Archive for the ‘violence’ Category

IVAN THE TERRIBLE Also: Ivan IV, Ivan Grozny 1530-1584 CZAR OF ALL RUSSIA 1547-1584   Leave a comment

Ivan IV of Russia ("Ivan the Terrible&quo...

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Ivan IV, know as Ivan the Terrible, is most known for his brutal ruling, centralised administration of Russia and expantion of the boundaries of the Russian Empire. He was born in Moscow on August 25, 1530, the oldest son of Vasilij III.

Ivan was only three years old when his Father, Vasilij III died. Ivan’s Mother, Yelena Glinskaya was leading Boyar (Noble) Family established a regency, but it soon degenerated into intrigue, denuncation and wild violence as rival boyars disputed the dominance of Glinsky Family. Yelena died in 1538 and misrule continued. Ivan had a poor health, he was largely ignored and his education was neglected.

Ivan the Terrible assumed the throne in 1547 at the age of seventeen and immediately proclaimed himself “Tsar” (Czar) , instead of Grand Duke. In the same year Ivan married Anastasia Romanov. When Anastasia died in 1560, he remarried. Among his wives are Marie Tscerkaski (1561) and Maria Sobakina (1571).

Ivan justly deserved his reputation as a tyrant and his reign was peppered with battles with foreign invaders. Kazan was finally wrestled from the grasp of the Tartars in 1552 and St. Basil’s Cathedral was built on Red Square to celebrate the occasion. Ivan seized Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea two years later, and having repelled the Tartars completely, he looked west to the Duchy of Livonia, which he invaded despite protests from Poland and Sweden.

Painting by Repin - Ivan the Terrible killing his sonIn 1560 the Tsar was devastated by the death of his beloved wife Anastasia and turned on his once favored courtiers and nobles, blaming them for her death. Although Ivan abdicated in 1564 in protest, he was urged back to power and began a rule of terror never before seen in Russian history. He divided the country into two clean-cut spheres, the one (the oprichnina) encompassing his personal domain, and the other (the zemshchina) representing the rest. Ivan broke the power of the Muscovite boyars, exiling thousands of them to Siberia, and created a new militia. These hand-picked oprichniki, as he named them, were devoted to his orders and were encouraged to rape, loot, burn, kill and torture in the Tsar’s name. They spread terror throughout Russia, culminating in the atrocious massacre of Novgorod in 1569, when as many as 60,000 citizens were tortured to death for supposedly plotting to side with Poland.

In 1571 the Tartars raided Moscow, burning much of the city and taking thousands of citizens away as slaves. Ivan fled to Yaroslavl, where he spent much of his remaining decade in power plotting to usurp the Polish throne. In 1581 a combined Polish and Swedish invasion prompted the Tsar to concede Livonia to the Poles.

In 1582, in an attack of unexplained rage, Ivan had killed his eldest son, Tsarevich Ivan, by striking him with an iron rod. He died on March 18, 1584. Although the transition from Ivan to his son and successor, Feodor I, was relatively easy and quiet, Moscow was, according to most observers, on the verge of anarchy as a result of Ivan The Terrible’s policies.

Gypsies in the Holocaust   4 comments

Muslim Gypsies from Bosnia.

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Gypsies in the Holocaust.

via Gypsies in the Holocaust.

“For Nazi Germany the Gypsies became a racist dilemma. The Gypsies were Aryans, but in the Nazi mind there were contradictions between what they regarded as the superiority of the Aryan race and their image of the Gypsies…

At a conference held in Berlin on January 30, 1940, a decision was taken to expel 30,000 Gypsies from Germany to the territories of occupied Poland…

The reports of the SS Einsatzgruppen [special task forces] which operated in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union mention the murder of thousands of Gypsies along with the massive extermination of the Jews in these areas.

The deportations and executions of the Gypsies came under Himmler’s authority. On December 16, 1942, Himmler issued an order to send all Gypsies to the concentration camps, with a few exceptions…

The deported Gypsies were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where a special Gypsy camp was erected. Over 20,000 Gypsies from Germany and some other parts of Europe were sent to this camp, and most of them were gassed there…

Wiernik described the arrival of the largest Gypsy group brought to Treblinka, in the spring of 1943:

One day, while I was working near the gate, I noticed the Germans and Ukrainians making special preparations…meanwhile the gate opened, and about 1,000 Gypsies were brought in (this was the third transport of Gypsies). About 200 of them were men, and the rest women and children…all the Gypsies were taken to the gas chambers and then burned…

Gypsies from the General Government [Poland] who were not sent to Auschwitz and to the operation Reinhard camps were shot on spot by the local police or gendarmes. In the eastern region of the Cracow district, in the counties of Sanok, Jaslo, and Rzeszow, close to 1,000 Gypsies were shot…”

[Excerpted from Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka—The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. IN: Indiana University Press, 1987, pp. 150­153.]

According to The Institut Fuer Zeitgeschicthe in Munich, at least 4,000 gypsies were murdered by gas at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


Happy 235th Birthday, U.S. Marine Corps – TIME NewsFeed   Leave a comment

Five Marines with fixed bayonets, and their NC...

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Happy 235th Birthday, U.S. Marine Corps – TIME NewsFeed.

via Happy 235th Birthday, U.S. Marine Corps – TIME NewsFeed.

via Happy 235th Birthday, U.S. Marine Corps – TIME NewsFeed.

Before America established its footing as an independent nation, the unit defined as “The Few, The Proud” had already launched its quest to defend freedom.

Wednesday marks the 235th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The Marines’ history division reveals that the Nov. 10 date was formally commemorated in 1921 — 151 years after the Second Continental Congress raised two battalions of Continental Marines in 1775. That makes the Marine Corps nearly eight months older than America itself.

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Arms trafficking in Thailand not a new phenomenon   Leave a comment

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Robert Karniol
The Straits Times
Publication Date : 18-10-2010

A decade ago, I wrote a conference paper on arms trafficking in the Golden Triangle region. Recent events in Bangkok bring to mind some of its salient points.

The Golden Triangle is that loose area where Burma, Laos and Thailand meet. A portion of Yunnan province in south-west China may be included as well.

The paper saw this ethnically diverse region as a single geographic, social and cultural entity that transcends these formal borders. Historically, national governments that putatively have sovereignty over portions of the Golden Triangle had little influence there.

The semi-autonomy contributed to lawlessness and this, in turn, produced a profusion of arms and private armies – partly for self protection and partly connected to trade activity, the latter including substantial quantities of opium and other illicit material. The arms trade supporting this dynamic had Thailand as its hub, though sourcing from China has become more apparent in recent years.

Arms trafficking from Thailand fell under two categories: covert and criminal, with the two often overlapping. Covert activity involved supplies and support from the Thai security apparatus under a strategic policy in place until the early 1990s, to maintain buffer zones along border areas. Criminal activity was, of course, commercially driven.

The weaponry and ammunition originated domestically or simply transited through Thai territory. Materials in transit were sourced from Cambodia ( reduced in recent years); from Viet Nam or the former Soviet bloc. There were also reports of involvement by middlemen based in Singapore.

Most of this war material went overland to insurgents in Burma and Laos, but some was destined for further afield, including to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and secessionist fighters in India’s north-east. But it is the domestic sourcing that is likely most relevant to the unsettled atmosphere now prevalent in Thailand.

Weaponry obtained in Thailand and destined for the black market trade originated mainly from local military stocks or from unscrupulous arms dealers. At least one incident involved theft from an American stockpile maintained in the country for training use.

“According to a Bangkok-based intelligence source,” I wrote in 2000, “one method of siphoning from Thai army stocks involves over-reporting the amount of ammunition consumed during training exercises.”

The paper further notes: “Locally- sourced military equipment is largely purloined from Royal Thai Army stocks. This includes material simply stolen from storage areas and material obtained with the collusion of corrupt military personnel who over-report usage and siphon off the excess.

“Some licensed arms dealers also support the trade, under-declaring the volume of legally imported material and selling the surplus stock so obtained to illicit arms traffickers. Published reports also suggest that some contraband war material confiscated during police raids has reappeared on the market.”

However, conditions inevitably fluctuate. “One Bangkok-based intelligence source says that a single round of ammunition for the M-16 assault rifle is now selling in the Golden Triangle for 15 baht as compared with the previous price of five baht,” the paper states. “This indicates tight supply.”

And how does all this relate to events currently unfolding?

Bangkok has been rocked by over 70 bombings since violent confrontations between the military and red-shirt protesters in April and May, and another 43 explosive devices have been defused by police. Thailand’s special investigations department, meanwhile, alleged on October 11 that a number of red-shirt militants have received weapons training in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which Phnom Penh denies.

“Some 32 rocket-propelled grenades, 8,000 bullets for United States-supplied M-16 assault rifles and other weaponry disappeared from an army arsenal during September. A similar mysterious theft of 69 hand grenades and 3,100 bullets for assault rifles occurred at a different army depot in March,” Bangkok-based journalist Richard Ehrlich further noted in a recent article.

The intention behind such activity is unclear. Some suggest the bombings are rooted in radical red-shirt efforts to destabilise the administration, while others suspect a government hand. Commenting on the latter view, Ehrlich stated that “the red shirts and their supporters portray Bangkok’s bombings as a shameless conspiracy by the government to entrench the military, justify the government’s ongoing state of emergency decree and smear innocent (red shirts).”

Neither position has as yet been substantiated, with no hard evidence uncovered. Or at least made public.

But one thing is nevertheless clear: the siphoning of small arms and ammunition from Thai military arsenals has been prevalent for years and is not a new phenomenon. Neither has the local availability of this material posed a significant problem.

Where this trade has traditionally fed the illicit export market, it can just as easily fulfil domestic purposes. If circumstances require.

Posted October 18, 2010 by dmacc502 in global, violence

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In Just One Year, A Mexican City Turns Violent : NPR   Leave a comment

U.S. Route 83 running through a major retail d...

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In Just One Year, A Mexican City Turns Violent : NPR.

via In Just One Year, A Mexican City Turns Violent : NPR.

As Mexican President Felipe Calderon pushes forward with his war against the drug cartels, various parts of the country have been affected in different ways. Recently, the state of Tamaulipas, which borders the southern tip of Texas, has seen a significant surge in violence.

Just a year ago, Reynosa — a dusty, sprawling city of half a million people across the border from McAllen, Texas — was a relatively peaceful part of the country. Now it’s one of the most dangerous places in Mexico.

This is a maquila town. There are roughly 140 factories — maquiladoras — that float in a free-trade limbo between the U.S. and Mexico. During the day in downtown Reynosa, shops bustle with activity. Young men sell pirated DVDs on the sidewalk. Music blares from a CD store. Shoeshine men polish shoes.

But this is a city that, this year, has become seized with fear.

As night falls, so do the metal shutters on the businesses — and the streets become eerily empty.

“It’s not officially declared a war, but we are in a war zone,” says Eliacib Leija, 40, who grew up in Reynosa. Now he’s the coordinator for President Calderon’s PAN party in the state of Tamaulipas. “Most of the people stay home after 6, 8 at night. Just don’t go out; you take your precautions. Because once in a while you hear a bunch of shootings and things like that.”


Posted October 17, 2010 by dmacc502 in violence

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