Portraits of 10 Women Who Acted as Spies to Stop the Nazis

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. The Germans would have done well to take note of William Congreve’s writings during World War II. While the efforts of men in war have been well highlighted, we often forget that women played just as large a role in ensuring victory. Some piloted planes, others worked hard in factories, and a very special few joined the Allied secret service. The following 10 women risked their own lives to scout enemy positions, bomb railroads, and ensure that the Third Reich met its match.

1. Andree Borrel

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Andree was contributing to the war effort even before becoming a spy. This French national and her friend were responsible for an underground railway into Spain, which they used to evacuate downed Allied airmen from occupied France. When the network was betrayed in 1940, she fled to Portugal and eventually joined SOE in 1942.

She was one of the first female agents to parachute into France along with Lise de Baissac on September 24, 1942. After joining the resistance in Paris, she became second in command of the local network by March 1943. Responsible for attacking a power station and other infrastructure, she and three key members were arrested. After proving too tough to crack through interrogation, she was taken to a concentration camp where she was given a lethal injection. Andree regained consciousness after the injection. Fighting the doctors for her life, she was eventually overpowered and cremated while alive.

2. Nancy Wake

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Born on August 30, 1912, in Wellington, New Zealand, Nancy worked as a journalist in pre-war Nazi Germany. After marrying a French industrialist, she joined the French Resistance in occupied France and helped British airmen escape capture. In December 1940, after being betrayed, Wake was captured. After convincing her guards that she wasn’t the woman they were looking for, she traveled to Britain and joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE). This was where she learned that her husband had been shot by Gestapo agents—which turned out to be a bad move on their part when Nancy came back with a vengeance.

She was dropped back into France in 1944 to coordinate Resistance attacks with the planned D-Day landings. This time she led an armed raid against Gestapo headquarters and German gun factories. After getting separated from her radio operator during a German counter-attack, she walked 200 kilometers (124 miles) and biked a 100 more kilometers (62 miles) to contact another operator. One of her resistance members said, “She is the most feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. Then she is like five men.” Nancy died in 2011, at the age of 98.

3. Violette Reine

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A French national, Violette moved to London before the start of the war. It was here that she met, fell in love with, married, and had a child with Etienne Szabo, a French Foreign Legion Officer serving with Free French forces. After Szabo was killed in 1942, Violette joined SOE to avenge his death (a common theme that might suggest making enemies of women was the downfall of Nazi Germany).

Replacing Philippe Liewer, an agent who had been uncovered and was hiding in Paris, she helped to completely restructure and reorder the shattered resistance movement in Normandy in June 1943. She also led sabotage missions against roads and railways as well as spotted potential bombing targets for the British. After briefly returning to Britain, she went on a second mission into France in which her car was ambushed. After holding off German troops with 64 rounds of ammunition so that her colleague could escape, she was captured and deported to Saarbrucken along with two other female agents and 37 male prisoners. During the transit, she used the cover of an Allied air raid to gather water for the imprisoned men in her final valorous act before she was executed on January 27, 1945.

4. Cecile Pearl Witherington

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Cecile, a Brit born in France, joined SOE on June 8, 1943, after fleeing France. When she dropped into France on September 22, 1943, she started as a courier. The Germans, not taking kindly to even the prettiest of girls smuggling illegal weapons and intel, made even this low-level job incredibly dangerous.

When her superior was arrested, Cecile took over his duties. As leader of the Wrestler resistance network, she fielded over 1,500 fighters who played key roles in the Normandy landings. They were so effective that the Germans placed a 1,000,000 franc bounty on her head. In one instance, a force of 2,000 German soldiers were sent to attack her and her men in a battle which lasted 14 hours. The battle saw the death of 86 Germans and 24 of her freedom fighters. In all, 1,000 German soldiers were killed under her command, and railways connecting South and North France were disrupted over 800 times. In the final days of the occupation, she presided over the surrender of 18,000 Germans.

5. Virginia Hall

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Virginia may be the most impressive of the women on this list. While they all kicked Hitler’s butt, Hall did it with only one real foot—the other was a prosthesis, and a terrible prosthesis given the time. No stranger to danger, she served as an ambulance driver during the invasion of France, which we’re sure was an incredibly difficult task with the lack of automatic transmissions and even harder still with the clutch.

Before even becoming an agent, she organized the resistance, helped downed pilots, and carried out raids in 1941 under the guise of an American reporter. The Germans declared the “Limping Lady” one of the most dangerous Allied spies in 1942, and with her very unique limp, she was forced out of France. The American equivalent of SOE recruited Virginia in 1944 and sent her into France via parachute in 1944, with her prosthesis in her backpack. From her landing onward, she disguised herself as a farmhand and trained French resistance troops, organized sabotages, and helped with the resistance role in D-Day.

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5 facts about U.S. evangelical Protestants

My best estimate is that 50% or so Americans do not have a clue who Billy Graham is/was and never heard him preach. He has not been actively doing anything since mid- 1970 – those under 40 years –
Billy who?

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The Rev. Billy Graham, who recently died at age 99, was one of the most influential and important evangelical Christian leaders of the 20th century. As the country remembers Rev. Billy Graham, here are five facts about American evangelical Protestants.

B’Tselem: New footage shows Israeli soldiers shoot, beat Palestinian to death

PNN/ Jericho/

On the night of 22 February 2018, about 20 Israeli soldiers entered Jericho city as part of a raid and arrest campaign, where they entered a home and searched it while other soldiers waited at the entrance to the alley where the house was located.

The soldiers’ presence led to clashes in which Palestinians threw stones at the soldiers. At some point, Yassin a-Saradih (35) ran with an iron bar attached to a car wheel rim towards the soldiers who were standing at the entrance to the alley, in an attempt to attack them.

A report by B’Tselem on Wednesday published new footage by CCTV cameras of nearby shops, showing Israeli soldiers shoot and beat Saradih to death.

The video, collected by B’Tselem, shows the following:

“In video footage captured by security cameras of nearby stores, a-Saradih is seen running towards the soldiers with the bar. A soldier then shoots him in the lower body at point blank range. After the shooting, three other soldiers emerge from the alley and all four forcefully kick a-Saradih, who is lying on the ground. The soldiers are seen beating him with their rifles and dragging him into the alley. There, they continue to drag him along face down and then lean over him, shine flashlights on him, kick him lightly and move him with their feet. After about ten minutes, during which time they offer the wounded man no medical assistance, one of the soldiers fires a tear-gas cannister at the entrance to the alley. The soldiers are then seen dragging a-Saradih into the alley, out of the cameras’ range, apparently to avoid the tear gas that drifted their way.

“About fifteen minutes later, the soldiers are seen again outside the alley, this time carrying a-Saradih by his arms and legs. They hoist him onto a military jeep that drives up and he is driven away.

“The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit changed its version of the event several times. In its first response, the unit stated that a-Saradih had attacked the soldiers, armed with a knife, and had attempted to grab their weapons, and that during his arrest he had sustained an injury and received first aid. In a second announcement issued later that day, the unit stated only that he had tried to attack the force, which “responded with gunfire, confronted the terrorist from close range and managed to stop him”, and that a knife had later been found on a-Saradih’s body. The next day, the military claimed that he had apparently died from tear gas inhalation.

According to the autopsy results published that day by the media, a-Saradih was shot with live ammunition in the abdomen and may have died of blood loss. Nevertheless, the military continued to claim that the paramedics who treated him saw no sign of bullet entry.

“This is a particularly grave incident: The soldiers forcefully kicked a severely wounded man lying on the ground and beat him with their rifles in the head, upper body and groin,” B’Tselem said. “Then they dragged him along an alleyway as though he were not a human being and did not offer him crucial medical aid for more than thirty minutes.”

B’Tselem concluded by saying:

“In light of this unacceptable conduct, the attempts made by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit to justify the incident with one excuse or another are equally disturbing – as is the resounding silence of military and civilian officials. The absence of a firm, unequivocal statement by the military that such conduct will not be tolerated effectively condones the soldiers’ actions, allowing such incidents to recur in the future. The announcement that a Military Police investigation has been launched, as reported by the media, is meant merely to create the illusion that the military is treating the incident with all seriousness. Based on years of experience, the investigation is unlikely to result in any indictment of the persons responsible for the killing and ill-treatment of a-Saradih – certainly not among the higher ranks.”

Links to full video footage:

 

Head of Nation’s Biggest Teachers’ Union Says Arming School Teachers is “Insane”

“Firearm skills degrade quickly,” wrote the NASRO, “which is why most law enforcement agencies require their officers to practice on a shooting range frequently (as often as once per month), under simulated, high-stress conditions. Anyone without such frequent, ongoing practice will likely have difficulty using a firearm safely and effectively.”

And then there was this point:

“Anyone who hasn’t received the extensive training provided to law enforcement officers will likely be mentally unprepared to take a life, especially the life of a student assailant.”

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump hosted another meeting pertaining to the frightening and tragic issue of school shootings, and what the nation ought to be doing to prevent them. The president has hosted a series of such meetings in the two weeks since the Feb. 14 killing of seventeen students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.

At each meeting, POTUS has suggested a slightly different combination of possible policy changes, the most controversial and consistent being his notion of arming a significant percentage of school teachers with guns.

Also on Wednesday, Randi Weingarten the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), sent a polite but firmly-worded letter to President Trump to explain why his recent proposal to arm teachers, most of whom are members of her union, was….well…insane.

Actually, Ms. Weingarten, who has held the top position of the powerful 1.7 million member union since 2008, didn’t use the word “insane” in her letter. She did, however, use it on C-SPAN a few days earlier.

Instead, Weingarten told Mr.Trump what she’d heard when she held “a telephone town hall” about the matter in which 600,000 educators participated, and also what she said she’d learned in talking to hundreds of educators in Broward County after the school massacre in Parkland.

“The response we have heard,” she wrote, “is universal. Teachers don’t want to be armed. We want to teach. Our first instinct is to protect kids, not engage in a shootout that would place more children in danger.”

This don’t-arm-teachers message was most notably expressed, according to the union leader, “from educators who are gun owners, military veterans and National Rifle Association members.”

Trump’s call to arms for teachers, Weingarten also pointed out, brings up a host of logistical questions.

First of all, how exactly would this work? Would every classroom now need a gun closet? If so, “where would the key be stored?”

Most armed professionals are expected to regularly recertify for proficiency, she pointed out. So what what about teachers? And what kind of guns are we talking about, Weingarten asked. Would teachers get firearms “similar to the military-style AR-15 weapons” that so many school shooters seemed to favor?

What about funding? Who would provide the billions of dollars it would take to pay for guns, ammunition and training, “when so many schools currently lack nurses, guidance counselors, and school resource officers and have a multitude of other unmet needs?” Surely those needs should come first.

And in the seconds after an active shooter alert, “are teachers supposed to get their guns or get their students to safety?”

Last of all, she wanted to know if teachers would be “held liable for their actions and decisions?”

Weingarten is also an attorney.

As fate would have it, a few hours after Weingarten’s letter went off to the president and was forwarded to the press, the point of view that the majority of her union members seemed to share was scarily illustrated when a well-liked 53-year-old social studies teacher at Dalton High School in northwest Georgia, locked his classroom door, and proceeded to terrify students by firing a shot through his classroom window.

Although, according to Dalton police, the teacher, whose name is Jesse Randall Davidson, ultimately surrendered to officers peacefully, the incident was sobering.

It is also interesting to note that, like the majority of teachers, school resource officers are dead against the idea of arming educators. The National Association of School Resource Officers said as much in detail a week ago, with a press release that listed six very specific reasons why.

One of the reasons made the same point that Weingarten made about recertification:

“Firearm skills degrade quickly,” wrote the NASRO, “which is why most law enforcement agencies require their officers to practice on a shooting range frequently (as often as once per month), under simulated, high-stress conditions. Anyone without such frequent, ongoing practice will likely have difficulty using a firearm safely and effectively.”

And then there was this point:

“Anyone who hasn’t received the extensive training provided to law enforcement officers will likely be mentally unprepared to take a life, especially the life of a student assailant.”

One might hope that teachers and school cops would have the last word on this issue. Yet, this week, Florida’s Republican-controlled state House and Senate moved bills forward that would train teachers to carry guns in classrooms.

Lawmakers in Michigan, Alabama, and Tennessee have their own similar bills moving through the legislative process.

Interestingly, several of the Tennessee lawmakers who strongly favored the bill in question argued, without any apparent irony, that the proposed law to arm educators was particularly necessary because the state had not allocated funds to hire school resource officers.

Thursday Open Thread | It’s Crooks R Us With This Administration

A spokesperson for Mulvaney told Arnold that the decision to drop the case against Golden Valley, which CFPB staff had spent years building, was made by the agency’s staffers themselves. Staffers denied this wildly implausible defense, and Mulvaney’s spokesperson eventually retracted it.

Just ask yourself…

WHAT IF….

44 had just ONE of these people….

JUST ONE….

Yeah, you know the answer to that.

The Trump Administration Is a Golden Age for Corporate Crooks

By Jonathan Chait

The Republican Party’s main legislative achievement was to facilitate the direct transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars into the hands of business owners. (The proceeds of the Trump tax cuts are mainly going into stock buybacks, a simple windfall for owners of capital.) But a second, less visible channel is the Trump administration’s program of lax regulation. While the tax cuts spray money at business owners as a whole, weak enforcement of regulations confers a windfall targeted specifically at businesses that cheat their customers or break the law.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought dramatically fewer cases and lower penalties under Trump. From last February through September, the agency brought 15 cases and collected $127 million in civil penalties, in comparison with 43 cases and $702 million in penalties during a comparable period in 2016. Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency is collecting far less in penalties from polluters than it did under any of the previous three administrations:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to fill in a bare spot in the federal regulatory design: financial products, which are inherently complex and in need of regulation, had been marketed to largely unwitting customers with a minimal amount of oversight, resulting in endemic fraud. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the CFPB, has called the agency itself a “sick, sad joke.” Just how his vision would translate into practice has already become apparent.

Chris Arnold reports for NPR that Mulvaney forced the agency to drop a lawsuit against alleged loan-shark outfit Golden Valley Lending. Arnold found a Golden Valley victim named Julie Bonenfant, from Detroit, who needed money after a breakup and having her car stolen led to falling behind on rent. Over the course of a year, Bonenfant paid $3,735 to Golden Valley for a $900 loan. “A key backer of Golden Valley was recently convicted of racketeering charges in a case involving another online lender, according to court documents,” reports Arnold.

A spokesperson for Mulvaney told Arnold that the decision to drop the case against Golden Valley, which CFPB staff had spent years building, was made by the agency’s staffers themselves. Staffers denied this wildly implausible defense, and Mulvaney’s spokesperson eventually retracted it.