Divers find remains of Finnish WWII plane that was shot down by Moscow with a US diplomat aboard

Divers find remains of Finnish WWII plane that was shot down by Moscow with a US diplomat aboard
The Junkers Ju 52 aircraft “Kaleva” by the Finnish airline Aero is parked at the Katajanokka seaplane harbor in Helsinki equipped with floating bottom skis. Photo dated July 14, 1936. (AP)
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Updated 15 June 2024
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Divers find remains of Finnish WWII plane that was shot down by Moscow with a US diplomat aboard

Divers find remains of Finnish WWII plane that was shot down by Moscow with a US diplomat aboard
  • A diving and salvage team in Estonia said this week that it had located well-preserved parts and debris from the Junkers Ju 52 plane operated by Finnish airline Aero
  • The downing of the civilian plane, named Kaleva, en route from Tallinn to Helsinki happened on June 14, 1940

HELSINKI: The World War II mystery of what happened to a Finnish passenger plane after it was shot down over the Baltic Sea by Soviet bombers appears to finally be solved more than eight decades later.
The plane was carrying American and French diplomatic couriers in June 1940 when it was downed just days before Moscow annexed the Baltic states. All nine people on board the plane were killed, including the two-member Finnish crew and the seven passengers — an American diplomat, two French, two Germans, a Swede and a dual Estonian-Finnish national.
A diving and salvage team in Estonia said this week that it had located well-preserved parts and debris from the Junkers Ju 52 plane operated by Finnish airline Aero, which is now Finnair. It was found off the tiny island of Keri near Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, at a depth of around 70 meters (230 feet).
“Basically, we started from scratch. We took a whole different approach to the search,” said Kaido Peremees, spokesman for the Estonian diving and underwater survey company Tuukritoode OU, explained the group’s success in finding the plane’s remains.
The downing of the civilian plane, named Kaleva, en route from Tallinn to Helsinki happened on June 14, 1940 — just three months after Finland had signed a peace treaty with Moscow following the 1939-40 Winter War.
The news about the fate of the plane was met with disbelief and anger by authorities in Helsinki who were informed that it was shot down by two Soviet DB-3 bombers 10 minutes after taking off from Tallinn’s Ulemiste airport.
“It was unique that a passenger plane was shot down during peacetime on a normal scheduled flight,” said Finnish aviation historian Carl-Fredrik Geust, who has investigated Kaleva’s case since the 1980s.
Finland officially kept silent for years about the details of the aircraft’s destruction, saying publicly only that a “mysterious crash” had taken place over the Baltic Sea, because it didn’t want to provoke Moscow.
Though well documented by books, research and television documentaries, the 84-year-old mystery has intrigued Finns. The case is an essential part of the Nordic country’s complex World War II history and sheds light into its troubled ties with Moscow.
But perhaps more importantly, the downing of the plane happened at a critical time just days before Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union was preparing to annex the three Baltic states, sealing the fate of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for the next half-century before they eventually regained independence in 1991.
Moscow occupied Estonia on June 17, 1940 and Kaleva’s doomed journey was the last flight out of Tallinn, though Soviets had already started enforcing a tight transport embargo around the Estonian capital.
American diplomat Henry W. Antheil Jr., who is now considered one of the first US casualties of World War II, was aboard the plane when it went down.
The 27-year-old Antheil, the younger brother of the acclaimed composer and pianist George Antheil, was on a rushed government mission evacuating sensitive diplomatic pouches from US missions in Tallinn and Riga, Latvia. as it had become clear that Moscow was preparing to annex the small Baltic nations.
An Associated Press wire item dated June 15, 1940 noted that “Henry W. Antheil Jr. of Trenton, N. J., attached to the United States Legation in Helsinki, was killed in the mysterious explosion of a Finnish airliner yesterday.” In the US media, Antheil’s death was overshadowed by much bigger news from Europe at the time: the Nazi occupation of Paris.
The US Embassy in Tallinn has thoroughly documented and researched the case over the years.
Embassy spokesman Mike Snyder told the AP that “news of the possible location of the wreck of the Kaleva passenger plane is of great interest to the United States, especially since one of the first US casualties of the Second World War, Diplomat Henry Antheil, occurred as a result of the plane being downed.”
Earlier this month, the US ambassador in Estonia, George P. Kent, shared a post on X that included photos of Antheil, Kaleva and a memorial plaque by the American Foreign Service Association in Washington with Antheil’s name engraved in it.
Kaleva was carrying 227 kilograms (500 pounds) of diplomatic post, including Antheil’s pouches and material from two French diplomatic couriers — identified as Paul Longuet and Frederic Marty.
Estonian fishermen and the lighthouse operator on Keri told Finnish media decades after the downing of the plane that a Soviet submarine surfaced close to Kaleva’s crash site and retrieved floating debris, including document pouches, that had been collected by fishermen from the site.
This has led to conspiracy theories regarding the contents of the pouches and Moscow’s decision to shoot down the plane. It still remains unclear why precisely the Soviet Union decided to down a civilian Finnish passenger plane during peacetime.
“Lots of speculation on the plane’s cargo has been heard over the years,” Geust said. “What was the plane transporting? Many suggest Moscow wanted to prevent sensitive material and documents from exiting Estonia.”
But he said that it could have simply been “a mistake” by the Soviet bomber pilots.
Various attempts to find Kaleva have been recorded since Estonia regained independence more than three decades ago. However, none of them have been successful.
Not even the US Navy’s oceanographic survey vessel Pathfinder could locate remains of the plane in a 2008 search around the Keri island in a venture commissioned by the Estonian government from the Pentagon.
“The wreckage is in pieces and the seabed is quite challenging with rock formations, valleys and hills. It’s very easy to miss” small parts and debris from the aircraft,” Peremees said. “Techniques have, of course, evolved a lot over the time. As always, you can have good technology but be out of luck.”
New video taken by underwater robots from Peremees’ company show clear images of the three-engine Junkers’ landing gear, one of the motors and parts of the wings.
Peremees and his group are “absolutely” convinced the parts belong to Kaleva because of the distinctive and recognizable design of the German-made Junkers Ju 52, one of the most popular European passenger and wartime transport planes in the 1930s and early 1940s.
The plane was operated by the predecessor of the Finnish national airline Finnair.
Jaakko Schildt, chief operations officer of Finnair, described Kaleva’s downing as “a tragic and profoundly sad event for the young airline” that Finnair, then named Aero, was in 1940.
“Finding the wreckage of Kaleva in a way brings closure to this, even though it does not bring back the lives of our customers and crew that were lost,” Schildt said. “The interest toward locating Kaleva in the Baltic Sea speaks of the importance this tragic event has in the aviation history of our region.”
Peremees said his company would now focus on creating 3D images of Kaleva’s debris and discuss with Estonian authorities about the possibility of raising some of the items and, if found, the plane’s cargo and human remains.
Snyder from the US Embassy in Tallinn said that Washington is closely monitoring the diving group’s efforts.
“We are following the investigation of the site and will be happy to discuss with our Finnish and Estonian (NATO) allies any developments resulting from recovery efforts,” Snyder said.
A stone memorial set up in the early 1990s to the victims of the Kaleva crash is located on Keri, and Helsinki’s old preserved Malmi airport terminal building, where Kaleva was supposed to arrive, has a memorial plaque set up in 2020 with the names of the victims.


A 12-year-old girl is accused of smothering her 8-year-old cousin over an iPhone

iPhones are displayed during an event in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP)
iPhones are displayed during an event in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP)
Updated 21 July 2024
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A 12-year-old girl is accused of smothering her 8-year-old cousin over an iPhone

iPhones are displayed during an event in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP)
  • The recording shows the older child using bedding to suffocate her cousin as the younger girl slept in the top bunk, Gibson District Attorney Frederick Agee’s statement said

HUMBOLDT, Tennessee: A 12-year-old girl in Tennessee has been charged with murder, accused of smothering her 8-year-old cousin as the younger girl slept. A relative said they had been arguing over an iPhone.
A security camera recorded the killing, inside the bedroom they shared on July 15 in Humboldt, Tennessee, the county prosecutor said.
The recording shows the older child using bedding to suffocate her cousin as the younger girl slept in the top bunk, Gibson District Attorney Frederick Agee’s statement said. After the child died, “the juvenile cleaned up the victim and repositioned her body,” Agee said.
A relative told WREG-TV in Memphis that the girls had been arguing over an iPhone after coming from out of town to stay with their grandmother.
The girl was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence after authorities obtained the video on Wednesday.
“I consider this to be one of the most disturbing violent acts committed by either an adult or juvenile that my office has prosecuted,” Agee wrote in the statement.
He said he would petition a judge to prosecute the girl, who turns 13 later this month, in adult court, which would allow for “a lengthier sentence, whether that will be through incarceration or supervision with court-ordered conditions.”

 


Watermelon soap from cosmetics firm Lush will support Palestinian children’s mental health

Watermelon soap from cosmetics firm Lush will support Palestinian children’s mental health
Updated 19 July 2024
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Watermelon soap from cosmetics firm Lush will support Palestinian children’s mental health

Watermelon soap from cosmetics firm Lush will support Palestinian children’s mental health
  • Soap made from natural ingredients and safe synthetics such as rapeseed, coconut, watermelon, bergamot, rose

LONDON: British cosmetics retailer Lush has launched a watermelon soap, the proceeds of which will fund essential mental health support and trauma counseling for children in Gaza and the West Bank.

Watermelons have emerged as a symbol of solidarity with Palestine, as they contain the colors of the Palestinian flag.

The Lush soap is made from natural ingredients and safe synthetics such as rapeseed, coconut, watermelon, bergamot and rose.

In 2011, the British Medical Journal published a review study that found high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among Palestinian children. New research by Save the Children has reported that feelings of depression, hyperactivity, a preference for being alone, and aggression are now reported by 95 percent of children in Gaza.

Lush’s support is nothing new. The company sources extra virgin olive oil from Palestine’s Marda Permaculture Farm, which is dedicated to social and environmental regeneration. The farm encourages sustainable agricultural practices and offers economic opportunities to local communities.
 


Say cheese: Japanese scientists make robot face ‘smile’ with living skin

Say cheese: Japanese scientists make robot face ‘smile’ with living skin
Updated 18 July 2024
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Say cheese: Japanese scientists make robot face ‘smile’ with living skin

Say cheese: Japanese scientists make robot face ‘smile’ with living skin

TOKYO: Japanese scientists have devised a way to attach living skin tissue to robotic faces and make them “smile,” in a breakthrough that holds out promise of applications in cosmetics and medicine.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo grew human skin cells in the shape of a face and pulled it into a wide grin, using embedded ligament-like attachments.
The result, though eerie, is an important step toward building more life-like robots, said lead researcher Shoji Takeuchi.
“By attaching these actuators and anchors, it became possible to manipulate living skin for the first time,” he added.

Minghao Nie, a researcher of University of Tokyo shows a face mold covered in human skin tissue at his lab in Tokyo on July 12, 2024. (REUTERS)

The smiling robot, featured in a study published online last month by Cell Reports Physical Science, is the fruit of a decade of research by Takeuchi and his lab on how best to combine biological and artificial machines.
Living tissue has numerous advantages over metals and plastics, Takeuchi said, ranging from the energy efficiency of brains and muscles to skin’s ability to repair itself.
Looking ahead, the researchers aim to add more elements to the lab-grown skin, including a circulatory system and nerves. That could lead to safer testing platforms for cosmetics and drugs absorbed through the skin.
It could also produce more realistic and functional coverings for robots. Still, there remains the challenge of ridding people of the strange or unnerving feelings evoked by machines that fall just short of being entirely convincing.
“There’s still a bit of that creepiness to it,” Takeuchi acknowledged about the robot. “I think that making robots out of the same materials as humans and having them show the same expressions might be one key to overcoming the uncanny valley.”


Paris mayor dips into the Seine River to showcase its improved cleanliness before Olympic events

Paris mayor dips into the Seine River to showcase its improved cleanliness before Olympic events
Updated 17 July 2024
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Paris mayor dips into the Seine River to showcase its improved cleanliness before Olympic events

Paris mayor dips into the Seine River to showcase its improved cleanliness before Olympic events
  • Dip at Seine part of a broader effort to showcase the river’s improved cleanliness ahead of the Summer Games
  • Daily water quality tests in early June indicated unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria, followed by recent improvements

PARIS: After months of anticipation, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo took a dip in the Seine River on Wednesday, fulfilling a promise she made months ago to show the river is clean enough to host open-swimming competitions during the 2024 Olympics — and the opening ceremony on the river nine days away.
Clad in a wetsuit, Hidalgo plunged into the river near the imposing-looking City Hall, her office, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet and the top government official for the Paris region, Marc Guillaume, joined her.
“The water is very, very good. A little cool, but not so bad,’’ Hidalgo said upon emerging.
It’s part of a broader effort to showcase the river’s improved cleanliness ahead of the Summer Games which will kick off July 26 with a lavish open-air ceremony that includes an athletes’ parade on boats on the Seine. Daily water quality tests in early June indicated unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria, followed by recent improvements.
Since 2015, organizers have invested heavily — $1.5 billion — to prepare the Seine for the Olympics and to ensure Parisians have a cleaner river in the years after the Games. The plan included constructing a giant underground water storage basin in central Paris, renovating sewer infrastructure, and upgrading wastewater treatment plants.
Despite being a recurring promise among politicians, swimming in the Seine has been banned for over a century. Jacques Chirac, the former French president, made a similar pledge in 1988 when he was Paris mayor, but it was never realized.
Hidalgo will follow in the footsteps of French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castara, who swam in the Seine on Saturday wearing a full-body suit.
Originally planned for June, Hidalgo’s swim was postponed due to snap parliamentary elections in France. On the initial date, the hashtag ”jechiedanslaSeine” (“I’m pooping in the Seine”) trended on social media as some threatened to protest the Olympics by defecating upstream.
Concerns over the Seine’s flow and pollution levels have persisted, prompting daily water quality tests by the monitoring group Eau de Paris. Results in early June indicated unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria, followed by recent improvements.
The Seine will host several open water swimming events during the Games, including marathon swimming at the Olympic Games and the swimming legs of the Olympic and Paralympic triathlons.


Trump website features image of his bloody face to raise funds

Trump website features image of his bloody face to raise funds
Updated 15 July 2024
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Trump website features image of his bloody face to raise funds

Trump website features image of his bloody face to raise funds

WASHINGTON: Former US President Donald Trump’s website featured an image of him with a bloodied face on Monday morning to urge supporters to donate to his campaign and come together in the spirit of unity and peace following this weekend’s shooting.
The website redirected prospective donors to a page on fundraising platform WinRed that shows a black and white image taken by an Associated Press photographer that Trump has described as “iconic.”
It shows the Republican candidate’s face streaked with blood and his fist raised in defiance after a bullet pierced his upper right ear at a rally in Pennsylvania. The image was captioned with the words “FEAR NOT” written in upper case letters.
A message below the image read: “Unity. Peace. Make America Great Again.” The page also carried Trump’s signature and gave visitors to the website options to contribute at different levels.
In an interview published late on Sunday by the New York Post, Trump spoke about the images taken of him immediately after he was shot, including the photo featured on his campaign website.
“A lot of people say it’s the most iconic photo they’ve ever seen,” Trump was quoted as saying in the New York Post. “They’re right and I didn’t die. Usually you have to die to have an iconic picture.”
Trump, who is running against Democratic US President Joe Biden in November’s election, was shot by a 20-year-old man with a semiautomatic rifle on Saturday at the rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, authorities said.
One Trump supporter who attended the rally was killed, two others were wounded and the suspect was shot dead by security agents. The FBI said it was investigating the shooting as an assassination attempt.
Leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties, including Trump and Biden, appealed to the bitterly divided country to unite and maintain calm after the shooting.
A GoFundMe campaign backed by Trump for the victims of the shooting at the former president’s rally had raised over $3.5 million by the end of Sunday.