The National Archives released 1,000 declassified documents on the 1940 Katyn Forest Massacre on Monday. In case you’re not up on your mid-century atrocities, Katyn was a mass slaughter of 22,000 Polish military officials and members of the intelligentsia committed by the Soviet secret police.
When the mass graves were discovered in 1943, the Soviets crossed their fingers behind their backs and pinned the blame on the Nazis. (Silver lining to proximity to an aggressive regime committing genocide and crimes against humanity on an unprecedented scale: No one really bats an eye when the odd extra atrocity gets entered on their side of the ledger.) When that went off without a hitch, the Soviets decided shame was for chumps, and attempted to get the Katyn Forest Massacre added to the list of charges at Nuremberg.
Although a number of investigations suggested that the Soviets were the true perpetrators, neither the U.S. nor the U.K. challenged their account, either at the time or in the half century that followed. U.S. government officials maintained that they “did not possess the facts that could clearly refute the Soviets’ allegations that these crimes were committed by the Third Reich” until the 1990 official Russian admission of guilt.
Turns out, they lied.
The newly released documents show clearly that the U.S. government not only had evidence as early as 1943 that the Nazis could not have committed the massacre, but made a deliberate decision to suppress it and continued to do so for fifty years after the wartime rationale of maintaining the Allied alliance disappeared. If that doesn’t earn a resounding “WTF,” I don’t know what does.
tl;dr of this NATO press release about aerial drones aerial surveillance planes patrolling European skies: ”Nice Euro 2012 Championship you have there. Sure would be a shame if anything were to happen to it… *cracks knuckles menacingly*”
“Not many people would immediately associate NATO with the Euro 2012 Football Championship. But NATO’s “Eye in the Sky”, the AWACS (Airborne Warning & Control System) will be playing an important role in the security of the European teams’ competition over the next three weeks.
As a consequence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, NATO governments have been able to request the air surveillance and control capability of NATO AWACS to assist with security for major public events. Poland, as co-host of the competition along with Ukraine, is the latest NATO member to make such a request. [...]
So as football fans prepare to watch their national teams battle against each other in the Euro 2012 tournament, they can be reassured that some of their fellow citizens are united in ensuring the security of the competition.
In related news, a pioneering Dutch technologist has created the “Orvillecopter,” believed to be the world’s first feline-based drone.
Reports that the Taliban have begun stockpiling cans of tuna remain unconfirmed.
(h/t for the NATO story goes to Ania Zolkiewska, whose football-watching humanitarian friends passed on the article.)
Update: Peter Doerrie informs us via Twitter that “an AWACS is NOT a drone. It is a plane with a pretty big crew and a giant radar on top.” After following his exhortation to “check Wikipedia,” I have concluded that he is correct, and updated this post accordingly.
Hey all. It is with great sadness that I write this post, my “retirement” post. Over the past few years I have had a great time doing “WTF Friday,” working with Amanda and Kate, and interacting with our readers. I have learned so much and had a really great time. Thank you to our readers for your support and criticism. I hope to pop back in every once in a while so you guys will probably continue to hear from me whether you like it or not. Thanks again!
“Others recount being warned by white neighbors not to slaughter animals for festive occasions, or being mistaken for a prostitute simply for having drinks in a bar full of white patrons.” Wow. #capetowndoessoundawesome.
“Give freedom to children around the world through the stats of your favorite baseball players. For example, you can pledge $1 every time Matt Holliday hits a home run, or you can give $5 for every game your favorite team wins.” Pressure’s on guys. I know it’s early in the season but you better start playing well or these humans are gonna get trafficked all summer long.
“Not only President Chavez but certainly his supporters and certainly the people handling his political campaign are taking full advantage of [his illness]. And I think it would be crazy for them not to do so.” Yea, that’s what would be crazy.
This is kind of the perfect set-up. Nick Cage hasn’t done a prison movie since 1997, and I think we all know how well that went.
“An exhibition of guns as art now in Mexico is making its way from Mexico to the United States, where many of the weapons presumably originated.” I think the ATF just set those guns free because they loved them so much, hoping that they would come back one day, thus reciprocating the love.
I kind of feel like I’m gonna jinx this if I talk about it.
“Sirleaf came under fire after the Guardian published a video interview in which she is asked about decriminalising homosexuality and replies: ‘We like ourselves the way we are.’” I assume I’m not the only one who sees the irony of this statement.
This week in first world problems: “‘It’s not cheap like it used to be,’ laments Dale Weathington of Kolcraft, an American firm that uses contract manufacturers to make prams in southern China. Labour costs have surged by 20% a year for the past four years, he grumbles (emphasis mine).” This sounds like the curmudgeonest dude in history. Also I’m pretty sure he makes an imaginary product.
“Sixteen civilians [have] been killed in a shooting spree by a U.S. officer stationed in Afghanistan…The incident is the latest in a series of widely publicized self-inflicted setbacks for U.S. forces in recent months. In February, Qurans were mistakenly burned as garbage at a military base in Afghanistan, which led to deadly riots. In January, a video of U.S. forces urinating on Taliban corpses surfaced on the Internet.” Reaction from Newt Gingrich: “We’re not prepared to be ruthless enough.” Just so everybody has it straight, to Newt Gingrich, massacring civilians and pissing on corpses counts as not ruthless enough.
After years of American rappers doing it or resisting it metaphorically, Swazilanders are literally throwing rocks at the throne.
“The Taylor aide believes that his boss is not on trial for crimes in Liberia but rather in Sierra Leone and, therefore, he deserves his pension benefits as former head of state here.” Honestly I think it’s messed up that he had to export his war crimes just so he could get his pension. The game is rigged.
This is just about the antithesis of Kate and Amanda’s article at The Atlantic (shameless plug). Giving “why not” as a justification? Check. Hyperbole about the power of social media and “awareness?” Check. Totally predictable opinion (from a teenager) about whether Kony is chill or unchill? Check. (Spoiler: hes goes with “terrible”). Baselessly optimistic prediction? I think we have a winner.
Thanks to Shelby Grossman for pointing out some highlights of the Viktor Bout interview for those of us who don’t have a New Yorker subscription. “We learn that Bout researched the FARC before the meeting with undercover DEA agents, and arrived in Thailand with a copy of Lonely Planet: Colombia.” I’ll definitely be hitting the newsstand for this asap.
I don’t mean to go all “domestic” on you guys, but this man is too epic of an asshole to ignore (though I really should). Highlights:
“Arpaio, vowing that no troublemakers would be released on his watch because of overcrowding, procured a consignment of Army-surplus tents and had them set up, surrounded by barbed wire, in an industrial area in southwest Phoenix. ‘I put them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,’ he told me.”
“He banned cigarettes from his jails. Skin magazines. Movies. Coffee. Hot lunches. Salt and pepper—Arpaio estimated that he saved taxpayers thirty thousand dollars a year by removing salt and pepper.”
“Why the Weather Channel, a British reporter once asked. ‘So these morons will know how hot it’s going to be while they are working on my chain gangs.’”
“He got a tank from the Army, had the howitzer muzzle painted with flames, and “Sheriff Arpaio’s War on Drugs” emblazoned on the sides, and rode in it, with Ava, in the Fiesta Bowl Parade.”
“A federal investigation found that deputies had used stun guns on prisoners already strapped into a “restraint chair.”
“He meant a press release. The Sheriff gathered eight or nine aides around a big table in his office. ‘Illegal Immigration Breeds Crime, Disease,’ Arpaio suggested.”
“The public-health specialist said gently, ‘Surgical masks do nothing to combat this virus.’ Arpaio erupted. ‘This is my press release! I’m the sheriff! I have some knowledge! I’m not just some little old sheriff!’”
“In 2005, he forced nearly seven hundred prisoners, wearing nothing but pink underwear and flip-flops, to shuffle four blocks through the Arizona heat, pink-handcuffed together, to a new jail. When they arrived, one prisoner was made to cut a pink ribbon for the cameras. This elaborate degradation, which is remembered fondly by Sheriff Joe’s fans, was ostensibly in the name of security—the men were strip-searched both before and after the march. But Arpaio also told reporters, ‘I put them on the street so everybody could see them.’”
No there is one strategy and it is called “freedom.”
“Church officials promote what they call ‘natural’ family planning: women are advised to track their cycle and abstain from sex on all but their least fertile days.” I gotta get in on the ground floor of some fertility mood rings.
“…photographing mosques, eavesdropping on conversations inside shops, and keeping files on Muslims who Americanized their names — amounted to looking around, ‘just to kind of get familiar with what’s going on. We don’t target individuals based on race and religion,’ [Bloomberg] said.” Yea, I mean Muslims going to mosques and Americanizing their names, that’s just stuff that’s “going on” in New York. So I just hope they have a huge file on Jeremy Lin cuz that’s what’s really going on in New York.