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Sun, 22 Apr 2018
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Secret History

Snow Globe

The story behind Moscow's nuclear missile shield

© Unknown
The most heavily defended city in the world is not Washington, DC. It's Moscow. While the District of Columbia has legions of Secret Service and Homeland Security police defending it, the Russian capital is the only one in the world - that we know of - defended with nuclear-tipped missiles. It's all the result of an exception built into a forty-four-year-old arms control treaty.

Star of David

Could Vietnam have been a holocaust for Zion?

Vietnam memorial
© shutterstock
Vietnam Memorial
The latest Steven Spielberg film, The Pentagon Papers, made me wonder about the historical significance of this glorious episode of whistleblowing and victorious struggle for freedom of the press. The leaking and publishing in 1971, by the New York Times then the Washington Post, of excerpts from this 7000-page classified report on the Vietnam War (requested by Robert McNamara before leaving the Department of Defense in 1967) is comparable to the exposure by the same Washington Post of the Watergate scandal one year later. The Watergate scandal passes today as evidence of the independence of the American media as a necessary counter-power against government abuses. But in reality, it simply illustrates the increasing involvement of the media in deep political warfare.

Likewise we must go beyond the public and Spielbergian narratives on the Pentagon Papers to understand what was really at stake. In both scandals, I believe the leadership of both the New York Times and the Washington Post, the two biggest propaganda machines in the US, were acting not only in the service of truth, but also in service of a power deeper than the deep state they were exposing. After all, there are so many truths to choose from to make the front pages. And in matters of foreign policy, many suspect that the final choice is often determined by the ultimate question: Is it good for Israel?

In this article, I am not going to demonstrate, but simply hypothesize, that the leaking and revelation of the Pentagon Papers, and more broadly the role of the media establishment in the anti-Vietnam movement, were in the interest of Israel. At that moment Israel was starting to face a unified international front against its illegal occupation. There was a real threat that the US would force Israel to withdraw, as required by UN Resolution 242. But I will go further and suggest that the Vietnam War itself, not just the protest against it, served the interests of Israel, regardless of other factors that motivated it. There is, of course, no contradiction between these two theses, since the anti-Vietnam-war movement presupposes the Vietnam war. Significantly, until around 1969, the Washington Post's editorials were unequivocally pro-war.


1967 war: How Israel came to occupy and oppress the whole of Palestine

Israeli leaders 1967
© Getty Images
Israeli leaders after the capture of East Jerusalem at the the Dome of the Rock in the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in June, 1967
Palestinians are marking 50 years since the 1967 occupation of their remaining lands this week.

Fifty years ago this week, the state of Israel shocked the world when it seized the remaining Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights, and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, in a matter of six days.

In a war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria, known as the 1967 War, or the June War, Israel delivered what came to be known as the "Naksa", meaning setback or defeat, to the armies of the neighbouring Arab countries, and to the Palestinians who lost all what remained of their homeland.

The Naksa was a continuation of a prior central event that paved the way for the 1967 war. Nineteen years earlier, in 1948, the state of Israel came into being in a violent process that entailed the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Israel map

In the 1967 War, Israel took control of the shaded areas of the Egyptian Sinai, Syrian Golan Heights, and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Comment: Listen to Israel-Palestinian conflict expert Norman G. Finkelstein discuss the historical and contemporary implications of the 1967 War:


World's largest dinosaur unearthed in Scotland

dino print
© University of Edinburgh/PA Wire
The 170 million-year-old tracks were made in a muddy lagoon off the north-east coast of what is now the Isle of Skye.
Rare dinosaur footprints belonging to the largest animal to ever roam the planet have been found in Scotland. Dozens of the 170 million-year-old fossils, belonging to early sauropods, have been unearthed in a muddy lagoon on the Isle of Skye.

Sauropods grew to be at least 49ft (15 metres) long and weighed more than 10 tonnes. Footprints from theropods - the "older cousins" of Tyrannosaurus rex who stood at two metres tall - were also found.

They are thought to be the oldest dinosaur fossils ever found in Scotland. Another set of footprints were also found on Skye in 2015, but are slightly younger and slightly smaller.

Geologists say the new finds are important as evidence from the Middle Jurassic period is rare, and few such fossil sites have been found around the world.

The discovery adds to growing evidence the prehistoric reptiles were widespread on Skye at a pivotal time in their evolution.


The Medieval warm period and how grapes grew where polar bears now roam

Vineyards In Russia, Norway, N England (55°N)
© Wiki
1-2°C Warmer Medieval Times Supported Wine Vineyards In Russia, Norway, N England (55°N)
Canada's stable-to-increasing polar bear population extends its range slightly further south of the 55th parallel (York et al., 2016).

cliamte medieval vineyards
© York et al., 2016
According to published geological evidence from the 1950s, remnants of wine grape vineyards have been unearthed in regions as far north as the polar-bear-inhabiting 55th parallel during the Medieval Warm Period (~800s to 1300s AD).

Comment: As the data shows, our planet experiences cycles of warming and cooling:

Heart - Black

How the US Navy poisoned San Franciscans in 1950 chemical weapons experiment, killing one

san francisco chemical weapons
Many Americans would not be surprised to hear that the United States government conducted one of the largest human experiments in history by simulating a chemical attack on thousands of unsuspecting individuals. But that attack was carried out in San Francisco, California, and the people who died and were seriously injured as a result were poisoned by their own government.

In 1950, the U.S. government carried out this attack by spraying the city of San Francisco with the microbe Serratia marcescensin an attack that targeted thousands of innocent civilians. Discover Magazine reported that the experiment was conducted as a "vulnerability test to identify susceptible regions in the event of a biological terrorist attack."

The attack was called "Operation Sea-Spray" and San Francisco was chosen as the target because it is close to the ocean and because it has a unique geography, tall buildings, and dense population.

For six days in September 1950, the United States Navy used giant hoses to spray clouds of Serratia along the San Francisco coastline, which resulted in the city's 800,000 residents receiving heavy doses of the chemical. It is also estimated that residents in the neighboring communities of Albany, Berkeley, Daly City, Colma, Oakland, San Leandro, and Sausalito, were exposed to it.

Star of David

A brief history of Israeli terror in Palestine

Palestine Israel massacre

Child killed at Qana, 2006, during Israeli airstrike.
It would be nice to think that, as an Israeli officer once put it, "This time we went too far" - that the killings of 17 unarmed protesters in Gaza by Israeli riflers across a security fence on Friday would cause the world to sanction Israel for its conduct. But if you look over Israel's history, you find that the massacre has been a ready tool in the Israeli war-chest; and Israelis have not been prosecuted for carrying them out. Indeed, a couple of those responsible later became prime minister!

Here, largely from my own memory, is a rapidly-assembled list of massacres, defined by Webster's as the killing of a "number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty" (and yes, a couple precede the birth of the state).

1946. Zionist militias blow up the south wing of the King David Hotel, killing 91 people, most of them civilians, in order to protest British rule of Palestine.

Comment: Further reading:


The destruction of ancient Rome - The barbarians were not responsible

Destruction of Rome
© Malaga Bay
Rodolfo Lanciani was an archaeologist who produced "unsurpassed" plans of Ancient Rome.
Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani (1845 - 1929) was an Italian archaeologist, a pioneering student of ancient Roman topography, and among his many excavations was that of the House of the Vestals in the Roman Forum.

Ancient Rome
© Malaga Bay
Lanciani's great work was the production of a map of the ancient city of Rome.

The work was realized as a set of 46 very detailed maps of ancient Rome issued in 1893-1901, which remains unsurpassed to this day, even if there have been many new discoveries since.



Professor John Erickson: 'Edinburgh Conversations' with Russians

Professor John Erickson
© Unknown
As Edinburgh University today hosts the annual Erickson Lecture, it is a good moment to reflect on the remarkable contribution of Professor John Erickson (1929-2002) to easing tensions between Russia and the West during the original Cold War.[1]

Erickson was the initiator of a nine-year series of meetings through the 1980s that came to be known as the Edinburgh Conversations. With the wholehearted support of the University's principal, Erickson created a 'back channel', away from politicking and press, which allowed Western and Soviet admirals and generals to engage face-to-face for open and mutually respectful dialogue in a neutral setting. According to parliamentarian Tam Dalyell, this initiative 'singlehandedly kept open contact with the Soviet high command and the Soviet military when times were at their most edgy.' Erickson himself ensured that the meetings - typically lasting about three days - were conducted strictly under 'academic rules'. (In Erickson's view, 'good scholarship is good morality.') This allowed them to proceed in good spirit, despite the tensions of the time. The series of Conversations continued for nine years, with the venue for annual meetings alternating between Edinburgh and Moscow.


Built to last! The roads of Ancient Rome

Roman Empire

The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117–138), showing the network of main Roman roads.
The Romans were renowned as great engineers and this is evident in the many structures that they left behind. One particular type of construction that the Romans were famous for is their roads. It was these roads, which the Romans called viae, that enabled them to build and maintain their empire. How did they create this infrastructure that has withstood the passing of time better than most its modern counterparts?

Roads of All Kinds

It has been calculated that the network of Roman roads covered a distance of over 400,000 km (248,548.47 miles), with more than 120,000 km (74,564.54 miles) of this being of the type known as 'public roads'. Spreading across the Romans' vast empire from Great Britain in the north to Morocco in the south, and from Portugal in the west to Iraq in the East, they allowed people and goods to travel quickly from one part of the empire to another.

Comment: Ancient Rome was unparalleled in its time, not only because of military might and bloody conquests, but also because of its technological ingenuity which allowed the former empire to expand beyond the scope of previous ones that came before it. For more on some of the history of Rome, see also: