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German submarine force ceasefire on May 4 1945

German submarine force ceasefire on May 4 1945



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Many sources say that a general ceasefire order was issued by Doenitz to German submarines on patrol on May 4, 1945. We know that the German instrument of surrender was signed in the early morning (Europe) on May 7, and took effect late on May 8. Why the submarines have been put out of action 4 days before, especially as they were the only really valuable fighting arm of Nazis by that point?

My guess that it was because of the VLF transmitters guiding and coordinated their actions have been overrun by advancing Allies, like the Goliath transmitter, making communication with submerged boats impossible. But this is just a guess. Does anyone have a better idea? Also, when exactly did the Germans lose their final VLF transmitter, making any coordinated action by the boats impossible?


In short, politics.

The Flensburg Government (Doenitz's German government) wanted to surrender to the Western allies (the United States and United Kingdom) rather than the Allies as a whole, primarily because of the Soviet reputation for how they (mis)treated prisoners. To this end, Admiral Friedeburg was sent to Field Marshal Montgomery's headquarters. Montgomery was unwilling to accept such a surrender, but Friedeburg was able to negotiate a partial surrender, of forces in Denmark, the Netherlands, and northwestern Germany, including the U-Boat forces. This had the effect of being a surrender to the Western allies, since they were the ones who controlled or were adjacent to these areas.

Between the May 4 partial surrender and the May 8 total surrender, German refugees and troops frantically tried to reach Western allied lines to surrender; this included several breakout attempts by forces encircled by the Soviets. On May 7, General Eisenhower informed the Flensberg Government that further attempted surrenders by German troops to the Western forces would not be accepted, which lead to the May 8 unconditional surrender of all forces to the Allies as a whole.


Here’s what America would be like if the Nazis and Japanese had won WWII

This past weekend marked the 71st anniversary of the Allies’ D-Day landing at Normandy, France, which ultimately led to the liberation of France from Nazi control.

But what if the Allies had never launched their seaborne invasion, leaving Europe in the hands of Hitler and Nazi Germany?

Amazon Studios provides the answer with “The Man In The High Castle,” a new original series that was recently greenlit by Amazon for a full season after becoming the most watched show since Amazon’s original-series development program began. The show is smart, fun, and polished, and it sports a five-star user rating.

Produced by Ridley Scott, the show is based on a 1962 Philip K. Dick novel about a world in which the Nazis and the Japanese won World War II. Of all of Dick’s classics, it was the only one to win science fiction’s preeminent Hugo Award. Scott, who directed another Dick adaptation in “Blade Runner,” started developing in 2010 what would surprisingly be the book’s first screen adaptation.

It takes place in 1962 in a conquered America that has been divided into the Greater Nazi Reich, from the Atlantic to the Rockies, and the Japanese Pacific States, on the Pacific Coast.

The opening scene shows a propaganda film about life in America, which chillingly demonstrates how Americans might come to accept Nazi overlords.

“It’s a new day,” the narrator says. “The sun rises in the east. Across our land men and women go to work in factories and farms providing for their families. Everyone has a job. Everyone knows the part they play keeping our country strong and safe. So today we give thanks to our brave leaders, knowing we are stronger and prouder and better.”

Only the end of the film explicitly references the Nazi takeover:

“Yes, it’s a new day in our proud land, but our greatest days may lie ahead. Sieg heil!”

Here’s a look at Nazi Times Square:

Here’s Japanese San Francisco:

As the propaganda film suggests, aspects of life in Nazi/Japanese America are not bad, even as the overlords brutally repress all resistance. The winners of the war — particularly the Germans, who in the show’s alternate history developed the first atomic bomb — are living in a technological and economic boom as great as anything America saw in the real postwar era.

Given this rosy portrayal, it’s all the more shocking when there’s a reminder of how inhuman the Axis powers could be. In one scene, a volunteer for the resistance is driving through the middle of the country for the first time. He is talking with a Nazi police officer, who helped him change a flat tire, when ashes began falling like snow.

“Oh, it’s the hospital,” the cop says. “Tuesdays, they burn cripples, the terminally ill — drag on the state.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Articles

Battle for Czech Radio

From 30 April-1 May 1945, the Waffen-SS Senior Group Leader (Obergruppenführer) and General of Police Karl Hermann Frank announced over the radio in Prague that he would drown any uprising in a "sea of blood". As rumors of an impending Allied approach reached Prague, the people of Prague streamed into the streets to welcome the victors. Frank ordered the streets to be cleared and instructed the German army and police forces in Prague to fire at anyone who disobeyed.

On 5 May, the uprising was triggered in the morning by a broadcast on Czech radio. In a mixture of Czech and German, the broadcast announced: "It is just six o' clock". A group of Czech policemen attempted to seize the radio building on Vinohradská street, without realizing that a detachment of SS soldiers was already stationed there, which resulted in bitter fighting. With the sounds of combat in the background, the radio station continued to broadcast messages of defiance, encouraging citizens to revolt.


German submarine force ceasefire on May 4 1945 - History

Amin Dada, Idi (1923-2003)

Strange Document signed

Ugandan political leader and military officer who was the President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. A murderous, oppressive President who was deposed in 1979 and lived the remainder of his years in exile. Strange document signed “IdiADada”. A plain Certificate of Performance from the Uganda Motor Club regarding the 25th UGANDA RALLY from 21st - 24th January 1979, 7.75 x 10.0 inch, Kampala, 1979, signed by Amin as Patron of the Club with a black ballpoint-pen. Handling wear, else good condition.

Price: $ 1,550 / € 1.250

Arafat, Yasser (1929-2004)

Large signed card with photograph

Palestinian leader, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, for the negotiations at Oslo. Large signed card “Y. Arafat 25.3.93”. 12.5 x 8.25 inch (unfolded). With colour photograph of Arafat and blind embossed “State of Palestine” crest on verso. Fine condition. Excellent official cad with a classic image of Arafat.

Price: $ 415 / € 320

Ben-Gurion, David (1886-1973)

Signed photograph

Primary founder and the first Prime Minister of Israel. Black and white signed photograph “D. Ben-Gurion”. 3.75 x 5.5 inch, n.p., n.d., signed in blue ballpoint-pen by Ben-Gurion below his image. Fine condition.

Price: $ 560 / € 430

Benedict XVI., Pope (1927)

Excellent condition signed photograph

Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger. Pope of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City from 2005 to 2013. Signed photograph “Joseph Card. Ratzinger”. 4.25 x 5.75 inch, n.p., n.d. Photograph by J.H. Darchinger as printed on verso. Excellent condition and one of the few that is not signed with autopen.

Price: $ 535 / € 410

Benes, Edvard (1884-1948)

Large signed photograph

Leader of the Czechoslovak independence movement, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the second President of Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1938 and again from 1940 to 1948. Signed photograph “Dr. Edvard Benes 6.10.38”. 7.5 x 9.0 inch, n.p. Slightly trimmed, else good condition. Uncommon in signed photographs especially of this size.

Price: $ 690 / € 530

Bismarck, Otto von (1815-1898)

Seven pages letter signed

Influential German statesman known as the “Iron Chancellor”, who served as the first Chancellor of the German Empire from 1871-1890. Remarkable letter signed “ergebenster Diener vBismarck”. 7 pages, 2 separate bifolium/ double sheets, 8.0 x 9.5 inch, Frankfurt, 1853 February 6. As the Prussian envoy to the Bundestag, probably to the Austrian General Anton Prokesch “K. K. Federal Presidential Envoy ”. Concerning the presentation of the Prussian officer corps announced by Major General Eberhard Herwarth von Bittenfeld and Joseph von Schmerling. In German, in parts: „…Der König“ (Friedrich Wilhelm IV.), mein Allergnädigster Herr, ist von dem Wunsche beseelt, daß von Seiten Seiner Diener jede sich darbietende Gelegenheit ergriffen werde, um die engen persönlichen und politischen Beziehungen, welche ihn mit Sr Majestät dem Kaiser von Oesterreich (Franz Joseph I.) verbinden, auch in den äußeren Formen zur Anschauung zu bringen. In Ausführung dieser Allerhöchsten Intention wird das Königl. Offizier-Corps morgen Euer Excellenz als K.K. Feldmarschall-Lieutenant seine Aufwartung machen … Ich darf voraussetzen, daß Euer Excellenz von meinem aufrichtigen Wunsche, die Formen des gegenseitigen Verkehrs jeder Zeit zum Ausdruck ebensowohl des innigen Buendnisses unserer Allerhöchsten Regierungen als meiner persönlichen Verehrung für den kaiserlichen Praesidialhof und für Euer Excellenz Selbst zu machen, überzeugt seid …“ Mailing fold, minor mounting residue, tiny pin hole, else fine condition. Uncommon letter and the first time that I see a letter of seven pages signed by Bismarck.

Price: $ 2,180 / € 1.750

Bismarck, Otto von (1815-1898)

Autograph letter signed

Influential German statesman known as the “Iron Chancellor”, who served as the first Chancellor of the German Empire from 1871-1890. Autograph letter signed „vBismarck“. 1p., 8.5 x 10.75 inch, Berlin, 1863 February 5. To an unknown recipient, probably a court marshal. A submissive Bismarck asks for an audience. In German, in full: “Ew. Hochwohlgeboren würde ich sehr dankbar sein wenn Sie die Güte hätten die Befehle Sr. Königlichen des Großherzogs darüber zu erbitten, ob seine Königliche Hoheit die Gnade haben wolle mir eine Audienz zu gewähren…“ Mailing folds, handling wear, else fine condition. After the founding of the empire, Bismarck's letters no longer needed to be written in such a submissive manner.

Price: $ 1,810 / € 1.450

Bismarck, Otto von (1815-1898)

Letter signed

Influential German statesman known as the “Iron Chancellor”, who served as the first Chancellor of the German Empire from 1871-1890. Letter signed „vBismarck“. 1p., 8.75 x 11.0 inch, Berlin, 1874 May 30. To Prof. Hermann Schulze in Breslau. In German, in full: “Für die freundliche Übersendung der Fortsetzung Ihres ‚Preußischen Staatsrechts‘ und die mir in der gefälligen Zuschrift vom 20. d. Mts. ausgedrückte Theilnahme für meine Gesundheit, sage ich Ihnen verehrter Herr College, meinen verbindlichen Dank.“ Mailing folds, paper clip impression, right edge expertly repaired on verso, else good condition. Hermann Schulze, later Hermann Johann Friedrich von Schulze-Gävernitz (1824-1888), was a German legal scholar, constitutional lawyer, legal historian and the undisputed authority of princely law.

Price: $ 690 / € 550

Blomberg, Werner von (1878-1946)

Typed letter signed

German Generalfeldmarschall, Minister of War, and Commander-in-Chief of the German Armed Forces until January 1938. Typed letter signed “vBlomberg”. 8.25 x 11.75 inch, Berlin, 1936 May 14. On “Der Reichskriegsminister” stationery. Appointment for Alois Hartmann as “Oberintendanturrat” im “Reichskriegsministerium”. Near mint condition. Note: We reject Nazism in any form! Nevertheless we offer autographs of this kind, because it is an important part of the history of the 20th Century. To the extent applicable to those affected by German law, particularly § 86a StGB, historical and military items from or relating to the period and personalities of the German Third Reich are offered for only purposes of education and research regarding historical events and military history. Clients who purchase such items agree that they will not use them for propaganda or other purposes that would be punishable under § 86a StGB.

Price: $ 335 / € 260

Blücher, Gebhard Leberecht von (1742-1819)

Letter signed

Fürst von Wahlstatt, Prussian Generalfeldmarschall (field marshal) who most notably led his army against Napoleon I. at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, in alliance with the Duke of Wellington. Letter signed “Blücher”. 1p., 8.0 x 4.5 inch (visible). Treptow, 1808 August 2. To Colonel von Bardeleben. Sending an estate statement of the 1754 deceased Colonel Christoph Ludwig von Bardeleben. Enclosed the first and the last sheet of this list with seals and signatures of the widow and General Nikolaus Andreas v. Katzler. Handsomely matted in gray with a photograph of Blücher to an overall of 9.5 x 12.0 inch. Both items removable affixed with photo corners. Some stains, else good condition.

Price: $ 940 / € 725

Bonaparte, Joséphine (1763-1814)

Letter signed regarding poor orphans

Joséphine de Beauharnais, first wife of Napoleon I., and thus the first Empress of the French. Letter signed “Lapagerie Buonaparte”. 1p., 6.75 x 8.75 inch, bifolium, Paris, 4 floral An 8 (April 23, 1796). The future empress, who had married Napoleon scarcely a month earlier, shows her lifetime kindness to endangered children. In French, translated: “The file of Etienne Thomas Maussion is in carton no. 125. I don’t know if it has been examined by the commission. I am taking such interest in these poor orphans because I knew their mother very well and because the justice that is due to them sincerely makes me wish that Citizen La Page employ everything in his power to speed up their case and bring it to conclusion.” With a fine 5.25 x 8.0 inch engraved portrait of Josephine - London: Henry Colburn 1845. Slightly discolored and handling wear, else fine condition.

Price: $ 2,625 / € 2.100

Brandström, Elsa (1888-1948)

Typed letter signed by the "Angel of Siberia"

Swedish nurse and philanthropist. She was known around the world as the "Angel of Siberia". Typed letter signed “Ihre Elsa Brandström-Ulich”. 1p., 9.0 x 11,0 inch, Dresden, 1931 November 22. On “Stiftung: Arbeitssanatorium für ehem. Kriegsgefangene Deutsche” stationery. Addressed to „Mrs. Siniossoglon“. In German, translated in parts: “…Unfortunately, I have to tell you that my time has been so extraordinarily busy through my work that I cannot fulfill your request.” Mailing folds, handling wear, slightly discolored, else good condition. Brandström was married since 1929 with the philosopher and educator Robert Ulich (1890-1977).

Price: $ 585 / € 450

Brandt, Willy (1913-1992)

Handwritten manuscript pages from a Vienna speech

German politician and statesman who was leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) from 1964 to 1987 and served as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from 1969 to 1974. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971. Unsigned manuscript pages. 2 pages, 8.25 x 11.75, n.p., n.d. (1990). Pages marked 12a und 12b. In German, in parts: "Die Frage, ob wir Truppen an den Golf schicken, stellt sich - schon aufgrund der grundgesetzlichen Lage - nicht. Damit ist nicht vorweggenommen, in welcher Weise sich Deutschland künftig verhält, wenn es aufgefordert wird, an friedenssichernden Aufgaben der Vereinten Nationen teilzunehmen." Translated: "The question of whether we will send troops to the Gulf does not arise - if only because of the constitutional situation. This does not anticipate how Germany will behave in the future if it is asked to take part in the peacekeeping tasks of the United Nations." Probably from his speech given in Vienna on September 3rd, 1990 - "The changes in Central and Eastern Europe: New challenges for social democracy”. Excellent condition.

Price: $ 530 / € 425

Castro, Fidel (1926-2016)

Rare war content autograph letter signed

Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who was Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and President from 1976 to 2008. Autograph letter signed “F.”. 1p., 6.0 x 6.5 inch, n.p., (1988 July 2). Addressed to the Generals Polo and Ochoa. In Spanish: “Ochoa y Polo: El Regimiento de pecho se debe dirigir a Lubango. Despues decidieramos su ulterios ubicacion. Seguir inriestiendo con los angolanos la entrega de los grupos solicitados.” Translated: “Ochoa and Polo: The regiment of Pechora (located in Matala) must go to Lubango. We will make a decision later on their position. Keep pushing the Angolans so the designated groups surrender. Greetings. F.” In this rare autograph letter signed Fidel Castro gives instructions for military operations to support the Marxist party in Angola against the United States. He addresses his main generals on the spot: Polo Cintra Fria (Leopoldo Cintra Frias, born in 1941, currently Minister of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces) and Arnoldo Ochoa Sanchez (1930-1989/shot for corruption). Date written in pencil and in a different hand at the top, handwritten note (illegible) on verso, handling wear, else good condition. Rare especially with war content.

Price: $ 1,810 / € 1.450

Castro, Fidel (1926-2016)

Rare document signed co-signed by President Dorticós

Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who was Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and President from 1976 to 2008. Document signed “Fidel Castro” as Prime Minister and “Osvaldo Dorticós” as President. 1p., 8.5 x 11.0 inch, Havana, Cuba 1960 December 31. In Spanish. Decree No. 2910. Also signed by the Minister of Communication. Impressed with official seals of office over Castro and Dorticós signatures. Slightly discolored, closed punch holes left margin, else good condition with excellent signatures. On January 1, 1959, Cuban President Fulgencio Batista fled the country, and Fidel Castro, who had led a guerrilla struggle against the former leader, took over as Premier. He would hold this title he until 1976, when he became President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers. Although Castro's Marxist-Leninist principles and alignment with the former Soviet Union isolated Cuba in the Western Hemisphere and antagonized the United States, his regime has outlasted its former Soviet patron. Castro is now by far the longest-ruling statesman in the Americas. Osvaldo Dorticòs Torrado (1907-1989) served as President of Cuba from 1959 to 1976. Dorticós, a Castro loyalist who has been variously described as a colorless figurehead, and as a competent administrator with pragmatic tendencies, made headlines in a UN speech during the Cuban missile crisis with the (false) claim that Cuba possessed nuclear weapons. When this decree was signed, Castro was moving toward open identification with communism and alignment with the Soviet Union, while the US would soon break diplomatic relations, impose economic sanctions and initiate a clandestine effort to secure Castro's overthrow.

Price: $ 1,005 / € 775

Catherine II., The Great (1729-1796)

Scarce autograph letter signed regarding allegations

Yekaterina Alexeevna or Catherine II., also known as Catherine the Great, was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 9 July 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of 67. Her reign was called Russia's golden age. Autograph letter signed “Caterine”. 1p. (bifolium), 7.25 x 9.0 inch, n.p., 1769 June 19. A fine handwritten letter, probably to the Russian Privy Councilor Ernst Johann Graf von Münnich (1707-1788) with the order to investigate allegations made against an emissary. In French, in full: „Par la si jointe Vous verrés qu’il y a un homme qui pretend que Vos Subdelegué le font mourir de faim, conoissant Votre façon de penser, je voudrois parier qu’il n’en est rien, je Vous prie de voir par Vous meme ce qui en est, et de faire rendre exacte justice a cet homme dont je Vous ai je pense renvoyé l’affaire, Vous me ferés rapport de ce qui se passera, ayé Soin Surtout que cela ce finisse au plutot.“ Mailing folds, else fine condition.

Price: $ 7,825 / € 6.250

Ceaușescu, Nicolae (1918-1989)

Signed photograph

Romanian Communist politician. Signed glossy black and white photograph “N. Ceausescu”. 5.5 x 8.5 inch, n.p., n.d. (1981). Accompanied by the transmittal letter from the Director of Ceausescu’s office, dated April 2, 1981. Fine condition.

Price: $ 440 / € 340

Chiang Kai-Shek (1887-1975)

Excellent signature on a card + FDC

Chinese political and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975. Crisp black ink signature in Chinese on a card. 2.75 x 5.5 inch, n.p. (Taipei), 1961. Accompanied by the original envelope sent from the office of the President of the Republic of China, post stamped, and dated in 1961 (pencil note on verso). Together with a first day of issue (FDC) envelope, post stamped and dated in July 1942, on the occasion of the “5 Years War with Japan”. Printed text, bearing a large and attractive printed image of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Card is in fine condition, envelopes with minor handling wear.

Price: $ 1,130 / € 870

Chiang Kai-Shek, Madame (1898-2003)

Rare signed photograph

Soong Mei-ling also known as Madame Chiang. Chinese political figure who was First Lady of the Republic of China, the wife of President Chiang Kai-shek. Soong played a prominent role in the politics of the Republic of China and was the sister-in-law of Sun Yat-sen, the founder and the leader of the Republic of China. Matte-finish full-length photo of Madame Chiang, signed in the lower border in fountain pen "Mayling Soong Chiang". 5.0 x 7.0 inch, n.p., n.d. In very good condition, with a tear to the bottom, silvering, creasing, and two repaired areas of paper loss to corners.

Price: $ 1,755 / € 1.350

Churchill, Winston S. (1874-1965)

Fine typed letter signed

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. Fine typed letter signed “Winston S. Churchill”. 1 page, 7.5 x 9.5 inch, 1957 April 20, on his Chartwell, Westerham, Kent stationery. Addressed to Godfrey N.R. Morgan, Esq. In full: “Dear Mr. Morgan, In my position as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports it falls to me to appoint a Foundation Governor for Sir Roger Manwood’s Grammar School, Sandwich, for the tri-ennial period beginning on April 1, 1957. I fell it would be most fitting if you would accept this appointment, of which you already have considerable experience. Perhaps you would let me know what you think.” Punch hole at the top, mailing fold, else fine condition.

Price: $ 2,535 / € 1.950

Churchill, Winston S. (1874-1965)

Typed letter signed

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. Typed letter signed “Yours sincerely, Winston S. Churchill”. 1 page, 8.0 x 10.0 inch, 1923 September 22, on Paddington 1003. 2, Sussex Square, W.2. stationery. Addressed in Churchill’s hand to “My dear General Miles”. In full: “I am really very much obliged to you for your most interesting letter which I have read with the greatest attention. I think the work done by the Committee of which you are a member has been of the greatest value, and I am sure it has gained enormously from your experience and exceptional knowledge of the pre-war Army.” Mailing folds, minor mounting residue at three places on the back with light show through, writing a little light, else good condition.

Price: $ 2,145 / € 1.650

Churchill, Winston S. (1874-1965)

Autograph note signed to his personal adviser

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. Autograph note signed “WC.” Penned by Churchill in bold red ink on an off-white 3.75 x 1.25 inch slip, dated October 10 (1919). In full: "Sir James Stevenson, Please advise." Signature is removable affixed with photo corners and handsomely matted in gray with a paper photograph of Churchill to an overall of 11.75 x 7.75 inch. In fine condition. James Stevenson (1873-1926), known as Sir James Stevenson, was a British businessman and civil servant who worked as a personal adviser to Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Price: $ 1,190 / € 925

Dönitz, Karl (1891-1980)

Typed reprint regarding the negotiation of a ceasefire May 1945


Aletho News

Israel has inaugurated its fifth Dolphin-class submarine, allegedly capable of launching cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. A German shipyard in Kiel has a contract to build a sixth sub “to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens,” the PM said.

The submarine has been baptized INS Rahav. Rahav is a demon, a cosmic sea monster, ‘Prince of the Sea’ according to the Talmud. It was also the name of a strange woman from Jericho who hid two Jewish scouts from the King of Jericho in the Book of Joshua, Old Testament.

After the submarine is fully equipped and passes all tests, it will cost $500 million and will enter service as possibly the most sophisticated and expensive weapon of the Israeli Navy. Delivery to the client is reportedly expected by the end of 2013.

The INS Rahav was built in northern Germany at the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard in Kiel. She is believed to be one of the most advanced and sophisticated diesel-electric submarines in the world.

“The INS Rahav is one of the most advanced submarines in the world,” said Israeli Defense Ministry in a statement on Monday, reported Jerusalem Post.

“It is a versatile platform which can adapt to many and varied missions. The fleet of submarines forms a long arm for the [Israel] Navy, the IDF, and the State of Israel,” the ministry said.

The inauguration ceremony has been attended by an Israeli delegation headed by the director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Military Affairs, Major General Udi Shani, the commander of the Israeli Navy, Rear Admiral Ram Rothberg, and a number of Israeli and German officials.

In June 2012, Der Spiegel reported that Germany is actually strengthening Israel’s nuclear capabilities. The magazine claimed that Dolphin-class submarines are equipped with hydraulic ejection systems that enable the underwater launch of Israeli Popeye Turbo SLCM long-range cruise missiles, believed to have nuclear warheads.

Israel’s Popeye cruise missile is believed to have a range of up to 1,500km and carry a 200kg payload, enough to fit in a nuclear warhead. The first launch of the missile was carried out in 2002 in the Indian Ocean.

Thus the German-built submarines are believed to be the backbone of the Israeli nuclear deterrent against Iran.

“The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said according to the Associated Press.

Israel’s coastline in total, including islands, is a mere 273km, and it is no exaggeration to say that there is no other country with so many submarines to protect so short a sea border.

Germany started to deliver its Type 800 Dolphin-class submarines to Israel after the first Persian Gulf War.

The first two submarines were donated to Tel Aviv for free while the third came with a 50-per-cent discount, informs International Defense News. Berlin also shared about a third of the costs for the fourth and fifth submarines.

The fourth, the INS Tannin, opened the new generation of Dolphin II class submarines, capable of remaining submerged for long periods using cutting edge ‘air independent propulsion’ technology, which allows the engines of diesel-electric submarines to run without atmospheric oxygen.

In March 2012 Israel and Germany signed a contract for a sixth and the last Dolphin-II class submarine that will be delivered in several years. Berlin allocated about 135 million euro (US $175.8 million) of the overall 600-million-euro cost of the sub.

In December 2011 the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel invested about $27 million in a comprehensive structural overhaul and upgrade of the Dolphine I submarines at a shipyard in Haifa.

“The Germans can be proud to have secured the existence of Israel for many years,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Der Spiegel in June 2012.

According to Barak, the INS Tannin delivered May 3, 2012, became yet another “force multiplier in terms of the capabilities and strength of Israel’s defense forces.”

Commenting the delivery of INS Tannin, Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz specified that in conditions of growing strategic challenges in the Middle East Israeli’s Navy and its submarine fleet in particular represents a “defensive and fighting arm of deterrence.”

The “force multiplier” and “fighting arm” remarks of Israeli officials might as well point out that the alleged nuclear missiles in the possession of the state of Israel could be regarded not only as a shield, but as a sword as well.

Officially, Germany has always maintained that it doesn’t have the slightest idea about Israel’s military nuclear program and possible deployment of nuclear missiles on German-built submarines. However, according to Der Spiegel’s research, several former high-ranking German officials have never doubted Israel was putting nuclear missiles on its subs.

Former German State Secretary Lothar Ruhl told Der Spiegel last June that he had not only “always assumed that Israel would deploy nuclear weapons on the submarines,” but also discussed the issue with the Israeli military.

According to documents obtained by the newspaper, the German government was well aware of Israel’s nuclear program as early as in 1961. The latest evidence from German Foreign Ministry archives presented by the magazine last year dates back to 1977 and corresponds to a discussion on the nuclear issue between then-Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and then-German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

British MP and Vice-chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Jeremy Corbyn very much doubts that anyone who is willing to help Israel boost its nuclear capabilities is interested in reducing the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. He doubts that the supplies are even necessary.

“It’s very hard to see how these submarines that Germany is supplying to Israel can be solely for defensive purposes, because there is no sea-based threat to Israel and Israel needs to get on board with the rest of the region and talk peace and talk about the signature they’ve already given to the Mediterranean weapons of Mass Destruction free zone. The delivery of these submarines is yet one more ratcheting up of the danger”, he told RT.

Corbyn further believes that the weapons supplies are a badly concealed preamble to a wider European involvement in the world’s hottest crisis zones.

“Germany prides itself as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and on its non-nuclear status… But they’re also paying a very large amount of money to Israel’s defense costs by subsidizing the development and delivery of these submarines, and one just wonders if this isn’t part of a wider European military involvement in North Africa and the Middle East region.”

Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite continuing international pressure, claiming it would be against its national security interests. Though Israel is not officially recognized as a nuclear weapons state, it is believed to possess several hundred operational nuclear devices.


Pirates are back to terrorizing shipping off the Somali coast

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:45:57

Pirates have returned to the waters off Somalia, but the spike in attacks on commercial shipping does not yet constitute a trend, senior U.S. officials said Sunday.

The attacks follow about a five-year respite for the region, where piracy had grown to crisis proportions during the 2010-2012 period, drawing the navies of the United States and other nations into a lengthy campaign against the pirates.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at a military base in the African nation of Djibouti, near the Gulf of Aden, that even if the piracy problem persists, he would not expect it to require significant involvement by the U.S. military.

At a news conference with Mattis, the commander of U.S. Africa Command said there have been about six pirate attacks on vulnerable commercial ships in the past several weeks.

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson

“We’re not ready to say there’s a trend there yet,” Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said, adding that he views the spurt of attacks as a response to the effects of drought and famine on the Horn of Africa.

He said he was focused on ensuring that the commercial shipping industry, which tightened security procedures in response to the earlier piracy crisis, has not become complacent.

Navy Capt. Richard A. Rodriguez, chief of staff for a specially designated U.S. military task force based in Djibouti, said piracy “certainly has increased” in recent weeks. But he said countering it is not a mission for his troops, who are focused on counterterrorism in the Horn of Africa and developing the capacities of national armies in Somalia and elsewhere in the region.

Anti-piracy patrolling is among several missions China cited for constructing what it calls a naval logistics center in Djibouti. The base is under construction, and U.S. officials say they don’t see it as a major threat to interfere with American operations at Camp Lemonnier.

Several other countries have a military presence on or near that U.S. site, including France, Italy, Germany and Japan. This reflects Djibouti’s strategic location at the nexus of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Mattis made a point of spending several hours in Djibouti during a weeklong trip that has otherwise focused on the Mideast. As a measure of his concern for nurturing relations with the Djiboutian government, he flew four hours from Doha, Qatar, and then flew right back.

At his news conference, Mattis praised Djibouti for having offered U.S. access to Camp Lemonnier shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Lance Cpl. Spencer Cohen, rifleman with 1st platoon, Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, traverses a path for his team through rocky terrain during a mechanized assault as part of a live fire range in Djibouti, Africa, March 29. (Photo by Sgt. Alex C. Sauceda)

“They have been with us every day and every month and every year since,” he said.

The U.S. rotates a range of forces through Lemonnier and flies drone aircraft from a separate airfield in the former French colony. U.S. special operations commandos are based at Lemonnier for counterterrorism missions in Somalia and elsewhere in the region.

During Mattis’ visit, elements of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, including V-22 Osprey aircraft and Harrier attack jets were visible on Lemonnier’s airfield.

The U.S. military presence has grown substantially in recent years, as reflected by construction of a new headquarters building, gym, enlisted barracks and other expanded infrastructure.

Djibouti has a highly prized port on the Gulf of Aden. The country is sandwiched between Somalia and Eritrea, and also shares a border with Ethiopia.

Mattis is using the early months as defense secretary to renew or strengthen relations with key defense allies and partners such as Djibouti, whose location makes it a strategic link in the network of overseas U.S. military bases.

Djibouti took on added importance to the U.S. military after 9/11, in part as a means of tracking and intercepting al-Qaida militants fleeing Afghanistan after the U.S. invaded that country in October 2001.

The U.S. has a long-term agreement with Djibouti for hosting American forces that pact was renewed in 2014.

Over the past week Mattis has met with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Qatar.

Articles

WWII Story – AMAZING STORY OF AN ENCOUNTER IN THE AIR BETWEEN A GERMAN FIGHTER PILOT AND A WAR WEARY AND BATTLE SCARRED US AIRCRAFT LIMPING HOME……….

Please do read this amazing true story .

Humanity here – WWII Story

The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his Co-Pilot stared at the same horrible vision. “My God, this is a nightmare,” the Co-Pilot said.
“He’s going to destroy us,” the Pilot agreed.
The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.
Watch this video

Brown’s Crippled B-17 Stalked by Stigler’s ME-109

The B-17 Pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany. Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.
But when Brown and his Co-Pilot, Spencer “Pinky” Luke, looked at the Fighter Pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn’t pull the trigger. He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect. Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at Brown and saluted. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War Il

Franz Stigler wondered for

Luftwaffe Major Franz Stigler

Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn’t shoot. It would be murder.
Stigler wasn’t just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his Family’s Ancestry to Knights in 16th Century Europe. He had once studied to be a Priest. A German Pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.
Yet, Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him: “You follow the rules of war for you — not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity.”
Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American Pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn’t shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17’s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American Pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.
“Good luck,” Stigler said to himself. “You’re in God’s hands now…” Franz Stigler didn’t think the big B-17 could make it back to England and wondered for years what happened to the American Pilot and crew he encountered in combat.

Charles Brown, with his wife, Jackie (left),

with Franz Stigler, with his wife, Hiya.

As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn’t thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival. He flew his crippled plan, filled with wounded, back to his base in England and landed with one of four engines knocked out, one failing and barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.
Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two Daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida.
Late in life, though, the encounter with the German Pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.
Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German Pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life? He scoured Military Archives in the U.S. and England. He attended a Pilots’ Reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German Newsletter for former Luftwaffe Pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the Pilot.
On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read: “Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home? Did her crew survive their wounds? To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy…”
It was Stigler.
He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous Businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and “it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter.” Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn’t wait to see Stigler. He called Directory Assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.
“My God, it’s you!” Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks.
Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: “To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crew members and their families appears totally inadequate.”
The two Pilots would meet again, but this time in person, in the lobby of a Florida hotel. One of Brown’s Friends was there to record the Summer Reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They fell into each other’ arms and wept and laughed. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.
The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English: “I love you, Charlie.”
Stigler had lost his Brother, his Friends and his Country. He was virtually exiled by his Countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 Pilots who fought for the German Air Force. Only 1,200 survived.

The war cost him everything. Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he could be proud of. The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.
They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left,
They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, and Charles Brown, ended up as fishing buddies.
Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and Veterans’ Reunions. Their Wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became Friends.
Brown’s Daughter says her Father would worry about Stigler’s health and constantly check in on him.
“It wasn’t just for show,” she says. “They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week.” As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says “The nightmares went away.”
Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a Guest of Honor.
During the Reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived — Children, Grandchildren, Relatives — because of Stigler’s act of Chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his Seat of Honor.
“Everybody was crying, not just him,” Warner says.
Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as Enemies, became Friends, and then something more.
After he died, Warner was searching through Brown’s library when she came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.
Warner opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:

In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction,

a plane so badly damaged, it was a wonder that she was still flying.

The Pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me as precious as my Brother was.

Thanks Charlie.
Your Brother, Franz

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani !!

— Srimadbhagvadgita, Chapter 2, verse 47
It means: To action alone hast though a right and never at all to its fruits let not the fruits of action be thy motive neither let here be in thee any attachment to inaction.
Regards,


The Big Lie: Behind The Scenes Of Angela Merkel’s And The Globalists’ Attack On Free Speech

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a leader in the globalist movement is doubling down on police state tactics
Copyright: Christoph Braun [CC0]

The Zionist movement began when one man, the Jewish-Austrian Journalist Theodor Herzl came to the realization that European Jews would have to be evacuated from Europe and specifically Eastern Europe, or else they would be genocided. His eureka moment came no less than four decades before this genocide actually happened and the safe harbor he had envisioned for them was ready only a few short years later. Still too late.

Herzl was not a psychic, nor was he a time traveler. He was simply a level-headed and well-informed guy who understood human nature and who, being at once a Westerner, a European, and Jew, knew his subject matter: the vast unassimilated ocean of Jews who lived in parts of the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian Empires, often comprising very significant fractions of the general population.

Herzl understood that the friction between the Jews and the Gentiles in many of these places was reaching the point of no return and coupled with the terminal weakness of all three empires, all of which would disappear by 1919, the situation was both unsustainable and explosive. Herzl dared to follow the cardinal rule that Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle put in his character Sherlock Holmes’ mouth: when you eliminate the impossible, the one thing that remains is the truth (paraphrasing).

Herzl eliminated the twin impossible scenarios: Mass conversion and/or assimilation of millions of Jews who didn’t even speak the languages of the Gentiles in whose midst they had lived for centuries and continuation of the status quo in which a large and ever growing body of foreigners, people who looked different, spoke a different language, and practiced a different religion would be grudgingly accepted by the general population.

Once the impossible scenarios were eliminated, the only remaining one became true: the sporadic violence against Jews, sometimes government-sanctioned, rarely government-opposed, known as “pogroms” would increase until it reached genocidal proportions and the Eastern European Jewry would be lost to genocide, or what we today would call ethnic cleansing. The only way to avoid that unprecedented massacre, would be the mass evacuation of over ten million Jews from Eastern Europe before it was to late.

The movement that Herzl started was supposed to prepare a safe haven for these Jews and when the State of Israel declared it’s independence on May 14, 1948, Herzl’s dream finally come true. Unfortunately, so did his nightmare most of the people he set out to save were slaughtered in the biggest incident of genocidal ethnic cleansing to date: the Holocaust. Incredibly, most of this unprecedented slaughter took place only five to four years before the Jewish safe haven in our historial homeland was ready to receive them.

Where is today’s Herzl? I wish we had one, because the situation in Europe is beginning to look very similar today to what it was in the early 20th century, except now it is Western Europe that is the stage and Muslims rather than Jews who are the protagonists of the soon to unfold nightmare.

In Western Europe today, specifically in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, there are over ten million Muslims. These are people who look different and behave differently than the rest of the population. They have a vastly different culture that is based on a set of principles that is diametrically opposed to those of indigenous Western Europeans. Over two and three generations, they have shown no desire to assimilate into the European culture and the Europeans among whom they live have shown no inclination to help them do so.

The passage of time does not heal all wounds, as they erroneously say, but it changes them, often for the worse. This is the situation in Europe. Successive generations of European Muslims are less integrated into the European culture, less accepted by their indigenous neighbors, and are less accepting of them. As indigenous Europeans accelerate their departure from the tenets of their own Abrahamic faith, Christianity, their Muslim “guests” become more. not less religious and are adopting a more, not less fundamentalist version of their own Abrahamic religion: Islam. As indigenous Europeans sink ever deeper into barren nihilism and cease to reproduce, Muslims in Europe have more and more children, all supported by the wealth that is produced by their barren hosts.

What are the possible scenarios here? Will indigenous Europeans ever accept their Muslim neighbors as full members in their societies? On paper, of course. In reality, not a chance. A Khan will never be British, and a Moussawi will never be French anymore than a Goldberg could have ever been Polish. In Canada to this very day there are two peoples and two peoples only: English and French. The Canadian passport that both of them sport is nothing but a material possession, a convenience. In Quebec, if your name is “English” you can forget about any government job or corporate advancement even if you speak French like Molliere.

Human nature is tribal and if there is one thing that we are always 100% certain of even if we are ashamed to admit it, is who belongs to our tribe and who does not. I was born in Ukraine where my family had lived for at least three centuries. Not for one second have I thought of myself as Ukrainian and neither did anyone else, from my schoolmates to my teachers, to simple passerby on the streets of Kiev.

Will Muslims want to assimilate into the European culture? Will they be allowed to by their indigenous neighbors? The answers to these questions are as resoundingly negative today as they were 120 years ago when Herzl asked them about the Jews.

In a reversal of the situation with Eastern European Jews, what we are witnessing today across Western Europe is a series of mini and sometimes not so mini pogroms which the guest population, the Muslims, perpetrate against the indigenous population. As the cultural divide between the two populations grows in tandem with the fraction of Muslims in the total population, these attacks, these pogroms, will grow in both frequency and severity.

What Herzl could see, what he did not avert his eyes from, was that Eastern Europeans and Jews, having coexisted, though uncomfortably, for close to half a millennium, could do so no more. Since the Europeans weren’t going anywhere, the Jews would have to: either home to the Holy Land, or to unmarked graves. History showed us, alas, how right he was.

Europeans and Muslims have now been coexisting not for half a millennium, but less than half a century and already their coexistence is proving utterly untenable. The only possible outcome is the same outcome as the one that transpired not so long ago and which took the lives of both my grandfathers.

This is the truth that Angela Merkel, no stranger to the events of 1939 – 1945 fully understands and this is what she is so desperate to hide from the public. This is the reason, the only reason, for her panicked speech just the other day in which she said that we “must regulate” our words and even our thoughts, lest we lose our freedom. Merkel is deathly scared of what is about to happen and she has every right to be. Her own actions in admitting to her country millions of people who will never adopt its ways and would never be accepted even if they did, hastened the outcome she is so much afraid of.

Alas, Merkel is no Herzl. Unlike him, she cannot bear to look the truth in the eye, share it with the world and come up with a plan to make things better. Instead, her plan is to use the only weapon she is intimately familiar with from both Nazi Germany and East Germany, the weapon of the totalitarian police state. She is trying to use this weapon to stop Germany from devolving into, to borrow from Herzl again, an Alt-Neu, an old-new, version of itself, a murderous version that will engage in yet another genocide and plunge the world into yet another, third, world war.

Merkel of course is not alone. She is only one leader in a globalist movement that is in control of most of the West, though its supremacy is now being challenged in the US. This movement is the definition of Greek tragedy because it was created immediately after the Holocaust by people on both sides of the Atlantic to stop a new one from occurring, but what it actually managed to do is usher into the world yet another Holocaust, one that will soon be upon us.

Herzl, in choosing the solution of reestablishing for the Jews their national home, bet on human nature. The globalists, with their forced migrations, selective cultural suppression, and the forced effacement of borders and national identities have bet against it. A bet against human nature is as sure to fail as a bet against the sun rising in the east, so here we are. The die was cast and the people who cast it know nothing but doubling and tripling down on their losing bet.

What Herzl’s clairvoyance and his quixotic and oh so nearly successful attempt to save the European Jewry from genocide teach us is that there are no happy endings when all the wrong bets are made. There will be no better outcome for the situation that exists in Europe today than there was back in 1933 when Hitler came to power in Germany, and the likely outcome will be much worse.

Forget about Merkel and her buddies, they are done. Listen to Herzl instead. Things are going to go horribly bad, more so for some than for others. Prepare before it is too late.


8. Tsunami: The Killer Wave

The Heroes Day speech was a clear warning to the Colombo regime. The deliberate prolongation of the negotiations without delivering any substantial dividends and dragging the process indefinitely had clearly exhausted the Tigers. Moreover, realization of the fact that the unnecessary prolongation was caused by the internal power struggle of the Sinhala ruling class deepened the frustration among the Tamils as a whole. On one hand the practical obstacles that prevented the implementation of sub committees was seen as government’s reluctance to set up any workable mechanism to address the profound humanitarian issues of the Tamil people. The right wing Sinhala opposition that obstructed any such implementation was seen as an extra barrier that prevented Tamil people from enjoying a normal life even after one year’s peace. On the other hand, the deliberate exclusion of the Tigers from the Washington meeting by an external force, where important decisions related to Tokyo Donor Conference were taken, increased the Tiger suspicion about Colombo Government’s true intentions. The Sinhala ruling class’s flat rejection of interim proposals submitted by the Tigers was considered as the last nail on the coffin of the peace process.

When the peace seemed to be failing, war seemed inevitable.

But on the fateful morning of December 26th 2004, the giant killer wave struck Sri Lanka.

The destructive Tsunami wave that wiped out thousands of lives in the neighbouring countries in the Indian Ocean, created havoc in the Island. Tens of Thousands perished within minutes while many more were left homeless. The entire North-eastern coastline was devastated and the region became one of the worst hit areas in the Indian Ocean. In the deep down South too, many lives were washed away.

Two days after the tragedy caused by Tsunami, the Tigers publicly made an appeal to the Colombo government to ‘de-ethinicise’ their understanding of the natural calamity that occurred. When interviewed by a London based TV station, Deepam TV, the LTTE’s Naval Commander Col. Soosai was reported to have said, “no one should think in terms of Sinhala or Tamil in dealing with this disaster. It is a Sinhala driver who is working with us to recover and cremate bodies in Uduthurai (an area)’” The Tiger commander conveying his organization’s official sentiments further added: “The Sri Lankan government should not look at this as a Sinhala or Tamil issue. It should see it as a human tragedy and help. We should now ensure that the people rescued from the Tsunami devastation are protected from diseases rather than let the enormity of the tragedy make us inactive. The government of Sri Lanka should consider our people also as human beings” (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=13789). These sentiments were echoed by the Chief Negotiator of the Tigers Dr. Anton Balasingham, when he was interviewed by the foreign press.

On December 29th, the Tiger leader officially issued a statement appealing to the international community to help the surviving people while conveying his condolences to the families of the victims. The statement expressed the willingness to reconcile with the South based on understanding of the common tragic fate of all the communities. “Our homeland has faced an unprecedented major disaster and is submerged in deep sorrow today. A few days ago, totally unexpected by anybody, a sudden surge of a ferocious seismic tidal wave hit the coastal belts of the South East Asian region. In the island of Sri Lanka, the coastal belt from Jaffna to Galle and especially our homeland territories became targets of Nature’s fury resulting in massive destruction of life and property. The devastation caused by this tidal surge has exacerbated the sufferings of our people already affected by a war that continued for over twenty years and has torn asunder our nation. I convey my feeling of attachment, consolation and deepest condolences to our people who have lost their beloved and dearest, and undergoing unbearable sorrow and pain. My condolences also go to our Muslim and Sinhala brethren in the southern coastal areas, who have lost their kith and kin, and in deep sorrow.” (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=13778)

But the Colombo government and the Southern media seemed to be more interested in finding out how many tiger leaders were killed by the wave. On the 8th of January 2005, the state radio announced that the Leader of the Tigers and their intelligence chief are among the dead. The report quoted Government’s Navy Commander Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri as their source of information. According to an AFP report, “the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), in a statement posted on its official Peace Secretariat website, slammed the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation for carrying the reports, saying now was “not the time for gossip mongering and malicious propaganda’. The LTTE and the Tamil people wish to strongly protest against this mischievous act of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, stooping down to such low level of broadcasting news that (is) fabricated by interested parties’’. At a time of a national catastrophe of this magnitude, it is very regrettable that a responsible media of the Government takes upon itself the job of spreading rumours and speculation that tend to create confusion in the minds of the people.” (http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200501/s1278831.htm).

The tragic disaster opened up an unexpected space conducive to a reconciliatory political approach in order to heal the wounds and to break the deadlock. But the Sinhala political class apparently remained glued to short-sighted age old discriminatory policies rather than pursuing such paths of reconciliation. This was well evident in an interview given by President Kumaranatunge speaking to an UPI reporter, a week after the Tsunami disaster. While shamelessly ethinicising the tragedy by comparing the numbers of dead people on the two sides, her self-contradictory statement provides an exemplary summary of the regime’s thinking:

“Q. Do you think that the disaster will bring the two warring sides together? Will the Tamil Tigers now consider talking peace with the government?

A. I cannot read the minds of the LTTE. I don’t know (if) they will come because of a disaster they will come only if they think they can get what they want, nothing else. So what they will decide about the peace process, I don’t know. But at the moment, they are cooperating and permitting the government to do the relief work for the people in those areas.

Q. Would you travel to the areas controlled by the LTTE?

A. A little bit of Jaffna is affected, and that is about the only area I could visit. Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi (districts) are 100 percent LTTE controlled, and they don’t like anybody coming to help. They chase people away. … Sinhalese people who took lorry loads of food were turned away by the LTTE. The Tigers told these people that they did not want their help.

Q. The LTTE has accused the government of practising discrimination. Guerrillas have claimed that the government was sending more relief supplies to the south than the north. Is that correct?

A. The Tamil Tigers are cooperating very well in the relief efforts, and we are sending in tons and tons of food into the LTTE-held areas as well as the others. Jaffna, Kilinocnchi and Mullaitivu, which are the three districts out of the five in the north that have been badly affected, we have sent up to two days ago 2,000 metric tons of basic food items alone. That is not counting the medicines and the medical doctors, (and) equipment that we sent there, like mats and clothing.

And the entire south, the three districts of the south that have been very badly affected, many more people have died in the south, about five times or six times more than Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi. To the south we have sent only 180 metric tons of food.” (http://www.priu.gov.lk/news_update/features/2005/20050104interview_disaster_may_not_bring_rebels_talks.htm)

But as a matter of fact, the information provided by the state’s own ministerial sources, clearly proved the contrary. According to the statistical data compiled by the Government’s own Disaster Management Centre, as of 3rd of January 2005, the official death toll stood higher at 20,090 in the North-east of the island compared to 10,150 in the other affected areas in the South. (http://www.undp.org/cpr/disred/documents/tsunami/srilanka/sitrep030105.pdf?OpenDocument) The district level data collected and compiled by the government’s Disaster Relief Monitoring Unit which covered 13 affected districts proved the same facts. (http://www.drmu.gov.lk/drmu/impact.php) An analysis of these data reveals that, 61% of the deaths, 66% of the displaced persons and 89% of the affected families were from the North East. (http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers13/paper1226.html)

The President’s statement stands as a shameless example of the Sinhala ruling class’s incapability to overcome the decade old dividing lines that separated the two ethnic communities, even in the face of an unprecedented natural disaster. Besides, it proved their inability to accommodate the grievances of the affected communities in the north-east, which could have paved the way to resume the peace talks at least on the basis of newly discovered commonness in the aftermath of Tsunami.

Tigers take the lead

Given the unprecedented magnitude of this natural calamity, immediate implementation of well coordinated relief operations was seen as the need of the hour. Despite the tensions with the Colombo government, Tigers showed a tremendous capacity in swiftly responding to the situation and bringing

Commander of the Sea Tigers briefing LTTE rescue units in the aftermath of the Tsunami – December 2004, Mullaithivu, Sri Lanka

it under control. As it was highlighted by numerous external observers, mainly foreign correspondents who roamed the island, Tigers easily out-performed the Colombo government in carrying out well organized and coordinated relief operations in their areas.

On December 31, 2004, BBC’s Jeremy Bowen filed a story from Tiger administered Mullaithivu: “Tamil Tiger rebels here say that more than 3,000 people died in Mullaitivu – that is out of a population of more than 5,000. Buildings on the beach were completely flattened by the waves. There is almost nothing left standing….. You get the impression that the clean-up operation is very organised. The Tigers are planning to chlorinate wells and spray disinfectant around.” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4137669.stm see also http://www.humanrights.de/doc_de/countries/sri-lanka/tsunami/video/bbc_mullaitivu_g_subs_512.wmv)

But more descriptive reports followed. On January 03rd , 2005 “The Washington Times” ran a special report filed by the New Delhi Bureau Chief of the Associated Press, who commended Tiger relief operations in an article titled “Tamil relief teams fast, efficient” : “Veterans of a long guerilla war, the Tamil rebels who control northern Sri Lanka moved with military precision to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The speed and efficiency of the massive humanitarian operation showed an administrative capability that underscored the rebels’ demand for Tamil independence from the Sinhalese-dominated southern part of Sri Lanka. Within minutes of the disaster, soldiers of the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were evacuating survivors and pulling bodies from the still-roiling water, villagers and aid workers said. In a well-practiced drill, squads set up roadblocks to control panic and prevent looting. Others requisitioned civilian vehicles to move the injured to hospitals. Many donated blood. Teams with digital cameras and laptops moved into disaster zones to photograph the faces of the dead for later identification, then swiftly cremated or buried the corpses.

Sathinathan Senthan, the village mayor of Kallappadu, said boats of the elite Sea Tigers, the LTTE naval arm, which had a base in the neighbouring town of Mullaitivu, arrived even as the tsunami floodwaters were receding. Other sailors arrived on bicycles, he said. By the end of the first day, the first refugee centres were set up. Women in the Tigers’ camouflage uniforms began registering the survivors and recording the relief items they received — ensuring no one received more than he should.

“They applied a very efficient military machine. All they had to do was give the command,” said Reuben Thurairajah, a British doctor who watched the manoeuvre in amazement….

Meanwhile, in the south, the government was struggling to cope while politicians argued over who was in charge. From the field came isolated reports of corruption and hijacking of relief trucks.” (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/jan/03/20050103-095929-7247r/)

On the 5th of January, 2005 “Boston Globe” correspondent Jehangir S. Pocha’s report from Kilinochchi provided more details about the nature of the relief measures carried out by the Tigers: “The Tigers appear to have taken the initiative in organizing their own relief program, creating refugee camps, and providing comparatively efficient assistance efforts. Yet nine days after the tsunami hit, ‘’international aid here is limited and no new international [organizations] have set up operations” in Tamil areas, said N. Karthigesu, senior Tiger relief coordinator at the Pallai refugee camp 15 miles west of Kilinochchi…. There is an air of industriousness, and ‘’without it we’d be dead,” said Karkarthigesu. ‘’Most things you see here we’ve done ourselves. The government [in Colombo] talks a lot, but we haven’t seen a thing from them.” Some international aid workers have said they were surprised by the speed and efficiency with which the Tigers organized relief efforts after the tsunami hit on Dec. 26. While some Sri Lankan authorities appeared to be overcome by a shock-induced inertia for days, the Tigers organized search and rescue operations in the first hours of the disaster, according to refugees. The Tigers also set up a multi agency task force of Tiger officials, representatives of the international organizations present in the area, local nonprofit groups, and even some Sri Lankan government officials. This facilitated the quick disposal of bodies, clearing affected areas and setting up more than 35 refugee camps. (http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2005/01/05/sri_lanka_rebels_take_up_aid_effort/?page=2)

The paper ran a moving editorial in the same issue, quoting the Executive Director of UNICEF who seemed to be very impressed by the swiftness and precision of the relief operations put in place in the Tiger administered areas: “A relief organization that cooperates with the Tigers, the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, or TRO, has been assisting not only Tamil Hindus in the northeast but also Buddhist Sinhalese and Muslim families. The central government, however, wants nothing to do with the Tiger-linked TRO… After visiting a Tamil town in the northeast that was destroyed by the tidal wave, Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF, said Monday that the TRO’s “well-coordinated relief arrangements put in place within so short a time are all really commendable….The tsunami took away the lives of 12,000 Sri Lankan children, Sinhalese as well as Tamil. Those bereft parents whom Bellamy saw wandering along the beach and looking out to sea for a sign of their lost children are no more or less grief-stricken for belonging to one ethnic group or the other…. It is enough that Tamil and Sinhalese parents have lost children to the sea. No more of their children should be lost to a pointless war.” (Boston Globe – January 05, 2005)

The positive remarks made by western media who observed the Tigers’ efficiency on the ground, were repeated by many others including Indian defence and policy analysts, who held strong views against Tigers. One such example was provided by an article written by a retired Indian Army Colonel and a specialist on counter insurgency intelligence, who served as the head of the Military Intelligence during the Indian Peace Keeping Force’s (IPKF) failed mission in Sri Lanka. On January 21st, 2005 he wrote:

“….LTTE showed its organizational capability and discipline by organizing relief efforts in a matter of hours in areas under its control particularly in the north, in cooperation with Tamil Relief Organisation (TRO). The first relief camp came up on the same day. LTTE went about systematically to organize its international effort to collect support in cash and kind from all over the world directly, independent of TRO’s own effort. It set up special action committees for collecting funds in ten countries including France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Holland and Australia…. The TRO has a better organization and has more than two decades of experience in relief. It has a lot of commitment difficult to find in a government mechanism. According to TRO, 3000 persons are involved in the relief work. Over 100 professionals from the Tamil Diaspora network and the international community are presently working with us in afflicted regions apart from 12 medical teams (including 52 doctors from the Diaspora and 18 international doctors) are involved in healthcare and work to prevent outbreak of epidemic diseases. Fifteen engineers are working on immediate and long-term rebuilding of shelters, water purification and sanitation. Local psychiatrists are providing counselling support to the traumatized victims of the tidal wave.” (http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers13/paper1226.html)

But on the contrary, the Southern mainstream media showed more interest in publishing stories about “how tsunami crippled the tigers” and how the entire Tamil areas have ‘run into a state of utter confusion and disorder.’ Without sending any of their reporters to the affected areas, “The Island” ran a story on 2nd of January, 2005 titled “Tsunami deals a crippling blow to LTTE” based on undisclosed sources: “the LTTE simply could not cope with the scope of the disaster. Unlike in the south, where television stations, companies, and members of the public organized a massive relief effort which dwarfed that of the government, the Tigers could not count on any such effort in their war ravaged and impoverished areas. Road conditions from Kilinochchi to the Mullaittivu district coastline were also very bad, as the roads have not been repaired to any great extent, unlike the A9 highway where work has been completed.” (http://www.island.lk/2005/01/02/features9.html) By twisting facts “The Island” report not only covered up the real situation in the affected Tamil areas, but it also tried to prevent the affected Sinhala people in the South from realizing the truth about government’s incapability in dealing with the situation. It simply symbolized the sentiments of the Sinhala nationalist forces, which remained unchanged even in the midst of a unimaginable tragedy.

Despite the disagreements that caused a certain tension between the Government and the Tigers, the most impressive initiatives were launched on the grass root level by the unaffected ordinary
people who made attempts to organize relief aid to the affected areas in the North and East. While condemning the Government’s discriminatory policy, the Tigers welcomed these people to people initiatives.

But the most devastating blow came when the Colombo government prevented the visiting UN General Secretary from visiting the most affected areas in the North-east of the island which remained under the administration of the LTTE. Besides the LTTE’s official appeal, numerous statements were made by Tamil religious and community leaders appealing Kofi Annan to visit the Tsunami hit regions in the North and East. On January 7th, 2005, – on the very day the General Secretary arrived in the Island, Bishops of Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee issued separate appeals inviting the Mr.Annan to visit the areas and meet the affected people.

“All the coastal cities in the northern province of Jaffna had to bear the brunt of the tidal wave. About six thousand people have perished in this disaster, two thousand are missing and 170,000
people had been rendered homeless. The town of Mullaitivu has been totally devastated and all buildings have been razed to the ground… as Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaffna together with the Bishops of Trincomalee-Batticaloa and Mannar and all the people of Jaffna I am humbly requesting the Secretary General Mr. Koffi Annan to visit the affected parts in the north and meet LTTE leaders and discuss with them about the future rehabilitation of the Tsunami victims” the joint statement appealed. (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=13906) A similar appeal was submitted by the International Federation of Tamils (IFT), a consortium of expatriate Tamil organizations on the same day, which emphasized: “..We would like to call your honour, to visit Mullithivu and north eastern part of the Island of Sri Lanka to console and support the badly affected people. Your visit is important to us as that region is facing severe uncertainty on the question of aid and future mechanism for rehabilitation…” (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=13904)

On the 8th of January, on behalf of the civil organizations, a group of community representatives, which included Consortium of Civil Organizations, Consortium of NGOs, National Awareness
Front, Medical Professionals Association, Society for Three Wheeler Owners, Federation of Farmers‚ Associations, Federation of Women’s Organizations, Association of Businessmen, and Tamil Students Association met the UNICEF representative in rebel capital Kilinochchi and handed over another appeal pleading the UN official to visit the region. (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=13911) But the Colombo government remained adamant by not including the region for the travel schedules.

On 8th, a Reuter report titled “Politics muddy Tsunami relief efforts” revealed the displeasure held by the UN General Secretary regarding Combo’s unchanging position on his travel schedules: “Politics have got in the way of tsunami relief efforts with Sri Lanka stopping United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan from visiting disaster areas controlled by its rebel foes…. A day after saying he was shocked by what he saw in Indonesia, Mr Annan visited Hambantota, a popular tourist resort in south-eastern Sri Lanka, which has been largely ruined. But Mr Annan was prevented from visiting the island’s hard-hit north and east where he had been invited by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels, whose bloody two-decade war for autonomy has killed more than 64,000 people and is on hold thanks to a three-year cease-fire.

“I am here on a humanitarian mission. I would like to visit all the areas, but as you know I am here as a guest of the Government and they set the itinerary,” Mr Annan told Reuters. UN officials said they had been striving to convince the Government, but to no avail. A government official cited security concerns among others.

“[Mr Annan] hasn’t gone to Ireland and met with the IRA, he hasn’t gone to Spain and met with Basque [rebels],” a government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “There doesn’t seem to have been a precedent.” (http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200501/s1278837.htm)

The government’s decision to stop UN General Secretary from visiting the affected areas under the Tiger administration was not only an act that fuelled the mistrust that already existed. But it was also a clear betrayal of their own words. A week before the government prevented the UN officials from meeting the Tamil civilians who lost their kith and kin, President Kumaranatunge said in her New Year message: “The mighty forces of Mother Nature has humbled all of us in the country… What significance then should be accorded to the little quarrels and the petty conflicts that little groups of people within our nation manage to generate for a little bit of land or a little bit more of power. I would say none at all.. It belongs to all of us, each one of us, in the same way with the same privilege to use it with care. The tsunami has devastated our land with relentless indifference to regions, provinces, ethnicities and religions and all other man made frontiers. We have been left in the same devastation in the West, in the South, in the East and in the North.. It is no doubt the most tragic and the most massive disaster that Sri Lanka has known in its history.” (http://www.dailynews.lk/2005/01/01/new01.html)

But “little quarrels and the petit conflicts” still seemed dominating the day.

“No to joint efforts”: the nationalist uproar

Obstructing Kofi Annan’s visit clearly demonstrated the state’s inalterable discriminatory attitude towards the Tamil community, even in the middle of unparalleled natural disaster. Encouraged by the regime’s reluctance to explore possibilities to co-operate with the LTTE, the hard line nationalist elements in the ruling coalition intensified their campaigns to prevent any such joint efforts being implemented. The nationalist opposition against recognizing the LTTE – or even the TRO – as an equal partner for carrying out relief operations in the affected areas was supposedly based on their uncompromising stand on “safe guarding the national sovereignty.” Accepting LTTE as an equal partner in relief efforts, they argued, would legitimize its’ de-facto administration while strengthening its role as the pre-dominant political force in North and East of the island. The efficiency and the organizational capacity demonstrated by the Tigers in addressing the immediate humanitarian needs of the affected population were conveniently put aside. Instead, it was argued, that the unexpected situation should be considered as an opportunity to “dismantle the terrorist outfit.”

On January 08th, the JVP – the main coalition partner of the UPFA government requested the UN General Secretary not to support the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), which carried
out extensive rehabilitation and relief work in the Tiger administered areas. As to report published in The Island on 11th January: “Please pay the utmost serious heed to the fears expressed by the Canadian Government that funds raised by the TRO for tsunami sufferers would be used not for relief, but for buying armaments for the LTTE,” the JVP leader said in his meeting with the UN Secretary General Annan at the President’s House on Saturday (08) where Annan met with the leaders of the political parties…. The JVP leader said the international community has an obligation now to ‘stand up to what they advocate on democracy, free elections, human rights, free speech, the rule of law, accountability, transparency and the rights of children’ by helping the government to dismantle the terrorist outfit. (http://www.island.lk/2005/01/11/news11.html)

The Sinhala nationalist fears reflected through the JVP were mainly based on rumours and speculation about the increasing international pressures, mainly by the EU, that might compel the
UPFA government to strike an alliance with the Tigers to carry out massive rehabilitation work. They feared that such a working arrangement may re-establish the necessary foundation to resume peace talks on an equal footing. While addressing a large gathering of its relief workers, the JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe clearly stated that his party would vehemently oppose any such effort to collaborate with the LTTE. On January 24th, The Island reported: “The JVP is opposing the ongoing efforts to involve the LTTE in the rehabilitation and reconstruction process in the north and east provinces. They will not accept the LTTE’s participation as it would legitimize the group despite it being a proscribed organization abroad… Amarasinghe said the LTTE should not be allowed to take advantage of the situation to legitimise its armed power..…The JVP leader emphasized that the LTTE wouldn’t be welcome as long as it remained armed.”(http://www.island.lk/2005/01/24/news2.html)

It seemed that the hard line nationalists – mainly the JVP which was the second biggest coalition partner, is disturbed by the possibility of being sidelined and weakened as a result of any such
dealings with LTTE. Given the fact that such a move may ease the tensions and diffuse the hostilities between the UNP and the SLFP, the JVP’s fears seemed well grounded as far as their political agenda was concerned. The formation of any joint mechanism between the UPFA government and the LTTE that might inevitably pave the way to resumption of peace talks contained the possibility of filling the gulf between the main two political parties to a certain extent, at least on the basis of mere pragmatism.

The increasing differences that manifested the growing power struggle within the ruling UPFA was explained somewhat in detail by “The Sunday Times” political columnist on 06th February, 2005: “The JVP leadership has been keeping Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera posted on their differences. In fact, I referred last week to how Kadirgamar, quite oblivious to the fact, prevented the JVP from making a public announcement giving the government notice it would quit the Alliance when he explained what the government was doing in regard to the relief efforts. At the discussions within the JVP leadership they feel that these complaints of theirs are not getting registered with President Kumaratunga. That she is
not taking their complaints seriously. President Kumaratunga, somewhat distracted by the tsunami, had her own game plan for the immediate future. Her term of office properly expires this year. Certainly that is what the UNP is saying. She has a trick up her sleeve to extend the term, but that is only till the end of next year, not much longer…. There is a perception within the JVP hierarchy that the President is moving away from her earlier strategy believing it’s not going to work, and time is running out. The new plan is to work a deal with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse. A rapprochement with the Premier is what is on the cards… The JVP is in a dilemma. It has vowed to see that Wickremesinghe will not become the President of this country. At the beginning its dislike for Mahinda Rajapakse was not a secret. And the feelings were mutual. Now, however, relations have thawed. They are working together, in a kind of a way.” (http://sundaytimes.lk/050206/columns/political.html)

Apart from the JVP’s long standing die hard opposition to Tamil national demands, there were several other important reasons that remained concealed behind their breast beating chauvinist
campaigns. On one hand the JVP desperately fought an internal war within the ruling coalition to hold its’ ground against being checkmated by a possible unofficial alliance between the UNP and the SLFP. On the other hand, the JVP was determined to prevent the continuous attempts made by its competing nationalist opponent – the JHU – to break the monopoly it had over the nationalist political forces in the South. The JHU who remained outside the ruling alliance raised a serious challenge to the JVP’s position as the champion of the Sinhala nationalism, by threatening to wage an all out political war if the UPFA decides to strike a deal with Tigers.

It was the internal conflict within the Sinhala ruling class that kept the Tamils at bay, despite the grave humanitarian situation prevailed on the ground. In fact, the necessity to work out a practical strategy to address the immediate humanitarian issues was thwarted not by any inflexibility of the Tamil side, but instead by the lack of consensus within the Sinhala political class. The
aftermath of Tsunami, which was seen as an opportunity to resume trust and mutual respect provided by an unexpected catastrophe was ruthlessly neglected in favour of “little quarrels and the petit conflicts”.

“Good Samaritans” on war ships: The arrival of US troops

On 30th of December, 2004, at least 30 members from the 613th Contingency Response Group at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and Marines from the III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa arrived at Katunayake military base in Sri Lanka. Apart from the team that was specialized in civil affairs, medical treatment, preventive medicine, contracting and civil engineering, there were airmen from the 613th CRG are to conduct an airfield suitability assessment.

“Right now we have a group of 10 members on the team to evaluate the conditions of the airfield and to select the best place for strategic airlift,” said Lt. Col. Paul Williams, 613th CRG commander. “We will make sure that the local airfields can support aircraft like the C-17 (Globemaster III) and the C-5 (Galaxy) during disaster relief operations.” (http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123009495)

On 1st of January, 2005, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jeffery Lunstead along with Commander of U.S. Joint Task Force 536th’s Disaster Relief Assessment Team (DRAT), Colonel Thomas Collins and a official from the USAID briefed media about the arrival of US troops. “The Aircraft Carrier, USS Bon Homme Richard – a 40,530-ton Wasp class amphibious assault ship – which is to support full fledged U.S rescue operations in Galle, Amparai, Trincomalee and Jaffna coasts is also equipped with five small scale hovercrafts, the officials said in the press conference….. 200 US Marines are expected to arrive on Sunday (02) afternoon or Monday (03) morning to setup the required Command and Control system for the rescue operations….He said that initially the operation would begin in worst-hit Amparai, Trincomalee, Jaffna and Galle districts and the US Marine and the Joint Task Forces (JTF) would engage in “point to point distribution” using the Hovercrafts and Marine Helicopters to carry the relief items to the needy areas.

He said that the number of the Marines in Sri Lanka may go up or down depending on the requirements and the co-operation they get from the Sri Lankan armed forces on the ground.” (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=13822)

According to a report published by Colombo’s Sunday Times, US Secretary of State Colin Powell had phoned Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on January 1st to finalize the deployment of US troops in the island. The report further said, that “the rapid increase in the US commitment, first at US$ 12.5 million, then raised to US$ 35 million and now US$ 350 million has already been officially announced. US Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead told a news conference last evening that 1,400 marines would be assigned for rebuilding work….US troop deployment in Sri Lanka and their possible presence in the eastern waters have caused considerable anxiety in the LTTE hierarchy. Reports from Kilinochchi said the guerilla leadership was discussing whether or not to raise issue over the matter with Norwegian peace facilitators. The move has already received the endorsement of the Indian Government, according to diplomatic sources.” (http://sundaytimes.lk/050102/news/8.html)

The report further highlighted the growing interest among the high profile US officials in visiting Sri Lanka. ‘Among them are Secretary Powell, Governor Jeb Bush, brother of President George Bush, and Senate Minority Leader Dr. Bill Frist described as one of ten top influential leaders in the United States. They are trying to schedule visits to Colombo’ – the Sunday Times report revealed.

On 15th January, the US Embassy in Colombo said in a press release that “the United States has so far provided more than US $38 million in emergency relief assistance to Sri Lanka not including the cost of deploying military personnel and assets to the country…. the US military has deployed several ships and detachments of military personnel in the region. The USS Duluth, carrying earth moving equipment, Marines and helicopters is lying off the coast of Galle and approximately six hundred members of the United States Marine Corps are currently working to provide humanitarian aid in Sri Lanka. Approximately 11 US military aircraft are flying relief missions in the south and east.”

By the first week of January, USAID Disaster Assessment team members including Col. Tom Collins and Bill Berger were conducting assessments in three areas around the country in the south
and east (Galle, Matara, and Trincomalee) as part of the international effort. Following the visit of US State Secretary Colin Powell to Sri Lanka on 7th of January, the sailors from USS Duluth (LPD 6) – Austin class amphibious transport dock – and Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) landed on the shores of Sri Lanka on 12th January. They were followed by the US Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz and Admiral Thomas Fargo, commander of the US Pacific Command, who arrived on 17th January. By the time of their visit, at least 600 US marines and military aircraft and a landing craft remained deployed in Sri Lanka.

The nature of the “intervention” which was summarized later in a pamphlet published by the US Naval War College proves the rapidity and the vastness of the entire operation: “On 2 January 2005, Brigadier General Panter arrived in Colombo to establish Combined Support Groups–Sri Lanka. He immediately set up a civil-military operations center, called a combined disaster relief center, in order to facilitate the distribution of supplies and serve as the “central coordination point” with respect to other external organizations. Two days later, an advance contingent of seventeen Marines landed at Colombo airport, supported by thirty Air Force communications and technical experts. Eventually Panter deployed 1,500 troops around Sri Lanka—mainly in the south, so as to avoid rebel strongholds in the north… During the first week, they helped deliver approximately thirty-one thousand pounds of food, water, and medicine throughout southern Sri Lanka, mainly by HH-60 (Pave Hawk) helicopters from the 33rd Rescue Squadron, based in Kadena Air Force Base, on Okinawa….. In addition to providing aid, American Seabees and other engineers helped clear damage in Galle, one of Sri Lanka’s seven “world heritage sites.” They demolished two damaged buildings and moved 250 cubic yards of rubble at a women’s college in Galle to clear space for future construction. These teams also cleared debris at several schools and at a Sri Lankan army base. “We’ve seen an immediate effect through our efforts,” said LT Jorge Cuadros, the air detachment officer in charge of Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 7, from Guam. During the second week, the supplies delivered by U.S. forces increased to fifty thousand pounds as CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, sent from Iraq, flew a total of thirty-five missions.” (http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Press/Newport-Papers/Documents/28-pdf.aspx)

The overall picture appeared to be purely ‘humanitarian’. The good Samaritans were clearing the debris, building roads, repairing schools and distributing candies while the aircraft carriers and assault ships remained at anchor, off Sri Lanka’s shores. Though a certain section among the Sinhala nationalists seemed to be enjoying a sense of power by the presence of US military, some cast doubts

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Detachment of United States Marine Corps – January 2005, Koggala, Sri Lanka

on the motives behind such presence. On January 10th, The Wall Street Journal wrote: “One reason for the Americans’ speedy appearance on the scene: They had long planned on coming here anyway. Thailand hosts annual military exercises with the U.S. that have expanded in recent years to include Singapore, the Philippines and even Mongolia. The U.S. officers were coming to prepare for the exercise’s next round….American military cooperation with Asian counterparts has been growing elsewhere in the region. Last year, colonels and generals from 13 countries in the region gathered in Sri Lanka to attend a training seminar by U.S. Marines on the use of non-lethal weapons, such as those used to quell riots. India and the U.S. last year exchanged officers to observe one another’s artillery exercises…..The developments show how U.S. military ties in South and Southeast Asia have been gradually expanding in recent years, mostly under the radar of ordinary citizens in the Asian countries involved, many of whom have been sharply critical of the Iraq war and aspects of Washington’s global anti-terrorism campaign.” (U.S. Military Ties To Region Allowed Faster Response / The Wall Street Journal – January 10, 2005)

Interestingly, it was the Anglican Church of Sri Lanka, and not the “ardent anti-imperialists” among the nationalist, who blew the whistle, sensing the danger of being exploited for a wider geopolitical game. Amidst reports that some 1,650 US marines have already arrived in Sri Lanka and with a government official reportedly saying they may stay on for two years, Colombo’s Anglican Bishop Duleep de Chickera in a statement said: “There is growing concern about the presence of foreign military personnel for relief work. Undoubtedly, these personnel are trained to respond quickly and professionally and can be easily mobilized when disasters happen. Being mindful however of current geo-politics and power struggles that particularly threaten and exploit the more vulnerable countries, it is imperative that once the task of relief is complete, these military personnel should return to their home base. While we appreciate their present humanitarian assistance, it would be a serious mistake with alarming consequences if those who arrive for humanitarian purposes become entrenched into a politico-military agenda”. (http://sundaytimes.lk/050123/news/17.html)

Instead of exploring the true motives behind the swift US response, the Southern nationalists welcomed their presence while undermining doubts expressed by others. This was evident in a statement issued by the JVP in the first week of February, which hailed the international military presence, including the US . According to a report on The Sunday Times on 6th February, “the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has hailed the services of foreign troops including the US teams which assisted in relief and rehabilitation work following the tsunami disaster. JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe in a statement said that they were hailing the services of foreign troops including India, US and Pakistan who sent members of their armed forces without weapons to help Sri Lanka. Usually armed forces entering a country was a threat to the sovereignty of the country, but sending of unarmed troops to help a country which is trying to rebuild after a major catastrophe cannot be seen as a challenge to the sovereignty of the country”, he said. Therefore we do not have any hesitation in hailing the services of the unarmed forces which offered a hand of friendship to Sri Lanka.”(http://sundaytimes.lk/050206/news/14.html)

But the “unarmed forces” were armed with a well calculated long term strategic agenda. Tsunami devastation simply provided an ideal pretext to address the strategic needs by enhancing military ties with the region and projecting US military power throughout the Indian Ocean, which could have whipped up widespread opposition under normal conditions. There is no wonder why the very issue became one among the “Top 05 censored stories in 2005” according to Project Censored listings – a sociological project managed through the School of Social Sciences at the Sonoma State University Foundation. : “During subsequent tsunami relief operations, the U.S. reactivated its military co-operation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines. U.S. Navy also vessels utilized facilities in Singapore, keeping with previous treaties. Further, the U.S. marines and the navy arrived in Sri Lanka to bolster relief measures…”. Quoting from an article written by Delhi based defence journalist and long-time defence correspondent of Jane’s Defence Weekly Delhi, Rahul Bedi, the Project Censored researcher writes: “According to Bedi, Washington has long wanted a navel presence in Trincomalee, eastern Sri Lanka, or alternatively in Galle, further south, to shorten the supply chain from its major regional military base in distant Diego Garcia, which the British Ocean Territory leased to the U.S. in 1966 for the length of fifty years. The use of these bases would ring China, giving the U.S. added control over that country’s activities. Diego Garcia’s geostrategic location in the Indian Ocean and its full range of naval, military and communications facilities gives it a critical role supporting the U.S. Navy’s forward presence in the North Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean Region. However, because of the bases’ remoteness and the fact that its lease from Britain expires in 2016, the U.S. seeks an alternative location in the region. “Clearly these new bases will strengthen Washington’s military logistical support in the region,” says Professor Anuradha Chenoy at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University……. Post-tsunami U.S. actions in the Indian Ocean illustrate its intention to move this agenda forward sooner rather than later.”(http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/5-us-uses-tsunami-to-military-advantage-in-southeast-asia/)

The message concealed behind the rapid US response was clear and straight forward. While forcefully re-asserting its’ military and political pre-dominance in the region through swift action, US
emphasized in un-ambiguous terms – to both state and non-state actors in the region – of its capabilities and strengths. As it was spelt out by Jeffrey Bader, a National Security Council Asian expert during the Clinton administration, noted, “This gives us an opportunity to remind the countries in the region that there are things that we can do that no one else can do – and, in particular, China can’t do.” (http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Press/Newport-Papers/Documents/28-pdf.aspx)

Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS)

Despite the rising tensions, even in the Southern politics there was a slow tendency that started to realize the magnitude of the disaster, moving beyond the ethnic lines. This was reflected when the head of the Government’s Secretariat for coordinating Peace Process (SCOPP) Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala said on the 13th of January at a press conference in Colombo, that “there is a greater base on which we [GOSL and LTTE] can work together. After the tsunami disaster, there is a remarkable opportunity created to resume the stalled peace talks” While openly acknowledging “that the accessibility to rush the urgent assistance to the North-East was hindered during the first three days, he hailed the LTTE of having shown “remarkable efficiency in handling rescue and relief efforts in such a difficult circumstance” (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=13972)’

But on the 7th February 2005, just two weeks before the CFA completed its 3rd year and just one month after the Tsunami disaster, the Eastern Province Political head of the Tigers was gunned
down along with a parliamentarian from Tamil National Alliance and several others. They were assassinated as they were crossing the government controlled area after informing the relevant authorities. LTTE’s Eastern political chief Eliyathamby Nagenthiran Lingarasa alias Kausalyan’s death had a severe impact on post – tsunami peace process, as it was seen as a crucial blow to reaching an understanding between the two parties. Kausalyan, was considered as an important figure in the East, where the tensions between the Tamils and Muslims were high due to various unresolved issues. As the political chief in the area, Kausalyan took important initiatives to rebuild harmonious relationship between the two communities, mainly through Tsunami relief and rehabilitation work. He was gunned down while he was returning from an important meeting held in Tiger political headquarters in the Vanni regarding the relief operations in the East. Even the critics of the Tigers praised him for the remarkable work he had performed. One such example was well illustrated in one of the columns written by Tamil journalist D. B. S.Jeyaraj: “One of his greatest achievements was mending fences to a great extent with the estranged Muslim community. He took exceptional care to prevent Tamil – Muslim enmity erupting. He allowed Muslim traders to visit Tamil areas and do business. His death is a great loss to Tamil – Muslim brotherhood. The spontaneous hartal observed in Muslim areas to protest his killing and the remarkably large Muslim attendance at Kausalyan’s funeral at Thandiaddy is illustrative of his relationship with the Muslims… Kausalyan had left leaning tendencies. Coming from an agricultural worker background he was interested in land reform. Kausalyan spearheaded the acquisition of land from rich Tamil and Muslim landowners and distributing it in small allotments to landless peasants.” (http://www.tamilweek.com/Kausalyan.html)

Tigers angrily reacted to the killing of Kausalyan. The bitterness was expressed by many prominent Tiger leaders who were seen present at Kausalyan’s funeral. K. V. Balakumaran, one of the most senior political leaders of Tigers said: “We thought the tsunami disaster which killed Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese, regardless of their race and class, would have driven some sense into Sinhala political leaders. Kousalyan’s murder shows they have not changed. They are still intent on crushing the Tamil nation by foul means” (“This peace is not an easy one” – Tamil Guardian / February 23, 2003). The words of the Tiger leader was echoed not only by Tamils who shared same sentiments, but even by prominent Sinhala scholars such as the Head of the Political Science Department in the University of Colombo, Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda:” “The CFA gave the Sinhalese political class the necessary breathing space to resolve the conflict in partnership with the LTTE, but they seemed to have squandered the opportunity. Not even the unprecedented natural disaster of December tsunami has moved them in a constructive direction.” (Daily Mirror – 16 March 2005)

Nevertheless, the continuous efforts were made to find a way to coordinate the relief work as an initial step towards resuming direct negotiations. Despite their frustration, the Tigers conveyed these intentions to GoSL, through the Norwegian facilitators who frequently met with both parties. By the beginning of March, there were positive signs from both sides showing certain willingness to cooperate. On the 10th March 2005, the prominent Indian newspaper “The Hindu” reported ‘that the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE are closer to an agreement on a joint mechanism for post-tsunami reconstruction’. Quoting from a Colombo based Tamil daily the report further added that “the details of the proposal reportedly agreed to by the Tigers were not made public. The latest discussions between Mr. Solheim (the chief Norwegian envoy) and Mr. Balasingham are against the backdrop of ongoing efforts since January to put in place a joint-mechanism for post-tsunami reconstruction and the distribution of aid in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. While there is a broad agreement on a range of issues, the sticking points between the two sides are on access to the sea, the composition of ethnic representatives in the joint mechanism team and the mode for channeling aid to the LTTE held areas.” (http://www.hindu.com/2005/03/11/stories/2005031103081400.htm)

By April, both parties managed to sort out disagreements regarding a joint mechanism to carry out post tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction work. In spite of stalled direct talks, both the GoSL and the LTTE communicated through the Norwegian facilitators. Commenting on the positive developments, a diplomat believed to be close to the chief Norwegian envoy, was quoted in a report filed on 24th of April saying that “a deal on joint tsunami relief operations between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka could be completed by the end of May”. (http://cngs.erd.gov.lk/news/diplomat%20says.htm)

But now it was UPFA’s turn to face the rising opposition whipped up by its own allies against the proposed joint mechanism for tsunami relief. The main coalition partner of the UPFA government – the Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP – Peoples Liberation Front) actively involved in organizing massive demonstrations through their front organizations while the extreme right wing

Sinhala nationalist Buddhist monks fast against Tsunami Joint Mechanism – June 2005, Colombo, Sri Lanka

party of the Buddhist monks, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU – National Heirtage Party) convened parallel protest campaigns separately. JVP strictly warned that if the government decides to go ahead with the plan to establish a joint mechanism with the LTTE, that will inevitably mark the end of the UPFA government.

On the 10th of June, the UPFA coalition partner JVP announced a five-day dead line in which to drop the proposal of a joint mechanism with LTTE’ After emphasizing the deadline continuously, the JVP quit the ruling coalition on the 16th of June. They were joined by the JHU who demanded that the ‘joint mechanism has to be approved at a referendum, and it should also be approved by the Maha Nayakas with the blessings of the Maha Sangha.’

The massive opposition culminated by fast unto death campaigns by two Buddhist monks representing JVP and the JHU forced the government to accept their demand to discuss the agreement with Buddhist prelates before implementing it. The four Maha Nayaka Theros of the four leading chapters gathered to issue a Sangha Agna (command) and to summon a mass gathering to object to the signing of the Joint Mechanism between the GoSL and the LTTE. On the 23rd of June, in a statement to the parliament on 22nd of June, JVP signalled a possible future alliance with the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who remained silent over the controversial joint mechanism. While addressing the parliament JVP’s Parliamentary group leader expressed their solidarity with the Prime Minister Rajapaksa: “If the struggle you are engaged in to defeat the conspiracy, staged by a minority clique sustained by foreign aid of a few NGOs, is successful, maybe we’ll meet on one platform again.”(http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2005/6/2350.html)

Notwithstanding the growing opposition, on the 24th of June 2005, the Government and the LTTE signed an agreement for establishing a Joint Mechanism on Tsunami Aid Distribution. Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure or P-TOMS as it is widely known is the regulatory outcome of the above said joint mechanism. On the same day the JVP announced that it will legally challenge the P-TOMS. On the 27th JVP filed a case in country’s Supreme Court stating ‘that the PTOMS should be made null and void, and that the court should place an interim injunction with immediate effect on its authority to divest development funds.’

Even though the signing of the agreement was interpreted as a break through, the government’s action did not show any significant progress with regard to practical implementation of the agreement. The relevant committees weren’t appointed until three weeks had elapsed. Foreseeing the fate of the joint mechanism long before it was signed, Dharmaratnam Sivaram, the brilliant analyst and well known journalist wrote on the 24th of April: “Lets take the joint mechanism. This has to do with the destruction of homes, displacement and refugees. The six rounds of talks between the Liberation Tigers and the government of Sri Lanka sought to resolves issues around these. But what happened? Nothing! The first thing needed to address the destruction of dwellings and to resettle refugees is land, then money. Both of these remain in the firm hold of the government of Sri Lanka. Its constitution prevents the dissemination of its executive powers on these matters to any other body. That is why the former government and the Liberation Tigers failed to create any meaningful body to reconstruct the Tamil areas devastated by war or to resettle displaced civilians. Sinhala legal experts pointed out then that any such body would contravene the constitution of Sri Lanka and some chauvinists even threatened to ask the Supreme Court to render it invalid. The joint mechanism in relation to the Tsunami damage also relates to the destruction of dwellings, displacement and refugees. Therefore no one can prevent the same basic stumbling blocks appearing again.” (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=14796)

The article became his very last journalistic contribution. On the 28th of April 2005, four days after the article was published, Dharmaratnam Sivaram was gunned down, after being abducted in Colombo. But his death could not prevent his prophetic words becoming a reality. On the 15th of July, the Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court delivered its judgement on the Interim Relief, sought by the JVP, against the P-TOMS agreement. The petitioners sought interim relief against the establishment of the Regional Committees and the Regional Fund, in the tsunami affected areas of the Northern and Eastern Coasts. They held that the proposed bodies are illegal and unconstitutional. Through its judgement, Supreme Court stayed critical operational clauses of the P-TOMS signed by Colombo and the LTTE. “The three-member Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice, unanimously stayed the project approval and fund management functions of the committee — the most critical element of the joint mechanism at the regional level.”(The Hindu – 16.07.2005)

On the 18th of July, the Tigers expressed their deep frustration through an interview given by LTTE’s political chief, while confirming their further commitment to the CFA: “As Tamil people have repeatedly witnessed in their tortuous history of the past several decades, Colombo has shown its reluctance to provide remedies to Tamil people even after humanitarian disasters of colossal proportions… This is an unfortunate turn of events. Sinhala leaders have been using one strategy or another to scuttle any deal that provides some benefit to Tamils. Sinhala leaders often resorted to using Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists, extreme Sinhala nationalist parties, or Buddhist clergy and if all fails, using the judicial system to defend the injustices and institutionalized discrimination of Tamils. Joint Mechanism was drafted to provide swift redress to a people who have undergone untold hardships. The reaction of the Sinhala polity to this humanitarian deal can be explained in the above historical context.” (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=15414)

On the 12th of September, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court extended its interim injunction on the implementation of certain clauses of the P-TOMS until November 22. It fixed the inquiry into the
petition filed by the JVP seeking the cancellation of the P-TOMS on the same date. But by then the presidential election date was set for 18th November. The extreme nationalist forces such as JVP and JHU, who fought relentlessly to abolish the P-TOMS had turned into closest allies of the UPFA presidential candidate, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. UPFA election manifesto clearly spelt out his future policy regarding the Tsunami joint mechanism: “The proposed Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure would not be implemented. It would be replaced with ‘Jaya Lanka’ programme, which would be designed to immediately provide for rehabilitation in keeping with the views and proposals of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims’’” (Victory for Sri Lanka: Mahinda Chintana – Page 36)

First the Sub Committees collapsed. Then the proposals for an Interim Self Governing Authority was abandoned. Now it was the time to throw another bilateral agreement into the same old dustbin, as it frequently happened in Sri Lankan history.


UPI Almanac for Monday, April 20, 2015

Today is Monday, April 20, the 110th day of 2015 with 255 to follow.

The moon is waxing. Morning stars are Neptune, Uranus and Saturn. Evening stars are Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Venus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, in 571 Roman Catholic St. Rose of Lima in 1586 French Emperor Napoleon III in 1808 sculptor Daniel Chester French in 1850 golf pioneer "Young" Tom Morris in 1851 German dictator Adolf Hitler in 1889 silent film comedian Harold Lloyd in 1893 Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miro in 1893 musician Lionel Hampton in 1908 former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in 1920 (age 95) actor Nina Foch in 1924 actor George Takei in 1937 (age 78) actor Ryan O'Neal in 1941 (age 74) Steve Spurrier, football coach /1966 Heisman Trophy winner, in 1945 (age 70) actor Jessica Lange in 1949 (age 66) actor Veronica Cartwright in 1949 (age 66) singer Luther Vandross in 1951 actor Clint Howard in 1959 (age 55) actor Crispin Glover in 1964 (age 51) actor Andy Serkis in 1964 (age 51) actor Carmen Electra in 1972 (age 43) actor Joey Lawrence in 1976 (age 39).

In 1871, the U.S. Congress passed the Third Force Act, popularly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, authorizing President Ulysses S. Grant to declare martial law, impose heavy penalties against terrorist organizations and use military force to suppress the Klan.

In 1902, Marie and Pierre Curie isolated radioactive radium salts from the mineral pitchblende in their laboratory in Paris.

In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal courts could order low-cost housing for minorities in a city's white suburbs to ease racial segregation.

In 1991, the United States announced plans to open an office in Hanoi to investigate unresolved cases of 2,278 U.S. military personnel listed as MIAs and POWs.

In 1992, Madonna signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Time Warner to form an entertainment company that would make her the world's highest paid female pop star.

In 1998, a federal jury in Chicago awarded more than $85,000 in damages to two women's health clinics that had accused abortion rights opponents of threats and extortion in an effort to shut them down.

In 1999, two teenage boys killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., before turning their guns on themselves.

In 2008, Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 auto race, becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar event.

In 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon BP oil rig off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and caused a massive oil spill. (It became the largest U.S. marine oil spill in history, stretching over almost three months and releasing about 4.9 million barrels of crude.)

In 2011, Michel Martelly, an entertainer who performed under the name "Sweet Micky," was elected president of Haiti in a runoff with former first lady Mirlande Manigat.

In 2012, a Pakistani Bhoja Air jetliner on a flight from Karachi crashed 5 miles from Islamabad, killing all 127 people aboard.

In 2013, an earthquake in China's Sichuan province killed nearly 200 people and injured thousands.

In 2014, Boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who was imprisoned 19 years after being wrongly convicted of a triple murder, died at his Toronto home at age 76. For more than a decade, Carter was executive director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.

A thought for the day: "Middle age is when you're sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn't for you." -- Ogden Nash