Monday, September 1, 2014

New Reality

From the MT:
"Sites Named for New NATO Bases in Eastern Europe"

The five NATO new bases intended to contain the Russian threat will be located in Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, a German newspaper reported Sunday. The bases will be used for logistics, reconnaissance and mission planning, and will boast permanent multinational staffs of between 300 and 600 employees per base, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported. The workforce figures exclude actual troops, whose deployment in Eastern Europe is limited by a 1997 treaty between Russia and NATO known as the Founding Act, the report said. But "small contingents" of NATO troops will be present at the bases at all times, the daily said, citing a classified draft plan of the alliance's revamp. In addition, NATO will have a 4,000-strong rapid reaction force ready to deploy in the east within two to seven days, the report said. The figure was placed at 10,000 by The Financial Times on Saturday. The discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled. The plan will be discussed at an upcoming NATO summit in Wales next week, the newspaper said. The document explicitly lists Russia as a threat and says the boosting of NATO's military presence in the east is tasked with protecting the alliance's new members from Russia.
NATO publicly voiced plans to boost its eastern defenses last week, but gave no details. The organization expanded in the 1990s and 2000s to include Eastern European countries that were previously members of the Moscow-run Warsaw Pact. Poland, the Baltic states and Canada — also a NATO member — called for a repeal of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act, Der Spiegel magazine said Sunday, citing unnamed sources at NATO and the German government. NATO accused Russia last week of having dispatched a limited military contingent to eastern Ukraine to help the flagging pro-Russian insurgency there. Official Moscow denied backing the rebels, who pushed back official Kiev's forces last week. NATO suspended cooperation with Russia in May following the outbreak of civil strife in Ukraine.

 ^ Russia tore-up the numerous treaties and international agreements it had made with the Ukraine over the past 23 (including the ones about the Black Sea fleet, the recognition of the Crimea as Ukrainian and different ones where it stated Russia would not attack the Ukraine if the Ukrainians gave up their Soviet nukes - which they did) so I don't see why NATO or any other organization should be bound by any treaties with Russia. Today is the 75th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland (September 17th is the 75th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland.) Hitler made numerous peace agreements (with Poland, the USSR, etc) and broke those by invading those countries and it seems that modern-day Russia has become exactly the same (make treaties and then invade.) NATO should learn that Russian promises mean very little nowadays. ^

75: 1939

From the DW:
"Marking the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II"

Ceremonies are being held to mark the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. This comes at a time of heightened concerns about security among the European Union's eastern states in particular.  German President Joachim Gauck is to join his Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Komorowski , on the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdansk on Monday, for the main ceremony to mark the beginning of World War II. The two heads of state are to place candles at the graves of soldiers who lost their lives in the battle that marked the outbreak of the war, before laying a wreath at the memorial to the defenders of the Polish coast at Westerplatte. In keeping with the spirit of friendship between the two former foes, Gauck and Koromoski are also to take part in discussion session with a group of students. The fighting began in the early hours of September 1, 1939, when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein fired on the Polish fort of Westerplatte. The first battle of the Second World War quickly ensued. The attack on Poland by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime led Britain and France to declare war on Germany two days later. The fewer than 200 Polish soldiers posted to Westerplatte fought bravely, holding out for a full week before their commander surrendered to the German forces. Prior to the attack on Westerplatte, the Nazi's had staged a number of operations aimed at creating the illusion of Polish aggression on Germany as a pretext for attack. The best know of this was the "Gleiwitz incident," an operation by Nazis posing as Poles on the German radio station "Sender Gleiwitz" in Gliwice, which was then part of Germany. On Sunday, German and Polish Roman Catholic bishops gathered in Gliwice to mark the outbreak of war between their two countries 75 years earlier. The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, joined his Polish counterpart, Stanislaw Gadecki in a ceremony to remember the death, suffering and destruction that Hitler's Nazis imposed on the Polish people. In view of the events of 1939 and the five years that followed, Cardinal Marx said the fact that Germans and Poles were now friends and allies was a "miracle of the mercy of God." The ceremonies to remember the outbreak of World War II come at a time when fighting between pro-Russia separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine has raised concerns about security in Europe, particularly for eastern members of the European Union and the Western military alliance NATO. Representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were to hold talks in the Belarusian capital, Minsk on Monday, in the latest effort to bring an end to the bloodshed. This comes after EU leaders agreed on the weekend to direct the European Commission to prepare tougher sanctions that could be imposed on Russia within the next week for its alleged role in the conflict.

^ You can always tell that a World War 2 article was written for the German media (even if the reporter isn't German and it's for a foreign audience) by the tone. They always talk about reconciliation and the youth. It's doesn't matter if the article is about the 75th anniversary of the start of the war, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris and the Normandy landings or about the Holocaust - they all say the same. In a week or so the Poles will remember the 75th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland and the Baltics - it seems that even after 75 years and the collapse of the Soviet Union history is repeating itself: eastern Poland in 1939 and eastern Ukraine in 2014. Some people learn from their past mistakes while others don't. ^

NATO Reform

From the BBC:
"Nato rapid response force: Plan to boost Europe presence"

Nato is to agree on a rapid response force of several thousand troops to protect Eastern European members against possible Russian aggression, says its secretary general.  Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the force could be deployed within 48 hours. The new measures are set to be approved at a Nato summit in Wales this week. It comes after Nato members in eastern and Baltic states voiced concern over Russia's regional ambitions in the wake of the continuing Ukraine crisis. Mr Rasmussen said military equipment and supplies would be pre-positioned in member states in the east as part of a Readiness Action Plan, enabling the quick deployment of the force. It would make the Western military alliance a more visible presence in Eastern Europe and "fitter, faster and more flexible to adjust to all kinds of security challenges," he told reporters in Brussels on Monday.  This is all part of a much wider overhaul of Nato's response forces which Nato officials say is not solely linked to Ukraine; it will be capable of deploying anywhere within the alliance to give immediate reassurance and a demonstration of alliance resolve. For such a force to be effective there will have to be regular exercises and Nato officials note that headquarters and other so-called "enablers" - key logistics elements for example - will need to be based closer to areas of potential threat - for that read closer to Nato's eastern and southern borders. Fuel stocks and ammunition may also need to be pre-positioned further east.  The Nato chief insisted that the plans would not breach the 1997 Nato-Russia Founding Act, which forbids the presence of permanent bases in eastern and central Europe. Mr Rasmussen said the new measures were being taken "not because Nato wants to attack anyone but because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible... we will do what it takes to defend our allies". The proposed force would be composed of several thousand troops from 28 Nato members on a rotating basis, Mr Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels. The two-day summit in Newport, which starts on Thursday, is expected to be dominated by the Ukraine crisis.

^ While it is good that NATO finally wants to modernize itself against the current 21st Century conflicts rather than that of the former Warsaw Pact. I don't believe NATO would protect other member-states if they were attacked by Russia. It seems the same people who created the military alliance between the UK, France and Poland right before World War 2 (today is the 75th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland) and went to war for Poland, but didn't actually give any direct aid to Poland created the same clause in the NATO document in the late 1940s - mostly for show.I also don't think anything will change for the Ukraine. NATO (like the UN, EU, US, etc) are all talk with little back-bone to do anything of value to stop the violence and death that the ethnic Russian terrorists have been committed for months. What's the point of having these international and regional organizations if they refuse to do anything to stop the killings? ^

Foreign Fighters

From the BBC:
"Ukraine war pulls in foreign fighters"

French, Spanish, Swedish or Serb, the foreigners fighting for both sides in east Ukraine's bloody conflict hail from across Europe and come with a bewildering array of agendas.  The non-mercenaries among them are motivated by causes which can stretch back to the wars in the former Yugoslavia - and even further still, to the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Russia is the elephant in the room, dwarfing any other foreign nationality, although it is increasingly hard to disentangle Russians fighting as volunteers from regular soldiers allegedly deployed on covert missions. Ukraine's pro-Russian rebels like to talk up their foreign volunteer fighters, presenting them as latter-day International Brigades fighting "fascism". Meanwhile there has been some debate in Kiev on the wisdom of creating a Ukrainian "Foreign Legion".  Here we look at some of the foreign fighters by country of origin, in a phenomenon which, in a small way, mirrors that of young Muslims from Britain and other parts of Europe travelling to the Middle East to fight in its wars.

It is no secret that Russian citizens have occupied senior posts among the rebels, the most famous of them being Igor "Strelkov" Girkin, who reportedly held the rank of reserve colonel in Russia's Federal Security Service as late as last year.  There is strong evidence that rank-and-file Russian fighters have entered east Ukraine to join the rebels, but whether they are volunteers making common cause with ethnic Russians in Luhansk and Donetsk, or mercenaries, is a grey area.  Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko has stated publicly that between 3.000 and 4,000 Russian "volunteers" have fought for the rebels since the start of the uprising in April. Evidence has mounted that regular Russian soldiers are involved, with 10 paratroopers captured inside Ukraine and indirect evidence of military casualties at home in Russia.  Chechens, both from Russia's Republic of Chechnya and from the anti-Russian diaspora living in exile, are believed to be involved on both sides of the conflict, but predominantly fighting for the rebels.  A gunman who presented himself as a Chechen called Ruslan Arsayev told the Mashable news website in an interview he was fighting for Ukraine because he wouldn't "bend over for Putin." A number of foreign fighters serve in the Aidar volunteer battalion currently fighting in east Ukraine. Chechen Ruslan Arsayev is perhaps the most colourful example. An army veteran of six military campaigns, Ruslan came to Ukraine to fight during the Maidan revolution. He was injured twice, once seriously, when a bullet punctured his lung.  He comes from a well-known family of warriors. One of his brothers was security minister in Aslan Maskhadov's rebel government. Another was convicted of hijacking a plane en route to Moscow in 2001, an action that resulted in the loss of three lives. At the Aidar base near Luhansk, Ruslan explained he had come to Ukraine because of Putin. "Putin has turned my home into Stalin's Russia, with a dozen informants on every street," he said. He wasn't prepared to accept Putin's rule, and predicted an uprising in Chechnya in the "very, very near" future.

Some 20 French citizens have gone to Ukraine to fight on both sides, French public radio station France Info said in a report (in French) on 11 August. Four of them, including two former soldiers, went to Donetsk to fight for the rebels. They were filmed by Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda posing with guns. Their spokesman is Victor Lenta, 25, who earlier told France's Le Monde newspaper (article in French) he had been a corporal in the Third Marine Infantry Paratroop Regiment and had served in Afghanistan, Ivory Coast and Chad. Another member of the group is Nikola Perovic, also 25 and with Serbian ancestry, who likewise reportedly fought in Afghanistan as a corporal in France's 13th Mountain Infantry Battalion.  Gaston Besson, on the other hand, has been fighting for the Ukrainian government as a member of its Azov volunteer battalion, a unit known for its far-right associations.

For two Spanish leftists, the conflict in east Ukraine represents a chance to repay what they see as a historic favour.  Angel Davilla-Rivas told Reuters news agency he had come with his comrade Rafa Munoz Perez to fight for the rebels in recognition of the Soviet Union's support for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. Mr Davilla-Rivas showed off tattoos of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin on his torso.

Dozens of Serbs are believed to be fighting for the rebels, ostensibly drawn by an ethnic and nationalist sense of solidarity with the region's Russian Orthodox Christians and residual hostility towards Nato, regarding the Ukrainian government as its proxy.  Meanwhile, there are moves within Serbia to stem the flow of fighters heading east with a law that penalises participation in a foreign war.

In an interview with the BBC's Dina Newman, a Swedish sniper with far-right views, Mikael Skillt, said he was fighting for the Ukrainian government because he believed in the "survival of white people". Like France's Gaston Besson, he is a member of the Azov battalion.

Reports that Poles were fighting in Ukraine prompted the government in Warsaw to formally deny that Polish citizens were fighting as mercenaries for the Ukrainian government. It went on to warn that any Poles who go there to fight could face jail upon their return, Deutsche Welle reports.

Margarita Zeidler is a former nurse who moved to Ukraine in 2002 for religious reasons after converting to the Russian Orthodox Church, according to an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper (in Russian). Dismayed by events in Kiev during the Maidan uprising over the winter she moved initially to Crimea, then to Donetsk region, she said, after one of her friends was shot dead there in May. She became the rebels' information officer in Sloviansk during its siege by government forces.

Despite rebel allegations to the contrary, there is little evidence of American volunteer involvement on the ground. The exception was a Ukrainian-American called Mark Gregory Paslawsky, who had taken Ukrainian citizenship.

Francesco F, 53, enrolled in the Azov battalion to "fight a good fight against Russia", the Italian weekly Panorama reported in an article (in Italian) in June.

Other nationalities are reportedly involved in the conflict, probably in small numbers.

Citizens of Georgia, Belarus, Baltic states, Finland, Norway, Canada, Croatia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, as well as Russia, are said to be involved as volunteers on the government side.

^ It's not surprising that people from around the world are fighting in the Ukraine. What is odd is so many are fighting with the ethnic Russian terrorists (they lost the right to be called freedom fighters after they shot down the plane that killed around 300 people - in a Al-Qaeda inspired move.) The majority seem to be volunteers (except for the Russian soldiers who are on "vacation") and their countries should punish those returning that fought with the terrorists as they should with those fighting with ISIS in Iraq. ^

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Banned Books

From different sources:
Banned Books

-    About a Silence in Literature (Yugoslavia)   -   Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Hunan, China) -  All Quiet on the Western Front (Nazi Germany)    -  American Psycho (Queensland, Australia)  -  An Area of Darkness (India)    -  The Anarchist Cookbook (Australia)  -  Animal Farm (USSR, Iron Curtain, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, North Korea, Cuba)    - Areopagitica (England)    - The Bible  (several Islamic countries)   - Borstal Boy (Ireland, Australia, New Zealand)    - Brave New World (Ireland, Australia)   - Burger's Daughter (South Africa)   -  Candide (US)    - The Canterbury Tales (US)      -  Catch-22 (several US States)    -  The Country Girls (Ireland)    - Curved River (Yugoslavia)   - The Da Vinci Code (Lebanon)   - The Dark (Ireland)   - The Death of Lorca (Spain)   - The Decameron (US)     - The Diary of Anne Frank (Lebanon)    - Dictionary of Modern Serbo-Croatian Language (Yugoslavia)    - Droll Stories (Canada, Ireland)    - The Devil's Discus (Thailand)   - Ecstasy and Me (Australia)    - Fanny Hill (US)   - Frankenstein (South Africa)   - The First Circle (USSR)    - The Grapes of Wrath (California, US)     - Green Eggs and Ham (China)  - The Gulag Archipelago (USSR)   - The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (Canada)  - July's People (South Africa)   - The Jungle (East Germany)    - The King Never Smiles (Thailand)    - Lady Chatterley's Lover (US, UK)   - Little Black Sambo (Japan)    - Lolita (France, UK, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa)  - The Lonely Girl (Ireland)   - The Lottery (South Africa)  -  Lysistrata (Greece)    - Mein Kampf (Germany, Russia, many European countries)   - Mirror of the Polish Crown (Poland)   - Moll Flanders (US)   - The Mountain Wreath (Bosnia)   - My Father's Daughter (Eritrea) - Naked Lunch (Massachusetts, US)   - New Class (Yugoslavia)    - Nineteen Eighty-Four (US, USSR, UK)   - Nine Hours To Rama (India)  -  The Naked and the Dead (Canada)  - One Day of Life (El Salvador)  -  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (USSR)  - Peyton Place (Canada)  - Rangila Rasul (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh)   - Rights of Man (Russia, UK)   - Rowena Goes Too Far (Australia)   - The Satanic Verses (Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand)  - The Satanic Bible (South Africa)    - Snorri the Seal (German-Occupied Norway)   - Spycatcher (UK)  - The Stud (Australia)    - Suicide mode d'emploi (France)    - Thalia Arius (Roman Empire, the Catholic Church)   - Tropic of Cancer (US, South Africa)   - Ulysses (US, UK, Australia) - Uncle Tom's Cabin  (the Confederate States, Czarist Russia)  - United States – Vietnam Relations: 1945–1967 (US) - The Well of Loneliness (UK)   - The World Is Full of Married Men (Australia)

^ It seems I have read more banned books then I have seen banned movies. Those in Bold are the ones I have read. Many of these books have since been unbanned. ^

Banned US

From different sources:
Films banned in the US:

-  Dorlita in the Passion Dance      - Reenactment of the Massacre at Wounded Knee    - The Birth of a Nation      -  Birth Control       -  Häxan            -  Scarface        - Two-Faced Woman     -  Scarlet Street   - The Moon Is Blue        -  The Vanishing Prairie          - Victim        -  Promises! Promises!  -  Viva Maria!   -  Titicut     -   I Am Curious (Yellow)   -  The Thorn     -   Monty Python's Life of Brian    -   The Last Temptation of Christ     -  The Tin Drum    - The Profit    - The Yes Men Fix the World

^ I guess the banning of these films was successful as I have only seen 2 of them (in Bold.) ^

Alaskan Partisans

From the Stars and Stripes:
"US trained Alaskans as secret `stay-behind agents'"

Fearing a Russian invasion and occupation of Alaska, the U.S. government in the early Cold War years recruited and trained fishermen, bush pilots, trappers and other private citizens across Alaska for a covert network to feed wartime intelligence to the military, newly declassified Air Force and FBI documents show. Invasion of Alaska? Yes. It seemed like a real possibility in 1950. "The military believes that it would be an airborne invasion involving bombing and the dropping of paratroopers," one FBI memo said. The most likely targets were thought to be Nome, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seward. So FBI director J. Edgar Hoover teamed up on a highly classified project, code-named "Washtub," with the newly created Air Force Office of Special Investigations, headed by Hoover protege and former FBI official Joseph F. Carroll. The secret plan was to have citizen-agents in key locations in Alaska ready to hide from the invaders of what was then only a U.S. territory. The citizen-agents would find their way to survival caches of food, cold-weather gear, message-coding material and radios. In hiding they would transmit word of enemy movements. This was not civil defense of the sort that became common later in the Cold War as Americans built their own bomb shelters. This was an extraordinary enlistment of civilians as intelligence operatives on U.S. soil.
This account of the "Washtub" project is based on hundreds of pages of formerly secret documents. The heavily censored records were provided to The Associated Press by the Government Attic, a website that publishes government documents it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Russians never invaded, of course. So the covert cadre of "stay-behind agents," as they were known, was never activated to collect and report wartime information from backwoods bunkers. It was an assignment that federal officials acknowledged (to each other, if not to the new agents) was highly dangerous, given that the Soviet Union's military doctrine called for the elimination of local resistance in occupied territory. To compensate for expected casualties, a reserve pool of agents was to be held outside of Alaska and inserted by air later as short-term replacements. This assignment was seen as an easier sell to potential recruits because "some agents might not be too enthusiastic about being left behind in enemy-occupied areas for an indefinite period of time," one planning document noted dryly. "Washtub" was not, however, a washout. It operated from 1951-59, according to Deborah Kidwell, official historian of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, or OSI. "While war with the Soviet Union did not come to Alaska, OSI trained 89 SBA (stay-behind agents), and the survival caches served peacetime purposes for many years to come," she wrote in an OSI magazine last year. With the benefit of hindsight, it would be easy to dismiss "Washtub" as a harebrained scheme born of paranoia. In fact it reflected genuine worry about Soviet intentions and a sense of U.S. vulnerability in a turbulent post-World War II period. As the plan was being shaped in 1950, Soviet-backed North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering a war on the peninsula that some in the Pentagon saw as a deliberate move by Moscow to distract Washington before invading Europe. The previous summer the Soviets stunned the world by exploding their first atomic bomb. Also in 1949, the U.S. locked arms with Western Europe to form the NATO alliance, and Mao Zedong's revolutionaries declared victory in China, adding to American fear that communism was on the march. "Washtub" was known inside the government by several other codenames, including Corpuscle, Stigmatic and Catboat, according to an official Air Force history of the OSI, which called it one of OSI's "most extensive and long-running Cold War projects." The FBI had its own code word for the project: STAGE. "Washtub" had two phases. The first and more urgent was the stay-behind agent program. The second was a parallel effort to create a standby pool of civilian operatives in Alaska trained to clandestinely arrange for the evacuation of downed military air crews in danger of being captured by Soviet forces. This "evasion and escape" plan was coordinated with the CIA.
Among those listed as a stay-behind agent was Dyton Abb Gilliland of Cooper Landing, a community on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. A well-known bush pilot, Gilliland died in a plane crash on Montague Island in Prince William Sound in May 1955 at age 45. FBI records say he spent 12 days in Washington D.C., in June-July 1951 undergoing a range of specialized training, including in the use of parachutes. The agents also got extensive training in coding and decoding messages, but this apparently did not always go well. Learning these techniques was "an almost impossible task for backwoodsmen to master in 15 hours of training," one document said. Details in the document were blacked out. Many agent names in the OSI and FBI documents also were removed before being declassified. None of the indigenous population was included. The program founders believed that agents from the "Eskimo, Indian and Aleut groups in the Territory should be avoided in view of their propensities to drink to excess and their fundamental indifference to constituted governments and political philosophies. It is pointed out that their prime concern is with survival and their allegiance would easily shift to any power in control." Recruiters pitched patriotism and were to offer retainer fees of up to $3,000 a year (nearly $30,000 in 2014 dollars). That sum was to be doubled "after an invasion has commenced," according to one planning document. The records do not say how much was actually paid during the course of the program. At least some recruits were fingerprinted and all were secretly screened by the FBI for signs of disloyalty. The FBI linked one candidate, a resident of Stony River, to a list of names in a 1943 bureau file on "Communist Party activities, Alaska" that tracked U.S. subscribers to a magazine called "Soviet Russia Today." Another candidate was flagged — falsely, it turned out — as a likely communist sympathizer based on an FBI informant's tip about membership in the "Tom Paine Club, Communist Party, Spokane, Washington."
One was described in a May 1952 OSI memo to the FBI office in Anchorage as the postmaster in Kiana, Alaska; another was manager of a hotel in Valdez. One agent candidate worked for a tin-mining company at Lost River on the Seward Peninsula, one of the higher-priority areas for placing "Washtub" stay-behind agents. The FBI tapped its local contacts, including federal judges, the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, an Anchorage physician and others for names of reliable Alaskans to be approached. "Washtub' was crafted in painstaking detail. But just as the first trained agents were to be put in place in September 1951, Hoover pulled out, leaving it in OSI's hands, even though one month earlier his top lieutenants had advised him the FBI was "in these programs neck deep," with an "obvious and inescapable" duty to proceed. Hoover worried that when the shooting in Alaska started the FBI would be "left holding the bag." "If a crisis arose we would be in the midst of another 'Pearl Harbor' and get part of the blame," Hoover wrote in the margin of a Sept. 6, 1951, memo from an aide, to whom Hoover added one final order: "Get out at once."
Three years later, Hoover was pulled back in, briefly. In October 1954, an envelope and a typewritten letter containing a coded message were turned over to the FBI by a woman in Anchorage. It had been misaddressed by the anonymous sender in Fairbanks. Espionage was suspected, triggering flurries of FBI internal memos. Hoover was informed that bureau code breakers were urgently trying to decipher the message. They never broke the code but eventually declared the crisis over. The mystery message, they determined, was not from an enemy spy. It was a "practice message" sent errantly by one of the "Washtub" agents.

^ This is an interesting read. The Japanese took over parts of southern Alaska and there was little to no local resistance. I guess the US was trying to make sure that didn't happen if the Soviets invaded. It is odd that everything stopped once Alaska became a state in 1959 since the Soviet threat to the US only increased (ie the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.) I think the Alaskans fighting the Soviets would have been similar to the Ukrainians fighting the Russians today - - -  David vs Goliath. It's good the US never had to use the Alaskan partisans as that would have involved nukes, etc and we wouldn't be sitting here today. ^

Taxing Health

From USA Today:
"Who's paying the new Obamacare tax? You"

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it required health insurers, hospitals, device makers and pharmaceutical companies to share in the cost because they would get a windfall of new, paying customers. But with an $8 billion tax on insurers due Sept. 30 — the first time the new tax is being collected — the industry is getting help from an unlikely source: taxpayers. States and the federal government will spend at least $700 million this year to pay the tax for their Medicaid health plans. The three dozen states that use Medicaid managed-care plans will give those insurers more money to cover the new expense. Many of those states — such as Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee — did not expand Medicaid as the law allows, and in the process turned down billions in new federal dollars.
Other insurers are getting some help paying the tax as well. Private insurers are passing the tax onto policyholders in the form of higher premiums. Medicare health plans are getting the tax covered by the federal government via higher reimbursement. State Medicaid agencies say they have little choice but to pay the tax for health plans they hire to insure their poorest residents. That's because the tax is part of the health plans' costs of doing business. Federal law requires states to pay the companies adequate rates. "This situation results in the federal government taxing itself and taxing state governments to fund the higher Medicaid managed care payments required to fund the ACA health insurer fee," said a report by Medicaid Health Plans of America, a trade group. Meanwhile, many Medicaid managed-care companies have seen their share prices — and profits — soar this year as they gained thousands of new customers through the health law in states that expanded Medicaid. More than half of the 66 million people on Medicaid are enrolled in managed-care plans. A KHN survey of some large state Medicaid programs found the tax will be costly this year. The estimates are based in part on the number of Medicaid health plan enrollees in each state and how much they are paid in premiums. States split the cost of Medicaid with the federal government, with the federal government paying, on average, about 57%.

• Florida anticipates the tax will cost $100 million, with the state picking up $40 million and the federal government, $60 million.
• Texas estimates the tax at $220 million, with the state paying $90 million and the federal government, $130 million.
• Tennessee anticipates it will owe $160 million, with the state paying $50 million and the federal government, $110 million.
• California budgeted $88 million, with the state paying $40 million and the federal government, $48 million.
• Georgia estimates the tax on its plans at $90 million, with the state paying $29 million and the federal government, $61 million.
• Pennsylvania predicts the tax will cost $139 million, with the state paying $64 million and the federal government, $75 million.
• Louisiana estimates the tax will cost $27 million, with the state paying $10 million and the federal government, $17 million.
Texas is believed to be the only state that has not yet agreed to cover the tax for its health plans, according to state Medicaid and health plan officials. "The premium tax is just another way that the costs of the Affordable Care Act are pushed down to states and families," said Stephanie Goodman, spokeswoman for the Texas Medicaid program. Medicaid officials in other states complain that paying the tax reduces money they could have spent on covering more services or paying providers.

"I do not feel I am getting anything in return for this," said Tennessee Medicaid Director Darin Gordon. Officials won't know exactly how much states owe until the Internal Revenue Service sends bills to insurers at the end of August and the Medicaid plans submit those to states. The health insurer tax is estimated to bring in at least $100 billion over the next decade from all insurers, government auditors estimate. Most non-profit Medicaid health plans are exempt from the tax, which the trade group says gives the non-profits a competitive edge vying for state contracts. "We consider this tax so badly construed that it should be reconsidered because it makes no public policy sense," said Jeff Myers, CEO of Medicaid Health Plans of America. The trade group, which represents both non-profit and for-profit Medicaid plans, also opposes the tax because it takes money from Medicaid programs that could be used to pay plans to improve care, he said. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services declined to comment on how states and the federal government are covering part of the tax.
Timothy Jost, a consumer advocate and law professor at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, said the lawmakers intended to cover the costs of the law by including as many groups paying in as possible. While it may be unusual for the federal government to essentially tax itself, Jost said, the situation is no different from the federal government paying a contractor to provide a service, then having that contractor use some of those dollars to pay state sales tax or federal income tax. "This tax should not have surprised anyone, and it should have been worked into contract prices," he said.
Paul Van de Water, senior fellow with the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said neither health plans nor states should be complaining about the taxes because both are benefiting from the law. "States are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act because with more people getting insured, it is driving down their uncompensated care costs," he said. He noted that is true even in states that did not expand Medicaid under the health law. "People always like to get a benefit and not have to pay for it," he said. "If we did not have this tax, we would have had to raise the money somewhere else."

^ As different aspects of this awful, poorly-thought-out health reform come into effect people are getting to see and experience all the flaws that were kept or over-looked. There is no doubt that Obama has done more harm (domestically and internationally) for the US in both his first term as well as his second so far. Usually a President will focus on one side or the other and get things done there (ie LBJ couldn't handle the Vietnam War but he did secure Civil Rights and Medicare.) It seems that Obama rushed through so many things just to make it look like he was doing something great and now they are falling apart at the first sign of resistance. He hasn't tackled the economy, infrastructure, food safety, education reform, illegal immigration, border security or anything of major importance other than health care (and that is coming undone at the seams. He got us out of Iraq and now ISIS is a bigger threat to the US and the world. He did nothing to solve the problems with Libya, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea or Russia's war in the Ukraine. He always talks tough, but gives us and the world little more than excuses (it's always Bush's fault.) A real adult/leader would take stock of their pros and cons, their successes and failures and not make excuses, but get things done - that hasn't been the case with him. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go until we can forget him in the annuals of history and he has more time to continue doing more harm than good. ^

Not So Peaceful

From the BBC:
"Putin 'urges talks on statehood for east Ukraine'"

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for talks to discuss "statehood" for eastern Ukraine. He said the issue needed to be discussed to ensure the interests of local people "are definitely upheld".
His comments came after the EU gave Russia a one-week ultimatum to reverse course in Ukraine or face sanctions. Russia denies Western accusations that its forces illegally crossed into eastern Ukraine to support separatists there. "Russia cannot stand aside when people are being shot at almost at point blank," he added, describing the rebels' actions as "the natural reaction of people who are defending their rights". He dismissed the EU's threat of further sanctions, accusing the EU of "backing a coup d'etat" in Ukraine.  The West, Mr Putin said, should have foreseen Russia's reaction to the situation, adding it was impossible to predict how the crisis would end. Mr Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later said the president's remarks on "statehood" should not be taken to mean an actual separate entity, and that the Ukrainian crisis was a "domestic" one. The BBC's Steve Rosenberg, in Moscow, says raising the concept of statehood in the east may be one way of Mr Putin increasing pressure on Kiev to halt its military operations. Also on Sunday, Russian media reported that 10 Russian paratroopers returned home in exchange for 63 captured Ukrainian soldiers held by Russia.  Federica Mogherini, named on Saturday as the EU's future foreign policy chief, said there could be no military solution to the crisis and that while sanctions were being worked on, the diplomatic process would need to continue.  Western and Ukrainian officials say this offensive has been substantially helped by Russian regular troops, opening a new front. Russia denies the accusation.
War in eastern Ukraine: The human cost
  • At least 2,593 people killed since mid-April (not including 298 passengers and crew of Malaysian Airlines MH17, shot down in the area) - UN report on 29 August
  • 951 civilians killed in Donetsk region alone, official regional authorities said - 20 August
  • In some particularly dangerous places, such as Luhansk region, victims are said to have been buried informally, making accurate counts difficult
  • Rebels (and some military sources) accuse the government of concealing true numbers
  • 155,800 people have fled elsewhere in Ukraine while at least 188,000 have gone to Russia
 ^ This is all one big mess and the only thing that is clear is that it was started by the Russians (no matter how hard they try to deny everything.) They tried to pull the strings on a Ukrainian President who was then ousted and that's when the Russian military took over the Crimea and after that they pull the strings in eastern Ukraine before going after more of southern Ukraine. One thing is clear in the second decade of the 21st Century, with all of it's modern technology, is you can't tell the same lies to the world who can easily disprove them with intel reports, pictures, etc. Even without all the technological evidence: if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck - - - it's a duck. ^
Grey line

Beslan At 10

From MT:
"Questions Remain Unanswered 10 Years After Beslan"

The children who set off for their first day of school 10 years ago in the small Caucasus town of Beslan, North Ossetia, will graduate from high school this coming academic year — at least, those who survived will.  On Sept. 1, 2004, a group of 32 armed terrorists took as their hostages more than 1,110 people, including schoolchildren, their parents, relatives and teachers. The group demanded that Moscow recognize Chechnya's complete independence and withdraw all Russian forces from the restive republic. The three-day hostage crisis claimed 385 lives, including those of 156 children, and left 700 victims injured.  Ten years have passed since the attack — a decade often described as a pivotal period in Russia's recent history. But many of the key questions raised by the tragedy remain unanswered.  While it is clear who took the hostages, mystery still shrouds the question of who initiated the storming of the school building and the subsequent bloodbath between the terrorists, government forces and local vigilantes. What is known is that the security forces began to storm the campus after a bomb rigged up by terrorists in the school gym — where the majority of hostages were being held — exploded. Twenty-two seconds later, another explosion followed. The cause of the blasts remains unknown. Some hostages claim an explosive detonated after being hit by a missile launched from the roof of a nearby building by a member of Russian special forces. The official version maintains that the bombs were set off by terrorists either deliberately or accidentally. More than half of the hostage fatalities were caused by the explosions and ensuing fires.
Another unanswered question is whether some of the terrorists were able to escape. According to the official version of events, there were 32 of them, and all but one were killed. The only one captured, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, was sentenced to life imprisonment, but both the hostages and the organizer of the attack, then-leader of the Chechen rebel movement Shamil Basayev, claimed that some of the attackers had escaped.  Voice of Beslan, a grassroots nongovernmental organization comprised of victims of the hostage crisis and their relatives, is dedicated to finding the answers to these and other questions. Having splintered off from the more government-friendly Mothers of Beslan, it has endeavored to persuade the government to acknowledge its mistakes in the rescue operation and punish the individuals responsible. Voice of Beslan members — who say President Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for what they believe to have been a disastrous end to the hostage crisis — staged hunger strikes in 2006 to draw attention to their claims.  In 2007, the Supreme Court of North Ossetia — the republic where the organization was registered — ordered Voice of Beslan to disband after another organization submitted documents to register itself under the same name. The organization's "appeal to all those who care about the Beslan tragedy" was included in 2009 on the Federal List of Extremist Materials, where it still remains.  According to the local prosecutors the appeal constituted the dissemination of "false information that President Vladimir Putin helps terrorists and acts as a guarantor for criminals." "After the Beslan terrorist attack, the government felt it could do whatever it wanted. No senior siloviki or public officials at federal or local levels lost their jobs, but the Russian people lost their right to directly elect governors," Voice of Beslan head Ella Kesayeva told The Moscow Times. In the wake of the tragedy, Putin altered Russia's political system, replacing direct elections of regional governors with presidential appointments approved by local legislature. In 2012 President Dmitry Medvedev reinstated direct elections, albeit in a more curtailed mode, with the candidates having to collect signatures from municipal deputies.  Putin specifically cited the Beslan tragedy in justifying his decision on the gubernatorial elections, saying that in the face of a terrorist threat, the government must enforce national unity. "In the eyes of parents and relatives, it is the state that acts like a terrorist. For us it does not matter who killed the terrorists. What we saw were tanks shelling the whole school with our children inside," Kesayeva said in a phone interview from Beslan. Today Kesayeva is still tormented by the fact that she was not inside the school as the  three-day nightmare unfolded.  "When my girl came out, she asked me if I had forgotten about her. She was 13 at the time," she said in a trembling voice. Her daughter is now 22 and is studying to become a pediatrician.  Other mothers were with their children for the duration of the terror, but were helpless to save them. Svetlana Mariyeva's daughter was 13 when she died in her arms in the school. "Putin tells us now that the Ukrainian government is attacking its own people, but in our school our government was doing the same. It was killing children," Mariyeva told The Moscow Times. "This is an enormous crime. The terrorists were the enemies, but why did the government do nothing to save the children? Why did Putin give the order to shoot at the school? He was the only one who could have done that," she said.  The same day, more than 1,600 kilometers away in Moscow, Aslambek Aslakhanov's son and daughter were also starting school. Their father, Putin's aide on the North Caucasus, was summoned to the Kremlin right from the school courtyard after dropping them off. Aslakhanov was Putin's point man during the three-day crisis, and was personally authorized by the president to conduct negotiations with the terrorists and "consider all [their] conditions except for Chechnya's independence." "Putin said we must to do everything to save the children," Aslakhanov told The Moscow Times in his office. Aslakhanov made a list of 700 political and cultural heavyweights who were prepared to replace the hostages. With this list, along with the offer to release terrorists and insurgents being held in prison, Aslakhanov went to Beslan, having arranged to meet with the hostage-takers at 3 p.m. on Sept. 3. He flew into Beslan at 1 p.m. He heard the first blast, which occurred at 1:03 p.m., while walking from the plane to his car, he said. The negotiations were off the table. Hostages began to die en masse. "I don't know who was responsible for the blasts, but they were not interested in negotiations," Aslakhanov said.
"I have taken part in resolving many terrorist acts, but I have never seen anything like what happened during the Beslan siege," he said. Aslakhanov also conducted negotiations during the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002. He went into the Dubrobka theater where more than 800 people were being held hostage and came out with 28 of them. In Beslan, many local men took up arms, and were patrolling the area around the school during the siege, before the ensuing carnage. After the blasts inside the school, the presence of armed militias made the situation even more chaotic. According to Aslakhanov, the failure to keep away the vigilantes was one of the main mistakes made by local authorities. "If the storming of the building had been planned by the government, it would not have been conducted in such an incompetent way," Aslakhanov said. The Beslan tragedy will be remembered on Monday and throughout the week across Russia. Aslakhanov said he would not do anything to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the day that changed so many lives forever.
"I will not commemorate it. I never will, as it is always with me," he said. "I always think about it and always remember it."

^ I was living in Russia during Beslan and saw all the Russian media coverage on it. It wasn't until I went back to the US several months later that I learned what overt censorship really was. I saw more articles, pictures and reports from around the world that gave me the "true" story of what happened on all sides. It's sad that the kids were the ones in the middle of all this. There were lots of questions on how the Russians handled the crisis the same way there were questions on how they handled the Moscow theater hostage gassings. It has been 10 years since Beslan but that hasn't made things any ckearer. ^

Banned Films

From various sources:
These films have also been banned in the following countries:

Austria:        All Quiet on the Western Front
Bahrain:       Noah
Burma:         Scarface     The Simpsons Movie
Bhutan:        Monty Python's Life of Brian      Cannibal Holocaust
Cambodia:    Human or Ghost    The Red Sense     Who Killed Chea Vichea
China:            Death Note,     Avatar
Denmark:     Ryska snuvan     The Ten Commandments
Finland:          Battleship Potemkin      King Kong  Mrs. Miniver    Johnny Eager   The Big Sleep   Rififi    Peeping Tom  One, Two, Three     The Manchurian Candidate     Dirty Harry     Cruising   The Evil Dead     The Texas Chain Saw Massacre    Cannibal Holocaust    Red Dawn     Reservoir Dogs   Pulp Fiction   Casino     Blade  
France:             All Quiet on the Western Front      Paths of Glory       The Battle of Algiers
Germany:        All Quiet on the Western Front     The Great Dictator    The Eternal Jew  Jud Süß       
Greece:            Cannibal Holocaust
Hong Kong:      Lolita    The Battle of Algiers  The Coldest Winter in Peking    If I Were for Real
Hungary:          Ének a búzamezőkről     Keserű igazság    A nagyrozsdási eset    A tanú    
Iceland:            Friday the 13th   Cannibal Holocaust,   To All a Good Night   Re-Animator    Amazonia   Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers   Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Indonesia:         Noah
Iran:               The King and I     Oliver!    Saturday Night Fever   Cannibal Holocaust, Cruising           The Dark Crystal     Scarface   Glory  Schindler's List   The Naked Gun  Showgirls  Boogie Nights   Liar Liar   South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut   Anna and the King   Zoolander   Pinocchio  Bruce Almighty    The Passion of the Christ  The 40-Year-Old Virgin,  Sin City  Brokeback Mountain  The Da Vinci Code,  Alexander, The Kingdom,   300    Meet the Spartans,  The Last House on the Left  Argo
Iraq:           South Park: Bigger, Longer and  Uncut      Fahrenheit 9/11
Ireland:        Monkey Business      Ulysses    Rocky Road to Dublin   Personal Services  Meet the Feebles     Natural Born Killers    From Dusk till Dawn   Romance       
Italy:            All Quiet on the Western Front
Japan:           Half Human    Varan the Unbelievable    Horrors of Malformed Men   Prophecies of Nostradamus
Kuwait:        Cannibal Holocaust    Three Kings   The 40-Year-Old Virgin   The Kingdom
Lebanon:      You Don't Mess with the Zohan      Waltz with Bashir
Morocco:      Showgirls    Team America: World Police    Noah
Norway:        Friday the 13th    RoboCop 2     Kite    Ichi the Killer    A Serbian Film
Oman:          Monty Python's Life of Brian     Saw       Basic Instinct 2
Pakistan:       The Da Vinci Code    Zero Dark Thirty    G.I. Joe: Retaliation    Noah
Philippines:     The Last Temptation of Christ    Natural Born Killers    Toro/Live Show   Imelda
Poland:            Przesluchanie  Blind Chance  Witajcie w życiu
Portugal:         Catch-22
Qatar:               Noah
Saudi Arabia:    True Lies
Singapore:         Monty Python's Life of Brian,  The Evil Dead  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2    The Last Temptation of Christ    Lie Down with Dogs  A Dirty Shame, Hostel  Shortbus
South Africa:       Up in Smoke  Monty Python's Life of Brian,    Cruising    Cry Freedom Whore    Showgirls
Soviet Union:      The Grapes of Wrath       Komissar
South Korea:        The Battleship Potemkin      Three Days of the Condor   Scream
Spain:                    The Battleship Potemkin  The Great Dictator   Paths of Glory    Last Tango in Paris
Sri Lanka:              The Da Vinci Code
Sweden:                 Nosferatu   Django   Mad Max   The Burning   Cannibal Holocaust
Thailand:                Anna and the King of Siam      The King and I       Tongpan
Trinidad and Tobago:     The King and I    The Gods Must Be Crazy  Scarface  Anna and the King      
Tunisia:                    300      Noah
Turkey:                    Nosferatu    Pink Flamingos   Cannibal Holocaust,
United Arab Emirates:      You Don't Mess with the Zohan    Brüno
Vietnam:            The Deer Hunter   Apocalypse Now    Platoon    Strike Commando  Sex and the City 2  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo  The Hunger Games
Yugoslavia:            Plastični Isus
West Germany:       Dawn of the Dead

 ^ Those is Bold are the movies I have seen. It's nice to know I have seen many of the films that some have banned. Some movies are still banned and some have been unbanned. ^