Liberation of Paris in WW2 orchestrated by the Allies to be ‘whites only’

Papers unearthed by the BBC reveal that British and American commanders ensured that the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 was seen as a “whites only” victory.

The leader of the Free French forces, Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that he wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris. Allied High Command agreed, but only on one condition: De Gaulle’s division must not contain any black soldiers.

In January 1944 Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, Major General Walter Bedell Smith, was to write in a memo stamped, “confidential”: “It is more desirable that the division mentioned above consist of white personnel. This would indicate the Second Armoured Division, which with only one fourth native personnel, is the only French division operationally available that could be made one hundred percent white.”

At the time America segregated its own troops along racial lines and did not allow black GIs to fight alongside their white comrades until the late stages of the war.

Given the fact that Britain did not segregate its forces and had a large and valued Indian army, one might have expected London to object to such a racist policy. Yet this does not appear to have been the case…

Finding an all-white division that was available proved to be impossible due to the enormous contribution made to the French Army by West African conscripts. So, Allied Command insisted that all black soldiers be taken out and replaced by white ones from other units.

When it became clear that there were not enough white soldiers to fill the gaps, soldiers from parts of North Africa and the Middle East were used instead. In the end, nearly everyone was happy. De Gaulle got his wish to have a French division lead the liberation of Paris, even though the shortage of white troops meant that many of his men were actually Spanish.

I doubt if the average American soldier, today, knows much about his service’s racist past. It took the Marines to break the color barrier in the U.S. military. And a number of years for the other services to catch up.

Next-gen iPod Touch to gain 80211.n wireless

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The next iterations of the iPhone and iPod Touch are likely to have 802.11n wireless radios inside, offering lower power consumption, longer range and faster data rates. More importantly, it will mean that you can hook your handheld up to your n-enabled home network and not slow everything else down.

This news comes from detailed, painstaking and probably tiring study of the 3.0 iPhone firmware, revealing an iPod Touch resource file which shows a change from the current Broadcom BCM4325 wireless chip to the newer BCM4329. This chip also supports Bluetooth and FM radio, although expect this last to be disabled on Apple hardware.

Of course, if the Touch gets 802.11n, the iPhone will almost certainly get it too. This move would put all current Apple hardware on the n specification, a curious fact given the very recent upgrade to the Airport base-stations allowing simultaneous b/g and n networking.

I wish I could get the whole family up to “N” speed. I keep a 2nd router set-up subsidiary to my primary wireless network – just to handle the folks running “G” – even 1 laptop running “B” that shows up visiting once in a while.

That way my AppleTV and MacBook in the living room don’t get hobbled.

Associated Press ready to be new RIAA? Sue Google, sue every blog?

The Associated Press has unveiled rate cuts to help member newspapers reeling from declining advertising revenue and said that it would sue websites that used its members’ articles without permission.

The changes the AP announced at its annual meeting in San Diego include a new $35 million in rate assessment reductions for 2010, on top of $30 million it had already instituted for 2009.

The AP further threatened to “pursue legal and legislative actions” against websites that do not properly license news content, and plans to develop a system to track its members’ news distributed online to determine whether it is being legally used.

We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories,” Singleton said…

While the AP did not name Google, many newspapers resent the popular search website because they say it siphons away ad revenue that should be going to their own websites instead of to sites like Google’s and Yahoo’s…

Some newspapers threatened to cancel their membership, prompting the AP to try to find ways to keep them. One new option the wire service is offering is a limited service for papers “with minimal world and national coverage needs.”

Diarists like me are a primo target – though, I wonder if they’ll take the RIAA path and sue retired old individual cranks like me? Or go after the heavy hitters?

I’ll keep my eyes open for a response from the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

Skeleton found in tree 29 years after suicide

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The skeleton of a German retiree who tied himself to the top of a tree and shot himself to death nearly 30 years ago has been found by a hiker.

German police in the southern town of Landshut said on Monday the 69-year-old man disappeared in 1980 and had been classified as missing.

An 18-year-old hiker discovered a bone in the forest last week and brought it to police. They searched the area and spotted the skeleton hanging about 11 meters up, near the top of the spruce tree.

“After searching the area we found the skeleton up in the tree with the pistol hanging on a rope next to it,” police spokesman Leonard Mayer said. Police were able to identify the man through DNA testing and an artificial hip.

Kind of gives new meaning to “hanging out in the woods”, eh?

Alternative Energy helps government do a better, quieter job of surveillance

Nearly undetectable from the ground, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are widely used by the military to scan terrain for possible threats and intelligence. Now, fuel cell powered UAVs are taking flight as an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored program to help tactical decision-makers gather critical information more efficiently… and more quietly…

In particular, the Ion Tiger UAV tests a hydrogen-powered fuel cell design, which can travel farther and carry heavier payloads than earlier battery-powered designs. Ion Tiger employs stealthy characteristics due to its small size, reduced noise, low heat signature and zero emissions…

Fuel cells create an electrical current when they convert hydrogen and oxygen into water and are pollution-free. A fuel cell propulsion system can also deliver potentially twice the efficiency of an internal combustion engine – while running more quietly and with greater endurance…

This spring, Ion Tiger’s flight trial is expected to exceed the duration of previous flights seven-fold.

The inevitable question returns: how well will oversight govern use of devices like this for domestic spying?

Do you think Cheney moles in the NSA and elsewhere won’t be tracking the Big Brother potential?

Speaking to parliament, Obama praises Turkey as East-West bridge


Daylife/Getty Images

President Obama, directly addressing a majority Muslim country for the first time in his presidency, said Monday that the United States “would never be at war with Islam.”

In a wide-ranging speech before the Turkish Parliament in the capital, Ankara, Mr. Obama extended his campaign of outreach to the Muslim world, painting himself as a man who understands it and would seek to build a bridge between Islam and the West.

“America’s relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not just be based on opposition to Al Qaeda,” he said. “We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect.”

He drew applause when he said, “The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam…”

But Mr. Obama, who has become increasingly confident and sure-footed as his one-week maiden overseas trip is drawing to a close, is seeking to use Turkey as an example of the type of relationship that can be struck between the United States and a Muslim country. Turkey is a secular Muslim democracy that is pivotal to American foreign policy goals from Iraq to Afghanistan to Middle East peace.

Mr. Obama also threw his weight firmly behind Turkey’s accession to the European Union, an issue that has split Europe, with France and Germany lobbying against it. “Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports Turkey’s bid to become a member of the European Union,” Mr. Obama said. “We speak not as members of the E.U., but as close friends of Turkey and Europe.”

The differences between Obama and all preceding modern American presidents are striking. If you think outside the ever-diminishing box of nationalism, you recognize the contribution made on behalf of the educated portion of America and the larger portion of the American population that rejects mean-spirited, fearful ideology.

I have critical differences with the Obama platform, most especially in the Middle East, most often over what I perceive as his opportunism towards America’s religious communities. So what? Those differences can be debated on the relevant issues. Having a president who respects science and realpolitik, who considers other nations to be capable of profound thought and leadership is such a welcome change from the fools who defame the meaning of the words, “American Conservative”.

What kind of university agonizes over the commencement address being delivered by the President of the United States?

If you answered “Catholic” – you’d be correct.


Daylife/Getty Images

President Obama will speak at Notre Dame’s commencement on May 17. That is an honor to some, but an outrage to others.

Some alumni have called the campus saying they have thrown away their Fighting Irish sweatshirts in disgust. The local bishop, John D’Arcy, has vowed to boycott the graduation ceremony. A visiting high school senior, Halley Chavey, who said she was thrilled just weeks ago to be accepted here, said she might reject the offer because the college was hosting “the most pro-abortion president we’ve ever had…”

“Most of us are like, ‘Wow, the president of the United States is coming,’ ” said Brett Ensor, a Texas native who belongs to the Knights of Columbus, opposes abortion and voted for Mr. Obama’s Republican opponent, Senator John McCain. “What college wouldn’t want Obama to come? This is a tremendous honor for us…”

Notre Dame is regarded as an academic powerhouse and conservative Catholic bastion. But in a mock election here in November, Mr. Obama defeated Mr. McCain among students by about 11 percentage points. He won roughly the same margin of victory among Catholic voters in the national election…

In the view of the Rev. Richard McBrien, a prominent liberal theologian at Notre Dame, the commotion over Mr. Obama centers not on faith, but on politics.

“This crowd,” Mr. McBrien said, referring to conservative Catholics, “are simply Republicans who are upset that Obama won the election — and they want to pick a fight.”

Pretty accurate characterization of American Catholics in the article. Including their divergence from monocultural obedience as practiced by the Vatican. If this was a Catholic university in Italy, the invitation would never have been allowed.

A Coffin, a Flag, a Photograph – coming home

For the first time in 18 years, the Pentagon granted the news media access on Sunday night to cover the arrival of a coffin to Dover Air Force Base from overseas.

The coffin, draped in a flag and bearing the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers of Hopewell, Va, was unloaded from a government aircraft by the military honor guard. Sergeant Myers, 30, was killed by an improvised explosive device near Helmand Province in Afghanistan on April 4, according to the Defense Department.

A ban on news coverage of returning war dead, which had been in place since the Persian Gulf War in 1991, was lifted by the Obama administration following a review of the policy by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

In the hours leading up to the transfer of Sergeant Myers’s corpse, Air Force officials received the consent of his family members — per the new policy — to grant members of the news media permission to be on hand.

Welcome home, Sergeant Myers.

I.B.M. withdraws offer for Sun Microsystems


Daylife/AP Photo

I.B.M. has withdrawn its $7 billion bid for Sun Microsystems on Sunday, one day after Sun’s board balked at a reduced offer.

The deal’s collapse after weeks of negotiations raises questions about Sun’s next step, since the I.B.M. offer was far above the value of the Silicon Valley company’s shares when news of the I.B.M. offer first surfaced last month. Sun, an innovative pioneer in computer workstations, servers and Internet-era software, has struggled in recent years and spent months trying to secure a suitor.

With I.B.M. and others shying away from a deal, a bruised Sun could be forced to continue pursuing a solo business model whose prospects have been questioned by many analysts…

I.B.M. had a team of more than 100 lawyers conducting due-diligence research on potential problems in a purchase of Sun, ranging from antitrust concerns to Sun’s contracts with employees and I.B.M. competitors.

After the legal review, I.B.M. shaved its offer Saturday from $9.55 a share, the proposal on the table late last week, to $9.40 a share, said one person familiar with the talks. The offer was presented to Sun’s board on Saturday, and the board balked. The Sun board did not reject the offer outright, but wanted certain guarantees that the I.B.M. side considered “onerous,” according to that person.

Har! Almost as sharp as Yahoo.