Spies Like Them

I worked for a time in the intel service of my country….but before that I was fascinated by spies and the life they lived….so what better topic than to give some history about?

Espionage, or the act of intelligence gathering, is as old as civilisation itself.

In Ancient Rome, plain-clothes military scouts known as ‘speculatores’ infiltrated enemy territories to gather information. And in Tudor England, elite ‘spymasters’ used networks of informers to defend the interests of the crown.

Espionage took on a new urgency in the 20th century, as emergent technologies and global conflicts led to the advent of complex, globally influential new spy networks. Intelligence organisations, throughout World War One, World War Two and the Cold War, deployed elite secret agents to gather intel and ultimately gain the upper hand.

Here are 8 of the most notorious spies in history, from Queen Elizabeth I’s 16th-century spymaster to the Serbian-born agent who may have inspired the character of James Bond.

8 of the Most Notorious Spies in History

I have always been fascinated by the history around Mata Hari….

Dancer, courtesan and alleged spy Mata Hari is executed for espionage by a French firing squad at Vincennes outside of Paris.

She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in Malay. In reality, Mata Hari was born in a small town in northern Holland in 1876, and her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France, mostly because her show consisted of her slowly stripping nude.

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mata-hari-executed

I Read, I Write, You Know

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Olive Branch Petition

College of Political Knowledge

The weekend arrives and the old professor wants to extend the readers knowledge of the founding of this country.

The year is 1775, a year before the DoI, and the rebellion stew in the Colonies is starting to boil.

The Founding Fathers tried to head off any armed rebellion by offering England a document to prevent a war……known as the “Olive Branch Petition……

On July 8, 1775, the Continental Congress, forerunner of what would become the government of the United States, signed the so called “Olive Branch Petition,” a last ditch effort to prevent a war of independence against Britain by the American Colonies.   Adopted by the Continental Congress on July 5th, the signing made this last effort at peace official.  The acceptance of this American overture to the British government had little chance of success, especially since the Continental Congress had already authorized the invasion of Canada and on July 6, 1775, had issued a “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms,” a justification for the American Colonies to take up arms against their British overlords.

The British response to the actions and words of American patriots was to issue “A Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition,” a notice by King George III of Britain that the Americans were considered in rebellion and that such rebellion would be put down by military and law enforcement action, the rebels being treated as traitors to the crown.  The Battle of Bunker Hill had already taken place on June 17, 1775, enraging the King George III, and with the state of communications in those days being limited by how quickly ships could transit the Atlantic Ocean, events could easily outstrip the ability of leaders to consider actions and send replies to communications and events.  Thus, the Olive Branch Petition was basically doomed to failure to prevent the American Revolutionary War (of Independence) from the start.

July 8, 1775: Last Chance to Avoid American Revolution (Olive Branch Petition Signed)

Few are taught that war was tried to be avoided……

Next was the Revolutionary War a mistake?

Interesting question, right?

Of course, evaluating the wisdom of the American Revolution means dealing with counterfactuals. As any historian would tell you, this is a messy business. We obviously can’t be entirely sure how America would have fared if it had stayed in the British Empire longer, perhaps gaining independence a century or so later, along with Canada.

But I’m reasonably confident a world in which the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: Slavery would’ve been abolished earlier, American Indians would’ve faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse.

https://www.vox.com/2015/7/2/8884885/american-revolution-mistake

There is so much more to the Founding of this country than most Americans are unaware of….other than the DoI and the Constitution and the knowledge stops there.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–11Oct21

Today is Columbus Day, a Federal holiday….so why not look into the naming of ‘America”?

“In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue”…….

Every child knows the tale of Columbus and his discovering of American….the fact is that he may have set sail but the closest he ever got to American was the Bahamas……so what is the truth of the discovery?

If you’re like most people, you’ll dimly recall from your school days that the name America has something to do with Amerigo Vespucci, a merchant and explorer from Florence. You may also recall feeling that this is more than a little odd — that if any European earned the “right” to have his name attached to the New World, surely it should have been Christopher Columbus, who crossed the Atlantic years before Vespucci did.

But Vespucci, it turns out, had no direct role in the naming of America. He probably died without ever having seen or heard the name. A closer look at how the name was coined and first put on a map, in 1507, suggests that, in fact, the person responsible was a figure almost nobody’s heard of: a young Alsatian proofreader named Matthias Ringmann.

How did a minor scholar working in the landlocked mountains of eastern France manage to beat all explorers to the punch and give the New World its name? The answer is more than just an obscure bit of history, because Ringmann deliberately invested the name America with ideas that still make up important parts of our national psyche: powerful notions of westward expansion, self-reinvention, and even manifest destiny.

And he did it, in part, as a high-minded joke.

Matthias Ringmann was born in an Alsatian village in 1482. After studying the classics at university he settled in the Strasbourg area, where he began to eke out a living by proofing texts for local printers and teaching school. It was a forgettable life, of a sort that countless others like him were leading. But sometime in early 1505, Ringmann came across a recently published pamphlet titled “Mundus Novus,” and that changed everything.

The pamphlet contained a letter purportedly sent by Amerigo Vespucci a few years earlier to his patron in Florence. Vespucci wrote that he had just completed a voyage of western discovery and had big news to report. On the other side of the Atlantic, he announced, he had found “a new world.”

The phrase would stick, of course. But it didn’t mean to Vespucci what it means to us today: a new continent. Europeans of the time often used the phrase simply to describe regions of the world they had not known about before. Another Italian merchant had used the very same phrase, for example, to describe parts of southern Africa recently explored by the Portuguese.

Like Columbus, Vespucci believed the world consisted of three parts: Europe, Africa, and Asia. He also knew that the world was round, a fact that had been common knowledge since antiquity. This meant, he realized, that if one could sail far enough to the west of Europe, one would reach the Far East.

https://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/04/where_america_really_came_from/

Have a great holiday it you are celebrating…..but remember Columbus did not discover America.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Teapot Dome Scandal

The weekend begins and the news is damn boring…..so it is time for one of those darn history posts….

In case your history is a bit hazy….The Teapot Dome Scandal was during the Harding admin in the early 1900s…..

The Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s shocked Americans by revealing an unprecedented level of greed and corruption within the federal government. The scandal involved ornery oil tycoons, poker-playing politicians, illegal liquor sales, a murder-suicide, a womanizing president and a bagful of bribery cash delivered on the sly. In the end, the scandal would empower the Senate to conduct rigorous investigations into government corruption. It also marked the first time a U.S. cabinet official served jail time for a felony committed while in office.

https://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties/teapot-dome-scandal

With the intro out of the way…..

Some historians are saying the 4 years of the Trump admin was worse and more scandalous the the Teapot Dome Scandal….

Scan over the past few years and the stench of corruption wafting from Trump’s orbit is staggering. Campaign chairmen who secretly worked for foreign officials while skimming millions on the side. Presidential lawyers defrauding banks and taxpayers alike, or ushering in whichever foreign patron they could find. All of this while Trump tossed open the doors of his business to any and all comers, regardless of sources of their funds, regardless of whether Americans ever learned any details of their payments. (In a depressing bit of historic resonance, Trump’s first interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, resigned in disgrace under a cloud of his own corruption allegations—a move that few will remember, given the cascade of ethics violations and conflicts of interest deluging the administration throughout Trump’s four years.)

Against the past few years, Teapot Dome appears almost quaint—a relic of a bygone, back-slapping era, a time when Americans paid off Americans, all for other Americans’ benefits, all in a neat, tidy circle of domestic graft. It’s not just the magnitude of the Trump-era corruption that challenges our notion of what an American president dedicated to financial misconduct can accomplish. It’s that now, the players are transnational in scope—crossing borders, crossing boundaries, taking full advantage of the financial secrecy tools wherever they may be, and the fecund opportunities that a president like Trump can provide.

Trump-Era Corruption Eclipses Even Teapot Dome

With a do nothing Congress will we ever see justice for the American people for the crimes committed by Trump and his cronies?

Any Thoughts?

Watch This Blog!

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What Did They Really Do?

As the weekend begins and I am still in the process of cleaning up after Ida and dealing with a screwy family situation…….. I thought a little history would be good.

There are those people in history that are credited with amazing accomplishments…..but did they will do all they are said to have done?

It can be pretty annoying when someone else gets credit for your hard work, particularly when the fakers go down in the history books and become the ones best known for your invention.  

Leading R&D Tax Credit specialists, RIFT Research and Development Ltd, have looked at some of the most famous inventions which are widely believed to have been invented by the wrong people.

10 Famous Inventors That Didn’t Actually Invent Their Famous Finds

Or use this to decide who should be revered……

In today’s world, inventors are among the most revered people of all. We almost can’t help but admire someone who came up with a useful app or created a cool tech solution to a common problem.

That same admiration extends back through history, as well. Few accomplishments throughout history seem as impressive as inventing something that changed the world.

However, inventions often come with a healthy side dose of scandal. A new idea or product might arrive alongside heated debate as to who really came up with it. History has also unfairly credited some well-known inventors with creations that other people made first. We’re here to set the record straight—check out the real stories behind these famous inventors’ legacies.

https://www.mindbounce.com/440096/6-famous-inventors-who-didnt-invent-the-thing-theyre-famous-for/

Throughout history, people have come up with incredible inventions which have achieved global success without reaping the full rewards of their genius. Sir Tim Berners-Lee famously refused to patent his invention more than 30 years ago, and never monetised it, instead gifting it freely to the world. Click or scroll through inventors who definitely could have got rich off their creations but, for various reasons, didn’t.

https://www.lovemoney.com/gallerylist/64992/genius-inventors-who-missed-out-on-millions

Enjoy your weekend….I hope all is well with everyone.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

The Forgotten War

Closing Thought–23Sep21

The war that time tries to forget….the 1950s and the Korean War……this basically brought down America’s ‘Caesar’, MacArthur…..

For those that have fallen for the erasing of this conflict from American collective memory….I can fill in the blanks…..

The Korean war began on June 25, 1950, when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself. After some early back-and-forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled and casualties mounted with nothing to show for them.  Meanwhile, American officials worked anxiously to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. The alternative, they feared, would be a wider war with Russia and China–or even, as some warned, World War III. Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives in what many in the U.S. refer to as “the Forgotten War” for the lack of attention it received compared to more well-known conflicts like World War I and II and the Vietnam War. The Korean peninsula is still divided today.

https://www.history.com/topics/korea/korean-war

Let’s take a look at the major battles of this conflict…

Korea was under the rule of the Japanese Empire between the year 1910 and the end of World War II. In 1945, the country was liberated by the Soviet Union from the Japanese rule as a result of the agreement with the United States. The Soviet Union settled in the North while the United States settled in the South of Korea. As a result of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea was split into two with separate governments in 1949. However, both the government claimed to be the legitimate Korean government. The conflicts between these governments resulted in battles when North Korea moved into South Korea in 1950. The war marked series of wars that were to follow. To this far, no treaty has been signed and the two countries are technically still at war.

16. First Battle of Seoul

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/major-battles-of-the-korean-war.html

AS Americans put this deadly conflict out of their minds the next will be Vietnam….as those vets grow older and pass on there will be few that will keep their memory alive….hopefully people like me will keep Korea and Vietnam in their minds and in their memories.

Turn The Page!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

The Return Of Maria Butina

Closing Thought–22Sep21

Or maybe you may remember her as Anna Chapman.

Still nothing?

Let’s take a shirt trip in the “Way Back” machine……

The alleged Russian spy capturing most of the media attention today is Anna Chapman. The New York Post describes her as “a flame-haired, 007-worthy beauty” with a “Victoria’s Secret body” who is accused of passing info to Russian handlers weekly since January. Her Facebook page has all kinds of “suggestive self-portraits,” notes Lauren Frayer at AOL News. Chapman is 28, divorced, and reportedly has a master’s in economics and an online real estate business. She lives in a swanky part of New York City’s financial district.

An FBI agent was to set her up by posing as a handler and asking, “Excuse me, but haven’t we met in California last summer?” She was to answer, “No, I think it was the Hamptons.” She never showed up for that rendezvous, however, perhaps because she smelled a rat. Moscow, meanwhile, has acknowledged that some of those arrested are Russian citizens but criticized the State Department for its “Cold War-era spy stories,” reports AP.

After her arrest along with several other members of her American cell the clarity of her mission was exposed….

The US government on continued to flesh out its case against the 29-year-old Siberian woman accused of spying for Russia, and its most recently revealed allegations include offers of sex and contacts with the spy agency that succeeded the KGB. Prosecutors laid out the allegations in documents filed Wednesday in court in an attempt to have Maria Butina detained until her trial; a judge on Wednesday afternoon denied her bail, the Huffington Post reports. Characterizing her as an “extreme” flight risk, the documents noted she has access to money and cited surveillance video that indicated she was actually planning to leave. The AP reports her apartment lease is up at the end of the month and her belongings were already boxed at the time of her arrest. More:

  • The Anna Chapman reference: The FBI uncovered Twitter communications between Butina and a Russian official identified by NPR and CNN as Alexander Torshin, whom the US sanctioned in April. NPR reports he was allegedly her point of contact within the Russian government. One alleged message from Torshin sent in March 2017: “You have upstaged Anna Chapman. She poses with toy pistols while you are being published with real ones.”
  • And another: Butina allegedly sent Torshin a photo showing her near the Capitol on the day of Trump’s inauguration. His alleged reply: “You’re a daredevil girl! What can I say!” The AP reports Butina replied, “Good teachers!”
  • More on Torshin: He was part of a group sanctioned due to their ties to Vladimir Putin and the hand they had in “advancing Russia’s malign activities.” He has been a National Rifle Association life member since 2012.
  • Her other alleged connections: Per CNN, prosecutors allege Butina was in contact with members of the Russian FSB, the successor to the KGB, and that she also communicated with a billionaire who she referred to as her “funder.”
  • What each side alleges: Butina’s lawyer says she was simply a student studying at American University who “at most” was trying to strengthen relations between the US and Russia. Prosecutors allege Butina had been instructed to use contacts she was forging at the NRA and conservative groups to amass info on US officials and politics.
  • Sex: The court papers reference a Person 1 with whom Butina had a relationship; NPR identifies him as political fundraiser Paul Erickson. But the FBI alleges Butina “offered an individual other than Person 1 sex in exchange for a position with a special interest organization. Further, in papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about living with Person 1.” That organization was not named.

Butina was deported back to Russia where she became an instant personality and national hero……and that brings us to  today……

Butina is running for the Russian parliament with an unusual backer…..

Convicted Russian agent Maria Butina has been elected to the lower house of Parliament in her home country but not in her home city.

BusinessInsider reported Sunday that Butina was elected to represent the rural region of Kirov Oblast, about 2,700 miles from her hometown Barnaul, Altai Krai. When she was just 19, she served on the public council of Altai Krai.

She appeared in the U.S., claiming she was a “gun-rights activist,” focusing on meeting leaders involved in the National Rifle Association (NRA). She connected with GOP officials and political leaders to set up a “back-channel” with the Kremlin. Butina remains to insist she was never a spy for Russia but pleaded guilty to being a Russian foreign agent in 2018.

One of Butina’s big supporters for her election was Patrick Byrne, the supporter of President Donald Trump, who spent a lot of time at the White House as Trump crafted his protest losing the 2020 election. The two had previously been lovers, prior to Paul Erickson. Byrne told Insider that he gave the donation to her political campaign because he had “a desire to let her land on her feet and restart her life in Russia.”

https://www.rawstory.com/maria-butina-patrick-byrne-russian-political-donation/

Interesting, eh?

Why would this American former CEO, a raging Trumper,  care about Russian politics?

Or is she back to her old infiltrate thing?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Covid Out Does The Spanish Flu

Closing Thought–21Sep21

Did you know that in 1918 the pandemic known as the Spanish Flu killed about 675,000 Americans…a bunch huh?

Well Covid has topped that…..

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did—approximately 675,000. The US population a century ago was one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time. “Big pockets of American society—and, worse, their leaders—have thrown this away,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan, the AP reports.

COVID’s Death Toll Catches 1918 Flu’s

One model shows another 100,000 people will be killed by January
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 20, 2021 7:15 PM CDT
 
COVID Has Taken as Many Lives as 1918 Flu
 
An employee moves the body of a patient who died of COVID-19 onto a gurney to take to a funeral home van last month in Shreveport, La.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
 
 

(Newser) – COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did—approximately 675,000. The US population a century ago was one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time. “Big pockets of American society—and, worse, their leaders—have thrown this away,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan, the AP reports.

Like the Spanish flu, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection. That could take time. “We hope it will be like getting a cold, but there’s no guarantee,” said Emory University biologist Rustom Antia, who suggests an optimistic scenario in which this could happen over a few years. For now, the pandemic still has the US and other parts of the world firmly in its jaws.

While the delta-fueled surge in infections may have peaked, US deaths are still averaging more than 1,900 a day on average, the highest level since early March, and the country’s overall toll topped 675,000 on Monday, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Experts believe the real number to be higher. Winter could bring a new surge, with the University of Washington’s influential model projecting an additional 100,000 or so Americans will die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, which would bring the overall US toll to 776,000.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed 50 million people globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million. The Spanish flu’s US death toll is an estimate, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness. The 675,000 figure comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before COVID-19, the 1918-19 flu was universally considered the worst pandemic disease in human history. No vaccine existed to slow it, and there were no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.

The problem is we are still in the grip of the pandemic and the numbers will just keep growing…..and growing….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–15Sep21

For decades the GOP has had two idols….Reagan and Lincoln…..but all that has apparently changed. It appears the Abe Lincoln is losing some of his luster among those that pray at the altar of Trump….

With all the hoopla around the removal of statues that celebrate the Traitorous generals of the Confederacy it seems that some are now turning on Lincoln in retaliation for the removals….

This week, the statue of General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia — one of the largest standing monuments to the Confederacy — was taken down from Monument Avenue, a major victory for activists who have long sought to remove white supremacist symbols in the public square.

Republican Missouri state Rep. Tony Lovasco tweeted that people should be “fair and balanced” about “tearing down statues of reprehensible people” — and accompanied this with a picture of the Lincoln Memorial.

Lovasco did not clarify why he considered the father of the Republican Party — and the president widely credited with saving America from the Civil War and bringing about the end of slavery — to be “reprehensible,” but doubled down in a follow-up tweet, insisting he didn’t support the Confederacy either.

https://www.rawstory.com/robert-e-lee-statue/

Has some in the GOP driven so far up Trump’s ass that they will ignore the founder of the Republican Party?

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

9/11 Twenty Years on

Today we remember the attacks on 9/11….the attacks that lead this country down the road of a long war and a seemingly endless international intervention all in the name of a ‘War on Terror’…

Biden’s message on this solemn day…..

White House released a taped address late Friday in which Biden spoke of the “true sense of national unity” that emerged after the attacks, seen in “heroism everywhere—in places expected and unexpected.” “To me that’s the central lesson of September 11,” he said. “Unity is our greatest strength.” Biden’s task, like his predecessors before him, was to mark the moment with a mix of grief and resolve. He gave voice to the pain that comes with memories of 9/11 in his video message, saying, “No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if you just got the news a few seconds ago.”

Unity?

Sorry Joe that ship has sailed…unity is a pipe dream….

As we think about the events of twenty years ago we should also think about what lead up to these dastardly attacks…..

The story of 9/11 is filled with painful “what-ifs.” Among the most prominent:

  • What if the CIA hadn’t blocked two FBI agents from alerting Bureau headquarters that a future 9/11 hijacker had obtained a multi-entry U.S. visa?

  • What if the FBI hadn’t nixed agents’ request for a warrant to search the computer of “20th hijacker” Zacharias Moussaoui after his arrest in August 2001?

  • What if the FBI hadn’t ignored a Phoenix agent’s July 2001 recommendation to contact aviation colleges across the country, on suspicion that Osama bin Laden was preparing extremists to “conduct terror activity against civilian aviation targets”?

Those what-ifs give us all pause, but they weigh heaviest on those who were closest to them, such as retired FBI counterterrorism agent Ken Williams, author of the so-called “Phoenix memo.”

Though his unheeded warning about extremists at flight schools looms large in the saga of 9/11, Williams is haunted by two more what-ifs that are lesser-known but equally gut-wrenching:

  • What if his request for a surveillance team to monitor bin Laden disciples at an Arizona aviation school hadn’t been declined in favor of the FBI’s pursuit of drug smugglers?

  • What if he hadn’t been ordered to suspend his investigation of those extremists for several months to help with an arson case?

For Williams, the answer is all too clear: His investigation would have led to the scrutiny of two future 9/11 hijackers—and that scrutiny may have started unraveling the entire plot.

https://starkrealities.substack.com/p/how-the-fbis-war-on-drugs-helped

History is full of twists and turns….roads not followed…this time it had a disastrous end.

Please by all means remember those souls that perished during the attack and its aftermaths.

And please keep in mind that a War on Terror is a slogan….how do you defeat an idea?

Have a great weekend.

Be Well….Be Safe….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”