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Dollars

Access to petrodollar wealth: The untold story behind Saudi Arabia's 41-year U.S. debt secret


President Nixon walks with Saudi King Faisal in Saudi Arabia in June 1974.
How a legendary bond trader from Salomon Brothers brokered a do-or-die deal that reshaped U.S.-Saudi relations for generations.

Failure was not an option.

It was July 1974. A steady predawn drizzle had given way to overcast skies when William Simon, newly appointed U.S. Treasury secretary, and his deputy, Gerry Parsky, stepped onto an 8 a.m. flight from Andrews Air Force Base. On board, the mood was tense. That year, the oil crisis had hit home. An embargo by OPEC's Arab nations—payback for U.S. military aid to the Israelis during the Yom Kippur War—quadrupled oil prices. Inflation soared, the stock market crashed, and the U.S. economy was in a tailspin.

Officially, Simon's two-week trip was billed as a tour of economic diplomacy across Europe and the Middle East, full of the customary meet-and-greets and evening banquets. But the real mission, kept in strict confidence within President Richard Nixon's inner circle, would take place during a four-day layover in the coastal city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The goal: neutralize crude oil as an economic weapon and find a way to persuade a hostile kingdom to finance America's widening deficit with its newfound petrodollar wealth. And according to Parsky, Nixon made clear there was simply no coming back empty-handed. Failure would not only jeopardize America's financial health but could also give the Soviet Union an opening to make further inroads into the Arab world.

It "wasn't a question of whether it could be done or it couldn't be done," said Parsky, 73, one of the few officials with Simon during the Saudi talks.

Sherlock

Excavators of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion, the 'Egyptian Atlantises' present first results

© Flickr/ Sam Valadi
Giza Pyramids & Sphinx - Egypt
British archaeologists have presented the first results of their underwater excavations in the Hellenic cities of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion, which sank into the Mediterranean Sea somewhere around the 8th century AD, Nature magazine wrote. Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion were two major port cities that existed in the Nile Delta in the 5th century BC.

Founded by Greek and Macedonian colonists during the 26th dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs, the cities survived the country's' occupation, first by Persians and then by Alexander of Macedonia's armies before being taken over by Rome during Queen Cleopatra's reign.

Then, around 750-800 AD the millennium-old cities were mysteriously submerged several meters into the Mediterranean and their location was lost for centuries before a team of British and French archeologists began large-scale excavations in the Abu Qir Bay in the Nile Delta.

Blackbox

Rethinking Iran-Contra: A much longer, much darker story than we think


Oliver North: "I solemnly swear to be up to no good."
The conventional view of the Iran-Contra scandal is that it covered the period 1985-86, when President Ronald Reagan became concerned about the fate of American hostages in Lebanon and agreed to secretly sell weapons to Iran's Islamist government to gain its help in freeing the captives.

Supposedly, the scheme went awry when White House aide Oliver North and other participants got carried away, including North's decision to divert profits from the arms sales to another one of Reagan's priorities, the Nicaraguan contra rebels whose CIA assistance had been cut off by Congress.

The Iran-Contra scandal was exposed in fall of 1986 after the shooting down of a North supply plane over Nicaragua and revelations in Lebanon of Reagan's arms sales to Iran. A White House staff shake-up, including North's firing, and some wrist-slaps from Congress for Reagan's alleged inattention to details resolved the scandal, at least that was how Official Washington saw it.

Comment: For an introduction to the tangled web of Iran-Contra, see also Hugo Turner's Beyond the Iran-Contra Affair Part 1: The secret team.


Airplane

Beyond the Iran-Contra Affair Part 1: The secret team


The original 'moderate rebels', the Contras, on patrol in 1987.
A special thanks to @arrghshell of https://n0p3.net for helping me discover a huge amount of relevant information.

On October 5, 1986, a plane carrying weapons to the Contras from El Salvador was shot down over Nicaragua setting off what became known as the Iran Contra Affair. Three of the plane's passengers were killed: William Cooper, Wallace Sawyer and an "unidentified Latin American", but Eugene Hasenfus survived and, disastrously for the Reagan Administration, he began to talk. In early November 1986 a Lebanese newspaper leaked the story of the Iran's arms deals. On November 25, 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese held a press conference revealing that money from arms sales to Iran had been diverted to fund the Contras. Thus this year will mark the 30th anniversary of the Iran Contra scandal, although I'm guessing it will be largely ignored.

Studying Iran/Contra opens a window onto the secret history of America and the world all of the things many mainstream historians try their best to ignore. Researchers at the time noted that Iran/Contra had its origins in the covert wars from the very beginnings of the "cold war". Things that are still blocked out of the history books like the recruitment of fascists in Europe and Asia or the OSS and later CIA role in the global drug trade. It linked up with the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, Watergate, the October surprise, the shooting of the pope, all what Peter Dale Scott calls "deep events". Those are the more famous examples; it also linked up with now largely forgotten scandals like P2, SITBAM, Eatsco, Nugan Hand, the S&L failures, KoreaGate, Iraqgate, the Pizza connection and many more.

Stock Down

Trump Shuttle: Opulence to crash landing

© PAM BERRY/GLOBE STAFF/FILE
The Trump Shuttle prepared to take off from Logan Airport in 1989.
When Donald Trump's new airline, the Trump Shuttle, launched on a summer day in 1989, tuxedoed waiters with white gloves passed out smoked salmon, honey chicken skewers, and chocolate truffles. It was early in the day, but champagne flowed at Logan Airport.

After a string quartet rested its bows, Trump took the microphone and struck a discordant note: He railed against Pan Am, his rival in the shuttle business. He suggested Pan Am's flights were unsafe, that the company was strapped for cash and couldn't spend as much to maintain planes as Trump Shuttle.

"I'm not criticizing Pan Am," Trump said that day. "I'm just speaking facts."

Executives at Trump's newest venture were aghast. In a highly competitive business, one in which Trump had no experience, the new boss had tossed decorum to the wind and made claims he had no evidence to support.

Comment: See also:
Drunk uncle Trump: Chastises Obama for not bringing up Pearl Harbor in Japan
Trump's bullying a reflection of a bully nation


Info

Indus valley civilization at least 8,000-years-old say Indian scientists

© TOI Photo by Sanjay Hadkar
A painting on Indus Valley civilization.
Kolkata: It may be time to rewrite history textbooks. Scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have uncovered evidence that the Indus Valley Civilizationis at least 8,000 years old, and not 5,500 years old, taking root well before the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilizations. What's more, the researchers have found evidence of a pre-Harappan civilization that existed for at least 1,000 years before this.

The discovery, published in the prestigious Nature journal on May 25, may force a global rethink on the timelines of the so-called 'cradles of civilization'. The scientists believe they also know why the civilization ended about 3,000 years ago — climate change.

"We have recovered perhaps the oldest pottery from the civilization. We used a technique called 'optically stimulated luminescence' to date pottery shards of the Early Mature Harappan time to nearly 6,000 years ago and the cultural levels of pre-Harappan Hakra phase as far back as 8,000 years," said Anindya Sarkar, head of the department of geology and geophysics at IIT-Kgp.

The team had actually set out to prove that the civilization proliferated to other Indian sites like Bhirrana and Rakhigarrhi in Haryana, apart from the known locations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan and Lothal, Dholavira and Kalibangan in India. They took their dig to an unexplored site, Bhirrana — and ended up unearthing something much bigger. The excavation also yielded large quantities of animal remains like bones, teeth, horn cores of cow, goat, deer and antelope, which were put through Carbon 14 analysis to decipher antiquity and the climatic conditions in which the civilization flourished, said Arati Deshpande Mukherjee of Deccan College, which helped analyse the finds along with Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

Eye 1

The Nazi origins of the European Union

The European Union is now considered to be the standard of democracy, liberalism and human rights. Yet even though everything might be in order with the component of liberalism, and there might even be an excess of this phenomenon, there is clearly a lack of democracy. The structure of decision-making in the European Union is complicated and lacks mechanisms which hold the top leaders of the EU accountable to nations. The European Parliament, the only democratic institution of the union, has only an advisory status and is therefore not a real legislature. In fact, the ordeal of European integration is in the hands of only a narrow circle of people. Moreover, this feature is inherent to the system ever since the beginning of the post-war process of European integration. On the eve of the EU referendum, British media has even revealed an important fact concerning the EU's past which explains a lot about its present: the process of EU integration, from the outset, was coordinated by the CIA to create an anti-Russian geopolitical bloc in Europe.

But the CIA did not build the European Union from scratch. The most important contributions were made earlier by the Nazis. From a geopolitical point of view, the Third Reich, with its occupied countries of Europe and satellite states, represented a version of "united Europe." Many Nazi achievements were later used by the Americans, which determined the aggressive anti-national and anti-Russian character of the modern European Union.

German historians have repeatedly published the Nazis' documents containing plans for European integration. Gerhardt Haas and Wolfgang Schumann's collection of documents was released in 1972 in East Berlin, titled The Anatomy of Aggression: New documents concerning the military goals of German imperialism during the Second World War. This book primarily cited evidence of large-scale plans for the economic integration of Europe under the Nazi leadership in the interest of European financial capital. In particular, such plans were hatched in the Reich Ministry of Economics, the Reich Industrial Group, and the Reich Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Another German collection of documents on the relationship between the Third Reich and the process of European integration was released in West Germany in Munich in 1987. It was called Europe and the Third Reich and was composed by Hans Werner Neulen. It paid special attention to the political plans of the Nazi leadership to unify Europe. In 1985, Michael Zalewski, published the first volume of Documents the history of European integration, titled Plans for a Continental European Union: 1939-1945. It is not difficult to guess what kind of integration was at stake.

Historians have noted that such linguistic constructions as "European Union", "European Economic Community", and "European Confederation" which fill European media were first announced as official elements of state policy in the documents of the Third Reich.

Flashlight

Archaeologists discover hidden gallery of 14,500 year old cave paintings deep within Spanish cave


The cave paintings were discovered by archaeologist Diego Garate and caver Iñaki Intxaurbe. They span roughly 100 meters, and largely represent horses, bison, goats, and deer. Cave paintings of horses can be seen above
Archaeologists have discovered a hidden gallery of ancient paintings deep within the Atxurra cave in northern Spain.

At least 70 cave paintings have been found at the site, which reveals the 'final moments' of the Upper Paleolithic, dating as far back as 14,500 years ago.

Images of animals cover the walls of the sanctuary, including one which shows a bison impaled by the many spears of ancient hunters.

Atxurra cave is situated 50km from the Basque city Bilbao, in a village called Berriatua.

Local officials now say that the site is considered to hold the largest number of ancient paintings in Basque Country.

The cave paintings were discovered by archaeologist Diego Garate and caver Iñaki Intxaurbe.

They span roughly 100 meters, and largely represent horses, bison, goats, and deer.

Nuke

Hiroshima bombing changed the world - but it didn't end WWII

© Daily Mail
President Obama's visit to Hiroshima on Friday has rekindled public debate about the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan — one largely suppressed since the Smithsonian canceled its Enola Gay exhibit in 1995. Obama, aware that his critics are ready to pounce if he casts the slightest doubt on the rectitude of President Harry S. Truman's decision to use atomic bombs, has opted to remain silent on the issue. This is unfortunate. A national reckoning is overdue.

Most Americans have been taught that using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was justified because the bombings ended the war in the Pacific, thereby averting a costly U.S. invasion of Japan. This erroneous contention finds its way into high school history texts still today. More dangerously, it shapes the thinking of government officials and military planners working in a world that still contains more than 15,000 nuclear weapons.

Comment: Hiroshima and Nagasaki - 70 years ago the US 'elite' murdered 500,000 Japanese civilians to 'send a warning' to Russia


Info

Lost tomb of Aristotle found in Greece

© Wikimedia Commons
Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition.
A group of archaeologists in Greece say they have found the lost tomb of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and likely world's first true scientist.

The Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reported Thursday that the finding will be announced at a press conference, as a capstone to a Aristotle-themed conference in Thessaloniki.

The archaeologists had been digging for 20 years at a site in the ancient northern Greece city of Stageira, where Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. Aristotle died 62 years later in Chalcis, about 50 miles north of Athens.

Ahead of the official announcement, the Greek Reporter has some more details on the tomb, saying that "literary sources" say that Aristotle's ashes were transferred there after his death. It is located near the ancient city's agora, apparently intended to be viewed by the public.

From the Greek Reporter:
The top of the dome is at 10 meters and there is a square floor surrounding a Byzantine tower. A semi-circle wall stands at two-meters in height. A pathway leads to the tomb's entrance for those that wished to pay their respects. Other findings included ceramics from the royal pottery workshops and fifty coins dated to the time of Alexander the Great.
Not much is known about Aristotle's life, aside from what he left in his own writings. It took over 2,300 years, but at least we're starting to learn more about his death.