Saturday, January 11, 2014

Air Force drug probe grows to 10 officers

English: The Seal of the United States Federal...
English: The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. For more information, see here. Español: El escudo del Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI). Para obtener más información, véase aquí (Inglés). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
FBI Badge & gun.
FBI Badge & gun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Air Force drug probe grows to 10 officers | Air Force Times |
WASHINGTON — An Air Force investigation into alleged drug use in the ranks has expanded to include 10 officers at six bases in the U.S. and Britain.

Nine lieutenants and one captain are being investigated for illegal possession of recreational drugs, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Brett Ashworth said Friday. The case began with the investigation of two officers at Edwards Air Force Base in California and quickly widened to several other bases because of the airmen’s contacts with others about drug possession, he said.

The probe surfaced Thursday as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming to give a planned pep talk to members of the nuclear missile force. Initially, officials revealed that two nuclear launch control officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were being investigated for drug use.

On Friday, Ashworth said the probe now includes officers at Edwards and Malmstrom as well as at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Royal Air Force base Lakenheath in eastern England, which hosts U.S. Air Force units and personnel.

No other details about the investigation, which is being conducted by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, are being released
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Nuclear weapons in 2013

Cover of the 1947 Bulletin of the Atomic Scien...
Cover of the 1947 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists issue that first featured the Doomsday Clock at seven minutes to midnight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nuclear weapons in 2013 | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Keeping its diverse audience up to date on developments relating to nuclear arms is, of course, a major focus of the Bulletin. From Iran to North Korea to Russia and beyond, in 2013 the Bulletin’s experts not only explained the continuing, potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear weaponry; they offered concrete plans for reducing that threat. The enormous range of the Bulletin’s coverage of the danger of nuclear weaponry is best reflected here. For those with limited reading time, however, here are seven eloquent and important pieces that we published last year, in the continuing belief that an ever-broader and -deeper understanding of the danger of nuclear weapons offers protection against their use.  
  • If the Boston Marathon attack had involved dirty bombs by George M. Moore.The Boston Marathon bombing was horrific enough without getting into ways in which it could have been worse. But in fact there is one avenue of speculation worth exploring, because doing so could help keep cities safe in the future: What if the explosive devices allegedly used by the Tsarnaev brothers had contained radioactive material? 
  • Science, art, and the legacy of Martyl by Kennette Benedict. Martyl Langsdorf, the artist who created the Doomsday Clock, died on March 26th at the age of 96 in Chicago. Known to many friends and fans simply as Martyl, she was a petite and vivacious woman who had an outsize influence on public consciousness about nuclear weapons through her design of the clock that first graced the cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 and continues to be used today.
  • A broader reading of seismic waves from North Korea by Jeffrey Park. How a North Korean nuclear test demonstrated that the international community can effectively monitor a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, as soon as it is ratified by the United States and placed into force.
  • Nuclear photography: Making the invisible visible by Carole Gallagher. A documentary photographer, Gallagher spent a decade capturing the lives of those who lived downwind of the nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site. In this essay, a part of the Bulletin’s special issue on art, destruction, and the Doomsday Clock, she explores whether nuclear catastrophe is beyond the reach of art.
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Battle of New Orleans

English: The Battle of New Orleans. General An...
English: The Battle of New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson stands on the parapet of his makeshift defenses as his troops repulse attacking Highlanders. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Naval History Blog » Blog Archive » Jan. 8, 1815 – Battle of New Orleans
Today marks the final victory over the British that ended the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans was settled at Chalmette Plantation, where Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s troops scored a final victory for the United States.
Less known, however, is the naval skirmish three weeks prior that set up Jackson’s victory. During the Battle of Lake Borgne, American Sailors and Marines, with just a few gun boats, slowed the approach of 8,000 British troops advancing toward New Orleans. Armed with the knowledge the British were coming, Jackson was able to prepare and amass his troops for the greatest land battle victory during the War of 1812. All thanks to the intuition of Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson.
Patterson was born on Long Island in 1786 and like so many Americans at the time, descended from loyal British subjects. His uncle had been a royal governor of what is now St. John’s Island in Canada. Patterson started his career in the Navy in 1799, fought the French, was taken captive during the Quasi Wars, and led raids against pirates blocking New Orleans. He was later a prisoner of the Barbary pirates in Tripoli until the American victory in 1805.
Stationed in New Orleans, by 1812 Patterson was highly experienced in combat and leadership. He was ready for the British, who had won battles in the Great Lakes, burned Washington, and were now ready to invade the South.
But where? The British had already sent ships to the Gulf of Mexico. Jackson believed it would be Mobile, Ala., and he insisted Commodore Patterson, now the Commander of New Orleans, to send whatever he had to protect Mobile from attack. Patterson repeatedly refused Jackson, convinced the British would attack New Orleans.
In the meantime, the British Commander-in-Chief of the North American Station, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, had anchored in the Gulf of Mexico with a large armada of ships holding 8,000 soldiers and sailors ready to invade.
Patterson had little with which to respond. As the Master Commandant, he had written to the Secretary of the Navy many times asking for ships that could stand a chance in combat against the British fleet. Patterson wrote the year before in December 1813 that none of his ships could even depart from the Gulf of Mexico without “falling into enemy hands.”
The British had HMS Seahorse, which carried 22 nine-pounder guns. Cochrane also had ships like Armide and Sophie, which contained two six-pounder bow guns and 16 32-pounder carronades, which were giant short-range cast iron cannons.  
Patterson had five gunboats, a schooner and two sloops of war, USS Alligator and USS Tickler. The squadron had fewer than 250 Sailors, armed with 16 long guns, 14 carronades, two howitzers and 12 swivel guns. The gun boats were often referred to as “Jefferson-class” tug boats, because they were built during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson who believed all America needed was a coastal patrol force, not a blue-water navy. The “Jefferson-class” gun boats didn’t even have names. They had numbers — Numbers 156, 163, 5, 23, and 162.
But now the British were anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. Vice Adm. Cochrane decided the easiest way to New Orleans would be through Lake Borgne, where Patterson’s squadron was patrolling and reporting back to Jackson about the British logistics and movements.
Finally, on Dec. 12, 1814, 1,200 British sailors and marines began their approach to Lake Borgne. After 36 hours of rowing, the invaders faced a hail of grape shot. Patterson had calculated correctly that even without ships to match the Royal Navy, his gunboats could harass any landing party as they rowed ashore, blocking the entrance of Lake Borgne, the gateway to New Orleans.

NHHC – Battle of Lake Borgne

But outmanned and outgunned, the British captured all the American gunboats on Dec. 14. The British then made a tactical error. Rather than pressing forward, they were allowed time to rest.
Jackson heard about a British encampment just seven miles from New Orleans and exclaimed: “By the Eternal they shall not sleep on our soil.”
So during the night of Dec. 23, the Americans attacked the British with troops by land and with USS Carolina and Louisiana, stationed in the Mississippi River, bombarding their encampment. Heavily outnumbered, the Americans were forced to retreat.
The British realized their advance would not be as easy as they thought, and again, hesitated, allowing even more time for Jackson to shore up his forces and prepare their defense. Under bombardment and constant attack, the British tried to advance into New Orleans for the next two weeks until the culmination of the battle on Jan. 8, 1815.
The Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium on Dec., 24, 1814, just one day after Jackson’s assault on the British. But neither side knew the treaty had been signed until after the battle was over two weeks later. After Jan. 8, the British, in one last effort after losing New Orleans, tried to take Mobile again, but then withdrew upon hearing of the treaty. It would formally end all hostilities between the two nations.
Patterson himself commanded naval batteries on the Mississippi during the Battle of New Orleans. He, as well as his Sailors and Marines fought alongside Jackson’s Soldiers during the last week in December and the first week in January. Jackson would go on to give high praise to Patterson, who would be promoted to captain. Patterson would later take command of USS Constitution, and serve in the Navy for another 24 years.
And old Hickory himself, a national hero, would ride his 1815 victory to become the nation’s seventh president in 1829.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

The Rwanda "Genocide Fax": What We Know Now

English: Coat of arms of Rwanda Deutsch: Staat...
English: Coat of arms of Rwanda Deutsch: Staatswappen von Ruanda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Rwanda Washington, DC, January 9, 2014

Washington, DC, January 9, 2014 – Twenty years ago this week, the commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Rwanda (UNAMIR) wrote a "Most Immediate" cable to his superiors in New York that has come to be known as the "Genocide Fax." Dated January 11 but received in New York at 6:45 p.m. on January 10, the fax from General Romeo Dallaire cited information from "a top-level trainer" for a pro-regime militia group known as the Interahamwe, and warned of an "anti-Tutsi extermination" plot.
Three months after this warning, Interahamwe members took the lead in the 100-day genocide of at least half a million members of Rwanda's Tutsi minority, along with tens of thousands of "moderate" Hutus. The massacres took place against the backdrop of a war that pitted the Hutu-dominated regime against Tutsi-led insurgents who had invaded the country from neighboring Uganda.
Over time, the "genocide fax" became a symbol of the failure of the international community to prevent mass killing in Rwanda. In reply to the fax, U.N. officials rejected Dallaire's request for authority to raid suspected arms caches, and instructed him instead to consult with government leaders tied to the Interahamwe. It was one of several turning points when the United Nations, backed by the United States and other powers, failed to take action that might have prevented the genocide.
Thanks to new documents, including evidence submitted to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), it is now possible to piece together a much fuller account of the man who inspired the "genocide fax" and how and why UN officials and other decision-makers responded, or failed to respond, to his warnings. For example, the documents posted today include the never-before-published statement given to tribunal investigators in 2003 by the widow of the "genocide fax" informant.
Today's e-book and op-ed in the New York Times by Michael Dobbs are the first publications of a joint "#Rwanda20yrs" project co-sponsored by the National Security Archive (at George Washington University) and the Center for the Prevention of Genocide of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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The Polish Monuments Man

Władysław Sikorski, Polish commander in chief ...
Władysław Sikorski, Polish commander in chief and prime minister during World War II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Adam Tarnowski, Polish aristocrat, di...
English: Adam Tarnowski, Polish aristocrat, diplomat of Austria–Hungary, after 1918 in Polish Foreign Service. In 1944-1947 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland in Polish Government in Exile in London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the sixth in an ongoing series of posts on real-life Monuments Men. Today’s post is by Dr. Sylvia Naylor. See related posts on Sir Charles Leonard Woolley, Walter J. Huchthausen, Seymour J. Pomrenze, Mason Hammond, and Edith A. Standen.
The forthcoming movie, The Monuments Men, has focused great attention on the Monuments Men (and women) and their work during and after World War II.  Of course the movie cannot tell the story of the over 300 individuals involved in Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFA&A) work, so focuses on three: George Stout, James Rorimer, and Rose Valland, played by George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett respectively.  Over the course of the next two months, Dr. Greg Bradsher and I thought it would be illustrative to discuss some of the lesser known individuals.
This post focuses on Dr. Karol Estreicher, the Polish Monuments Man and is the sixth in the series of blogs on the Monuments Men.
Karol Estreicher, Jr. was born on March 4, 1906 in Cracow, Poland into a prominent family.  His father Stanisław was a renowned law professor at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow and his mother Helena was a homemaker.  Karol received his Ph.D. from Jagiellonian University and went on to become one of Poland’s most prominent art historians, as well as a bibliographer, writer and professor.
Dr. Estreicher fled Poland during the Nazi invasion in 1939 and worked for the Polish government-in-exile in Paris until the fall of France in 1940.  He then moved to London and became the head of the Cultural Losses Restitution Bureau (Biuro Rewindykacji Mienia Kulturalnego) for the Polish government-in-exile in London.  This Bureau, which worked closely with the Polish underground, was responsible for gathering information regarding cultural losses in Poland received from archivists, librarians, and museum staff in occupied Poland and Germany.  Estreicher and his team were dedicated to documenting and cataloguing information on lost, looted or confiscated Polish cultural property and art items.  As a result of this work, Estreicher edited and compiled a publication entitled Cultural Losses of Poland: Index of Polish Cultural Losses During the German Occupation, 1939-1944 (London, 1944).  According to Estreicher, “This index is intended to give precise and concise information concerning the losses sustained by Polish cultural institutions through the German occupation…”
Dr. Estreicher traveled to the United States between November 1942 and April 1943 in order to inform Americans of the scale of Nazi destruction of European culture and to advocate for the restitution of confiscated Polish property.  While in the Unites States he gave several lectures and speeches at universities, including Columbia, Harvard, and Yale.  He also met with American officials, including Francis Henry Taylor, the director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who shortly thereafter became a member of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe (Roberts Commission).
Estreicher played a key role in the establishment of the Inter-Allied Commission for the Protection and Restitution of Cultural Material (Vaucher Commission) in April 1944.  Composed of representatives of the varied Allied governments, the Vaucher Commission had as its purpose the study of problems relating to protection, restitution, and reparations and the collection and organization of information relating to looting for the eventual use of the Allies in post-war restitution efforts. The secretariat of the Vaucher Commission functioned as a central bureau for information on looted objects supplied by the different national commissions and issued lists of looted objects for the use of Monuments officers until its dissolution in November 1945.  Dr. Estreicher was a very active member of the Commission.  At a meeting on May 15, 1944, he presented a proposed method of how to gather information for post-war restitution efforts.  According to the meeting minutes:
Dr. Estreicher pointed out that after the last war efforts had been made only to track down the objects which had been looted or lost.  It would be much more effective to track down the men who looted them or who had information about them, and this was his basis of his approach to the problem.  He had made a particular study of the careers and personal histories of German art connoisseurs…
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