Before the CIA, there was the Pond
-- a highly secret, unacknowledged, and semi-autonomous intelligence agency created by the US military in 1942 as an alternative to the OSS. According the Associated Press, "The organization counted among its exploits an attempt to negotiate the surrender of Germany with Hermann Goering, one of Adolf Hitler's top military leaders, more than six months before the war ended; an effort to enlist mobster Charles 'Lucky' Luciano in a plot to assassinate Italian dictator Benito Mussolini; identifying the location of the German heavy water plants doing atomic research in Norway; and providing advance information on Russia's first atomic bomb explosion." But the CIA says that its record was "largely one of failure and impermanence
posted by twirlip
on Aug 3, 2010 -
Twenty years ago this month, the nearly 700 mile border between East and West Germany started to disappear. "The fence is long gone, and the no-man's land where it stood now is part of Europe's biggest nature preserve. The once-deadly border area is alive with songbirds nesting in crumbling watchtowers, foxes hiding in weedy fortifications and animals not seen here for years, such as elk and lynx. But one species is boycotting the reunified animal kingdom: red deer
." According to the Bavarian National Forest Park Service, scientists
[link in German] have recorded nearly 11,000 GPS locations for 'Ahornia," a red deer who appears to never enter the Czech Republic.
posted by webhund
on Nov 4, 2009 -
New Documents from the Soviet Archives
reveal that as the Warsaw Pact was falling apart, Margaret Thatcher called Gorbachev to inform him that:
The reunification of Germany is not in the interests of Britain and Western Europe. It might look different from public pronouncements, in official communiqué at Nato meetings, but it is not worth paying ones attention to it. We do not want a united Germany. This would have led to a change to post-war borders and we can not allow that because such development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security.
In the same way, a destabilisation of Eastern Europe and breakdown of the Warsaw Pact are also not in our interests.
This backs up assertions from former German Chancellor Kohl's new memoir
that Thatcher put up obstacles to German Re-unification, fearing the rise of a Fourth Reich.
posted by empath
on Sep 10, 2009 -
By 17 October, the day of the Soviet Moon landing, tension had risen. Czechoslovakian and Hungarian troops were said to be massing on the border with Austria. Soviet fighters had been harassing civil aircraft in the Berlin corridors, causing an American airliner to crash.
What was once the most secret British government document is released to the public on Tuesday. The Government War Book, used during the Cold War, set out in great detail exactly what would happen in the days before nuclear weapons were fired.
Prof Peter Hennessy
describes the War Book
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar
on Jun 23, 2009 -
For Graham Greene he was "unquestionably our best thriller writer". John le Carré once called him "the source on which we all draw". With the six novels he wrote in the years leading up to the second world war - five of which have just been reissued by Penguin Modern Classics - Eric Ambler revitalised the British thriller, rescuing the genre from the jingoistic clutches of third-rate imitators of John Buchan, and recasting it in a more realist, nuanced and leftishly intelligent - not to mention exciting - mould.
- The writing of Eric Ambler
posted by Artw
on Jun 6, 2009 -
Lost in Space: What really happened to Russia's missing cosmonauts? An incredible tale of space hacking, espionage and death in the lonely reaches of space.
"There are those who believe that somewhere in the vast blackness of space, about nine billion miles from the Sun, the first human is about to cross the boundary of our Solar System into interstellar space. His body, perfectly preserved, is frozen at –270 degrees C (–454ºF); his tiny capsule has been silently sailing away from the Earth at 18,000 mph (29,000km/h) for the last 45 years. He is the original lost cosmonaut, whose rocket went up and, instead of coming back down, just kept on going." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Apr 30, 2009 -
Photographer Paul Shambroom has spent the last sixteen years documenting a much-discussed but little seen aspect of American foreign policy -- our nuclear arsenal
. [more inside]
posted by puckish
on Dec 10, 2008 -
More subprime collateral damage. Iceland's now getting a $5B bailout
from Russia. What does Russia want in return
? Access to shipping lanes? The old US base? via
posted by blahblah
on Oct 7, 2008 -
This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with
nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of
casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you
further information as soon as possible.
- The BBC releases
for use in the event of nuclear war
posted by Artw
on Oct 2, 2008 -
Twenty years ago this week, the biggest escape ever over the Berlin Wall took place
, but the event
went nearly unreported outside of the two Germanies. The 182 persons who jumped over the Wall in the early morning hours of 1 July 1988, instead of leaving East Germany, fled in the opposite direction
(scroll down to "Wolfgang Ritter"
) to escape the West Berlin police. East German border guards waited with trucks on the other side of the Wall in the middle of the death strip to pick up the wall-hopping protesters; they were driven to another location, served breakfast, and then taken to the Friedrichsstrasse crossing to West Berlin with the admonition to "use the usual border crossing next time." [more inside]
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy
on Jul 3, 2008 -
It stands as one of the more unusual turning points of the Cold War, thanks mostly to the surprise appearance of several naked middle-aged women. Taking The Cure
: How a group of British Columbian anarchists inspired democracy in Russia. [more inside]
posted by amyms
on May 13, 2008 -
Milo Radulovich, RIP
--thrown out of the Air Force during the Red Scares, he fought back--Radulovich's case (and the new medium of TV) showed millions the impact McCarthy was having and the absurd lengths he was going to. He himself wasn't ever accused of being a Communist himself tho: [more inside]
posted by amberglow
on Nov 21, 2007 -
- India's second-highest peak
, at 25,645 feet (7816m), sits in a "sanctuary," surrounded by 21,000-foot+ lesser mountains. This has made it even more of a challenge to climb. Among those who took up the challenge were a 1965 CIA team
trying to set up a plutonium-powered device to spy on China's nuclear testing program. That expedition
retreated in the face of bad weather, leaving the device on the mountain. When they returned the next spring, it was gone. The Nanda Devi Sanctuary supplies water to the Ganges River, and there were fears that the four pounds of plutonium in the device could escape into the watershed. Those fears have been confirmed
posted by Kirth Gerson
on Aug 28, 2007 -
In 1965, Peter Watkins produced a fictional documentary called The War Game
in which the aftermath of thermo-nuclear attacks in Britain was depicted. The BBC declared that it was "too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting"
and was not aired until 1985. Watch it here
(warning: graphic depictions of effects of radiation).
Related, When the Wind Blows
, 6, 7
), a sober animated tale of a British couple who try and survive nuclear holocaust based on the civil defense manual "Protect and Survive." (Previously
posted by champthom
on Jun 14, 2007 -
Tales from the DEW Line.
In the mid-50's, the Distant Early Warning, or DEW Line
, a series of radar stations along the 69th paralell, began scanning the arctic skies for signs of soviet bombers. Though cut off from direct contact with civilization, and often hoping that nothing would happen, staffers of these remote outposts still found plenty worth writing about or photographing (1
posted by Durhey
on Feb 2, 2007 -
At the end of the Korean War, James Veneris
was an American POW awaiting repatriation. But when his time came, he—along with twenty other Americans and a Briton
—declined to leave and chose to cast his lot with Mao and the Chinese Communist Party. Over time, almost all of these men became disillusioned with Marxism and eventually returned to their homelands
. The Cold War that informed their decisions has become a chapter in the history books but the story of Western defectors to the Communist bloc is just now being written.
posted by jason's_planet
on Jan 4, 2007 -
Diary of a Collapsing Superpower
- "Seventeen years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, and two years later the Soviet Union broke apart. More than 1,400 minutes published earlier this month in Russia from meetings that took place behind the closed doors of the Politburo in Moscow read like a thriller from the highest levels of the Kremlin. They reveal Mikhail Gorbachev as a party chief who had to fight bitterly for his reforms and ultimately lost his battle. But in doing so, he changed the course of history and helped bring an end to the Cold War."
posted by Gyan
on Nov 28, 2006 -