totally devastated." She later told reporters the conference would continue out of respect for the lives lost: "Because we know that it's really what they would like us to do." Lange had been working on HIV since the earliest years of the epidemic, participating in clinical trials and research across the world, Barre-Sinoussi said. He had dedicated his life, she said, to "the benefit of mankind."
"Lets hope that out of this madness, there will be new hope for the world." Madness. Madness, indeed.
17 Jul 21:10

7 times militaries have shot down civilian planes

by Dylan Matthews

via Yousef Alnafjan

US intelligence reports that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, making it one of highest-casualty airliner shoot-downs in the history of aviation. But it's hardly the first. Events like this — though usually much smaller in scale — have occurred about two dozen times. Many instances were part of ongoing wars, such as Nazi Germany's shoot-down of a British Overseas Airways Corporation flight from Lisbon to London in 1943, or Zimbabwean rebels' shoot-downs of two Air Rhodesia flights in 1978 and 1979.

But in those cases, the countries involved were at war with each other. In contrast, Flight 17 was going from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and neither the Netherlands nor Malaysia have much of any involvement in the Ukrainian civil war. And the death toll — there were 295 passengers, and, to the best of our knowledge, no survivors — is extremely high.

With that in mind, here are seven previous airliner shoot-downs that could provide some clue as to what the consequences of the crash will be. The list is hardly comprehensive but gives a sense of how these situations are handled.

1) Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (1983)


Korean Air Lines Boeing 747SP at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in 1985; the plane that crashed in 1983 was a 747-230B. (Sangil)

Also known as "that time the Soviet Union killed a sitting US Congressman." KAL007 was shot down by a Soviet fighter plane on September 1, 1983, killing all 269 passengers and crew, including Larry McDonald, a Congressman from Georgia then in his fourth term. An ardent anti-Communist and believer in various conspiracy theories about the Rockefellers, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations plotting to bring about a socialist world government, McDonald also was president of the John Birch Society, the ultra-right-wing conspiracist group.

The fact that the crash killed McDonald would fit perfectly into his particular set of conspiracy theories, but there's no evidence that what happened was more complicated than KAL007 entering Soviet airspace and being shot down as an intruder. This International Civil Aviation Organization report from 1993, incorporating documents released by Russian president Boris Yeltsin that Soviet leaders had previously withheld, summarizes what we know well, and finds Soviet personnel appearing baffled and concerned by the presence of an unknown aircraft, rather than determined to strike intentionally, though their decision to strike without attempting to establish contact with the plane was reckless.

The direct response to the attack — and subsequent Soviet attempt at a cover-up — was largely rhetorical. President Reagan condemned the shoot-down as a "crime against humanity" which "must never be forgotten." The US responded to Soviet intransigence by releasing substantial amounts of classified material to back up the charge that the Soviets (accidentally or not) shot the plane down. An unintended side effect of that was to weaken the US's ability to monitor Soviet communications through Japan "According to various unnamed Japanese officials, changes made in the Soviet codes and frequencies following the American disclosures reduced the effectiveness of Japanese monitoring by 60 percent," David M. Johnson noted in a write-up on the intelligence losses for Harvard and the Center for Information Policy Research.

The shoot-down led to the expansion of the Global Positioning System to civilians, which Reagan announced in the wake of the shoot-down. It would have been harder for the KAL pilots to drift into Soviet airspace with satellite navigation technology.

2) Iran Air Flight 655 (1988)


Another Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, at Barcelona - El Prat Airport in 2011. (Dura-Ace)

Though the Soviets did it first, the US also once accidentally downed a civilian airliner carrying about 300 people on it. On July 3, 1988, as the Iran-Iraq war was winding down, US and Iranian ships were involved in some skirmishes in the Persian Gulf. An Airbus A300 took off from a nearby airport, one which was used for both military and civilian purposes. An American cruiser, the USS Vincennes, mistook the plane for an F-14, an American fighter plane that we had sold to Iran before the 1979 revolution, and launched two missiles, downing the plane and killing everyone on board.

President Reagan called the event a "terrible human tragedy," and stated "we deeply regret any loss of life." Iran's UN ambassador condemned the action as ''criminal act,'' an ''atrocity'' and a ''massacre," while the US insisted it was a misunderstanding. Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush called the idea the US would have shot down the plane deliberately "offensive and absurd," and argued that allowing passenger flights out of an airport as a naval battle was underway was irresponsible of the Iranians. "They allowed a civilian aircraft loaded with passengers to proceed on a path over a warship engaged in battle,'' Bush said. ''That was irresponsible and a tragic error.''

Iran sued the United States in the International Court of Justice, and the American government eventually agreed in 1996 to pay $61.8 million ($93.7 million today) to the families of victims; notably, that amount was 1/30th of the compensation the US secured from Libya for victims of the Lockerbie plane bombing that same year. The US government has never apologized for shooting down the plane, beyond Reagan's initial statement, and Max Fisher has noted the event contributes to Iranian mistrust of American intentions to this day.

3) Itavia Flight 870 (1980)


An Itavia DC-9, similar to the one shot down. (Piergiuliano Chesi)

This is a case where we still don't really know the true story. On June 27, 1980, an Itavia Airlines flight from Bologna to Palermo with 81 passengers and crew crashed in the Tyrhennian Sea, near Sicily. The New York Times' Elisabetta Povoledo reports that the "most widely accepted theory behind the crash" — for which an Italian court last year said there was "abundantly" clear evidence" — was that a stray missile from an aircraft hit the plane, but any information about which country's aircraft it was, or why, is still very much up in the air.

An Italian judge, Rosario Priore, presented the theory that there was a NATO plot to shoot down a plane carrying Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and the Itavia jet got caught up in that operation. He presented radar evidence suggesting the presence of US, French, Libyan, and British military operations near to where the plane crashed. Francesco Cossiga, the prime minister at the time, said decades later that the plane was shot down by French military personnel. But neither his nor Priore's claims have been proven.

4) El Al Flight 402 (1955)


An El Al Lockheed Costellation, similar to the one that was shot down. (Oyoyoy)

On July 27, 1955, an El Al flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv flew into Bulgarian airspace and was shot down by two Bulgarian MiG fighters. All 58 people on board were killed. After initially denying involvement, Bulgaria admitted to having shot the plane down. Despite occurring during a low point in relations between the Soviet bloc (including Bulgaria) and the US and its allies (including Israel), international fallout was minimal.

Eight years after the attack, Bulgaria agreed to pay a total of $195,000 ($1.5 million in current dollars) to Israel, having already compensated non-Israeli passengers.

5) Cathay Pacific Airways (1954)


A Douglas DC-4, a similar aircraft to the one that was shot down. (Russavia)

On July 23, 1954, mainland China's People's Liberation Army fighters shot down a Cathay Pacific Airways (the airline of Hong Kong, then under British control) C-54 Skymaster flying from Bangkok to Hong Kong; 10 out of the 19 passengers and crew died. In apologizing for the attack to Britain days later, the Chinese government stated that they had thought the plane was a military aircraft from the Republic of China n (Taiwan) on an attack mission against Hainan Island (near where the shoot-down took place).

However, the initial tragedy was compounded when two PLA fighters engaged three US Navy planes that were searching for survivors; the two PLA planes were shot down. While admitting fault and promising compensation in the case of the civilian plane, China claimed that it was faultless in the confrontation with the US. President Eisenhower, in turn, alleged the harsh tone toward the US and conciliatory tone toward Britain in reference to the Cathay plane was a Communist plot to split the allies.

It's hard to say the incident made relations between the Allies and mainland China much worse than they already were, but it risked bringing the Allies further into the battles that were then occurring between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. Given that the Eisenhower administration was apparently considering using nuclear weapons on the ROC's behalf, any heightening of the tensions there was dangerous.

6) Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 (1973)


Israeli defense minister General Moshe Dayan (to the right of then-Prime Minister Golda Meir) apologized for shooting down Flight 114, and Chief-of-staff General David Elazar (to her left) gave the initial order. (AFP/Getty Images)

On February 21, 1973, a Libyan Arab Airlines (a wholly owned part of the Libyan government) Boeing 727 flying from Tripoli to Cairo got lost and flew over the Sinai peninsula, which had been under Israeli control since the Six-Day War in 1967. After giving signals to land and firing warning shots, Israeli jets shot down the plane, killing 108 of the 113 people on board, and leaving four passengers and a co-pilot alive.

David Elazar, the chief of staff of the Israeli armed forces, took responsibility for ordering the shoot-down. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan called the event an "error of judgment" and the Israeli government compensated the families of victims. Libya condemned the attack as "a criminal act" while the Soviets called it a "monstrous new crime."

7) Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 (2001)


Oleksandr Kuzmuk, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense who resigned after the military short down Siberian Airlines Flight 1812.  (Robert D. Ward/DOD)

Perhaps the strangest precedent for the Malaysian Airlines crash in Ukraine is a shoot-down in 2001 caused by military forces in … Ukraine. On October 4, 2001, 64 Siberia Airlines passengers and 12 crew members onboard a Soviet-made Tupolev Tu-154 en route from Novosibirsk to Tel Aviv were killed when the plane was shot down over the Black Sea by a Ukrainian missile.

It took a while for Ukraine to admit that was what had happened, but after pressure from Russian investigators, Ukraine's then-president, Leonid Kuchma, accepted that the Ukrainian military was at fault. The day of the shoot-down, the Ukrainian military was conducting a massive military exercise which involved shooting 23 missiles at drones. "Experts say that the radar-guided S-200, among the farthest-flying and most capable antiaircraft missile in the arsenal of former Soviet nations, simply locked onto the Russian airliner after it raced past the destroyed drone some 20 miles off the Crimean coast," the New York Times' Michael Wines reported.

Kuchma accepted the resignation of his Minister of Defense, Oleksandr Kuzmuk, following the admission that the military was at fault. From 2003 to 2005, Ukraine paid $15.6 million to families of victims following a deal with the government of Israel.

18 Jul 14:57

American ambassador to the UN Samantha Power: "Russia must end this war"

"Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war," Power continues.

"Separatists and their backers would have good reason to cover up evidence of their crimes. Thus it is [that investigation] must begin immediately."

She calls for investigators to granted "immediate and full access" and an "immediate ceasefire to facilitate access"

She says any evidence obtained by "Russian-backed separatists operating in the area should be promptly returned and handed over. Russia … must help make this happen."

Power says MH17 was shot down because Russia "did not rein in what it unleashed".

"Time after time Putin has made commitments [to working] for peace. … Time after time he has broken those commitments."

Power goes on to detail what the US and Ukraine say amounts to Russian complicity in rebels' activities, including "recruiting efforts … expanding inside Russia … Russia has allowed officials from the [so-called] Donetsk People's Republic to open an office in Moscow."

"Ukrainian pilot Nadya Savchenkov is now being held in prison in Russia. … Russia continues to [bring] forces near the border."

"The message is unified and clear … if President Putin continues to choose escalation over de-escalation," sanctions and costs will increase, she says.

18 Jul 14:46

Malaysia Airlines crash: flight recorder found as anger at Russia mounts – live updates

The Dutch Senate said one of its members, Willem Witteveen, a former law academic was killed in the crash.

The state-run Rossiiskaya Gazeta led with a story about the eating habits of Russians, relegating the 298 deaths aboard MH17 to the bottom of the front page. Other Russian newspapers led with stories about US sanctions on Russia, including the respected Vedomosti, in what was either a strange editorial decision or a conscious plan to play down an attack that much of the world was already linking to Russia.

The boss of the Kremlin’s English-language television channel, Russia Today, wrote on Twitter that she despaired of people jumping to conclusions about what had really happened, shortly after retweeting an opinion saying that Ukrainian “freaks” were behind the attack but would attempt to blame pro-Russian rebels.

However, one of the channel’s British reporters, Sara Firth, appeared to go off message with a series of disparaging tweets in which she said the channel’s reporters were engaged in “lies”.

In comments that are likely to embarrass the channel, Firth wrote:

“We do work for Putin. We are asked on a daily basis if not to totally ignore then to obscure the truth”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for separatist rebels to lay down their arms and engage in talks with Kiev, the Guardian's Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) reports.