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Stormtrooper

Anthony Russo: The forgotten man who first documented systematic torture of combatants in Vietnam


Daniel Ellsberg (left) and his less well known colleague Anthony Russo (r) were charged with theft and unauthorized possession of classified documents under the Espionage Act in 1971, but were eventually acquitted.
Rambo! In my Reagan-era youth, the name was synonymous with the Vietnam War -- at least the Vietnam War reimagined, the celluloid fantasy version of it in which a tanned, glistening, muscle-bound commando busted the handcuffs of defeat and redeemed America's honor in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Untold millions including the Gipper himself, an inveterate Vietnam revisionist, were enraptured.

Many years later, studying war crimes in Vietnam, I would come across a real Rambo -- or maybe you'd call him an anti-Rambo. To the best of my knowledge, this Rambo didn't fire a machine gun one-handed or use explosive-tipped arrows. But his work was a powder keg with a short fuse and his conscience a bright flame. While conducting research for a Pentagon-funded project on refugees, A. Terry Rambo turned up evidence that South Korean troops, functionally serving as America's mercenaries in Vietnam, had massacred a large number of civilians. That Rambo "presented the findings" to, he said, "a whole slew of colonels -- 10 or 12" of them. He thought the American brass would take action. Instead, a U.S. officer instructed him to leave that information out of his report. "I told [the officer] as a civilian I didn't feel myself bound by [U.S. military] orders and that I was going to submit a report on it." Rambo eventually went public with the story.

He was far from alone.

The criminality, the madness of the Vietnam War seemed to compel many to act in similar ways even when it put them at great peril, threatened to upend their lives, sink their careers, and leave them at odds with their families. Many took to the streets; many who knew secrets spilled them; and the phenomenon spread. It became a golden age of whistleblowing: veterans exposing U.S. atrocities, civilians exposing FBI dirty tricks and domestic surveillance, government officials exposing White House crimes and NSA spying. Truth-telling seemed to be in the air. And, of course, a former Pentagon analyst and employee of the military-funded RAND Corporation, Daniel Ellsberg, rocked the world with his exposure of the U.S. military's secret history of the Vietnam War -- known as the Pentagon Papers -- laying bare decades of lies foisted upon Congress and the American people. Today, in another great age of whistleblowers, only Ellsberg's name remains.

The real Rambo, Ron Ridenhour, Jamie Henry, Perry Fellwock, Peter Buxtun, and so many others are known only to a tiny minority. In 1970, A. Terry Rambo told the New York Times that he had heard about a RAND study that also found evidence of South Korean atrocities. A RAND spokesman said they had turned up "rumors about Korean troop behavior... but since they did not involve RAND research, we can only regard them as hearsay." Decades later -- no thanks to RAND -- it's well-documented that South Korean forces slaughtered large numbers of Vietnamese civilians. It might never have been so if the real Rambo hadn't had the courage to come forward.

Without whistleblowers, citizens are at the mercy of massaged truths and fine-crafted fictions spun by officials who prefer shadows to sunlight. If you can imagine a world in which the Pentagon Papers were never leaked, in which the burglary of Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office by President Nixon's "Plumbers" was never uncovered, in which decades of blood-soaked lies were kept secret from the American people, then you can imagine a world in which the late Anthony Russo, another former RAND analyst and whistleblower in danger of evaporating into history's mists, never had a crisis of conscience.

Today, Russo has been reduced to a footnote and his shining accomplishment assumed to be, as he put it, as a "Xerox aide" to Ellsberg, a man who did little more than help physically copy documents. As Barbara Myers writes in her inaugural (and epic) TomDispatch piece, Russo was far more instrumental in the leaking of the Pentagon Papers than most know -- and that may have been only his second most important act of whistleblowing. With news of a final Rambo film starring Stallone on the horizon, the time seems ripe to remember the real Rambos and Russos who took great risks to tell hard truths, exposing misery, malfeasance, and murder that the powerful would rather have kept hidden. Nick Turse

Treasure Chest

Gold artifacts found in Scythian grave mounds support claims of ancient Greek historian


Solid gold artifacts discovered in a Scythian burial mound in southern Russia include two bucket-shaped vessels, three gold cups, a heavy finger ring, two neck rings, and a gold bracelet.

Vessels discovered in a Scythian grave mound contained traces of opium and marijuana, confirming the claim of an ancient historian.


They ruled the vast grasslands of Eurasia for a thousand years, striking fear into the hearts of the ancient Greeks and Persians. But they left no cities or settlements behind, only massive grave mounds, called kurgans, dotting the steppes from Mongolia to the Black Sea.

Now one of those kurgans, located in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, has yielded an intriguing discovery: golden artifacts that are shedding light on the shadowy world of the Scythians, fierce nomads whose exploits—and drug-fueled rituals—were chronicled by the Greek historian Herodotus.

"It's a once-in-a-century discovery," says Anton Gass, an archaeologist at the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin. "These are among the finest objects we know from the region."

The find—kept secret until now to protect it from looters—first came to light in the summer of 2013, when Stavropol-based archaeologist Andrei Belinski began excavating the kurgan, called Sengileevskoe-2, to clear the way for a power-line project.

At first Belinski wasn't optimistic about finding much inside, as there were telltale signs that the kurgan had been plundered in the past. But a few weeks into the excavation, his team came across a thick layer of clay. Digging underneath, they discovered a rectangular chamber lined with broad, flat stones. Inside was something the looters somehow had missed: golden treasures placed there 2,400 years ago.

The chamber contained two bucket-shaped gold vessels, each placed upside down. Inside were three gold cups, a heavy gold finger ring, two neck rings, and a gold bracelet. In all, the well-preserved gold artifacts weighed nearly seven pounds (3.2 kilos).

"It was definitely a surprise for us," Belinski says. "We weren't expecting to find anything like this." (Read about another excavation of a Scythian kurgan and its gold.)

© Andrei Belinsky
An enraged husband slays the son of an unfaithful wife, according to one interpretation of this scene on an exquisitely detailed Scythian vessel.
Belinski asked criminologists in nearby Stavropol to analyze a black residue inside the vessels. The results came back positive for opium and cannabis, confirming a practice first reported by Herodotus. The Greek historian claimed that the Scythians used a plant to produce smoke "that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass ... transported by the vapor, [they] shout aloud."

Because the sticky residue was found on the inside of the vessels, Belinski and Gass think they were used to brew and drink a strong opium concoction, while cannabis was burning nearby. "That both drugs were being used simultaneously is beyond doubt," Gass says.

Bomb

1812: The inconsequential war that changed America forever

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WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Most adult Americans today are unaware of what caused the War of 1812, who started it, what the outcome was, or even who the belligerents were. If I recall correctly, my grade school / high school History Class covered The War Of 1812 - aka America's Second War Of Independence, or America's Forgotten War - for a total of maybe one week. And what a worthless week it was. Like most history teachers I've ever had, they turned an exciting story into a dry bundle of boring crap ... focusing on memorizing dates and random events without getting to the real story behind the story; i.e. why did it happen, how does the war affect us today, and what can we learn from it? This is a crying shame because the war had a tremendous impact on American political development, territorial expansion, and national identity.

A 19th century French historian said, "History studies not just facts and institutions, its real subject is the human spirit." The word 'history' comes from the Greek, and literally means "knowledge acquired by investigation". So, let us investigate the War Of 1812, and the spirit of humanity which caused it ... and changed America forever.

Birthday Cake

Remembering JFK: Photos from the Kennedy Presidency

Friday would have been President John F. Kennedy's 98th birthday.

© John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
John F. Kennedy with dog, Bobby, in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, 1925.
© John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
The Kennedy children in Hyannis Port, 1928. From left: Jean, Bobby, Patricia, Eunice, Kathleen, Rosemary, Jack, Joe Jr.
© John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
John F. Kennedy poses with "Dunker" the dachshund at The Hague, Netherlands, 1937.
© John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
John F. Kennedy graduates from Harvard University, Massachusetts, 1940.
© John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
Lt. John F. Kennedy in the South Pacific, 1943.

Comment: For more information on this remarkable human being, read these articles written by Laura Knight-Jadczyk:

The JFK Series

November 22, 1963: The Day America Died

JFK: The Debris of History

The Gladiator: John Fitzgerald Kennedy

JFK: The Bushes and The Lost King

Sim City and John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy and All Those "isms"

John F. Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, Organized Crime and the Global Village

John F. Kennedy and the Psychopathology of Politics

John F. Kennedy and the Pigs of War

John F. Kennedy and the Titans

John F. Kennedy, Oil, and the War on Terror

John F. Kennedy, The Secret Service and Rich, Fascist Texans

John F. Kennedy and the Monolithic and Ruthless Conspiracy

Listen to:

SOTT Talk Radio: The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later

Watch:

Evidence of revision (the assassination of America)


Vader

World War II: "Operation Unthinkable", Churchill's planned betrayal and invasion of the Soviet Union, July 1945


The Yalta conference: Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill
In late May 1945 Josef Stalin ordered Marshall Georgy Zhukov to leave Germany and come to Moscow. He was concerned over the actions of British allies. Stalin said the Soviet forces disarmed Germans and sent them to prisoners' camps while British did not. Instead they cooperated with Germans troops and let them maintain combat capability.

Stalin believed that there were plans to use them later. He emphasized that it was an outright violation of the inter-governmental agreements that said the forces surrendered were to be immediately disbanded. The Soviet intelligence got the text of secret telegram sent by Winston Churchill to Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, the commander of British forces. It instructed to collect the weapons and keep them in readiness to give back to Germans in case the Soviet offensive continued.

According to the instructions received from Stalin, Zhukov harshly condemned these activities speaking at the Allied Control Council (the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and France). He said the world history knew few examples of such treachery and refusal to observe the commitments on the part of nations that had an allied status. Montgomery denied the accusation. A few years later he admitted that he received such an instruction and carried it out. He had to comply with the order as a soldier.

A fierce battle was raging in the vicinity of Berlin. At his time Winston Churchill said that the Soviet Russia became a deadly threat to the free world. The British Prime Minister wanted a new front created in the east to stop the Soviet offensive as soon as possible. Churchill was overwhelmed by the feeling that with Nazi Germany defeated a new threat emerged posed by the Soviet Union.

That's why London wanted Berlin to be taken by Anglo-American forces. Churchill also wanted Americans to liberate Czechoslovakia and Prague with Austria controlled by all allies on equal terms.

Comment: Is it any wonder that Russia has such a deep-rooted mistrust of the West?


Info

Jawbone fossils reveal new human ancestor species scientists say

© Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The new species, Australopithecus deyiremeda,combined ape-like and human-like traits.
Jaw and teeth fossils found in Ethiopia's Afar region in 2011 represent a previously unknown member of humankind's family tree that lived 3.3 to 3.5 million years ago alongside the famous human ancestor Lucy, scientists say.

The fossils shed new light on a key period in the human lineage's evolution before the emergence of our genus, Homo, and provide the first evidence that two early human ancestor species lived at the same time and place prior to 3 million years ago.

The new species, Australopithecus deyiremeda, combined ape-like and human-like traits as did Lucy's species, Australopithecus afarensis, but was sufficiently different to warrant recognition as a separate species, scientists said announcing the discovery on Wednesday.

Lucy's skeleton was unearthed in 1974 from the Hadar site, near Woranso-Mille, where the new fossil was found.

Info

This may be the earliest murder victim in human history

© Javier Trueba/Madrid Scientific Films
This is a frontal view of Cranium 17 showing the position of the traumatic events T1 (inferior) and T2 (superior).
Wounds discovered on a 430,000-year-old human skull discovered in Spain could indicate that the individual was one of the first-ever murder victims, according to a new study published in the May 27 edition of the open-access journal PLOS One.

In the study, Dr. Nohemi Sala from Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, Spain, and her colleagues explain that the skull was discovered at Sima de los Huesos, a site located deep within a series of underground caves located in northern Spain.

The skull, known as Cranium 17, was found with the skeletal remains of at least 28 individuals dating back to the Middle Pleistocene period. The specimen is comprised of 52 cranial fragments recovered during a series of excavations at the site over the past two decades, and contains a pair of penetrating lesions on the frontal bone, just above the left eye, Dr. Sala's team said.

Bomb

Yet another WWII bomb discovered in Germany forces evacuation of 20,000 residents

© AFP Photo / DPA / Rolf Vennenbernd
Worker operates an excavator at a place near Muehlheim Bridge where a World War II bomb was unearthed in Cologne, western Germany, on May 27, 2015.
Around 20,000 residents in Cologne in Germany were evacuated after a 200-kilogram bomb from World War II was discovered during preparations for construction work.

Deactivation of the device, found near Muelheim Bridge over the Rhine River, is scheduled to take place on Wednesday afternoon, the DPA news agency reported.

The bomb, believed to be a US design, is 1.76 meters long and 60 centimeters in diameter.

It is buried 5 meters underground, which is going to complicate the task of the bomb disposal squad.

"As is common with these heavy bombs, this one is very deep down. Such a big bomb can't simply be taken out. We need to dig a deep and wide hole first," Dieter Daeneck, who is leading the operation, told FAZ.

Earlier, 20,000 people had to leave their homes, including over a 1,000 residents of a nursing home, which required dozens of ambulances to arrive on the scene.

Comment: Dangerous World War 2 Bombs Still Litter Germany's Landscape


Monkey Wrench

Neolithic village uncovered near Mursalevo, Bulgaria

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The remains of 60 large houses - some two storeys high - have been discovered as part of a Neolithic village built 8,000 years. The image above shows the extent of the village, which is currently being excavated by archaeologists in south west Bulgaria.
The stereotype of Stone Age men was cave dwelling brutes rather than sophisticated town planners who lived in two-storey houses.

But archaeologists have uncovered the remains of 60 large houses built 8,000 years ago as part of a Neolithic village, in south west Bulgaria.

Thought to be built by farmers, the town has three parallel streets with homes spread over five acres (215,278 square ft or 20,000 square metres).

The village also features a canal, a port for boats and an unusual cemetery.

Eiffel Tower

Preserving the treasures of French underground cities created during WWI

© Jeffrey Gusky
This horse is about two-thirds life size. Hundreds of troops from New England's Yankee Division lived here underground for about six weeks in 1918. The carving was never completed and is now at risk of vandalism or theft.
Many people think of World War I as the trench war, but few realize it went hundreds of feet deeper. As both sides dug in, they found ancient quarries and caves below the bombed-out forests of northeastern France, and they took temporary refuge from the war's horrors there. The offices, kitchens, worship spaces, and artworks they made have rested unchanged for a century in underground cities visited by just a few historians and enthusiasts.

The locations of these quarries and caves remain relatively secret for now, but the entrances are unprotected.

Dr. Jeffrey Gusky, an emergency room physician and professional photographer, has shot these underground cities in eerie detail and published the images extensively in National Geographic, the New York Times, and other periodicals. The BBC, NPR, CBC and other news outlets have interviewed him about it. This exposure brings the caves' culture and beauty to a large audience, but with that fame comes danger for the sites themselves.