Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 7th, 2014

Chicago Priests Raped and Pillaged for 50 Years

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I think one of the things that make pedophile priests, preachers, and teachers so repellant is that their very JOB is to help guide people on a moral path, and in particular help the young. I’m not suggesting that, say, a pedophile cement-truck driver is any better, but at least he is not mocking the very core of his mission.

And then, to add to the betrayal, the Catholic church quite systematically and deliberately denied the victims help, but gave plenty of help to pedophiles, protecting them from the police, moving them to new hunting grounds when people started to wake up to what was going on.

I really do not see the Catholic church as retaining any moral authority whatsoever, but I’m sure others will disagree. But really the Catholic church did everything in its power to protect pedophiles and cover up their crimes, and in the process simply ignoring the frightful psychic damage done to their victims. And they did all this with an air of piety and in the name of Jesus Christ.

The pedophiles should suffer for their crimes, but one has to recognize that they did not choose pedophilia, and I suspect some really did try to fight their irresistible impulses. The worst of the crimes, in my view, were done those who were NOT pedophiles, but did all they could to protect and help the pedophiles “to avoid scandal,” because (apparently) “scandal” is worse than anything—much worse than raping children, apparently, and denying help and justice to the victims.

Barbie Latza Nadeau writes in The Daily Beast (appropriate venue, I think):

Some of the accusations against perverted priests are handwritten letters penned by worried mothers. Others are emails sent decades after the abuses occurred. There are letters so old the mimeographed typewriting is smudged and difficult to read. There are emails so recent, they call into question just how much of the clerical abuse is still going on. In all, more than 15,000 pages from the secret archives of the Chicago Archdiocese’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review have been released on the Chicago Archdiocese website relating to hundreds of lurid sexual-abuse crimes by 36 perverted priests dating back to the 1950s. The most recent documents are only a year old.

The disturbing document dump was released Thursday as the retiring Cardinal Francis George prepares to leave the post he has held since 1997. They follow a similar gesture last January when the archdiocese released 6,000 pages of documents pertaining to 30 pedophilic priests as part of a legal settlement brokered by Chicago attorney Jeff Anderson. The Chicago Archdiocese has paid more than $130 million in abuse-victim settlements. “We cannot change the past but we hope we can rebuild trust through honest and open dialogue,” George said in a statement on the eve of the document release. “Child abuse is a crime and a sin.”

While the document trove is impressive, many of the names and an abundance of detail has been blackened out, no doubt for privacy issues. Records on two of Chicago’s most notorious pedophile priests were not released because of ongoing legal action. The cases involving Daniel McCormack, who is accused of molesting three young boys, including an 8-year-old he allegedly molested on Christmas Eve, and Edward Maloney are not included because McCormack’s records have been sealed by a judge as part of his admission; Maloney is appealing his laicization with the Vatican in Rome.

The allegations include accusations of priests plying young victims with alcohol and cigarettes, of fondling, masturbating, and performing oral sex on minors, and a strong current of denial and well-documented coverup by the church that can be traced all the way to Rome.

Take the case of Father Gregory Miller, whose 275-page dossier is filled with congratulatory letters of advancement within the archdiocese. But his file is also dotted with frequent warnings of misconduct. On Page 105 of the Miller dossier (PDF), one brief summary of an allegation states, “while in Fr. Miller’s quarters in the rectory, he instructed XX to remove his clothes; Fr. Miller also removed his clothes and had an erection; Fr. Miller took his hand and rubbed XX’s leg two times, then placed his hand on XX’s stomach and began to move his hand down to XX’s genital area” the rest of the complaint has been blocked by the diocese.

A few years later, Miller’s assignment as a parish priest was renewed. Despite an “acknowledgement of misconduct policies” added to the priest’s record in 2004, followed by a “pastoral intervention plan” in 2005, Miller’s record shows the addition, in 2007, of another congratulatory letter in which the clearly improper priest is appointed to serve a second term as pastor of Saint Bernadette in Evergreen Park for six more years. “The support you have received for this reappointment is an indication of the fine pastoral leadership you have given the people of Saint Bernadette as you have proclaimed the Gospel there these past six years,” the letter from Cardinal Francis George states, followed by a personal note. “Gary, it is my hope that this will be a time of personal renewal for you as you continue your priestly service to the people who have been entrusted in your care,” the cardinal writes.

In 2012, a new complainant wrote an email to Leah McCluskey of the Chicago Archdiocese’s abuse committee, stating: “To whom, After having watched, and been wrenched by the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State story… I have a story to tell,” the unnamed accuser writes. “It goes back to 1972-73 at a parish in South Byron.”

Further documents show that the archdiocese did investigate the email, while placing Miller on watch yet again, telling him not to be alone with minors. Records state that the victim, clearly bolstered by the Sandusky case, was 13 at the time of Miller’s abuse. In a file memo in 2012, McCluskey states that when she confronted Miller, he said he did not know the young man making the claims, but when pressed with further details, McCluskey writes, “Fr. Miller responded by saying that he would like to ‘reserve comment at this time.’”

According to the memo, Miller then asked what the statute of limitations in Illinois was and to define what the allegations meant. “Fr. Miller asked for a definition of sexual abuse. I told Fr. Miller that sexual abuse does not have to mean penetration and that it may be sexual touching over and/or under clothing of the victim and/or any touch that is unwanted by the victim. I added that sexual abuse may also be showing or viewing pornographic images (to/with a victim).”

More disturbing still, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Mental Health, Religion

Fascinating story of how a homeless man became a CEO

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Really an amazing story by Burt Helm in Inc.:

“What do you mean, a 50 percent refund?” says the voice on the other end of the line. “Are you serious? When the account has already been suspended? That’s not fair!”

Blood rushes to my cheeks. I desperately want my next sentence to calm her down, to sound confident, sympathetic. I want this customer–my customer–to feel assuaged. Satisfied.

But as the little timer on my computer screen ticks into the call’s ninth minute, I have other worries: I have to say “please” and “thank you” at least twice. I have to keep my refunds-per-call metric low. I don’t realize it at the time, but also I have an audience: The call center’s president and CEO, Gabriel Bristol, is secretly monitoring my calls from his office. He, I am learning, is something of an obsessive.

“You say ‘um’ too much,” he cheerfully tells me the next morning, minutes into breakfast. I’ve joined him, his life partner, and his adopted daughter and son, both 11, at a Las Vegas brunch place a few miles from the Strip. They’re all dressed preppily, in woolens and saddle shoes. It’s Sunday, family day. But Bristol can’t yet put me and my ums behind him.

Never say “um,” he tells me. In the customer service jungle, this signals weakness, uncertainty. Instead, I should pause. Speak slowly. Let the caller hang … on my every word. “It makes you authoritative,” he says. Customer service, a business of micro human interactions, is full of these tricks, ways to keep a caller calm–and keep her money–all while making her think it was her idea. Bristol knows this. He’s spent 10 years working the phones himself.

I’ve flown out to his offices to learn about call centers. Bristol, who took over a phone room of about 40 people two years ago, has big plans for his–so far, he’s grown the business into a 300-plus-employee company called Intelicare Direct, with locations in San Diego and Las Vegas. Bristol is consumed with thoughts about the industry. He wants to fix it, to make call center jobs–widely regarded as the scutwork of the white-collar world–into valued, rewarding careers. For him, it’s deeply personal. Call centers brought him up from nothing. On the telephone, he’s something of a virtuoso.

I’ll bet you didn’t know call centers had virtuosos. Bristol didn’t either. At least, not until the day he found out he was one. It was 1989. He was 19, freezing on the streets of Lansing, Michigan, giving blood for money. A runaway. Homeless.

Bristol grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan, a village of 2,500 people on the shores of Lake Michigan, the fourth in a family of five adopted children. Child services took him away from his birth mother when he was 5. His earliest memory is of waiting for her at the police station as she was being booked on prostitution and heroin charges.

Bristol’s adoptive parents, a cement-truck driver and a stay-at-home mom, were devoutly Christian. But Gabriel and his biological half-sister, Joanna Bristol, who was adopted along with him, say the couple used their religious beliefs as a pretense to control and abuse them. “After every meal, we would have to read the Bible,” recalls Joanna, “and we’d all have to recite a sentence from the passage from memory. And if you couldn’t get it, they would beat you for it. It was so scary.” The siblings say they had to ask permission to bathe, to brush their teeth, and even to have a drink of water–or else have their ears pulled or their faces slapped. Gabriel received the worst of it, he says. “I was hit every day,” he says. “Every day. Some days, I couldn’t go to school because–I didn’t get this at the time–my mom knew if I went to school looking like that, she’d get in trouble.”

“Gabriel really suffered a lot,” says Joanna, “because the dad knew he was feminine, or gay or whatever you call it. He would beat Gabriel constantly. I don’t know if it was because he enjoyed seeing Gabriel in pain, or because he was trying to make Gabriel more manly. But it was horrible.” (Their father is now deceased. Their mother, who hasn’t spoken to Gabriel in 27 years, denies he was ever beaten. “How could you make him more manly by hitting him?” she says. “There was nothing like that. Nobody hit anybody. I don’t understand where all this is coming from.”)

At school, Gabriel struggled to fit in. He had few friends. “A lot of times he would go outside by himself and role-play, kind of like an escape,” says Joanna. “Just making believe, talking to himself in different voices.” Puberty isolated Gabriel further, when he realized he was attracted to other boys. He kept those feelings secret, hoping no one would notice.

Still, people knew. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Scientists have discovered the exact dance movements that catch a woman’s eye

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Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 5:26 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

A few stories from ProbPublica’s useful “Muck Reads” feature

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Here are a few from the latest list:

Pulled over because of his “cheekbones, jaws, ears and forehead” 130 miles from the border.The Border Patrol’s authority is nearly unlimited in the areas in covers. Agents do not need to obtain a warrant to search subjects. Even 100 miles out, considered “a reasonable distance,” agents can make warrantless stops. What about beyond the 100-mile line? This report from the Austin American Statesman found that between 2005 and 2013, the Border Patrol apprehended more than 40,000 subjects at nine of the most inland patrol stations – as far away as 350 miles from Mexico. Critics say these interior patrols lead to racial profiling and unconstitutional stops of legal residents. And these stops, the Border Patrol says, aren’t tracked. — The Austin American Statesman via @JinATX

Is prison labor “slavery” or “rehabilitation”? It depends on whom you ask. For the state of California, however, it means more than 4,400 mostly “nonviolent” inmates are on the ground fighting wildland fires for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. This workforce saves California more than $1 billion a year. But as the appetite – and policy — for keeping nonviolent offenders locked up for extended periods of time diminishes and fires increase in a very dry state, California will need to make a choice: “Pay full price for its firefighting workforce, or send more violent inmates out into the wilderness with powerful tools and very little security.” — BuzzFeedNews via @HanqingC

Is this board “bending over backwards” to protect the Army? The Board for Correction of Military Records is where Army veterans go to change their records. It’s charged with correcting “errors” and removing “injustices.” Many of the cases involved are appeals to change discharges – and some of these cases have left veterans without medical benefits for service-related injuries. An investigation by Fusion found “that when service members file appeals that could lay significant blame on the Army or cost a lot of money, the default answer is often no.” About 5 percent of veterans between 2001 and 2012 were able to change their discharge reason and only 2 percent were granted a medical evaluation that could add benefits. — Fusion via @alissafig and @alicitabrennan

Full list is here.


Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 4:59 pm

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare

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Matt Taibbi must be Wall Street’s nightmare. He has a long and intriguing story in Rolling Stone, with the subtitle “Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking.” The report begins:

She tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn’t take it anymore.

“It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street,” she says. “I thought, ‘I can’t sit by any longer.'”

Fleischmann is a tall, thin, quick-witted securities lawyer in her late thirties, with long blond hair, pale-blue eyes and an infectious sense of humor that has survived some very tough times. She’s had to struggle to find work despite some striking skills and qualifications, a common symptom of a not-so-common condition called being a whistle-blower.

Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported – more on that later) to keep the public from hearing.Back in 2006, as a deal manager at the gigantic bank, Fleischmann first witnessed, then tried to stop, what she describes as “massive criminal securities fraud” in the bank’s mortgage operations.

Thanks to a confidentiality agreement, she’s kept her mouth shut since then. “My closest family and friends don’t know what I’ve been living with,” she says. “Even my brother will only find out for the first time when he sees this interview.”

Six years after the crisis that cratered the global economy, it’s not exactly news that the country’s biggest banks stole on a grand scale. That’s why the more important part of Fleischmann’s story is in the pains Chase and the Justice Department took to silence her.

She was blocked at every turn: by asleep-on-the-job regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, by a court system that allowed Chase to use its billions to bury her evidence, and, finally, by officials like outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the chief architect of the crazily elaborate government policy of surrender, secrecy and cover-up. “Every time I had a chance to talk, something always got in the way,” Fleischmann says.

This past year she watched as Holder’s Justice Department struck a series of historic settlement deals with Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. The root bargain in these deals was cash for secrecy. The banks paid big fines, without trials or even judges – only secret negotiations that typically ended with the public shown nothing but vague, quasi-official papers called “statements of facts,” which were conveniently devoid of anything like actual facts.

And now, with Holder about to leave office and his Justice Department reportedly wrapping up its final settlements, the state is effectively putting the finishing touches on what will amount to a sweeping, industrywide effort to bury the facts of a whole generation of Wall Street corruption. “I could be sued into bankruptcy,” she says. “I could lose my license to practice law. I could lose everything. But if we don’t start speaking up, then this really is all we’re going to get: the biggest financial cover-up in history.” . . .

Continue reading. Eric Holder is a tool of Wall Street—as, to a great degree is Barack Obama—and apparently Obama installed Holder with the specific mission of protecting Wall Street (just as Obama has protected the torturers of the Bush Administration—indeed, putting in positions of power those who helped implement the program of torture—and installed a Wall Street lawyer to head the SEC and a telecom lobbyist to head the FCC. Obama has not kept faith with the American people, but I’m sure that big business appreciates his support and protection.

And there is also a Democracy Now! video interview (with transcript) of Matt Taibbi and Alayne Fleischmann. The blurb for that interview:

A year ago this month the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the banking giant JPMorgan Chase would avoid criminal charges by agreeing to pay $13 billion to settle claims that it had routinely overstated the quality of mortgages it was selling to investors. But how did the bank avoid prosecution for committing fraud that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis? Today we speak to JPMorgan Chase whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann in her first televised interview discussing how she witnessed “massive criminal securities fraud” in the bank’s mortgage operations. She is profiled in Matt Taibbi’s new Rolling Stone investigation, “The $9 Billion Witness: Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking.”

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 4:46 pm

Chicago Futures Market Creates “Guaranteed Winners and Guaranteed Losers

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Chicago Futures Market Creates “Guaranteed Winners and Guaranteed Losers”, by Pam Martens at Wall Street on Parade, which begins:

Remember the Senate hearing on June 18 when Senator Elizabeth Warren talked about the high frequency trading firm, Virtu, reporting in its IPO prospectus that it had been trading for 1,238 days and made money on 1,237 of those days. Last week three futures traders told a Federal court in Chicago that it’s not just the high frequency trading firms that are reaping a windfall but the exchanges who are engaged in a conspiracy with them to create “guaranteed winners and guaranteed losers.”

The original lawsuit was filed on April 11 against the CME Group and four of its officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The CME Group owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the largest futures exchange in the world. Terrence (Terry) Duffy, the Executive Chairman and President of the CME Group, a man who has testified before Congress that his exchanges have nothing to do with the charges of rigged markets that are swirling about, is a named defendant in the suit.

Last week lawyers for the plaintiff traders filed a Memorandum of Law to ward off efforts by CME Group’s attorneys to have the case dismissed for lack of specificity. Citing a case known as U.S. v. Snow, the plaintiffs respond that “conspiracy by its very nature is a secretive operation, and it is a rare case where all aspects of a conspiracy can be laid bare in court with … precision.”) Notwithstanding that, many of the charges laid before this court have been quite detailed and named names, such as the following: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Business, Law

Judge Says City of Philadelphia Can Take Artist’s Studio, Turn It Into Grocery Store

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If a private business wants your property, they can take it if they’re politically connected: the law is no protection. That’s the lesson of this story by Evan Bernick in the Huffington Post:

James Dupree is a world-renowned artist and native son of Philadelphia, who is about to see his art studio turned into a grocery store, thanks to the rubber-stamp review that passes for judging when his city exercises the power of eminent domain.

James’ artistic accomplishments are truly awesome. He has five paintings in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Others can be found in the National Museum of Art in Cardiff, Wales; the Schomberg Museum in New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

You can see the Philadelphia Museum of Art from James’ studio. It is located in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia, where James grew up. The studio was a dilapidated warehouse when he purchased it for a little under $200,000. He spent $60,000 installing new electrical equipment and plumbing, $68,000 on roof repairs, and thousands more on renovations, furnishings and appliances.

The investment paid off, for James and for Mantua. What was once a dead, abandoned building is now alive and bustling with activity. James has hosted and taught art classes at his studio and has plans to start a mentorship program in order to give artists an environment where they “can create serious work and receive the support and freedom to explore new ideas.”

Dupree Studios is as much of a part of Mantua as James Dupree. It is a monument to the kind of creativity, hard work and dedication that has always been associated with the American spirit.

But in Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court held that such monuments can be razed and transformed into monuments to politically connected developers and tax-hungry politicians.

The U.S. Constitution expressly protects property rights and limits the government’s power to take property through eminent domain. In Kelo, the Court rubber-stamped the condemnation and transfer of an entire working-class neighborhood to a private developer through the use of eminent domain.

The aftermath of Kelo can be seen in the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s (PRA) treatment of James’ studio. After first conducting a drive-by appraisal in which they did not even do James the courtesy of entering his studio, two men from the PRA actually paid him a visit. They lowballed him with an “offer” nowhere near the property’s market value, which a real estate agent from Prudential appraised at $2.2 million. According to the redevelopment plans, the PRA wants to bulldoze James’ studio to make room for a privately-owned grocery store and its parking lot.

Pennsylvania was one of many states that strengthened its eminent domain laws in response to Kelo. But these reforms did not apply to cities like Philadelphia until December 31, 2012; James’ studio was seized on December 27, 2012.

So far, James has not received any help from the courts. On November 13, 2013, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas signed off on the PRA’s decision to condemn his property. After seeking time to go back and reexamine her decision, the judge re-affirmed it in a one-sentence order on June 26, 2014.

America is supposed to be different from countries where governments regard property rights as privileges to be given and taken away at politicians’ convenience. But our rights cannot be secured unless judges are vigilant in protecting them. In every constitutional case, our Constitution requires judicial engagement — a genuine effort to enforce all of the Constitution’s limits on government, without bent or bias in favor of government, on the basis of real facts and real evidence. Every decision should be given a reasoned justification.

James Dupree’s treatment at the hands of his city sounds like something that could not happen in this country. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 4:20 pm

Cats apparently like to sit inside circles.

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Take a look. Via Kevin Drum.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Cats, Technology

ACLU of Missouri Releases Tool to Hold Police Accountable

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This is extremely cool: the ACLU has developed an app that… well, let them describe it:

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri launched a smart phone app called the ACLU of Missouri Mobile Justice app — an empowerment tool for those who feel their civil rights are being violated by law enforcement officers.

The Android app, which can be downloaded for free through the ACLU of Missouri website, has three main functions and Know Your Rights information.Record allows citizens to capture exchanges between police officers and themselves or other community members in audio and video files that are automatically sent to the ACLU of Missouri. Witness sends out an alert when someone is stopped by police so that community members can move toward the location and document the interaction. Report gives the app user the option to complete an incident report and send it directly to the ACLU of Missouri for review. Know Your Rights provides an overview of what rights protect you when you are stopped by law enforcement officers.

“Since Michael Brown was fatally shot in August, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of complaints from people who are routinely stopped, searched, humiliated and bullied into compliance by law enforcement officers,” explains Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “This app will empower Missourians who have traditionally felt powerless, regardless of whether they live in Ferguson, Springfield, Cape Girardeau, or in rural Missouri.”

St. Louis University School of Law Assistant Professor Justin Hansford, who was arrested Oct. 22 while serving as a legal observer at a Ferguson October event at the Maplewood Walmart, was on hand to unveil the Mobile Justice app. “I encourage anyone who wants to be prepared when encountering police to download Mobile Justice today,” he said. “It’s the next best thing to having a civil rights attorney on speed dial.”

ACLU affiliates in Mississippi, Oregon and Nebraska are joining the ACLU of Missouri in releasing the Mobile Justice app today. Funded by a grant from the National ACLU, the Mobile Justice app was developed by Quadrant 2 – the same developer that created the Stop and Frisk Watch app for the New York Civil Liberties Union to address racial profiling. An iPhone version of Mobile Justice will be released at a later date.

“Since the NYCLU released its app in 2012, it has been downloaded more than 30,000 times and the New York Police Department’s use of street stops has declined by more than half,” explains Sarah Rossi, the ACLU of Missouri’s director of advocacy and policy. “These numbers tell us that this type of app is sorely needed and can positively impact our communities.”

Learn more about the ACLU of Missouri Mobile Justice app and download it through a link on the ACLU of Missouri website.

This seems incredibly valuable as the police become increasingly aggressive toward citizens. And it is perfectly legal to record police in the course of their regular duties, even though quite often the police pretend not to know that so that they can abuse citizens for trying.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 3:48 pm

Eric Lichtblau exposes how the CIA protected ex-Nazis

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The CIA seems completely lacking in a moral compass, willing to “whatever it takes” including torture, murder, and protecting war criminals. And yet their plans have repeatedly blown up in their face, and they are constantly being taken by surprise. The acronym seems to be for “Criminals In Action.” Elias Isquith of Salon interviews Eric Lichtblau about his recent book on how the CIA brought more than a thousand Nazis, including war criminals, to the US under the CIA’s protection. The interview begin:

Roughly three-quarters of a century ago, the United States of America threw itself into the giant, history-defining and utterly nightmarish orgy of death, destruction and cruelty that nowadays goes by the name of World War II. And while the U.S. did not enter the abyss because of the Nazis — and in fact only declared war after Hitler did it first —  there is little doubt that, ever since VE-Day, the U.S. has been more than happy to take credit as the vanquisher of a regime that most of the developed world still sees as the ultimate embodiment of political evil. (Even if much of that credit is undeserved.)

All of which is to say that when it comes to protecting America’s “brand” as the moral leader of the globe, the protector of liberty and the guardian of human rights, not being in league with the people chiefly responsible for the death of roughly 2.5 percent of the world’s population ranks high on the list. Yet according to reports that first surfaced years ago, but which are now being much more fully substantiated, cooperating with — and even protecting — former Nazis is exactly what the United States once did.

Recently, Salon called the New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau, author of The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, a disturbing new examination of this shameful moment in American history, in order to hear more of how, and why, the U.S. went so very wrong. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

We’ve had some understanding for a bit now that the CIA used former Nazis to wage the Cold War, but I don’t think we had a sense until now of the sheer scope of the practice. Can you tell me a bit about when people started learning of the relationship, as well as what new information you’ve found since?

There were stories that started coming out in the late ’70s and ’80s, which was really when the country as a whole started waking up to the idea that there were Nazis who had lived in the United States for decades, at that point. There was a push by the Justice Department to go after many of these guys, and among the Nazis living in the U.S. whose cases started to become known were a small number who had worked for the CIA and the FBI. There were some individual cases that came up in the late ’70s in congressional hearings, there were some books in the early 1980s on that topic, so we had a general sense that the CIA and the FBI, their hands were not exactly clean when it came to Nazi collaborators.

I certainly didn’t realize it and I know it hadn’t come up probably before, in terms of the level of that involvement, the sheer numbers and how deeply the intelligence agencies were involved in knowing, first of all, the complicity of the Nazis and secondly, in trying to cover up the complicity. In terms of sheer numbers, what we reported in the story in the New York Times that I did off the book was that there were at least 1,000 Nazis that the U.S. intelligence agencies — the CIA, the FBI, military intelligence, other agencies — used as spies and informants in the decades after the war. Not just in the early years, but through the ’50s and ’60s and, in some cases, the ’70s. The FBI had at least 16 informants in 1980 who were under investigation for their suspected Nazi ties, so we saw in sheer numbers that the scope of the involvement ran very deep.

A lot of the documents I looked at, which had been classified until a few years ago, showed that there was both knowledge of the war crimes that many of these guys were involved in and indifference towards it. CIA officials, in one memo, said that a CIA spy who had been a Nazi SS officer was probably involved in minor war crimes, but he would make a good spy anyway. There was other talk about disregarding moral lapses by these guys during their Nazi years. Another guy, there was discussion of the fact that he was knowingly under the control of the Gestapo and involved in mass murders with the Nazis in Lithuania. This was all acknowledged by the agencies who had hired them and, in many cases, covered up their pasts.

For the sake of argument, let’s sideline the (gigantic) ethical questions involved here. By its own standards, did the policy even work?

When it comes to these Nazi spies, I think the record is that they were mostly an abysmal failure. You can make the case with a separate group of Nazi scientists that, as you say, putting the morality aside — which I don’t generally think we should do —that the scientists, the rocket engineers, the doctors and others brought us technological benefits that perhaps got us to the moon faster, that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. With the Nazi spies, you can’t even make that same argument. These were guys who, in many of the files that I examined, not only had the atrocious baggage of being Nazis but were really bad spies. One guy was described as an incorrigible fabricator, another guy lost a suitcase filled with spy photos on a train in Austria, a bunch of them were found to have stolen money, and a few of them were even Soviet double agents. These were not people who were bringing first-rate intelligence on the Soviets to the United States.

It seems patently obvious now, and . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Government

Verizon very fuzzy about data security

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Beyond the unerasable, non-opt-out tracking cookie Verizon puts on you smartphone (so they can watch your every move on the web and sell that information about you to advertisers), they demonstrably have feeble notions about data security.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

SWAT officer gives sensible guidelines for dealing with dogs on a raid

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It has seemed almost as though some SWAT units and police have a kind of contest in shooting and killing the dogs at homes they raid—quite often mistakenly. (The mayor of a Maryland suburb near Washington DC had his two dogs shot to death by police who raided his home mistakenly. And recently there was a video of a police officer coaxing a dog to approach by making sounds to attract the dog, and then shooting it.)

Lt. Dan Marcou has good guidelines for dealing with dogs in such situations:

I admit that I am a dog person. While in SWAT I always tried to avoid shooting dogs, because I view the dogs of criminals as true innocents — they had no choice in the matter of who their owners would be.

With that said, there are some tactics that I’ve used in dealing with dogs during tactical situations that avoided having to use deadly force on dogs that were making my task as a SWAT Officer more difficult.

Any tactical plan that you put together should include a plan to deal with the dogs you know to be present.

1. Bypass
If a dog is locked down by a cage or chain it becomes easy to bypass them. They may make noise, but people who own dogs become almost immune to their own dogs barking. The sound of a shot — neutralizing a dog — will put a suspect on a higher alert than their dogs barking.

2. Lock-Down
Humans possess a super power dogs don’t — we have opposable thumbs. Dogs can’t open doors. Therefore lock them down when possible. You can isolate them outside, in a garage, or in a room somewhere in the house.

It is best to do the lock-down in a cleared area.

3. Treats
Dogs tend to like treats and the people who bring them. I kept a supply of dog treats handy in the SWAT room for call-outs. The key is not to just toss the treat, but to leave a trail up to and into a lock-down area.

4. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

Seifenglatt/Seifneglatt Vanilla Rose and the Walbusch humpback slant

with 11 comments

SOTD 7 Nov 2014

I had thought the soap was called “Seifenglatt” (German for “soap smooth”), but as you see, the tub is clearly labeled “Seifneglatt,” doubtless a typo. The maker pretty clearly intends for customers to have but a single tub of his soap, because nowhere on top or sides is the fragrance identified. Contrast that approach with the quite clear labeling of, say,  Maggard Artisanal soaps: on those, the ragrance is clearly identified on the side of tub, which allows you to stack several tubs and see at a glance what each tub contains. What Seifenglatt does is to put a handwritten round adhesive label on the bottom of the tub with the fragrance name abbreviated. (Rose Vanilla, the fragrance I used today, is labeled as “Rose.” So if you do get a Rose Seifenglatt, you’re going to have to unscrew the lid and sniff to see what the tub actually contains, or else attach your own label.)

I’m harping on this a bit because this is a first-rate soap and I expect it to become increasingly popular, but the tub labeling definitely needs improvement, particularly if he hopes to sell multiple tubs to the same person. He should look at the situation from the customer’s point of view, and ask whether the customer wants a variety of soaps in identical tubs, so when searching for a particular fragrance he must take every tub off the shelf, turn it over, and see the fragrance.

Just a thought. But I think customers will want to (a) stack multiple tubs and (b) see at a glance what each tub contains. So I hope he follows the lead of Maggard and places a clearly printed label on the side of the tub.

All that said, I got a great lather with the Simpson Chubby 1 Best, and the Rose Vanilla fragrance is very nice and could even be stronger.

Three passes with the Walbusch humpback slant holding a Personna Lab Blue blade, and I still do not feel the difference between the humpback slant and the torqued slant. Unfortunately, the engineer who asserts there is considerable difference in the action, and that a slant alone doesn’t do anything, cannot offer his own take on the difference since he has not (and will not) get a humpback slant. Why? Because he views the difference between torqued and humpback slants to be so great that the humpback is (in his view) not worth trying—so he doesn’t try it. But I simply cannot feel that difference, though I can detect a difference between feel and performance of a regular razor and a slant (whether torqued or not). I’d be interested to hear from any who can feel a difference between the torqued and untorqued slants.

Three passes, BBS, and continuing the rose-variant theme, a splash of Saint Charles Shave Savory Rose aftershave.

Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2014 at 9:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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