Dec. 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor Attack Footage

Video of original footage of the Declaration of War to Japan

This footage of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was shot by CWO4 Clyde Daughtry. The attack occured at exactly 7:55 a.m. Hawaii Time. The original footage has since been lost, and the poor quality of this footage is due to the fact that it is a copy, and believed to be the best remaining version of this film in existence. Among the many valuable portions of this footage are shots of USS Nevada (BB-36) underway and firing back at Japanese aircraft, USS Oglala (CM-4) rolling over and sinking, and USS St. Louis underway (CL-4). Naval History and Heritage Command, Photographic Section, UM-10.

The Lord’s Resistance Army: End Game?

Ugandan districts affected by Lords Resistance...
Image via Wikipedia

Nairobi/Brussels, 17 November 2011 (via International Crisis Group): Insufficient political will has thwarted regional efforts to stop the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but vigorous diplomacy led by the African Union (AU), an immediate military push and complementary civilian initiatives could end the misery of thousands.

The Lord’s Resistance Army: End Game?, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, explains why Uganda’s half-hearted three-year offensive has failed to eliminate Joseph Kony‘s guerrilla band and why there is now a new window of opportunity. Since peace talks with the erstwhile northern Ugandan insurgency collapsed and a first assault on Kony’s camps was botched in late 2008, the Ugandan army has been trying to catch scattered groups of fighters along the borders of DR Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. In that period, the LRA, now only a small but deadly criminal and terror band, has killed some 2,400 civilians, abducted some 3,400 and caused 440,000 to flee homes.

“The reasons for the military failure are at root political; Ugandan President Museveni scaled down the anti-LRA mission to pursue other ventures that would win him greater political capital at home and abroad”, says Ned Dalby, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Analyst. “Since the LRA no longer poses a threat to northern Uganda, few opposition politicians or community leaders there demand Museveni finish it off”.

Uganda’s efforts to pursue combatants in DRC have been dogged by the host army’s refusal to cooperate and grant access to LRA-affected areas. Uganda invaded DRC in the late 1990s, plundered its natural resources and earned President Joseph Kabila‘s lasting mistrust. CAR President François Bozizé, equally suspicious, has insisted the Ugandans leave diamond mining areas in his country.

At the request of some members, the AU stepped forward and said it would authorise a counter-LRA mission. It plans to appoint a special envoy to smooth relations between Kinshasa and Kampala and create new military structures to improve coordination between the armies. However, planning has foundered due to political constraints and the African body’s limited capacity.

The Ugandan army, with its record of abuse and failure to protect civilians is an imperfect vehicle, distrusted in the area. Kampala’s commitment now that the LRA no longer directly endangers its interests is reason for scepticism it has the will to see the job through. But a military operation combined with civilian efforts to entice surrenders remains the most feasible solution, and the Ugandans are the only troops at hand for this. The U.S. is strengthening its political and military engagement, including by sending several score advisers to help them in the field on a short-term basis. Kony is believed to be in the CAR. Before he crosses back into DRC and while U.S. support is strong, the Ugandan army should make an urgent military push, prioritising civilian protection, humanitarian access, better coordination and strict accountability.

To ensure dividends, the AU must live up to its responsibilities as guarantor of continental security and oversee a multi-dimensional regional initiative, continuing after Kony’s death or capture. It should appoint quickly a special envoy to rally the political commitment of Uganda and the three affected states and introduce a common operational and legal framework for the military operation, keyed to civilian protection, thus giving continent-wide legitimacy. Uganda and the U.S. should fold their efforts into the initiative.

“The LRA issue illustrates the desperate need for African and international actors to fulfil their responsibility to protect”, says Thierry Vircoulon, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director. “Ensuring complementarity between the political and military actions of all stakeholders is key to their success and to ending a 24-year-long history of violence”.

Executive Summary | Full PDF report |

Free Webinar: Is there a moral way to go to war or fight a war?

  • When: Thursday, November 17th
  • Time: 1 PM Eastern (7 pm +1GMT)
  • Hosted by: Atlas Society
Standing by on a hilltop, Soldiers with the 10...
Image via Wikipedia

The Iraq war is winding down, but NATO remains heavily engaged in an ugly guerrilla war in Afghanistan. And the U.S. launches drone strikes against civilians world-wide as part of the “War on Terror.”

In this webinar, William R Thomas will discuss justice in the context of war-fighting.

  • Should there be restrictions on weapons or tactics?
  • Is there a workable distinction between combatants and non-combatants?

To answer these questions we need to ask what the goals of war-fighting are and how justice in wartime differs from justice in the normal context of life.

This interactive webinar will consist in a live slide-show with audio presentation that will run about 30 minutes. Then William Thomas will discuss questions from the audience. There’s time for everyone’s questions to be answered.

Space is allocated first-come, first-served.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: www3.gotomeeting.com/register/199696406

October 30, 1938: Space invaders By Jon Blackwell / The Trentonian

Original Audio: On Halloween eve in 1938, the power of radio was on full display when a dramatization of the science-fiction novel “The War of the Worlds” scared the daylights out of many of CBS radio’s nighttime listeners.

  Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem … those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars!

The broadcast news that Sunday night, Oct. 30, 1938, sounded real enough to the young man in Plainsboro. Up and down his block he banged on doors, shrieking: “The Martians have landed in Grovers Mill! It’s on the radio!”

Panic struck the youth choir rehearsing within the Plainsboro Presbyterian Church when they heard his message of doom. Grovers Mill was only a few miles south, and, if you believed the bulletins, the Martians with their death rays had already incinerated the place, killed thousands of humans and begun advancing north at a spectacular clip.

But Mabel “Lolly” Dey, a 16-year-old girl playing the piano, kept calm.

“I bowed my head and prayed and thought to myself, ‘If it has to be the end of the world, I couldn’t be in a better place,” Dey, now 76, recalled. “I’m in the house of the Lord.”

Like young Lolly Dey, as many as 2 million other people from coast to coast thought they were under attack from outer space.

If only they had checked carefully against their Sunday paper’s radio section.

There, under the listing for 8 p.m. programs, was the entry for CBS — “Play: ‘War of the Worlds,’ Mercury Theater.”

“War of the Worlds” was a pure Halloween spoof, and the destruction of Grovers Mill was as fake as the alien beings with drooling faces and slimy tentacles. How the radio hoax got believed was largely due to the creative mischief of a single showman: Orson Welles.

At age 23, he was a bad boy of Broadway, prodigious in his drinking, eating and sleeping around. But he was also a “Boy Genius,” a director hailed for innovative stagings: “Macbeth” starring an all-black cast, “Julius Caesar” in modern dress.

His talent for radio drama was in demand, too, as the sinister voice of “The Shadow” on radio, and as the mastermind of CBS’ “Mercury Theater,” a Sunday night show featuring adaptations of classic plays and books.

Welles was fascinated with radio as a powerfully direct medium for entertainment and news. When Hitler threatened war in September 1938, Americans tuned in to hear the chilling news of English schoolchildren donning gas masks for war drills. Then the British prime minister declared he had achieved “peace in our time,” and everyone breathed easier. At least for a time.

By the fall of ’38, Mercury Theater was getting trounced in the ratings. Its competition at 8 p.m. Sunday was NBC’s ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his smart-aleck dummy, Charlie McCarthy. Welles needed an attention-grabber. He found it in “War of the Worlds.”

“War of the Worlds” was an H.G. Wells science fiction novel written 40 years earlier about a Martian invasion of England. It was exciting stuff, but Orson Welles wanted more urgency, more immediacy. He ordered his scriptwriters to update the setting to modern-day America and present it in a novel form — as a news broadcast.

Screenplay writer Howard Koch had only a week, and a $75 paycheck, to write the scenario. For realism, he placed the cosmic battle in what he thought of as the very prosaic state of New Jersey. On a road map, he dropped a pencil to determine the precise landing site: it fell on Grovers Mill, a hamlet in West Windsor Township.

At 7:58 p.m., Oct. 30, Welles slugged down a bottle of pineapple juice, mounted a podium in the center of his New York studio, clamped on a set of headphones, and gave his announcer the signal to start the show.

Maisy Curtis was just settling into the couch of her living room in Merchantville. She had kissed her fiance goodnight about 7:45 and saw him off as he drove back to his home in Hightstown, where he taught school. Now she, her mom and two sisters tuned into the radio and stopped the dial when they heard some breezy Spanish-style dance music.

Breaking into the music, an authoritative voice announced:

  Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin … several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring in regular intervals on the planet Mars … moving towards the earth with tremendous velocity.

What did it mean? Well, here was “Professor Richard Pierson, famous Princeton astronomer,” a man with a voice very similar to Orson Welles, to explain it. Nothing to worry about, he said, since there’s no life on Mars.

But another bulletin crackled through, something about a meteorite landing with the force of an earthquake 20 miles north of Trenton. Live from the Wilmuth farm, there was reporter “Carl Phillips.”

   The object doesn’t look very much like a meteor … It looks more like a huge cylinder … the metal casing is definitely extraterrestrial … Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed! Someone’s crawling out of the hollow top!

In her living room, Maisy Curtis’ father stirred uneasily. Someone mentioned something about Maisy’s boyfriend passing near Grovers Mill. Would this delay his trip home?

Driving with his girlfriend near Newark, a gas-station operator named Archie Burbank pulled over to listen, uncertain what it meant. And at Princeton, where there was no such person as a Prof. Pierson on the faculty, a group of geology students thought it sounded like the adventure of the lifetime — so they drove off for Grovers Mill, two miles away.

   Something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a grey snake! Now it’s another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me … The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips … There’s a jet of flame! It’s coming this way!

For an excruciating few seconds, silence. Then, another bulletin: 40 people dead! All of Mercer and Middlesex counties under martial law!

Desperate phone calls poured into Trenton police. Overwhelmed dispatchers tried to calm the men and women on the other line, telling them there was no sign of emergency. One woman in Grovers Mill was inconsolable. “You can’t imagine the horror of it!” she shrieked. “It’s hell!”

The Associated Press flashed a bulletin to all member papers: Reports of an emergency in New Jersey are false.

   Ladies and gentleman, I have a grave announcement to make. The battle which took place at Grovers Mill has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by an army in modern times.

One hundred and twenty known survivors. The rest strewn over the battle area from Grovers Mill to Plainsboro crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster, or burned to death by its heat ray.

The young geology students from Princeton arrived at Grovers Mill to see dark sky, twinkling stars and dead silence — in short, no sign of cosmic warfare.

But already, a makeshift posse of farmers with squirrel guns and shotguns were forming around the mill pond off Cranbury Road. One legend has them blasting away at what they thought was a craft from Mars, only to discover in daylight they had been shooting at a water tower.

“I was crying,” recalled Maisy Curtis. “I was frantic for my fiancee and I was hearing all about these strange invaders destroying everything. My father disappeared into the bedroom and came back with some rosary beads. We just knelt and prayed.”

In her church in Plainsboro, Lolly Dey was praying too, and pondering what was causing this great catastrophe. “I had been learning in high school about Hitler and his plans to take over the world,” she said. “And it just made sense that maybe these Martians were Hitler’s allies.”

  The enemy now turns east, crossing Passaic River into the Jersey marshes. … Their apparent objective is to crush resistance, paralyze communication, and disorganize human society.

Warning! Poisonous black smoke pouring in from Jersey marshes!

Gas! Radio listeners who had followed the European crisis knew what to do: filter the air with a wet fabric. All over New York, damp towels hung from tenement windows. A woman in Pittsburgh tried to swallow poison and was stopped by her husband. “I’d rather die this way!” she screamed.

Near Newark, Archie Burbank and his girlfriend ran to a man’s house, asking to be let into his cellar. “I don’t have any cellar! Get away!” he yelled back. They drove to a gas station to fill up the tank and drive off as far as they could … then realized they might want to call the Newark Evening News for information. The man at the newspaper told them it was a radio play.

Welles was still directing from his center podium, furiously cueing actors and sound effects and trying to ignore the cops banging on the studio’s front door. CBS executive Taylor Davidson demanded he break into the program to calm down all the scared listeners.

“They’re scared?” Welles shot back. “Good! They’re supposed to be scared!”

   No more defenses! Our army wiped out! This is the end now.

Seeing no sign of the apocalypse outside her church window, Lolly Dey walked the six houses back home. “I told my mom about the Martians,” Dey recalled. “But by then, she had the radio on too and we figured out it was all a show.”

Orson Welles and his crew sneaked out the back of their studio to avoid the crush of reporters and lawmen who wanted a word with them. The next day, however, he put on as ingenuous a face as possible and apologized. “We are deeply shocked and deeply regretful,” he said. Hadn’t he known about the panic he was creating? “Oh, no, no, no, no.”

The notoriety of “War of the Worlds” gave the boy genius the capital he needed to make his debut movie, “Citizen Kane” — an epic that was named the greatest American film of all time last year in an American Film Institute poll. Scriptwriter Howard Koch would write “Casablanca,” the No. 2 movie on the list.

For a long time, the people of Grovers Mill grumbled about “War of the Worlds” as a mean-spirited joke. With time, however, the legend of the Martian invasion grew more remote, humorous, and worthy of commemoration. For the 50th anniversary of the infamous broadcast in 1988, West Windsor erected a bronze plaque at Van Nest Park depicting Welles, his fictional aliens and a frightened family huddled around a radio set.

The guest speaker was Koch, who was hailed not as a hoaxer but as a sci-fi pioneer. Koch, in turn, gracefully said he did the men from Mars “an injustice” by depicting them as earth-destroyers.

“I believe,” he said, “if ever living beings arrive at Grovers Mill from another planet, they will have the wisdom to come in peace and friendship.”

Article via: Capital Century

Egypt and the first modern factories

Today I had an epiphany in Economic History thanks to Ph.D. Isa Blumi who gave a lecture on “The Ottoman Legacy: Socio-Economic Dynamics and the Origins of Modern Politics” emphasizing the economic history of Egypt and The Ottoman Empire during the 18th. and 19th Centuries.

The first great argument was rooted in how Egypt had been already transforming its economy and society long before The Napoleonic French Campaign (1798-1801).  As well, he made very clear how Napoleon’s interest in acquiring Egypt’s wheat was much more important than posing for a picture in front of the Sphinx. He explained the consequences of this invasion and the resulting liberation of Egypt by the genious of Muhammad Ali Pasha.

The epiphany to my research interest came when he localized the first modern factory 2,500 miles away from the cities of Derby, Birmingham and Manchester. Most surely, researching this argument would surely enlighten the current historiography of Economic History and establish more roots of entrepreneurial activity, innovation and mass production in the Middle East.  Doing this will also disentail the roots of the creation of Wealth from the Eurocentric historigraphy that has been in fact characterized by its antipodes: mercantilism, patrimonialism and altruism.

If you are interested in learning more of this subjects here are recommended readings that Professor Blumi shared with me:

Libyan Strongman Muammar Gaddafi Falls

Free Libya - Saturday Is Always A Day Of Prote...
Image by infomatique via Flickr

Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.

This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so the invasion and destruction of a dictratorship does not give the invader the right to establish another variant of a slave society in the conquered country.” Ayn RandThe Virtue of Selfishness, 104

Gaddafi came into power as an assassin and terrorist. He started out murdering, continued murdering and had been going out murdering until today.  His death is no panacea but it is surely a victory for the Libyan people and their 2011 Revolution.

Starting in February 15th, 2011 a series of peaceful protests asked for change in the country and they were met with military force by the Gaddafi regime.  Thousands were hurt and killed. Gaddafi proclaimed his despotic discourse that same night and said that the only way he was going to leave Libya was going to be in a cuffing.  Indeed, that’s how he will leave the history of the country.

The fight for Libyans has not finished; loyalists around the Algerian and Nigerian borders are still present and the opposition continues.

I celebrate the capture of this dictator and our attention needs to be focused now in the continues shipping of supplies of medicine, fuel and food were for Libya’s urban centres.  As the philosopher Ayn Rand mentioned in the quote with which I begun this post; it is necessary as well, that we keep a close attention to the outcome of this Libyan revolution in order to avoid that another variant of a slave society in the conquered country with national or international control.

Syria on the road to chaos?

Last night I attended a lecture titled “Syria on the Road to Democracy or Chaos?” by Ph.D. Candidate Mohammad Maghout hosted by the Institute of Oriental Studies in Leipzig University.  The lecture was an overview of the last 20 years of political oppression and autocrat government in Syria.  The speaker emphasized how Bashar al-Asad was an exact continuation of the government his father, Hafiz al-Asad held in Syria from 1970 to 2001.

Maghout explained that in Syria the government was not only feared but that a cult of reverence toward the al-Asad regime had being built.  He explained that in the 40 years of autocratic regime the regime had amassed its power upon a pyramidal network of tribal, religious and economic leaders that belonged to different ethnic groups and tribes.  In Maghout’s reasoning, it was these ethnic and tribal differences one of the key elements that allowed for the Syrian government to control the population while confronting them every time political tensions appeared.  Indeed, these confrontations were evident after the the 2011 Syrian uprising (from January 26th to March 15th of 2011) and as Salman Shaikh wrote yesterday in the NYTimes (Preventing a Syrian Civil War. NYT. October 12th, 2011), it is these ethnic confrontations and sectarianism that could bring Syria into chaos.

One thing was left without a clear answer from Maghout’s lecture.  It was the question on “why didn’t Syrians react to all the lies, political oppression and corruption of the al-Asad regime previously”.  Maghout explained that Syrians were not only divided in ethnic groups that conflicted within their understanding on “Who Syrians really are”, but that it had passed already too many years of fear for government’s power that brought the population to fear political activity and the use of freedom of speech to protest against government.  While this is true, I consider it not to be sufficient reason.

It may be necessary to understand which was the role (or lack of it) of the economic leaders during the unrest.  I am sure that understanding how crony capitalism works could bring some interesting tools to understand what is the effect of privileges in a society. And as such, could be a valuable tool to understand how can the results of these social movements be differentiated.  The participation of crony capitalists protecting corrupt governments and the participation of entrepreneurs is psycho-epistemological different because of the goals they aim to achieve.  It is entrepreneurs who most often support (economically and logistically) social movements that demand freedom of speech, equality of rights, an end to corruption and the respect of private property.

Photograph: AFP/Getty Images