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Dennis Donovan

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Member since: Wed Oct 15, 2008, 06:29 PM
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88 Years Ago Today; A Skyscraper Icon is Dedicated

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_State_Building



Construction
Demolition of the old Waldorf–Astoria began on October 1, 1929. Stripping the building down was an arduous process, as the hotel had been constructed using more rigid material than earlier buildings had been. Furthermore, the old hotel's granite, wood chips, and "'precious' metals such as lead, brass, and zinc" were not in high demand resulting in issues with disposal. Most of the wood was deposited into a woodpile on nearby 30th Street or was burned in a swamp elsewhere. Much of the other materials that made up the old hotel, including the granite and bronze, were dumped into the Atlantic Ocean near Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

By the time the hotel's demolition started, Raskob had secured the required funding for the construction of the building. The plan was to start construction later that year but, on October 24, the New York Stock Exchange suffered a sudden crash marking the beginning of the decade-long Great Depression. Despite the economic downturn, Raskob refused to cancel the project because of the progress that had been made up to that point. Neither Raskob, who had ceased speculation in the stock market the previous year, nor Smith, who had no stock investments, suffered financially in the crash. However, most of the investors were affected and as a result, in December 1929, Empire State Inc. obtained a $27.5 million loan from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company so construction could begin. The stock market crash resulted in no demand in new office space, Raskob and Smith nonetheless started construction, as canceling the project would have resulted in greater losses for the investors.


A worker bolts beams during construction; the Chrysler Building can be seen in the background.

A structural steel contract was awarded on January 12, 1930, with excavation of the site beginning ten days later on January 22, before the old hotel had been completely demolished. Two twelve-hour shifts, consisting of 300 men each, worked continuously to dig the 55-foot (17 m) foundation. Small pier holes were sunk into the ground to house the concrete footings that would support the steelwork. Excavation was nearly complete by early March, and construction on the building itself started on March 17, with the builders placing the first steel columns on the completed footings before the rest of the footings had been finished. Around this time, Lamb held a press conference on the building plans. He described the reflective steel panels parallel to the windows, the large-block Indiana Limestone facade that was slightly more expensive than smaller bricks, and the tower's lines and rise. Four colossal columns, intended for installation in the center of the building site, were delivered; they would support a combined 10,000,000 pounds (4,500,000 kg) when the building was finished.

The structural steel was pre-ordered and pre-fabricated in anticipation of a revision to the city's building code that would have allowed the Empire State Building's structural steel to carry 18,000 pounds per square inch (124,106 kPa), up from 16,000 pounds per square inch (110,316 kPa), thus reducing the amount of steel needed for the building. Although the 18,000-psi regulation had been safely enacted in other cities, Mayor Jimmy Walker did not sign the new codes into law until March 26, 1930, just before construction was due to commence. The first steel framework was installed on April 1, 1930. From there, construction proceeded at a rapid pace; during one stretch of 10 working days, the builders erected fourteen floors. This was made possible through precise coordination of the building's planning, as well as the mass production of common materials such as windows and spandrels. On one occasion, when a supplier could not provide timely delivery of dark Hauteville marble, Starrett switched to using Rose Famosa marble from a German quarry that was purchased specifically to provide the project with sufficient marble.

The scale of the project was massive, with trucks carrying "16,000 partition tiles, 5,000 bags of cement, 450 cubic yards [340 m3] of sand and 300 bags of lime" arriving at the construction site every day. There were also cafes and concession stands on five of the incomplete floors so workers did not have to descend to the ground level to eat lunch. Temporary water taps were also built so workers did not waste time buying water bottles from the ground level. Additionally, carts running on a small railway system transported materials from the basement storage to elevators that brought the carts to the desired floors where they would then be distributed throughout that level using another set of tracks. The 57,480 short tons (51,320 long tons) of steel ordered for the project was the largest-ever single order of steel at the time, comprising more steel than was ordered for the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street combined. According to historian John Tauranac, building materials were sourced from numerous, and distant, sources with "limestone from Indiana, steel girders from Pittsburgh, cement and mortar from upper New York State, marble from Italy, France, and England, wood from northern and Pacific Coast forests, [and] hardware from New England." The facade, too, used a variety of material, most prominently Indiana limestone but also Swedish black granite, terracotta, and brick.

By June 20, the skyscraper's supporting steel structure had risen to the 26th floor, and by July 27, half of the steel structure had been completed. Starrett Bros. and Eken endeavored to build one floor a day in order to speed up construction, a goal that they almost reached with their pace of ​4 1⁄2 stories per week; prior to this, the fastest pace of construction for a building of similar height had been ​3 1⁄2 stories per week. While construction progressed, the final designs for the floors were being designed from the ground up (as opposed to the general design, which had been from the roof down). Some of the levels were still undergoing final approval, with several orders placed within an hour of a plan being finalized. On September 10, as steelwork was nearing completion, Smith laid the building's cornerstone during a ceremony attended by thousands. The stone contained a box with contemporary artifacts including the previous day's New York Times, a U.S. currency set containing all denominations of notes and coins minted in 1930, a history of the site and building, and photographs of the people involved in construction. The steel structure was topped out at 1,048 feet (319 m) on September 19, twelve days ahead of schedule and 23 weeks after the start of construction. Workers raised a flag atop the 86th floor to signify this milestone.

Afterward, work on the building's interior and crowning mast commenced. The mooring mast topped out on November 21, two months after the steelwork had been completed. Meanwhile, work on the walls and interior was progressing at a quick pace, with exterior walls built up to the 75th floor by the time steelwork had been built to the 95th floor. The majority of the facade was already finished by the middle of November. Because of the building's height, it was deemed infeasible to have many elevators or large elevator cabins, so the builders contracted with the Otis Elevator Company to make 66 cars that could speed at 1,200 feet per minute (366 m/min), which represented the largest-ever elevator order at the time.

In addition to the time constraint builders had, there were also space limitations because construction materials had to be delivered quickly, and trucks needed to drop off these materials without congesting traffic. This was solved by creating a temporary driveway for the trucks between 33rd and 34th Streets, and then storing the materials in the building's first floor and basements. Concrete mixers, brick hoppers, and stone hoists inside the building ensured that materials would be able to ascend quickly and without endangering or inconveniencing the public. At one point, over 200 trucks made material deliveries at the building site every day. A series of relay and erection derricks, placed on platforms erected near the building, lifted the steel from the trucks below and installed the beams at the appropriate locations. The Empire State Building was structurally completed on April 11, 1931, twelve days ahead of schedule and 410 days after construction commenced. Al Smith shot the final rivet, which was made of solid gold.


A photograph of a cable worker, taken by Lewis Hine as part of his project to document the Empire State Building's construction

The project involved more than 3,500 workers at its peak, including 3,439 on a single day, August 14, 1930. Many of the workers were Irish and Italian immigrants, with a sizable minority of Mohawk ironworkers from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal. According to official accounts, five workers died during the construction, although the New York Daily News gave reports of 14 deaths[3] and a headline in the socialist magazine The New Masses spread unfounded rumors of up to 42 deaths. The Empire State Building cost $40,948,900 to build, including demolition of the Waldorf–Astoria (equivalent to $554,644,100 in 2018). This was lower than the $60 million budgeted for construction.

Lewis Hine captured many photographs of the construction, documenting not only the work itself but also providing insight into the daily life of workers in that era. Hine's images were used extensively by the media to publish daily press releases. According to the writer Jim Rasenberger, Hine "climbed out onto the steel with the ironworkers and dangled from a derrick cable hundreds of feet above the city to capture, as no one ever had before (or has since), the dizzy work of building skyscrapers". In Rasenberger's words, Hine turned what might have been an assignment of "corporate flak" into "exhilarating art". These images were later organized into their own collection. Onlookers were enraptured by the sheer height at which the steelworkers operated. New York magazine wrote of the steelworkers: "Like little spiders they toiled, spinning a fabric of steel against the sky".

Opening and early years
The Empire State Building officially opened on May 1, 1931, forty five days ahead of its projected opening date. The opening was marked with an event featuring United States President Herbert Hoover, who turned on the building's lights with the ceremonial button push from Washington, D.C.. Over 350 guests attended the opening ceremony, and following luncheon, at the 86th floor including Jimmy Walker, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Al Smith. An account from that day stated that the view from the luncheon was obscured by a fog, with other landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty being "lost in the mist" enveloping New York City. The building officially opened the next day. Advertisements for the building's observatories were placed in local newspapers, while nearby hotels also capitalized on the events by releasing advertisements that lauded their proximity to the newly opened tower.

According to The New York Times, builders and real estate speculators predicted that the 1,250-foot-tall (380 m) Empire State Building would be the world's tallest building "for many years", thus ending the great New York City skyscraper rivalry. At the time, most engineers agreed that it would be difficult to build a building taller than 1,200 feet (370 m), even with the hardy Manhattan bedrock as a foundation. Technically, it was believed possible to build a tower of up to 2,000 feet (610 m), but it was deemed uneconomical to do so, especially during the Great Depression. As the tallest building in the world, at that time, and the first one to exceed 100 floors, the Empire State Building became an icon of the city and, ultimately, of the nation.


Seen from the north

The Empire State Building's opening coincided with the Great Depression in the United States, and as a result much of its office space was vacant from its opening. In the first year, only 23% of the available space was rented, as compared to the early 1920s, where the average building would have occupancy of 52% upon opening and 90% rented within five years. The lack of renters led New Yorkers to deride the building as the "Empty State Building".

Jack Brod, one of the building's longest resident tenants, co-established the Empire Diamond Corporation with his father in the building in mid-1931[142] and rented space in the building until he died in 2008. Brod recalled that there were only about 20 tenants at the time of opening, including him, and that Al Smith was the only real tenant in the space above his seventh-floor offices. Generally, during the early 1930s, it was rare for more than a single office space to be rented in the building, despite Smith's and Raskob's aggressive marketing efforts in the newspapers and to anyone they knew. The building's lights were continuously left on, even in the unrented spaces, to give the impression of occupancy. This was exacerbated by competition from Rockefeller Center[136] as well as from buildings on 42nd Street, which, when combined with the Empire State Building, resulted in surplus of office space in a slow market during the 1930s.

Aggressive marketing efforts served to reinforce the Empire State Building's status as the world's tallest. The observatory was advertised in local newspapers as well as on railroad tickets. The building became a popular tourist attraction, with one million people each paying one dollar to ride elevators to the observation decks in 1931. In its first year of operation, the observation deck made approximately $2 million in revenue, as much as its owners made in rent that year. By 1936, the observation deck was crowded on a daily basis, with food and drink available for purchase at the top, and by 1944 the tower had received its 5 millionth visitor. In 1931, NBC took up tenancy, leasing space on the 85th floor for radio broadcasts. From the outset the building was in debt, losing $1 million per year by 1935. Real estate developer Seymour Durst recalled that the building was so underused in 1936 that there was no elevator service above the 45th floor, as the building above the 41st floor was empty except for the NBC offices and the Raskob/Du Pont offices on the 81st floor.

Per the original plans, the Empire State Building's spire was intended to be an airship docking station. Raskob and Smith had proposed dirigible ticketing offices and passenger waiting rooms on the 86th floor, while the airships themselves would be tied to the spire at the equivalent of the building's 106th floor. An elevator would ferry passengers from the 86th to the 101st floor[g] after they had checked in on the 86th floor, after which passengers would have climbed steep ladders to board the airship. The idea, however, was impractical and dangerous due to powerful updrafts caused by the building itself, the wind currents across Manhattan, and the spires of nearby skyscrapers. Furthermore, even if the airship were to successfully navigate all these obstacles, its crew would have to jettison some ballast by releasing water onto the streets below in order to maintain stability, and then tie the craft's nose to the spire with no mooring lines securing the tail end of the craft. On September 15, 1931, in the first and only instance of an airship using the building's mast, a small commercial United States Navy airship circled 25 times in 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) winds. The airship then attempted to dock at the mast, but its ballast spilled and the craft was rocked by unpredictable eddies. The near-disaster scuttled plans to turn the building's spire into an airship terminal, although one blimp did manage to make a single newspaper delivery afterward.

In 1932, the Fifth Avenue Association gave the tower its 1931 "gold medal" for architectural excellence, signifying that the Empire State had been the best-designed building on Fifth Avenue to open in 1931. A year later, on March 2, 1933, the movie King Kong was released. The movie, which depicted a large stop motion ape named Kong climbing the Empire State Building, made the still-new building into a cinematic icon.

On July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 79th and 80th floors. One engine completely penetrated the building and landed in a neighboring block, while the other engine and part of the landing gear plummeted down an elevator shaft. Fourteen people were killed in the incident, but the building escaped severe damage and was reopened two days later.

</snip>


Posted by Dennis Donovan | Wed May 1, 2019, 06:11 AM (3 replies)

Beschloss: John Mitchell...

https://twitter.com/BeschlossDC/status/1123380268381896704?s=19

Michael Beschloss

@BeschlossDC
Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, was convicted and went to prison for perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

23K
8:15 PM - Apr 30, 2019


Posted by Dennis Donovan | Wed May 1, 2019, 05:21 AM (9 replies)

MSNBC: Mueller to appear before Congress next week, per Dem Congressional Leadership

Retweeted by Heidi Przybyla:
https://twitter.com/MikeDelMoro/status/1123372805318377474

Michael Del Moro ✔ @MikeDelMoro
Source from House Democratic leadership tells @HeidiNBC that Dems will want Mueller to testify by next week

7:45 PM - Apr 30, 2019
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Tue Apr 30, 2019, 07:49 PM (55 replies)

Emperor Akihito becomes first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/29/asia/japan-imperial-abdication-akihito-reiwa-intl/index.html



Tokyo (CNN) Japan's Emperor Akihito formally abdicated Tuesday during a historic ceremony in Tokyo, becoming the country's first monarch to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne in two centuries.

His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will be inaugurated as the 126th emperor Wednesday, ushering in the Reiwa era.
Akihito's reign -- and the Heisei era -- officially ends at midnight on Tuesday. Hereafter the 85-year-old will be known as Emperor Emeritus Akihito.

Akihito, along with Empress Michiko and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, attended a short ceremony at 5 p.m. local time (4 a.m. ET) in the Matsu-no-Ma state room of the Imperial Palace.

Outside, throngs of well-wishers, both Japanese and visitors from overseas, waited in the rain-soaked grounds.
In a rare instance of speaking live on television, the ruler said that he had performed his duties as the emperor with a "deep sense of trust and respect" for the Japanese people.

"I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so," he said at the small abdication ceremony.

"I sincerely wish, together with the Empress, that the Reiwa era, which begins tomorrow, will be a stable and fruitful one."

</snip>


Best wishes to the Japanese People.
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Tue Apr 30, 2019, 07:02 AM (5 replies)

80 Years Ago Today; The 1939 Worlds Fair Opens - NBC begins scheduled TV broadcasting





The 1939–40 New York World's Fair, which covered the 1,216 acres (492 ha) of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park (also the location of the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair), was the second most expensive American world's fair of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people attended its exhibits in two seasons. It was the first exposition to be based on the future, with an opening slogan of "Dawn of a New Day", and it allowed all visitors to take a look at "the world of tomorrow". According to the official pamphlet:

The eyes of the Fair are on the future—not in the sense of peering toward the unknown nor attempting to foretell the events of tomorrow and the shape of things to come, but in the sense of presenting a new and clearer view of today in preparation for tomorrow; a view of the forces and ideas that prevail as well as the machines.

To its visitors the Fair will say: "Here are the materials, ideas, and forces at work in our world. These are the tools with which the World of Tomorrow must be made. They are all interesting and much effort has been expended to lay them before you in an interesting way. Familiarity with today is the best preparation for the future.


Within six months of the Fair's opening, World War II began, a war that lasted six years and resulted in the deaths of 70-85 million people.

<snip>

Grand opening
On April 30, 1939, a very hot Sunday, the fair had its grand opening, with 206,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the 150th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration, in Lower Manhattan, as the first President of the United States. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration.

David Sarnoff, then president of RCA and a strong advocate of television, chose to introduce television to the mass public at the RCA pavilion. As a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised along with other parts of the opening ceremony and other events at the fair. On April 30, 1939, the opening ceremony and President Roosevelt's speech were seen on black and white television sets with 5 to 12-inch tubes. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast on about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York metropolitan area.

In order to convince skeptical visitors that the television sets were not a trick, one set was made with a transparent case so that the internal components could be seen. As part of the exhibit at the RCA pavilion, visitors could see themselves on television. There were also television demonstrations at the General Electric and Westinghouse pavilions. During this formal introduction at the fair, television sets became available for public purchase at various stores in the New York City area.

After Albert Einstein gave a speech discussed cosmic rays, the fair's lights were ceremonially lit. Dignitaries received a special Opening Day Program which contained their names written in Braille.

</snip>


This is an early video creation of mine - the 1939 Fair in color, set to BRMC's "Awake"
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Tue Apr 30, 2019, 06:34 AM (2 replies)

Carl Reiner; "(the next election) will be the 'trouncing-est' in our nation's history"

https://twitter.com/carlreiner/status/1123095388460703744s
carl reiner

@carlreiner
Am so looking forward each day to hear news that insures that Trump's 'trouncing' (if he's not impeached before the next election,) will be the 'trouncing-est' in our nation's history.

1:23 AM - Apr 30, 2019


You know it, Carl!!!
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Tue Apr 30, 2019, 06:09 AM (10 replies)

74 Years Ago Today; Der Untergang

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BChrerbunker



Events in 1945
Hitler moved into the Führerbunker on 16 January 1945, joined by his senior staff, including Martin Bormann. Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels joined them in April, while Magda Goebbels and their six children took residence in the upper Vorbunker. Two or three dozen support, medical, and administrative staff were also sheltered there. These included Hitler's secretaries (including Traudl Junge), a nurse named Erna Flegel, and telephone switchboard operator Sergeant Rochus Misch. Initially, Hitler continued to utilize the undamaged wing of the Reich Chancellery, where he held afternoon military conferences in his large study. Afterwards, he would have tea with his secretaries before returning to the bunker complex for the night. After several weeks of this routine, Hitler seldom left the bunker except for short strolls in the chancellery garden with his dog Blondi. The bunker was crowded, the atmosphere was oppressive, and air raids occurred daily. Hitler mostly stayed on the lower level, where it was quieter and he could sleep. Conferences took place for much of the night, often until 05:00.

On 16 April, the Red Army started the Battle of Berlin, and they started to encircle the city by 19 April. Hitler made his last trip to the surface on 20 April, his 56th birthday, going to the ruined garden of the Reich Chancellery where he awarded the Iron Cross to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth. That afternoon, Berlin was bombarded by Soviet artillery for the first time.

Hitler was in denial about the dire situation and placed his hopes on the units commanded by Waffen-SS General Felix Steiner, the Armeeabteilung Steiner ("Army Detachment Steiner" ). On 21 April, Hitler ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the encircling Soviet salient and ordered the German Ninth Army, south-east of Berlin, to attack northward in a pincer attack. That evening, Red Army tanks reached the outskirts of Berlin. Hitler was told at his afternoon situation conference on 22 April that Steiner's forces had not moved, and he fell into a tearful rage when he realised that the attack was not going to be carried out. He openly declared for the first time the war was lost—and he blamed his generals. Hitler announced that he would stay in Berlin until the end and then shoot himself.

On 23 April, Hitler appointed General of the Artillery Helmuth Weidling, commander of the LVI Panzer Corps, as the commander of the Berlin Defense Area, replacing Lieutenant-Colonel (Oberstleutnant) Ernst Kaether. The Red Army had consolidated their investment of Berlin by 25 April, despite the commands being issued from the Führerbunker. There was no prospect that the German defence could do anything, but delay the city's capture.[30] Hitler summoned Field Marshal Robert Ritter von Greim from Munich to Berlin to take over command of the Luftwaffe from Hermann Göring, and he arrived on 26 April along with his mistress and test pilot Hanna Reitsch.

On 28 April, Hitler learned that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler was trying to discuss surrender terms with the Western Allies through Count Folke Bernadotte, and Hitler considered this treason. Enraged, he had Himmler's SS representative in Berlin Hermann Fegelein shot and ordered Himmler's arrest. On the same day, General Hans Krebs made his last telephone call from the Führerbunker to Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) in Fürstenberg. Krebs told him that all would be lost if relief did not arrive within 48 hours. Keitel promised to exert the utmost pressure on Generals Walther Wenck, commander of the Twelfth Army, and Theodor Busse, commander of the Ninth Army. Meanwhile, Hitler's private secretary Martin Bormann wired to German Admiral Karl Dönitz: "Reich Chancellery a heap of rubble." He said that the foreign press was reporting fresh acts of treason and "that without exception Schörner, Wenck and the others must give evidence of their loyalty by the quickest relief of the Führer".

That evening, von Greim and Reitsch flew out from Berlin in an Arado Ar 96 trainer. Field Marshal von Greim was ordered to get the Luftwaffe to attack the Soviet forces that had just reached Potsdamerplatz, only a city block from the Führerbunker. During the night of 28 April, General Wenck reported to Keitel that his Twelfth Army had been forced back along the entire front and it was no longer possible for his army to relieve Berlin.[38] Keitel gave Wenck permission to break off the attempt.[35]

Hitler married Eva Braun after midnight on 28–29 April in a small civil ceremony within the Führerbunker. He then took secretary Traudl Junge to another room and dictated his last will and testament. Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Goebbels, and Bormann witnessed and signed the documents at approximately 04:00. Hitler then retired to bed.

Late in the evening of 29 April, Krebs contacted Jodl by radio: "Request immediate report. Firstly of the whereabouts of Wenck's spearheads. Secondly of time intended to attack. Thirdly of the location of the Ninth Army. Fourthly of the precise place in which the Ninth Army will break through. Fifthly of the whereabouts of General Rudolf Holste's spearhead." In the early morning of 30 April, Jodl replied to Krebs: "Firstly, Wenck's spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly, Twelfth Army therefore unable to continue attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of Ninth Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste's Corps on the defensive."

SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, commander of the centre government district of Berlin, informed Hitler during the morning of 30 April that he would be able to hold for less than two days. Later that morning, Weidling informed Hitler that the defenders would probably exhaust their ammunition that night and again asked him for permission to break out. Weidling finally received permission at about 13:00. Hitler shot himself in the Führerbunker that afternoon, and Braun took cyanide. In accordance with Hitler's instructions, the bodies were burned in the garden behind the Reich Chancellery. Goebbels became the new Head of Government and Chancellor of Germany (Reichskanzler) in accordance with Hitler's last will and testament. Reichskanzler Goebbels and Bormann sent a radio message to Dönitz at 03:15, informing him of Hitler's death, and Dönitz was appointed as the new President of Germany (Reichspräsident) in accordance with Hitler's last wishes.

Krebs talked to General Vasily Chuikov, commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, at about 04:00 on 1 May, and Chuikov demanded unconditional surrender of the remaining German forces. Krebs did not have the authority to surrender, so he returned to the bunker. In the late afternoon, Goebbels had his children poisoned, and he and his wife left the bunker at around 20:30. There are several different accounts on what followed. According to one account, Goebbels shot his wife and then himself. Another account was that they each bit on a cyanide ampule and were given a coup de grâce immediately afterwards.[50] Goebbels' SS adjutant Günther Schwägermann testified in 1948 that the couple walked ahead of him up the stairs and out to the Chancellery garden. He waited in the stairwell and heard the shots, then walked up the remaining stairs and saw the lifeless bodies of the couple outside. He then followed Joseph Goebbels' order and had an SS soldier fire several shots into Goebbels' body, which did not move. The bodies were then doused with petrol and set alight, but the remains were only partially burned and not buried.

Weidling had given the order for the survivors to break out to the northwest, and the plan got underway at around 23:00. The first group from the Reich Chancellery was led by Mohnke; they tried unsuccessfully to break through the Soviet rings and were captured the next day. Mohnke was interrogated by SMERSH, like others who were captured from the Führerbunker. The third breakout attempt from the Reich Chancellery was made around 01:00 on 2 May, and Bormann managed to cross the Spree. Arthur Axmann followed the same route and reported seeing Bormann's body a short distance from the Weidendammer bridge.

At 01:00, the Soviet forces picked up a radio message from the LVI Panzer Corps requesting a cease-fire. Down in the Führerbunker, General Krebs and General Burgdorf committed suicide by gunshot to the head. The last defenders in the area of the bunker complex were French SS volunteers of the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French), and they remained until the early morning. The Soviet forces then captured the Reich Chancellery. General Weidling surrendered with his staff at 6:00, and his meeting with Chuikov ended at 8:23. Johannes Hentschel, the master electro-mechanic for the bunker complex, stayed after everyone else had either left or committed suicide, as the field hospital in the Reich Chancellery above needed power and water. He surrendered to the Red Army as they entered the bunker complex at 09:00 on 2 May. The bodies of Goebbels' six children were discovered on 3 May. They were found in their beds in the Vorbunker with the clear mark of cyanide shown on their faces.



Good riddance!
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Tue Apr 30, 2019, 05:56 AM (6 replies)

25 Years Ago Today; Aldrich Ames Pleads Guilty to Espionage with USSR, later w/ Russia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldrich_Ames


Mugshot from the day of his arrest

Aldrich Hazen "Rick" Ames (/eɪmz/; born May 26, 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer turned KGB double agent, who was convicted of espionage in 1994. He is serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, in the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, United States. Ames was formerly a 31-year CIA counterintelligence officer who committed espionage against the U.S. by spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. At the time of his arrest, Ames had compromised more highly-classified CIA assets than any other officer in history until Robert Hanssen's arrest seven years later in 2001.

<snip>

Espionage

Replacement of the mailbox used by Ames: a horizontal chalk mark above the USPS logo would signal a needed meeting. Garfield St and Garfield Terrace NW. Original in the Spy Museum.

Ames routinely assisted another CIA office that assessed Soviet embassy officials as potential intelligence assets. As part of this responsibility, and with the knowledge of both the CIA and the FBI, Ames began making contacts within the Soviet Embassy. In April 1985, Ames provided information to the Soviets that he believed was "essentially valueless" but would establish his credentials as a CIA insider. He also asked for $50,000, which the Soviets quickly paid. Ames later claimed that he had not prepared for more than the initial "con game" to satisfy his immediate indebtedness, but having "crossed a line" he "could never step back".

Ames soon identified more than ten top-level CIA and FBI sources who were reporting on Soviet activities. Not only did Ames believe that there was "as much money as [he] could ever use" in betraying these intelligence assets, but their elimination would also reduce the chance of his own espionage being discovered. By 1985, the CIA's network of Soviet-bloc agents began disappearing at an alarming rate. The CIA realized something was wrong but was reluctant to consider the possibility of an agency mole. Initial investigations focused on possible breaches caused by Soviet bugs, or a code which had been broken.

The CIA initially blamed asset losses on another former CIA agent, Edward Lee Howard, who had also been passing information to the Soviets. But when the CIA lost three other important sources of information about whom Howard could have known nothing, it was clear that the arrests (and executions) were the result of information provided by another source. As one CIA officer put it, the Soviets "were wrapping up our cases with reckless abandon", which was highly unusual because the "prevailing wisdom among the Agency's professional 'spy catchers'" was that suddenly eliminating all the assets known to the mole would put him in danger. In fact, Ames's KGB handlers apologized to him, saying they disagreed with that course of action, but that the decision to immediately eliminate all American assets had been made at the highest political levels.

Meanwhile, Ames continued to meet openly with his contact at the Soviet embassy, Sergey Dmitriyevich Chuvakhin. For a time, Ames summarized for the CIA and FBI the progress of what he portrayed as an attempt to recruit the Soviet. Ames received $20,000 to $50,000 every time the two had lunch. Ultimately, Ames received $4.6 million from the Soviets, which allowed him to enjoy a lifestyle well beyond the means of a CIA officer. In August 1985, when Ames's divorce became final, he immediately married Rosario. Understanding that his new wealth would raise eyebrows, he developed a cover story that his prosperity was the result of money given to him by his Colombian wife's wealthy family. To assist with that fabrication, Ames wired considerable amounts of his espionage payments to his new in-laws in Bogota, to help improve their impoverished status.

In 1986, following the loss of several CIA assets, Ames told the KGB that he feared he would be a suspect. The KGB threw U.S. investigators off Ames's trail by constructing an elaborate diversion, in which a Soviet case officer told a CIA contact that the mole was stationed at Warrenton Training Center (WTC), a secret CIA communications facility in Virginia. U.S. mole hunters investigated 90 employees at WTC for almost a year and came up with ten suspects, although the lead investigator noted that "there are so many problem personalities that no one stands out".

In 1986, Ames was posted to Rome. There, his performance once again ranged from mediocre to poor and included evidence of problematic drinking. Nevertheless, in 1990–1991, he was reassigned to the CIA's Counterintelligence Center Analysis Group, providing him with access to "extremely sensitive data", including information on U.S. double agents.

<snip>

CIA response

The CIA mole hunt team, circa 1990. From left to right: Sandy Grimes, Paul Redmond, Jeanne Vertefeuille, Diana Worthen, Dan Payne.

In late 1986, the CIA assembled a team to investigate the source of the leaks. Led by Paul Redmond, and consisting of Jeanne Vertefeuille, Sandra Grimes, Diana Worthen, and Dan Payne, the team examined different possible causes, including the possibilities that the KGB had bugged the agency, or intercepted its communications, or had a mole in place.[25] By 1990, the CIA was certain that there was a mole in the agency, but could not find the source. Recruitment of new Soviet agents came to a virtual halt, as the agency feared it could not protect its current assets.

Prior to that, in November 1989, a fellow employee reported that Ames seemed to be enjoying a lifestyle well beyond the means of a CIA officer, and that his wife's family was less wealthy than he had claimed. Diana Worthen, who had known Rosario Ames prior to her marriage, had met with Rosario one day to discuss installing drapes in the Ames residence. Worthen, who had recently installed drapes in her own home, knew they could be expensive and asked which room to concentrate upon first, to which Rosario laughed and said "Do not worry about the price, we are going to have the whole house done at once!" Worthen also knew that Rosario's parents had little money, but a CIA contact in Bogota observed that her family was now well-off. Nevertheless, the CIA moved slowly. When the investigator assigned to look at Ames's finances began a two-month training course, no one immediately replaced him. Investigators were also diverted by a false story from a CIA officer abroad who claimed that the Soviets had penetrated the CIA with an employee born in the USSR.

In 1986 and 1991, Ames passed two polygraph examinations while spying for the Soviet Union and Russia, respectively. Ames was initially "terrified" at the prospect of taking the test, but he was advised by the KGB "to just relax". Ames's test demonstrated deceptive answers to some questions but the examiners passed him, perhaps, in the later opinion of the CIA, because the examiners were "overly friendly" and therefore did not induce the proper physiological response.

The CIA finally focused on Ames after co-workers noted his sharper personal appearance, including:

Cosmetic dentistry: Ames's teeth, which were yellowed by heavy smoking, were capped.
Attire: previously, Ames had been known for "bargain basement" attire, but suddenly changed to wearing tailor-made suits not even his superiors could afford.

The CIA also realized that, despite Ames's annual salary being $60,000, he could afford:

A $540,000 house in Arlington, Virginia, paid for in cash
A $50,000 Jaguar luxury car
Home remodeling and redecoration costs of $99,000
Monthly phone bills exceeding $6,000, mostly calls by Ames's wife to her family in Colombia
Premium credit cards, on which the minimum monthly payment exceeded his monthly salary.


Arrest
In March 1993, the CIA and FBI began an intensive investigation of Ames that included electronic surveillance, combing through his trash, and a monitor installed in his car to track his movements. From November 1993 until his arrest, Ames was kept under virtually constant physical surveillance. When, in early 1994, he was scheduled to attend a conference in Moscow, the FBI believed it could wait no longer, and he and his wife were arrested on February 21, 1994. At his arrest, Ames told the officers, "You're making a big mistake! You must have the wrong man!"

On February 22, 1994, Ames and his wife were formally charged by the Department of Justice with spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. Ames's betrayal resulted in the deaths of a number of CIA assets. He pleaded guilty on April 28 and received a sentence of life imprisonment. As part of a plea bargain by Ames, his wife received a five-year prison sentence for tax evasion and conspiracy to commit espionage.

In court, Ames admitted that he had compromised "virtually all Soviet agents of the CIA and other American and foreign services known to me", and had provided the USSR and Russia with a "huge quantity of information on United States foreign, defense and security policies". It is estimated that information Ames provided to the Soviets led to the compromise of at least a hundred U.S. intelligence operations and to the execution of at least ten U.S. sources. Furthermore, Ames's betrayal of CIA methods allowed the KGB to use "controlled agents" to feed the U.S. both genuine intelligence and disinformation from 1986 to 1993. Some of this "feed material" was incorporated into CIA intelligence reports, several of which even reached three Presidents.

Ames said he was not afraid of being caught by the FBI or CIA but was afraid of Soviet defectors, saying, "Virtually every American who has been jailed in connection with espionage has been fingered by a Soviet source".

Additionally, when asked about the polygraph tests, Ames said, "There's no special magic. Confidence is what does it. Confidence and a friendly relationship with the examiner. Rapport, where you smile and you make him think that you like him."

Post-sentence
Ames is Federal Bureau of Prisons prisoner #40087-083, serving his life sentence in the medium-security Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The CIA was criticized for not focusing on Ames sooner, given the obvious increase in his standard of living. There was a "huge uproar" in Congress when CIA Director James Woolsey decided that no one in the agency would be dismissed or demoted. "Some have clamored for heads to roll in order that we could say that heads have rolled," Woolsey declared. "Sorry, that's not my way." Woolsey resigned under pressure.

Ames's attorney, Plato Cacheris, had threatened to litigate the legality of FBI searches and seizures in Ames's home and office without traditional search warrants, although Ames's guilty plea made the threat moot. Congress then passed a new law giving that specific power to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

CIA sources betrayed
Vitaly Yurchenko was a KGB officer in the Fifth Department of Directorate K, "the highest-ranking KGB officer ever to defect to the United States". In August 1985, he defected via Rome to the United States, only to repatriate to the Soviet Union three months later. Ames was privy to all information that Yurchenko gave to the CIA and was able to transmit it to the KGB, which allowed easy cover-ups of lost information. Yurchenko returned to the Soviet Union in 1985 and was reassigned to a desk job within the FCD as a reward for helping to keep Ames's spying a secret.
Major General Dmitri Polyakov was the highest-ranking figure in the GRU, giving information to the CIA from the early 1960s until his retirement in 1980. He was executed in 1988 after Ames exposed him. He was probably the most valuable asset compromised by Ames. One CIA official said of Polyakov, "He didn't do this for money. He insisted on staying in place to help us."
Colonel Oleg Gordievsky was the head of the London rezidentura (station) and spied for the SIS (MI6). Ames handed over information about Gordievsky that positively identified him as a double agent, although Gordievsky managed to escape to the Finnish border, where he was extracted to the United Kingdom via Norway by the SIS before he could be detained in the Soviet Union.
Adolf Tolkachev was an electrical engineer who was one of the chief designers at the Phazotron company, which produces military radars and avionics. Tolkachev passed information to the CIA between 1979 and 1985, compromising multiple radar and missile secrets, as well as turning over classified information on avionics. He was arrested in 1985 after being compromised by both Ames and Edward Lee Howard, and was executed in 1986.
Valery Martynov was a Line X (Technical & Scientific Intelligence) officer at the Washington rezidentura. Martynov revealed the identities of fifty Soviet intelligence officers operating from the embassy, and technical and scientific targets that the KGB had penetrated. Martynov's name was given to the KGB by Ames, and Martynov was executed.
Major Sergei Motorin was a Line PR (Political Intelligence) officer at the Washington rezidentura, whom the FBI tried to blackmail into spying for the U.S. He eventually cooperated for his own reasons. Motorin was one of two moles at the rezidentura betrayed by Ames and quickly executed.
Colonel Leonid Poleshchuk was a Line KR (Counter-intelligence) agent in Nigeria, also betrayed by Ames. Poleshchuk's arrest was attributed to a chance encounter in which KGB agents had observed a CIA agent loading a dead drop. After some time, Poleshchuk was seen removing the contents.
Sergey Fedorenko was a nuclear weapons expert assigned to the Soviet delegation to the United Nations. In 1977, Ames was assigned to handle him, and Fedorenko betrayed information about the Soviet missile program to Ames. The two men became good friends, hugging when Fedorenko was about to return to Moscow. "We had become close friends", said Ames. "We trusted each other completely." Ames was initially hesitant to inform on his friend, but soon after handing over the majority of the information, he decided to betray Fedorenko to "do a good job" for the KGB.[56] Back in the USSR, Fedorenko used political connections to get himself out of trouble. Years later, Fedorenko met his friend Ames for an emotional reunion over lunch and promised to move to the U.S. for good. Ames promised to help. Shortly after lunch, Ames betrayed him to the KGB for a second time.[56] Fedorenko escaped arrest, defected, and is currently living in Rhode Island.


In a 2004 interview with Howard Philps Hart, who was the CIA Station Chief of Bonn, West Germany in the late 1980s, it was revealed that in 1988, Ames also betrayed a Mikoyan Gurevich Design Bureau Engineer who had been working with the CIA for 14 years, and had provided complete technical, test, and research data on all of the Soviet Union's fighter jets. According to Hart, his information "allowed the US Government to prevent the skies from being blacked out by Soviet bombers, saved us billions of dollars ... since we knew precisely what they could do".

</snip>


...a man ahead of his time, as Trump might say.
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Sun Apr 28, 2019, 06:57 AM (2 replies)

15 Years Ago Today; CBS News first reports on war crimes at Abu Ghraib (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_torture_and_prisoner_abuse



During the war in Iraq that began in March 2003, personnel of the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency committed a series of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These violations included physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape, sodomy, and murder. The abuses came to widespread public attention with the publication of photographs of the abuse by CBS News in April 2004. The incidents received widespread condemnation both within the United States and abroad, although the soldiers received support from some conservative media within the United States.

The administration of George W. Bush asserted that these were isolated incidents, not indicative of general U.S. policy. This was disputed by humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. These organizations stated that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were not isolated incidents, but were part of a wider pattern of torture and brutal treatment at American overseas detention centers, including those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.[9] Several scholars stated that the abuses constituted state-sanctioned crimes.

The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and March 2006, these soldiers were convicted in courts-martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner and PFC Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten and three years in prison, respectively. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the commanding officer of all detention facilities in Iraq, was reprimanded and demoted to the rank of colonel. Several more military personnel who were accused of perpetrating or authorizing the measures, including many of higher rank, were not prosecuted. It was reported that most inmates were innocent of the crimes they were accused of and were simply detained due to their being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Documents popularly known as the Torture Memos came to light a few years later. These documents, prepared shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States Department of Justice, authorized certain enhanced interrogation techniques, generally held to involve torture of foreign detainees. The memoranda also argued that international humanitarian laws, such as the Geneva Conventions, did not apply to American interrogators overseas. Several subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), have overturned Bush administration policy, and ruled that Geneva Conventions apply.

Many of the torture techniques used were developed at Guantánamo detention center, including prolonged isolation; the frequent flyer program, a sleep deprivation program whereby people were moved from cell to cell every few hours so they couldn't sleep for days, weeks, even months; short shackling in painful positions; nudity; extreme use of heat and cold; the use of loud music and noise and preying on phobias.

<snip>

Emergence of the scandal

Lynndie England holding a leash attached to a prisoner, known to the guards as "Gus"


Lynndie England pulls a leash attached to the neck of a prisoner, who is forced to crawl on the floor, while Megan Ambuhl watches.

In June 2003, Amnesty International published reports of human rights abuse by the U.S. military and its coalition partners at detention centers and prisons in Iraq. These included reports of brutal treatment at Abu Ghraib prison, which had once been used by the government of Saddam Hussein, and had been taken over by the United States after the invasion. On June 20, 2003, Abdel Salam Sidahmed, Deputy Director of AI's Middle East Program, described an uprising by the prisoners against the conditions of their detention, saying "The notorious Abu Ghraib Prison, centre of torture and mass executions under Saddam Hussein, is yet again a prison cut off from the outside world. On 13 June there was a protest in this prison against indefinite detention without trial. Troops from the occupying powers killed one person and wounded seven."

On July 23, 2003, Amnesty International issued a press release condemning widespread human rights abuses by U.S. and coalition forces. The release stated that prisoners had been exposed to extreme heat, not provided clothing, and forced to use open trenches for toilets. They had also been tortured, with the methods including denial of sleep for extended periods, exposure to bright lights and loud music, and being restrained in uncomfortable positions.

On November 1, 2003, the Associated Press presented a special report on the massive human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. Their report began; "In Iraq's American detention camps, forbidden talk can earn a prisoner hours bound and stretched out in the sun, and detainees swinging tent poles rise up regularly against their jailers, according to recently released Iraqis." The report went on to describe abuse of the prisoners at the hands of their American captors: "'They confined us like sheep,' the newly freed Saad Naif, 38, said of the Americans. 'They hit people. They humiliated people.'" In response, U.S. Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, at the time in charge of all U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, claimed that prisoners were being treated "humanely and fairly." The AP report also stated that as of November 1, 2003, there were two legal cases pending against U.S. military personnel, one involving the beating of an Iraqi prisoner, the other about the death of a prisoner in custody.

Since the beginning of the invasion, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had been allowed to oversee the prison, and submitted reports about the treatment of the prisoners. In response to an ICRC report, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who oversaw all US detention facilities in Iraq, stated that several of the prisoners were intelligence assets, and therefore not entitled to complete protection under the Geneva Conventions. The ICRC reports led to Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of the Iraqi task force, appointing Major General Antonio Taguba to investigate the allegations on 1 January 2004. Taguba submitted his findings (the Taguba Report) in February 2004, stating that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force." The report stated that there was widespread evidence of this abuse, including photographic evidence. The report was not released publicly. The abuse was also perpetrated by three female military officers shown in the images on this page, where they received a wide range of attention and were convicted later on along with several other members.

The scandal came to widespread public attention In April 2004, when a 60 Minutes II news report was aired on April 28 by CBS News, describing the abuse, including pictures showing military personnel taunting naked prisoners. An article was published by Seymour M. Hersh in The New Yorker magazine (posted online on April 30 and published days later in the May 10 issue), which also had a widespread impact. The photographs were subsequently reproduced in the press across the world.[17] The details of the Taguba report were made public in May 2004. Shortly afterwards, U.S. President George W. Bush stated that the individuals responsible would be "brought to justice," while United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan said that the effort to reconstruct a government in Iraq had been badly damaged.

</snip>


There is more on the Wikipedia page - I just couldn't stomach looking at it, let alone posting it.
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Sun Apr 28, 2019, 06:35 AM (5 replies)

'I can land the plane': How Rosenstein tried to mollify Trump, protect Mueller and save his job

Source: WaPo

By Matt Zapotosky ,
Josh Dawsey and
Devlin Barrett April 26 at 3:20 PM
Rod J. Rosenstein, again, was in danger of losing his job. The New York Times had just reported that — in the heated days after James B. Comey was fired as FBI director — the deputy attorney general had suggested wearing a wire to surreptitiously record President Trump. Now Trump, traveling in New York, was on the phone, eager for an explanation.

Rosenstein — who, by one account, had gotten teary-eyed just before the call in a meeting with Trump’s chief of staff — sought to defuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team, according to people familiar with matter. He criticized the Times report, published in late September, and blamed it on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose recollections formed its basis. Then he talked about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure Trump was treated fairly, people familiar with the conversation said.

“I give the investigation credibility,” Rosenstein said, in the words of one administration official offering their own characterization of the call. “I can land the plane.”

</snip>

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/i-can-land-the-plane-how-rosenstein-tried-to-mollify-trump-protect-mueller-and-save-his-job/2019/04/26/f2fd3bf2-65e0-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html?utm_term=.c9f428975f53



Weasel, Complete weasel...
Posted by Dennis Donovan | Fri Apr 26, 2019, 04:05 PM (18 replies)
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