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August 29, 2012

Israeli archaeologist digs into Sobibor death camp in search of Nazi killing machines, answers

Israeli archaeologist digs into Sobibor death camp in search of Nazi killing machines - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
Sobibor, in eastern Poland, marks perhaps the most vivid example of the "Final Solution," the Nazi plot to wipe out European Jewry. Unlike other camps that had at least a facade of being prison or labor camps, Sobibor and the neighboring camps Belzec and Treblinka were designed specifically for exterminating Jews. Victims were transported there in cattle cars and gassed to death almost immediately. But researching Sobibor has been difficult. After an October 1943 uprising at the camp, the Nazis shut it down and leveled it to the ground, replanting over it to cover their tracks. . . . He also discovered that another encampment was not located where originally thought and uncovered an internal train route within Sobibor. He dug up mounds of bullets at killing sites, utensils from where he believes the camp kitchen was located and a swastika insignia of a Nazi officer. Along the way, he and his Polish partner Wojciech Mazurek, along with some 20 laborers, have stumbled on thousands of personal items belonging to the victims: eye glasses, perfume bottles, dentures, rings, watches, a child's Mickey Mouse pin, a diamond-studded gold chain, a pair of gold earrings inscribed ER — apparently the owner's initials — and a silver medallion engraved with the name "Hanna." He also uncovered a unique version of the yellow star Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, made out of metal instead of cloth, which researchers determined to have originated in Slovakia.

August 28, 2012

If you're trying to create a Bigfoot hoax, don't run out onto the highway

Bigfoot hoax ends in death, authorities say - CNN.com
(CNN) -- A man trying to create a Bigfoot hoax on a highway died after being hit by two cars, officials in Montana said. Randy Lee Tenley dressed in a Ghillie suit -- camouflage designed to resemble heavy foliage -- and stepped out onto Highway 93 Sunday night, officials said. "He probably would not have been very easy to see at all," said Jim Schneider, a state trooper. A 15-year-old girl hit him with her car, another car swerved, and a third car driven by a 17-year-old ran him over, CNN affiliate KECI reported. Tenley was "well into the driving lane," and according to his companions he was "attempting to incite a sighting of Bigfoot -- to make people think they had seen a Sasquatch," Schneider said in the KECI report. . . .

August 23, 2012

Portrait of Life at an Israeli Checkpoint: Terror, Power, and Cruelty

Boston Review — Oded Na’aman: The Checkpoint
As you stand at the checkpoint, you must constantly consider the various ways in which you may be attacked: Where are they going to come from? What will their strategy be? Is that child as innocent as he seems, or is he smuggling a weapon? Is that ambulance really rushing a woman to the hospital to give birth, or are there enemies hiding inside? Is that old man harmless, or is he deliberately diverting your attention from something that is happening behind your back? You have to get into their minds. They are creative, and they have already exploited our naivety and good will in the past. They can come up with anything, and you have to come up with it first. These are the instructions soldiers receive before beginning their principle combat mission in the IDF: enforcement of military rule in the West Bank. In the West Bank, the IDF is directed neither to conquer enemy territory nor to prevent an enemy from conquest. It is engaged in “low intensity conflict,” a phrase that encapsulates the indecisiveness of occupation. The enemy—the foreign people the military is charged with subduing—is within a territory that is already under the military’s control. Since the military occupies the land on which the enemy resides, it cannot conquer the enemy’s land any more than it already has. And insofar as the enemy has no land, it has no political independence, no real capacity for civic life. It is therefore impossible for Israel—logically impossible—to “go to war” with the Palestinians in the West Bank: Palestinian individuals may suffer to a greater or lesser degree, but the Palestinian people, as a people, cannot be further defeated. At the same time, West Bank Palestinians are foreign to Israel. They are not Israeli citizens, and Israeli civil law does not apply to them. Israeli martial law—the law that, at least in principle, guides and constrains the IDF—also is not a law for the Palestinians, although it does affect their lives in profound ways. Law does not govern the relations between the State of Israel and Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Unlike citizens, who obey the police not only because they are powerful but also because they are authoritative, Palestinians obey the orders of the IDF only because it is powerful. Military laws in the West Bank therefore are not laws at all, but merely what the legal philosopher H. L. A. Hart called “orders backed by threats”: the source and limit of their authority depends on the source and limit of particular threats. . . .