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Wed, 17 Oct 2018
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Bad Guys

Wall Street's 'James Bond of money' and the killer bag lady

Nicholas Deak

New clues and a powerful Wall St. skeptic challenge the official story of CIA financier Nick Deak’s brutal murder
On the morning of Nov. 19, 1985, a wild-eyed and disheveled homeless woman entered the reception room at the legendary Wall Street firm of Deak-Perera. Carrying a backpack with an aluminum baseball bat sticking out of the top, her face partially hidden by shocks of greasy, gray-streaked hair falling out from under a wool cap, she demanded to speak with the firm's 80-year-old founder and president, Nicholas Deak.

The 44-year-old drifter's name was Lois Lang. She had arrived at Port Authority that morning, the final stop on a month-long cross-country Greyhound journey that began in Seattle. Deak-Perera's receptionist, Frances Lauder, told the woman that Deak was out. Lang became agitated and accused Lauder of lying. Trying to defuse the situation, the receptionist led the unkempt woman down the hallway and showed her Deak's empty office. "I'll be in touch," Lang said, and left for a coffee shop around the corner. From her seat by a window, she kept close watch on 29 Broadway, an art deco skyscraper diagonal from the Bowling Green Bull.

Deak-Perera had been headquartered on the building's 20th and 21st floors since the late 1960s. Nick Deak, known as "the James Bond of money," founded the company in 1947 with the financial backing of the CIA. For more than three decades the company had functioned as an unofficial arm of the intelligence agency and was a key asset in the execution of U.S. Cold War foreign policy. From humble beginnings as a spook front and flower import business, the firm grew to become the largest currency and precious metals firm in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. But on this day in November, the offices were half-empty and employees few. Deak-Perera had been decimated the year before by a federal investigation into its ties to organized crime syndicates from Buenos Aires to Manila. Deak's former CIA associates did nothing to interfere with the public takedown. Deak-Perera declared bankruptcy in December 1984, setting off panicked and sometimes violent runs on its offices in Latin America and Asia.

Comment: See also: Taking down their own asset: CIA-drug money laundering and the assassination of Nicholas Deak


Archaeology

Archaeologists discover evidence of ancient Italian hemp fiber production in skeletal teeth

bronze age teeth
© d'Aversa.Sperduti et al. 2018 / American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Two right maxillary lateral incisors from females with striations, from the Bronze Age cemetery of Gricignano
In a new analysis of thousands of teeth from ancient skeletons buried at a site near Naples, Italy, archaeologists have discovered that people were using their mouths to help with their work -- occupations that likely involved processing hemp into string and fabric.

We all use our teeth as tools -- to open bottles, hold pieces of paper, or even smoke a pipe. When we do this, we open ourselves up to the possibility of cracking our teeth but also create microscopic grooves and injuries to the enamel surface. Since teeth don't remodel like bones do, these tiny insults remain over our entire lives.

To archaeologists, the pattern of tooth use that occurs from actions other than chewing is called AIDM -- activity-induced dental modification -- and can reveal cultural information about a person's life, diet, and occupation. For decades, archaeologists have investigated AIDM and found interesting patterns in Neandertals and other prehistoric human populations that are suggestive of ancient artifact production.

Bad Guys

Taking down their own asset: CIA-drug money laundering and the assassination of Nicholas Deak

Lois Lang, Assassination Nicholas Deak

Lois Lang, the contract assassin who killed Nicholas Deak and his receptionist Frances Lauder in November 1985. Lang is serving out her sentence in Bedford Hills prison in upstate New York. This is the last known photograph of Lang, a onetime college homecoming queen and UC Santa Barbara women's tennis team coach.
With the release of the new Gary Webb film "Kill The Messenger" and the sudden renewed interest in what goes on in that dark underbelly of the US Empire - drug running, money laundering, death squads, assassinations of lives and of reputations - I'm reminded of the incredible life and death of Nicholas Deak, the CIA's Cold War banker hailed in Time magazine as "the James Bond of the world of money" until the mid-1980s, when his global finance empire was destroyed by Reagan Administration accusations of large-scale Latin American drug money laundering.


The Reagan Commission on Organized Crime spent much of 1984 attacking Deak's global foreign exchange firm, Deak-Perera. By the end of the year, Deak was forced to appear before the commission in a testy public interrogation; his financial empire collapsed within days.

A year later, in 1985, Deak was assassinated in his Wall Street high-rise by a paranoid-schizophrenic bag lady from Seattle, who'd been hired for the job by Latin American mobsters, according to a private internal investigation led by former FBI detectives. The assassin, Lois Lang (pictured above), had previously spent several murky years in the underbelly of Silicon Valley, where she fell under the care of a famous Stanford Research Institute psychiatrist, Frederick Melges - an expert on dosing his subjects with drugs and hypnosis to induce "artificial" dissociative states. Perhaps not surprisingly, Dr. Melges was up to his eyeballs in secret CIA behavior modification programs that were going on at Stanford until they were exposed in Congressional hearings in 1977. [For more on this stranger-than-fiction story, read "James Bond and the Killer Bag Lady" co-authored with Alexander Zaitchik.]

Nicholas Deak's end came fast. Exactly thirty years ago, in 1984, his global financial empire, Deak-Perera, was accused by the Reagan Administration of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars of Colombian drug cartel cash.

Comment: The Truth Perspective: Interview with Douglas Valentine: The CIA As Organized Crime


Horse

Steppe sons: The Aryans did not come from India, they conquered it

sanskrit
A CENTURY and a half ago linguists invented a new map of the world. Their research showed that a single family tree stretches its branches almost unbroken across most of Eurasia: from Iceland to Bangladesh, most people speak languages descended from "Proto-Indo-European". The philologists had a theory to explain why Sanskrit, the ancient forebear of Hindi, has closer cousins in Europe than in south India. They speculated that at some point before the composition of the Vedas, the oldest texts of Hinduism, an Aryan people had migrated into India from the north-west, while their kin pushed westward into Europe.

Long before the Nazis dreamed of an exalted master race, imperialists seized on what some dubbed the "Aryan invasion" theory to paint Britain's rule of India as the extension of a "natural" order. Indians, too, found a use for it. Caste-bound Hindu conservatives declared that the paler-skinned intruders must be ancestors of higher-caste Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Such talk stirred a backlash in southern India, where generally darker-skinned speakers of Dravidian languages were urged to see themselves as a separate nation.

Hindu nationalists took a different tack. The West, some said, had made up the theory to set Hindus against each other. Christian missionaries and communists were using it to stoke caste hatred and so to recruit followers, they claimed. Worse, the theory challenged an emerging vision of Mother India as a sacred Hindu homeland. If the first speakers of Sanskrit and the creators of the Vedas had themselves been intruders, it was harder to portray later Muslim and Christian invaders as violators of a purity that good Hindus should seek to restore. So it was that some proposed an alternative "Out of India" theory. This held that the original Aryans were in fact Indians, who carried their Indo-European language and superior civilisation to the West.

Comment: One wonders whether there were any particular driving forces behind the migrations:


Archaeology

Sandstone sphinx dating from last dynasty of ancient Egypt uncovered in Aswan

sandstone sphinx disovered Aswan
© Ministry of Antiquities Handout / Reuters
The sandstone statue of the mythical beast, which has the head of a human and the body of a lion, most likely dates back to the Ptolemaic era.
A sandstone sphinx, believed to date from the last dynasty of ancient Egypt, was uncovered by archaeologists as they drained water from a temple in the southern city of Aswan.

The team were working on reducing the groundwater level in Kom Ombo temple in Aswan when they made the discovery, the antiquities ministry confirmed.


Attention

So what if Braveheart isn't historically accurate - its an inspirational story of rebellion and courage against foreign occupation

Braveheart
It is said that we learn something new every day. That maxim was certainly underlined this week for me.

On the eve of the annual Hope Over Fear Independence Rally in Glasgow, the 6th I have had the pleasure of co-organising, the Organising Committee announced we intended to provide some pre-Rally entertainment by using our Big Screen to show an edited version of the Hollywood Blockbuster Braveheart.

It would be shown before the official rally started to occupy those who always turn up early and help set the mood for the day. For those who don't know it is a movie which purports to portray the life of a Scottish Freedom Fighter from the 13th Century called William Wallace.

Many in Scotland had hardly heard of him before the film, including me. He wasn't in my history or modern studies lessons. In fact, despite being quite inquisitive at school and associating myself with left-wing views from an early age I hadn't heard about William Wallace very much at all.

The William Wallace I was familiar with was the Glasgow Celtic forward who achieved immortality as a Lisbon Lion playing in the first British team to ever win the European Cup in 1967.

Comment: Scotland's choice: Baby boxes vs ballistic bombs


Crusader

Legends of a medieval female pope may be true

Pope Joan
© The New York Public Library
This miniature artwork shows Pope Joan, who has just given birth to an infant during a Church procession.
Medieval legends claim that Pope Joan was the first and only female pope. And now, an analysis of ancient silver coins suggests that the ordained woman may have actually lived.

According to legends from the Middle Ages, a pope named John, or Johannes Anglicus, who reigned during the middle of the ninth century, was actually a woman, Pope Joan. For instance, a story from the 13th century written by a Dominican monk from Poland named Martin claimed that Pope Joan became pregnant and gave birth during a church procession.

However, there is much debate over whether a pope named Johannes Anglicus existed, much less whether this pope was a man or woman. The doubt stems in part from the great deal of confusion over the identities of popes during the middle of the ninth century. For example, in the oldest surviving copy of the Liber Pontificalis, the official book of biographies of popes during the early Middle Ages, "Pope Benedict III is missing entirely," study author Michael Habicht, an archaeologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, told Live Science.

Discovering whether Pope Joan existed may not only solve a religious and historical mystery, but also factor in to modern arguments over the role of women in the church. "The debate on female ordination in the church is still ongoing," Habicht said.

Now, Habicht has suggested that symbols on medieval coins show that Pope Johannes Anglicus may have existed, and so, Pope Joan may have been real as well. "The coins really turned the tables in favor of a covered-up but true story," Habicht said.

Display

Computer science professor says old websites vanish every day: 'We lose far more than we save'

computer screens
© Pixabay
The internet was created in the early 1990s and since then billions of website pages and blogs have been created. Sputnik spoke to Dame Wendy Hall, a professor of computer science, about the early days of the web and also about the importance of archiving pages before they are consigned to the online dustbin.

Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web at CERN in Switzerland in Christmas 1990 but for the next 10 years, before Google was launched, people struggled to find what they were looking for on the "internet".

"I first met Tim in December 1990 in Paris when he was just beginning to get the web ready to make available. They key thing about the web was that standards were open and ubiquitous and free, it was not proprietary," Dame Wendy Hall, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, told Sputnik.

Yoda

Debunking Churchill: It's time to face the painful truth that Winston's vanity and recklessness cost countless British lives and lost the empire

Churchill
© Getty Images
Debunking Churchill: It's time we faced the unpalatable truth that Winston's vanity and recklessness cost countless British lives and lost us our empire
Sir Winston Churchill was the towering figure of the Second World War. He was the one who did most to shape our idea of what actually took place in those terrible years of conflict.

He is one of the main reasons why we like to think it was a 'Good War'.

The passion and parables of his war are nowadays better known than those of the Bible. Instead of the triumphal ride into Jerusalem, the Last Supper and the betrayal at Gethsemane, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, we have a modern substitute: Winston the outcast prophet in the wilderness, living on cigars and champagne rather than locusts and wild honey, but slighted, exiled and prophetic all the same.

As a child, I studied many patriotic accounts of the war, my favourite being a cartoon strip produced by the boys' weekly The Eagle, called The Happy Warrior. This cast Churchill as a sort of superhero who was somehow always right amid an unending succession of disasters that mysteriously ended in a final triumph. It would be many years before I understood how wrong this treasured picture was, and I still find it painful to acknowledge.

Book 2

When Khrushchev toured America: 'No sour cabbage soup for these people'

Nikita Khrushchev
© Getty Images
Nikita Khrushchev tastes his first American hot dog, September, 22, 1959.
In September 1959, Nikita Khrushchev became the first Soviet leader to visit America. It was a remarkable event and a seminal moment in the Cold War.

Born in 1894 the son of poor peasants in Russia, Khrushchev's life charts what is arguably the most dramatic period in Russian history, straddling the First World War, the 1917 February and October revolutions, the 1918-1922 civil war that ensued thereafter, the upheavals of the 1920s, followed by the five year plans and purges of the 1930s.

It also takes in the Second World War and the post-Stalin period, a period in which Khrushchev was personally and politically central with his infamous 1956 'secret speech' to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in Moscow.