The son of a Soviet-aligned American journalist involved in arms control. An investigative reporter who counted a young Donald J. Trump among his subjects. The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations. A founding father of the CIA. A photojournalist who made the post-Cold War period his signature. They all died this year.


This is the year when a total siege on Western liberal, democratic institutions took place in earnest. The gains of the last year by the aligned forces of billionaire plutocrats, populist-sounding politicians, the Russian mafia state, and international organized crime syndicates operating with and independently of states were solidified and successfully compromised the values and sovereignty of nations with money and by acts of thuggery. The institutions that once served as bedrocks for much of the twentieth century, along with several of the personalities below who help shaped them, retired in some form or fashion in the past year. As Arthur Koestler wrote, “History had a slow pulse; man counted in years, history in generations.” 2017 really was the year the twenty first century did not go gently into that good night.


TRUMPISTAN WATCH presents the names and lives of those who helped shape our historical present and who are no longer with us as of the past year. Some may be familiar, others you may be hearing of for the first time. The goal here is not to immortalize the fallen. After all, they have by the time of their death proven they are mortals in all the strength and weakness that entails, each to a varying degree unique to their person, temperament, role in life and generation. Besides some are real scoundrels, genuinely evil types, while others provide the gentle reminders that humanity requires from time to time to survive and endure. It may be obvious why the inclusion of some but not others.


The goal with TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s 2017 in memoriam ultimately is that history not be forgotten with the passing generations of time, as it will be inevitably. As Milan Kundera wrote, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” This was a year unlike any other. Never forget.



American scientist, rights activist + son of I.F. Stone

(November 23, 1935 – January 1, 2017 in Carlsbad, Caifornia)

The New York Times reports, “Jeremy J. Stone, a mathematician whose ideas about minimizing the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe influenced arms-control negotiators in the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, died” adding, “He was 81,” and “The cause was heart failure”. The New York Times notes, “Mr. Stone’s focus on arms reduction began in 1963 with what he called ‘an electric thought’: If the Soviets could be persuaded not to build a missile defense system, then perhaps the United States could be persuaded not to build one of its own.” The New York Times adds, “It was a counterintuitive argument: that national missile defenses could encourage both sides to build more offensive weapons. But it was central to the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which limited the number, type and placement of missiles that the United States and the Soviet Union could deploy to shoot down attacking nuclear missiles.” The New York Times recalls, “During the debate over the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars, the space-based missile defense system pushed by President Ronald Reagan, Mr. Stone told a meeting of Soviet scientists in 1985 in Moscow that disarmament was the best response to the White House plan.” Of note, “His father was I. F. Stone, the radical journalist who published the muckraking newsletter I. F. Stone’s Weekly.” As The New York Times explains, “Mr. Stone never wanted to be a journalist like his father, whose views twice jeopardized the son’s security clearance”.

From The New York Times.



Polish Sociologist + Philosopher
(November 19, 1925 in Poznan – January 9, 2017, Leeds, England)

The Guardian reports, “In a book published in 2000, the Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who has died aged 91, deployed a metaphor since taken up by the anti-globalisation movement around the world. Liquid Modernity analysed the disappearance of the solid structures and institutions that once provided the stable foundations for well-ordered modern societies, and the consequences for individuals and communities.” According to Bauman, “argued that our ‘liquid modern’ world was unable to stand still and keep its shape for long.” The Guardian notes, “An increasing polarisation between the elite and the rest, our growing tolerance of ever-expanding inequalities, and a separation between power and politics remained constant themes in his writings – in all he produced more than 60 books. As the state and the market vie for supremacy within the space of global capitalism, the fate of poor and vulnerable people assumes particular importance. As he put it: ‘When elephants fight, pity the grass.’” The Guardian adds, “His best-known book, Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), provided a stark warning of the genocidal potential latent within every modern bureaucratic society to privilege process, order and efficiency over morals, responsibility and care for the other.” The Guardian notes, “Bauman declined to profess any concrete solution to our common plight. But he retained a commitment to a form of socialism that remained counter-cultural, even when an avowedly socialist government was pulling the levers of power. He believed that a truly good society was one that could never be satisfied that it was good enough.” Bauman has a heroic moral foundation as “A native of Poznań, in western central Poland, he was first a victim of the Nazis, then the communists. The son of Moritz Bauman, an accountant, and his wife, Sophia (nee Cohn), he fled with his family at the outbreak of the second world war to the Soviet Union, and was awarded Poland’s Military Cross of Valour for fighting against the Nazis.” He was “exiled as a consequence of an antisemitic campaign by the ruling communist regime,” in 1968 and “became a refugee for a second time and his experiences of poverty, marginalisation and exile led him towards an explicitly morally driven sociology.”

From The Guardian.



Village Voice journalist + early Trump biographer

(July 11, 1945 in New Britain, Connecticut – January 19, 2017 in New York City)

The New York Times reports, “Wayne Barrett, the muckraking Village Voice columnist who carved out a four-decade career tilting at developers, landlords and politicians, among them Donald J. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 71.” He died on the eve of Trump’s sparsely attended Inauguration. The New York Times notes, “Mr. Barrett spent 37 years at The Voice”. The New York Times adds, “A 1992 book, ‘Trump: The Deals and the Downfall,’ was, as Mr. Barrett acknowledged, a flop at first. Thanks to his subject’s improbable political ascent 25 years later, it was successfully republished and expanded in 2016 as ‘Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention.’ Mr. Barrett’s voluminous background files from the Trump biography, and his professional courtesy, made his Brooklyn home a mecca for investigative reporters during the recent presidential campaign.” The New York Times recalls, “after crashing one of Mr. Trump’s birthday parties to see who had been invited, he was arrested by the Atlantic City police and charged with trespassing.” The Village Voice adds, “Barrett was among the first to see Trump as a significant figure in New York, but even he was surprised by Trump’s success in the campaign. When we spoke to him in July of 2015, he wasn’t sure Trump was even serious about the run, speculating that it was more of a branding exercise.” The Village Voice reports, “during Barrett’s earliest reporting in 1979, Trump was still Trump; he both threatened Barrett with a lawsuit and subtly attempted to bribe him. At the time, Barrett lived in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, where he’d been a schoolteacher. As Barrett recalled it last summer: ‘He says to me, in the interview, “You know, Wayne, you don’t have to live in Brownsville. I can get you an apartment.” So he had the bribery and the threat thing flowing full scale.’” The Washington Post adds, “Mr. Barrett was a journalistic institution in New York, where he was dreaded if not loathed by the same public officials who, in occasional unguarded moments, conceded a certain respect for his intellect and doggedness on the trail,” and notes how, “He dredged from the past such reports as the imprisonment at Sing Sing of Harold Giuliani, the father of former New York mayor and federal prosecutor Rudolph W. Giuliani, for the armed robbery of a milkman in 1934.”

From The New York Times, The Village Voice and The Washington Post.



Czech physician, rights activist + former political prisoner

(November 13, 1923 in Opocno, Czechoslovakia – January 20, 2017 in Pardubice, Czech Republic)

Radio Praha reports, “The head of the Confederation of Political Prisoners, Naděžda Kavalírová, has died at the age of 93. Mrs Kavalírová was actively involved in the resistance against the Communist regime. After the Communist takeover in 1948 she was expelled from the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague because of her membership in the National Socialist Party. In 1956 she was convicted of treason, and espionage and spent three years in prison. Since 2003, Mrs. Kavlírová was the chairwoman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and between the years 2007 and 2013 she also headed the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.”

From Radio Praha.



Russian, Soviet writer, dissident, émigré + translator

(November 26, 1928 in Moscow – January 22, 2017 in Brooklyn)

The Telegraph reports, “Lev Navrozov, who has died aged 88, was a Russian author, historian, translator and polemicist who left the Soviet Union for the United States in 1972 and in 1975 published an eye-opening memoir, The Education of Lev Navrozov, which became a bestseller and established him as a leading Russian dissident.” The Telegraph adds, “Saul Bellow, who became a friend, used Navrozov as the model for a modern Russian dissident thinker in two of his novels,” as his work came “At a time when some die-hards in the West still believed in the communist paradise behind the Iron Curtain”. The Telegraph notes, “Navrozov’s book introduced American readers to what it feels like to live in a ‘serf-state’ where brutality, torture and lies become normalised and day to day life is so far removed from the experience of the free world as to be almost unimaginable.”

From The Telegraph.



Secretary to Joseph Goebbels + broadcaster

(January 11, 1911 in Berlin – January 27, 2017 in Munich)

The Guardan reports, “Brunhilde Pomsel, a former secretary to the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and one of the last people alive who had close contact with the Nazi leadership, has died at the age of 106. Pomsel died in her sleep in Munich”. The Guardian notes, “She spent three years working for Hitler’s close confidante right up until his death on 1 May 1945, when Goebbels and his wife, Magda, poisoned their six children before killing themselves. Pomsel, who had accompanied the Goebbels into Hitler’s bunker in the dying days of the Nazi regime, described being ‘dumbstruck’ on hearing the news. She told the makers of the documentary, A German Life, which is due to open in British cinemas later this year: ‘I will never forgive Goebbels for what he did to the world or for the fact that he murdered his innocent children.’” The Guardian adds, “It was possibly the closest she got to expressing any regret for her role in the Nazi death machine. Her job required her, alongside everyday administrative tasks, to systematically alter statistics, such as reducing the numbers of German soldiers who had been killed in the war and increasing the number of rapes said to have been perpetrated on German women by Red Army soldiers. But still she concluded more than seven decades later: ‘Really, I didn’t do anything other than type in Goebbels’ office.’” In her last interview in 2016, she told The Guardian, “Those people nowadays who say they would have stood up against the Nazis – I believe they are sincere in meaning that, but believe me, most of them wouldn’t have.” The New York Times notes, “Ms. Pomsel insisted that she had been ignorant of Nazi atrocities during the war. She said it was not until after her return home from imprisonment that she learned of the Holocaust, which she called t’he matter of the Jews.’” Ultimately, Pomsel “was consistently unrepentant, saying she had nothing to apologize for,” The New York Times concludes.

From The Guardian and The New York Times.



Danish resistance traitor + war criminal

(February 23, 1924 in Aarhus, Denmark – January 2017 in Sweden)

The Copenhagen Post reports, “Grethe Bartram, who grassed up 53 Danish resistance fighters in Aarhus to the Nazis during World War II, has died at the age of 92. The woman reported her own husband, father and other people she knew to the Gestapo during the Occupation. Of the 53 resistance fighters she snitched on, eight died, 15 were tortured and 35 ended up in German concentration camps. Bartram was given the death penalty after the war, but was pardoned and eventually released in 1956. She also reportedly survived an assassination attempt in late 1944.”

From The Copenhagen Post.



Danish resistance

(August 23, 1919 – February 19, 2017)

The Copenhagen Post reports, “The famous Danish Resistance fighter Jørgen Kieler was sentenced to death during the German occupation of Denmark in 1944 for his work with the resistance group Holger Danske. He escaped execution and was instead sent to the concentration camp at Porta Westfalica near Neuengamme, from which he returned home in 1945, going on to outstay his death sentence for over 70 years.” The Copenhagen Post notes how, “Both Kieler and his brother were sentenced to death and wound up in the camp,” adding, “They were near death when they were finally rescued by the famed white buses of the Swedish duke.” The Copenhagen Post adds, “Back in Denmark, Kieler resumed his medical studies and became a doctor in 1947. He devoted his life as a doctor to the fight against cancer. Both at the Fibiger Laboratory, where he worked from 1953, and then as head of research at the Cancer Society from 1980. In 1984, he was named head of the Fibiger Institute.” The Copenhaden Post notes, “Kieler kept his resistance work quiet for many years until he was persuaded to break his silence by his friend Eli Wiesel, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.”

From The Copenhagen Post.



Russian Ambassador to the United Nations

(February 21, 1952 in Moscow – February 20, 2017 in New York City)

The New York Medical Examiners Office announced, “The cause and manner of death of the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations [Vitaly Churkin] needs to be studied further.” Surprise, surprise. Is it possible Ambassador Churkin died of something other than “natural causes”?  Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin died a day before his 65th birthday while at work at the Russian Mission to the UN. In a eulogy delivered at his funeral in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “Today, we are saying farewell to our friend, an outstanding diplomat, man, Vitaly was the best professional and a national diplomat.” Putin posthumously awarded Churkin an Order of Courage medal, which was displayed at the coffin, according to ABC News. Meanwhile, Russia’s state-run Pravda has a story with a headline, “Was Russia’s Ambassador to UN Churkin poisoned?” The story offers plausible deniability deflecting the accusation of poisoning onto the U.S. media when in fact the mainstream media in the U.S. has been very cautious and promoted nothing of the sort. “For the time being, heart attack remains the official cause of his death,” Russian state-run Pravda asserts. Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power eulogized Churkin in The New York Times.
From CBS News, Russia Beyond the Headlines, Russian state-run TASSABC News Russian state-run Pravda and The New York Times.



Last Soviet National Security Advisor

(May 25, 1921 in Moscow – March 12, 2017 in Moscow)
The Gorbachev Foundation announced the death of Anatoly Chernyaev in Moscow at the age of 95. Chernyaev was Gorbachev’s National Security Advisor from March 1986 through the death of the Soviet Union in December 1991, a position currently occupied by Nikola Patrushev who has far less concern for the universal values of law, justice and human goodness. The National Security Archive describes him as “a transformative visionary for a demilitarized and democratic Soviet Union and a new Russia that tragically never came to be.” Chernyaev co-wrote Gorbachev’s most renowned speeches, including the “anti-Fulton” speech in December 1988 “that for many observers marked the actual end of the Cold War.” He was previously part of the close circle of foreign policy advisors to Soviet leaders Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko. In 2004, he donated his handwritten diaries to the National Security Archive in Washington, “in order to ensure permanent public access to this invaluable record beyond the reach of political uncertainties in contemporary Russia.”
From The National Security Archive and The Gorbachev Foundation.


Latvian singer and songwriter, Chicago Five Founder

(May 1, 1933 in Latvia – March 18, 2017 in Lombard, Illinois)

The Chicago Sun-Times reports on the death at 83 of Alberts Legzdins, “a soccer coach with the Lombard Park District and a production control manager at Reynolds Aluminum in McCook who was also back in Latvia, his homeland, a lion.” According to The Chicago Sun-Times and our Latvian friends will have to vouch for this one – Legzdins was “A well-known musician, he couldn’t walk down a street in Riga without being stopped for a handshake or autograph.” According to Professor Guntis Smidchens of the University of Washington, “He would be a person whose face everybody knew in the country, like the Beatles or Dylan or Joan Baez”. According to the Sun-Times, “In 1961, Mr. Legzdins co-founded Cikagas Piecisi — the Chicago Five. The group’s songs spoke of freedom, pride and longing for home while adapting to new lives in the Latvian diaspora. The music resonated in his native country and with Latvians scattered around the globe after World War II. Underground recordings were smuggled in to Latvia while it was under Soviet control after its forced annexation in 1940.” Latvian Ambassador to the US Andris Teikmanis said, “The tapes were not allowed because it was American truth. It was ‘the enemy’s group’ from this capitalist world.” Others such as Catalan Lluis Llach or more famously Chilean Victor Jara speak to the magnitude of song in resistance, and certainly the United States civil rights movement has a rich history of song in protests whether it’s Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” or Nina Simone’s “Revolution” or countless others. The heart and the soul in song know what the dictator can never: the dream goes on because of where it lives.
From The Chicago Sun-Times.


Russian politician, member of the State Duma shot in Ukraine
(April 10, 1971 in Gorky, Soviet Union – March 23, 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine)
A member of the Russian parliament, the Duma, Denis Voronenkov was murdered in Kyiv shortly after defecting there in 2016 from Russia with his wife, Maria Maksakova, also a politician and Bolshoi opera singer. The New York Times reports it is “the latest in a string of politically hued murders of critics of the Russian government abroad, going back more than a decade” and notes “The killing coincided with a fire and explosion at a gigantic Ukrainian Army ammunition depot in the country’s east that the authorities blamed on Russia.” The Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko “said a drone may have touched off the blast, near the city of Kharkiv, sending tank shells firing in all directions and forcing the evacuation of 20,000 people.” Poroshenko did not hesitate to apply the term “state terrorism” to the killing of Voronenkov. The New York Times notes, “In Kiev, the couple had kept a high profile, speaking out frequently against Russian policy in Ukraine. But the Russian authorities accused them of corruption and said they had left to avoid prosecution.” In his statement, Poroshenko also said of Voronenkov that he was “one of the main witnesses of Russian aggression against Ukraine.” A Ukrainian MP Anton Gerashchenko said Voronenkov “knew everything about everybody” and the broad daylight killing’s aim was “to show that anybody who wants to run away from Russia will be liquidated at any cost. Naturally Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called any accusations of Kremlin involvement “absurd.
From The New York Times.



Soviet Russian poet, writer, editor and director of several films

(July 18, 1933 in Zima, Soviet Union – April 1, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma)

The New York Times reports, “Yevgeny Yevtushenko, an internationally acclaimed poet with the charisma of an actor and the instincts of a politician whose defiant verse inspired a generation of young Russians in their fight against Stalinism during the Cold War, died on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., where he had been teaching for many years. He was 83.” The New York Times notes, “Mr. Yevtushenko’s poems of protest, often declaimed with sweeping gestures to thousands of excited admirers in public squares, sports stadiums and lecture halls, captured the tangled emotions of Russia’s young — hope, fear, anger and euphoric anticipation — as the country struggled to free itself from repression during the tense, confused years after Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953. In 1961 alone Mr. Yevtushenko gave 250 poetry readings.” The New York Times adds, “He was the best known of a small group of rebel poets and writers who brought hope to a young generation with poetry that took on totalitarian leaders, ideological zealots and timid bureaucrats.” However, The New York Times notes, “Mr. Yevtushenko did so working mostly within the system, however, taking care not to join the ranks of outright literary dissidents. By stopping short of the line between defiance and resistance, he enjoyed a measure of official approval that more daring dissidents came to resent.” This naturally lead to suspicion as “Some critics had doubts about his sincerity as a foe of tyranny. Some called him a sellout. A few enemies even suggested that he was merely posing as a protester to serve the security police or the Communist authorities. The exiled poet Joseph Brodsky once said of Mr. Yevtushenko, ‘He throws stones only in directions that are officially sanctioned and approved.’” However, in his poem “Babi Yar,” Yevtushenko took on how “Anti-Semitism lingered in the Kremlin after Stalin’s death.” The New York Times notes, “In a country ruled by Marxist myth, ostensibly free of bigotry, ‘Babi Yar’ touched nerves in the leadership, and it was amended to meet official objections. Even so, it moved audiences.” Another poem, “‘Stalin’s Heirs,’ published in 1962, also stirred Russians”.

From The New York Times.



American stenographer at the Nuremberg Trials

(December 28, 1919 in New York state – April 5, 2017 in Torrance, California)

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Alma Soller McLay, the last surviving member of the U.S. team that prosecuted many of the highest-ranking Nazi war criminals at the famed trials in Nuremberg, Germany, after World War II, has died at the age of 97.” The Los Angeles Times notes, “McLay is credited with later helping compile the official U.S. record of the trials, a painstaking four-year task that resulted in a 12-volume collection that offered many Americans their first unvarnished look at the atrocities committed by the Nazis and Adolf Hitler’s diabolic vision for rolling across the globe, enslaving and killing people as his troops advanced. A secretary by training, McLay was thrust onto the world stage at the age of 25 and asked to fulfill the role of documentarian for what would be the world’s first international criminal tribunal.” Can you imagine? Recall, “The Nuremberg trials became a postwar spectacle as 24 ranking Nazi officials were indicted for war crimes, conspiracy and crimes against humanity. Twelve were given death sentences, though one committed suicide and another was reportedly killed while trying to escape. The rest were hanged in a gymnasium near the courthouse. Most of the other defendants were given prison sentences.” It is also where TRUMPISTAN WATCH chose to spend day one of the Trump regime to be reminded of justice ultimately on the other end of this hell.

From The Los Angeles Times.



American intelligence officer + founding father of the CIA

(November 29, 1923 – April 6, 2017)

The Washington Post reports, “Benny Goodman and his band serenaded the guests as Hugh Montgomery slipped into the powder room in the Moscow residence of the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. The date was July 4, 1962 — Independence Day — and the musical entertainment had attracted Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to the ambassador’s festivities. Dr. Montgomery, a CIA officer posing as a diplomat, was there to receive a cache of documents from Oleg Penkovsky, a Soviet intelligence officer widely considered the most valuable double agent working for the West during the Cold War.” The Washington Post adds, “What transpired was “more ‘The Pink Panther’ than John le Carré,” a writer for U.S. News and World Report quipped decades later. To reach the tank, suspended up high, Dr. Montgomery first stood on the toilet seat, which cracked under his weight. He then climbed atop the sink, causing it to detach from the wall. He retrieved the documents — but only after soaking his sleeve in the toilet-tank water. Taking his wife by his wet arm, he escaped unnoticed.” The Washington Post reports, “Dr. Montgomery, who had darted behind German lines with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and became one of the most admired CIA officers of his generation, died April 6 at his home in McLean, Va.” The Washington Post adds, “Dr. Montgomery had retired at 90, after more than six decades in intelligence.” The Washington Post writes, “‘He really was the last link to the OSS and the very beginning of the American intelligence capability,’ former CIA director Leon E. Panetta said in an interview.” The Washington Post notes, “Dr. Montgomery brought to the CIA proficiency in eight languages and working knowledge of more.” The Washington Post adds, “Dr. Montgomery joined the CIA in 1952. In Berlin, he participated in operations involving the Berlin tunnel, burrowed by the CIA and British MI6 to tap Soviet communication lines. He later served as deputy station chief in Moscow” and “also served as station chief in Vienna and Rome. During the Reagan administration, he left the CIA to serve as director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and later as alternate U.S. representative to the United Nations for special political affairs, holding the rank of ambassador. Under CIA Director Robert M. Gates, Dr. Montgomery oversaw all foreign intelligence relationships. He later helped document and preserve the history of U.S. intelligence, both within the CIA and as chairman of the OSS Society. His awards included the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal.”

From The Washington Post.



American intelligence officer

(October 16, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri – April 30, 2017 in Dyke, Virginia)

The Washington Post reports, “Howard P. Hart, a daring CIA operative who ran the agency’s clandestine program arming Afghan fighters against Soviet forces in the early 1980s, died April 30 at his home in Dyke, Va., a community north of Charlottesville. He was 76.” The Washington Post notes, “Mr. Hart’s career placed him at the center of some of the most dramatic and dangerous events of his era in espionage. He was injured in Iran during the Islamic overthrow of the government and took part in the doomed U.S. commando mission to rescue American hostages. Later, he led the CIA’s foray into the Reagan-era war on drugs with a pioneering agency branch that teamed analysts with overseas operatives. He was best known for his role in overseeing secret arms shipments to Afghan militants through a covert CIA program aimed at ousting Soviet forces that occupied the country to prop up its Marxist government. The shipments, routed through Pakistan, escalated through the 1980s, ultimately forcing the wounded superpower to abandon Afghanistan.” The Washington Post notes, “In 1997, on the CIA’s 50th anniversary, the agency named Mr. Hart to the equivalent of its espionage dream team, putting his name on a list of 50 ‘trailblazers’ who had shaped its history.” His memoir is called “A Life for A Life”.

From The Washington Post.



American journalist with ABC News in Vietnam

(October 28, 1933 in New York City – May 2, 2017 in Naples, Florida)

The New York Times reports, “Anne Morrissy Merick, who as a television field producer persuaded the Pentagon to overturn an edict that prevented women in the press corps from covering combat during the Vietnam War, died on May 2 in Naples, Fla. She was 83.” The New York Times notes, “Even as a college student, Ms. Morrissy Merick began blazing trails for women. She was the first woman to be named sports editor of The Cornell Daily Sun and the first woman admitted to the press box at the Yale Bowl.” The New York Times recalls, “In Vietnam, Ms. Morrissy Merick was working in Saigon for ABC News in 1967 when General William C. Westmoreland, the United States commander there, was horrified to encounter Denby Fawcett, a 24-year-old reporter for The Honolulu Advertiser, embedded with American troops on a dangerous mission in the Central Highlands. Ms. Fawcett’s mother was a friend of the general’s wife. Fearing for their safety, General Westmoreland decided to bar female journalists from remaining overnight on the battlefield. In effect, his draft order would have handicapped them from covering combat, because in a guerrilla war, the front could materialize suddenly anywhere, and there was no assurance that journalists could be evacuated quickly.” The New York Times adds, “In response to the Westmoreland order, Ms. Morrissy Merick and Ann Bryan Mariano, an editor of Overseas Weekly, organized the half-dozen other women covering the war to join them in meeting with Phil G. Goulding, a deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, who was in Saigon, the South Vietnam capital (now Ho Chi Minh City). After an inconclusive meeting, he and Ms. Morrissy Merick adjourned for drinks in her hotel room, where she persuaded him to have Westmoreland’s edict reversed. (“And if you’re wondering if I slept with him, the answer is no!” she wrote in ‘War Torn: The Personal Experiences of Women Reporters in the Vietnam War,’ a collection of remembrances published in 2002.)”

From The New York Times.



Republican operative who died suspiciously after talking to a reporter

(February 23, 1936 in Portland, Maine – May 14, 2017 in Rochester, Minnesota)

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Before the 2016 presidential election, a longtime Republican opposition researcher,” Peter W. Smith, “mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers.” The Wall Street Journal adds, “with members of his circle and with others he tried to recruit to help him, the GOP operative, Peter W. Smith, implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn,” the ousted National Security Advisor and campaign aide to Trump. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Emails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest.” The Wall Street Journal reports, “Mr. Smith said he knew Mr. Flynn, but he never stated that Mr. Flynn was involved,” and Flynn denied requests for comment.  Curiously, “Mr. Smith died at age 81 on May 14, which was about 10 days after the Journal interviewed him. His account of the email search is believed to be his only public comment on it.” Smith told the paper, “We knew the people who had these were probably around the Russian government.” There was also contact with Flynn’s wingnut son Jr. it seems, who also declined to comment.  Smith was also the victim of Russian hackers once who leaked 2015 emails about efforts to replace John Boehner, the previous Speaker of the House before Paul Ryan, according to The Wall Street Journal.  The Wall Street Journal reports, “A longtime Republican activist,” the late Peter W. Smith, “who led an operation hoping to obtain Hillary Clinton emails from hackers listed senior members of the Trump campaign including some who now serve as top aides in the White House, in a recruitment document for his effort.” The document dated September 7, 2016. Peter W. Smith “and his associates said they were in touch with several groups of hackers, including two from Russia they suspected were tied to the Moscow government”.  The Chicago Tribune reports, “In a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, which includes a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.” Now wait for it: “In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that ‘NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER’ was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a ‘RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017’ and timing related ‘TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.’” As for The Wall Street Journal reporter who interviewed Peter Smith, Shane Harris tweeted, “When I spoke to Peter Smith I had no indication that he was ill or planning to take his own life.” CNN reports, “House and Senate investigators are turning their attention to a Republican operative’s hunt for Hillary Clinton’s private emails from Russian hackers — and his possible connections to senior members of the Trump campaign. The operative, Peter W. Smith, was an Illinois-based Republican activist who during the presidential campaign sought to obtain emails he believed were likely stolen by Russian hackers from Clinton’s private email server.”
From The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune and CNN.



Fox News President + sexual harassment icon

(May 15, 1940 in Warren, Ohio – May 18, 2017 in Palm Beach, Florida)

The Washington Post reports, “The medical examiner in Palm Beach County, Fla., said Mr. Ailes died of complications from a subdural hematoma after he fell at his residence there.” The head of Fox News and former Nixon aide is dead! Roger Ailes is dead! The world is a less secure and safe place because Roger Ailes existed. While journalists see themselves as truth tellers and often there is a modicum of hero worship around Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for bringing down Ailes’ former boss Nixon by uncovering the Watergate scandal, it is safe to say the true legacy of Watergate in our time was Ailes and Fox News. He could have constructed a news channel promoting a conservative world view not based on lies and bullshit, but that is not what he did, he went the wing nut route and converted millions of Americans to an extremist worldview based on paranoid delusions in the process. In 2000, Fox News prematurely called the election for George W. Bush. In 2016, Fox News lied to its viewers that the FBI had indicted Hillary Clinton after Comey’s memo to Congressional leaders reopened the investigation into her emails just before the election. Ailes molested and harassed his female employees and fired those who would not consent, and his network covered his tracks paying out millions in settlements to enable him.
From The Washington Post and POLITICO.


Photojournalist of conflicts from the Berlin Wall to the present

(February 14, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York – May 19, 2017 in Paris, France)

TIME reports, “Stanley Greene wasn’t just a war photographer—a label he both embraced and despised. He was also a poet who always searched for dignity, justice and larger truths in every one of his photographs. A passionate lover of life, he defied death across the years, whether on the front lines or at home.” TIME notes, “He was 68” when he died after “a long fight with cancer”. TIME recalls, “Born in 1949 in New York, he joined the Black Panthers in his teenage years and became an ardent anti-Vietnam War activist. His mentor, the great W. Eugene Smith, recognized this hunger for justice when Greene studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York, pushing the young man to channel it into photography.” TIME notes, “He was in East Berlin in 1989 when the wall fell.” Greene covered “the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union in Azerbaijan and Chechnya, which became an obsession. “‘Every time a magazine or newspaper offered Chechnya, I would go back,’ he wrote in Black Passport. ‘I’d go to Chechnya in a flash.’”

From TIME.



Carter’s National Security Advisor

(March 28, 1928 in Warsaw, Poland – May 26, 2017 in Virginia)
President Carter’s National Security Advisor died at the age of 89. POLITICO notes, Brzezinski “helped topple economic barriers between the Soviet Union, China and the West as President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser”. Brzezinski was “Born in Warsaw and educated in Canada and the United States,” and “was an acknowledged expert in Communism when he attracted the attention of U.S. policymakers. In the 1960s he was an adviser to John F. Kennedy and served in the Johnson administration.” In 1983, after his book, Power and Principle, came out, he told The Washington Post, “I have never believed in flattery or lying as a way of making it,” sentiments TRUMPISTAN WATCH shares. Brzezinski’s father was a Polish diplomat who served in France, Germany and Canada before retiring in 1944 when communists seized power in Poland. According to POLITICO, “Brzezinski’s climb to the top of the foreign policy community began at Canada’s McGill University, where he earned degrees in economics and political science. Later at Harvard, he received a doctorate in government, a fellowship and a publishing contract — for his thesis on Soviet purges as a permanent feature of totalitarianism.” POLITICO reports upon news of his passing, which was first shared by his daughter, MSNBC presenter Mika Brzezinski, former President George H.W. Bush and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft released a join statement that said in part Brzezinski was a “great American who served our nation with honor” and a “good man and a good friend.” Along with George F. Kennan, Brzezinski truly understood the dangers to humanity and liberty that the Soviet Union presented. I



Panamanian military ruler from 1983-1989

(February 11, 1934 in Panama City – May 29, 2017 in Panama City)

The Guardian reports, “Manuel Noriega, who has died aged 83, was the strongman military officer who was the de facto ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989. Throughout these years, he was closely involved with the CIA and the White House, allowing weapons to pass through Panama for use against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, and supplying information on Central American guerrilla movements. At the same time, he was linked to the Medellín drug cartel and the drug lord Pablo Escobar in Colombia, who used Panama as a staging post for trafficking to the US.” BBC News notes, “Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno was born in Panama City on 11 Feb 1934. His family lived in extreme poverty but he was adopted as a young boy and went on to study at a military academy in Peru. It was here that, according to various accounts, his pro-US leanings were noticed by the CIA with whom he worked for the next three decades. He was soon recognised as a prize asset in a region that was becoming politically hostile to US interests in the wake of the Cuban Revolution.” BBC adds, “He rose within the ranks of the Panamanian armed forces and became a key supporter of Gen Omar Torrijos, who led the coup which toppled President Arnulfo Arias in 1968.” Of his downfall, BBC recalls, “Noriega allegedly played a role in the mid-1980s Iran-Contra affair, which involved the smuggling of weapons and drugs to aid US undercover efforts to support the anti-government forces opposing the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.” But “the US became increasingly suspicious of Noriega amid indications that he was selling his services to other intelligence bodies, not to mention drug-trafficking organisations,” and “tensions became public in 1988 when Noriega was indicted in a US federal court on drug-trafficking charges.” The Guardian notes, “In September 1992 he was sentenced to 40 years in prison in the US for drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering. Imprisoned in Miami, he was treated as a prisoner of war, and accorded the privileges due to his rank as a four-star general, including a suite of rooms. In jail, he told a British journalist: “I have not changed my ideals, my patriotism, my nationalism, my concept of the US. I am not changed. I regret nothing.’” In the end, “Noriega was due to be released from prison in the US after serving 17 years of his sentence,” but “he faced charges of money laundering in France, and so in 2010 was flown directly from jail in Florida to Paris. This time he was sentenced to seven years. However, he was handed over to Panama a year later as he was also a wanted man there. After several years in El Renacer prison, near Panama City, he was released under house arrest early this year for an operation to remove a brain tumour.”

From The Guardian and BBC News.



Saudi billionaire, weapons dealer

(July 25, 1935 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia – June 6, 2017 in London)

The Guardian reports, “The life of Adnan Khashoggi, who has died aged 81, did not imitate art but prompted it. The sybaritic Saudi middleman inspired the image of the influential fixer who spent his days arranging huge arms deals and meeting presidents and tycoons, and his nights partying with beautiful women aboard yachts and planes or in palatial homes.” The Guardian recalls Khashoggi “spent like the world’s richest man: 12 homes, 1,000 suits, $70m on his third yacht and $40m on a customised Douglas DC-8 described as a flying Las Vegas discotheque. With Khashoggi – who loathed being described as an arms dealer – more was always more. But by the mid-1980s his influence had waned. His Triad business empire was bleeding cash. The only thing not in decline was his spending. Being Adnan Khashoggi still cost $250,000 a day. The planes, like the yachts and homes, soon went to pay creditors.” The Guardian notes, “Born in Mecca, Adnan was the eldest son of the personal physician to King Ibn Saud, founder of Saudi Arabia’s ruling dynasty.” Khashoggi explained corruption, “If you offer money to a government to influence it, that is corruption. But if someone receives money for services rendered afterwards, that is a commission”. But The Guardian observes, “US regulators did not see it that way. A 1975 US Senate inquiry revealed that Khashoggi had been paid $106m by Lockheed, $54m by Northrop and $23m by Raytheon. The French paid him $45m for a tank deal and the British $7m for helicopters. Lockheed later paid Khashoggi another $100m and Northrop a further $31m.” Khashoggi “did facilitate the 1986 Iran-Contra scandal, which saw 1,500 US missiles sold to Iran through Israel in a failed bid to free US hostages in Lebanon and millions illegally diverted to finance the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.” The Guardian adds, “Dropped by clients because he could no longer deliver lucrative Saudi business, Khashoggi spent the rest of his life pursued by creditors, regulators and prosecutors.” In terms of U.S. policy as it is relevant today, “Khashoggi’s legacy is the US 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which outlawed bribing foreign politicians or officials – in part a result of the disclosure of his activities on behalf of US companies. He spent his final years between Saudi Arabia and Monaco.”

From The Guardian.



Chancellor of West Germany + then unified Germany after 1989

(April 3, 1930 – June 16, 2017)

The New York Times reports, “Helmut Kohl, a towering postwar figure who reunified Germany after 45 years of Cold War antagonism, propelled a deeply held vision of Europe’s integration and earned plaudits from Moscow and Washington for his deft handling of the fall of the Berlin Wall, died on Friday at his home in Ludwigshafen, Germany, the Rhine port city where he was born. He was 87.” The New York Times notes, “With his diplomacy, resolve and readiness to commit huge sums to ending his country’s division, Mr. Kohl was remembered by many as a giant of epochal times that remade Europe’s political architecture, dismantled the minefields and watchtowers of the Iron Curtain and replaced the eyeball-to-eyeball armed confrontation between East and West with an enduring, if often challenged, coexistence between former sworn foes.” The New York Times adds, “Unlike many Germans, Mr. Kohl never shied from expressing pride in what he often called ‘this, our Fatherland,’ even when the phrase unsettled many who had suffered at his country’s hands in World War II. In dealing with the legacy of Germany’s Nazi past, Mr. Kohl, who was a 15-year-old member of the Hitler Youth when the war ended, invoked what he called ‘the absolution of late birth” so often as to offend some listeners.’” The New York Times notes, “A politician most of his adult life, Mr. Kohl was chancellor for 16 years starting in 1982, longer than any German leader since Bismarck. He ruled the Christian Democratic Union as if it were his fief. His political career ended with defeat, however, in elections in 1998, and his legacy was later clouded by disgrace over a party fund-raising scandal”. The New York Times recalls, “In his later years Mr. Kohl was seen as a diminished figure, infirm and in a wheelchair after a fall resulted in a head injury in 2008 that made speech difficult for him. Far from focusing on his achievements as one of Europe’s dominant statesmen, critics raked over his private life. His first wife, Hannelore Kohl, committed suicide in 2001, ostensibly because of a rare allergy to light, which had forced her into a nocturnal existence. In 2008, shortly after his fall, Mr. Kohl announced his intention to marry a companion, Maike Richter, 35 years his junior and a former economic adviser in the chancellery. She was later accused of limiting access to him and his archives.” His role in German history is profound as in 1990 on “Oct. 3, Mr. Kohl celebrated reunification with a fireworks demonstration in Berlin. It was the apogee of his career.”

From The New York Times.



KGB Spymaster who oversaw KGB illegals program from 1979-1991

(September 19, 1925 in Minsk – June 21, 2017 in Moscow)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Yury Drozdov, the Soviet spymaster who oversaw a sprawling network of KGB agents living clandestinely abroad, has died at the age of 91.” “Drozdov took part in the exchange of Soviet undercover agent Rudolf Abel, convicted in the United States, for downed U.S. spy-plane pilot Francis Gary Powers in 1962,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, adding, “The story was made into Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Bridge Of Spies in 2015 as well as the Soviet movie The Shield And The Sword, a 1968 classic that Russian President Vladimir Putin once said inspired him to join the KGB.” Drodzov served as the KGB Resident in the U.S. from 1975-1979. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “In 1979, he came to head a KGB department overseeing a network of elite undercover agents abroad known as ‘illegals,’ the job he held until resigning in 1991.” Putin offered condolences to the widow and Drodzov’s two sons on the Kremlin’s website calling him “a legendary spy” and “a true patriot”.
From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



French politician + Holocaust survivor, President of the European Parliament

(July 13, 1927 – June 30, 2017)

The Washington Post reports, “Simone Veil, a French survivor of the Holocaust who became one of her country’s most influential stateswomen, shepherding the 1975 law that allowed abortion in France, pushing prison reform and other social causes, and promoting continental unity as the first female president of the European Parliament, died June 30. She was 89.” The Washington Post adds, “Mrs. Veil (pronounced “vay”) stood at the center of French politics for more than four decades, ever since President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing elevated her from the civil service to become health minister from 1974 to 1979. It was in that role that she overcame political obstacles and, at times, personal insults to establish abortion rights with the provision still today commonly called ‘the Veil law.’ She led the European Parliament from 1979 to 1982 — a role that made her, along with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain and Indira Gandhi of India, among the highest-ranking elected women in the world at the time. She returned to serve again as health minister from 1993 to 1995 under Prime Minister Édouard Balladur.” The Washington Post recalls, “Mrs. Veil, who was Jewish, had been deported at 16 to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp located in Poland, with much of her family.” The Wasington Post adds, “She spoke compellingly of the need to never forget the crimes of the Holocaust. But it was often noted that she tended to wear long sleeves to cover the number, 78651, that had been tattooed on her forearm when she arrived at Auschwitz. It was perhaps a too-constant reminder of a darker Europe.” In 1990 she spoke of the difficulty of being a woman in politics to The Washington Post, noting, “the very thing people admire in men becomes a point of criticism in women.”

From The Washington Post.



Polish resistance fighter honored as Righteous Among Nations for Saving Jews

(July 15, 1926 – July 16, 2017)

The Telegraph reports, “Wanda Gutowska-Lesisz, who has died aged 92, was among some 5,000 Polish female fighters of the Warsaw Uprising”. The Telegraph recalls, “It began at 17:00 hours on August 1 1944 (“W-hour”) when, encouraged by the sound of Red Army artillery in the east, the youthful, ill-equipped Polish underground Home Army, the Armia Krajowa or AK, launched coordinated attacks on German occupying forces. Wanda Gutowska was 19 when the uprising began and greeted W-hour with relief. ‘I wasn’t afraid because, frankly, one had little to lose. The occupation was awful. Anyway, we expected the Bolsheviks to help and the British to drop supplies, and we thought the Rising would end quickly.’”

From The Telegraph.



Conspiracy theorist beloved by Oliver Stone

(December 5, 1943 in Fort Worth, Texas – August 2, 2017 in Springtown, Texas)

The Houston Chronicle reports, “Jim Marrs, best-known for his work researching the various theories surrounding the JFK assassination and UFOs and a guest on many talk shows, died this week at the age of 73.” The Houston Chronicle notes, “The Fort Worth-native was a mainstay on late-night radio show ‘Coast to Coast AM’ and the ‘Alex Jones’ Infowars’ program.” Citing his online bio, The Houston Chronicle notes, “Marrs was a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram staffer starting in 1968 and was a police reporter and general assignments reporter. After a stint serving in the Army in Vietnam he came back home and began writing about military and aerospace technology. His 1989 book ‘Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy’ was a New York Times Paperback Non-Fiction Best Seller and became a basis for the Oliver Stone film ‘JFK’ in 1991. He served as a chief consultant for the film.” The Houston Chronicle adds, “Marrs could usually be found in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on the anniversary of the assassination every November 22, talking to fans and speaking with the media in front of the so-called Grassy Knoll, ground zero for conspiracy theorists.”

From The Houston Chronicle.



German publisher + pamphleteer who promoted Holocaust denial

(April 24, 1939 in Calmbach, Germany – August 5, 2017 in Bad Wildbad, Germany)

The AP reports, “Ernst Zündel, a far-right activist who rose to notoriety over decades of public neo-Nazi activity in Canada and the United States before being deported to his native Germany on Holocaust denial charges, has died. He was 78.” The AP notes, “Born in Germany in 1939, Mr. Zündel immigrated to Canada in 1958 — allegedly to avoid German military service — and lived in Toronto and Montreal until 2001. He achieved international notoriety for his neo-Nazi beliefs and writings, including ‘The Hitler We Loved and Why,’ and operated Samisdat Publishers, a leading distributor of Nazi and Nazi-era propaganda. He also provided regular content for an eponymous far-right website. Canadian officials rejected his attempts to obtain citizenship in 1966 and 1994. After leaving Canada, he moved to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where he had married fellow right-winger Ingrid Rimland.” The AP reports, “In 2003, he was deported to Canada for alleged immigration violations. After he arrived in Toronto, he was arrested and held in detention until a judge ruled in 2005 that his activities posed a threat to national and international security and he was deported to Germany, where he was being sought for Holocaust denial. Denial of the Holocaust is illegal in Germany. Because Mr. Zündel’s Holocaust-denying website was available in Germany, he was considered to have been spreading his message to Germans.” Zündel “was convicted in Mannheim in 2007 of 14 counts of inciting hatred for engaging in years of anti-Semitic activities and sentenced to five years in prison.”

From the AP.



Holocaust survivor + activist

(May 11, 1923 in Torun, Poland – August 7, 2017 in Bayamo, Cuba)

The Globe and Mail reports, “Sigmund Sobolewski, a former Alberta man who has died at 94, was among the very first inmates sent to Auschwitz, as indicated by his very low prisoner’s number: 88.” The Globe and Mail notes, “Mr. Sobolewski survived for more than four years at Auschwitz, witnessing the successive horrors that transformed the camp from a place of violent repression against the Polish elite to a gigantic genocidal complex, the most deadly location of the Third Reich. During that time, he endured hunger, despair and torture. He witnessed the end of one of the camp’s most heroic episodes, the doomed uprising of the prisoners forced to operate the crematorium ovens.” The Globe and Mail adds, “After the war, he started a new life in Canada, but remained haunted by his camp memories. He spent decades as an activist, attending anniversary events and demonstrations, wearing a replica of a striped camp uniform.” The Globe and Mail notes, “In his last four years, he lived in Bayamo, in his wife’s native Cuba.”

From The Globe and Mail.



French resistance fighter

(August 11, 1916 – September 7, 2017)

The Telegraph reports, “Jeanne Robert, who has died aged 103, founded the French resistance network Victoire and carried important intelligence to wartime London. She was born on August 11 1914 in Hasnon in the Nord department of France. She was a teacher, married but widowed and living under the name of Mme Delattre when the Germans invaded France in May 1940.” The Telegraph notes, “Her resistance to the invasion was spontaneous and immediate. First she and her cousin, Leon Degand, a stationmaster at Lille, helped British and French soldiers escape from the Dunkirk pocket: her role was to obtain false identity documents and ration cards through a friend at the mayor’s office. Next she set up an information-gathering network in Arras, with the Belgium-born printer Maurice Rouneau, code-name ‘Albert’, who was living under the false identity of Martin Rendier.”

From The Telegraph.


2016 “fake news” writer + comedian

(November 5, 1978 – September 18, 2017)

The Guardian reports, “A leading purveyor of fake news in the 2016 presidential election has died outside Phoenix at the age of 38. A Maricopa County sheriff’s office spokesman, Mark Casey, said on Tuesday authorities had discovered Paul Horner dead in his bed on 18 September.” The Telegraph adds, “Horner was known for writing false stories and disseminating internet hoaxes that often went viral on Facebook and hoodwinked thousands of people. They included a story falsely claiming Barack Obama was gay and a radical Muslim, and another saying protesters were being paid thousands of dollars to demonstrate at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies. Horner took on greater prominence during the presidential election when false stories were widely shared on social media during the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton.” He told The Washington Post, “he thought Trump had won the White House because of him. Horner said Trump’s supporters didn’t fact-check his stories before posting them.”

From The Guardian.


Afghan rights defender

(April 7, 1951 in Kandahar, Afghanistan – September 22, 2017 in Falls Church, Virginia)

The Guardian reports, “Nearly 40 years of war and insecurity have taken their toll on Afghan women, and access to education, health services and the rule of law remain severely limited. Sima Wali, who has died aged 66 from multiple system atrophy, a rare neurological disease, was a persistent voice in her countrywomen’s battle for better rights.” The Guardian notes, “As president of Refugee Women in Development, a nonprofit organisation that she established in the US in 1981 after fleeing Afghanistan for fear of communist persecution, Wali raised international awareness of the plight of Afghan women, and raised millions of dollars in funding for women-led Afghan organisations, in her own ‘jihad for social justice and peace’. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in the post-Taliban Afghan government, when she was one of only three Afghan female invitees to the 2001 conference in Bonn to decide their country’s future.” The Guardian adds, “Born to well-educated parents in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, the birthplace of the Taliban, Sima spent her early years in India,” noting she later “worked for the US embassy in Kabul as well as the Peace Corps organisation, before fleeing for the US in 1978, fearing persecution as a member of the ruling class after the then president, Mohammad Daoud Khan, was assassinated during a communist coup.”

From The Guardian.



French resistance, Righteous Among Nations

(April 12, 1921 Saint-Pierre-de-Curtille, France – October 19, 2017 in Annecy, France)

The Guardian reports, “As a young woman in occupied France during the second world war, Jeanne Brousse, who has died aged 96, risked her own life to save many Jewish people from deportation. Working as a clerk at the prefecture in Annecy, she took advantage of her privileged access to identity cards to create new papers for Jewish families so that they could avoid detection or leave the country.” The Guardian adds, “Towards the end of the occupation she extended the range of her activities. Her nightpass made it possible for her to move around the city freely without arousing suspicion. She distributed clandestine press and communicated messages. If she heard of a roundup or acquired the names of young men who had been earmarked by the prefecture to be sent to work in Germany, she visited the families to warn them.” The Guardian notes, “In 1973 she was recognised as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations”, an award given by the state of Israel to non-Jews for their heroism in saving the lives of Jews. This acknowledgment of her wartime activities acted as a trigger for Brousse to become active in the local community. She visited schools and was committed to relating her experiences in person to preserve the memory of events.”

From The Guardian.



American pianist, singer + songwriter

(February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana – October 24, 2017 in Harvey, Louisiana)

Yahoo! News notes the passing of Fats Domino with video of sad little Putin crooning Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill,” from several years ago because at the end of the day, poor Putin envies all that is America and wants it for himself but can’t have it as he rules over a toilet bowl nation. But he can buy the approval of celebrities! Gerard Depar-don’t is present, so is Goldie Pawn and Hurt Hustle (Kurt Russell) as well as some unfortunate losers named Kevin Costner and Sharon Stone. While it is a real joy to watch Putin suck on American black culture when he failed to appreciate, due to the burden of overwhelming racism, that Obama’s garbage Russia policy was the best thing that ever happened to him, if you watch the video, and you should, you get to hear the voice of diabolical evil. The San Francisco Chronicle reports TV host Trevor Noah “said Domino had complained about Vladimir Putin’s widely heard 2010 rendition of his ‘Blueberry Hill.’ According to Noah, Domino said he sang off-key and repeated the opening line over and over, as if he didn’t know the rest of the song.” To say nothing of the fact that Putin’s voice is that of diabolical evil.
From Yahoo! News and The San Francisco Chronicle.


“The Profumo Affair” lady

(February 22, 1942 in Uxbridge, U.K. – December 4, 2017 in Locksbottom, U.K.)
The Washington Post reports, “Christine Keeler, a London showgirl whose simultaneous relationships with British war secretary John Profumo and a Soviet military attache produced the country’s most notorious political scandal of the 1960s, died Dec. 4 at a hospital in Farnborough, England. She was 75. Her son Seymour Platt announced the death on his Facebook page, noting that the cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” The Washington Post notes, “The Profumo Affair, as it became known, has echoed through the years as one of the era’s most lurid tabloid scandals, with hints of espionage, Cold War politics, class prejudice and sexual hypocrisy. The case has stayed in the popular imagination in the form of theatrical plays, including a musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, a feature film and dozens of books — three of which were written by Ms. Keeler.” The Washington Post adds, “The Profumo Affair made the strikingly beautiful young woman from the British provinces a London celebrity and a perennial staple of headlines and gossip. A nude photograph of Ms. Keeler straddling a chair in 1963 became one of the decade’s most famous images.” The Washington Post recalls, “She was often described as the call girl — a term she adamantly rejected — who brought down Britain’s ruling Conservative government. Profumo, a rising political star who held the cabinet post of secretary of state for war, saw his career go down in flames,” cheekily adding, “He and Ms. Keeler met in 1961, when she was taking a dip in a swimming pool at the estate of a British lord. He was 46, married and wearing a dinner jacket; she was 19, free-spirited and wearing a smile.” And so, “They began an affair that lasted several months. At the same time, Ms. Keeler was seeing other men, including Yevgeny Ivanov, widely believed to be a Soviet spy.” Of course, “Profumo, who was married to film actress Valerie Hobson, tried to conceal his affair with Ms. Keeler.” Then it slowly unraveled in 1962 when, “another of her jealous lovers, Johnny Edgecombe, opened fire on the front door of the house where Ms. Keeler was living.” After “he failed to appear as a witness at Edgecombe’s trial, people began to wonder why. The full extent of the scandal came to light in 1963.”
From The Washington Post.


The last king of Romania

(October 25, 1921 – December 5, 2017)
The Washington Post reports, “Romania’s former King Michael I, a onetime boy monarch who later engineered the ouster of pro-Nazi strongman Gen. Ion Antonescu during World War II, only to be forced at gunpoint to abdicate by a communist-led postwar government, died Dec. 5 at his home in Aubonne, Switzerland. He was 96.” The Washington Post adds, “King Michael, a member of the House of Hohenzollern and a distant cousin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, was one of the last surviving links to Europe’s royal heads of state before and during World War II. He lived a life defined by political intrigue and buffeted by nearly every major upheaval on the continent in the past century,” noting, “He eventually carved out a role as an unofficial diplomat, helping Romania join NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007.”
From The Washington Post.



American deserter, North Korean propaganda star, Japanese gift shop novelty

(February 18, 1940 in Rich Square, North Carolina – December 11, 2017 in Sado, Japan)

The New York Times reports, “Charles Robert Jenkins, an Army sergeant who became a Cold War enigma after he defected to North Korea in 1965 and was kept there for nearly 40 years, died on Monday in Japan. He was 77.” The New York Times recalls, “Mr. Jenkins — who was born in Rich Square, N.C., on Feb. 18, 1940 — was patrolling the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea when, drunk after 10 beers, he walked into the North in 1965 to avoid facing combat duty in Vietnam. He quickly realized he had made a terrible mistake. He spent years held with other American defectors, forced to read the works of North Korean leaders for hours on end and suffering from hunger and beatings.” He also starred in lots of North Korean propaganda films over the years he was held there. The New York Times notes how, “Little was known about Mr. Jenkins’s experiences until he emerged from North Korea in 2004. He was allowed to leave to rejoin his wife, Hitomi Soga, a Japanese woman who had been kidnapped by North Korea.” The New York Times adds, “Mr. Jenkins, held in Japan after he arrived there in 2004, was subsequently tried for desertion in a military court. During the trial he testified that he had been taken to a hospital in North Korea where, without anesthesia, a doctor sliced off skin, tattooed with the words ‘U.S. Army,’ from his forearm.” The New York Times reports, “He wrote later that his life in North Korea had been somewhat better than those of most North Koreans. He taught English to North Korean military cadets, he said”. The New York Times adds, “After his release, Mr. Jenkins and his wife lived on Sado Island, off the west coast of Honshu, where she had grown up and was abducted in 1978. He worked as a greeter at a tourist attraction, posing for photos with visitors who in turn greeted him as ‘Jenkins-San!’”

From The New York Times.


Holocaust survivor who made successful daring escape from Auschwitz

(October 3, 1919 – December 15, 2017)

Agence France Presse reports, “Polish Holocaust survivor Kazimierz Piechowski, who spectacularly escaped Auschwitz by stealing the car of a Nazi SS officer, died on Friday aged 98, the state Institute for National Remembrance (INR) said. Piechowski, who became prisoner number 918 when he was deported to the infamous death camp in 1940, escaped two years later with three fellow prisoners in one of the most daring escape efforts of World War II.” Agence France Presse notes, “Piechowski and the three others managed to escape after stealing uniforms and guns of officers belonging to the Nazis’ feared SS branch and hijacking the Steyr 220 convertible belonging to camp commander Rudolf Hoess.” Agence France Presse adds, “After escaping, Piechowski joined a Polish resistance group and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after the war’s end by the communist authorities.” Agence France Presse reports, “Piechowski died Friday in the Polish port city of Gdansk.”

From Agence France Presse.



Memorial Society co-founder
(1946 in Velsk, Russia – December 18, 2017)
The National Security Archive reports on “the passing this week of our dear friend, colleague, and inspirational partner Arseny Borisovich Roginsky, a founder and leader of the Memorial Society in Moscow.  Memorial’s Web site announced his death from cancer on December 18, at age 71.” As the National Security Archive notes, “Arseny Roginsky was born in political exile in the small northern town of Velsk, Russia, where his family was sent after his father’s conviction during Stalinist purges.   Boris Roginsky was soon arrested again and died in the camps in 1951.  Thus, the greatest historian and guardian of public memory of repression in Russia was born into that history.” The National Security Archive notes, “A dedicated archivist, Roginsky started collecting his own archive of repressions in the early 1970s and began publishing a samizdat journal ‘Pamyat’ (Memory).” The National Security Archives adds, “In 1981, he was arrested and charged with using fake documents to work in the archives, and sentenced to 4 years in the camps, where he served his full term.  Upon his release, Roginsky passionately engaged with the spirit of perestroika, sharing with new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev the idea – indeed the necessity – to fill in the ‘blank spots of history,’ those that had been erased by the Communist Party.  In 1988, he co-founded the Memorial Society, which took a leading role in the recovery of history, the commemoration of victims, and the defense of human rights during the final years of the Soviet Union and in the new Russian Federation.”
From the National Security Archive.




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