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Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese intelligence officer who for 29 years after the end of World War II continued to hide, fight and kill in the jungles of the Philippines because he did not believe the war was over, has died.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/01/17/263350879/japanese-soldier-who-fought-on-for-29-years-after-wwii-dies

Japan's Onoda died Thursday in a Tokyo hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia. He was 91. The newspaper sums up the story of Onoda's post-war years this way:

"[Onoda] He was deployed to Lubang island in the Philippines to fight the Allied forces. In 1945, Onoda came across pamphlets dropped on the island by the U.S. military that said the war had ended. ... He thought it was a trick by the United States. He continued using his guerrilla tactics in the belief that the war was still not over.

"In 1974, Norio Suzuki, an adventurer who traveled extensively, encountered Onoda on the island. Suzuki explained that the war was long over, but Onoda responded: 'I will not quit fighting unless there is an order that relieves me of my duty.'

"Onoda returned to Japan in March 1974 after his wartime commander landed on the island and ordered Onoda to lay down his arms."

Onoda "was greeted as a hero on his return to Japan." He's thought to have been among the last Japanese soldiers from World War II to surrender. The BBC says that:

"Three other soldiers were with him at the end of the war. One emerged from the jungle in 1950 and the other two died, one in a 1972 clash with local troops. ...

"Private Teruo Nakamura, a soldier from Taiwan who served in the Japanese army, was found growing crops alone on the Indonesian island of Morotai in December 1974. Mr Nakamura was repatriated to Taiwan where he died in 1979."

As for why he refused to give up for so long, Onoda once had this to say: "."

During the nearly 30 years Onoda spent on the island, , he and the three others who were with him for some or much of that time "evaded American and Filipino search parties and attacked islanders they took to be enemy guerrillas; about 30 inhabitants were killed in skirmishes with the Japanese over the years."

Once he was persuaded to give up, Onoda was taken to Manila. "Wearing his tattered uniform, [he] presented his sword to President Marcos, who pardoned him for crimes committed while he thought he was at war," the Times says.

Onoda spent some of his later years in Brazil, managing a ranch. In 1980, the Asahi Shimbun says, he "learned that a youth studying to enter university murdered his parents with a baseball bat in Kanagawa Prefecture. Onoda decided to return to Japan to teach children how to become strong enough to overcome their difficulties."

Generally considered to be the first great war of the 20th century, the conflict saw Russia and Japan – the two dominant nations in north-east Asia – battle for control over Korea and Manchuria.

But why did the war break out, and what is its historical significance? Here, Dr Philip Towle from the University of Cambridge tells you everything you need to know about the conflict.

Q: When and why did the Russo-Japanese War break out?

A: It broke out on 8 February 1904. The Russians and Japanese had been jostling for some years for control over Korea and Manchuria, which they both regarded as strategically and economically important.

At the start of the war, the Japanese navy launched a surprise attack on the Russian fleet moored outside Port Arthur in Manchuria, and also began landing troops at Chemulpo in Korea.

Q: Why is it so little remembered in Europe?

A: Its impact was blunted by the greater conflict that broke out in Europe 10 years later. But it is still remembered in Japan and, to a lesser extent, in Russia. It is certainly not because the war was unimportant politically or militarily.

Monday 3rd February 2014 Submitted by Emma McFarnon
http://www.historyextra.com/feature/your-60-second-guide-russo-japanese-war

Q: Who won the war?

A: The Japanese won every battle. The Russian naval forces based in Port Arthur were rattled by the losses they suffered in February 1904, and even more so by the death of their most charismatic commander, Admiral Stepan Makarov, when his flagship was blown up by a mine in April 1904.

Their ships spent much of the time in harbour before trying to escape on 10 August 1904 round the Korean peninsula to Vladivostok in Russia’s far eastern provinces. In the ensuing battle of the Yellow Sea, the flagship, Tsarevitch, was badly damaged, and the battle line fell into confusion before retreating to harbour.

Eventually the fleet was destroyed by the Japanese forces besieging Port Arthur from the landside, and the port itself surrendered in January 1905. The Russians sent another fleet to the far east to redeem the situation but, after an epic voyage, that too was obliterated by the Japanese at the battle of Tsushima in May 1905.

Q: Were the Japanese as successful on land?

A: Almost: they advanced from Korea across the Yalu river into Manchuria and, whenever the Russians tried to stand and fight, the Japanese outflanked them and forced them to retreat along their supply line, the railway to the north.

The two most important battles, at Liaoyang in August 1904 and Mukden in March 1905, were won by Japanese encircling movements, the quality of their artillery and the superior courage and training of their soldiers.

Q: What was the historical significance of the war, and what were the long-term effects?

A: The Japanese victory greatly encouraged nationalism in Asia and Africa. It was the first war in which a non-European nation had defeated a great European power using all the resources of modern technology.

Paradoxically, the war showed that Japan was bent on imperial expansion in Asia just when the European powers were starting to appreciate the nationalist threats to their empires. The Japanese were able to assert their control over Korea after the war, but only in the face of stiff guerrilla resistance by the Korean people, leading to bitter hatred that still poisons Japanese-Korean relations.

The war raised the international profile of the United States. It was President Theodore Roosevelt who convened the conference at Portsmouth in the USA that brought the war to a close in September 1905, and earned the president the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Russia the war led to revolts that presaged the revolution of 1917, and showed how politically destabilising defeat would be in future conflicts. The only part of the Russian state that had performed effectively was the Trans-Siberian Railway, which had kept hundreds of thousands of troops supplied thousands of miles from St Petersburg.

The war demonstrated the general weakness of old-fashioned autocracies, like Russia, which could not mobilise the support of the whole people – every European autocrat involved in the First World War was to be overthrown.

The war also showed some signs of bogging down in the sort of stalemate that bedevilled the fighting in the First World War, although this was not so obvious at the time because the armies involved were much smaller, and the Japanese were so superior to their Russian enemies.

The war was also a poor guide to future Japanese attitudes to the Law of War and humanitarianism. In 1904–05 they treated Russian prisoners and wounded with respect, but by the Second World War they no longer felt bound by such ‘western’ conventions.

Altogether then, the Russo-Japanese War was an ominous opening to the 20th century for the European powers, demonstrating how power was shifting to the United States and to other non-European nations, and how fragile many of the monarchies had become.

St. Petersburg, Russia, March 3, 1861

Four thousand miles from where President-elect Abraham Lincoln was counting down the final hours before his inauguration, the leader of a very different nation prepared for the most momentous day of his reign. Czar Alexander II rose before dawn and, dressed in his favorite cherry-red dressing gown, stood contemplatively by the window, watching the pale light grow in the square outside the Winter Palace. This morning he would set 23 million of his subjects free.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/the-other-emancipation-proclamation/

Alexander II of Russia in an 1871 engraving after a portrait by the American artist Alonzo Chappel. Chappel also painted several well known images of Lincoln.Library of Congress Alexander II of Russia in an 1871 engraving after a portrait by the American artist Alonzo Chappel. Chappel also painted several well known images of Lincoln.

The tall, bewhiskered Russian emperor differed in many respects from the tall, bewhiskered Illinois lawyer. He had been born not into frontier obscurity, but amid the salutes of cannons and the festive tolling of the Kremlin’s bells. The two men would never meet, although they would exchange a number of letters, which they would sign “Your good friend, Alexander” and “Your good friend, A. Lincoln.”

Yet when Alexander signed his emancipation decree on the eve of Lincoln’s inauguration, 150 years ago today, the coincidence of timing hinted at deeper connections. In fact, the czar’s liberation of Russia’s serfs may even have lent momentum to the forces that would soon liberate America’s slaves.

Comparisons between the two systems were already familiar to Americans of every region and party. In 1858 the Georgia proslavery apologist Thomas Cobb listed certain alleged similarities between Russian serfs and American blacks: “They are contented with their lot and seek no change. They are indolent, constitutionally .… They are filthy in their persons, and in their rude huts; exhibiting, in all their handiworks, the ignorance of a savage and the stupidity of a dolt.” A Virginia writer, George Fitzhugh, wrote of the “cheerfulness” of the serfs and noted approvingly that Russia was, along with the American South, “the only conservative section of civilized christendom,” since it too kept its inferior classes in bondage. (He condemned all other Western nations, and the free states, as “socialist.”)

Northern leaders, on the other hand, pointed with shame to the fact that the world’s greatest democracy and its most infamous autocracy stood alone among major Western powers in retaining slavery. In 1850, no less a politician than William Seward, condemning Russia as “the most arbitrary Despotism, and most barbarous State in Europe,” asked rhetorically, “Shall we … select our institutions from the dominions of the Czar?” Five years later, Lincoln himself wrote to his old friend Joshua Speed:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.

There were both similarities and differences between the two versions of servitude. Russia’s serfs were bought and sold, although never on anything like the scale of America’s domestic slave trade. And serfs, too, were viciously flogged and sexually exploited; had few legal rights; and could make hardly any important decisions without their masters’ permission.

Two blind Russian peasants led by a small boy, 1861.Library of CongressTwo blind Russian peasants led by a small boy, 1861.

On the other hand, serfs were customarily required to labor for their masters only three days a week; the rest of the time they were free to work for their own benefit; Russian law even mandated certain minimum allotments of land for each family. (Unlike American slaves, they could also own real estate with their masters’ consent.) Serfs had not, of course, been kidnapped from their native country and thrust into the horrors of the Middle Passage. And the relatively static nature of Russia’s economy and society meant that serf families were far less vulnerable to sudden, arbitrary separations and dislocations.

Perhaps the most significant difference was that by the 1850s, America’s slave system was growing more and more rigid and confining while Russia’s was swiftly dissolving. Back in the 1780s, Catherine the Great – like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – had admitted that serfdom was wrong but done little to curtail it. But her 19th-century successors forbade the sale of serfs apart from the land on which they resided and made various other decrees protecting them from abuse (although these often went unenforced). By mid-century, fewer than half of Russia’s peasants lived as serfs.

No one was terribly surprised in 1856 when, barely a year into his reign, Alexander II announced to an assembly of noblemen, “I’ve decided to do it, gentlemen. If we don’t give the peasants freedom from above, they will take it from below.” After five more years of bureaucratic dithering among various commissions and committees, he finally determined to abolish serfdom the old-fashioned way: by imperial fiat.

Alexander chose Sunday, March 3, 1861, for his epochal act. (Under Russia’s antiquated Julian calendar, the date was reckoned as Feb. 19.) That morning, he prayed alone in the chapel of the Winter Palace, then attended a grand cathedral mass with his family. After breakfast, he went into his private study – separated by a curtain from his bedchamber – and sat down at a desk piled high with papers. Atop this heap lay the historic manifesto that would grant the serfs their freedom in two years’ time. The czar crossed himself, dipped his pen in an inkwell and signed.

He waited another couple of weeks to announce this decree to the nation and the world. Some of Alexander’s advisors predicted that the serfs, emboldened by the news, would stage a revolution. Others feared that the serf-holding aristocrats would try to overthrow him. Civil wars had been fought in Russia over far less. Wisely, though, the czar had decided to grant land to the newly freed families and reparations to the aristocrats (many of whom promptly decamped with their windfall to live the good life in Paris or Biarritz). In the end, calm prevailed.

Across the Atlantic, however, the news from Russia made waves in an already turbulent political sea. Just a few days before the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Horace Greeley wrote in the New-York Tribune:

The Manifesto of the Czar is throughout in most striking contrast to the recent Manifestoes of the leaders of the rebel slaveholders in this country. [The Confederates] with brutal coolness doom a whole race to eternal bondage …. The Russian autocrat, on the other hand, admits that man has certain rights …. The whole world and all succeeding ages will applaud the Emperor Alexander for the abolition of Slavery in Russia. But what does the world think, what will future generations think, of the attempt to make Slavery perpetual in America?

Despite the two nations’ vast cultural and political differences, some of the same forces were operating in both. Like the United States, 19th-century Russia was expanding aggressively across a continent, building railroads and telegraph lines as fast as it could, and guzzling foreign capital in the process. Those same new technologies had also broken down the geographic isolation of both countries. What the rest of the world thought – especially regarding slavery and serfdom – suddenly mattered more than ever.

Related Civil War Timeline

Fort Sumter

An unfolding history of the Civil War with photos and articles from the Times archive and ongoing commentary from Disunion contributors.

In the months that followed Alexander’s decree, Americans watched intently to see what the reaction within Russia would be. Eventually news came of certain scattered disturbances among the peasants, who were impatient with the two-year delay of their freedom. In November 1861, Greeley’s Tribune suggested that this proved “how delicate a business is partial emancipation.” Overall, the paper concluded, it showed that nothing less than instantaneous and total emancipation would suffice in America: “In dealing with our own problem, it concerns us to consider alike the encouragement and the warning of [Russia’s] example.”

As for the czar, he too was peering across the ocean. In July, his foreign minister sent a communiqué to the Russian envoy in Washington, expressing the strongest support of the Union cause yet offered by any European power:

For the more than 80 years that it has existed, the American Union owes its independence, its towering rise, and its progress, to the concord of its members, consecrated, under the auspices of its illustrious founder, by institutions which have been able to reconcile union with liberty …. In all cases, the American Union may count on the most heart-felt sympathy on the part of the [czar] in the course of the serious crisis which the Union is currently going through.

To this document Alexander added a notation in his own hand: “So be it.”

The modern-day Russian historian Edvard Radzinsky, an admirer of Alexander, has called him “a reformer for a new kind for Russia – a two-faced Janus, one head looking forward while the other looked back longingly.” In this respect, Radzinsky has suggested, the czar resembled Mikhail Gorbachev. He might also have compared Alexander to Lincoln. Like the emperor, the president looked backward (toward America’s founding principles) as well as forward (toward a new birth of freedom). He used radical methods (freeing the slaves) to achieve conservative goals (preserving the Union).

When, more than a year after Alexander’s, Lincoln issued his own Emancipation Proclamation, it too was handed down as an executive decree from on high. (The president’s opponents assailed him as an “autocrat,” an “American Czar.”) It too proclaimed only partial freedom. And perhaps unwisely, Lincoln – unlike his Russian counterpart – provided neither compensation to the slaveholders nor land to the freedmen.

The czar outlived the president, but he too would fall by the hand of an assassin. On March 1, 1881 – nearly 20 years to the day after freeing the serfs – Alexander was riding through St. Petersburg in a closed carriage when two young radicals hurled bombs. The emperor, his legs torn to shreds and stomach ripped open, was carried back to his bedroom-study in the Winter Palace. Alexander died just a few feet from the spot where he had signed his decree of liberation.

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Sources: Edvard Radzinsky, “Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar”; Marilyn Pfeifer Swezey, ed., “The Tsar and the President: Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln, Liberator and Emancipator”; Thomas R.R. Cobb, “An Inquiry Into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States of America”; Drew Gilpin Faust, ed. “The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South, 1830-1860”; The North Star, March 22, 1850; New-York Tribune, Oct. 8, 1856, April 9, 1861, Nov. 13, 1861, and Feb. 14, 1863; Lincoln to Joshua Speed, Aug. 24, 1855; Terence Emmons, ed., “Emancipation of the Russian Serfs”; Peter Kolchin, “Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom”; Stephen Graham. “Tsar of Freedom: The Life and Reign of Alexander II”; New York Times, Oct. 15, 1861. Thanks to Washington College student Kathy Thornton for help with research.

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John Carlos: My Black Power salute at Mexico Olympics is as pertinent now as it was in 1968

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The Great Depression

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The Harlem Hellfighters

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The Harlem Hellfighters were an African-American infantry unit in WWI who spent more time in combat than any other American unit. Despite their courage, sacrifice and dedication to their country, they returned home to face racism and segregation from their fellow countrymen.

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The Storm that Swept Mexico

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What can history teach us about the unrest in Ukraine?

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By NEIL MacFARQUHAR APRIL 29, 2014 The New York Times
MOSCOW — Stand in a dark tunnel as a red light flashes overhead and an air raid siren howls.
Pose for a selfie in front of a wax sculpture of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, the tyrant who helped start the Cold War by insisting that Russia dominate its Eastern European neighbors.
Launch nuclear Armageddon — or at least a simulation of it — against the United States.
These and other thrills await at the Museum of the Cold War, once a curious, dusty junkyard of outdated electronic equipment that has recently gained a new lease on life. These days, scores of Russians and other visitors flock to the museum, in a retired nuclear bunker, drawn as much by history as by the sense that the combustible, post-World War II conflict between East and West has come roaring back to life.
Piotr Sukhinin, a 36-year-old computer salesman, stood recently in the spring sunshine outside the museum, located on a narrow street slanting down to the Moscow River.
“Right now we are facing quite a tense period in our history, and I thought my sons should know about the Cold War,” said Mr. Sukhinin, indicating two boys aged 8 and 6 standing nearby.
“Everything here speaks to the tension we had at that time and reminds us that it still exists,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t think it ever really ended. It was not on the front burner, but it was there in the shadows.”
Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March, along with continuing tensions over southeastern Ukraine, generated the Cold War’s Lazarus moment.
The crisis has conjured up the ghosts of infamous showdowns: Hungary, 1956; the Berlin Wall, 1961; the Cuban missile crisis, 1962; Prague, 1968.
Bits and pieces of them live on at the Museum of the Cold War. The bunker, the first built in Moscow to withstand a nuclear attack, was originally called Bunker 42. (The number refers to the military designation for its design.) Its main purpose was to house the strategic air command as well as Communications Ministry equipment for radio broadcasts to the vast Soviet bloc.
There was also an office for Stalin, who ordered it built but died three years before it became operational in 1956. More than a mile of tunnels, lined with steel plate almost half an inch thick, lie about 215 feet underground — a depth equivalent to an 18-story building. Construction was disguised as a subway station, and eventually a fake, two-story 19th-century apartment house, painted pale yellow, was built above it.
Deemed obsolete, the bunker was finally declassified in 1998. Restoration money petered out until the relic was sold and opened as a private museum in 2006. The curators and guides maintain a stony silence about who owns it.
But Cold War curiosity does not come cheap. Entry fees run to $40 a person.
The bunker was once so secret that photography was forbidden, according to the guides. The exhibits are a hodgepodge of military castoffs that hint at its past, including old uniforms, model airplanes, pilot gear, maps, electronic equipment and posters on topics like how to find shelter during a nuclear attack.
Small models of famous Tupolev strategic bombers, including the Tu-95, the Russian answer to the B-52, sit on a long meeting table covered in green felt that seats 44. The wax figure of Stalin dominates the office he never visited.
While the exhibits conjure up a different era, a lively debate is swirling through Russia about the Cold War redux. A poll conducted in March by the Levada Center, an independent polling agency, asked what level of threat a new version might bring. Among respondents, 10 percent said a very big threat; 38 percent said a fairly big threat; 34 percent thought not too big a threat; 6 percent said no threat; and 12 percent were undecided.
The young, especially those born after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, “know nothing about the Cold War,” said Natalya V. Zubarevich, a Moscow State University professor who specializes in social and political geography. “They only feel proud, ‘We are winners.’ ”
The triumphant mood has prompted braggadocio from some senior Russian officials about a new showdown. “Russians can adapt and survive much better than Americans and Europeans because for the past 20 years we have survived several crises,” said Sergei A. Zheleznyak, a deputy speaker of Russia’s Parliament, against whom the United States issued sanctions for encouraging Crimea’s annexation. “The people don’t like it, of course, but they know how to live in such conditions.”
The nuclear bunker was used just once, during the Cuban missile crisis. Some 2,500 air force officers and civilian communications specialists lived underground for 10 days, the guides said, bracing for World War III. Cuba spooked both sides enough that they developed Cold War manners and customs akin to medieval jousting.
“There were rules of the game during the last 20 years of the Cold War,” said Lilia Shevtsova, a historian and political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. The confrontation became less about war and more of a competition between the liberal, Western ideology and Communism.
Russian analysts say the Cold War never resolved the conflict over Eastern Europe. And Russia, which lost an estimated 20 million people in World War II, still regards countries like Ukraine as an essential strategic buffer.
“The Cold War was proclaimed as finished, but it was never finished,” said Sergei Karaganov, dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs. “There was a gray zone in Europe.”
The bunker tour can seem rather like current statements emanating from the Kremlin: a jumble of jingoism, nationalism and preaching about the benefits of ensuring peace through international law.
The guide allowed children sitting at old consoles to simulate firing nuclear-tipped, intercontinental ballistic missiles against the United States, a giant screen overhead showing mushroom clouds erupting above American cities. “We are trying to explain to people the horror of using nuclear weapons and the importance of peace in the world,” said the museum’s general manager, Igor V. Lavrenchuk, a retired air force lieutenant colonel.
As if to emphasize that point on peace, one tunnel was converted into a private banquet space with flashing disco lights, its own chef, and toilet signs shaped like bombs.
On one recent Saturday, an 11-year-old boy was having his birthday party there. “Maybe they can start using it again,” quipped Maarten van der Donk, a Dutch insurance executive collecting his son. “Definitely an unusual venue for a birthday.”
In another Cold War twist, the museum guide first denied the existence of the party space, then uttered a terse “I cannot confirm that” when asked about the stream of departing children.
If there is a certain nostalgia among Russians for their former weight on the world stage, there is none for its Cold War isolation, with citizens barred from traveling abroad and Western goods unavailable.
Olga Wildenhein, 42, a teacher from Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, said she visited the museum to learn about old state secrets. She left disappointed, she said, because none were revealed.
But the recap of the close brush with nuclear war over Cuba did strike a chord.
“I hope the world has developed by now and that people are wise enough not to continue this,” she said, and then cited a Khrushchev line from the tour: “We should not explode too powerful a bomb because we can break windows in our own house.” 

FIVE hundred years ago, on Dec. 10, 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli sent a letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, describing his day spent haggling with local farmers and setting bird traps for his evening meal. A typical day for the atypical letter writer, who had changed from his mud-splattered clothes to the robes he once wore as a high official in the Florentine republic.

Toward the end of the letter Machiavelli mentions for the first time a “little work” he was writing on politics. This little work was, of course, “The Prince.”

One of the remarkable things about “The Prince” is not just what Machiavelli wrote, but that he was able to write at all. Just 10 months earlier, he endured the “strappado”: Hands tied behind his back, he was strung to a prison ceiling and repeatedly plunged to the floor.

Having at the time just been given the task of overseeing the foreign policy and defense of his native city, he was thrown out of his office when the Medici family returned to power. The new rulers suspected him of plotting against them and wanted to hear what he had to say. Machiavelli prided himself on not uttering a word.

He may well have saved his words for “The Prince,” dedicated to a member of the family who ordered his torture: Lorenzo de Medici. With the book, Machiavelli sought to persuade Lorenzo that he was a friend whose experience in politics and knowledge of the ancients made him an invaluable adviser.

History does not tell us if Lorenzo bothered to read the book. But if he did, he would have learned from his would-be friend that there are, in fact, no friends in politics.

“The Prince” is a manual for those who wish to win and keep power. The Renaissance was awash in such how-to guides, but Machiavelli’s was different. To be sure, he counsels a prince on how to act toward his enemies, using force and fraud in war. But his true novelty resides in how we should think about our friends. It is at the book’s heart, in the chapter devoted to this issue, that Machiavelli proclaims his originality.

Set aside what you would like to imagine about politics, Machiavelli writes, and instead go straight to the truth of how things really work, or what he calls the “effectual truth.” You will see that allies in politics, whether at home or abroad, are not friends.

Perhaps others had been deluded about the distinction because the same word in Italian — “amici” — is used for both concepts. Whoever imagines allies are friends, Machiavelli warns, ensures his ruin rather than his preservation.

There may be no students more in need of this insight, yet less likely to accept it, than contemporary Americans, both in and outside the government. Like the political moralizers Machiavelli aims to subvert, we still believe a leader should be virtuous: generous and merciful, honest and faithful.

Yet Machiavelli teaches that in a world where so many are not good, you must learn to be able to not be good. The virtues taught in our secular and religious schools are incompatible with the virtues one must practice to safeguard those same institutions. The power of the lion and the cleverness of the fox: These are the qualities a leader must harness to preserve the republic.

For such a leader, allies are friends when it is in their interest to be. (We can, with difficulty, accept this lesson when embodied by a Charles de Gaulle; we have even greater difficulty when it is taught by, say, Hamid Karzai.) What’s more, Machiavelli says, leaders must at times inspire fear not only in their foes but even in their allies — and even in their own ministers.

What would Machiavelli have thought when President Obama apologized for the fiasco of his health care rollout? Far from earning respect, he would say, all he received was contempt. As one of Machiavelli’s favorite exemplars, Cesare Borgia, grasped, heads must sometimes roll. (Though in Borgia’s case, he meant it quite literally, though he preferred slicing bodies in half and leaving them in a public square.)

Machiavelli has long been called a teacher of evil. But the author of “The Prince” never urged evil for evil’s sake. The proper aim of a leader is to maintain his state (and, not incidentally, his job). Politics is an arena where following virtue often leads to the ruin of a state, whereas pursuing what appears to be vice results in security and well-being. In short, there are never easy choices, and prudence consists of knowing how to recognize the qualities of the hard decisions you face and choosing the less bad as what is the most good.

Those of us who see the world, if not in Manichaean, at least in Hollywoodian terms, will recoil at such claims. Perhaps we are right to do so, but we would be wrong to dismiss them out of hand. If Machiavelli’s teaching concerning friends and allies in politics is deeply disconcerting, it is because it goes to the bone of our religious convictions and moral conventions. This explains why he remains as reviled, but also as revered, today as he was in his own age.

John Scott and Robert Zaretsky are, respectively, the chairman of the department of political science at the University of California, Davis, and a professor of history at the University of Houston. They are the authors of “The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume and the Limits of Human Understanding.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/opinion/why-machiavelli-matters.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=1&pagewanted=print&

 
Women on a Top-Secret Mission in 'Atomic City'

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The former managing editor of Ebony magazine was inspired by 'Roots' author Alex Haley to write the story of his unusual childhood.

Hans Massaquoi, a former managing editor of Ebony magazine who wrote a distinctive memoir about his unusual childhood growing up black in Nazi Germany, died in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, his 87th birthday.

He had been hospitalized over the Christmas holidays, said his son, Hans J. Massaquoi Jr.

Inspired by the late Alex Haley, the author of "Roots," Massaquoi decided to share his experience of being "both an insider in Nazi Germany and, paradoxically, an endangered outsider." His autobiography, "Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany," was published in the U.S. in 1999, followed by a German translation.

Massaquoi was born Jan. 19, 1926, in the port city of Hamburg. His mother was a German nurse and his father the son of a Liberian diplomat. When his grandfather was recalled to Liberia, Massaquoi's father decided to return to Africa too, but his mother insisted on staying behind.

Living with his mother, Massaquoi grew up in working-class neighborhoods of Hamburg. There were other black Germans, but not many; some were offspring of European colonial troops who occupied the Rhineland after World War I.

In his book, he recounted a story from 1933, when he was in second grade. Wanting to show what a good German he was, Massaquoi said he cajoled his baby-sitter into sewing a swastika onto his sweater. When his mother spotted it that evening, she snipped it off, but a teacher had already taken a snapshot. Massaquoi, the only dark-skinned child in the photo, is also the only one wearing a swastika.

He wrote that one of his saddest moments as a child was when his homeroom teacher told him he couldn't join the Hitler Youth.

"Of course I wanted to join. I was a kid and most of my friends were joining," he said. "They had cool uniforms and they did exciting things — camping, parades, playing drums."

Germany was at war by the time he was a teenager, and he describes in the book the near-destruction of Hamburg during the Operation Gomorrah bombing attack in the summer of 1943.

Massaquoi had a theory to explain why he avoided deportation to concentration camps during the Nazi reign.

"Unlike Jews, blacks were so few in numbers that they were relegated to low-priority status in the Nazis' lineup for extermination," he said in a 2001 interview with London's Independent newspaper.

After the collapse of Germany at the end of the war, he played saxophone in clubs that catered to the American Merchant Marine and worked as a translator for the British occupying forces.

Eventually he left Germany, first joining his father's family in Liberia, before moving to Chicago on a student visa to attend an aviation mechanics school. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951 and served stateside during the Korean War. Afterward, he became a U.S. citizen, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois and began a career as a journalist.

He worked first for Jet magazine before moving to Chicago-based Ebony, where he rose to managing editor of the magazine aimed at African American readers.

Chicago author Studs Terkel interviewed Massaquoi for his 1984 book, "The Good War: An Oral History of World War II." By the late 1990s, approaching retirement, Massaquoi decided to tell his own story in an autobiography.

He was surprised by its reception in Germany.

"I had expected some interest there, but this has surpassed all my expectations," he told the Contra Costa Times in 2000. "I think the Germans want to get some closure about those years."

news.obits@latimes.com

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Her three successive names were signposts on a twisted, bewildering road that took her from Stalin’s Kremlin, where she was the “little princess,” to the West in a celebrated defection, then back to the Soviet Union in a puzzling homecoming, and finally to decades of obscurity, wandering and poverty.

At her birth, on Feb. 28, 1926, she was named Svetlana Stalina, the only daughter and last surviving child of the brutal Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin. After he died in 1953, she took her mother’s last name, Alliluyeva. In 1970, after her defection and an American marriage, she became and remained Lana Peters.

Ms. Peters died of colon cancer on Nov. 22 in Richland County, Wis., the county’s corporation counsel, Benjamin Southwick, said on Monday. She was 85.

Her death, like the last years of her life, occurred away from public view. There were hints of it online and in Richland Center, the Wisconsin town in which she lived, though a local funeral home said to be handling the burial would not confirm the death. A county official in Wisconsin thought she might have died several months ago. Phone calls seeking information from a surviving daughter, Olga Peters, who now goes by the name Chrese Evans, were rebuffed, as were efforts to speak to her in person in Portland, Ore., where she lives and works.

Ms. Peters’s initial prominence came only from being Stalin’s daughter, a distinction that fed public curiosity about her life across three continents and many decades. She said she hated her past and felt like a slave to extraordinary circumstances. Yet she drew on that past, and the infamous Stalin name, in writing two best-selling autobiographies.

Long after fleeing her homeland, she seemed to be still searching for something — sampling religions, from Hinduism to Christian Science, falling in love and constantly moving. Her defection took her from India, through Europe, to the United States. After moving back to Moscow in 1984, and from there to Soviet Georgia, friends told of her going again to America, then to England, then to France, then back to America, then to England again, and on and on. All the while she faded from the public eye.

Ms. Peters was said to have lived in a cabin with no electricity in northern Wisconsin; another time, in a Roman Catholic convent in Switzerland. In 1992, she was reported to be living in a shabby part of West London in a home for elderly people with emotional problems.

“You can’t regret your fate,” Ms. Peters once said, “although I do regret my mother didn’t marry a carpenter.”

‘Little Sparrow’

Her life was worthy of a Russian novel. It began with a loving relationship with Stalin, who had taken the name, meaning “man of steel,” as a young man. (He was born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili.) Millions died under his brutally repressive rule, but at home he called his daughter “little sparrow,” cuddled and kissed her, showered her with presents, and entertained her with American movies.

She became a celebrity in her country, compared to Shirley Temple in the United States. Thousands of babies were named Svetlana. So was a perfume.

At 18, she was setting the table in a Kremlin dining room when Churchill happened upon her. They had a spirited conversation.

But all was not perfect even then. The darkest moment of her childhood came when her mother, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin’s second wife, committed suicide in 1932. Svetlana, who was 6, was told that her mother had died of appendicitis. She did not learn the truth for a decade.

In her teenage years, her father was consumed by the war with Germany and grew distant and sometimes abusive. One of her brothers, Yakov, was captured by the Nazis, who offered to exchange him for a German general. Stalin refused, and Yakov was killed.

In her memoirs she told of how Stalin had sent her first love, a Jewish filmmaker, to Siberia for 10 years. She wanted to study literature at Moscow University, but Stalin demanded that she study history. She did. After graduation, again following her father’s wishes, she became a teacher, teaching Soviet literature and the English language. She then worked as a literary translator.

A year after her father broke up her first romance, she told him she wanted to marry another Jewish man, Grigory Morozov, a fellow student. Stalin slapped her and refused to meet him. This time, however, she had her way. She married Mr. Morozov in 1945. They had one child, Iosif, before divorcing in 1947.

Her second marriage, in 1949, was more to Stalin’s liking. The groom, Yuri Zhdanov, was the son of Stalin’s right-hand man, Andrei Zhdanov. The couple had a daughter, Yekaterina, the next year. But they, too, divorced soon afterward.

Her world grew darker in her father’s last years. Nikita S. Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor as Soviet leader, wrote in his memoirs about the New Year’s party in 1952 when Stalin grabbed Svetlana by the hair and forced her to dance.

Defection

After Stalin died in 1953, his legacy was challenged, and the new leaders were eager to put his more egregious policies behind them. Svetlana lost many of her privileges. In the 1960s, when she fell in love with Brijesh Singh, an Indian Communist who was visiting Moscow, Soviet officials refused to let her marry him. After he became ill and died, they only reluctantly gave her permission, in early 1967, to take his ashes home to India.

Once in India, Ms. Alliluyeva, as she was known now, evaded Soviet agents in the K.G.B. and showed up at the United States Embassy in New Delhi seeking political asylum. The world watched in amazement as Stalin’s daughter, granted protection, became the most high-profile Soviet exile since the ballet virtuoso Rudolf Nureyev defected in 1961. The United States quickly dispatched a C.I.A. officer to help her travel through Italy to neutral Switzerland, but American officials worried that accepting her into the United States could damage its improving relations with Moscow. Finally, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on humanitarian grounds, agreed to admit her but asked that there be as little fanfare as possible.

Unknown to Washington at the time, the K.G.B. was discussing plans to assassinate Ms. Alliluyeva, according to former agency officials who were quoted by The Washington Times in 1992. But, they said, the K.G.B. backed off for fear an assassination would be traced back to it too easily.

Her arrival in New York, in April 1967, was more triumphant than low-key. Reporters and photographers were waiting at the airport, and she held a news conference in which she denounced the Soviet regime. Her autobiography, “Twenty Letters to a Friend,” was published later that year, bringing her more than $2.5 million. In 1969 she recounted her journey from the Soviet Union in a second memoir, “Only One Year.”

Settling in Princeton, N.J., Ms. Alliluyeva made a public show of burning her Soviet passport, saying she would never return to the Soviet Union. She denounced her father as “a moral and spiritual monster,” called the Soviet system “profoundly corrupt” and likened the K.G.B. to the Gestapo.

Writing in Esquire magazine, Garry Wills and Ovid Demaris — under the headline “How the Daughter of Stalin Denounced Communism and Embraced God, America and Apple Pie” — said the Svetlana Alliluyeva saga added up to “the Reader’s Digest ultimate story.”

As the Kremlin feared, Ms. Alliluyeva became a weapon in the cold war. In 1968, she denounced the trial of four Soviet dissidents as “a mockery of justice.” On Voice of America radio, Soviet citizens heard her declare that life in the United States was “free, gay and full of bright colors.”

Another Marriage

In interviews, however, she acknowledged loneliness. She missed her son, Iosif, who was 22 when she left Russia, and her daughter, Yekaterina, who was then 17. But she seemed to find new vibrancy in 1970, when she married William Wesley Peters. Mr. Peters had been chief apprentice to the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and, for a time, the husband of Wright’s adopted daughter.

Wright’s widow, Olgivanna Wright, encouraged the Peters-Alliluyeva marriage, even though the adopted daughter was Mrs. Wright’s biological daughter from a previous marriage. That daughter was also named Svetlana, and Mrs. Wright saw mystical meaning in the match.

The couple lived with Mrs. Wright and others at Taliesin West, the architect’s famous desert compound in Scottsdale, Ariz. There, Ms. Peters began chafing at the strict communal lifestyle enforced by Mrs. Wright, finding her as authoritarian as her father. Mr. Peters, meanwhile, objected to his wife’s buying a house in a nearby resort area, declaring he didn’t want “a two-bit suburban life.”

Within two years, they separated. Ms. Peters was granted custody of their 8-month-old daughter, Olga. They divorced in 1973.

Information about the next few years is sketchier. Ms. Peters became a United States citizen in 1978 and later told The Trenton Times that she had registered as a Republican and donated $500 to the conservative magazine National Review, saying it was her favorite publication.

She and Olga moved to California, living there in several places before uprooting themselves again in 1982, this time for England so that Olga could enroll in an English boarding school. She also began to speak more favorably of her father, Time magazine reported, and perhaps felt she had betrayed him. “My father would have shot me for what I have done,” she said in 1983.

Seeking Reconciliation

At the same time, Stalin was being partly rehabilitated in the Soviet Union, and Soviet officials, after blocking Ms. Peters’s attempts to communicate with her children in Russia, relaxed their grip. Iosif, then 38 and practicing as a physician, began calling regularly. He said he would try to come to England to see her.

“For this desperate woman, seeing Iosif appeared to herald a new beginning,” Time said.

Abruptly, however, Iosif was refused permission to travel. So in November 1984, Ms. Peters and 13-year-old Olga — who was distraught because she had not been consulted about the move — went to Moscow and asked to be taken back. Lana Peters now denounced the West. She had not known “one single day” of freedom in the West, she told reporters. She was quoted as saying that she had been a pet of the C.I.A. Any conservative views she had expressed in the United States, if they still existed, went unexpressed. When an ABC correspondent in Moscow tried to question her a few days later, she exploded in anger, exclaiming: “You are savages! You are uncivilized people! Goodbye to you all.”

Ms. Peters and Olga were given Soviet citizenship, but soon their lives worsened. The son and daughter who lived in Russia began shunning her and Olga. Defying the official atheism of the state, Olga insisted on wearing a crucifix. They moved to Tbilisi, Georgia, but it was no better than Moscow.

In April 1986, they returned to the United States, with no opposition by the Soviet authorities. Settling at first in Wisconsin, Ms. Peters disavowed the anti-Western things she had said upon her arrival in Moscow, saying she had been mistranslated, particularly the statement about being a pet of the C.I.A. Olga returned to school in England.

Quiet Years

Ms. Peters said she was now impoverished. She had given much of her book profits to charity, she said, and was saddled with debt and failed investments. An odd, formless odyssey began. Friends said she appeared unable to live anywhere for more than two years.

Mr. Peters died in 1991. Ms. Peters’s son, Iosif, died in November 2008.

Besides her daughter Olga, now Ms. Evans, Ms. Peters is survived by her daughter Yekaterina Zhdanov, a scientist who goes by Katya and is living on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Siberia studying a volcano, according to The Associated Press. Reached later on Monday by e-mail, Ms. Evans told The A.P. that her mother had died in a nursing home in Richland Center, where she had lived for three years. “Please respect my privacy during this sad time,” the wire agency quoted her as saying.

Ms. Peters was said to enjoy sewing and reading, mainly nonfiction, choosing not to own a television set. In an interview with The Wisconsin State Journal in 2010, she was asked if her father had loved her. She thought he did, she said, because she had red hair and freckles, like his mother.

But she could not forgive his cruelty to her. “He broke my life,” she said. “I want to explain to you. He broke my life.”

And he left a shadow from which she could never emerge. “Wherever I go,” she said, “here, or Switzerland, or India, or wherever. Australia. Some island. I will always be a political prisoner of my father’s name.”

Elizabeth A. Harris and Lee van der Voo contributed reporting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 29, 2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/world/europe/stalins-daughter-dies-at-85.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

After World War II, Stephane Hessel went on to aid in the drafting of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

One of the literary world's unexpected successes over the past year has been a book written by former World War II French resistance fighter Stephane Hessel. InTime for Outrage, Hessel calls for young people to resist the injustices of today's world — and it would seem he's struck a nerve.

Time for Outragesold nearly 2 million copies in France and has been translated into more than 30 languages. It's now on sale across Europe and Latin America, and will even be released soon in China, although according to his editor the publication date has mysteriously been delayed. It comes out in the U.S. this week.

'You Must Stand Up'

In 1940, Hessel, then a soldier in the French army, was captured by German forces. He managed to escape from a prison camp in France and make his way south through Spain and Portugal to North Africa, then to London, where he joined Gen. Charles de Gaulle's resistance forces in March 1941.

Hessel returned to occupied France as a resistance fighter, but was soon captured by the Gestapo and only narrowly avoided execution in a Nazi concentration camp before escaping to rejoin the Allies.

He tells his story in the sitting room of his small Paris apartment. Now 94 years old, Hessel is trim and dapper in a coat and tie. His eyes twinkle with generosity, but that spark of resistance seems to have never left him.

"If you want to be a real human being — a real woman, a real man — you cannot tolerate things which put you to indignation, to outrage," he says. "You must stand up. I always say to people, 'Look around; look at what makes you unhappy, what makes you furious, and then engage yourself in some action.'"

In Time for Outrage, Hessel challenges young people to do just that. Injustice is widespread today, too, he says — though he admits that today's injustice isn't as clear-cut as it was in his day.

"To be conquered by a nation like the Nazis, obviously it was insufferable," he says. "Today we are not in front of problems that immediately appear as impossible to accept. But if we look a little carefully, these challenges are there."

He cites the growing gap between rich and poor, and the degradation of the planet as just two examples.

Finding Today's Injustices

Paris high school student Theodore Vonclair, 17, read Time for Outrage after a friend recommended it.

"I was quite touched by it," Vonclair says. "Books asking people to think about these kinds of problems [are] quite useful, and you can't find them so often today, I think."

Vonclair says he could get outraged about the economic crisis and violence in society, but he admits he hasn't acted on it yet.

Still, French reaction to Hessel's book wasn't all positive. Some critics called it old-fashioned, and others were angry about the author's stance on Israel.

Hessel, who is Jewish, was a French diplomat at the U.N. when Israel was born in 1948. He says he remembers it as a glorious moment but believes things have gone very wrong since then.

"The Israeli government is not going the way [of] Jewish ideals," he says. "And the way they acted in Gaza with [Operation Cast Lead] is just impossible to tolerate for honest Jews."

Hessel says he's delighted over the recent people's revolutions in the Arab world, which started just three months after his book came out in France. He doesn't claim any credit but says it is a nice coincidence.

He says he's honored that his book is being published in America. Calling Franklin Delano Roosevelt the most important leader of the 20th century, Hessel says Roosevelt's New Deal and "Four Freedoms" speech set the standard for social and economic justice in the modern world.

Luck, Love, Happiness And Poetry

Hessel is passionate about justice, but he credits his own long life and good health to something very different; luck, love, happiness and poetry. He says he knows many of Shakespeare's sonnets by heart.

"This one I ... used when I just had been arrested by the Gestapo," he says. "I was afraid that I would not survive, and so I put a little paper in my pocket that my wife should find."

He recites the first lines of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 71":

"No longer mourn for me when I am dead/ Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell/ Give warning to the world that I am fled/ From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell."

http://www.npr.org/2011/09/22/140252484/wwii-survivor-stirs-literary-world-with-outrage

 

    Former Rwandan army chief Augustin Bizimungu has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the 1994 genocide.

The UN war crimes tribunal for Rwanda also convicted ex-paramilitary police chief Augustin Ndindiliyimana but released him for time already served.

Two other senior generals were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the 100-day genocide.

Bizimungu and Ndindiliyimana are two of the most senior figures to be sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), established in Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania to try the ringleaders behind the killings.

Belgian peacekeepers killed

"It is a welcome decision by the ICTR. In its own circumstances, that is a big sentence, even if many people would think he [Bizimungu] deserved the highest," Martin Ngoga, Rwanda's chief prosecutor, told Reuters news agency.

The court ruled that Bizimungu, who was arrested in Angola in 2002, had complete control over the men he commanded in 1994, AFP news agency said.

Ndindiliyimana, however, was said to have only had "limited control" over his forces and was described as being opposed to the killing.

Having already spent 11 years in jail following his arrest in Belgium in 2000, Ndindiliyimana was released.

Both men were found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The BBC's Will Ross in Nairobi, Kenya, says Bizimungu appeared unmoved when he was handed his sentence.

The 59-year-old was accused of going to the homes of militants and ordering them to kill all those from the Tutsi ethnic group - people he referred to as cockroaches.

He was said to have promised weapons, as well as fuel to burn houses, our correspondent says.

Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, the former commander of a reconnaissance battalion, and his second-in-command, Capt Innocent Sagahutu, were meanwhile each given 20-year sentences for crimes against humanity.

They were accused of ordering the murder of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana.

Eight Belgian peacekeepers who were protecting the prime minister were also killed, triggering the withdrawal of the UN force from Rwanda.

Rwanda's genocide was sparked by the death of former President Juvenal Habyarimana who was killed when his plane was shot down close to the capital, Kigali, on 6 April 1994.

Within hours of the attack, certain members of the government organised Hutu militias across the country to systematically kill Tutsis, resulting in more than three months of violence.

The Hutu government blamed Tutsi RPF rebels for killing Mr Habyarimana but RPF leader Paul Kagame, now Rwanda's president, says the plane was shot down to provide a pretext for the premeditated slaughter.

Many thousands of lower-ranking people accused of involvement in the genocide have been put on trial in Rwanda, either in formal courts or in a traditional system known as "gacaca".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13425546?print=true

 

MUNICH — After a trial lasting almost 18 months, John Demjanjuk, a retired American autoworker who has been the subject of more than three decades of legal proceedings over his Nazi-era past, was convicted here on Thursday of helping to force some 28,000 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust.

He showed no reaction as the court handed down a five-year prison term, The Associated Press reported. It was not immediately clear how much credit he would get for time already served. His defense lawyers have already said they would appeal the conviction. His trial was one of the last of accused Nazi war criminals.

Prosecutors had charged that Mr. Demjanjuk, 91, worked as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. His trial in Munich, beginning in December 2009, was the second time Mr. Demjanjuk has been prosecuted — he was sentenced to death in Israel in 1988 only to have his conviction overturned five years later as a case of mistaken identity.

When the trial opened in Munich, Mr. Demjanjuk was listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as its most wanted Nazi war criminal.

Mr. Demjanjuk (pronounced dem-ahn-YUKE) declined to make a final statement as he arrived in the courtroom in a wheelchair pushed by a German police officer. He was wearing a pale blue baseball cap and dark glasses.

His trial was held despite arguments by his lawyers and family that he was too sick to participate, because he suffered from ailments including bone marrow disease. Doctors, however, concluded that he could stand trial provide that hearings were restricted to two 90-minute sessions a day.

As survivors and defendants have aged and died, the prosecution of Nazi-era war criminals has become increasingly difficult because, 66 years after the end of World War II, few potential witnesses are still alive. In the absence of specific evidence against him, the case against Mr. Demjanjuk rested on the prosecution’s charge that anyone working at the camp at the time he was there shared responsibility for its function of systematic murder.

“The court is convinced that the defendant served as a guard at Sobibor from March 27, 1943, to mid-September, 1943,” the presiding judge, Ralph Alt said, according to the A.P. The prosecution had also produced an identity card from the Nazi S.S. that, prosecutors alleged, shows a young Demjanjuk and indicated that he had undergone training at an S.S. camp. Mr. Demjanjuk’s lawyers said that the card was forged by the Soviet K.G.B.

Mr. Demjanjuk, who was born in Ukraine, was a soldier in the Soviet Army, fighting against the Germans, until he was captured in the Crimea in 1942.

He says he spent most of the remainder of the war as a prisoner. But according to prosecutors, he went to the S.S. training camp in Trawniki, Poland, where foreigners were trained to work as volunteers in the death camps.

The case against Mr. Demjanjuk involved some 15 transport trains known to have arrived between April and July 1943 from the Westerbork concentration camp in the Netherlands, carrying 29,579 people. Prosecutors initially charged Mr. Demjanjuk with 27,900 counts based on the theory that some must have died in transit or been spared for a time to work at the camp. By the end of the trial on Thursday, that figure had been revised to 28,060 counts.

Some 250,000 Jews were killed at Sobibor, most of them poisoned with exhaust fumes.

Mr. Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to death in Israel in 1988 as the infamously sadistic Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, only to have his conviction overturned in 1993. He was freed by Israel’s Supreme Court after evidence surfaced suggesting that another man was most likely to have been Ivan the Terrible.

In a statement on its Web site the day before the verdict, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said: “This case has historic meaning because while it may be the last ‘major’ case tried in Germany, it is the first time a non-German has been charged by Germany with Nazi war crimes and brought to trial in Germany.”

Speaking to the German news agency on Thursday, Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the organization was “very satisfied” that Mr. Demjanjuk had been sentenced to a prison term. The court’s decision “sends a very strong message that even many years after the crimes of the Holocaust, perpetrators can be held to account for their misdeeds,” he said.

Avner Shalev, the head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance authority in Jerusalem said that, while “no trial can bring back those that were murdered,” the conviction of Mr. Demjanjuk showed that theere was “no statute of limitations on the crimes of the Holocaust” and that the killings “could not have taken place without the participation of myriads of Europeans on many levels.”

Elan Steinberg, the Vice President of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants said in a statement that the conviction was “a clarion pronouncement that the pursuit of justice should know no barriers of time and geography.”

Jack Ewing reported from Munich, and Alan Cowell from Paris.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/world/europe/13nazi.html?hp
 

Osama Bin Laden's body was buried at sea to deny his followers a shrine, it has been widely reported. But why do the graves of leaders matter so much?

For a man who had been the world's most wanted, it was a deeply undistinguished final resting place.

The remains of Osama Bin Laden met an inauspicious fate - his body dropped into the ocean from an American aircraft carrier.

US officials were at pains to insist that the process was conducted in "strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices".

But the purpose of his burial at sea was clear - to ensure that there was no grave to become a shrine for supporters, and a recruiting tool for extremist Islamism.

Leaders' last resting places
Men pray at Saddam Hussein's resting place
  • Ethiopia's last emperor, Haile Selassie, was buried in an unmarked grave after his overthrow. His remains were found in 1992 under a toilet in the Imperial Palace
  • The corpse of the Philippines' authoritarian former President Ferdinand Marcos lies in a refrigerated mausoleum while his family campaign for a state funeral
  • The Romanovs - the family of Russian Tsar Nicolas II - were shot dead and buried in a forest pit by the Bolsheviks after the October 1917 revolution. In 1998, the remains were reburied at St Petersburg cathedral
  • Chile's former leader Augusto Pinochet was given a military funeral in 2006 but then cremated as his family did not want a grave or memorial to become a focal point for protest - thousands died or disappeared during his 17-year-rule

It's a motive with clear historical antecedents. Victorious regimes, particularly when confronted with ideological movements with charismatic leaders, have often been anxious to deny their defeated enemies a rallying point, a place where sympathisers can gather to venerate their dead.

The partially-cremated corpse of Adolf Hitler was dug up by invading Soviet forces from its initial burial site in Berlin before being moved several times - its ultimate fate being shrouded in mystery, with some accounts claiming his skull and jawbone were taken to Moscow.

The Berghof, the dictator's home in the Bavarian alps, was demolished in the early 1950s by the West German government, who feared it would become a focal point for neo-Nazis. Other Nazi leaders executed at the Nuremberg trials by the Allies were cremated and their ashes were scattered in the Conwentzbach river to frustrate any attempt to by latter-day sympathisers to commemorate them.

At the other end of the political spectrum, the body of revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara was photographed perfunctorily by the enemies who killed him in Bolivia before his burial in an unmarked grave - his opponents perhaps anticipating the cult he would inspire.

The fate of Bin Laden echoes the British empire's approach to an earlier Muslim insurgent - Muhammad Ahmad, known as the Mahdi, whose tomb in Sudan was destroyed to prevent it becoming a rallying point for supporters.

The Mahdi enjoyed military successes against the British - including the slaughter of the garrison in Khartoum - before dying of typhus. His followers were crushed by the British, his tomb destroyed and his bones thrown in the river.

Mussolini and Hitler plan for war Mussolini and Hitler's remains were both subject to much posthumous movement

The conscious effort to avoid shrines to enemies mirrors the efforts of ideological regimes to consciously create shrines.

The embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin, publicly displayed in a Red Square mausoleum long after his passing, may have been intended to represent the persistence of the USSR's founding mythology.

But this meant that, by extension, the fate of Joseph Stalin's remains - initially displayed alongside the Georgian-born dictator's predecessor, but later removed during Krushchev's thaw - symbolises the process by which his reputation diminished.

For Prof Michael Cox, of the department of international relations at the London School of Economics, the watery fate of Bin Laden goes beyond the particulars of the post-9/11 world.


The mythology of many revolutionary ideologies depends so heavily on the veneration of fallen heroes, he says, that their opponents will always attempt to arrest any such emotional appeals.

"It's not specifically an Islamic issue.

"There's a broader point about the role of martyrs in any kind of struggle - not just in terms of the iconography, but also how martyrdom is used as a means to continue that struggle. Martyrs help create new followers."

Indeed, nothing reveals the power of shrines more than the battles which are fought over them after their inhabitants have died.

Hitler's mountain retreat in Bavaria, pictured in 1940 Hitler's mountain chalet was destroyed to prevent it becoming a shrine

Italian leader Benito Mussolini's corpse was, variously, hung from meat hooks by victorious partisans, buried in an unmarked grave, dug up by loyal fascists, re-captured by the authorities and finally re-interred in a crypt in the years following his death.

Likewise, the Valley of the Fallen near the Spanish capital Madrid, which houses the tomb of dictator Francisco Franco and was partly built by Republican prisoners, divides many Spaniards along civil war lines to this day.

For this reason, believes historian Laurence Rees, author of The Nazis: A Warning from History, any political leader's shrine is intended to provide some kind of immortality.

Dictators themselves, he observes, tend to set great store in leaving behind permanent reminders of themselves.

"Hitler did not believe in the afterlife, but he did believe he would have a life after death because of what he had achieved," he says.

"He imagined he'd be in some kind of giant sarcophagus - even in death he would still, physically, be there. Defeat denied him that."

The British empire's Bin Laden
Muhammad Ahmad

Muhammad Ahmad, known as the Mahdi, was behind the destruction of the British garrison at Khartoum and the murder of Governor General Charles Gordon - a profound shock to imperial Britain.

Ahmad made his name fighting a rival imperial power the "infidel" government loyal to the Ottoman Sultan - just as Bin Laden cut his teeth against the Soviets, before turning against America.

The British government, and even Gordon, underestimated the threat posed by Ahmad until it was too late and the garrison at Khartoum had been annihilated.

Ahmad was not killed in a British raid - he died of typhus. But Lord Kitchener destroyed his tomb to prevent it becoming a rallying point for disciples and had his bones thrown into the Nile.

Kitchener is said to have retained the skull as a paperweight.

There are lessons from Ahmad's movement - he had chosen three deputies to succeed him who they began squabbling as soon as he died. The movement unravelled as a result.

Ahmad's tomb was, however, subsequently rebuilt.

Of course, the very lack of a permanent memorial or, indeed, a corpse, meant conspiracy theories about Bin Laden's fate flourished almost as soon as his death was announced.

Nor was the al-Qaeda leader the only deceased figurehead whose lack of a shrine fuelled such suspicions - speculation about the fate of Hitler, in particular, being one especially resilient conspiratorial sub-genre.

Times columnist David Aaronovitch, who dedicated himself to debunking such accounts in his book Voodoo Histories, believes this phenomenon stems from a deep-rooted human proclivity.

"As soon as I heard the news, I knew, as sure as eggs are eggs, there would be conspiracy theories saying it isn't him," he says.

"It's wrong to assume that conspiracy theories take shape because of anything as concrete as evidence. It's about a desire for a different story."

But equally, Aaronovitch suggests, the urge to mark the passing of a member of one's tribe is deeply ingrained.

This, in turn, means that denying one's opponent such rituals itself reflects an unacknowledged emotional impulse.

"You have a lot of deep psychology involved in rites of burial," he adds. "There's a kind of satisfaction that I think the Americans don't recognise themselves, when they can say: 'We lobbed Osama Bin Laden into the sea'."

The exact co-ordinates of Bin Laden's burial site may never be known, and this very fact gives an idea of his significance in both life and death.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13264959

WOKEN by the deafening thump of rotor blades, Haji Bashir Khan crept onto his roof and watched, under a warm and moonless sky, as American special forces stormed his neighbour’s compound. “Yes, we were scared—we don’t have terrorism here,” says the restaurateur. He heard shooting and screams, then felt an explosion as a grounded helicopter was destroyed. The blast broke his bedroom window and strewed blackened bits of the chopper over a nearby wheat field.

Mr Khan and others in Abbottabad, a garrison town north of Islamabad, say the raid that killed Osama bin Laden lasted for 40 minutes and Pakistani soldiers turned up only after the Americans had departed. That delay, even though three army regiments are camped on a base just a few minutes’ stroll away, and the ease with which helicopters swooped in from Afghanistan, suggest some limited Pakistani co-operation. The government, braced for public anger or revenge attacks by jihadis, al-Qaeda or otherwise, says grimly that it was caught unawares by the raid (though it also claims, somewhat confusingly, to have given some intelligence help beforehand).

Much harder to swallow are its claims that Pakistan’s blundering spies had no idea that the world’s most wanted terrorist had been living, probably for years, not in a remote cave on the Afghan frontier but cradled in the arms of retired and serving generals in the pleasant, hillside town. It prefers to plead incompetence, since it would be far more painful to admit the alterative: that Pakistan's secret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), or rogue elements within it, had long harboured Mr bin Laden and that Pakistan’s leaders only acquiesced in his killing, if at all, moments before the Navy Seals did the job.

Pakistani complicity is the likelier explanation. Mr bin Laden might well have had the gall to risk hiding in plain sight by the military cantonment in Abbottabad, where residents say they regularly submit to identity checks and police visits at home. Yet his prolonged stay at a specially built, high-walled compound, with many of his family flocking in from Yemen, required a network of help. That he had relatively few guards on the spot also suggests he trusted others for security. So it is unsurprising that, to the growing fury of Pakistani spies, many informed observers conclude he must have had help from the ISI.

Either way Pakistan, and especially the ISI, now looks deeply humiliated. India’s hawks crow that their bitter rival can never be trusted; noisier American congressmen want to slash the $3 billion in military and civilian aid that America sends to Pakistan. President Asif Zardari and other civilian leaders have floundered in their response. Relations with America that were already cool, especially between spy agencies, have turned icy as criticism of the ISI grows.

Spooked, the Pakistanis are already warning the Americans not to consider any more such raids. But it is clearly a tempting prospect. An obvious next target would be Mullah Omar, the ageing Afghan Taliban leader, whom the ISI is also accused of protecting. American agents snooping in Pakistan’s cities in the past year may have turned up other useful leads but chosen not to act until Mr bin Laden had been dealt with. Some conspiracy theorists even fret that the Americans could go after Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Usually smooth-speaking ISI men have been giving garbled accounts of what Pakistan was up to. More telling is the gobsmacked silence of their boss, General Ashfaq Kayani, the powerful army chief who had long denied that Mr bin Laden was hidden in Pakistan. On April 23rd he had brushed away American grumbles that too little was being done to fight terrorists, saying blithely they would soon be beaten and “we in Pakistan's army are fully aware of the internal and external threat to our country”. All the more galling for him, he said these words at Abbottabad’s military academy, within waving distance of the al-Qaeda leader’s safe-house.

The general may take some more knocks. Several foreign allies, such as Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, speaking on May 3rd, have called for support to Pakistan’s civilian leaders to continue, while saying that its military chiefs must answer tough questions about their spies. Yet any Western pressure will be calibrated with the civil war next door in Afghanistan in mind.

It is unclear how much will change there after the beheading of al-Qaeda. Optimists see glimmers, if for example the Americans at last push Pakistan to start a long-postponed campaign against the Haqqani network, which attacks Western forces in east Afghanistan from Pakistani bases. Al-Qaeda itself may be written off as irrelevant in Afghanistan, where intelligence folk say its fighters number fewer than 100. And if the more powerful Taliban accept that Mr bin Laden is dead, it may feel released from a Pashtunwali honour code about protecting guests and so disavow ties with al-Qaeda. A Western demand for them to do so has been the biggest block to planned peace talks. The Taliban may be spurred to act, fearing that whatever support it gets from inside Pakistan is in jeopardy.

But it is not clear that the Taliban will grow any more amenable just yet, and few observers think talks would get far given the many groups that would have to be involved. The Taliban's leaders will watch to see whether Mr bin Laden’s death softens Westerners’ already flagging will to fight on in Afghanistan, and whether plans to get many troops out in the next three years are hardened up—which would in turn weaken Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president. The fallout from Mr bin Laden's death in South Asia is only just beginning.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/05/pakistan_and_afghanistan_after_bin_laden

Yuri Gagarin Gagarin was just 27 when he made his epochal 108-minute orbital flight

Yuri Gagarin's single orbit of Earth 50 years ago this month ushered in the era of human spaceflight.

Gagarin's 108-minute flight was another major propaganda coup for the Soviet Union, which had successfully launched the first satellite - Sputnik - in 1957.

"I was a young fighter pilot in Germany I was flying F-102s in Rammstein Germany. We were more focused on the building of the Berlin Wall that year, rather than the space race," says Nasa astronaut Charles Duke, who walked on the Moon during the Apollo 16 mission in 1972.

"When he flew, my first impression was - well, they beat us again."

Sergei Khrushchev, the son of Nikita Khrushchev, who was the Soviet premier at the time of Gagarin's flight, told BBC News: "We were very proud but we did not really understand how important it was. It was one more flight, one more achievement."

They were performing enormous feats of physical training... They wanted to test the limits of their pilots”

End Quote Cathleen Lewis National Air and Space Museum

But he says his father was acutely aware of the significance, and orchestrated a celebration in Red Square upon Gagarin's return to Moscow.

"When we look at the response of the Muscovites, where everyone was in the streets, on the roofs of buildings and in the windows, I would compare this celebration with the May 9 victory day (the end of World War II for the Soviet Union)," says Sergei.

During the Cold War, such "firsts" were used by the USSR to claim technological might and ideological superiority.

But the architects of both the US and Soviet space programmes had loftier ambitions of sending humans on voyages around the Solar System.

The Americans and the Soviets experimented by sending animals into space prior to launching people.

Despite several notable failures, the successful tests signalled that humans were capable of surviving the stresses of spaceflight.

The launch on 12 April 1961 took place from what is now Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

Yuri Gagarin was one of 20 prospective cosmonauts selected for the Soviet space programme in 1960. The candidates were put through a gruelling training regime, including long stays in isolation chambers.

Cathleen Lewis, curator of international space programmes at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, says: "They were performing enormous feats of physical training... They wanted to test the limits of their pilots."

Gagarin's historic flight
  • Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in 108-minute flight on 12 April 1961
  • Became instant celebrity and toured the world
  • But he never returned to space, and instead trained Soviet cosmonauts
  • He died seven years later in a training flight

The list of 20 candidates was eventually whittled down to two: Gagarin and fellow test pilot Gherman Titov.

It has been suggested that Gagarin's humble upbringing may have tipped the scales in his favour. While Titov came from a middle-class background, Gagarin was the son of workers. The Soviet leadership may have regarded this as a demonstration that, under communism, even those who came from modest families could succeed.

But others insist that the cosmonauts' performance during the selection process was much the more important factor.

In early 1961, US astronaut Alan Shepard had been training for a sub-orbital flight on a Mercury-Redstone rocket scheduled for May that year.

The Soviets were not aware of the schedule, but Sergei Korolev, chief scientist for the USSR's space programme, was worried the US would be first and pushed for a manned launch as soon as possible.

'Here we go'

On the morning of 12 April 1961, the 27-year-old Gagarin was waiting to be launched into space atop a 30m-high booster at the Tyuratam test range in Kazakhstan (now the Baikonur Cosmodrome).

As the rocket blasted off at 0907 local time, Gagarin reportedly said "Poyekhali", or "here we go".

Gagarin went into darkness behind the Earth over the Pacific. He saw the Sun rise as he was moving over the South Atlantic

Standing 5ft 2ins tall, Gagarin was better suited than some for the cramped conditions of his space capsule.

He was able to consume food through squeeze tubes and kept mission control updated on his condition using a high-frequency radio and a telegraph key.

Citizens in Moscow reading newspapers after Gagarin's flight The first manned spaceflight caused a sensation in Moscow as it did elsewhere

According to a transcript of the communication with ground control, Gagarin was struck by the view through the capsule's window, commenting on our planet's "beautiful aura" and the striking shadows cast by clouds on the Earth's surface.

But the cosmonaut had no control over his spacecraft during the historic flight.

"No-one knew what effect zero-g would have on the astronauts when they were up there. They were so concerned that he might be disorientated and disabled once he was in weightlessness," says Reginald Turnill, the BBC's aerospace correspondent from 1958-1975.

"It was decided right from the beginning that he would not be allowed to control the spacecraft, it would all be done from the ground."

Breaking free

But there was also concern about what would happen if control from the ground was lost. So Gagarin was given a sealed envelope containing codes that would allow him to assume control of the spacecraft with the help of a crude onboard computer.

Yuri Gagarin

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Yuri Gagarin: "I was never nervous during the space flight - there were no grounds for it"

It was only much later that it became known just how close the mission had come to disaster.

Cables linking the spacecraft's capsule to the service module failed to separate before Gagarin's return to Earth. So Gagarin's capsule was unexpectedly burdened with an extra module as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

Vostok 1 capsule The cosmonaut baled out of his capsule before it hit the ground

Temperatures in the capsule became dangerously high and Gagarin was spun around wildly, almost losing consciousness.

"I was in a cloud of fire rushing toward Earth," the cosmonaut later recalled. It was 10 minutes before the cables finally burned through and the descent module, containing its human passenger, tore free.

Gagarin baled out before his capsule hit the ground, parachuting to a safe landing near the Volga River.

On his return, the previously unknown test pilot was transformed into a worldwide celebrity. Monuments were erected to honour his achievement, streets were named after him in many Soviet cities. Gzhatsk, the town where he spent much of his childhood, was even renamed Gagarin.

Nikita Khrushchev hugged the cosmonaut as he stepped off the plane on his return to Moscow. Khrushchev would subsequently compare Gagarin to Christopher Columbus and bestow upon him the status of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Along with other Western space correspondents, Reg Turnill was despatched to Moscow to cover a post-flight press conference.

John F Kennedy giving speech to Congress about the Moon US President John F Kennedy upped the ante following the USSR's successes in space

"The whole purpose was to score points off the West," he recalls, adding: "We were given the ultimate idiot's treatment."

When asked whether he had landed in the capsule or had ejected and finished his journey by parachute, Gagarin replied: "The landing proceeded successfully and my presence here demonstrates the success of the systems."

The first human spaceflight intensified the incipient space race between the superpowers.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12380744

NEW DELHI — With careful diplomatic scripting, India and Pakistan began talking again this week. Officials from the two countries convened in New Delhi to discuss security issues and pave the way for future meetings between more powerful officials. The talks were billed as baby steps, a modest restarting of an important diplomatic dialogue that had stalled.

Then, unexpectedly, a cricket match intervened, and by Wednesday, the scope and possibilities of the dialogue had changed.

The national teams of India and Pakistan both advanced to the semifinal round of the cricket World Cup tournament. When it became clear that the teams would meet in the Indian city of Mohali, the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, issued a surprise invitation to his Pakistani counterpart, Yousaf Raza Gilani, to join him in the grandstand.

Mr. Gilani accepted. Both men arrived at the cricket ground on Wednesday and took their places in a private box for the one-day match. Both shook hands with the players from the opposing teams after the national anthems were sung before the game began, meeting first the Pakistani then the Indian players. In the end, India beat Pakistan by 29 runs to reach the World Cup final and will face Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai on Saturday.

But the prospect of the two leaders sitting together for hours in a relatively informal setting had many here asking what they would talk about, and whether a breakthrough could be possible between the two fractious, nuclear-armed neighbors.

For the Indian subcontinent, where few things stir public passions more than cricket and politics, the twinning of such a high-stakes match with such high-stakes diplomacy created an irresistible spectacle. Across the subcontinent, millions of people stopped work to watch the match on TV. India had ordered a sweeping security clampdown in Mohali, including the closure of the city’s airspace during the match.

Mr. Singh’s invitation — it was also extended to the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, who declined — was another example of how Mr. Singh has repeatedly tried to advance diplomacy with Pakistan, often over the resistance of the Indian political opposition and even some members of his own Indian National Congress Party. In New Delhi, Mr. Singh’s overture drew a mixed reaction: some analysts praise his determination to push forward while others called the invitation a political stunt that risked undermining the lower-level talks that began this week.

“It has caught everybody by surprise,” said Brahma Chellaney, a strategic affairs analyst in New Delhi. “In diplomacy, you have to do the preparatory work first if you want to have a result. This sounds like an impulsive move.”

Harish Khare, a spokesman for Mr. Singh, described the invitation as a “spur of the moment” decision. There was to be no specific agenda or any structured dialogue, he said; rather, it was to be an opportunity to build trust, enjoy the match and have “an exchange of ideas.”

“The prime minister just said, ‘Come along,’ ” Mr. Khare said. “Of course, there will be some talk. But it is not a summit meeting. And it will not interfere with the ongoing dialogue.”

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the two countries were founded in 1947, and their unsettled relationship lies beneath many of South Asia’s most festering problems, including their dispute over Kashmir, lasting decades. Diplomatic progress was shattered in 2008 when militants based in Pakistan mounted terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed at least 163 people. The United States has been prodding both countries toward negotiations in the hope that if tensions are defused, the Pakistani military would withdraw troops from the Indian border and focus more attention on fighting terrorist groups inside Pakistan.

The meetings that began Monday in New Delhi were supposed to be the initial step in this latest resumption of the dialogue. Qamar Zaman, the Pakistani interior secretary, and G. K. Pillai, the Indian home secretary, met on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the Mumbai attacks and other security issues. India has demanded that Pakistan bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, and has accused Pakistani officials of deliberately dragging their feet in the investigation. But those meetings were upstaged by the cricket overture.

Analysts noted that cricket diplomacy has been tried in the past, with mixed results. President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan attended an India-Pakistan match in 1987, but relations between the countries soon deteriorated. In 2005, Mr. Singh invited President Pervez Musharraf to an India-Pakistan match in New Delhi, ushering in a period of secret back-channel talks that almost culminated in a deal on Kashmir.

Now, though, many analysts say the political situation is far different. Both Mr. Gilani and Mr. Singh are politically wounded at home; Indian analysts argue that Mr. Gilani is actually far less politically powerful than the country’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and is not in a position to make any sort of significant deal. Meanwhile, Mr. Singh has been battered at home by allegations of corruption leveled against his government. His foes argue that the cricket overture is mostly intended to distract public attention from the domestic controversies.

Yet the invitation did seem to have enhanced a feeling of good will on both sides. This week, Pakistan announced the early release of a longtime Indian prisoner, if admittedly by only a few months. And Tuesday, Pakistan agreed to a visit by an Indian judicial commission investigating the Mumbai attacks.

“You will see relations become more friendly and cordial, even outside the cricket grounds,” predicted Abid Saeed, the press counselor for the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. He said a delegation of about 50 ministers and officials was traveling with Mr. Gilani.

C. Raja Mohan, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, applauded Mr. Singh’s gambit, noting that for all the highly structured meetings by lower-level officials, progress is usually made when the top leaders are directly engaged. Mr. Mohan said that if the cricket diplomacy resulted in warmer relations, Mr. Singh should visit Pakistan as his next move.

“Right or wrong, India’s Pakistan policy has always been driven by the gut instincts of the prime ministers rather than the carefully crafted approaches by the diplomatists,” Mr. Mohan wrote on Tuesday in The Indian Express, a leading English-language newspaper. “If the mood at Mohali turns out to be good, Dr. Singh and Gilani might help give the dialogue at the bureaucratic level a much needed boost.”

Hari Kumar and Heather Timmons contributed reporting for the NYT

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/world/asia/31india.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

BEIJING — Teng Biao is no stranger to the wrath of the Chinese authorities.

One of a handful of lawyers in China pressing for human rights and the rule of law, he has been repeatedly detained, beaten and threatened with death.

But this latest spell of detention — he has been held by Beijing security officers for three weeks, with no word from him or his captors — has struck a new chord of anxiety in his wife and friends.

“This time is really strange,” said his wife, Wang Ling. “In the past, they held him only a few days, and we knew for what reason. But this time, I’ve been told nothing. No news, no calls, no result so far. I have no idea at all.”

Mr. Teng is one of many prominent rights defenders and advocates who have disappeared and are being detained, some with no legal authority, in what critics say is one of the harshest crackdowns in many years. The detainees’ relatives and supporters say previous periods of confinement did not last this long and in such total silence. The crackdown is part of a broader push to enforce social stability that has grown more intense in the past three weeks.

This is an especially uneasy time in China, with anonymous calls for a “Jasmine Revolution” similar to the uprisings in the Middle East popping up on some Chinese-language Web sites. That has coincided with the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and a consultative legislature in Beijing. Security officers have also clamped down on foreign journalists in the strictest such action in recent memory.

The United States took a strident tone with China this week, chastising it over the wave of detentions.

“The United States is increasingly concerned by the apparent extralegal detention and enforced disappearance of some of China’s most well-known lawyers and activists, many of whom have been missing since mid-February,” Philip J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We have expressed our concern to the Chinese government over the use of extralegal punishments against these and other human rights activists.”

Chinese officials have avoided questions about the detentions and specific detainees. The overseas edition of People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, said in an editorial about China and the Middle East uprisings on Thursday: “A number of people with ulterior motives both inside and outside China are conspiring to divert the troubled waters toward China. They have used the Internet to fan the flames, hoping to whip up ‘street politics’ in China and thereby sow chaos in China.”

China Human Rights Defenders, an advocacy group, said Friday that 17 Chinese had been detained in connection with the calls for a so-called Jasmine Revolution (a term borrowed from the Tunisia uprising) and were being investigated for crimes. Among them is Ran Yunfei, a writer and blogger from Sichuan Province. Such investigations often result in criminal prosecution.

The group has also documented scores of other detentions and disappearances across China. Some people are missing, and some are under “soft detention” in their homes, an increasingly common form of confinement.

Zhang Jiannan, the founder of a popular Internet forum who was active on Twitter, was detained last week and put under criminal investigation, a friend of his said Friday. The forum, 1984bbs.com, was shuttered last fall. It was not clear why he was seized or of what crime he was suspected.

Among those who have “been disappeared” into an extralegal vacuum, as liberal Chinese describe it, are six lawyers who often take on rights cases. They are Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong and Mr. Teng from Beijing; Liu Shihui and Tang Jinglin from Guangzhou; and Li Tiantian from Shanghai. Mr. Tang was taken away on Feb. 16, and Mr. Jiang and Mr. Teng both vanished on Feb. 19. Gu Chuan, an activist writer in Beijing, also disappeared during that period. That round of detentions took place after a group of lawyers and rights advocates met in Beijing on Feb. 16 to discuss the case of Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer under strict house arrest in rural Shandong Province.

The detainees have probably been kept so long because the calls for a Jasmine Revolution began percolating on the Internet that same week, and then the meetings of the National People’s Congress and consultative legislature opened on March 5.

Relatives and supporters say they hope the detainees will be released after the legislative sessions end Monday, but scholars say that the use of extralegal detention has been widening, in conjunction with a rollback of legal rights, and that the long disappearances could be a new status quo. The targets are often the tiny fraction of China’s 170,000 lawyers who push for legal reform and enforcement of the Constitution.

“What’s disturbing with some of these lawyers or ex-lawyers, the government seems to be increasingly treating them lawlessly,” said Jerome A. Cohen, a professor at New York University who studies China’s legal system.

“I think it’s all part of the accelerating trend,” he added. “It started with the 17th Party Congress in fall of 2007. You had a new party line, one that was much tighter. They’re looking for a comprehensive method of social management. There’s a new formula.”

Eva Pils, an associate professor of law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that the long silences were unusual and that “there’s a very great concern about the treatment during their period of enforced disappearance.”

Perhaps the most serious recent case is that of Gao Zhisheng, a rights lawyer who spoke of being pummeled with electric batons and burned with cigarettes during one round of detention in 2007. He has since been subjected to further enforced disappearances, the latest beginning in April 2010.

Mr. Teng, the Beijing lawyer, wrote an essay in December about being beaten during a brief detention that month. At one point, he said, a plainclothes officer said to a policeman: “Why waste words on this sort of person? Let’s beat him to death and dig a hole to bury him in and be done with it.”

Jonathan Ansfield contributed reporting. Zhang Jing contributed research.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/12/world/asia/12china.html?pagewanted=print

How does art survive in a time of oppression? During the Soviet rule artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags.

Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist's works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Though a penniless artist himself, he cajoles the cash to pay for the art from the same authorities who are banning it. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian Avant-Garde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917, encountering a unique Islamic culture, as exotic to them as Tahiti was for Gauguin. They develop a startlingly original style, fusing European modernism with centuries-old Eastern traditions.

Ben Kingsley, Sally Field and Ed Asner voice the diaries and letters of Savitsky and the artists. Intercut with recollections of the artists' children and rare archival footage, the film takes us on a dramatic journey of sacrifice for the sake of creative freedom. Described as "one of the most remarkable collections of 20th century Russian art" and located in one of the world's poorest regions, today these paintings are worth millions, a lucrative target for Islamic fundamentalists, corrupt bureaucrats and art profiteers. The collection remains as endangered as when Savitsky first created it, posing the question whose responsibility is it to preserve this cultural treasure.

http://www.desertofforbiddenart.com/

He was repeatedly rejected by military recruiters and got into uniform at 16 after lying about his age. But Frank Buckles would later become the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I.

Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said in a statement. He was 110. 

Buckles had been advocating for a national memorial honoring veterans of the Great War in the nation's capital.

When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last of his kind, he said simply, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me." And he told The Associated Press he would have done it all over again, "without a doubt."

On Nov. 11, 2008, the 90th anniversary of the end of the war, Buckles attended a ceremony at the grave of World War I Gen. John Pershing in Arlington National Cemetery.

He was back in Washington a year later to endorse a proposal to rededicate the existing World War I memorial on the National Mall as the official National World War I Memorial. He told a Senate panel it was "an excellent idea." The memorial was originally built to honor District of Columbia's war dead.

Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States entered the "war to end all wars" in April 1917. He was repeatedly rejected before convincing an Army captain he was 18. He was actually 16 1/2.

"A boy of [that age], he's not afraid of anything. He wants to get in there," Buckles said.

Details for services and arrangements will be announced later this week. The family asks that donations be made to the National World War One Legacy Project. The project is managed by the nonprofit Survivor Quest and will educate students about Buckles and WWI through a documentary and traveling educational exhibition.

More than 4.7 million people joined the U.S. military from 1917-18. As of spring 2007, only three were still alive, according to a tally by the Department of Veterans Affairs: Buckles, J. Russell Coffey of Ohio and Harry Richard Landis of Florida.

The dwindling roster prompted a flurry of public interest, and Buckles went to Washington in May 2007 to serve as grand marshal of the national Memorial Day parade.

Coffey died Dec. 20, 2007, at age 109, while Landis died Feb. 4, 2008, at 108. Unlike Buckles, those two men were still in basic training in the United States when the war ended and did not make it overseas.

The last known Canadian veteran of the war, John Babcock of Spokane, Wash., died in February 2010.

There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive.

Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. The fact he did not see combat didn't diminish his service, he said: "Didn't I make every effort?"

An eager student of culture and language, he used his off-duty hours to learn German, visit cathedrals, museums and tombs, and bicycle in the French countryside.

After Armistice Day, Buckles helped return prisoners of war to Germany. He returned to the United States in January 1920.

Buckles returned to Oklahoma for a while, then moved to Canada, where he worked a series of jobs before heading for New York City. There, he again took advantage of free museums, worked out at the YMCA, and landed jobs in banking and advertising.

But it was the shipping industry that suited him best, and he worked around the world for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace & Co.

In 1941, while on business in the Philippines, Buckles was captured by the Japanese. He spent more than three years in prison camps.

"I was never actually looking for adventure," Buckles once said. "It just came to me."

He married in 1946 and moved to his farm in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle in 1954, where he and wife Audrey raised their daughter, Susannah Flanagan. Audrey Buckles died in 1999.

In spring 2007, Buckles told the AP of the trouble he went through to get into the military.

"I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kansas, and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps," he said. "The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21."

Buckles returned a week later.

"I went back to the recruiting sergeant, and this time I was 21," he said with a grin. "I passed the inspection ... but he told me I just wasn't heavy enough."

Then he tried the Navy, whose recruiter told Buckles he was flat-footed.

Buckles wouldn't quit. In Oklahoma City, an Army captain demanded a birth certificate.

"I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, 'You don't want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?"' Buckles said with a laugh. "He said, 'OK, we'll take you."'

He enlisted Aug. 14, 1917, serial number 15577.

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/28/134124030/last-living-u-s-veteran-of-world-war-i-dies

 

People in Afghanistan are voting in key parliamentary elections amid threats from the Taliban, who have vowed to disrupt the vote.

Attacks in the provinces of Jalalabad and Balkh have killed three people and injured four. A rocket also hit Kabul.

More than 2,500 candidates are vying for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, or Wolesi Jirga.

The poll is seen as a test of credibility for President Hamid Karzai, after fraud marred elections last year.

Afghan soldiers and police are on alert, backed up by nearly 150,000 foreign troops.

Nearly 6,000 polling stations in 34 provinces will stay open until 1600 local time (1130 GMT). About another 1,000 have not opened because of security fears.

The rocket fired in Kabul early on Saturday landed outside Afghanistan's state-owned TV station, close to the presidential palace and the Nato headquarters, police said.

Security officials told the BBC that two polling stations in Jalalabad had been attacked and security forces were involved in gun battles with militants in three areas of the city, killing at least one person.

Elections officials told the Agence Frane-Presse news agency that the Taliban killed two election staff in the Chemtal district of Balkh, where three voting centres will remain closed, and that insurgents had warned locals not to vote.

There were also unconfirmed reports of attacks on on polling stations and government buildings in the provinces of Kandahar in the south-west, and Badakhshan and Kunduz in the north, Khost in the east and in Herat in the west.

The Taliban have warned voters to boycott the poll and "stick to jihad".

In what correspondents say is a thinly veiled threat, insurgents said they had "chalked out certain measures... to frustrate this American process and will implement them on the day when the illegitimate process of elections is conducted".

The Taliban has already claimed responsibility for kidnapping two parliamentary candidates and 18 poll officials and campaign workers in the run-up to the elections.

But some voters were out early despite the threats.

Government worker Mohammad Husman, 50, was at the front of the queue at a polling station in a school in Kabul.

"I came here because I want prosperity for Afghanistan, [and] stability for Afghanistan," he said.

"I am worried about security and fraud and I hope my vote goes to the person I picked to vote for," he added.

After casting his vote in central Kabul, President Hamid Karzai said he hoped people would not be deterred by security threats.

He said that by taking part in the election, Afghans would "take the country many steps forward into a better future".

There are more than 10 million registered voters, but the UN says a turnout of five to seven million would be a success, given the difficulty of holding a poll in the middle of a war.

'No perfection'

Another major concern for election officials and international observers is that the polls will not be free or fair.

US special envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said on Friday that the vote was likely to be flawed, but it was significant that it was taking place at all.

"We are not looking for perfection here," Mr Holbrooke said.

Washington is watching Saturday's poll closely, as US President Barack Obama prepares a strategy review in December that is expected to consider the scale of plans to start withdrawing American troops from next year.

Mr Karzai on Friday admitted that "under the circumstances we must expect that there will be irregularities, there will be problems and there will be allegations as well".

On Tuesday, officials from Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) said 3,000 forged voter registration cards had been confiscated in the central province on Ghazni.

However, IEC officials stressed that they had taken a number of measures - including the usage of an indelible ink to avoid double voting - to prevent fraud.

Preliminary results are to be announced on 22 September, with the final results due on 31 October.

The outcome is not expected to change the make-up of the government although President Karzai's credibility may be damaged if his preferred candidates are defeated, or if vote-rigging is suspected.

Members of the Wolesi Jirga sit for a five-year term.

Few candidates have declared party affiliations. Correspondents say political parties have little influence in Afghan politics, and ethnicity continues to be the main factor influencing alliances.

 
 

More South Asia stories

 

A Canadian student inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's sketches says he has made the first sustained flight in a human-powered, wing-flapping aircraft.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11410410

 

Todd Reichert's ornithopter is an engineless plane that stays aloft by flapping its wings like a bird.

The craft, dubbed "Snowbird", flew 145m (476 feet) at the Great Lakes Gliding Club in Tottenham, Ontario.

The Federation Aeronautique Internationale is expected to confirm the record at its meeting in October.

Previous attempts

Mr Reichert, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, said the Snowbird "represents the completion of an age-old aeronautical dream".

"Throughout history, countless men and women have dreamt of flying like a bird under their own power, and hundreds, if not thousands have attempted to achieve it," he said in a statement.

"This represents one of the last of the aviation firsts."

Built from carbon fibres and balsa wood, Snowbird has a wing span of 32m (105 feet) - comparable to a Boeing 737.

But the aircraft weighs just 43kg (94 pounds).

To keep it light, lift-off mechanisms were not built in. Instead, a tow car helped lift it clear of the ground. But then Mr Reichert took over, using his feet to pump a bar that flaps the wings.

Snowbird flew for 19.3 seconds on its record-breaking flight, travelling at an average speed of 25.6 km/h (16.5 mph). The feat was accomplished on 2 August.

Others have claimed to have built machines that flew like birds. But those crafts are seen as having just glided after they took off.

The Canadian group says their ornithopter actually powered itself through the air, and that they have the telemetry data to prove it.

"Those past claims were never verified," said chief structural engineer Cameron Robertson. "We believe we are the first, because we know what it took to do it."

To achieve their dream, the team had to design a flapping wing with enough lift and thrust to overcome the aircraft's weight. And Mr Reichert also lost 8kg (18 pounds) of weight over the summer.

He said Snowbird "is not a practical method of transport". Rather, the aim of the project was to inspire others "to use the strength of their body and the creativity of their mind".

The Italian painter Leonardo Da Vinci made his famous sketches of the ornithopter around 1485.

But it was not until 1903 that the Wright brothers made the first powered flight, lasting 12 seconds and covering 37m (121 feet).

In 1977, the Gossamer Condor became the first human-powered aircraft capable of controlled and sustained flight after covering a 1.6km (one-mile) figure-of-eight course.

 

They risked their lives to capture on film hundreds of blinding flashes, rising fireballs and mushroom clouds.

The blast from one detonation hurled a man and his camera into a ditch. When he got up, a second wave knocked him down again.

Then there was radiation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14atom.html?_r=1&8dpc

While many of the scientists who made atom bombs during the cold war became famous, the men who filmed what happened when those bombs were detonated made up a secret corps.

Their existence and the nature of their work has emerged from the shadows only since the federal government began a concerted effort to declassify their films about a dozen years ago. In all, the atomic moviemakers fashioned 6,500 secret films, according to federal officials.

Today, the result is a surge in fiery images on television and movie screens, as well as growing public knowledge about the atomic filmmakers.

The images are getting “seared into people’s imaginations,” said Robert S. Norris, author of “Racing for the Bomb” and an atomic historian. They bear witness, he added, “to extraordinary and terrifying power.”

Two new atomic documentaries, “Countdown to Zero” and “Nuclear Tipping Point,” feature archival images of the blasts. Both argue that the threat of atomic terrorism is on the rise and call for the strengthening of nuclear safeguards and, ultimately, the elimination of global arsenals.

As for the atomic cameramen, there aren’t that many left. “Quite a few have died from cancer,” George Yoshitake, 82, one of the survivors, said of his peers in an interview. “No doubt it was related to the testing.”

The cinematographers focused on nuclear test explosions in the Pacific and Nevada.

Electrified wire ringed their headquarters in the Hollywood Hills. The inconspicuous building, on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon, had a sound stage, screening rooms, processing labs, animation gear, film vaults and a staff of more than 250 producers, directors and cameramen — all with top-secret clearances.

When originally made, the films served as vital sources of information for scientists investigating the nature of nuclear arms and their destructiveness. Some movies also served as tutorials for federal and Congressional leaders.

Today, arms controllers see the old films as studies in gung-ho paranoia.

“They have this very odd voice,” said Mark Sugg, a film producer at the World Security Institute, a private group in Washington. “You and I would be appalled that some hydrogen bomb vaporized a corner of what used to be paradise. But they’ve got a guy bragging about it.”

A 2006 book, “How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb,” explores the nature of the cameramen’s secretive enterprise, its pages full of declassified photographs and technical diagrams.

“They’re kind of unrecognized patriots,” said Peter Kuran, the book’s author and a special-effects filmmaker in Hollywood. “The images that they captured will, for a long time, be a snapshot of what our last century was like.”

After inaugurating the nuclear age and dropping two atomic bombs on Japan in World War II, the United States threw itself into expanding its nuclear arsenal. New designs required test detonations to make sure they worked properly. Between 1946 and 1962, the nation set off more than 200 atmospheric blasts.

The secret film unit, established in 1947 by the military, was known as the Lookout Mountain Laboratory. Surrounded by the lush greenery of Laurel Canyon, just minutes from the Sunset Strip, the lab drew on Hollywood talent and technology to pursue its clandestine ends.

“The neighbors were suspicious because the lights were on all night long,” Mr. Yoshitake recalled.

Film historians say the unit tested many technologies that Hollywood later embraced, including advanced lenses and cameras, films and projection techniques.

The cameramen fanned out from Wonderland Avenue to governmental test sites in the South Pacific and the Nevada desert, their job to chronicle the age’s fury. It put them as close as two miles from the blasts.

The visual records helped scientists do everything from estimating the size of nuclear detonations to measuring their destructive power. Mock towns went up in flames.

Mr. Yoshitake recalled documenting what a fiery explosion did to pigs — whose skin resembles that of humans.

 

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“Some were still squealing,” he said. “You could smell the meat burning. It made you sick. I thought, ‘Oh, how terrible. If they were humans they would have suffered terribly.’ ”

The cameramen were allowed to simply witness, not photograph, their first hydrogen bomb explosions, which were roughly one thousand times more powerful than atomic blasts. The goal was to get them accustomed to the level of violence.

“The purple glow in the sky — that was so eerie,” Mr. Yoshitake recalled. “And we were not even close, about 20 miles way. It filled the whole sky.”

Hollywood stars appeared in some of the films. Reed Hadley, star of the 1950s television show “Racket Squad,” portrayed a pipe-smoking military observer who, in 1952, witnessed the world’s first hydrogen blast.

“As you can imagine, feeling is running pretty high,” he said, standing aboard a warship in the Pacific. “And there’s reason for it. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll soon see the largest explosion ever set off on the face of the earth.”

Official Washington saw many of the films. Members of Congress, who controlled the appropriation of atomic funds, got special viewings.

Atomic leaders “put on their best shows” for Congress, Charles P. Demos, a former classification official with the Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear weapons program, recalled in an interview. “They probably affected a lot of the decisions.”

The guarded enterprise lost its subject matter in 1963 when the superpowers agreed to move all testing of nuclear weapons underground, ending the spectacle of atmospheric blasts and what governments had come to regard as serious risks to human health from radioactive fallout.

In 1997, Hazel R. O’Leary, the secretary of energy under President Bill Clinton, sought to declassify the old movies.

At a news conference, Ms. O’Leary called the archive “a treasure trove” and promised to release the films after they had undergone any needed redactions for purposes of national security. Nuclear specialists say the shape and size of a weapon — especially a hydrogen bomb — can reveal design secrets.

The department’s goal was to make public up to 20 films a month and complete the declassification project in five to seven years.

Late in 1997, an event in Hollywood at the American Film Institutehonored the atomic filmmakers. Present were some two dozen of the survivors.

“You had to have the cameras running before the detonation,” Douglas Wood, 75, a cinematographer, told a reporter at the gathering. If not, he said, the blinding flash “would burn the film and jam the film gate.”

Mr. Kuran, the filmmaker, organized and filmed the Hollywood event. Impressed with the skill and courage of the cinematographers, he mixed the event footage with declassified bomb imagery to produce “Atomic Filmmakers,” a video he sells on his Web site, www.atomcentral.com.

The declassifications stopped in 2001. The arrival of the Bush administration, and an outbreak of atomic jitters after the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, combined to bring about the program’s demise.

Today, the Energy Department says it has released publicly some 100 movies from the vast stockpile, which the military controls. “What you see is what we have,” said Darwin Morgan, a department spokesman in Las Vegas.

A page on the department’s Web site features links to clips from the atomic films that visitors can view free of charge and sells full versions as videodiscs for $10, plus shipping. It calls them “an enduring, awesome visual documentation of the power and destruction of nuclear weapons.” Many are available free on YouTube under the search heading “declassified U.S. nuclear test film.”

Mr. Kuran continues to work on the old movies, using high-tech methodologies to improve their clarity and restore faded images to their original glory.

“He fixes things pixel by pixel,” said Mr. Sugg of the World Security Institute. “He’s this fanatical quality guy.”

“My passion is to find ways of fixing them up,” Mr. Kuran said in an interview. “The whole point is not to lose something that needs to be preserved. I doubt very much that they’re going to be shooting off these bombs again in the atmosphere.”

Viewers include President Obama.

In April, he hosted a White House screening of “Nuclear Tipping Point.” The documentary profiles a bipartisan group of former atomic officials who are promoting a vision of the world free of nuclear arms — an objective in line with Mr. Obama’s own policies.

Mr. Yoshitake, the atomic cameraman, said the release and restoration of the images were healthy developments because their disclosure improved public understanding of the nuclear threat.

“It’s a good thing to show the horror,” he said.

And he wondered — now that the cold war is over — why advanced nations still retain more than 20,000 of the deadliest of all weapons.

“Do we need all these bombs?” Mr. Yoshitake asked. “It’s scary.”

Syllabus

IF YOU SEE A ZERO  YOU OWE ME WORK BRING IT TO TUTORIAL

Summarize this Podcast for Extra Crecit

After WWII, Europe Was A 'Savage Continent' Of Devastation

 

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Robert Behr, Holocaust survivor

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John Paul Sartre and the Existential Choice

This video explains why we cannot go faster than light

PBS/BBC - The Great War (series) 1996

Could You Hack It in a WWI Tank? The British Mark I

The World at War - Ep 1 A New Germany

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1) Clean, 2) Time, 3) Glass, 4) Light, 5) Cold, and 6) Sound.

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Negotiation Tactics - Vladimir Putin Hosts Dog Shy Angela Merkel

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BBC: Museum of Lost Objects

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India joins USA, Russia, & China in Nuclear Triad Club

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Swing Kids

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Pussy Riot - Putin Will Teach You How to Love

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People Thought Machine Guns Might Prevent Wars

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The Navy's new drone being tested near Chesapeake Bay stretches the boundaries of technology: It's designed to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, one of aviation's most difficult maneuvers.

What's even more remarkable is that it will do that not only without a pilot in the cockpit, but without a pilot at all.

The X-47B marks a paradigm shift in warfare, one that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. With the drone's ability to be flown autonomously by onboard computers, it could usher in an era when death and destruction can be dealt by machines operating semi-independently.

GRAPHIC: How the X-47B lands

Although humans would program an autonomous drone's flight plan and could override its decisions, the prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many.

"Lethal actions should have a clear chain of accountability," said Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and robotics expert. "This is difficult with a robot weapon. The robot cannot be held accountable. So is it the commander who used it? The politician who authorized it? The military's acquisition process? The manufacturer, for faulty equipment?"

Sharkey and others believe that autonomous armed robots should force the kind of dialogue that followed the introduction of mustard gas in World War I and the development of atomic weapons in World War II. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the group tasked by the Geneva Conventions to protect victims in armed conflict, is already examining the issue.

"The deployment of such systems would reflect … a major qualitative change in the conduct of hostilities," committee President Jakob Kellenberger said at a recent conference. "The capacity to discriminate, as required by [international humanitarian law], will depend entirely on the quality and variety of sensors and programming employed within the system."

Weapons specialists in the military and Congress acknowledge that policymakers must deal with these ethical questions long before these lethal autonomous drones go into active service, which may be a decade or more away.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said policy probably will first be discussed with the bipartisan drone caucus that he co-chairs with Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita). Officially known as the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, the panel was formed in 2009 to inform members of Congress on the far-reaching applications of drone technology.

"It's a different world from just a few years ago — we've entered the realm of science fiction in a lot of ways," Cuellar said. "New rules have to be developed as new technology comes about, and this is a big step forward."

Aerial drones now piloted remotely have become a central weapon for the CIA and U.S. military in their campaign against terrorists in the Middle East. The Pentagon has gone from an inventory of a handful of drones before Sept. 11, 2001, to about 7,500 drones, about one-third of all military aircraft.

Despite looming military spending cuts, expenditures on drones are expected to take less of a hit, if any, because they are cheaper to build and operate than piloted aircraft.

All military services are moving toward greater automation with their robotic systems. Robotic armed submarines could one day stalk enemy waters, and automated tanks could engage soldiers on the battlefield.

"More aggressive robotry development could lead to deploying far fewer U.S. military personnel to other countries, achieving greater national security at a much lower cost and most importantly, greatly reduced casualties," aerospace pioneer Simon Ramo, who helped develop the intercontinental ballistic missile, wrote in his new book, "Let Robots Do the Dying."

The Air Force wrote in an 82-page report that outlines the future usage of drones, titled "Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047," that autonomous drone aircraft are key "to increasing effects while potentially reducing cost, forward footprint and risk." Much like a chess master can outperform proficient chess players, future drones will be able to react faster than human pilots ever could, the report said.

And with that potential comes new concerns about how much control of the battlefield the U.S. is willing to turn over to computers.

There is no plan by the U.S. military — at least in the near term — to turn over the killing of enemy combatants to the X-47B or any other autonomous flying machine. But the Air Force said in the "Flight Plan" that it's only a matter of time before drones have the capability to make life-or-death decisions as they circle the battlefield. Even so, the report notes that officials will still monitor how these drones are being used.

"Increasingly humans will no longer be 'in the loop' but rather 'on the loop' — monitoring the execution of certain decisions," the report said. "Authorizing a machine to make lethal combat decisions is contingent upon political and military leaders resolving legal and ethical questions."

Peter W. Singer, author of "Wired for War," a book about robotic warfare, said automated military targeting systems are under development. But before autonomous aerial drones are sent on seek-and-destroy missions, he said, the military must first prove that it can pull off simpler tasks, such as refueling and reconnaissance missions.

That's where the X-47B comes in.

"Like it or not, autonomy is the future," Singer said. "The X-47 is one of many programs that aim to perfect the technology."

The X-47B is an experimental jet — that's what the X stands for — and is designed to demonstrate new technology, such as automated takeoffs, landings and refueling. The drone also has a fully capable weapons bay with a payload capacity of 4,500 pounds, but the Navy said it has no plans to arm it.

The Navy is now testing two of the aircraft, which were built behind razor-wire fences at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s expansive complex in Palmdale, where the company manufactured the B-2 stealth bomber.

Funded under a $635.8-million contract awarded by the Navy in 2007, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program has grown in cost to an estimated $813 million.

Last February, the first X-47B had its maiden flight from Edwards Air Force Base, where it continued testing until last month when it was carried from the Mojave Desert to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in southern Maryland. It is there that the next stage of the demonstration program begins.

The drone is slated to first land on a carrier by 2013, relying on pinpoint GPS coordinates and advanced avionics. The carrier's computers digitally transmit the carrier's speed, cross-winds and other data to the drone as it approaches from miles away.

The X-47B will not only land itself, but will also know what kind of weapons it is carrying, when and where it needs to refuel with an aerial tanker, and whether there's a nearby threat, said Carl Johnson, Northrop's X-47B program manager. "It will do its own math and decide what it should do next."

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-auto-drone-20120126,0,740306.story

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It is relatively unsplashy, as these things go — not very long, not very elegantly written, just 3,500 or so words of Medieval Latin crammed illegibly onto a single page of parchment.

But Magna Carta, presented by 40 indignant English barons to their treacherous king in the 13th century, has endured ever since as perhaps the world’s first and best declaration of the rule of law, a thrilling instance of a people’s limiting a ruler’s power by demanding rights for themselves.

In the United States, Magna Carta — it means Great Charter in Latin — is treated with a reverence bordering on worship by many legislators, scholars and judges. It is considered the basis for many of the principles that form the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

And as a measure of how exciting an old piece of paper can be, in 2007 the billionaire philanthropist David M. Rubenstein paid $21.3 million to buy a (somewhat later) version of it and then put it on permanent loan to the National Archives, where anyone can see it on display.

On Monday, Magna Carta’s 800th birthday is to be observed with an extravagant ceremony in Runnymede, the meadow near Windsor where King John of England capitulated to the barons’ demands and affixed his royal seal to the original document all those years ago.

The event will feature, among other things, a group of 500 American lawyers traveling with the American Bar Association, a host of England’s foremost jurists and scholars and — as a sign of how far monarchs have come since medieval times — Queen Elizabeth II, attending not on sufferance, but of her own free will.

“The events of 800 years ago marked the commencement of a major undertaking in human history,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in a recent address. The renowned English judge Lord Denning called Magna Carta “the greatest constitutional document of all times — the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

Amid all the celebrating, the years of planning, of conferences, exhibits, speeches, papers, symposia and encomia extolling Magna Carta, it might seem churlish to take another view. But there are some legal scholars who believe that the charter is actually not such a big deal. Our adulation of it, they say, comes from what we believe it to have been in hindsight — not what it was at the time.

According to this argument, even the notion that Magna Carta established many of Western democracies’ most dearly held rights, like the right to trial by jury and the right not to be imprisoned arbitrarily by the state, is a misreading of history.

“The myth of Magna Carta lies at the whole origin of our perception of who we are as an English-speaking people, freedom-loving people who’ve lived with a degree of liberty and under a rule of law for 800 years,” said Nicholas Vincent, a professor at the University of East Anglia and the author of “Magna Carta: A Very Short Introduction.”

“It’s a load of tripe, of course. But it’s a very useful myth.”

For one thing, as Jill Lepore pointed out recently in The New Yorker, the original Magna Carta in fact lived a short life and died an obscure death.

It was not seen at the time as marking a great moment in democratic history. Nobody had a chance to follow any of its provisions. Almost immediately after agreeing to it, King John prevailed on the pope to annul it. (In an instance of, perhaps, poetic justice, John died of dysentery shortly afterward.)

Also, it was a narrowly fashioned agreement between a small group of privileged people and an even-more-privileged monarch; there was no mention of regular people or of democracy as we know it.

The original Magna Carta became the basis for a number of successive agreements over the years, signed again and again by various kings, culminating in a more definitive 1297 version, one of whose copies Mr. Rubenstein bought for the National Archives.

But it was not until centuries later that Magna Carta was resurrected, reinterpreted and held up as a great symbol of the rule of law. It was invoked in the early days of the American colonies, again during the drafting of the Constitution, and countless times since.

“It’s one of the many, many things in the Anglo-American legal tradition that will eventually grow and mutate and be misinterpreted as something that’s important,” Akhil Amar, a professor at Yale Law School and author, most recently, of “The Law of the Land,” said of Magna Carta, using the historical present. He added: “Stuff happens later that endows it with a certain retrospective significance.”

But in a way the two views can be reconciled: Magna Carta, in the view of many, can still be considered deeply significant even if it was not so significant in June 1215.

“It’s a mistake to think that a document’s importance can be measured solely by the immediate context in which it’s produced,” said Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School. Magna Carta’s resonance, he continued, “doesn’t rest on what King John and those particular barons were doing at that particular time, but on the length of the legacy in using and interpreting and holding up this document as a banner for the rule of law.”

Scholars who say that the claims for Magna Carta are exaggerated, he added, are merely following academic fashion. “Among historians it’s the cool thing to say,” he said.

“It’s precisely from the capacity it’s had over this 800-year period of functioning as a rallying cry, a symbol, an ideal of the rule of the law that it’s important,” Dr. Feldman said. “No other document in world history has been able to function in so many times and places as the epitome of that ideal.”

It is also one of the few documents that fills lawyers, usually seen as a cynical lot, with almost physical excitement, both as an artifact and as a concept.

“There’s no question that it’s had a substantial and enduring impact on the development of law in the United States of America,” said William C. Hubbard, president of the American Bar Association. “The idea that the law comes from the people, and it’s not the law of the king, is fundamental.”

Americans tend to revere Magna Carta somewhat more than the English, who still have a monarchy and do not have a written constitution. Sometimes this can lead to absurd extremes. Several years ago, for instance, Republicans in the New Hampshire legislature proposed a bill that would have required any new legislation dealing with individual rights or liberties to include “a direct quote from the Magna Carta” (it died in committee).

But as a sign of Magna Carta’s enduring relevance, a provision of the charter holding that, “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice,” was cited last month in a Supreme Court decision on judicial integrity. Upholding a Florida law that forbids judges to solicit campaign contributions, Chief Justice Roberts cited the relevant passage and wrote: “This principle dates back at least eight centuries to Magna Carta.”

“There you have it,” Mr. Hubbard said. “To think that those principles have survived 800 years gives me great hope for the future.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/15/world/europe/magna-carta-still-posing-a-challenge-at-800.html

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A World Without Word War One?

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During World War I, Germany Unleashed 'Terrorist Cell In America'

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ON a bright Hawaiian Sunday morning 70 years ago today, hundreds of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor and laid waste to the United States Pacific Fleet. The American people boiled over in righteous fury, and America plunged into World War II. The “date which will live in infamy” was the real turning point of the war, which had been raging for more than two years, and it opened an era of American internationalism and global security commitments that continues to this day.

By a peculiar twist of fate, the Japanese admiral who masterminded the attack had persistently warned his government not to fight the United States. Had his countrymen listened, the history of the 20th century might have turned out much differently.

Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto foresaw that the struggle would become a prolonged war of attrition that Japan could not hope to win. For a year or so, he said, Japan might overrun locally weak Allied forces — but after that, its war economy would stagger and its densely built wood-and-paper cities would suffer ruinous air raids. Against such odds, Yamamoto could “see little hope of success in any ordinary strategy.” His Pearl Harbor operation, he confessed, was “conceived in desperation.” It would be an all-or-nothing gambit, a throw of the dice: “We should do our best to decide the fate of the war on the very first day.”

During the Second World War and for years afterward, Americans despised Yamamoto as an archvillain, the perpetrator of an ignoble sneak attack, a personification of “Oriental treachery.” Time magazine published his cartoon likeness on its Dec. 22, 1941, cover — sinister, glowering, dusky yellow complexion — with the headline “Japan’s Aggressor.” He was said to have boasted that he would “dictate terms of peace in the White House.”

Yamamoto made no such boast — the quote was taken out of context from a private letter in which he had made precisely the opposite point. He could not imagine an end to the war short of his dictating terms in the White House, he wrote — and since Japan could not hope to conquer the United States, that outcome was inconceivable.

In fact, Yamamoto was one of the most colorful, charismatic and broad-minded naval officers of his generation. He had graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War. As a 21-year-old ensign, he fought in one of the most famous sea battles in history — the Battle of Tsushima, in 1905, a lopsided Japanese victory that shocked the world and forced Czar Nicholas II to sue for peace. Yamamoto was wounded in the action and wore the scars to prove it — his lower midsection was badly pockmarked by shrapnel, and he lost two fingers on his left hand.

In the course of his naval career, he traveled widely through the United States and Europe, learning enough English — mostly during a two-year stint at Harvard soon after World War I — to read books and newspapers and carry on halting conversations. He read several biographies of Lincoln, whom he admired as a man born into poverty who rose to become a “champion” of “human freedom.”

From 1926 to 1928 he served as naval attaché in Washington; while in America, he journeyed alone across the country, paying his way with his own meager salary, stretching his budget by staying in cheap hotels and skipping meals. His travels revealed the growing power of the American industrial machine. “Anyone who has seen the auto factories in Detroit and the oil fields in Texas,” he would later remark, “knows that Japan lacks the national power for a naval race with America.”

Yamamoto didn’t drink; for vices, he preferred women and gambling. He played shogi (Japanese chess), poker and bridge aggressively, and for high stakes. In Tokyo, Yamamoto spent his nights among the geishas of the Shinbashi district, who nicknamed him 80 sen. (A manicure cost one yen, equivalent to 100 sen; since he had only eight fingers he demanded a discount.)

When Yamamoto appeared in uniform, on the deck of his flagship or before Emperor Hirohito, he was the picture of hatchet-faced solemnity. But in other settings he was prone to sentimentality, as when he freely wept at the death of a subordinate, or poured out his heart in letters to his geisha lover.

During the political turmoil of the 1930s, Yamamoto was a leading figure in the navy’s moderate “treaty faction,” known for its support of unpopular disarmament treaties. He criticized the mindlessly bellicose rhetoric of the ultranationalist right and opposed the radicals who used revolutionary violence and assassinations to achieve their ends. He despised the Japanese Army and its leaders, who subverted the power of civilian ministers and engineered military adventures in Manchuria and other parts of China.

As navy vice minister from 1936 to 1939, Yamamoto staked his life on forestalling an alliance with Nazi Germany. Right-wing zealots condemned him as a “running dog” of the United States and Britain and vowed to assassinate him. A bounty was reportedly placed on his head. He received letters warning him of an impending punishment “on heaven’s behalf,” and authorities discovered a plot to blow up a bridge as he passed over it.

In August 1939, Yamamoto was named commander in chief of the Combined Fleet, the highest seagoing command in the Japanese Navy. (As it placed him beyond the reach of his enemies, the appointment probably saved his life.) From his flagship, Nagato, usually anchored in Hiroshima Bay, Yamamoto continued to warn against joining with the Nazis. He reminded his government that Japan imported around four-fifths of its oil and steel from areas controlled by the Allies. To risk conflict, he wrote, was foolhardy, because “there is no chance of winning a war with the United States for some time to come.”

But Japan’s confused and divided government drifted toward war while refusing to face the strategic problems it posed. It signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in Berlin in September 1940. As Yamamoto had predicted, the American government quickly restricted and finally cut off exports of oil and other vital materials. The sanctions brought events to a head, because Japan had no domestic oil production to speak of, and would exhaust its stockpiles in about a year.

Yamamoto realized he had lost the fight to keep Japan out of war, and he fell in line with the planning process. But he continued to ask critical questions. Two decades of strategic planning for a war with the United States had envisioned a clash of battleships in the western Pacific — a decisive battle like that at Tsushima. But Yamamoto now asked: What if the American fleet declined to play its part? What if the Americans instead chose to bide their time and build up their strength?

IN 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the fleet to Pearl Harbor. He had intended to signal that the United States Navy was in striking distance of Japan — but “conversely,” Yamamoto observed, “we’re within striking distance, too. In trying to intimidate us, America has put itself in a vulnerable position. If you ask me, they’re just that bit too confident.” Therein lay the germ of his plan to launch a sudden carrier air attack on the Hawaiian stronghold.

Adm. Osami Nagano, chief of the Naval General Staff, stiffly resisted the proposed raid. His planners worried that it would expose the Japanese aircraft carriers to devastating counterstrikes. Yamamoto countered that the American Fleet was a “dagger pointed at Japan’s heart,” and surmised that the attack might even cause the Americans to recoil in shock and despair, “so that the morale of the U.S. Navy and the American people goes down to such an extent that it cannot be recovered.” At last, he threatened to resign unless his operation was approved, and Admiral Nagano capitulated: “If he has that much confidence, it’s better to let Yamamoto go ahead.”

Yamamoto appreciated the irony: having risked his life to prevent war with the United States, he was now its architect. “What a strange position I find myself in,” he wrote a friend, “having been assigned the mission diametrically opposed to my own personal opinion, with no choice but to push full speed in pursuance of that mission. Alas, is that fate?”

And yet even in the final weeks of peace, Yamamoto continued to urge that the wiser course was not to fight the United States at all. “We must not start a war with so little a chance of success,” he told Admiral Nagano. He recommended abrogating the Tripartite Pact and pulling Japanese troops out of China. Finally, he hoped that the emperor would intervene with a “sacred decision” against war. But the emperor remained silent.

On Dec. 7, 1941, all eight battleships of the Pacific Fleet were knocked out of action in the first half hour of the conflict. More than 180 American planes were destroyed, mostly on the ground, representing about two-thirds of the total American military aircraft in the Pacific theater. The Japanese carriers escaped with the loss of just 29 planes.

The Japanese people exulted, and Yamamoto was lifted in their eyes to the status of a demigod. Now he could dictate his wishes to the Tokyo admirals, and would continue to do so until his death in April 1943, when American fighters shot down his aircraft in the South Pacific.

And yet, Pearl Harbor aside, Yamamoto was not a great admiral. His strategic blunders were numerous and egregious, and were criticized even by his own subordinate officers.

Indeed, from a strategic point of view, Pearl Harbor was one of the most spectacular miscalculations in history. It aroused the American people to wage total, unrelenting war until Japan was conquered. Yamamoto was also directly responsible for Japan’s cataclysmic defeat at the Battle of Midway, and for the costly failure of his four-month campaign to recapture the island of Guadalcanal.

But perhaps the most important part of Yamamoto’s legacy was not his naval career at all, but the part he played in the boisterous politics of prewar Japan. He was one of the few Japanese leaders of his generation who found the moral courage to tell the truth — that waging war against the United States would invite a national catastrophe. As Japan lay in ashes after 1945, his countrymen would remember his determined exertions to stop the slide toward war. In a sense, Isoroku Yamamoto was vindicated by Japan’s defeat.

The author,  Ian W. Toll is the author of “Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/opinion/a-reluctant-enemy.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print

 Otto von Habsburg only relinquished his claim to the fallen Austro-Hungarian empire in 1961

The eldest son of the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian empire has died in Germany at the age of 98.

Otto von Habsburg was born in 1912, as the heir to the empire, but it collapsed at the end of World War I and the Habsburg family went into exile.

After World War II, Mr Habsburg became a champion of European unity during its Cold War division.

He served as a member of the European parliament for two decades. He is to be buried in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

Mr Habsburg only officially relinquished his claim to inherit the empire in 1961 and five years later was allowed to return to Austria for the first time since the family fled in 1919.

He was an opponent of the Nazis and spoke out against Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938.

In 1989 he helped organise the Pan-European Picnic demonstration on the border of Austria and Hungary.

The border was briefly opened, an event credited with helping usher in the fall of the Berlin Wall months later.

Mr Habsburg then dedicated himself to having the former communist-ruled states of eastern Europe brought into the EU.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso paid tribute to him as "a great European... who gave an important impetus to the European project throughout his rich life".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14019319

Claude Choules was the last known surviving combat veteran of the Great War, and served in both the world wars of the 20th Century.

Born in Pershore, Worcestershire in 1901, he tried to sign up for the army at the beginning of World War I but he was too young.

Two years later, at the age of 15, he joined the Royal Navy serving on board the training ship HMS Impregnable based at Devonport.

His earliest memories in the service were of seeing the convoys of ships, returning to Britain, carrying the wounded from the Battle of the Somme.

In 1917 he transferred to the battleship HMS Revenge, one of the newest and most powerful ships in the British fleet and the flagship of the First Battle Squadron.

German surrender

His main task on the Revenge was to help lower the seaplanes into the water which were used to fight the threat of German Zeppelins.

It was while on board the Revenge that Choules witnessed the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in November 1918 in the Firth of Forth.

He remained with the Revenge as part of the escort which accompanied the German fleet to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands and, six months later, watched as the interned German crews scuttled their ships.

Choules was posted to the Mediterranean in 1920 where he spent nearly three years on the battleship HMS Valiant before joining HMS Eagle, the Royal Navy's first purpose built aircraft carrier.

Seaplane being launched Seaplanes were used to counter threats from German Zeppelins

In 1926, along with a number of senior sailors he was sent to Australia to work as an instructor at the Flinders Naval Depot near Adelaide.

He was so taken by the Australian way of life that he applied for a transfer to the Royal Australian Navy where he became a specialist torpedo and explosives expert.

He was part of the crew that travelled to Scotland to commission the newly built warship HMAS Canberra and he served in her until 1931 when he transferred to the navy reserve.

In 1932 he rejoined the regular Australian navy as a Chief Petty Officer Torpedo and Anti Submarine Instructor.

Explosives in Australia

At the outbreak of war in 1939 Choules was the Acting Torpedo Officer, Fremantle and also the Chief Demolition Officer on the western side of the Australian continent.

He was tasked with destroying vital military installations should the threatened Japanese invasion of Australia come to pass.

Early in the war he was flown to Esperance, on the south coast of Western Australia, to identify and destroy the first mine to wash up on Australian soil during World War II.

As a demolition and explosives expert he took charge of the operation to clear the wreckage of 15 flying boats from the port of Broome on the northern coast of Western Australia.

The aircraft had been destroyed in an earlier Japanese attack and the remains were blocking a vital navigation.

Choules and his team of divers arrived in December 1942 and spent three months using explosives to blow the wrecks into manageable pieces and transport them into deeper water away from the harbour.

Claude in a biplane Taking to the skies on his 103rd birthday

He had the task of destroying Fremantle harbour and oil storage tanks rendering them useless as facilities in the event of a Japanese invasion.

Choules placed explosives around the harbour facilities and on board those ships that could not be moved to a safer harbour.

He remained in the Australian Navy until he transferred to the Naval Dockyard police, finally retiring in 1956 after 40 years in uniform.

For the next 10 years he operated a boat catching crayfish off the coast of Western Australia.

As, one by one, his fellow veterans passed away he must have felt history was closing in on him. But, although his body was failing, his mind remained alert until the end.

"I'm lucky aren't I, to be surviving all that time," he once told the BBC. "If I had my time over again I wouldn't change a bit of it"

Claude Choules was the last link with a war that wiped out a generation. Now, like the conflict in which he fought, he has passed into history.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10205174

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World Population

 

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean activist has floated propaganda balloons including footage of protests in the Middle East toward North Korea, despite Pyongyang's threat to retaliate.

Park Sang-hak says the balloons were launched Thursday from a hill near the border. They also carried 1-dollar bills and 200,000 propaganda leaflets.

The move came days after North Korea's military warned it would fire at South Korean border towns if Seoul doesn't stop the leaflets.

South Korea says it cannot do that, citing freedom of speech protections.

Park says that he won't yield to what he calls North Korean blackmailing. He says he will dedicate himself to letting North Koreans know what's going on in the world.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/03/30/world/asia/AP-AS-Koreas-Clash.html?_r=1&hp

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Afghan Voter
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