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When Apollo 10 Nearly Crashed Into the Moon

May 21, 2019 in History

By Amy Shira Teitel

Apollo 10 marked NASA’s last step before going for Apollo 11′s full lunar landing. But the practice run came close to failure.

On May 22, 1969, almost four days and six hours after leaving the Earth, the crew of Apollo 10 was enjoying a delightfully uneventful mission. Rather, it was as uneventful as a mission to the moon could be.

Commander Tom Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan had just returned from their close pass by the lunar surface and were readying to go through the staging maneuver that would bring them into the correct lunar orbit to rejoin Command Module Pilot John Young waiting in the Command-Service module. On schedule, the LM’s ascent engine fired.

Then all hell broke loose.

The crew saw the lunar horizon swivel past their window half a dozen times as Cernan yelled out “Son of a bitch!” Apollo 10’s lunar module, with two astronauts on board, was careening out of control a quarter of a million miles from home.

A view of the Moon’s surface photographed by the Apollo 10 astronauts in May of 1969.

Apollo 10 Was a Full Dress Rehearsal for Apollo 11

Apollo 10 marked NASA’s last step before going for the full lunar landing with Apollo 11. To that point, the space agency’s approach to landing on the moon had been incremental. Apollo 7 had tested the command-service module (CSM) in Earth orbit in October of 1968. Two months later, Apollo 8 had taken that same spacecraft for a test flight to the moon, ensuring it would be able enter and leave lunar orbit without any problems. In March of 1969, Apollo 9 was the first to take the full Apollo stack for a test drive, flying both the CSM and the lunar module (LM) on a simulated lunar landing mission in the relative safety of Earth orbit.

READ MORE: How Landing the First Man on the Moon Cost Dozens of Lives

Apollo 10’s mission plan was in effect a full dress rehearsal of a lunar landing that would stop just short of the surface. This would give NASA a final check that the CSM and LM could fly properly in lunar orbit. The lunar lander, later nicknamed Snoopy, would descend almost to the moon’s surface and then reascend and re-dock with the command module.

There was some concerns that the irregular gravitational environment around the moon from …read more


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Are UFOs a Threat to National Security? This Ex-U.S. Official Thinks They Warrant Investigation

May 21, 2019 in History

By Editors

Throughout his distinguished government career, Chris Mellon has been keenly focused on the prospect of unconventional national threats. Now he works with a civilian group called To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science, trying to prod the U.S. defense and intelligence communities to investigate reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs—also known as UFOs) that maneuver in ways that have no known precedent.

He’s inspired, he says, by the growing number of such sightings in sensitive military contexts—reported by highly trained, highly credible witnesses and corroborated by some of the world’s most sophisticated technology, including several infrared videos shot from fighter jets. He doesn’t claim to know what these unusual crafts might be, nor does he assume they bring “aliens” from afar. To him, they signal a potential high-level strategic threat of unknown origin—one the nation would be foolish to ignore.

Chris Mellon (left) and Luis Elizondo of To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science.

Mellon is uniquely qualified to assess such threats. Having served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, and later as Minority Staff Director of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was heavily responsible for reviewing agencies and budgets involved in top-secret “black programs” related to things such as special operations and nuclear weapons. Mellon is now an integral part of the investigative team featured on HISTORY’s “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.” We talked to him about what’s happening—and what he thinks should be done.

Why raise the alarm now about UFOs/AAVs?

What is really motivating me right now, what really has accelerated and solidified my interest, is the [2004] USS Nimitz case—when I learned of that and began to talk to the military personnel involved. We had multiple naval aviators [reporting] what they saw [wingless UFOs, with extraordinary capabilities] in broad daylight, over an extended period of time. It was corroborated by the most sophisticated air-defense sensor systems on earth, and on multiple platforms operated by multiple independent individuals. So when you start talking about that level of evidence, I think any reasonable person would have to say—this is real, and we should proceed accordingly.

READ MORE: When Top Gun Pilots Tangled with a Baffling Tic-Tac-Shaped UFO

USS Nimitz ‘Tic Tac’ UFO: Declassified Video (TV-PG; 2:45)

Which means what? Intelligence gathering? Risk assessment?

From a national security standpoint of course, you’re paid to be paranoid, to …read more


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Jones Act Expensive, Benefits Questionable

May 21, 2019 in Economics

By Colin Grabow, Michael Hansen

Colin Grabow and Michael Hansen

Beyond mere tweaks, reforms to the Jones Act are necessary,
given that the Act’s costs to Hawaii are more substantial and
its benefits far more elusive than indicated.

The Jones Act refers to several federal domestic shipping laws,
the best known of which is Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of
1920 regulating the domestic transportation of goods by water.

These laws require a vessel in domestic trade be built and
registered in the United States and mostly owned and crewed by U.S.

The argument that removal
of the Jones Act would leave the noncontiguous jurisdictions
— Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico — without
adequate shipping, meanwhile, is completely specious and used by
Jones Act interests to scare the public.

While most countries with coastlines and navigable rivers have
similar laws regulating their domestic waterborne commerce —
known as maritime cabotage — the U.S. system is the
world’s most restrictive. This is primarily due to the
requirement vessels in domestic trade be constructed at a shipyard
in the U.S. typically at five times the cost of comparable ships
built in Asia.

The Merchant Marine Acts passed between World Wars I and II had
the stated purpose of promoting “a merchant marine of the
best equipped and most suitable types of vessels to carry the
greater portion of its commerce and serve as a … military
auxiliary.” That remains current U.S. shipping policy.

Clearly, these laws and policy have failed. Today, less than 2
percent of the seaborne foreign trade is carried by U.S. flag
ships, domestic ocean shipments have declined by 95% since 1980,
the U.S. flag oceangoing fleet has declined by 93% since 1960, and
effectively none of the privately-owned ships providing military
sealift are drawn from the U.S.-built fleet.

A key failure has been to produce a fleet of suitable ships to
meet the nation’s domestic ocean transportation needs. There
are just 99 oceangoing Jones Act-qualified ships including 57
tankers and 25 containerships in narrow capacity ranges. In
comparison, there are approximately 42,000 foreign-flag ships
trading worldwide incorporating a wide variety of types and
capacities. Most types are absent from the Jones Act fleet
including liquefied natural gas carriers and livestock

The argument that removal of the Jones Act would leave the
noncontiguous jurisdictions — Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto
Rico — without adequate shipping, meanwhile, is completely
specious and used by Jones Act interests to scare the public.

Even if Hawaii were independent as it was before annexation in
1898 and foreign vessels could operate unfettered in trade with the
U.S. mainland, any shipping company using foreign vessels would
have a vested interest …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Ship carrying 937 Jewish refugees, fleeing Nazi Germany, is turned away in Cuba

May 21, 2019 in History

By Editors

A boat carrying 937 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution is turned away from Havana, Cuba, on this day in 1939. Only 28 immigrants are admitted into the country. After appeals to the Unites States and Canada for entry are denied, the rest are forced to sail back to Europe, where they’re distributed among several countries including Great Britain and France.

On May 13, the S.S. St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany to Havana, Cuba. Most of the passengers—many of them children—were German Jews escaping increasing persecution under the Third Reich. Six months earlier, 91 people were killed and Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues were destroyed in what became known as the Kristallnacht pogrom. It was becoming increasing clear the Nazis were accelerating their efforts to exterminate Jews by arresting them and placing them in concentration camps. World War II and the formal implementation of The Final Solution were just months from beginning.

The refugees had applied for U.S. visas, and planned to stay in Cuba until they could enter the United States legally. Even before they set sail, their impending arrival was greeted with hostility in Cuba. On May 8, there was a massive anti-Semitic demonstration in Havana. Right-wing newspapers claimed that the incoming immigrants were Communists.

The St. Louis arrived in Havana on May 27. Roughly 28 people onboard had valid visas or travel documents and were allowed to disembark. The Cuban government refused to admit the nearly 900 others. For seven days, the ship’s captain attempted to negotiate with Cuban officials, but they refused to comply.

The ship sailed closer to Florida, hoping to disembark there, but it was not permitted to dock. Some passengers attempted to cable President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge, but he never responded. A State Department telegram stated that the asylum-seekers must “await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States.”

As a last resort, the St. Louis continued north to Canada, but it was rejected there, too. “No country could open its doors wide enough to take in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who want to leave Europe: the line must be drawn somewhere,” Frederick Blair, Canada’s director of immigration, said at the time.

Faced with no other options, the ship returned to Europe. It docked in …read more


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SCOTUS Agonistes

May 21, 2019 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

No matter how much we might rage against the political calendar
(the bastards are encouraged even if we don’t vote), the 2020
presidential race is upon us. Having finally learned the lesson of
ceding judicial nominations to the Republican Party, all 837
Democrats running for the White House are determined to make the
Supreme Court a campaign issue.

But this isn’t just the usual demagoguery about how the
Federalist Society picks judges to create a world where, to quote
Ted Kennedy’s 1987 calumnies against nominee Robert Bork and
a conservative Court, “women would be forced into back-alley
abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue
police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids,
schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and
artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the
doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of
millions of citizens.”

No, the play now is to pack the Court, among other
“reforms” to our constitutional structure.
(“Reform” meaning, of course, “radical change
that will make James Madison spin in his grave.”)

Democrats have made Merrick Garland the holy martyr of this
crusade. This in retaliation for the Republicans’ violation
of the Constitution’s “Supreme Court nominees must get
hearings and votes no matter what” clause. Senates, the
Democrats claim, are expected to confirm forthwith nominees made by
a president of the opposing party to high-court vacancies arising
in presidential election years. Indeed, that has happened…
as recently as 1888.

The Democrats believe all
this norm-breaking can be remedied only by breaking more norms -
like expanding the Supreme Court, eliminating the Electoral
College, lowering the voting age to 16, restricting political
speech, and giving the Federal Election Commission a partisan

And in 1992 when a young Judiciary Committee Chairman named Joe
Biden said that presidents shouldn’t get to appoint justices
in the last year of their terms, that was totally different… Just
like it was different when Senator Chuck Schumer said the same in
2007, because the presidents then were Republicans.

Not that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn’t
cite longstanding precedent for his own decision to ignore Garland
— the first nominee on whom the Senate took no action since
the nomination of Stanley Matthews in 1881. (A few nominees
withdrew before the Senate could non-act, like Douglas Ginsburg in
1987. Ginsburg smoked pot with his law students, and thus became
the Drug War’s last public casualty.)

To be fair to McConnell, he never claimed to be making anything
but a political argument: That the voters, having in their infinite
wisdom re-elected President Barack Obama in 2012 but then flipped
the Senate …read more

Source: OP-EDS