Friday, June 2, 2017

Armed Pirates Attack Navig8 Tanker in Gulf of Oman

Spanish warship ESPS Galicia, part of EU NAVFOR, patrols off the coast of Somalia. File photo: EU NAVFOR

Armed pirates aboard a skiff attacked an oil tanker underway in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, but the attack was repelled when the ship's security team returned fire, officials have confirmed.

The International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre, which was first to report the incident, said six persons armed with guns in a skiff approached and fired upon a tanker underway approximately 103 nautical miles east of Muscat, Oman.

"The alarm raised and non-essential crew retreated to the citadel. Speed increased, evasive maneuvers conducted and onboard armed security team fired warning shots resulting in the skiffs moving away. A mother vessel was seen in the vicinity. Vessel is safe," the IMB report said.

The European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) later confirmed the attack and identified the tanker as the MT NAVIG8 Providence, a 2016-built 74,000 DWT LR1 tanker belonging to Navig8 Group and flagged in the Marshall Islands. 

"It is understood that as the skiff moved towards the tanker, there was an exchange of small arms fire between the suspected pirates and the maritime security team on board the tanker," EU NAVFOR said.

In an email, the master of the MT NAVIG8 Providence reported that his ship's security team saw a ladder in the skiff, EU NAVFOR said.

Counter-piracy naval forces are coordinating a response to search for the skiff.

The attack is the second in as many days in the Horn of Africa region. On Wednesday, a different Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was fired upon by pirates armed with an RPG in a skiff while sailing in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, connecting the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.

Both attacks follow a string of recent pirate attacks off the coast Somalia and Yemen in recent months after years of calm. At least some of the attacks, however, have been attributed to the instability in Yemen rather than the return of Somali-based piracy. 

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Search Called Off for Missing ‘Crosby Commander’ Crew Member

crosby commander

The U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday suspended its search for the missing crew member of the Crosby Commander tugboat, which sank Monday in the Gulf of Mexico off Marsh Island, Lousiana.

The Coast Guard said the search covered 3,753 square nautical miles and lasted approximately 98 hours before it was suspended. 

As we reported previously, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report Monday at approximately 5:00 a.m. of the Crosby Commander taking on water with four people aboard. Three of the four people were able to evacuate to a life raft before the vessel sank. One crew member remained missing.  

The survivors were rescued by the motor vessel Andi Nicole and reported in good condition.

The 85-foot Crosby Commander was built in 1978 and belongs to Crosby Tugs, LLC, headquartered in Galliano, Louisiana.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Involved in the search were:

  • Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircrew
  • Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew
  • Coast Guard Cutter Razorbill
  • Coast Guard Cutter Skipjack
  • Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant
  • Motor vessel Andi Nicole
  • Motor vessel GIS Christina
  • Motor vessel Son River
  • Tug vessel Crosby Trinity
  • Tug vessel Crosby Trojan
  • Commercial helicopter from Eugene Island Block 158

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Criminal and Civil Enforcement - May 2017 - Inspector General - Medical

May 2017

May 31, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice
Electronic Health Records Vendor to Pay $155 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
One of the nation's largest vendors of electronic health records software, eClinicalWorks (ECW), and certain of its employees will pay a total of $155 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that ECW misrepresented the capabilities of its software, the Justice Department announced. The settlement also resolves allegations that ECW paid kickbacks to certain customers in exchange for promoting its product. ECW is headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts.
May 31, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of New Jersey
Skilled Nursing Facility To Pay $888,000 To Resolve Alleged False Claims Related To Materially Substandard Care
NEWARK, N.J. - A skilled nursing facility in Sussex County, New Jersey, has agreed to pay to the United States and the State of New York $888,000 to resolve allegations that it provided materially substandard or worthless nursing services to some patients, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced today.
May 31, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Massachusetts
Former Tufts Health Plan Employee Sentenced for Disclosing Personal Patient Information
BOSTON - A former employee of Tufts Health Plan was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for stealing personal identifying information belonging to hundreds of customers. The stolen data included names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, primarily of customers over the age of 65. 
May 31, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Eastern District of Louisiana
Marrero Woman Pleads Guilty to $536,724 in Health Care Fraud
Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MONICA SYLVEST, age 52, of Marrero, pled guilty today to a Bill of Information charging her with health care fraud.
May 30, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice
Medicare Advantage Organization and Former Chief Operating Officer to Pay $32.5 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
Freedom Health Inc., a Tampa, Florida-based provider of managed care services, and its related corporate entities (collectively "Freedom Health"), agreed to pay $31,695,593 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by engaging in illegal schemes to maximize their payment from the government in connection with their Medicare Advantage plans, the Justice Department announced today. In addition, the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Freedom Health Siddhartha Pagidipati, has agreed to pay $750,000 to resolve his alleged role in one of these schemes. 
May 30, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Connecticut
Bristol Woman Convicted of Defrauding Medicaid Program
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Chief State's Attorney Kevin T. Kane today announced that on May 26, a jury in Bridgeport convicted RONNETTE BROWN, 44, of Bristol, on 23 counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The trial before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden began on May 22 and the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts of the indictment on Friday afternoon.
May 30, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Minnesota
Minnesota Mental Health Nonprofit And Its Leaders To Pay $4.5 Million To Resolve Fraud Allegations
Acting United States Attorney Gregory G. Brooker and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson today announced that Complementary Support Services and its related entities (collectively "CSS"), TERI DIMOND and HERBERT STOCKLEY have agreed to pay a total of $4.52 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act (FCA) and Minnesota False Claims Act by defrauding Medicaid, a program jointly funded by the federal government and State of Minnesota to provide health care to low-income Minnesotans. CSS will pay the government $4 million, DIMOND agreed to pay $400,000, and STOCKLEY agreed to pay $120,000.
May 23, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice Medicare Fraud Strike Force Case
Houston-Area Psychiatrist Convicted of Health Care Fraud for Role in $158 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
A federal jury convicted a Houston-area psychiatrist today for his role in a $158 million Medicare fraud scheme.
May 23, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Northern District of New York
Albany Physician Pays $100,000 And Agrees To 15-Year Period Of Exclusion From Medicare For Submitting False Claims
ALBANY, NEW YORK - Dr. Michael Esposito has agreed to pay $100,000 for billing Medicare despite his exclusion from all federal health care programs, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. Dr. Esposito is an endocrinologist who treated patients in the Capital Region until earlier this year, when the New York State Board of Professional Medical Conduct ordered him to stop practicing medicine because he had engaged in professional misconduct.
May 22, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Eastern District of Missouri
United States Reaches $291,288 Civil Settlement with Dr. Sherry Ma and Aima Neurology, LLC Related to Botox® and Myobloc® Injections
St. Louis, Missouri: Acting United States Attorney Carrie Costantin announced today that the United States, Sherry X. Ma, M.D., of Ladue, Missouri, and AIMA Neurology, LLC, reached a civil settlement that will resolve the United States claims against Dr. Ma and AIMA Neurology under the False Claims Act for false Medicare billings related to Dr. Ma's Botox® and Myobloc® injections. 
May 19, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Eastern District of Missouri
Medical Resident Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Obtaining Prescription Opioid Pain Medications
St. Louis, MO - Kyle Betts pled guilty today to fraudulently obtaining pain relief drugs, including Percocet® and Norco®, by writing over seventy false prescriptions.
May 19, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Eastern District of Michigan
Farmington Hills Doctor Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison for Distributing Prescription Drugs and Health Care Fraud
A Farmington Hills, Michigan, doctor was sentenced yesterday to 19 years in prison for participating in a conspiracy to distribute prescription pills and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch announced.
May 18, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice
Missouri Hospitals Agree to Pay United States $34 Million to Settle Alleged False Claims Act Violations Arising from Improper Payments to Oncologists
Two Southwest Missouri health care providers have agreed to pay the United States $34,000,000 to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by engaging in improper financial relationships with referring physicians, the Justice Department announced today. The two Defendants are Mercy Hospital Springfield f/k/a St. John's Regional Health Center, and its affiliate, Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities f/k/a St. John's Clinic. Among other health care facilities, the Defendants operate a hospital, clinic, and infusion center in Springfield, Missouri.
May 18, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of New Jersey
New York Doctor Pleads Guilty In Connection With Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. - An internal medicine doctor practicing in Yonkers, New York, today admitted taking bribes in connection with a long-running and elaborate test referral scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
May 18, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Middle District of Tennessee
Final Group Of Physicians And Owner Of Medical Practice Plead Guilty In Medical Kickback Scheme
Pam Gardner, 55, of Springfield, Tennessee, pleaded guilty yesterday, to conspiracy to solicit and receive cash kickbacks in exchange for making patient referrals, announced Jack Smith, Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.
May 17, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Northern District of Ohio
Cleveland Heights woman sentenced to 10 years in prison, son to seven years for $8 million home healthcare fraud
A Cleveland Heights woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leading a $8 million healthcare fraud conspiracy in which participants provided forged documents and fraudulent forms to bill for services that were not provided, law enforcement officials said.
May 16, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice
United States Intervenes in Second False Claims Act Lawsuit Alleging that UnitedHealth Group Inc. Mischarged the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Programs
For the second time in two weeks, the United States has filed a complaint against UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UHG) that alleges UHG knowingly obtained inflated risk adjustment payments based on untruthful and inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in UHG's Medicare Advantage Plans throughout the United States, the Justice Department announced today. Today's action follows the government's filing of a complaint earlier this month in United States ex rel. Swoben v. Secure Horizons, a related action that also alleges that UHG submitted false claims for payment to the Medicare Program. 
May 16, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of New Jersey
Omnicare Inc. Agrees To $8 Million Settlement In False Claims Act Case
NEWARK, N.J. - The U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Justice and 28 states have reached an $8 million settlement with Omnicare Inc. resolving allegations arising from a whistle-blower suit filed under the False Claims Act. The agreement was announced today by Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.
May 12, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice
Former Administrative Law Judge Pleads Guilty for Role in $550 Million Social Security Disability Fraud Scheme
A former administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration (SSA) pleaded guilty in federal court today for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $550 million in federal disability payments from the SSA for thousands of claimants.
May 11, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Middle District of Louisiana
Patient Marketer For All-Star Medical Supply Sentenced To Prison For Health Care Fraud
BATON ROUGE, LA - Acting United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson announced that U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced DEMETRIAS TEMPLE, age 56, of New Orleans, Louisiana, to serve ten (10) months in federal prison following her conviction for health care fraud. TEMPLE was ordered to make restitution to the Medicare program totaling $100,000 and pay a $100 special assessment. TEMPLE was ordered to forfeit an additional $100,000 as the proceeds of her criminal activity. Finally, following her release from prison, TEMPLE will be required to serve a two-year term of supervised release.
May 11, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Southern District of New York
Acting U.S. Attorney Announces $54 Million Settlement Of Civil Fraud Lawsuit Against Benefits Management Company For Improper Authorization Of Medical Procedures
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Scott Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Regional Office for the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS-OIG"), announced today that the United States simultaneously filed and settled a civil fraud lawsuit against benefits management company CaRECORE NATIONAL LLC ("CARECORE"), now part of eviCore healthcare, for authorizing medical diagnostic procedures paid for with Medicare and Medicaid funds over a period of at least eight years without properly assessing whether the procedures were necessary or reasonable. The settlement, approved in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan, resolves CARECORE's civil liabilities to the United States under the federal False Claims Act. Under the settlement, CARECORE must pay a total of $54 million, of which $45 million will be paid to the United States and $9 million will be paid to the states that are named as plaintiffs in the suit. CARECORE also admitted and accepted responsibility for, among other things, improperly approving prior authorizations requests for hundreds of thousands of diagnostic procedures paid for with Medicare Part C and Medicaid funds.
May 11, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Northern District of Illinois
Chicago Dermatologist Convicted on Federal Fraud Charges for Billing Health Insurance Programs for Medically Unnecessary Treatments
CHICAGO - A federal jury has convicted a Chicago dermatologist on fraud charges for billing health-insurance programs for purported pre-cancerous treatments that were not medically necessary.
May 10, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Eastern District of Louisiana
Six Individuals Found Guilty of Health Care Fraud
Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that on May 9th, after over four weeks of trial, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts against six individuals charged with committing approximately $13,655,094 in Medicare fraud.
May 10, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Oregon
Mary Holden Ayala Charged with Theft of Over $800,000 From Oregon Foster Care Agency Give Us This Day
PORTLAND, Ore. -A federal grand jury in Portland has charged Mary Holden Ayala, 56, a longtime resident of Portland, with theft of over $800,000, money laundering and filing false personal tax returns. Ayala served as the President and Executive Director of Give Us This Day (GUTD), an Oregon state-licensed private foster care agency and residential program for hard-to-place foster youth, until its closing in September of 2015. 
May 9, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Central District of California
Oncology Therapy Center in High Desert Pays $3 Million to Resolve Allegations of Providing Radiation Treatments without Doctor Present
LOS ANGELES - A Lancaster-based radiation therapy center has paid $3 million to resolve allegations that it submitted fraudulent bills over a nearly 10-year period to three government-run healthcare programs for unsupervised radiation oncology services.
May 9. 2017; U.S. Attorney; Northern District of Alabama
Sales Rep for North Alabama Compounding Pharmacy Charged in $13 M Insurance Conspiracy
BIRMINGHAM - Federal prosecutors today charged a sales representative for a Haleyville, Ala.,-based compounding pharmacy with conspiracy in a multi-faceted scheme to generate prescriptions and defraud Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and one of its prescription drug administrators out of over $13 million in one year. Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Roger Stanton, United States Postal Inspector in Charge, Houston Division Adrian Gonzalez, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, and Defense Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin announced the charges.
May 8, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice Medicare Fraud Strike Force Case
Third Detroit-Area Physician Convicted in $17.1 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme
A third Detroit-area physician was convicted today for his role in a $17 million Medicare fraud scheme involving medically unnecessary physician visits.
May 8, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Connecticut
Morris Woman Sentenced to 10 Months in Federal Prison for Health Care Fraud
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ANNE CHARLOTTE SILVER, 63, of Morris, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 10 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for committing health care fraud. Judge Bolden also ordered SILVER to provide 100 hours of community service upon her release from prison, and to pay restitution of $1.6 million.
May 8, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Kansas
Kansas Medical Supplier to Pay $1 Million To Settle False Claim Allegations
KANSAS CITY, KAN. - A Dodge City medical equipment supplier has agreed to pay $1 million to settle allegations it submitted false claims to the Medicare program, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said today.
May 4, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Eastern District of Texas
Smith County Husband and Wife Sentenced in Health Care Fraud Conspiracy
TYLER, Texas - A Smith County couple has been sentenced for health care fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.
May 4, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Western District of Virginia
Third Member of Healthcare Conspiracy Pleads Guilty
Abingdon, VIRGINIA - A Bristol woman, who along with a husband and wife were accused of healthcare fraud, pled guilty today to related charges, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Nick DiGiulio, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Regional Office for U.S. Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General announced today.
May 2, 2017; U.S. Department of Justice
United States Intervenes in False Claims Act lawsuit Against UnitedHealth Group Inc. for Mischarging the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Programs
The United States has intervened and filed a complaint in a lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UHG) that alleges UHG obtained inflated risk adjustment payments based on untruthful and inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in UHG's largest Medicare Advantage Plan, UHC of California, the Justice Department announced today. Yesterday's action follows the government's intervention in February of this year in United State ex rel. Poehling v. UnitedHealth Group. Inc., a related lawsuit in the Central District of California that also alleges that UHG defrauded the Medicare Program. government is scheduled to file a complaint in that matter no later than May 16. 
May 2, 2017; U.S. Attorney; Western District of North Carolina
Hickory Pathology Lab Agrees To Pay The United States $601,000 To Settle False Claims Act Allegation
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that Piedmont Pathology in Hickory, N.C., has agreed to pay the United States $601,000 to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for medically unnecessary procedures. 
May 1, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Kansas
Kansas Chiropractor to Pay $1 Million-plus To Settle False Claim Allegations
KANSAS CITY, KAN. - A Kansas City area chiropractor has agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle allegations his offices submitted false claims to Medicare for treating patients with peripheral neuropathy, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said today.
May 1, 2017; U.S. Attorney; District of Rhode Island
Poplar Healthcare to Pay Nearly $900,000 to Resolve A False Claims Act Allegations
PROVIDENCE, RI - Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch and Philip Coyne, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Boston Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG), today announced that Poplar Healthcare PLLC, and Poplar Healthcare Management, LLC ("Poplar"), of Memphis, TN, have entered into a civil settlement agreement with the United States, under which Poplar will pay $897,640 to resolve allegations under the federal False Claims Act. The government alleges that Poplar, directly and through a subsidiary known as GI Pathology, promoted and billed the government for diagnostic tests that the government contends were not medically necessary.

Freedom Health agrees to pay $31.7M to settle Medicare Advantage whistleblower case - Tampa Florida

  • Tampa-Fla.-based Freedom Health Inc. agreed to settle a False Claims Act case that alleged the Medicare Advantage organization engaged in “illegal schemes to maximize their payment from the government,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

  • The company’s former Chief Operating Officer Siddhartha Pagidipati also agreed to pay $750,000 for his alleged role in the case. 

  • The Department of Justice said Freedom Health submitted or caused others to submit “unsupported diagnosis codes to CMS,” which caused larger than owed reimbursements from 2008 to 2013. The company also reportedly made “material misrepresentations to CMS regarding the scope and content of its network of providers” in applications to CMS in 2008 and 2009, said the DOJ. 

Dive Insight:

Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the DOJ’s Civil Division said in a statement the settlement “sends a clear message to the managed care industry that the United States will hold managed care plan providers responsible when they fail to provide truthful information.”

The allegations began as a whistleblower case involving a former employee, Darren D. Sewell. Sewell will get a share of the settlement, but that amount hasn't been determined yet, according to the DOJ.

The DOJ and state investigators have turned up on the heat on alleged healthcare fraud. Medicare Advantage, which Congress created in hopes of containing healthcare costs, has been the focus of other fraud cases. In the biggest case, the DOJ alleges that UnitedHealth, which is the largest Medicare Advantage provider with 50 Medicare Advantage and drug prescription plans, overbilled Medicare. That is the second time this year DOJ has targeted UnitedHealth for overbilling in Medicare Advantage.

The federal government is also investigating other payers involved in Medicare Advantage, including Aetna, Bravo Health, Cigna, Health Net and Humana.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Did the Nazis locate a secret U-boat base in Spain?

Picture of Cofete's Casa Winter Image copyright Ramon Perez Niz
Image caption The building known as Casa Winter was built at the top of a hill

Looking up from the wild and barely accessible beach of Cofete, on Fuerteventura's rugged southern tip, it is hard not to wonder who would have built a house high up on the hillside.
According to some, the remote location of the building known as Casa Winter is not explained by its fine views over a landscape that now forms part of Jandia natural park, but something far more sinister: the presence of Nazis in the Canary Islands during World War Two.
"There is so much to investigate here, but no-one is helping me," says an exasperated Pedro Fumero, the current occupant of Casa Winter who believes he may be sleeping on top of a secret base or hideaway designed for use by the Nazis.
The 48-year-old former taxi driver, whose grandfather helped to build the house and later lived in it, moved into the building in 2012, having found out that his two uncles and an aunt were inhabiting the place in poor health and squalid conditions.
The family is facing an eviction order after a hotel company bought the property from the descendants of Gustav Winter, a German engineer whose unusual wartime activities on Fuerteventura attracted the attention of Allied spies.
Winter, who was born in the Black Forest region in 1893 and moved to the Canary Islands in 1925, was one of 104 German residents in Spain whom Allies requested be repatriated to Germany at the end of WW2 to face accusations of being Nazi agents.
A 1947 document on these Nazi suspects from the Madrid bureau chief of the US Office of Strategic Services, a precursor of the CIA, describes Winter as a radio operator and military operator.

Like other Germans on the list of suspected Nazis whom the Allies had wanted to question and put on trial after the war, Winter was not handed over by the Spanish authorities. He died in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1971.
"I am sure Gustav Winter was provisioning German submarines," states Mr Fumero, citing wartime reports and some of his own findings, such as a battery he says is from a U-boat and that he found in the property.
"Why would you build a tower like this on top of what is essentially a bunker? This was never a house meant for enjoyment," says Mr Fumero, standing inside the turret-like construction that dominates the upper level of Casa Winter, equipped with an unusually large fuse box.

Image caption U-47, pictured in 1939

Could the tower have been used for communications? Or even as a kind of lighthouse, sending messages through electric flashes? Local historians mostly conclude that Cofete's beach would have been unsuitable for naval use due to its shallow approach, but also point out that the natural harbour of Ajuy, 20 miles (32km) along Fuerteventura's remote east coast, could have been used by submarines or other large craft.
The biggest spaces inside the building are in the solid basement, whose walls are almost 2m (6ft 7in) thick. Several rooms have no windows, including one tunnel-like space which runs the length of the house with just a small window at one end. Mr Fumero speculates that such spaces could have been used for concealing people - with or without their consent - but admits that he cannot be sure who or when.

Image caption Mr Fumero believes the place known as Casa Winter could have been used by the Nazis

Local documents date the house as being built in 1946, but Mr Fumero claims the "bunker" or base of the building was there much earlier, pointing to papers he believes show that Winter had bought out the previous Spanish landowner and acquired the entire Jandia peninsula shortly after General Franco had become Spain's dictatorial ruler in 1939.
Under Franco, Spain declared itself to be strictly neutral at the outbreak of WW2, but supplied minerals, volunteer soldiers and, in places such as the Canary Islands, logistical support to Nazi forces.

U-boats and Spain in World War Two

The "U-boat peril", as Winston Churchill described German submarine power, was a huge threat to Britain's survival during the early stages of World War Two.
U-boats, supplemented by mines, aircraft and surface ships, succeeded in sinking three million tons of Allied shipping between the fall of France in June 1940 and the end of that year.
At the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, Spain was a broken country after the conclusion of its three-year civil war. General Francisco Franco wished to avoid dragging Spain into WW2, but his regime owed a large debt of gratitude, in material and other terms, to fascist Germany and Italy.
Spain was officially neutral, but unofficially on the Axis powers' side. And Spanish ports became important refuelling and provisioning sites for roving U-boats between 1940 and 1942.
More about World War Two from BBC History
Alberto Vazquez-Figueroa, a writer from the Canary Islands in whose novel Fuerteventura Casa Winter is fictionalised as a kind of Nazi pleasure palace, says that islanders were kept out of the southern peninsula until the 1950s, when the Franco regime finally removed a fence which crossed the spit of land from coast to coast. "Word was that Franco had ceded that part of the island to the Germans and they had built a small airstrip there."
Winter built an airstrip in the barren, rock-strewn stretch of land between Cofete beach and his curious mansion, the remains of which are still evident to walkers and whose parallel lines of stones are visible in Google satellite pictures of the coast.
"I was told by one of his sons that it was because Winter's wife had a difficult birth experience, so he decided that planes should get access," says Juan Jose Diaz Benitez, a history lecturer at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, who has researched the story.

Dr Diaz Benitez believes that Winter used connections with the Nazi authorities in the 1930s to secure investment for the building of the harbour at Morro Jable and a plan to electrify the island of Fuerteventura and build a cement factory. Diaz Benitez cites a wartime letter from a German official to Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering "complaining that it was rumoured in the Canaries that one Gustavo Winter was supplying fuel to German submarines, and that this was attracting the attention of enemy spies".
"The only thing proven by German documents is the subsidies he got for economic plans for island of Fuerteventura," Dr Diaz Benitez argues.

Image caption Cofete is a wild and barely accessible beach in southern Fuerteventura

The presence of German submarines in the Canaries archipelago during the conflict is an established historical fact.
Dr Diaz Benitez says that besides the frequent use of local ports by tanker ships that would rendezvous with U-boats at distant, secret locations, German submarines docked at Las Palmas six times between May and July of 1941, prompting an official complaint by an exasperated British consul on the island of Gran Canaria.

Image caption The alleged submarine battery and part of the bunker at Casa Winter

For now, Mr Fumero's worries relate to the future of the house. But a representative for Lopesan, the company that now owns Casa Winter, told the BBC that it did not intend to develop the site as a resort, but rather "turn it into an interpretation centre".
Nonetheless, Mr Fumero believes there is more to come from below the surface, literally. He says that he has asked a ground-penetrating radar company to prospect below Casa Winter, which he believes stands on a natural cave, a volcanic fissure which could be connected via a tunnel to the sea.
"It's not comfortable living out here. I left my family on Tenerife; I had a partner, but she couldn't take this remoteness. But now I am on a mission to uncover the truth about the house," he says.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Nuclear Intelligence via Three Martinis

This post was originally published by The Wilson Center.

How a lunch in Rio de Janeiro confirmed a US diplomat's hunches about Brazilian nuclear weapons research 

The history of nuclear proliferation is partly a story of countries searching for latent weapons potential, without ever committing to build a complete device. A recently declassified letter from Miller N. Hudson, US scientific attache in Rio de Janeiro, provides fascinating detail on the degree to which nationalists in the Brazilian nuclear energy bureaucracy pursued elements of a weapons program during the 1960s and later.

Hudson describes a farewell (despedida) lunch in early November 1970 held for a Brazilian diplomat friend, Fernando Augusto Buarque Franco Netto, who was heading to a new posting in West Berlin. During dinner, Hudson and Buarque recalled old foreign policy business over martinis (probably 3 each), wine, and cognac.

Buarque, who had "quite a capacity" to drink, eventually disclosed the contents of secret policy papers, the existence of which Hudson had suspected for some time. According to Hudson, he probably shared those secrets because of "bitterness about not being promoted recently," which the attache attributed to Buarque's various run-ins with higher-ups and a "mixed up personal life"—a term used during the military dictatorship period to taint people who did not conform to its standards of personal conduct.

Buarque revealed that Marcelo Damy de Sousa Santos, president of Brazil's Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) during the early 1960s, instructed Brazilian diplomats at the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid any action, votes, or speeches on safeguards or related issues that would "preclude or adversely affect Brazil's right to pursue a nuclear device program." The instructions included language that Brazil was "actively engaged in the necessary preparations and preliminary research which will permit [it] to embark on a nuclear device program in the near future should that be desirable."

When Hudson worked for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, he did not suspect that Brazil had such intentions, although a previous science attache had picked up intelligence on "non-peaceful" intentions at another "quiet lunch."  When Hudson began work at the Embassy in 1967, he was soon on the nuclear trail. He "came to suspect Damy of attempting to emulate the path which we suspected India and Israel were embarked upon." In his letter, Hudson cited an earlier airgram he drafted in 1968 and noted that Buarque "essentially confirmed virtually all of the points made in that analysis."

Hudson's 1968 airgram concluded that, in spite of the lack of "visible evidence" that Brazil sought a nuclear device, "Brazil does have a significant base in the science and to a lesser degree the technology necessary to mount such a program should a political decision to do so ever be made." Moreover, "persuasive evidence" indicated that before the 1964 coup, the CNEN "was deliberately pursuing a development policy which would have resulted in a 'safeguards-free' device capability had the effort been adequately staffed and supported."

Damy was at the center of the CNEN's effort to develop a nuclear device. Holding "strong nationalistic views," he "aspired to be a Brazilian Bhabha," a reference to the Indian nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha. According to Hudson's airgram, in private Damy "admits quite frankly to having designed and pursued a development policy which had it been adequately staffed and supported would almost certainly have provided Brazil with a rudimentary device capability." Among the programs Damy divulged were the secret effort to develop uranium enrichment technology using West German gas centrifuges purchased in the late 1950s, which he described in a separate telegram

According to Hudson's assessment, the Castelo Branco military regime made major changes at CNEN that halted "systematic progress toward creating a scientific and technological base from which a device program could be launched" when it seized power in 1964. All the same, Damy "made a determined effort to staff" both the CNEN and the Institute for Atomic Energy (IAE) "with people who were both qualified and shared his nationalistic point of view and determination." Those changes remained in place after 1964, to the point where one source told the Embassy about a "a hot bed of silly nationalists [at the IAE] who want a prestige bomb although they would never admit it publicly."

Hudson's account provides much detail about developments during 1964 and after. The airgram notes that Damy's program met the opposition of the "more rational 'Castelistas.'" As Hudson put it, "Fortunately for all of us, it was the latter who won out as far as operational activities in Brazil are concerned, and according to [Buarque] that remains the official … policy to this day." With nuclear aspirations "clearly latent" in the bureaucracy, Hudson believed that it was important "to keep an eye on any developments which … would again encourage 'adventures' like Damy envisioned."  With the "Castelistas" staying in power, they excluded the nuclear option.

During the luncheon, Buarque also explained the circumstances shaping Brazil's decision against signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). As the NPT negotiations progressed during mid-1967, US Atomic Energy Commission chairman Glenn Seaborg visited Brazil and other countries in South America. Brazilian "hard liners" interpreted the trip as an "attempt to pressure Brazil into signing the NPT by offering 'goodies' and implicitly threatening to withhold cooperation if Brazil did not sign." That interpretation became prevalent and, as a "matter of national pride," the junta decided not to sign the treaty. This gave then foreign minister Magalhães Pinto "a domestic political advantage" while Brazil preserved the "option" to continue a nuclear device program.

Miller Hudson's letter and airgram illustrate the degree to which nuclear energy officials at various levels pursued a weapons capability during the 1960s.  Yet they do not answer the "why" question—what motivated figures like Damy?

While prestige alone might have motivated some scientists, Brazilian policymakers would have needed a stronger reason to accept the diplomatic, political, and economic costs of weaponization. Hudson's reporting provides important perspective on Brazil's nuclear activities, but more primary sources are needed to complete the picture. Ongoing research by Nuclear Proliferation International History Project partners Carlo Patti and Matias Spektor promises to put Brazil's nuclear weapons research in fuller context.

Browse our archival holdings on Brazilian Nuclear History at the Wilson Center Digital Archive

William Burr is a senior analyst at the National Security Archive at George Washington University. He directs the Archive's nuclear history documentation project. He thanks Matias Spektor for his aid in interpreting the Hudson letter.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Naval Station Rota Honors the Fallen During Memorial Day

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- Service members, family and friends gathered at Naval Station Rota's Vietnam War Memorial May 25 to honor the young men and women who paid the ultimate price in service to their country. During the ceremony, Rota's First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA) and the Retired American Military Iberian Council (RAMIC) honored their fallen brothers and sisters by placing a large decorated wreath near the memorial's monument. "We are gathered here today to honor our family, our friends and most especially, service members who have passed before us," said Tom Brennan, Retired Activities Office director. "The service members we honor today came from all walks of life but they share a few fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity. All the qualities needed to serve a cause greater than oneself." During his moving speech, Brennan referenced the Naval Station Rota Memorial Wall. Reconstructed in 1997, it lists the names of more than 50 service members who died while assigned to the installation. Unfortunately, Brennan is familiar with some of those names. "Most of the names on that wall will be of no consequence to you," said Brennan. "For others, seeing those names will bring back a flood of memories. Seven of the names are those of my VQ-2 squadron mates. These young men lost their lives on a dark night in the middle of the Mediterranean when their A-3 Sky Warrior crashed off the deck of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68). I remember the good times we shared as well as the sorrow that accompanied their loss. Each name on that wall encapsulates the life of a young person who had aspirations, joy in their achievements, dissatisfaction in their failures and most of all, a desire to serve their nation. Sadly, those lives ended too soon." Also included in the holiday weekend celebration was a flag-raising ceremony. A flag detail composed of FCPOA members ceremoniously raised the U.S. flag May 29. The event was attended tby installation leadership, RAMIC members and other personnel. The event is significant because while raising the flag is a daily occurrence on most U.S. military installations around the world, Naval Station Rota is only permitted to fly the American flag with special permission from the base's Spanish admiral. Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter, and family for CNIC in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia (EURAFSWA). Just as a ship performs lines of operation, which provide a capability, Navy Region EURAFSWA bases perform the same eight lines of operation to provide capability to the fleet and joint and allied forces. These eight lines of operation are air operations, port operations, safety, security, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), Fleet and Family Services and what is called the core -- the fuels, water, and power that keep the bases running. Through the lines of operation, installations are force multipliers, which maximize the combat capability of operational units.

For more news from Naval Station Rota, Spain, visit them on Facebook at or on the web at

For more information, visit,, or

For more news from Naval Station Rota, Spain, visit

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Navy SEAL “Leap Frogs” and the Disturbing Number of Parachuting Deaths

They usually make it look so easy. The United States Navy Parachute Team "Leap Frogs," a highly trained group of SEAL parachutists, regularly perform at airshows, sporting events and other celebrations. Last Sunday, during Fleet Week in New York, something went tragically wrong. A SEAL Leap Frog skydiver, Remington J. Peters,  died when his chute detached and he fell into the Hudson River near Liberty State Park as thousands looked on in horror.  

The Navy is currently investigating the events which led to the SEAL skydiver's death.  As relatively rare as such accidents may be, the Military Times published last February the results of their analysis which showed that there has been a 60 percent increase in parachuting deaths among Navy SEALS and other special operators over the previous five-year period, according to 13 years worth of records obtained and analyzed by the publication.  Overall, since 2004, 21 US military Special Operators have died in parachute training.  11 have died in such training accidents between 2011 and 2016 alone.  From the Military Times article, The Navy SEALs and other secretive units are quietly battling a frightening rise in parachute deaths

This rise in training deaths alarmed senior leaders at U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees the SEALs and each of the four military services' most elite units. In September 2015, just two weeks after the investigation into Kortz's death was completed, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, SOCOM's commander at the time, quietly launched an intervention, halting all free-fall jumps for three months. Votel is now the head of U.S. Central Command.

Across Special Operations Command, his cessation order was vast and included several urgent steps to enhance safety measures, Military Times has learned. A SOCOM-wide review of all free-fall programs was conducted, focusing on procedures, doctrine and equipment. Additionally, all jumpmasters were retrained and sent back to their units to re-qualify all jumpers. The Military Freefall Working Group was established to review lessons learned from these episodes.

A SOCOM spokesman, Ken McGraw, expressed confidence that any shortcomings in the jump-training program have been identified and addressed.

But internally, SOCOM officials have struggled to identify a definitive cause behind the unsettling trend, and they have declined to discuss any lessons learned from the force-wide investigation.

While the focus of the investigation is on parachute deaths during training, the tragic death during New York's Fleet Week, was not the first during such an exhibition. In 2015, at the Chicago Air and Water Show, an Army skydiver, a member of the Army Golden Knights parachute team, died after a mid-air collision with a Navy SEAL Leap Frog team member, during a group maneuver.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Naval Search Engine

Total Pageviews

Find-A-Grave Link

Search 62.2 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: