hellstrom

Hellstrom: the Death of Nazi Germany 1944-47  

by Thomas Goodrich

Aberdeen Books (2010)

 Book Review

 

The victor always writes history. Only German war crimes were prosecuted at Nuremberg. British and American war crimes were whitewashed out of history. If not for Kurt Vonnegut’s best selling 1969 novel Slaughterhouse Five, Americans would have no knowledge of the deliberate targeting of civilians in the firebombing of Dresden.

Hellstrom: the Death of Nazi Germany 1944-47 is a meticulously researched encyclopedia of Allied war crimes during World War II. In it, historian Thomas Goodrich carefully compiles statements of scores of eyewitnesses, including Allied pilots and war correspondence about US, British and Russian atrocities against German civilians and POWs during and after the war.

A Deliberate Campaign of Terror Bombing

Dresden wasn’t the only German city subjected to carpet firebombing aimed at terrorizing civilians. Based mainly on victim and pilot statements, Goodrich details the deliberate firebombing (with phosphorus-based incendiary bombs) that occurred in Hamburg, Berlin, Nuremberg, cologne, Daimstat, Pforzheen and Wurzburg. The allies also firebombed three Swiss cities, another war crime, as Switzerland was a “neutral” country with no identifiable military targets.

Goodrich mainly focuses on Dresden, one of the last German cities to be firebombed. Many residents believed it would be spared, owing to its culture treasures and role as a hospital city for injured civilians. Dresden had no defense installation, major factories or air defenses. Owing to the absence of anti-aircraft weapons, the Allied bombers could fly low enough to target fleeing civilians and hospitals designated with a large red cross on their roof. The Red Cross later estimated that the Dresden massacre killed 300,000 – 400,000 civilians.

Prior to Dresden, the American pilots, unlike the British Royal Air Force (RAF) deliberately refrained from targeting. At Dresden, this changed, with Americans planes deliberately targeting civilians who survived the initial firestorm.

Eisenhower Deliberately Circumvents Geneva Convention

Like Bush II, Eisenhower deliberated created a new category of prisoners called Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF), so he wouldn’t be bound by the Geneva Convention regarding treatment of Prisoners of War (POWs).

His treatment of POWs worsened following the May 8, 1945 armistice with Germany, as he no longer feared German retaliation against American POWs. In all, 800,000 German POWS died in French and US POW camps after the war ended the armistice. This contrasts with German treatment of Allied POWs, which followed the Geneva Convention 99% of the time.

The book contains victim statements from German POWS held in outdoor pens where they were drenched by continuous rain and fed 1/10 of a K ration three or for days a week. Eisenhower denied the Red Cross access to POW camps, as well as prohibiting them from supplying German prisoners food. The British, US and French military also used German POWs as slave labor, despite formal Red Cross protests that this, too, violated the Geneva Convention.

Forcible Repatriation of Soviet Dissidents

In addition to the maltreatment of POWs, the Allies honored a commitment they made at Yalta to repatriate one million Soviet dissidents (including White Russians who fought the Bolsheviks in 1917) to the USSR. This included 4,000 Soviet dissidents in the US who were forcibly repatriated. Stalin, in turn, summarily executed them or sent them to slave labor camps.

The Brutal Allied Occupation

The treatment of German civilians and POWs by invading forces varied. On both the eastern and western fronts, experienced front line troops tended to be the most civilized. They reasoned that good treatment would make the Germans in the next village more likely to surrender. The rear guard tended to be far less experienced and more inclined to engage in rape, gang rape, looting and torture. Stalin refused to sign the Geneva Convention, and Russian troops were particularly feared for their savagery.

During the occupation, Eisenhower and Truman deliberately engineered a famine in the Allied sectors (US, British and French) of Germany. The massive carpet bombing had totally destroyed the food infrastructure and millions of German civilians starved as they tried to survive on boiled grass and roots. Truman outlawed private food relief to Germany until the Pope, former president Herbert Hoover and numerous high profile senators and journalists objected to the Truman’s policy of deliberately starving the German civilian population. In all, far more Germans died in the first two years of peace than had died in six years of war.

The Allies also carried out a particularly brutal regime of “de-Nazification” in which German adults (including prominent anti-Nazis) were arbitrarily arrested and tortured until they confessed to being members of the Nazi Party.

The treatment of German civilians would improve in 1947, as the Cold War gained momentum and Truman recognized Germany’s importance as a bulwark against the Soviet Union.

Dresden9photo credit: Dresden bombing

Also posted in Veterans Today

stuartbramhall:

 

 

How 3D printing could save the US post office. Why the post office makes an ideal 3D printing hub – but only if the USPS resists Congressional pressure to close rural post offices and end 6 day delivery. See http://business.time.com/2013/04/12/the-post-offices-biggest-problem-isnt-saturday-delivery-its-congress/

Originally posted on Our New World:

BY BRIDGET BUTLER MILLSAPS · OCTOBER 27, 2014

H_USPS_Logo“As 3D printing democratizes production and design, it could become a fierce engine of economic growth and job creation. By establishing a role in the 3D printing market, the Postal Service could put a compelling 21st-century twist on its historical mission to serve citizens and facilitate commerce.”

There’s a lot of weight to a recent study and consequent white paper produced by the United States Postal Service called “If It Prints, It Ships: 3D Printing and the Postal Service.” The sentence I was most preoccupied with while reading it though was that their study relied on the idea that a 3D printing revolution might take place. I think we are all fairly certain that train has left the station, barreling toward industrial revolution. This baby is taking off — it’s just a question of how far, and who is going to be affected. And…

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The video below is an interview with Investigative reporter Greg Palast regarding his 2012 book Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. Palast is best known for exposing the fake “ex-felon” scrub list that illegally disqualified tens of thousands of law abiding Florida African Americans from voting in the 2000 presidential election.

According to Palast, the real agenda behind the Citizens United decision was to keep the notorious Koch brothers** out of jail for illegal corporate donations they had made to Republican campaigns. In other words, the ruling decriminalized extensive lawbreaking by the Republican Party’s favorite billionaires. Apparently it’s was no accident that Ted Olsen, the Citizens United attorney, also happens to be legal counsel for Koch Industries.

The Koch Brothers’ Long History of Flouting the Law

As Palast reveals at the beginning of the interview, he was an FBI investigator prior to becoming an investigative journalist. During the late eighties, he was directly involved in investigating Charles Koch for illegally siphoning oil (beyond what Koch Industries had paid for) from Indian reservations. According to Palast, the FBI had videos of the whole operation, as well as numerous witness statements, including one from David and Charles’ younger brother Bill. The US attorney in Oklahoma went so far as to file an indictment against subject 67C (their code name for Charles Koch), when Koch leaned heavily on Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles (Rep 1988-2005) to have the federal prosecutor replaced and the indictment quashed.

With the possibility of criminal prosecution off the table, brother Bill Koch filed a civil lawsuit over the oil theft under the False Claims Act. The latter private plaintiffs to sue, on behalf of the government, companies and individuals which have defrauded it.

In December 1999, the jury found that Koch Industries had stolen oil it didn’t pay for from federal land, and the company paid a $25 million settlement to the federal government.

The FBI next turned its attention to 350 criminal violations of environmental law, mainly due to faulty pipelines dumping oil sludge into rivers. After George W. Bush became president in 2000, the US Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges. Two days before the trial, Attorney General John Ashcroft agreed to a plea bargain. The company pled guilty to falsifying documents. All major charges were dropped, and Koch and Ashcroft settled a civil lawsuit for a fraction of the criminal penalty.

The FBI – and Congress – Investigate Illegal Corporate Donations

Next on the FBI list of crimes was the smear campaign Koch Industries secretly funded, through the Campaign for Our Children’s Futures. This was in 1994 when corporate campaign donations were still illegal. The campaign, caused 25 incumbent Democrats to lose their seats, which meant Clinton lost Congress in the 1994 midterm election and again in 1996.

The illegal campaign donations were funded through an entity called Triad Management Services. Senator Fred Thompson, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee attempted to undertake an investigation into Triad. According to Palast, it was shut down the same day (ethically challenged) Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made a deal with President Bill Clinton not to investigate his illegal campaign donations from the Indonesian billionaire James Riady.

*In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that setting limits on campaign expenditures on corporations and labor unions violates their first amendment right to free speech.

**The Koch brothers are major funders of several conservative think tanks and lobbies, such as the Heritage Foundation, ALEC, the CATO Institute, and right wing Astroturf groups, such as the Campaign for America’s Future, the Campaign for a Fair Economy and the Tea Party). They’re also the major beneficiaries of the Keystone Pipeline

stuartbramhall:

 

 

The coalition of the unwilling begins to unravel as France defies US-imposed sanctions on Russia.

Originally posted on Counter Information:

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Despite hesitation, France has decided to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. This was announced by senior representative of STX shipbuilding company.

“The transfer of the first Mistral helicopter carrier is a matter of several days or weeks,” RIA Novosti said with reference to the source.

Earlier, France threatened to suspend the delivery of helicopter carriers to Russia on account of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Afterwards, a spokesperson for Elysee Palace said that the delivery of the ship had not been suspended from a legal point of view. French President Francois Hollande outlined his political position, according to which he would not approve the delivery of the vessel in November, if the situation in Ukraine did not improve.

The contract worth 1.2 billion euros for the construction of two French helicopter carriers of Mistral type for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011. The first vessel, the Vladivostok…

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Washington_Constitutional_Convention_1787

 

Guest post by John de Herrera

Today, as happens once or twice a week, a blog post or news item appears on the Internet examining the Article V Convention. Below it are the same comments Americans have been making about a convention for over half a century: that it’s dangerous, that with the way politics are played today such an assembly would be nothing more than an exercise in special interests gutting protections originally put in place of, by, and for the people.

Many today understand the necessity for our society to build consensus about what’s wrong (in order to do something about it), but few understand the function and utility of a convention. Nothing stays perfect forever, politics are dynamic, things change, and a scan of political sites makes clear consensus is that governance is off track. The question is, how do we address it?

A quick read of Article V (a single sentence) shows that upon the application of 2/3 of the states Congress shall call “a convention for proposing amendments….”The leading national group Friends of the Article V Convention has done an audit of Congressional Records (themselves part of the Constitution, as the Constitution mandates that both houses keep records). They show that not only have 34 states cast the requisite number of applications to initiate the call, but indeed 49 have cast over 750 applications.

In other words the states have satisfied the clause. Congress simply ignores its obligation to count them, all the while two or three new ones arrive each new session.

The reason the 113th Congress is allowed to disobey the law is because the people are unaware and/or fear a convention. So long as this state of affairs exists, Congress can simply ignore the record while looking busy with a bunch of partisan and divisive nonsense, i.e. politics as usual.

90% Disapprove of Congress

What’s more powerful, the right to complain about government, or the right to reform it? Clearly one right is more powerful. Indeed it’s the right that makes an American citizen who and what they are – a member of a society with the power to alter or abolish what it dislikes about government. You’ll find very few Americans who want to abolish government, the three branches – legislative, executive, and judicial. No, the vast majority want to keep what we have, but address how it currently operates.

Opinion polls show that 90%+ of Americans disapprove of Congress, a statistic that’s been trending for over a decade. When the institution established to represent the will of the People is disapproved by 90%, it’s self-evident it’s time for them to exercise their right to alter what they dislike. History teaches that if not, forces of corruption will alter it against our wishes, and some argue that’s already occurring due to corporations acting as citizens. This status quo of politics has resulted in government drowned in private money, where laws/loopholes go to the highest bidders, written by lobbyists, signed off on by members of Congress, and disliked by the People.

The Provisions of Article V

In the event Congress becomes unresponsive to the needs of the people a convention of the states considers amendment proposals. Proposals voted up by 2/3 of state delegations are then sent back to the people at large for ratification by 3/4. In other words, the functions of proposal and ratification are two separate functions. The fear of a convention comes from the perception that proposal and ratification are both done at the convention, when the former is done by delegates, and the latter by the people.

Seventy-five percent of Americans today are not going to suggest we chuck the Constitution and try to start over. But they are highly like to support the reversal of Supreme Court doctrines regarding speech and personhood, even, perhaps, public financing of elections.

Forcing Congress to Act

There are a number of things about American history that politicians do not talk about, not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t, but because doing so would alter how we citizens see and think about our government. On the flip side, if enough of us become cognizant and desirous of reform, politicians will have no choice but to comply.

A paper put out by the Congressional Research Service (subsequently updated multiple times, most recently April 2014) says as much about the Article V Convention – that if enough Americans want it Congress will have to call one. That the paper has been updated since it was first delivered to Congress is significant: it means there is movement in the halls of power. Congress may not be talking about it, but they are clearly aware of growing interest in Article V. And the negative and false myths surrounding it.

American Citizen or Global Citizen

Even if you’re not American, it’s important to understand and educate yourself about this issue. Unless we start talking about a different Earth, a different global order, a different USA, and a different Constitution, there is no other way out for humanity. In this sense, an Article V Convention is unique. Once called, it sets off a natural progression of events that will deliver us from the inevitable catastrophe of corporate governance.

How’s that? Because a convention allows for humans to find common ground past the gridlock of corporate politicians. Believe it or not, the vast majority want to throw off this long train of abuse and ecological negligence. Everyone has an idea of what changes are necessary. Yet until we all come to the table, nobody is going anywhere.

It’s time to raise consciousness. It’s time for non-Americans call on Americans to exercise their right to a convention; it’s time Americans call on Congress to count the applications on record. Until the count is made nothing can happen. We don’t have all the time in the world to make it so.

Congressional Research Service: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42592.pdf

Friends of the Article V Convention: http://www.foavc.org

John De Herrera is a writer/artist/activist who lives and works in Santa Barbara, California. He is a former founding member of Friends of the Article Five Convention. You can email him at john@alipes.org.

Photo credit Wikimedia Commons

Below is a fascinating excerpt from Part 8 of Louis Farrakhan’s lecture series The Time and What Must Be Done. Farrahkan is the present leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), best known for its most famous member Malcolm X.

It’s been more than ten years since I heard Farrakhan speak. He has made remarkable progress from his overt antisemitism and talk of white people as blue-eyed devils. I still have a slight problem with the “666” symbolism of the year 2013, which he links with the “beasts” (America, England, Germany and France).

Otherwise his analysis is remarkably similar to that of white economist, journalist and former Reagan official Paul Craig Roberts. The NOI leader is highly critical of Obama’s murderous policies in Libya and Syria and his use of drones for targeted assassinations, as well as his apparent willingness to support an Israeli-inspired war with Iran. He also condemns the President’s destruction of American democracy. He describes the US as an oligarchy leading the American people into fascism.

The video is nearly two years old. Amazing how little US foreign policy has changed.

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Excellent article by Pepe Escobar about the inspiring experiment in direct democracy in Kobani and the rest of Rojava (the 3 Kurdish provinces in Syria). Decision making via multicultural and multi-religious popular assemblies and workers’ cooperatives – allowed to flourish in return for their neutrality towards the Assad government. The Kurds call it “libertarian muncipalism.” The corporate elite and their puppets don’t like it one bit – which is why you won’t read about it in the corporate media. Is this why Kobani is under siege from ISIS/ISIL and their US, Saudi and Turkish backers? According to John Kerry, Kobani has no strategic military value for ISIS/ISIL.

Originally posted on Counter Information:

By Pepe Escobar

October 24, 2014 “ICH” – “Asia Times” – The brave women of Kobani – where Syrian Kurds are desperately fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – are about to be betrayed by the “international community”. These women warriors, apart from Caliph Ibrahim’s goons, are also fighting treacherous agendas by the US, Turkey and the administration of Iraqi Kurdistan. So what’s the real deal in Kobani?

Let’s start by talking about Rojava. The full meaning of Rojava – the three mostly Kurdish provinces of northern Syria – is conveyed in this editorial (in Turkish) published by jailed activist Kenan Kirkaya. He argues that Rojava is the home of a “revolutionary model” that no less than challenges “the hegemony of the capitalist, nation-state system” – way beyond its regional “meaning for Kurds, or for Syrians or Kurdistan.”

Kobani – an agricultural region – happens to be at the epicenter…

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