Chile Broke Nazi Plot to Bomb Panama Canal

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USS Ranger traverses the Panama Canal during World War II.  (Wikimedia Commons)

More than 70 years after the end of World War II, several South American nations are continuing to deal in how they accepted, or at least turned a blind eye to, Nazis among them. Chile had a special unit called Department 50 that, according to newly declassified reports, neither ignored nor accepted the presence or activities of some of the most evil individuals to ever walk the earth: They went after them, with a vengeance.

One of the plots they foiled, Deutche Welle has reported, included an intended mission that could have altered the shape of the war and the world: The aim was to “destroy” the Panama Canal. The Germans clearly had figured out how critical that passageway was to the war effort, as it enabled the Americans the move troops, ships, and materiel westward, to stock the Pacific Theater, as the war intensified and, ultimately, reached its final conclusion there.

The rise of Department 50 marked an about-face for Chile, which resisted, until 1943, declaring war against the Axis (Germany-affiliated) nations. Deutche Welle said that South America-based spy rings monitored, on behalf of the Germans, Allied merchant ships, monitored Chilean naval communications and otherwise acted on behalf of Axis interests.

Prensa Latina reported this week that the newly-released documents “reveal the assistance provided by Nazi sympathizers in Chile by sending information to Germany about the routes followed by the Allies’ merchant ships.” Fortunately, the play to bomb the Panama Canal was thwarted – and two spy rings were broken up as a result of Department 50’s efforts. Prensa Latina said Chile eventually had 22 agents dedicated to working against the Nazis.

“If they had prospered in their objectives, it could have changed not only Chile’s history, but the history of the whole world,” said Hector Espinosa, the director general of the investigations police, during a ceremony to hand over the reports to Chile’s National Archives.

But much of Chile and South America’s past with the Nazis is less heroic. Christopher Klein at History.com reports that high-ranking Nazis, including Adolf Eichmann and Dr. Josef Mengele, found refuge in South America, along with at least 9,000 Nazi officers and collaborators who fled to Argentina, Chile and Brazil.

The Nazi connection to Argentina has also been in the spotlight recently. Just last week police found 75 significant Nazi-related artifacts in a hidden room in Argentina. Photographs indicated some of them may have even been owned or used by Hitler himself.

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Early ‘Warfare’: Battle In Kenya Left 27 Dead – 10,000 Years Ago

 

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Skeleton of a man with club wounds at the site of Nataruk massacre (© Marta Mirazon Lahr, enhanced by Fabio Lahr)

 

Two fighting boys are asked, “Who started it?” If they’ve been paying attention to the latest news from Cambridge University and Kenya, they could answer, simultaneously, “The hunter-gatherers, about ten thousand years ago!”

A study conducted over the past few years by Cambridge University researchers suggests it was about that long ago that those predecessors of ours, described by Wikipedia as “an early human society,” first engaged in some degree of ‘warfare’. Changes in the landscape at an area called Nataruk in Kenya, near a former lagoon – long since dried up – once near the shore of Lake Turkana (now a fraction of its size 10,000 or so years ago) have revealed the remains of 27 people, age-dated to a point that far back in time. The 21 adults and six children were brutally slain, by blows to the head by blunt objects, arrows and at least one sharp blade – a portion of which was found imbedded in one man’s skull.

The website sciencefocus.com says that in hunter-gatherer times, violence between groups often resulted in the slaughtering of men, while the losing side’s women and children were absorbed in the winner’s ‘community’. But the Nataruk massacre represented something different: Apparently no one on the losing side survived.

That website notes that one victim in that incident was a women in the late stages of pregnancy who may have been bound when she was brutally murdered.

While there’s no way to determine what that struggle at Nataruk was about, a possible reason could have been a territorial dispute in an area that, 10,000 years ago, “the easy access to water and fishing made it an ideal place to live out a prehistoric life.”

 

A Non-Starter Statistic: “450 of 452 Suicide Bombers Were Muslim”

ccharleston_church_fireIsrael’s Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University has released results of a study claiming that 450 of 452 suicide bombers last year were Muslims. Reported in glaring headlines by The Times of Israel, this is probably among the most deceiving (and self-serving) statistics you will read about so-called suicide bombings – not least because it makes a couple of very broad, and undoubtedly wrong assumptions.

First of all, the statistic, regardless of what the Tel Aviv University study found, fails to acknowledge that a significant number of ‘suicide bombers’ weren’t classified as such. It also presumes that failure to call hundreds of other mass killers imagined, somehow, that they would do their thing then live to tell the tale – or possibly do the same thing again.

The Washington Post, quoting the Mass Shootings database of ShootingTracker.com, noted last October 4, the 204th day of 2015, there had been 204 mass shootings in the U.S. so far in the year. Most of those, were by no measure, involved ‘terrorists’ as shooters. But many did. One paragraph of the Post story cited several of them:

“Nine dead in shooting at Black church in Charleston. Four marines, one sailor killer in attacks on Chattanooga military facility. Gunman opens fire on Louisiana movie theater.”

What is terrorism? How is it defined? How do those cases, in particular, fit the definition?

The FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism says this:

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;

Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and

Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

By that definition, and a similar one for “international terrorism,” relatively small numbers of ‘terrorists’ use bombs. And many apparently presume that they will walk away from the havoc they’ve wreaked. Most, fortunately, do not.

Granted, Tel Aviv University is an what you might call an ‘unusual position’ – where suicide bombers, in the traditional sense, are rife. They, obviously, neither expect nor wish to walk away from their crimes. That makes ‘home-grown’ U.S. terrorists who shoot up movie theaters, child care centers and other venues any less worthy of the title ‘terrorist’ or any more likely, in most instances, to leave their site of destruction unharmed – or alive.

And almost none of the domestic terrorists in the U.S. last year were Muslims.

 

 

It’s Been An Exhausting Few Days

I’m tired. Tired of the horror. Tired of senseless terrorist crimes. Tired of beheadings. Tired of seeing people burned to death, locked in cages. I’m tired of politicians who will do anything to violate their oaths of office and shut down this country’s government.

Tired of seeing yet another story of people being made to die “while they’re having fun – eating in a restaurant, listening to a concert, watching a soccer game – freedoms we take too much for granted,” as Madonna put it in Stockholm on Saturday night, after refusing to cancel her concert and “let them win”.

I am tired of Donald Trump’s foolishness, and his wall. I am tired of Ben Carson and his disbelief in science, his denial of global warming and – yes – his belief that ‘gayness is a choice’. I am tired of Charles and David Koch (who couch the pronunciation of their name as if it were a soft drink), who, despite having more money than god, for some reason believe it’s a good idea for them to accumulate more.

I am tired of “Dr. Oz” being revered as a reputable man of science even as he  abuses his position to hawk a spectrum of products only slightly less obnoxiously than the late Billy Mays, an admitted product-pusher, promoted Oxi-Clean.

I am tired of televangelists, who must send hypnotizing waves through their radio and TV broadcasts – there’s no other possible explanation for their totally incredible success at luring in followers and their dollars – of the likes of Creflo Dollar, who told his flock that ‘god wanted him to have’ a $75 million  “long-range, high-speed, intercontinental jet aircraft [as] a tool that is necessary in order to fulfill the mission of the ministry” which “is centered,” he says, “on biblical principles directly from the Word of God.” (And as George Strait put it, about his ‘ocean-front property in Arizona,’ “If you buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in, too.”)

I am tired of wondering how Louisiana, even as the one-time stomping ground of Huey Long, saddled itself with Bobby Jindal – who, in the official ‘Republican Response to President Obama’s Speech to a Joint Session of Congress on Feb. 24, 2009’, gave the most inane, close-to-insane speech the country had heard since the 1963 day when Governor George Wallace stood in a University of Alabama doorway preventing the school’s integration by two Black students.

I am tired of being reminded – fortunately infrequently – that there ever were and continue to be followers of something known as Insane Clown Posse, perhaps better described here.

I am tired of being impressed – negatively, as it happens – that there have been, in the not-distant-enough past, entertainers billing themselves as Ice T and Ice Cube, names almost as dopy as at least a couple of those adopted by Calvin Broadus, Jr., who I delight in referring to as Snoopy Dog DoDo.

(Whatever happened to good singer/group names such as The Ink Spots, Dion and the Belmonts [based on the Bronx street where two of the four lived], and The Rolling Stones [who just keep on, despite all odds, an amazing 53 [fifty-three!!] years later, doing so). (I once worked near, and hung out in a pub only a pedestrian-bridge walk from, one of the first venues they ever played – on Eel Pie Island in the Thames, a few miles west of London.)

Isn’t it time that we Imagine something better? That we Give Peace a Chance? We, as the human race. We as occupants of a delicate planet that – quite foolishly, with little regard for the children of the children we are producing in far too great numbers – we are destroying. We who fight small and huge battles that, by their nature, can never produce, without a frighteningly large loss of life and property, even a semblance of a ‘win’ for most of those who’ll have to put the pieces back together again – even as the warmongers and politicians and their ilk march, never innocently, toward the next war.

Madonna was right: We can’t let “them” win – steal our freedoms, destroy everything supposedly-free people hold dear.

The ISIS mob, even the home-grown evil-doers and wannabes; The supposedly sane among us most seize the moral compass, right the ship of state, and never let them win.