Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘World’ Category

“IT WAS SOMETHING HE HAD TO DO.”

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Wrisberg, John

Another Memorial Day. Today is the day America remembers its war dead. The holiday more or less started during the Civil War, though exactly how and where isn’t settled. And may never be,  historians are still arguing about it. Doesn’t matter though, it’s an official holiday now, and unofficial start of summer. Picnic, beer, family, and friends.

And memories. There’s a fair number of war dead in Clear Lake. The Civil War, the World Wars, they have their graves and monuments. Lots of flags in the Clear Lake cemetery today. And aside from the cemetery, there is a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Flagpole just a few blocks from where I am living. Only one Clear Lake boy died in Vietnam, he is remembered on the Flagpole. John H Wrisberg III. I only say boy because he died before he was 21, just to emphasize the tragedy of a man dying so young.

I was just a kid during most of the Vietnam War. Certainly in 1968 when Mr Wrisberg fell. Most of the people who remember him were also children at the time. The Vietnam War was over half a century ago, like the wars before, it is rapidly fading into history and out of memory. Some remember John still though. Turns out he lived just a few houses away from where I live now. These posts are always hard to write, but discovering that floored me. As I sit here typing I look out on the neighborhood he grew up in.

I did solicit my fellow Clear Lakers for memories. I shared them below. One fellow remembers as a little kid getting piggyback rides from John as a kid. Another remembers getting in the way of John and a friend playing pool, so John placed her sitting on a shelf that was five feet from the ground. Others remember him and his family. His younger brother died a few years later in a motorcycle accident. His father was an Air Force pilot, died in a crash in 1960. A lot of tragedy for one family.

John was a real person. With hopes and dreams and and fears and plans. A good person whose life was cut short in a war on the other side of the planet. “It was something he had to do.” I honor his sacrifice, I am glad his memory lives on in those who knew him. As long our departed live on in our memories, they are still with us.

This is a shorter post than usual. I said what I had to say. God bless all who died in the service of our nation. God grant peace to their their surviving friends and loved ones. God give us the wisdom to value peace more than war. When I was a young man peace was considered a laudable national goal. I miss that.

Have a good Memorial Day everyone.

“He was my next door neighbor, he lived at 200 N Shore Dr, I was just a little one back then still remember him giving me piggy back rides, and the sad part….first time I ever went to a funeral home and seem someone in a casket, I still remember that vision, so sad … “

— Todd V Humberg

“John was a year ahead of me in high school, remember him well. I look up his name on the wall in DC when I visit . RIP” 

— Ed Kotz

“His little brother, Mike, who I remember from Clear Lake High School, died three years after John in a motorcycle accident. His father, also named John, was a captain in the Air Force who died in 1960 in a plane crash during a routine mission as a test pilot. Lots of tragedy struck this family.”

— Peggy Ward Kerr

“Rest in Peace, sir.”

— Linda Reid

“I lived across the street. I was good friends with Mike and remember the shock. So sad.”

— Terri Masteller

“He was my oldest brother’s best friend. I was probably 5 y.o. and they were shooting pool in our basement. Apparently I was in the way, he picked me up and sat me on a shelf that was 5ft off the floor.”

— Sheila Sherman

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image copyright unknown. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

May 27, 2019 at 7:20 am

Posted in History, Peace, War, World

“ICH HABE DEUTSCHLAND AUCH SO GELIEBT”

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MFHMildred Harnak. Image is free to use according to Wikipedia:ticket #2008031210021854

Another extemporaneous post. Boy, getting even uglier on the Iran front, with ships being sabotaged. Trump blames Iran, predictable and silly. Effective though if he is looking for a reason to start a war. Typically the nation one wants to start a war with is blamed for some incident, whether or not it actually occurred is irrelevant. If necessary, incidents can and have been manufactured. As Hitler did before invading Poland. Iran is not Poland though, it’s not 1939, and Trump isn’t Hitler. If war breaks out, my prediction is that nothing good will come of it.

Speaking of Hitler, two other things I wanted to touch on came up in my readings. Revisiting the “Trump is Hitler” trope, I realize there’s a few more differences that make the comparison iffy at best. I may have mentioned that Hitler seized power at a time of social, political, and economic upheaval in Germany. Trump is a product of  relatively much more stable times. Hitler had huge numbers (millions) of organized paramilitary fighters that were loyal to Hitler, Trump has nothing of the kind.

Most importantly of all, within a year of seizing power, there was the Night of the Long Knives, where Hitler used his loyal followers to slaughter his political opponents. 85 to more than 1,000 killed. After which all political parties except the Nazis were outlawed. While Trump may fantasize about having Warren and Clinton seized and jailed/executed, I don’t see any realistic chance he is going to get that kind of personal power. Not that I’m defending the man of course, he’s a disaster on multiple levels. Just not one that involves all of us being forced to wear MAGA hats.

And speaking of Nazis and Germany’s slide into horror, I came across some nasty little Nazi business that I wanted to share. And yes, this post is not quite as extemporaneous as I led on, these various tidbits have been floating around in my head and I wanted to tie them all together somehow. Anyhow, the story of Dr Hermann Stieve. He was a German doctor, rose to prominence after World War One, became at age 35 the youngest doctor to chair a medical department at a German university. He was a researcher, particularly of the female reproductive system. In fact he was the first to scientifically show that the rhythm method is ineffective as a form of birth control. He wasn’t a Nazi, but he was certainly a Nationalist and not exactly uncomfortable with Nazi ideology.

Wait, a Nazi sympathizing doctor, Hitler’s Germany,  female reproductive system … this is going to get rather dark, isn’t it? Yes, yes it is. So, after World War One the good doctor had a problem. The Weimar Republic, Germany’s post World War One government, didn’t condone the death penalty. So bodies and organs for study were in short supply. Fortunately for the our doctor, this all changed in 1934. Hitler was now in power, and Nazi jails started executing people right and left. And in no time German teaching and research hospitals had all the fresh corpses they needed.

Few, if any, objected. So by the early thirties, it had to have been common knowledge that the Nazis were regularly murdering Germans under the thinnest of legal pretexts. I mean it got much worse later, but still, most if not all people were able to carry on with their lives and just accept it. Shows how normalized evil can percolate through society. Few objected when Jews were dismissed from all University positions either. Granted it also rapidly became actually dangerous to object, again, no comparison to our current Trump troubles.

Our Doctor Stieve, no objections at all. And once the war got underway, he made a deal with a nearby women’s prison, and got fresh bodies pretty much on order. And the prison’s record keeping on their prisoners even helped with his research. He claimed none of the bodies he used were political prisoners, which pretty much has to be a lie. On one occasion one of his assistants recognized a body as belonging to a dissident friend. She immediately quit Dr Stieve’s program, the only one of his students or assistants known to have quit for moral reasons. Silver linings?

There were worse allegations against the doctor, but they don’t seem to hold up to scrutiny. When the prison changed their execution time to midnight, Stieve did however have influence enough to get it changed to morning executions … so he got his specimens as fresh as possible. Speaking of which, a few years back among his effects his family found hundreds of slides with tissue sample from his experiments. They were recently buried in Berlin, which is how I stumbled upon this story. The doctor was of course executed after the war for his crimes. Snort. No, only doctors who actually worked in the death camps were prosecuted. If doctors like Sieve were prosecuted, which would have been a huge numbers  of doctors, it would have hurt the reputation of German medicine. Couldn’t have that. Where Stieve disposed of his subjects is also unknown, partly why the tissue samples above got a real burial.

One subject though, Mildred Harnak, her post experimental remains were given to a friend of hers for disposal. She was a member of Red Orchestra, a German antiwar group that was rounded up and executed. Mildred is the only Red Orchestra member whose burial site is known.  Mildred was originally from Wisconsin, and had married a German and moved to Germany. Her husband was also a member of Red Orchestra. She was originally sentenced to six years for espionage. Hitler ordered her execution though, so she has the dubious distinction of being the only American who Hitler personally ordered killed. Her last words on the guillotine were reportedly: “Ich habe Deutschland auch so geliebt” (“I loved Germany so much as well.”)

God rest her soul, and all those murdered by the Nazis.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

May 15, 2019 at 6:41 am

SABRE RATTLING

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MersadScene during the Iran/Iraq War. Photographer unknown, public domain image.

I was writing a lovely post involving tanks and Hitler, can’t go wrong with that combination, but realized there is a topic in the news I have been sidestepping around. Two intertwined topics really. This would be Venezuela and Iran. intertwined in that in both cases the sabre rattling coming out of Washington and the Pentagon is reaching unhealthy proportions. Several small species have already been driven to extinction by it. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but with headlines like “US Warns Iran Might Attack Commercial Ships as US Military Buildup Continues” and “Guaido ‘Open’ to Accepting a US Offer to Invade Venezuela” there is room for concern.

Sigh. I sigh a lot lately. Beats rage. Well, so much for Trump backing down on our overstretched imperial ambitions. At least he’s consistent, he’s broken all his populist promises and then some. So here we are threatening two countries that essentially pose zero threat to the USA. I’d say it makes no sense, but alas it makes perfect sense.

Let’s break this down. First, there is the Washington version. These countries are undemocratic dictatorships, being ruined by their respective governments. Socialist on one hand, Muslim theocracy on the other. Their people yearn for democracy, and to boot, Iran is a big regional threat and cause of regional instability! In both cases US military action may be required. In Venezuela to restore democracy, and in Iran to prevent them from attacking US allies and interests in the region. Yes, we’re the good guys defending the world against evil.

Sigh. (see?) Pernicious nonsense. The reality is both far more nuanced, and not nearly as flattering to Washington. Basically Washington’s function is to defend the petrodollar as the world’s reserve currency, and American business interests. Fossil fuels and weapons sales being the number one and two. It doesn’t mean there isn’t some concern for democracy, human rights, and defending America in some Washington quarters either. And I’m not advocating Illuminati conspiracies or 9/11 truther nonsense, just pointing out that the function of national governments is to protect the wealth and property of the rich. Has always been the case, likely always will. Washington is no different, shining light on hill nonsense to the contrary.

How do I convince people of that when I can’t sway flat earthers or anti-vaxxers? Just to name two widely held beliefs despite mountains of evidence and logic showing them to be, well, in error. Reminds me of when a University did a study, they wanted to study people who believed stuff that just wasn’t so. And as one of their study cohorts they chose people who believed they had been abducted by aliens. To their amazement, a lot of people got very upset at this, because alien abductions were very real!

So, I won’t. Not my job to change people’s minds. Not directly at least. All I can do is present info and let the discerning reader decide. In Venezuela, we have a country that broke from the US orbit, and did quite well with their “socialist” policies for a decade or longer. Then a collapse of world oil prices, corruption, and mismanagement destroyed their economy. Encouraged subtly and not so subtly by the US. And now the US is backing an opposition leader, wildly exaggerating his legitimacy, and threatening to install him by force. The US has also been encouraging a military coup, because that’s a tried and true method of getting rid of inconvenient governments with a thin veneer of legitimacy. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I will point out that “humanitarian interventions” have like a ten percent “success” rate, so this path we are on likely leads nowhere good.

In Iran in many ways it’s worse. Iran is a major regional power with 80 million people. And a country the US has a shameful history with. In 1953 the USA had the democratically elected government of Iran overthrown and installed the Shah, who ruled as a brutal dictator until the Iranian revolution in 1979. And then from 1980 to 1988 the west blatantly supported Saddam’s invasion of Iran. Let’s see, decades of US supported dictatorship, followed by a US sponsored war that killed hundreds of thousands. Just maybe they might have some ill feelings towards America in Iran? In any event since about two minutes after the Iranian revolution the US and Israel have blamed Iran for every problem in the Middle East, plus claimed Iran is “about to get” nuclear weapons.

Then of course the US sanctions against Iran, effectively an act of war. American has surrounded Iran with military bases, endlessly threatened Iran, and done their best to scuttle the nuclear deal that was painfully worked out between Iran and the west. Frankly the Iranians have been remarkably patient despite these endless provocations. I’m not exactly even sure what the goal of all Trump’s sabre rattling is. The chances the Iranian people will rise up, depose their government, and install a US friendly one is about as likely as Charlie Manson being elected president of the US. And the chances the US could do the same via invasion are even slimmer.

So I guess the whole point is to justify the US military presence in the Middle East while giving Israel a free hand. I find it hard to believe that in either country the US is seriously contemplating war. Hopefully it’s all just sabre rattling. Sabre rattling sometimes leads to wars. Wars are a bad thing. That’s the point of the illustration, wars destroy things and kill people. Point of the post really. Calling for peace and restraint, not war.

Have a good week everyone!

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All Rights  Reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

May 13, 2019 at 8:09 am

Posted in current events, Iran, War, World

Jet Powered Boy Scouts Save Nazi Germany!

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Heinkel,_He_162Image credit and copyright: SDASM Archives, Public Domain under US copyright law.

By summer 1944 Hitler’s Nazi Germany was in trouble. Big trouble. The Western Allies had landed in France, the Russians were rolling inexorably towards Berlin, and thousands of Allied bombers ranged over Germany day and night. Something radical needed to be done to turn the tide back in Germany’s favor, but what? The Luftwaffe had some ideas, and the Emergency Fighter Program was one of them. The idea was to build a lightweight, cheap, easily manufactured and easy to fly jet fighter. A fighter that could be mass produced and flown by hastily trained teenagers.

A number of designs were considered, but the Luftwaffe quickly settled on the Heinkel 162, above. A beautiful streamlined plane that as a jet fighter easily outperformed the best Allied prop fighters of its day.* It went from design to first flight in under 90 days, a remarkable achievement. And its performance if anything was more than promised, Göring and Hitler were ecstatic and the HE-162 Salamander was rushed into mass production in late 1944.

In December the HE-162 was used at the Battle of the Bulge, catching the Allies completely by surprise. With air superiority achieved the German offensive achieved all its objectives and more, crippling the Allied drive on Germany. By early 1944 the skies above Germany had been swept clear of Allied bombers, and in conjunction with the w AR-234, the world’s first jet bomber, the Russians had been stopped in their tracks. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, pretty sure my more astute readers realize the above paragraph stretches the truth a bit. OK, completely breaks it. No swarms of HE-162s flew over The Battle of the Bulge or anywhere. In fact only a handful of them ever saw action in the waning weeks of the war. It was such a great idea, what happened?

First of all, it was a crazy idea, not a great idea. By mid 1944 the war was over for all practical purposes. The Germans came up with all sorts of crazy ideas as the war’s end approached, all of which were unrealistic at best. Only about 300 HE-162s had been built by the war’s end, hardly enough to alter the outcome of the war. What really sealed its fate was its flying capabilities. The plan had been for a simple plane that a teenager could fly with minimal training. In actuality the HE-162 while an amazing plane, was also a very tricky to fly plane, requiring a highly trained pilot to safely operate. By late 1944 those were in very short supply in Germany, and no secret plan could magically change that.

Alternate history is fun though, this is not the first time I have written same. It is of course as reliable as predicting the future, IE it’s pretty much pure speculation. Still, fun to think about, and it encourages research and analysis. There were all sorts of Nazi superweapons in the pipeline as the war went into its last year, all of which were a day late and a dollar short, none came close to altering the outcome of the war. Even if Hitler had gotten the atomic bomb, it wouldn’t have changed the end result, by the end of 1943, arguably 1942, the war was over, Allied victory was inevitable.

Really? Is there no way Hitler could have won World War Two? Assuming free will is possible, sure, why not? If he hadn’t cancelled Germany’s advanced weapons programs in the early war, jet aircraft and guided missiles might have kept the blitzkrieg going until victory. Or if Hitler hadn’t botched the invasion of Russia, it was a bad idea poorly executed. Those are the big two “What ifs?” that might have led to a Hitlerian victory in World War Two.

And I’d be typing this in German now. Snort. No. Honestly, even if Hitler had defeated Russia and conquered Europe, I don’t think he had a chance of conquering the United States, let alone the world. In fact, I suspect that even if Hitler achieved his goal, rule of Europe, it would have fallen apart quickly after his death, if not before. By mid war large parts of Nazi occupied Europe were already in open insurgency, and the problem would just have grown worse. Hitler’s Nazis were wildly unpopular occupiers, and even among Germans Hitler had a growing body of enemies. We’d certainly live in a different world today, but not that different.

My point being, alternate history is fun, but if someone tries to use it as a debate tactic, it’s simply an ordinary false argument. That’s because someone can make up whatever alternate history they want to support their argument. “If the western powers had attacked Hitler in the 1930s, the war and holocaust would have been prevented.” Maybe. Or maybe launching a wildly unpopular war would have strengthened Hitler’s hand and resulted in an even worse war. No one has a crystal ball.

Coming up Friday, I dunno. Something will catch my interest, or maybe the long awaited global warming post.

*I worked with a fellow who flew bombers over Germany. They had no advance warning about German jets. One day they were flying along, and suddenly there were “tracers everywhere” and a German plane flew by going so much faster than the bomber my friend wanted to walk out on the wing and see why the engines had stopped.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

May 8, 2019 at 7:13 am

“Will the Last American Leaving Saigon Please Turn Off the Light at the End of the Tunnel”

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Frequent Wind

A history post, the first week of May, 1975. Saigon actually fell to the North Vietnamese on 30 April, the Americans having evacuated about 7,000 people by helicopter in Operation Frequent Wind. Image above from same. It was pretty traumatic for a lot of Americans, though not comparable to the decades of trauma Vietnam suffered. So, what happened that week:

May 1st, 1975, a Thursday. Not much happened today. Nothing important ever happens on Thursday. One of the great mysteries of history.

May 2nd. The last South Vietnamese soldiers surrendered at the Battle of Long Xuyên. Google failed me, was unable to find out anything about this purported battle.

May 3rd. USS Nimitz commissioned, the first supercarrier. The first of ten. And with these billion dollar bad boys at their disposal, the US never lost a war again.

May 4th. Moe Howard dies. The last surviving member of The Three Stooges. His brother had died a few months previously. Their story is really interesting, another topic for a blog post someday. Cambodia, recently taken over by the Khmer Rouge, invaded Phú Quốc island, disputed territory with Vietnam. It was the first of a series of provocations which would eventually lead to Vietnam invading Cambodia and overthrowing the Khmer Rouge regime. The Khmer Rouge were kinda crazy, they seized a US ship, the Mayaguez, later in this month.

May 5th. Another quiet day. I think all sorts of sportsball records were broken this week, millions of baseballs thrown, something like that. Doug’s Darkworld is not the place for such.

May 6th. The first Moon Tree planted. One of the Apollo astronauts brought a package of tree seeds to the moon in 1971, though they only orbited the moon, they didn’t land on it. Then they were planted all over the USA, and in a few foreign countries. I’ve seen the ones planted in Tilden Park above Berkeley. I thought they were cool, but to some I’m sure they just look like regular trees. Philistines.

May 7th. President Ford announced the end of the Vietnam War officially as far as veterans benefits and such. It was essentially the first time in more than two decades where the US wasn’t involved in Vietnam. The US fully supported the artificial state of South Vietnam that was created in 1955 after the French defeat in the First Vietnamese War. And the US was neck deep in supporting the French during the first war, even offering them the use of nuclear weapons during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. So basically the American “experience” in Vietnam lasted from 1945 until 1975.

So yes, odds and ends happened that week, the major events in Vietnam transpired the previous week. And Americans are arguing about the US war in Vietnam still. If some people refusing to accept we lost the war or blaming the loss on hippies and the media can be called arguing. When nations lose wars, myths explaining away the loss become popular. And a case can be made that Americans are particularly prone to refusing to accept defeat gracefully. I guess it’s human nature, but still, it’s getting old. If we had learned anything from Vietnam, we wouldn’t have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan etc.

It’s not really a debate because the people believing in same are no different than anti-vaxxers for the most part, they can’t even admit the possibility they might be wrong. Argued with one who trotted out a fake quote by General Giap, the architect of France and America’s defeat in Vietnam. The fake quote had Giap saying “Just one more bombing raid and we would have surrendered.” Yes, after enduring more bombs than were dropped by all of the participants in all of World War Two, one more raid would have done the trick. Insert rolled eyes.

In any event, America’s Vietnam war was an ill considered war against a determined enemy who had numerous advantages. And despite massive application of US troops and firepower, we were never really close to achieving our goal. Which was to establish South Vietnam as an independent American ally in the region. The corrupt South Vietnamese government was never able to inspire confidence and loyalty in its troops. No amount of money, bombs, or Agent Orange could fix that. Here it all is in one article, with plenty of footnotes.

Next week, who knows. I have a global warming post written. Maybe more history. There’s always some science news. Have a great weekend everyone.

(Helicopter being pushed off the deck of an aircraft carrier to make room for more during the American evacuation of Saigon. Photo credit: U.S. Marines, Official Marine Corps Photo.)

Written by unitedcats

May 3, 2019 at 6:39 am

Posted in History, War, World

THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY 1945

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Berlin, Brandenburger Tor und Pariser Platz

The first week of May, 1945, is big in the history books. A lot because it saw the end of World War Two in Europe. Easily the biggest and most destructive war in history, tens of millions of people died, entire countries were laid waste. And then there’s the Holocaust, the first and hopefully last industrial scale genocide in history. America played a big role in the war, though  not as big as many Americans imagine.

Leading into the week, on 28 April 1945 Benito Mussolini was murdered, alongside his mistress. Two days later, April 30 1945, Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, killed themselves in the Führerbunker in Berlin. They had been married the previous day. Hitler had avoided getting married for political reasons, he thought being single broadened his appeal to German women. Hitler was always worried about his popularity with the German people, sometimes to a length where it actually hurt the war effort. In any case, two of the main architects of World War Two didn’t live to see the end of the nightmare they had created.

May 1st 1945, a Tuesday. Radio Hamburg announced the death of Adolf Hitler, claiming he had died fighting in Berlin. Admiral Doenitz was named by Hitler as his successor, much to Doenitz’s surprise. I doubt he had any illusions about how hopeless the situation was, but he ruled what was left of Hitler’s Third Reich for a week. On the same day the American Seventh Army reached Braunau am Inn, the town of Hitler’s birth in Austria. And on this day Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s famous propaganda minister, committed suicide with his wife in the  Führerbunker. They also murdered their six children, though some in the bunker tried to prevent that. Things frankly got pretty crazy in the bunker near the end.

May 2nd 1945. On this day the German forces defending Berlin surrendered to the Soviets, ending the two week Battle of Berlin. The Germans were outnumbered by at least three to one, with critical shortages of fuel and ammunition as well. The outcome was never in any doubt, Hitler’s fantasies notwithstanding. The Allied spring offensive in Italy ended with the formal surrender of German forces there. On this day Martin Bormann, a Nazi who rose to tremendous power and influence as Hitler’s private secretary, died trying to escape Berlin. His fate was a mystery until 1972 when his remains were discovered. Glass fragments in his mouth indicated he had died from biting a cyanide capsule, almost certainly to avoid imminent capture by the Soviets.

May 3rd 1945. Sadly on this day the British sunk the SS Cap Arcona, a German liner loaded with prisoners and slave laborers. About 5,000 died. And in an odd two historical footnotes the Irish Prime minister offered his condolences to the German ambassador for the death of Adolf Hitler. And the government of Portugal had official flags flown at half mast in mourning for same! The true extent of the holocaust had yet to be revealed I guess.

May 4th 1945, a Friday. German forces in northwestern Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark surrendered to the Allies.

May 5th 1945. German forces in Norway surrendered to the Allies. This was also the day the Battle for Castle Itter was fought. It has been called the strangest battle of World War Two, French POWs, American soldiers, and German soldiers(!) successfully defended the castle against an attacking German force. A tennis star was among the fighters! I may have to blog about this one. Sadly this day a Japanese balloon bomb, one of hundreds launched from Japan against the US west coast, had their only success of the war, killing five children and a pregnant woman near Bly, Oregon.

May 6th 1945. Patton was ordered to stop advancing eastward because of the occupation agreement between the Americans and the Soviets, much to his disgust. And two U-boats, U-853 and U-881, were sunk in the North Atlantic. Some of the very last naval actions in the war with Nazi Germany.

May 7th 1945. The Halifax riot. Due to series of unfortunate circumstances, sailors trying to celebrate VE day rioted. I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt, but stores were looted and a lot of hard feelings created. And in Germany, German generals signed unconditional surrender documents in Eisenhower’s headquarters, ending the War in Europe. Sometimes good things do happen on Mondays.

OK, this post was not as American centric as I had originally planned. So just a couple quick notes on America in World War Two. A lot of Americans wildly overestimate America’s role in World War Two. Not surprising given how Hollywood portrays the war. In the D-Day movie “Saving Private Ryan,” there is exactly one reference to the British, and it’s unflattering. And no mention of Canada, leaving the impression that D-Day was an American affair. In truth only 40% of the troops that went ashore on D-day were American, the rest were British and Canadian. And while D-Day was important, it wasn’t a “turning point” in the war. By June 1944 the war was effectively over, it was just a matter of who would get to Berlin first.

Hitler’s armies were primarily destroyed by Soviet armies in Hitler’s disastrous attempt to conquer Russia. The Allies provided the Soviets with a lot of their trucks, but when it came to weapons and soldiers, the Russians pretty much supplied themselves. Westerners also love to make a big deal about their bombing campaigns. Post war studies showed they were not nearly as effective as was thought at the time. They also raise the morale of people being bombed.

And in a final bit of unpleasantness, stumbled on this little gem during my research. D-Day GIs ‘raped and killed their French allies while US army generals turned a blind eye’ Oops, they didn’t mention that in “Saving Private Ryan.” The sad truth is that rape and war crimes are simply a part of war. All armies have these horrors. Put people in a situation that utterly dehumanizes people and normalises violence, and some of them will do bad things. By my way of thinking, another good reason war is something to avoid, not embrace.

World War Two is fading into history now. The youngest veterans are pretty much in their nineties now. I hope people are collecting their stories. God rest all who died, let’s try not to have a World War Three, shall we?

(Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, 1945. This Image file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Written by unitedcats

May 1, 2019 at 11:02 am

Posted in History, Peace, War, World

Through Thick and Thin

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youdoodle-2018-01-26T13-43-28Z-1

Another week, another series of depressing news stories. It’s been increasingly embarrassing to be an American since 1980, but the last year, boy howdy. The thing that got my attention this morning was China announcing it is going to build a Polar Silk Road. That is to say, they are going to open up the arctic to international shipping to and from China, cutting travel time almost in half to destinations in Europe. This is part of China’s one trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative that will rebuild much of Eurasia’s transport infrastructure of roads, ports, and railroads … with China at the center.

In other words, China is actually putting “China first,” whereas the president of a decaying military empire on the other side of the planet uses “America first” as a slogan while the bankers, corporations, and military loot the public till. A trillion dollars for infrastructure or a trillion dollars more in bombers, one guess which is going to pay more dividends and create more jobs in the decades to come. And the amazing and maybe most embarrassing thing about this is that most Americans are oblivious as their leaders loot the country.

Still, more globally, ugly. 82 Percent of the Wealth Generated Last Year ‘Went to the Richest 1 Percent of the Global Population‘ This is minding numbing when one thinks about. Literally most of the world’s population is working to benefit under 100 million people. And billions of those working people are living in abject poverty. Call it whatever one wants, but the power structures of our planet are set up to exploit the many for the benefit of the few. Even a modest redistribution of this wealth would end world poverty, but no chance of that happening any time soon. Greed is the most powerful force in the Universe.

Meanwhile back on Earth, the two Koreas are increasingly talking to each other and making efforts to peacefully resolve their differences. The Trump administration is having none of it. I’m starting to wonder if China and the Koreas realize if play their cards right, they might well get a unified Korea under China’s protection. Think about it, if Trump really does lose it and order an attack on North Korea … and North Korea doesn’t retaliate against South Korea … anti US sentiment in the South would go through the roof. In fact globally anti US sentiment would take a huge hit. The US could end up getting kicked out of South Korea while Kim comes out of it as a national hero. Might even make Japan reconsider their relationship with the US. We’ll see, but if there was ever a US administration with an infantile understanding of global politics and international relations, Trump’s is it.

In local news, eleven school shootings in the US already, and we’re not even through the first month of the year! Looks like we will set a new record this year. The Trump administration is on it though, Trump has offered his “Thoughts and Prayers.” So sad. As others have noted, our national response to the Sandy Hook school massacre was exactly dip squat, so no one is holding their breath waiting for the US government to do anything about our nation’s horrific gun violence problem. In fact many Americans apparently like it this way.

In a bit of odd historical news, it was revealed that in 2013 San Francisco police received a letter purportedly from one of the three men who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962. Interesting indeed. Officially they drowned, and that’s what most people think. I did too for a long time, figuring that criminals usually lack judgement, and sooner or later one of them would have given themselves away. Later I realised since they had put together a remarkably clever and well planned escape, maybe they did have the good sense to lay low. Who knows, probably a hoax, maybe some day more light will be shed on this mystery.

Finally, science has looked into the eternal mystery, do lobsters feel pain? Are people who throw them live into boiling pots of water truly monsters? Well, actually, science only looked at the first question. And the answer is, maybe. Science can be really frustrating sometimes. Read all the details here.

Have a great weekend everyone

Written by unitedcats

January 26, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Politics, Trump, World

Tagged with , , ,