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Sat, 24 Mar 2018
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Secret History


An Eccentric Tradition: The Paradox of 'Western Values'

moses painting
© Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn / Getty Images
Western values?
It is no secret that former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a fan of Western values.

On more than one occasion he has lamented what he calls "the great Australian silence" - the neglect of "the Western canon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation is unimaginable."

Abbott's predecessor, John Howard, is also known as a stout defender of the Western tradition and its values, and he too worries that we are losing our connection to it: "When we think of our civilisation, we lack an integrated understanding of the contribution of the early Romans and Greeks, the framework of what is frequently called the Judaeo-Christian ethic."

Further afield, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron has preached the importance of Christian values for Britain.

More recently, and perhaps unhelpfully for the cause, Donald Trump has jumped on the bandwagon. In a rare moment of coherence, Trump delivered a speech ahead of the 2017 G20 summit in Poland, urging the defence of "our values" and "our civilization."


Untold story of the Pentagon Papers co-conspirators

Gar Alperovitz
© Sharon Alperovitz
In 1971, Gar Alperovitz played a vital, clandestine role in making the Pentagon Papers public.
In June of 1971, Gar Alperovitz, a thirty-five-year-old historian, sped through suburban Boston, looking for an out-of-the-way pay phone to use to call a reporter. Alperovitz had never considered himself much of a risk-taker. The father of two ran a small economic think tank focussed on community-building. He had participated in demonstrations against the Vietnam War and rung doorbells with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Boston, as part of an antiwar campaign. But what he was doing on this day, propelled by his desire to end the conflict, could lead to federal prison.

He pulled his old Saab up to a phone booth on the outskirts of Harvard Square, and rang a hotel room nearby. When the reporter picked up, Alperovitz identified himself with the alias he had adopted: "It's Mr. Boston." Alperovitz told the journalist to open the door. Waiting in the hallway was a cardboard box, left minutes before by a runner working with Alperovitz. Inside were several hundred pages of the most sought-after documents in the United States-the top-secret Vietnam history known as the Pentagon Papers.

Che Guevara

Come meet the CIA: Drugs, guns and money

© Sott.net
On November 22, 1996, the US Justice Department indicted General Ramón Guillén Davila of Venezuela on charges of importing cocaine into the United States. The federal prosecutors alleged that while heading Venezuela's anti-drug unit, General Guillén smuggled more than 22 tons of cocaine into the US and Europe for the Calí and Bogotá cartels. Guillén responded to the indictment from the sanctuary of Caracas, whence his government refused to extradict him to Miami, while honoring him with a pardon for any possible crimes committed in the line of duty. He maintained that the cocaine shipments to the US had been approved by the CIA, and went on to say that "some drugs were lost and neither the CIA nor the DEA want to accept any responsibility for it."

The CIA had hired Guillén in 1988 to help it find out something about the Colombian drug cartels. The Agency and Guillén set up a drug-smuggling operation using agents of Guillén's in the Venezuelan National Guard to buy cocaine from the Calí cartel and ship it to Venezuela, where it was stored in warehouses maintained by the Narcotics Intelligence Center, Caracas, which was run by Guillén and entirely funded by the CIA.

To avoid the Calí cartel asking inconvenient questions about the growing inventory of cocaine in the Narcotics Intelligence Center's warehouses and, as one CIA agent put it, "to keep our credibility with the traffickers," the CIA decided it was politic to let some of the cocaine proceed on to the cartel's network of dealers in the US. As another CIA agent put it, they wanted "to let the dope walk" - in other words, to allow it to be sold on the streets of Miami, New York and Los Angeles.


Syphilis-ridden 18th century mummy found in Swiss church is relative of Boris Johnson

The mummy and Boris
© Getty
The mummy and Boris
A syphilis-ridden 18th century mummy dug up from a Swiss church is the great-great-great-great-great- great-great grandmother of Boris Johnson, it has emerged.

The body was uncovered in 1975 during renovations on Basel's Barfusser Church, but her identity has remained a mystery for more than 40 years.

Known as 'Switzerland's most famous mummy', the woman was buried in front of the altar, and found wearing expensive clothes, with no signs of malnutrition, suggesting she had been wealthy.

Comment: Science is showing how our lineage can have profound affects on the generations that follow, at the same time it has also been found that we can escape those effects through conscious efforts, but at least in Boris' case this may provide one reason for why he is the way he is: And on Boris:


Archaeologists discover 10,000-year-old drawing tool

Ancient Crayon
© Paul Shields/University of York
The crayon revealed a sharpened end.
Archaeologists say they may have discovered one of the earliest examples of a 'crayon' - possibly used by our ancestors 10,000 years ago for applying colour to their animal skins or for artwork.

The ochre crayon was discovered near an ancient lake, now blanketed in peat, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire. An ochre pebble was found at another site on the opposite side of the lake.

The pebble had a heavily striated surface that is likely to have been scraped to produce a red pigment powder. The crayon measures 22mm long and 7mm wide.

Ochre is an important mineral pigment used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers across the globe. The latest finds suggest people collected ochre and processed it in different ways during the Mesolithic period.

Star of David

The not-so-secret life of the late Mathilde Krim

Johnson with Mathilde Krim, at dinner, undated photograph

Johnson with Mathilde Krim, at dinner, undated photograph.
On January 15, Mathilde Krim, a scientist and socialite, died on Long Island at 91, and the obituaries described her courageous leadership in the fight against AIDS. Krim was incensed by the widespread stigmatization of AIDS victims as somehow deserving the disease, and she worked to lift prejudice that kept our society from taking the illness seriously. (I saw her work for myself, attending a fundraiser at her East Side townhouse back in the 90's).

What the news has not told you about is Krim's other great achievement: helping to swing the White House to Israel's side in the 1960's. The no-daylight policy of U.S. alignment with the Israeli government, so obvious today in Trump's deference to Netanyahu, was born under Mathilde Krim's dear friend Lyndon Johnson. In the feverish weeks surrounding the 1967 war, Krim, who had once emigrated to Israel, and her husband Arthur, a leading fundraiser, were continually at Johnson's side, and advised him on what to say publicly.

"Johnson was the pivotal president for our relationship with Israel and I think Mathilde Krim's sway over Johnson was such that it turned the entire relationship, allowing Israel to continue on, especially after the Six Day War, in a manner that defied not only the U.N. but the whole world with regard to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians," says Martin Brod, a retired systems analyst in New York who has long studied the role of Israel's American friends in cementing the special relationship. Here is that story.

Star of David

Poisoned toothpaste and exploding phones: Israel linked to 2,700 assassination operations during its 70 year existence, far more than any other western country

A new book also strongly suggests that Israel used radiation poisoning to kill Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, an act its officials have consistently denied
© Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Poisoned toothpaste that takes a month to end its target's life. Armed drones. Exploding cell phones. Spare tires with remote-control bombs. Assassinating enemy scientists and discovering the secret lovers of Islamic holy men.

A new book chronicles these techniques and asserts that Israel has carried out at least 2,700 assassination operations in its 70 years of existence. While many failed, they add up to far more than any other Western country, the book says.

Ronen Bergman, the intelligence correspondent for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, persuaded many agents of Mossad, Shin Bet and the military to tell their stories, some using their real names. The result is the first comprehensive look at Israel's use of state-sponsored killings.

Based on 1,000 interviews and thousands of documents, and running more than 600 pages, "Rise and Kill First" makes the case that Israel has used assassination in the place of war, killing half a dozen Iranian nuclear scientists, for instance, rather than launching a military attack. It also strongly suggests that Israel used radiation poisoning to kill Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, an act its officials have consistently denied.

Comment: Just a few more examples...

Che Guevara

Cycles of History: 2018 brings echoes of Europe's nationalist rebellions of 1848

© Wikimedia Commons
Populist-Nationalism, Right and Left

Here's a headline that a lot of people -- especially among the entrenched elite -- won't want to see: "2017 Was the Year of False Promise in the Fight Against Populism: The populist wave seems like it may have crested. The data proves otherwise." In other words, the populists are still on the march. Uh oh.

That headline appeared in Foreign Policy magazine, a publication not on the top of many populist reading lists. The two authors, Yascha Mounk and Martin Eiermann, are both associated with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Blair, as we all recall, was the prime minister of the United Kingdom for a decade; he was, and is, a devout apostle of globalism.


The origins of the 1959 Mt. Kenya Safari Club and its possible changing tides: 'Safari Club II' what is it?

Safari Club II
© Unknown
During the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency convinced certain European and Middle Eastern allies to establish an informal intelligence alliance whose links to the United States would be "plausibly denied" in typical CIA parlance. In 1976, a group of pro-Western intelligence agency directors secretly met at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki, Kenya to hammer out an informal pact designed to limit Soviet influence in Africa and the Middle East. The group met under the auspices of Saudi billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta, and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Although Khashoggi was present at the first meeting of what soon became known as the "Safari Club," Kenyatta and Kissinger were not present at the inaugural spymasters' meet-up.

Signing the original charter of the Safari Club in Kenya were Count Alexandre de Marenches, director of the French Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage (SDECE) foreign intelligence agency; Kamal Adham, the chief of Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah, the Saudi intelligence service; Egyptian Intelligence Service director, General Kamal Hassan Aly; Ahmed Dlimi, the head of Morocco's intelligence service; and General Nematollah Nassiri, the head of Iran's SAVAK intelligence agency. There are indications, but no actual proof, that the head of Israel's Mossad, Yitzhak Hofi, took part in the first Safari Club meeting in Kenya.


Brief history of the Ukrainians

Historical Map of Ukraine
Ukraine is an East European territory which was originally forming a western part of the Russian Empire from the mid-17th century. That is a present-day independent state and separate ethnolinguistic nation as a typical example of Benedict Anderson's theory-model of the "imagined community" - a self-constructed idea of the artificial ethnic and linguistic-cultural identity. Before 2014 Ukraine was a home of some 46 million inhabitants of whom, according to the official data, there were around 77 percent of those who declared themselves as the Ukrainians. Nevertheless, many Russians do not consider the Ukrainians or the Belarus as "foreign" but rather as the regional branches of the Russian nationality. It is a matter of fact that, differently to the Russian case, the national identity of the Belarus or the Ukrainians was never firmly fixed as it was always in the constant process of changing and evolving [on the Ukrainian self-identity construction, see: Karina V. Korostelina, Constructing the Narratives of Identity and Power: Self-Imagination in a Young Ukrainian Nation, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2014].

The process of self-constructing identity of the Ukrainians after 1991 is basically oriented vis-à-vis Ukraine's two most powerful neighbors: Poland and Russia. In the other words, the self-constructing Ukrainian identity (like the Montenegrin or the Belarus) is able so far just to claim that the Ukrainians are not both the Poles or the Russians but what they really are is of a great debate. Therefore, an existence of an independent state of Ukraine, nominally as a national state of the Ukrainians, is of a very doubt indeed from both perspectives: historical and ethnolinguistic.