Monday, January 25, 2010

Moving On - Introducing The AC Anti-Fascist Encyclopedia

Oliver Stone says Adolf Hitler was 'Enabled by Western Bankers'

By Michael Casey (CP)
Google News | 1-25-10

BANGKOK, Thailand — Adolf Hitler was a psychopath and a monster but rose to power thanks to big business leaders and other supporters who appreciated his vow to destroy communism and control workers, Hollywood filmmaker Oliver Stone said Monday.

Stone, who is working on a 10-part documentary on the 20th century titled "The Secret History of the United States," said the German dictator was "enabled by Western bankers" and managed to "seduce" Germany's military industrial complex.

"Hitler is a monster. There is no question. I have no empathy for Hitler at all. He was a crazy psychopath," Stone told reporters in the Thai capital. "But like Frankenstein was a monster, there was a Dr. Frankenstein. He is product of his era."

Stone was in Bangkok to give a lecture to high school students on the role of film in peace-building as part of a visit organized by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation.

He said the aim of his documentary, which two historians are helping him with, was to offer a fuller understanding of the 20th century and how some of those lessons may be relevant to President Barack Obama in 2010.

"What has America become? How can we in America not learn from Germany in the 1930s," the Oscar-winning director asked.

Earlier in the day, Stone told about 300 students that his 1991 movie "JFK," was his most controversial to date and that the United States remains in denial over the possibility that someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald could have assassinated John F. Kennedy.

Stone said exploring alternative theories over the JFK assassination remains too sensitive for those in the media or academia who "would be endangering their careers and their position."

"To this day, many key Americans in power are in total denial about this story," Stone said. "They don't even want to know about the possibility that he was killed by someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald. It is a national fairy tale."

"JFK" ridicules the Warren Commission's conclusion that Oswald acted alone and suggests a massive conspiracy.

Stone's film centred on a theory by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison that a CIA-led mutiny killed the president and the plotters walked away unscathed. Garrison's theories went to court in 1967, but Clay Shaw, the alleged "evil genius" behind the assassination, was acquitted.

Stone said Monday he thought it was "a good thing" to revisit the JFK assassination. But he came under fire from the historians and film reviewers who contended Stone had fudged facts, invented characters and elevated speculation to truth to support his burning belief that the killing was a high-level government conspiracy.

"It's an amazing story and I did it," Stone said. "I thought I would be respected for it, and I was lambasted in the establishment press. I was called a myth-maker, a propagandist. I didn't see it coming. I thought the Kennedy murder was safe."

Stone is famous for several other movies, including the Vietnam War films "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Platoon," which won four Oscars, including best picture and best director.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Did Yeats Accept a Prize of Nazi Gold?

Excerpt: WB Yeats and the Glittering Prizes
Irish Times | January 25, 2010

ON JANUARY 1ST this year, Yeats finally went out of copyright, 144 years after his birth. It was a long, carefully managed career, before and after death. A notable high point was the poet winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, generally taken as an acknowledgement of Irish independence, writes WJ MCCORMACK

As early as 1909, Yeats thought he was in with a chance, but the winner turned out to be the Swedish novelist, Selma Lagerlöf. Scandinavians featured prominently among the prize’s early recipients, starting with the Norwegian poet, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, in 1903, and including his compatriot, Knut Hamsun, in 1920.

In addition to the fame the prize brought with it, Yeats also appreciated the Nobel money. According to legend, he interrupted the telephone call notifying him of the honour with the blunt question: “How much?”

If it remained the greatest prize he garnered, the Nobel was not the last. On February 16th 1934, after Hitler had already come to power in Germany, The Irish Times announced that Yeats had been awarded the Goethe-Plakette by the city of Frankfurt-am-Main, together with Hermann Stehr, a “blood-and-soil” novelist. Later in the year, the Nazi-supporting Knut Hamsun was awarded a Goethe-Preis, both prizes originating in liberal civic initiatives in 1927 (the Preis) and 1932 (the Plakette).

Preis winners included poet Stefan George (1927) and theologian Albert Schweitzer (1928), who was thereby enabled to build a house in his Alsatian home village. Another beneficiary was Sigmund Freud (1930), whose papers establish the honorarium at 10,000 marks (George also received 10,000 marks, though he failed to turn up for the ceremony).

While several “regime changes”, national and local, occurred between 1927 and 1934, it is worth noting that, pleased to be honoured in August 1934, Hamsun refused the cash, believing that the new Nazi regime deserved it more than he did. He is said by Mark Deavin to have refused precisely the same sum Freud and George had been given, suggesting a constant amount down the years with regard to the Goethe-Preis.

The Plakette was a lesser thing, instituted mainly to reward administrators and supporters of events commemorating the centenary of Goethe’s death. I have not located any record of payments made to Plakette or Preis recipients. On the one hand, the Nazis were tight with money; on the other, Yeats was scarcely in the same league as Dr Paquet, secretary of the Preis committee. Is it improper to ask on what verifiable documentation we might conclude that Yeats was not a beneficiary of commensurate Nazi (“souls for”) gold, in keeping with the theme of The Countess Cathleen , staged in February 1934 by SS Untersturmbahnführer Bethge? The question bears upon Yeats’s second manoeuvre on the dangerous intersection between flattery and brutality.

The critic and pacifist, Carl von Ossietzky (who championed James Joyce’s work), had been thrown into a concentration camp, where he was most barbarously treated. A rescue campaign was supported by Karl Barth, Augustus John, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf and others. One proposal was to have the prisoner awarded a Nobel Prize, thus obliging the regime to release him for the award ceremonies. Peace prizes were in Norway’s gift, not Sweden’s. Hamsun denounced Ossietzky in the press on November 22nd 1935, and no award was announced at that time, despite a campaign that had been active since January 1934.

Yeats became embroiled in the Ossietzky affair early in 1936, when English novelist Ethel Mannin and German dramatist Ernst Toller approached him in London. Their efforts were clumsy, and the official campaign did not consider Yeats worth approaching, despite its reliance on glittering laureates. Yeats told Mannin in April: “If the Nobel Society did what you want, it would seem to the majority of the German people that the society hated their government for its politics, not because it was inhuman . . .”

Advancing this specious argument for inactivity, he cannot have forgotten the praise heaped on him by the German press in June 1935 for his 70th birthday, nor what he called his “Frankfurt honour”. The Nobel committee finally overcame its misgivings and, in 1936, gave the prisoner his peace prize, retrospectively. He was not allowed to travel, and died two years later, aged 50.

Apart from an insinuating passivity, what or who got Yeats into these distasteful relations with the Third Reich? His biographer and sometime political secretary, Joseph Hone, was strongly drawn towards fascism. Active in Dublin for much of the 1930s, the wily German agent, Helmut Clissmann, befriended associates of Yeats’s, including the MacBrides (Maud and Sean) and the Stuarts (Iseult and Francis). Clissmann claimed to have studied for a doctorate in Irish Studies at Frankfurt University but seems to have spent more time arranging holiday trips to the Reich for pupils at the Dublin High School, Omagh Academy, and no doubt other Irish schools. The German minister in Dublin, Eduard Hempel, received Yeats on several occasions, presenting him with suitable propaganda.

In August 1938, Yeats publicly approved the Nuremberg Laws. So much is undeniable fact, though the motive is less clear (a childish love of giving offence?). Or had he taken the Führer’s shilling four years earlier?
WB Yeats and the Glittering Prizes, by WJ McCormack, will be published by UCD Press in March

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oracle Software and the CIA

Oracle's Connection to the CIA

Most Oracle professionals are surprised to learn that the name "Oracle" originates from the name of a CIA project. This article in Forbes Magazine notes that Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison worked on a CIA project with the code-name "Oracle":

"He [Larry Ellison] dropped out of the University of Chicago in the 1960s, headed to Berkeley, Calif. and by the mid-1970s began working on a database project. Code name: Oracle. Client: the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1977, Ellison founded the company with Robert Miner and Edward Oates, naming it after the CIA job."


Oracle's coziness with government goes back to its founding / Firm's growth sustained as niche established with federal state agencies | May 20, 2002

... Company co-founders Larry Ellison Robert Miner and Ed Oates worked on Project Oracle at a consulting firm before striking out on their own.

A quarter century later close to a quarter of the company's revenue -- $2. 5 billion a year -- still comes from selling software to federal state and local agencies.

"Oracle wouldn't exist if it weren't for government contracts," said Mike Wilson, author of the book The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison.

Oracle has 1000 sales and consulting workers focused exclusively on government work. And in the wake of Sept. 11 Oracle is counting on the heightened interest in staving off terrorism to boost its government ties even more.

Oracle has been actively pitching software to local governments to create detailed digital maps that could be used to respond to attacks. In March the company formed a partnership to focus on airport security. Ellison even offered to give the federal government software to help create a national ID to thwart terrorists.

In a background paper Oracle boasts that it is "very active in homeland security."

Banc of America Securities analyst Bob Austrian believes the entire high-tech industry could profit from the increased security spending. But he suspects Oracle could do better than most because it already has an unusually large share of government contracts and is in a particularly relevant niche.

"The majority of interest surrounds tracking individuals and information which by its nature is a database-intensive application" he said.

So perhaps it's fitting that Oracle is making headlines because of concerns over the recent $95 million government contract.

Among the allegations are that Oracle persuaded California officials to buy more software than needed misrepresent the costs savings and rush through a no-bid award without considering alternatives. It didn't help that Oracle handed a $25000 check to Gov. Gray Davis' technology adviser just two weeks after the deal was signed.


An excellent database of news stories about Oracle, hosted by Newsrunner, is here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Secrets of Josef Mengele For Sale

By Paul Bedard
US News | January 19, 2010

Few names make one cringe in horror like that of Josef Mengele, the Nazi concentration camp "doctor" who performed gruesome human experiments—especially on twin children—before dodging Allied troops and fleeing to South America in 1945. Yet despite some people's obsession with the medical monster and all that's been written about him, little of Mengele's own work has ever been seen. "Mengele," says Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Autographs, an auctioneer of historical goods, "is very, very rare."

Until now. Panagopulos is featuring two Mengele writings in his next auction. The sale on January 20 and 21 is expected to bring Nazi collectors out of the woodwork to cough up $100,000 for the never-before-seen artifacts.

One is a letter he wrote from Auschwitz to his estranged wife proclaiming his love and plans for "our imaginary reunion." The other is a 180-page "diary" devoted to Mengele's theories on eugenics and population control and his rambling views on women, politics, and the church. Consider: "The real problem," writes Mengele, "is to define when human life is worth living and when it has to be eradicated." The diary is written within the covers of a composition book titled Illustrated Zoology.

Who'd buy these? Surprisingly, Panagopulos says that it's very often Jewish collectors, who use the items to teach history or donate them to museums. The Connecticut auctioneer wouldn't identify the owner of the artifacts, which were seized in Brazil years after Mengele died in 1979.

Perhaps more intriguing is why anybody would sell the secrets of Dr. Death. Says Panagopulos: "As horrendous as he was, Mengele is a historic figure, as are Mao, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. Anything uncovered that can offer us an insight into their thinking helps complete the historical record and perhaps helps prevent similar crimes in the future."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Motives of Convicted Ex-CIA Agent still a Mystery

The Jakarta Post | 01/18/2010

While police are preparing to deport former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Bob Marshall, who was arrested in January 2008 in Bogor, his motives for entering Indonesia remain a mystery.

The Indonesian police said last week that Marshall, 61, was wanted by the US spy organization for a number of violations and being a renegade agent for a number of years.

However, observers here have alleged that Marshall’s arrest has highlighted intensive CIA operations in Indonesia.

“It’s no secret that many CIA agents operate here. Of course, they have their own mission as Indonesia is an important country for the US,” intelligence expert from the Indonesian Institute of Science, Ikrar Nusa Bhakti said here Sunday.

The police have refused to reveal why the US citizen entered the country, saying only that it had received a request to arrest Marshall from the US government for his alleged involvement in illegal arms trade in several countries, including in his home country.

National Police chief of detectives Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi said Friday the deportation of Bob Marshall was being processed by the National Central Bureau Interpol Indonesia upon request from the US.

Bogor immigration officials arrested Marshall in January 2008 as he was applying for a passport.

Marshall told the officials that he was an Indonesian citizen, but as he could not speak Indonesian, the officials were suspicious, and subsequently found his document to be fake.

He was charged for illegal entry and staying in the country without proper documentation.

The US national was charged under the 1992 Immigration Law for staying in the country illegally and not holding a valid passport, which carries a combined punishment of six years in jail.

Ito said that Marshall had entered Indonesia through Batam in December 2007, along with seven illegal migrants by boat from Johor in Malaysia, and held 40 passports.

The Bogor District Court subsequently gave him a two-year jail term.

Marshall has reportedly been a US fugitive since 1974.

Until 2004, US officials said that he had committed various crimes, including fraud, theft and illegal use of weapons.

In 1978 he managed to flee a prison in the US after being arrested a year earlier.

In 1984, the London police were searching for him over the illegal use of guns and ammunition. He returned to the US in 1992, but was again wanted for faking passports and checks.

From then on, Marshall traveled to a number of countries to avoid arrests using different passports before entering Indonesia in December 2007.

The Bogor Immigration Office said that he arrived in Batam in Riau Islands from Johor, Malaysia together with seven others illegal immigrants after evading the Indonesian police’s patrol.

The CIA’s presence in Indonesia’s politics has long been speculated about, stirred recently by the publication of Tim Weiner’s book The Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, which claims Indonesia’s former vice president Adam Malik was a US spy.

The Pulitzer-winning book also alleged that Adam received US$10,000 from the CIA to overthrow former president Sukarno.

Weiner, a New York Times journalist, quoted former CIA agent Clyde McAvoy in his book as saying, “Adam Malik was a CIA agent in 1964”.

The book, recently published in Indonesian, said Adam used the money to spearhead a movement aimed at cleansing communists following their abortive coup attempt on Sept. 30, 1965.

Many people here immediately blasted the book as a foreign conspiracy to destabilize Indonesia. The Attorney General’s Office is looking at having the book banned.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Stolen Painting, the Murder of Martin Luther King, the FBI .... and Steven Spielberg

" ... IT’S SOMEWHAT IRONIC that a Rockwell has been caught up in such a maelstrom of controversy and conspiracy. The American illustrator is best known for his nostalgic scenes of simpler times ... "

" ... after two suspects connected to the art theft ring were murdered 1978 and another refused to testify, prosecutors dropped the case ... "

By Richard Salit

Norman Rockwell’s stolen 1967 painting, Russian Schoolroom, now valued at $700,000, is the subject of a legal dispute in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

NEWPORT — It has all the makings of a Hollywood film: a powerful movie mogul and his society art dealer inadvertently get tangled up in an art heist, an FBI investigation, a political assassination and a courtroom drama.

Unfortunately for Judy Goffman Cutler, it’s a true story. The FBI recently discovered that in 1989 the Newport art dealer profited from the sale of a Norman Rockwell painting that had been stolen from a gallery in Missouri 16 years earlier. The buyer? Steven Spielberg. Yes, that one.

So why has it taken so long for the FBI to crack the case and how come no one was ever arrested for the theft?

One explanation given is that the suspected art thief enjoyed federal protection because he had vital information about a major U.S. assassination — the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Instead of appearing on the big screen, this drama is being played out on location — in U.S. District Court in Nevada. Jack Solomon, whose gallery lost Rockwell’s Russian Schoolroom to thieves nearly 35 years ago when it was worth $25,000, is suing Spielberg for the return of the painting, now valued at $700,000. Russian Schoolroom is in Los Angeles, where the Academy Award-winning director and producer lives.

Goffman Cutler, meanwhile, is also fighting for the painting. She says that after the FBI announced it was stolen, she offered to extricate Spielberg from the controversy by giving him another Rockwell in exchange for Russian Schoolroom. She is also suing Solomon for $25 million for sullying her reputation and jeopardizing her business relationship with Spielberg. Solomon told the media she should have known the painting was stolen when she sold it to Spielberg.

“The clear implication of the statement made to the press was that Goffman Cutler was trafficking in stolen art and should have known she was doing so,” her lawsuit reads.

ON A RECENT DAY, the gates to a white, chateau-style mansion in Newport slowly swing open. Behind the wrought-iron fencing is Vernon Court, a Beaux Arts adaptation of a French estate, which occupies a full block of Bellevue Avenue, Newport’s famed Gilded Age promenade. The sprawling grounds feature a pool, manicured tiered gardens, and a park created by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York City’s Central Park.

This is the home of the National Museum of American Illustration, which Goffman Cutler and her husband, Laurence, founded in 2000 to honor what they call the “Golden Age of Illustration,” art specifically created for reproduction.

The swiveling gates open onto a short gravel driveway, which leads to the museum entrance, framed by tall white columns and a second-story veranda. Through the doorway is the Great Marble Hall, where Laurence Cutler greets a visitor and guides him past one of Rockwell’s most famous World War II works, Miss Liberty, portraying a star-spangled American woman wielding an array of tools in service of her country.

In the library, Cutler takes a seat and reflects on the worldwide publicity the case has generated — from newspapers and magazines that cover Clayton, Mo., where the painting was stolen in 1973, across the Atlantic to England, where both Spielberg and Rockwell are well known. Over the last several months, as a result of the tantalizing details surrounding Russian Schoolroom, it’s been all too common for the Cutlers to receive interview requests from the media. Fielding reporters’ questions comes naturally for the talkative Cutler, the museum’s chairman, and it’s a role that falls to him in between his frequent business trips across the U.S. and abroad.

“Friends have asked about it, art dealers have asked about it, and people in the art world have asked about it. We got lots of e-mail about it from all over the world,” he says. “It got a tremendous amount of attention because you have Spielberg, who is the most famous guy in movies, and you have Norman Rockwell, whose name is synonymous with apple pie and ice cream and baseball. And you have the word ‘theft.’ ”

IT’S SOMEWHAT IRONIC that a Rockwell has been caught up in such a maelstrom of controversy and conspiracy. The American illustrator is best known for his nostalgic scenes of simpler times, hundreds of which appeared on the folksy covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

Russian Schoolroom, painted in 1967, just six years before its theft, was inspired by Rockwell’s visit to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. It depicts students seated at their desks, looking in the direction of a bust of Lenin, except for one student gazing out a window.

Judy Goffman Cutler had an eye for Rockwell and the works of other accomplished American illustrators, such as N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in fine arts, she began collecting the works of American illustrators, which weren’t greatly valued at the time. Soon she had so many works that friends would say her home looked like a museum, her husband says. In 1966, she opened the American Illustrators Gallery in New York City.

“She turned around one day and realized she made that end of the market,” Laurence Cutler says. “She became the art dealer to the stars and celebrities.… She built collections for Malcolm Forbes, George Lucas and Ross Perot and many museums.”

The Newport museum she would later establish with her husband lists Lucas, comedian/actress Whoopi Goldberg, TV celebrity Matt Lauer and editorial cartoonist Paul Szep among its board of directors, as well as the developer of the Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth, Peter de Savary, and the man who has taken over and expanded the development of the town’s western shore, Brian O’Neill.

Spielberg began avidly collecting Rockwells as his movies, including E.T., Back to the Future and the Indiana Jones series, became box office blockbusters, making him a rich man. He also contributed to a new home for the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.

Spielberg met the Cutlers through his passion for Rockwell. They enjoyed not only a business relationship, but a friendship, too, Laurence Cutler says. He recalls traveling to California in the early 1990s to see Spielberg and Whoopi Goldberg, the director’s Pacific Palisades neighbor and another collector of American illustration. Cutler and Goffman, whose first marriages had ended, were continuing on to Las Vegas, and Cutler told Spielberg he was considering marrying Goffman there. Spielberg didn’t think it romantic enough.

“I had wanted to do a quick wedding and he talked me out of it,” says Laurence Cutler.

Years later, after marrying, the Cutlers moved to Newport and opened their nonprofit illustration museum. Then, 18 years after selling Spielberg Russian Schoolroom, an agency not known for its artistic appreciation contacted Goffman Cutler: It was the FBI.

EARLY ON THE morning of June 25, 1973, a man broke through the glass front door of Arts International Gallery, in Clayton, Mo., part of the greater St. Louis area, according to a police report. A witness saw the thief emerge with a painting seconds later and jump into a car.

When gallery staff arrived, they quickly realized what was missing: Rockwell’s Russian Schoolroom, an original, 16-by-37-inch oil-on-canvas. With the crime unsolved, Solomon, the gallery’s owner, collected $25,000 in insurance, according to court records.

In 1988, the painting surfaced at an auction in New Orleans. But there was no mention of its checkered past. Goffman bid $70,400 and took Russian Schoolroom back to her American Illustrators Gallery, in New York City. A year later, after advertising the painting for sale for $200,000, she sold it to Spielberg.

It wasn’t until 2004 that agents with the FBI’s Art Crime Team (ACT) learned from a tipster about the 1988 auction and the sale of the painting a year later. The agency posted a description and photograph of the painting on its Web site. Spielberg’s staff saw it and alerted him that the FBI considered his painting stolen and missing.

“Mr. Spielberg’s staff immediately used art market channels to bring the painting’s current location to the FBI’s attention,” the FBI announced in a news release earlier this year that would spark the international media coverage. “Mr. Spielberg purchased the painting in 1989 from a legitimate dealer and did not become aware it was stolen until last week.”

WHAT HAPPENED 34 years ago, however, was apparently a great deal more complicated than a simple smash-and-grab.

The break-in at Arts International joined a rash of similar crimes. A thief or thieves were targeting art owners in the St. Louis area. The thieves snatched silver statues of Charles Lindbergh from the St. Louis Museum of History and returned to strike Arts International again, stealing seven Rockwell lithographs.

The case led the police to focus on “a known police character … who had a reputation for stealing and fencing valuable art and antiques,” according to the FBI. A search warrant executed in 1976 at the St. Louis home of suspect Russell Byers recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in art and other valuables, including the seven Rockwell lithographs, according to police reports. But missing from the loot was Russian Schoolroom.

The police brought charges against Byers. But after two suspects connected to the art theft ring were murdered 1978 and another refused to testify, prosecutors dropped the case, according to the St. Louis Riverfront Times. And curiously, around the same time, Byers had become remarkably useful to powerful federal officials, the alternative newsweekly reported.

The reason? He had been offered $50,000 to kill King, the civil-rights leader.

Byers’ tale intrigued officials in Washington, even 10 years after King’s assassination in 1968. But Byers wouldn’t talk for fear of incriminating himself. So in 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations granted him immunity. In exchange, Byers testified about a meeting he attended that was arranged by a hotel owner who stashed stolen goods for Byers.

Byers’ accomplice introduced him to a lawyer and business associate, John Sutherland, who belonged to the American Independent Party of segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace and who was a leader of the White Citizens Council of St. Louis.

“The three men met in a study that Byers described as decorated with Confederate flags and Civil War memorabilia… ,” reads a report of the House committee, according to the Riverfront Times. “Sutherland was wearing what appeared to Byers to be a Confederate colonel’s hat. After some social conversation, Byers asked Sutherland what he would have to do for the $50,000. Sutherland said he would have to kill, or arrange to have killed, Dr. Martin Luther King. Sutherland told him he belonged to a secret southern organization that had plenty of money.

Byers testified that he declined the offer from the two men. But, according to a New York Times article from 1978, the committee found enough circumstantial evidence to believe that the same bounty offered to Byers in St. Louis could possibly have motivated James Earl Ray, who was a prisoner in a nearby Missouri penitentiary (and whose brother, John Ray, led local efforts to elect Wallace president).

Ray escaped from the prison a year before King’s death and confessed to killing the minister. Despite recanting later, Ray was convicted at trial.

Ten years later, in 1988, a tip about the stolen Rockwell surfaced as the painting was being auctioned off in New Orleans. But an FBI investigation into the matter was stymied when agents were told that the original theft report was missing, according to the Riverfront Times. It wasn’t until last year that the FBI, treating the theft as a cold case, was able to get a copy of the report from the Clayton, Mo., police. Soon the investigation would lead federal agents to Hollywood.

JACK SOLOMON, who owned the now-defunct Arts International gallery and was Rockwell’s dealer until the artist’s death in 1978, wants Russian Schoolroom back. He is suing Spielberg in U.S. District Court in Nevada for the return of the painting and unspecified damages. The FBI, which was initially named in the lawsuit, has been dropped from the case.

Solomon is none too pleased with Goffman Cutler. He doesn’t believe she adequately researched whether Russian Schoolroom might have been stolen, especially since the FBI had reported it to the for-profit Art Loss Register, which maintains a database of purloined artwork.

“She should have known better,” he told the Riverfront Times. “She could have checked that — there’s been a record of this ever since the day it was stolen.”

He also told the newsweekly about his desire to reacquire the painting.

“I’m sure in two calls I could turn it over for X million dollars before the sun goes down,” he said.

Goffman Cutler, who has sold more than 300 Rockwells, defends her handling of the painting. Before acquiring it, according to her lawsuit, she contacted the Norman Rockwell museum, which had just completed a definitive catalog of the artist’s work. The catalog identified Russian Schoolroom’s location as “whereabouts unknown,” unlike other works listed as “stolen.”

She also sold the painting in a highly public manner, according to court papers. She put it in a traveling exhibition, showed it in New York City and featured it in a magazine advertisement. She even sent a notice to a parent gallery of Arts International, in New York, announcing that Russian Schoolroom was for sale.

Her lawsuit cites Solomon’s published remarks, noting that “the clear implication of the statement made to the press was that Goffman was trafficking in stolen art.”

“We are really angry about Solomon, who was sitting on his thumbs for 33 odd years,” says Laurence Cutler.

Goffman Cutler is also suing the Art Loss Register. The business, her lawyer contends, illegally sought to coerce her into settling with Solomon, by threatening to tarnish her reputation and have her investigated by the FBI. Goffman Cutler is seeking damages of $5 million in profits from business she says she stood to do with Spielberg in the future, $10 million for damage to her reputation and $10 million for defamation.

Goffman Cutler wants the court to affirm that her New York City business, The American Illustrators Gallery, has legally acquired the painting from Spielberg.

“We have exchanged one of our paintings, not from our museum collection, a painting of comparable or higher value, approximately the same size, painted in the same year, and both were published in Look magazine. He is very happy with that. And we are very happy to take him out of this circus,” says Laurence Cutler. Since the FBI “doesn’t want [Russian Schoolroom] to cross state lines, Steven is holding it.”

If Goffman Cutler’s private gallery succeeds in acquiring Russian Schoolroom, it will probably be loaned to the National Museum of American Illustration, in Newport, says Laurence Cutler. The painting would travel to China for a temporary exposition at the Shanghai Art Museum, he says, and then it would probably find a home at the Bellevue Avenue museum.

“There is now interest in seeing this painting ‘in the flesh’ so to speak, the world over,” he says.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Auschwitz Sign Theft Suspect Named

KRAKOW, Poland, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Polish authorities say they have issued an arrest warrant for a man they describe as a Swedish neo-Nazi on charges he stole the sign above the Auschwitz gate.

"We have already issued the arrest warrant for the Swedish suspect to be brought to police headquarters in Krakow," Boguslawa Marcinkowska of the Prosecutor's Office in Krakow said Friday.

Five Poles arrested Dec. 21 -- three days after they allegedly stole the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from the World War II German Nazi death camp -- said they were paid to steal the sign by a former neo-Nazi in Sweden, Poland Radio reported.

He intended to sell it "for millions" to a collector, allegedly living in Great Britain, Poland Radio said.

Swedish press reports identified the suspect named in the warrant as alleged former neo-Nazi Anders Hogstrom.

"My role was to go get the sign in Poland," he told a Swedish daily newspaper Expressen. "I was the middleman and was supposed to take care of the sale."

Hogstrom, described as a former leader of a 160-member strong neo-Nazi group based in southeast Sweden, told the newspaper the money from the theft would be used to launch a campaign against parliament and Swedish politicians.

The sign was found in northern Poland, cut into three pieces.

Friday, January 15, 2010

ACLU Wants to Know the Legal Basis for CIA Drone Strikes/Was There Actually an Airstrike in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province?

By Spencer Ackerman
Washington Independent | 1/13/10

It’s a question that rarely gets asked: from where does the Obama administration locate the legal authority to launch missiles from the CIA’s unmanned drones into Pakistani (and, this week, Afghan) territory? The ACLU wants to know.

The civil liberties group today filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CIA and the Departments of State, Justice and Defense for documentation establishing the legal basis for the drone strikes. Drone strikes in Pakistan have risen substantially during the first year of the Obama administration.

Additionally, the civil liberties group wants to see the government’s estimates for how many civilians the drone program is responsible for killing. A recent New America Foundation report arguing that most drone critics overstate overstate civilian casualties still found that one in every three Pakistanis killed by the drones is a civilian, not a combatant.

From a just-released ACLU statement:

“The American public has a right to know whether the drone program is consistent with international law, and that all efforts are made to minimize the loss of innocent lives,” said Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project. “The Obama administration has reportedly expanded the drone program, but it has not explained publicly what the legal basis for the program is, what limitations it recognizes on the use of drones outside active theaters of war and what the civilian casualty toll has been thus far. We’re hopeful that the request we’ve filed today will encourage the Obama administration to disclose information about the basis, scope and implementation of the program.”

Was There Actually an Airstrike in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province?
By Spencer Ackerman
Washington Independent | 12/29/09

That’s the subject of an increasingly heated charge from the Afghan government after a Dec. 27 raid in the eastern province of Kunar left nine men dead. The International Security Assistance Force, NATO’s command in Afghanistan, said the men were part of an insurgent network planting improvised explosive devices.

Representatives of the Afghan government say they were civilians. And the governor of the province says they were killed in an airstrike. Only one thing: there may not have been any airstrike.

There’s an investigation open into the Kunar incident ordered by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But an ISAF official who would only speak on background while the investigation proceeds said unequivocally that there was “no airstrike.” ...


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fox News: Let’s Put on a Show

By: cocktailhag | January 13, 2010

Not long after Nixon’s “last press conference” upon losing the California governorship in 1962, that memorably disturbing rant which prompted an amused President Kennedy to prematurely say that if he hadn’t done anything else for America, at least he’d “saved it from Richard Nixon,” Nixon fortuitously met up with one Roger Ailes. The rest, as they say, is history. Ailes saw divisions growing in America, over race, culture, and youthful rebellion, that could potentially be exploited to make even a viscerally unlikeable phony like Nixon electable, if played right. He knew intuitively that a lot of Americans were dumb, hateful, and racist, especially in the South, and the time was right to sell them a bill of goods that could make even the elitists of the Republican party look desirable, if that inchoate resentment could be harnessed in the proper way.

Nixon was understandably mistrustful of television after the catastrophic 1960 debates with Kennedy, but the former “Mike Douglas Show” producer was able to convince him that TV could be his friend, especially if the reality was drained out of it. Thus, 30 years before Bush’s fake town hall participants were handed their fake questions, with Ailes’ help Nixon was able to artificially manufacture the warmth and spontaneity he congenitally lacked through staged “discussions” with carefully chosen “citizens,” which began his improbable path to victory in 1968. And we all know how that turned out.

Although it’s impossible to determine what Ailes’ real ideology is (besides making money) he decided, somewhat audaciously at the time, that news didn’t have to be, well, news, but merely had to play it on TV, and he honed his skills at this dubious endeavor for Republicans ever after, culminating in his creation of a whole news network dedicated to deception through newscasts when he joined Rupert Murdoch to conjure up FOX News.

Like Nixon, Murdoch was a shabby opportunist who was widely disliked in his field, for good reason, and like Nixon, he was convinced that the problem was with everyone else, not him. Unlike Nixon, he was also insanely wealthy, and whatever he lacked in ethics and decency he was prepared to paper over with loads of cash from the empire he’d built on his inheritance. Sleazy politicians come and go, but sleazy global media empires are forever, and Murdoch was more than willing to spend big to re-educate the world to his way of thinking for the long term. Thus, the architect of Nixon’s Southern Strategy was handed a golden opportunity to take his deceitful and misanthropic show on the road.

Of course, Murdoch had no intention of aping the despised liberal media by doing any enterprise reporting, setting up expensive bureaus, or hiring actual journalists; that would potentially have let inconvenient reality seep in and worse, waste money. As Ailes knew from his long experience wooing the stupid and resentful, all that was required was the trappings of a newsroom populated by convincing-looking talking heads to fool this bunch. Better yet, such grave inadequacies could actually be a selling point to a target audience that was as fond of objective reality as the Wicked Witch of the West was fond of a bucket of water. ”Fair and Balanced” would become code for “don’t confuse me with the facts,” and pure hype and nonsense dreamed up for political effect would actually be preferable to the dreary old facts produced by the hard work of journalism.

After a few hundred million dollars was expended handing out content for free and attempting to bring down the hated Democratic President, FOX finally got everything it wanted in its dream candidate, George W. Bush, and that’s when things started going down hill, even as ratings and profits soared. The audience demanded more, even after Bush’s insane policies had trashed the economy and brought about a string of crushing and deserved defeats for the Republicans… and Murdoch and Ailes were determined to keep feeding the beast, which had grown like the plant in “Little Shop of Horrors,” with similar appetites. The hideous reality that FOX had helped to create kept rearing its ugly head, and keeping the audience distracted was getting more and more difficult. First the reliably flaccid but obviously correct Colmes had to be tossed off Hannity’s show; then the demented and disturbing Glenn Beck was brought in from CNN, which was busily washing its hands of the Bush era, to, among other things, boil (fake, natch…) frogs on the air and draw misspelled but seemingly heartfelt graffiti on his chalk board about Hitler, Stalin, and whatever else came to mind.

Finally, the carefully crafted artifice of even being a “news” organization had to be dropped altogether; fake videos, blatant political organizing, and hilarious staging of news footage was routinely caught on tape, and the crowds, rather than leaving the theater in disgust, wanted more. Enter Sarah Palin.

Now, the monkey cage that FOX has become is on display for all the world to see, and just like the party it relentlessly fetishizes, looks more and more cuckoo to the outside world as it flings its poo and unashamedly touches itself in unseemly places. Members of the Murdoch family have been moved even to risk their fat dividend checks from the notoriously vindictive Rupert by publicly declaring their embarrassment, and then Ailes rocks the boat by giving a rather impertinently self-aggrandizing interview to the hated New York Times about his genius.

Murdoch, having created this monster, has reached the unhappy moment that ABC once did with “Happy Days” after Fonzie famously jumped the shark. What next?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eugene, Oregon's Pacifica Forum/Nazi Bund

University to Address Pacifica Controversy
Students plan demonstration to coincide
with Forum meeting at 3 p.m. today in the EMU

By CJ Ciaramella
January 8, 2010 | Oregon Daily Emerald

University administrators are rethinking the school’s policy on providing meeting space after another controversial event at the Pacifica Forum, a local discussion group that some have criticized for being racist and bigoted.

At the Pacifica Forum’s Dec. 11 meeting on campus, speaker Jimmy Marr gave a presentation, titled “The National Socialist Movement: An Inside View of America’s Far-Right.” According to several accounts, Marr and other audience members in the room gave Nazi salutes.

Another Pacifica Forum meeting, titled “Everything You Wanted to Know about Pacifica Forum but were Afraid to Ask,” is scheduled today at 3 p.m. in the EMU Walnut Room. Some students are planning a counter-demonstration to protest the group’s alleged anti-Semitism.

Michael Williams, a member of Eugene’s Anti-Hate Task Force who has monitored the forum since 2003, said Marr “expressed serious concern that white DNA is not being safeguarded from pollution by other groups.”

The Pacifica Forum was founded in 1994 by Orval Etter, a retired University professor. Under a policy that gives former professors access to University space, the Forum enjoys free meeting space on campus.

The Forum was originally formed to discuss issues of pacifism and non-violence, but over the years several critics have come to think of the group as home to a few self-proclaimed white separatists who have held sway over much of its programming. It is now listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In recent years, the Forum has hosted several prominent Holocaust deniers, such as David Irving and Mark Weber, which sparked rounds of protest from community and campus Jewish groups.

Members of the Forum have neither confirmed nor denied that they are anti-Semites, but in April 2007, Etter told the Emerald that he had not bothered to confirm nor refute the accusations because criticism “gets us attention” and gives meetings “livelier spirit.”

In 2008, at the urging of Oregon Hillel, then-University President Dave Frohnmayer addressed the issue in a letter, calling forum members’ actions “gutter bigotry.” He went on to write:

“Groups such as this that use University facilities from time to time do not speak for the University of Oregon. Nor does the appearance of any invited speaker or the use of our facilities imply the institution’s endorsement, support, or even its moral indifference to the content of a message.”

University Vice President of Institutional Equity and Diversity Charles Martinez echoed Frohnmayer’s sentiments in a letter to the Eugene Weekly shortly after the Dec. 11 meeting.

“We are addressing our policies about how best to proceed with our mission and values while safeguarding the campus community and the values of free speech,” Martinez wrote. “While I strongly believe that the UO must defend the free exchange of ideas and promote intellectual inquiry, we have a greater responsibility to turn ideas into the discovery of knowledge in a manner that is inclusive and welcoming to all our students and the
communities we serve.”

In a phone interview, Martinez said that University President Richard Lariviere will be meeting later this month with members of the Anti-Hate Task Force to talk about the Forum’s content.

Martinez said the University values free speech and has no litmus test for groups seeking University space, but he questioned the Forum’s motives.

“Higher education really should be a place where there is this broad exchange of ideas,” he said. “On the other hand, is this what the Pacifica Forum does, and is this what happens at the meetings? My concern is that there is hate-mongering disguised as academic inquiry. If there is, we do as an institution and community have a responsibility to respond to it.”’

However, Pacifica Forum regular Billy Rojas, who spoke at the Forum’s Dec. 4 meeting about “Coal Strip Mining: America’s Worst Environmental Problem,” sharply disagreed with critics’ charges against the group.

“Today’s PF is not the same Forum as 2007 or 2006 or 2005 or any previous years, no matter what Michael Williams may say,” Rojas wrote in an e-mail. “Yet Williams persistently cites incidents from the pre-2008 past, which are mostly irrelevant for 2008-09, as if they have major importance. Actually, at the recommendation of the group’s founder, University emeritus professor Orval Etter, Pacifica set out on a new course starting on Aug. 1 of 2008, with focus on free speech and education.”

Williams, however, said hateful content at the meetings is rarely, if ever, countered and has in fact grown more frequent over the last few years.

“The Pacifica Forum’s topics have broadened to include bigotry against Latinos, blacks, Muslims, homosexuals,” Williams said. “You name a group that is a typical target of far right-wing hate, and the forum has had a program on it. And while there may be dissidents among some of the regulars, the programs continue.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Attack on Hampshire College Highlights NY Times Book Review’s Rightward Shift

by Randy Shaw | Jan. 07‚ 2010

As newspaper book review sections shrink or disappear, editors must make tough choices. In the case of the Sunday New York Times Book Review, this has meant promoting books with conservative messages while largely ignoring those with progressive political themes. A particularly egregious example occurred on January 3, when the Times ran a laudatory review of an over-the-top attack on Hampshire College. Hampshire is an “alternative” liberal arts school whose notable alumni includes filmmaker Ken Burns, National Yiddish Book Center founder Aaron Lansky, and Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt founder and CEO Gary Hirshberg.

Although the reviewer described the book’s author as a member of a “despised fringe group” at Hampshire — which should have raised flags about his credibility — the review highlighted the book’s depiction of Hampshire as “a laboratory of self-mythologizing.” The reviewer also condescendingly refers to Hampshire students as among the “East Coast hippie majority” — despite the book’s setting in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The only reason to review such an obscure memoir is to denigrate a liberal institution, which has become all too typical in the New York Times Book Review section.

Anyone paying close attention to the Sunday New York Times would notice a trend away from reviews of contemporary political books, particularly those that offer progressive perspectives on current politics and/or social movements. The Times has developed a particular attraction to celebrity bios, while offering lengthy front-page reviews of books about such conservative icons as Ayn Rand and William F. Buckley. ...

The Truth About Hampshire College

Why would the Times use its scarce Book Review space to promote a memoir about an author’s random small college experience in the late 80’s and early 90’s? Because Times’ editors clearly see Hampshire College as one of those 60’s era institutions that refuses to change with the times, and must be prodded to do so by the Times’ promoting books that mock such throwbacks. ...

Randy Shaw is the author of Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century.


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Fate of Blacks in Nazi Germany

During the Third Reich, Germany had a small black community, yet relatively little is known about their life in the Nazi era. Deutsche Welle takes a look at survival strategies under Hitler's oppressive regime.

Deutsche Welle | 10.01.2010

Between 20,000 - 25,000 blacks lived in Nazi Germany under Hitler's rule. When asked about blacks in the Third Reich, Germans are most likely to talk about the Afrika Schau. In his book, "Hitler's Black Victims," American University researcher, Dr. Clarence Lusane writes that the Africa Schau was a traveling show that began in 1936. The show's owners were Juliette Tipner, whose mother was from Liberia and her white husband, Adolph Hillerkus. The aim of their spectacle was to showcase African culture in Germany.

In 1940, the Afrika Schau was taken over by the SS and Joseph Goebbels who "were hoping that it would become useful not only for propaganda and ideological purposes but also as a way to gather all the blacks in the country under one tent," writes Lusane. For blacks who joined the Afrika Schau, it became a means of survival in Nazi Germany.

Duke University historian, Dr. Tina Campt, whose research deals with the African Diaspora in Germany said that "it was possible that blacks who were involved in it used it for purposes that were not the intention of those who organized it. So if the Afrika Schau dehumanized people, there were ways that blacks involved in it could use it as an opportunity to make money, as a site to connect to other black people," she told Deutsche Welle.

However, the show was unsuccessful and was shut down in 1941. Also, it could not gather all the blacks in the country under one tent possibly because it only accepted dark-skinned blacks who appealed to the stereotype of what was considered African.

The fate of the "Rhineland Bastards"

Most of the light-skinned blacks living in Germany during the Third Reich were of mixed blood, and a good number of them were the children of French-African occupation soldiers and German women in the Rhineland. The existence of these children is and remains common knowledge because they were mentioned in Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle"). In Nazi Germany, the derogatory term, Rheinlandbastard (Rhineland Bastard), was used to describe them.

Deutsche Welle spoke to leading German historian Prof. Reiner Pommerin to find out what happened to these children. "I published a book in the 70s, which told the reader about the sterilization of mixed blood children. These were children who had been fathered by occupation forces - mostly French occupation forces," he said. His book, "Sterilisierung der Rheinlandbastarde. Das Schicksal einer farbigen deutschen Minderheit 1918 - 1937" ("Sterilization of the Rhineland Bastards: the fate of a colored German minority 1918 - 1937") publicized the sterilization of the Black minority in Nazi Germany.

Prior to the publication of the book in 1979, this information was unknown to the public. The sterilization of biracial children was carried out secretly because it went against 1938 Nazi laws and procedures. The exact numbers remain unknown, but it is estimated that 400 children of mixed blood were sterilized - most without their knowledge, Pommerin said.

Today, the fate of the "Rhineland Bastards" still remains largely unknown. The lack of public knowledge regarding their fate may have to do with the "lack of public interest in minorities," said Pommerin. Campt attributes it to the secrecy behind the sterilization program and the nature of the Afrika Schau. "It has to do with the status of the Afrika Schau as a spectacle. So that was set up as a visual spectacle that was supposed to get people to notice something as a display. In that way, it was really publicized in order to get people to think about," she said.

Recognition of the black experience in Nazi Germany

According to Campt, the major difference between the experience of blacks and that of other groups in the Third Reich is the lack of a systematic Nazi extermination plan. Moreover, because of the small number of blacks living in Germany, few people are ready to recognize that there was even a population whose experience can be discussed.

Furthermore, there is little or no support in Germany for researchers working in this area. Unlike in the United States where research on minorities is well-funded due to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, "black German scholars who have been doing this work for years don't necessarily get the recognition on the basis of qualifications, on the basis of whether or not they are working within a certain kind of academic scholarly structure for the study of minority cultures," Campt said.

All the same, it should be noted that even though the publication of Pommerin's book on the sterilization of the "Rhineland Bastards" did not generate much public interest at the time, it received some attention from a German politician. The member of the Social Democratic Party asked if he could obtain the names of the victims, so that they could be compensated.

Pommerin told Deutsche Welle that "(the politician) wanted to hand over 3,000 German marks ($2,190). I knew where they were living, but I didn't want to bother these people because I could tell that this was more a political interest. And I could see the TV cameras standing in front of the house in the village and money is handed over. And all of a sudden the sensation is great in the village - here is someone who had been sterilized."

Author: Chiponda Chimbelu
Editor: Rob Mudge,,5065360,00.html

Also see: "Black Assimilation Nazi Style"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oliver Stone Suggests Hitler is 'Easy Scapegoat'

" ... The director ... said his intention was to broaden minds, delving into the funding of the Nazi party and how American corporations were involved in it. ... "
Oliver Stone, the controversial film director, is facing another backlash after suggesting that Hitler was made an "easy scapegoat" by history.

By Nick Allen in Los Angeles
Telegraph | 10 Jan 2010

Stone ... has made a new documentary series which he says will place historical figures including Hitler and Stalin "in context".

The director claimed many people in America did not understand the connection between the First World War and the Second World War and said his intention was to broaden minds, delving into the funding of the Nazi party and how American corporations were involved in it.

Stone said he did not want to make an "easy" history programme and talked about trying to understand people he despises. His series will aim to uncover little reported facts that shaped the modern United States.

Professor Peter Kuznick, the lead writer on the series, said the programme would not portray Hitler in a more positive light, but would describe him as a historical phenomenon rather than "somebody who appeared out of nowhere".

Stone has courted controversy before, most notably in his film JFK which suggested a high level conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. He has also polarised opinion with controversial films about President George W Bush, and Fidel Castro, the former Cuban leader.

Stone said his latest series would show history from an internationalist, rather than an American, point of view. That included a "complete other story" about how Stalin had fought against the German war machine more than anyone.

The director said he fully expected to face a backlash from conservative pundits.

He said: "Obviously, Rush Limbaugh is not going to like this history and, as usual, we're going to get those kind of ignorant attacks." Stone, 63, who won Oscars for directing Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, also won a Purple Heart for his own military service in Vietnam.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Reformatted Mirror of AC's Blacklist (In Progress) for Researchers

The mirror of AC's Blacklist is organized by topic for researchers and writers, and it has a more efficient search engine, among other developments in the blender. Every post from the Blacklist is mirrored at the new one and categorized - ALEX CONSTANTINE'S BLACKLIST (MIRROR):