7 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Navy

7 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Navy

1. George Washington was the father of the Navy.

Despite having virtually no experience at sea, George Washington was a huge early proponent of the Navy, believing among other things that it would disrupt British supply lines. “It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious,” he wrote. Rather than wait for the Continental Congress to act, he used his authority as commander in chief of the Army to convert a small flotilla of fishing schooners into warships.

The first of these, named Hannah after the wife of its owner, departed the Massachusetts coast in September 1775—over a month before the Continental Congress, upon being apprised of Washington’s activities, officially established the Navy. The Hannah has since entered into lore as the Navy’s founding vessel. Though it ran aground scarcely a month into service and was decommissioned, the rest of Washington’s flotilla fared better. All told, it captured 55 British ships by the time it dissolved in 1777.

2. The Navy was disbanded following the Revolutionary War.

The Continental Navy, state navies, Washington’s flotilla and privateers all battled the British during the Revolutionary War. But some notable victories aside—commander John Paul Jones, for instance, captured the frigate HMS Serapis after purportedly yelling, “I have not yet begun to fight!”—the American presence at sea was minimal compared to that of Britain’s all-powerful Royal Navy.

By August 1781 the Continental Navy had shrunk to just two active warships. Luckily for the colonists, France had joined their side. In a major September 1781 naval battle, the French gained control of the Chesapeake Bay, thus paving the way for the British surrender at Yorktown the following month. With money tight and no clear reason to maintain them, the Continental Navy’s remaining ships were then sold or given away. The last to go, in 1785, was Alliance, a frigate that just two years earlier had participated in the final skirmish of the war off the Florida coast.

3. The Navy was brought back largely to fight pirates.

Without the protection of the Royal Navy, U.S. merchant ships began coming under attack from the so-called Barbary pirates of North Africa (which, in reality, were more like privateers). American sailors were seized and imprisoned in 1785 and then again in 1793. To secure both the release of these men and commercial access to the Mediterranean Sea, the United States agreed to pay tribute to the Barbary States. But not before Congress revived the Navy in 1794, authorizing the construction of six warships, including USS Constitution, which remains afloat to this day in Boston Harbor.

In 1801 the ruler of Tripoli declared war as part of an attempt to extract increased tribute, and this time the Navy was sent in. Despite losing a 36-gun frigate that ran aground chasing a blockade runner, the Americans gained peace without tribute after capturing the port city of Derna in a daring 1805 raid. Hostilities with another Barbary State, Algiers, then broke out in 1815. In this Second Barbary War, a Navy squadron quickly defeated the opposing flagship and secured a lasting end to the Barbary practice of tribute and ransom. Meanwhile, over the same few decades, the Navy engaged the French in the Quasi-War (1798-1801), the British in the War of 1812 (1812-1815) and pirates in the Caribbean.

4. The Navy was outnumbered about 40 to 1 in the War of 1812.

At the start of the War of 1812, the U.S. Navy had only 16 seagoing warships at its disposal, compared to more than 600 on the British side. Even with most of the Royal Navy occupied fighting Napoleon in Europe, a stifling blockade of the Atlantic coast took shape.

The U.S. Navy did manage to win some single-ship actions in the Atlantic. In trouncing HMS Guerriere, for example, USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” for the way opposing cannonballs supposedly bounced right off. Yet its main successes came inland. With African Americans playing a big role—due to manpower shortages, a prohibition on black sailors had gone out the window—Navy squadrons blasted their way to control of strategically important Lake Erie and Lake Champlain.

5. The Navy (haphazardly) fought the slave trade even as slavery continued.

In 1807 Congress banned the importation of new slaves into the United States (though not slavery itself, which continued in the South). For the next 35 years, enforcement of this law was sporadic at best. The Navy rarely patrolled the west coast of Africa and only stopped vessels flying American flags. At the same time, other countries were denied permission to search boats suspected of carrying enslaved people.

Finally, in 1842, the United States and Britain agreed to cooperate in suppressing the slave trade. A permanent U.S. Navy squadron was subsequently dispatched to Africa, yet even then it captured only 36 vessels in almost two decades of work. By comparison, the British detained several hundred vessels over the same time period. Critics accused the Navy’s leaders of failing to properly equip the squadron and southern-born officers of deliberately forsaking their duty.

6. The Navy produced six future presidents during World War II.

No president had ever served in the Navy until World War II, when it suddenly turned into a near prerequisite for reaching the White House. John F. Kennedy commanded a motor torpedo boat that was run over by a Japanese destroyer in the Solomon Islands; Lyndon B. Johnson was briefly stationed in New Zealand and Australia despite being a sitting member of Congress; Richard Nixon supervised air cargo operations; Gerald Ford served as an aircraft carrier’s assistant navigator and was nearly swept overboard in a typhoon; Jimmy Carter attended the Naval Academy (and became a submariner after the war); and George H.W. Bush flew 58 combat missions, including one in which he was shot down over the Pacific. In fact, from 1961 to 1993, the only non-Navy man to become president was Ronald Reagan.

PHOTOS: 20 U.S. Presidents Who Served in the Military—in Uniform

7. The Navy won history’s largest maritime battle.

The Navy fought in numerous major confrontations during World War II, none more important than the Battle of Leyte Gulf—the largest naval clash ever in terms of ship tonnage (though probably not in terms of number of men or ships). After U.S. forces landed on the Philippine island of Leyte in October 1944, Japan responded by dispatching virtually every operational warship it had left.

In four separate but related actions, four Japanese aircraft carriers, nine battleships, 19 cruisers, some three-dozen destroyers and hundreds of planes matched up against 32 American carriers, 12 battleships, 24 cruisers, more than 140 destroyers and some 1,500 planes. Both sides also had submarines and small auxiliary boats. In the end, the U.S. Navy repulsed the attack, giving it essentially undisputed command of the Pacific Ocean for the remainder of the war.


7 Facts You Didn't Know About Pearl Harbor

Sure, we all know the date and the famous quote (Dec. 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy") and, of course, the implications and significance (more than 2,000 Americans were killed in the attack, which launched the U.S. into World War II).

But below are seven facts that may not be so obvious about Pearl Harbor.

1. Most of the battleships sunk that day were resurrected.

Of the eight battleships targeted during the attacks, all but two were eventually repaired and returned to the U.S. Navy's fleet. The USS West Virginia and the USS California had both sunk completely, but the Navy raised them, repaired them and reused them.

Furthermore, bullet holes and damage from the attacks can be seen to this day at many of the active military installations on Oahu, including Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield and Hickam Army Air Field. Rather than being repaired or covered up, the bullet holes serve as a reminder of the lives lost that day and as motivation for our military to stand strong still.

2. Veterans of the attack can be laid to rest at Pearl Harbor.

Survivors of the attack have the option to join their lost comrades and make Pearl Harbor their final resting place. Crew members who served on board the USS Arizona during the attack -- the ship that experienced the most devastating damage -- may choose to have their ashes deposited by divers beneath one of the sunken Arizona's gun turrets. Roughly 30 Arizona survivors have chosen this option and less than a dozen of the 355 survivors are still living. Other military survivors can choose to have their ashes scattered wherever their ship was located during the attacks.

3. The USS Arizona still leaks fuel.

The day before the attacks, the USS Arizona took on a full load of fuel, nearly 1.5 million gallons. Much of that fuel helped ignite the explosion and subsequent fires that destroyed the ship, but -- amazingly -- some fuel continues to seep out of the wreckage. According to the History Channel, the Arizona "continues to spill up to 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each day" and visitors often say it is as if the ship were still bleeding.

4. Service members stationed in Hawaii took care of the memorial during the 2013 government shutdown.

Service members stationed in Hawaii treat Pearl Harbor as a living memorial and have been known to rally around it when times are tough. In October 2013, for instance, when the U.S. government shut down for more than two weeks, no one was around to take care of the memorial site. A group of service members and their families spontaneously gathered to tend to the abandoned site, raking, weeding and mowing the overgrown grass. Their message to all veterans, they said, was: "We haven't forgotten about you. We will not forget about you."

5. Many tourists from Japan come to visit the memorial:

While most people can tell you that the Japanese were responsible for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, not everyone realizes that the Japanese now visit the memorial in droves. Japan, now one of America's strongest allies, is the largest source of international tourists to the state of Hawaii. Japanese visitors pay their respects at Pearl Harbor just as Americans do ironically, the state's economic vitality today depends largely on tourism from Japan.

6. A baby girl's remains still lie entombed within a sunken battleship.

A crew member of the USS Utah had been storing an urn containing his daughter's ashes in his locker onboard, planning to scatter them at sea, but the Dec. 7 attack prevented him from ever doing so. Sixty-four men died aboard the USS Utah that day, and many of their bodies remain entombed within its sunken hull. T he baby girl, who had died at birth, was finally honored with a funeral at the USS Utah Memorial at Pearl Harbor in 2003.

7. There's a huge oil plume beneath the harbor.

An estimated 5 million gallons of spilled fuel -- or nearly half the volume of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska -- has been collecting in a large underground plume beneath Pearl Harbor for decades. Though the plume, which lies beneath the main gate of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, is approximately 20 acres, or 15 football fields, in size, the Navy maintains that it is currently stable and not a threat to drinking water.

A version of this story was published three years ago on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.


1. Socks

Anyone who has ever been to combat will tell you there are two things you must take care of: your weapon and your feet. People with bad feet typically do not make it into the Infantry and certainly don’t make it into Special Operations. Your feet get you where you are going, literally. When the rest of your body looks and smells like a bag of smashed assholes, nothing can raise your spirits like putting on a clean pair of socks.


7 Things You Might Not Know About 2005-Era Panic! At The Disco

Earlier this month, Panic! At The Disco dropped a smooth, crooning new single called "Death Of A Bachelor" that radiated some serious Rat Pack vibes. It made me take stock of Panic! in 2015 -- they're not the eyeliner-clad teens writing longwinded song titles that they used to be. And "they" is kind of misleading, too, as only singer-songwriter Brendon Urie remains from the group's original lineup.

But 2005's Panic! was all of those things and more: A crew of movie-quoting kids from Las Vegas, recent signees of Pete Wentz's then-new endeavor, Decaydance Records, and purveyors of half-dancey, half-vaudeville, radio-ready jams.

The four original Panic! members -- Urie, Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith and Brent Wilson -- recorded their debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, before they had ever even performed live together, a new Billboard oral history details. That album dropped 10 years ago on September 27, 2005, and, along with a note from Urie himself on the band's website, there's plenty more juicy history where that came from.

Nigel Crane/Redferns

"My mom said we could play because there was this youth dance. I grew up Mormon, and there's a dress code -- you have to wear nice clothing," Urie told Billboard. "So I told the guys, 'It'll be really fun, a lot of cute girls, and a lot of people our age, but we have to dress up. We have to wear suits and ties.'" The rest is history.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

"We went out to our practice space and we didn't have the instruments to play the demos, so we just played acoustically, for [Wentz] and this girl," Urie said. "He was like, 'Cool, that was good.' That was all he said. We went down to Del Taco, and over a meal he explained that he wanted to sign us."

Robert Knight Archive/Redferns

"Before the Nintendo Fusion Tour, they were in basketball shorts and hats," Wentz said. "Then they showed up the first day of the tour in these paisley suits. I was like, 'What the f--k is happening?'" Their manager, Scott Nagelberg, agreed: "They'd be driving in the van, 90 degrees outside, no AC, suits on."

Denise Truscello/Wireimage

"They didn't go to graduation they got in a van and drove from Vegas to College Park, Maryland, where they made the record with Matt Squire on a very generous budget of $10,000 -- $11,000 if you include mixing," Nagelberg said.

Bill McCay/Getty

"The song 'I Constantly Thank God For Esteban' was from an infomercial for these guitars," Urie said. "It's such a sh---y infomercial -- a lady on there has one of the guitars and she's like, 'I constantly thank God for Esteban!' So we wrote this song with Latin flavor, like, 'F--k yeah, we're using that!'"

Evan Agostini/Getty

"I remember we switched their intro music to 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back)' and thought it was going to be so funny, but people just sang the song and were so into it," Nagelberg said.

Theo Wargo/Getty

"They were on the cover of Rolling Stone before us," Wentz said. "As much as it was the band I loved, I was like,' F--k it, now we have to get the Rolling Stone cover." It was a little like the U.S.-Soviet space race. But at the end of the day, we were still friends."

Panic!'s next single, "Victorious," is set to drop on Tuesday. Stay tuned!


13 professional baseball players who became war heroes

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:37:04

When the American military calls, America’s pastime answers. Here are 14 men who played on the diamond before serving on the battlefield. All of them went above and beyond in either the game or combat, and some distinguished themselves in both.

1. Yogi Berra volunteered to man a rocket boat leading the assault on Normandy.

Yogi Berra made his minor league debut with the Norfolk Tars in 1943, playing 11 games and earning an impressive .396 slugging average. But Berra’s draft card came in that year and he headed into the Navy.

Berra became a gunner’s mate and volunteered for a special mission to pilot rocket boats in front of the other landing craft at D-Day. The boats used their rockets and machine guns to hit enemy positions on the coast and draw their fire so the other ships could land.

After the war, Yogi Berra went on to play in the major leagues and became one of the most-feared batters in baseball. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

2. Joe Pinder left the minor leagues and earned the Medal of Honor on Omaha Beach.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Joe Pinder spent most of his baseball time in Class D in the minors, but he rose as high as Class B for a short period. He joined the Army in January 1942 and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, where he fought in Africa and Sicily. On D-Day, Technician 5th Grade Pinder was wounded multiple times and lost needed radio equipment during the struggle to reach the beach. He kept going back and forth in the surf, retrieving items despite sustaining more injuries.

“Almost immediately on hitting the waist-deep water, he was hit by shrapnel,” 2nd Lt. Lee Ward W. Stockwell said, according to Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice. “He was hit several times and the worst wound was to the left side of his face, which was cut off and hanging by a piece of flesh.”

After refusing medical treatment multiple times and finally getting his radio equipment all back together, Pinder was killed by a burst of machine gun fire to the chest. His bravery and perseverance earned him the Medal of Honor.

3. Jack Lummus excelled at baseball, football, and being a Marine Corps hero.

Photo: US Marine Corps History Division

Jack Lummus was a college football and baseball star when he signed a contract with the Army Air Corps in 1941. He then signed a contract with a minor league team and played 26 games with them while awaiting training as a pilot. Unfortunately, Lummus clipped his plane’s wing while taxiing and was discharged.

Lummus then played professional football, playing in nine of the New York Giants’ 11 games in 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lummus finished the season and volunteered for the Marine Corps. He served as an enlisted military policeman for a few months before enrolling in officer training.

At the battle of Iwo Jima, he was a first lieutenant leading a rifle platoon against three concealed Japanese strongholds. Wounded twice by grenades, Lummus still singlehandedly took out all three positions and earned the Medal of Honor. He stepped on a land mine later that day and sustained mortal wounds.

4. Bob Feller left a six-figure contract to join the Navy after Pearl Harbor.

Photo: US Navy

Hall of Famer Bob Feller won 76 games in three seasons before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The day after the attack, Feller walked away from a $100,000 contract and enlisted in the Navy. He was originally assigned to play baseball for troop entertainment, but enrolled in gunnery school to join the fight in the Pacific. Feller spent 26 months on the USS Alabama, seeing combat at Kwajalein, the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands.

5. Ted Williams left the majors twice to fight America’s wars.

Photo: US Marine Corps

A lifetime Boston Red Sox player, Ted Williams only took two breaks from Major League Baseball. The first was for World War II and the second was for the Korean War.

In both, Williams served as a Marine fighter pilot though he didn’t see combat in World War II. In Korea, he flew 39 missions with Marine Aircraft Group 33, surviving ground fire that damaged his plane on two occasions before an ear infection grounded him for good at the rank of captain. He earned the Air Medal three times, the Presidential Medal of Freedom once, and a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

6. Warren Spahn fought in the Battle of the Bulge after his major league debut.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Bowman Gum

Warren E. Spahn pitched his first major league game in 1942, but joined the Army later that same year. He would fight as an engineer in the Battle of the Bulge, the Bridge at Remagen, and other important battles in the European theater.

After World War II, Spahn returned to the major leagues and played into his 40s. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 after earning 14 All-Star selections and a Cy Young Award during his career.

Spahn is commonly credited with having earned a Bronze Star at the Bridge of Remagen due to a false, unauthorized biography. The book claimed to be his biography but was mostly fabricated. Spahn sued the writer and publisher for defamation and for violating his privacy, and he won the case in the Supreme Court. Spahn did earn a Purple Heart in the war.

7. Bernard Dolan and a teammate play, fight, and earn posthumous service crosses together.

Bernard “Leo” Dolan was a minor league pitcher who conducted spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1917. He wasn’t picked up by the Pirates and so continued to pitch in the minor leagues. When his team was disbanded, he finished the season with a semi-pro team before joining the U.S. Army.

In France on Oct. 16, 1918, Cpl. Dolan was wounded and took cover. He saw another soldier hit and rushed from his cover to assist, exposing himself to enemy fire and earning him a Distinguished Service Cross. He was hit again during the rescue attempt, leading to his death.

Dolan was friends and teammates with another baseball player who died heroically in the same battle, Sgt. Matt Lanighan. Lanighan was a semi-pro player who died just after capturing German machine guns and prisoners . He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

8. Tom Woodruff left a promising minor league climb to earn three valor awards in the Navy.

Photo: US Navy

Tom Woodruff was a shortstop climbing through the minor leagues in St. Louis when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Initially, he served in Army Public Relations but transferred to the Navy to become an aviator.

He became a fighter pilot and served in the Pacific in 1944 aboard the USS Enterprise, seeing combat in the Pacific multiple times, most of which was in the Philippines. He earned the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star as a Navy lieutenant junior grade. He was shot down over the Philippines on November 14, 1944, but his body was never recovered.

9. Pitcher Stanford Wolfson was executed by the Germans after his tenth bombing mission.

Photo: US Air Force

Stanford Wolfson played for multiple teams in the minor leagues as a pitcher and outfielder from 1940 to 1942. On Oct. 15, 1942, he joined the Army Air Force as a bomber pilot, earning a commission as a second lieutenant. From December 1943 to November 1944, he flew nine bombing missions over Nazi Germany. On November 5, 1944, he flew a tenth and final mission and was ordered to bail out by the pilot after the plane took heavy damage from anti-aircraft fire.

Most of the crew bailed out, though the pilot and bombardier successfully crash landed the plane in France. Wolfson, like the rest of the crew, was picked up by German authorities. When the Germans learned Wolfson was Jewish, they executed him in the city outskirts. The suspected killer was tried in Dachau in 1947 and executed. Wolfson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and Purple Heart.

10. Billy Southworth, Jr. flew 25 combat missions in Europe.

In 1940, he enlisted into the Army Air Corps and flew out of England for most of the war. He was promoted numerous times, earning the rank of major as well as numerous awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters. He flew 25 combat missions in Europe before returning to New York.

In early 1945, he was training B-29 pilots. While piloting one of the B-29’s, Southworth attempted an emergency landing after an engine began smoking. he overshot the runway and crashed into the water near LaGuardia Field, New York.

He had been signed to an acting contract to take effect at the war’s end, but he died just months before the war concluded.

11. Keith Bissonnette flew fighters in Burma.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Royal Navy

An infielder and outfielder who distinguished himself in the minor leagues, Keith Bissonnette left baseball to join the Army Air Force. He earned his commission and became a fighter pilot in the 80th Fighter Group, flying missions in P-40 Warhawks and P-47 Thunderbolts between India and China from 1944 to 1945.

He was killed in action as a first lieutenant on March 28, 1945 in a crash. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.

12. Clarence Drumm fought in America’s first battle of the Great War.

Clarence Milton Drumm was a minor league infielder/outfielder in the minor leagues from 1910 to 1914. It’s unclear what Milton did between his successful 1914 season and his entering the Army in 1917, but he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant in 1917 and was ordered to France to serve in World War I.

Drumm was killed in action May 28, 1918 by an enemy shell in America’s first battle of World War I, the Battle of Cantigny. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Citation Star, a precursor to the modern Silver Star, for his bravery and leadership in the battle.

13. Gus Bebas gave up his commission and his baseball uniform to become a Navy pilot.

Gus Bebas was a Naval Reserve Officer and minor league pitcher at the start of 1940, but he gave up both his baseball contract and his commission to pursue a career as a Naval aviator. He was selected to be an aviation cadet in early 1941 and became an ensign and aviator in September of that year.

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bebas was assigned as a dive-bomber pilot aboard the USS Hornet. Bebas first saw combat on June 6, 1942 in the Battle of Midway. He pushed through extreme anti-aircraft fire to achieve a near-miss that damaged a Japanese ship, earning him a Distinguished Flying Cross. He died during a training mission in 1942.

(h/t to Gary Bedingfield and his site, Baseball in Wartime, an exhaustive look at the intersection between baseball and the military. Bedingfield is also the author of the book, “Baseball in World War II Europe.”)

NOW: 13 famous rock stars who served in the military

OR: The greatest World War II movies of all time

Lists

‘Trading Places’: More Than 7 Things You May Not Know About The Film (But We Won’t Bet A Dollar On It)

Thirty years ago, “Trading Places,” John Landis‘ classic comedy, premiered to critical and commercial success. Not only was it the 4 th highest grossing film of 1983 (making over $90 million, behind “Flashdance,” “Terms of Endearment,” and “Return of the Jedi“), but the film also received praise from the likes of Roger Ebert (“This is good comedy”) and Rex Reed (“Trading Places is an updated Frank Capra with four-letter words, and I can think of no higher praise than that”). The film is about two beyond-wealthy yet bored brothers (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) who swap out a well-to-do finance guy in their employ (Dan Aykroyd) with a homeless conman (Eddie Murphy) just to watch the world burn, oh no, we mean to test the good old “nature vs. nurture” debate. Decades later, “Trading Places” is still hilarious, with its cutting commentary on class and race in America (regrettably still topical), legendary comedic performances by Murphy (way before “Triplets” talk and Murphy became the most overpaid actor in Hollywood) and Aykroyd (way before “Ghostbusters 3” talk and Aykroyd opened up about his belief in aliens), and so much more (Jamie Lee Curtis plays a hooker with a heart of gold, the 1% lose out in the end, and more).

To mark the occasion, check out a few tidbits of trivia that you may not know about the film below and keep your eye on the frozen orange juice market. “Trading Places” is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray (we recommend the “Looking Good, Feeling Good” edition in either format), and can be seen on Netflix: what better time to watch than during this summer weekend (there’s only so much sunshine and fresh air you can soak up), especially with some freshly squeezed orange juice (take that, Duke brothers!)?

1. It Was Originally Meant To Be A Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder Vehicle Called “Black And White”
After the uber-success of “Stir Crazy” (grossing over $100 million and ranking 3 rd overall for 1980, although with mixed reviews), the team of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder was a hot ticket. With comedic and literal gold in mind, the story for “Trading Places” was born, though with the slightly more blunt title of “Black and White.” Too bad “Ebony and Ivory” was already taken. Remember, this was the early 󈨔s and a to-be-rated R comedy, so subtlety and racial sensitivity were not high on the checklist (for some context, check out this landmark ‘SNL’ sketch).

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you feel about “Norbit“), Pryor was unable to do the film and the studio replaced him with Murphy. Rather than taking Pryor’s reins, Murphy had Wilder re-cast and the rest is history. Being the 22-year-old comedian’s second film role (“48 Hours” being his screen debut), Billy Ray Valentine “made him a phenomenon.” A few years later, Pryor and Wilder would get the chance to work together again for the third time (first was the moderately-received “Silver Streak“) in the critically panned and not-so-classic “See No Evil, Hear No Evil.”

2. Other Casting Options Included Ray Milland, John Gielgud And More
Although now we can’t imagine anyone else but Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche playing the dastardly scheming Duke brothers, toying with people’s lives and likelihoods (ahem *Koch brothers* ahem), the producers had a different pairing in mind. Ralph Bellamy (“The Awful Truth,” “His Girl Friday“) may have been the first choice for Randolph, but Don Ameche (“The Story of Alexander Graham Bell,” “Midnight“) wasn’t for Mortimer. Apparently, that honor goes to Ray Milland (“The Lost Weekend,” “Dial M for Murder“), who had to decline because of being un-insurable due to age and health.

Milland wasn’t the only English Oscar-winner up for a role in “Trading Places,” Sir John Gielgud was in talks to play Coleman the butler, the part ultimately played by Denholm Elliott. This casting would have made almost too much sense, Coleman being a not-as-biting version of Hobson (the role Gielgud made iconic in the original “Arthur“). The similarities were so apparent that the Pittsburgh Press wrote that “Elliott has what will forevermore be thought of as the John Gielgud part: the effete, efficient and drolly contemptuous English butler.” Funnily enough, Gielgud and Elliott would appear together onscreen later that year in the notoriously horrendous remake of “The Wicked Lady,” with Gielgud playing the trusty butler Hogarth to Elliott’s duped lord of the manor, Sir Ralph Skelton.

In “amazing stunt-casting that could have been” trivia, G. Gordon Liddy was up for the role of Clarence Beeks (the inside trader who helps the Duke brothers get rid of Winthorpe to make way for Valentine). If you don’t quite remember your relatively recent U.S. history or “All the President’s Men,” Liddy is the man behind Watergate. Reportedly, Liddy was on board until he got to the part where Beeks becomes a gorilla’s mate. Even without Liddy, they made sure to include an allusion to what might have been in the final copy by having Beeks (Paul Gleason, best remembered for playing the jerk principal in “The Breakfast Club“) reading Liddy’s autobiography “Will” on the train.

3. There Was Improv (But You Weren’t Meant To See It)
Unintentionally, “Trading Places” includes some great improvisational scenes, mostly errors or goofs that were kept in the final cut just because they were so darn funny. For example, the whole bit about Ophelia’s accent and outfit not matching on the train (Swedish accent with Austrian/German lederhosen) was improvised due to Jamie Lee Curtis not being able to do the assigned Austrian accent. Luckily for us, Landis kept it in and Curtis got to show her comedic chops (and we’re not referring to her cleavage, though you try searching YouYube for clips of her in this movie and you’ll rediscover that the Internet is full of pervs), letting her break out of the “Halloween” scream-queen mold.

4. What Do Mozart, Mark Twain And The Three Stooges All Have In Common?
All three are linked to “Trading Places,” Mozart&rsquos “The Marriage of Figaro” is about “a day of madness,” in which the head-servant conspires to expose his scheming, skirt-chasing employer. Not-so-coincidentally, there are a few allusions to the 18 th -century comic opera made in “Trading Places.” During the film’s opening sequence, “The Marriage of Figaro” overture plays while scanning the morning routines of Philadelphians, ending on Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd) being served breakfast in bed. On his way to work, Winthorpe whistles “Se vuol ballare” (the aria where Figaro declares “I&rsquoll overturn all the machinery”), foreshadowing the film’s ending where he and Valentine (Murphy) overturn the Duke brothers. How many people actually got that reference during the film&rsquos initial release? Honestly, we’d like to go to a pub quiz with those select few who comprise the intersection of John Landis fans and opera enthusiasts.

Another probable source of inspiration, Mark Twain‘s short story “Million Pound Bank Note” is about two eccentric millionaire brothers who give a penniless pauper a one million pound note, betting on whether the un-cashable note is useless or if the possession of it enhances the man’s life in some way. Two old geezers toying with the life of someone down-on-their-luck, sound familiar? More famously and just as applicable, Twain also wrote the classic American novel “The Prince and The Pauper,” in which a prince and a pauper trade places. (See the connection?) When you get a chance, we recommend checking out the 1937 film version with Errol Flynn.

Moving on from the definitive source of American wit to some “whoop, whoop, whoop”-ing slapstick, the “nature vs. nurture” debate is one employed in many Three Stooges shorts, though “Hoi Polloi” stands out in particular in its resemblance to “Trading Places.” In the short, two professors wager $10,000 (that sure is some moolah for 1935) on whether they can turn the Stooges into gentlemen, specifically on whether environment or heredity win out (think “Pygmalion” without the romance, which is “My Fair Lady” without the songs). Though shelling out more dough than the Duke brothers’ bet of one whole dollar, the old men make no headway with the Stooges. The film concludes with a party in which the society guests end up thwacking and slapping each other silly as the Stooges put on airs, saying, “this is our punishment for associating with the hoi polloi.” Although John Landis has not directly quoted this as a source, to our knowledge (feel free to share in the comment section below), the use of the wager and role-reversal in “Trading Places” does bear a striking resemblance “Hoi Polloi” and Landis is a known Stooges fan.

5. Cameos Include Frank Oz, John Landis And Jamie Lee Curtis’ Sister
“Trading Places” is a treasure trove for cameos and inside Landis film jokes. Bo Diddley pops up as a pawnbroker, Jim Belushi wears a gorilla costume at the New Year’s party on the train, comedy duo Franken & Davis (Al Franken and Tom Davis, fellow ‘SNL’ alums) are baggage handlers, Kelly Curtis (Jamie Lee’s sister) plays “Muffy,” one of the girls at Winthorpe’s country club, a trenchcoat-wearing, briefcase-carrying John Landis stands near Valentine after he’s released from jail, executive producer George Folsey, Jr. is the first man to greet Winthorpe at Duke & Duke&hellip

Frank Oz’s cameo as the police officer checking in Winthorpe’s property after he gets arrested is doubly significant as Oz also had a cameo in “Blues Brothers” as a police officer checking Jake Blues (John Belushi) out and giving him back his property. Another fun reference, Winthorpe&rsquos prison number 7474505B is the same as Jake Blues&rsquo in “Blues Brothers.”

Speaking of in-jokes, Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche reprise their roles as the Duke brothers in “Coming to America.” In that film, the brothers are homeless on the streets. Seeing them in their hobo state, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) throws the brothers a large wad of cash and Mortimer says to Randolph that it&rsquos enough for a new start.

6. Don Ameche Really Did Not Want To Curse Onscreen

Coming out of a 13-year hiatus for the role of Mortimer Duke, Don Ameche was very old school, as you might expect of the man who played Betty Grable‘s love interest twice (“Down Argentine Way” and “Moon Over Miami“). With a combination of conservative values and religious beliefs, it took a bit for Ameche to reconcile saying the F-word and N-word onscreen. Not only did he refuse to do more than one take for the end scene (where he shouts, “Fuck him!”), but every time they shot a scene in which his character used vulgar language, Ameche went out of his way to apologize to the cast and crew, even going as far as to show up early to set in order to do so (or at least according to co-star Jamie Lee Curtis, who shared that story years later on &ldquoLarry King Live&rdquo). As a credit to Ameche’s talent, we didn’t see this hesitation onscreen, but rather a particular relish when he said those not-so-nice words that thoroughly suited the not-so-nice Mortimer. That cursing was worth it as the role re-launched Ameche’s career and he went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in his next film “Cocoon,” where he played a senior citizen rejuvenated by not-so-kosher means (the fountain of youth meets Atlantis).

7. There’s An “Eddie Murphy Rule” (And No, It’s Not About Helping Hookers)


Spherical UFO plunges into the ocean in US Navy footage

A filmmaker who produces UFO documentaries released the clip.

A spherical unidentified flying object (UFO) hovers in midair, moves side to side like a ball in the "Pong" video game and then seems to dive into the ocean, in footage that was recently released online by a filmmaker who produces documentaries about UFOs.

Though a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that the U.S. Navy did capture the footage, the spokesperson did not comment on where and when it was filmed.

On May 14, Jeremy Corbell described the mysterious object on his website, writing that "the US Navy photographed and filmed 'spherical' shaped UFOs and advanced transmedium vehicles" &mdash craft that can travel through air and water &mdash in 2019. Corbell also shared the footage on Instagram and YouTube.

In the clip, which appears to have been shot off a monitor and has several edits, a dark, round blob sits above the horizon. Male voices are audible in the footage one says "took off, bookin' it," as the object moves horizontally in the screen's crosshairs. The scene "reached a crescendo" with the blob entering the water, and one of the off-screen voices says, "Whoa, it splashed!" as the UFO disappears, Corbell wrote.

According to Corbell, the footage was filmed on July 15, 2019, at approximately 11 p.m. PDT, from within the USS Omaha's Combat Information Center, near the coast of San Diego. Radar images of the UFO show a solid ball, measuring about 6 feet (2 meters) in diameter, flying at speeds of 46 to 158 mph (74 to 254 km/h). Its flight lasted over an hour, culminating with the sphere vanishing beneath the waves. No wreckage was found at the location where the object went down.

"A submarine was used in the search and recovered nothing," Corbell wrote. "We do not know what, if anything, the Navy or Pentagon might be willing to say about the USS Omaha incident, but we are confident the incident is a legitimate mystery and look forward to whatever information might be forthcoming," he wrote on Instagram.

Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough confirmed that U.S. Navy personnel did capture the footage that Corbell posted, The Debrief reported on May 14. Gough told The Debrief in an email that the footage was included in "ongoing examinations" by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), a U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence program that investigates reports of unexplained aerial vehicles, according to The Debrief.

However, Gough did not comment on any of the other UFO details that Corbell included in his writeup, The Debrief reported. The footage is not classified, and stills of the spherical UFO were previously included in a UAPTF intelligence briefing from May 1, Corbell wrote in a tweet on May 14.

More UFO-related disclosures may be coming from the Pentagon in the coming weeks, as a new UFO report is scheduled for release in June, Live Science previously reported.


7 Things You Didn’t Know About the War on Terror

Our new book, Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, is in many ways a summary of the past decade of our reporting on the military, intelligence community, and domestic law enforcement as it entered a new era of Darwinian evolution to counter violent extremism.

It also is our deep dive into a decade of American counterterrorism efforts — from the work of commando trigger-pullers and spies on the ground up to senior political leaders who wanted to defend the nation (and get re-elected). Our efforts to report and write this book allowed us to uncover many new missions never discussed before — and gave us an understanding of how the “war on terror” had changed over the last decade.

Our book assesses the 10 years since 9/11 as the military divides the fight: into tactical missions on the battlefields of modern terrorism then the operational advancements that provided the means to success while not securing final victory and at the top, the strategic level of policy debates about how the nation should combat this threat to its security.

Here are seven vignettes from Counterstrike that offer glimpses into the thinking of policymakers and commanders in early days after the Sept. 11 attacks and how that thinking evolved over the following decade into a more whole-of-government approach to combating terrorists:

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

1. Bush Tried to Negotiate with al Qaeda

The George W. Bush administration, like all of its predecessors, swore never to negotiate with terrorists. But it did undertake an extraordinary, and extraordinarily secret, outreach effort to open a line of communication with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s senior leadership. It was an attempt to replicate how the United States tried to sustain a dialogue with the Soviet Union, even during the darkest days of the Cold War, when White House and Kremlin leaders described in private and in public a set of acceptable behaviors — and described with equal clarity the swift, vicious, even nuclear punishment for gross violations.

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush’s national security staff, working through the intelligence agencies, made several attempts to get a private message to bin Laden and his inner circle. The messages were sent through business associates of the bin Laden family’s vast financial empire as well as through some of the al Qaeda leader’s closest relatives, a number of whom were receptive to opening a secret dialogue to restrain and contain their terrorist kinsman, whom they viewed as a blot on their name. (To be sure, other relatives were openly hostile to the American entreaties.)

According to a senior American intelligence officer with first-hand knowledge of the effort, the response from Osama bin Laden was silence. And the effort was suspended.

2. Sometimes a Wedding Is Just a Wedding

In the early days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA and FBI vied to produce the most compelling intelligence reports that tracked suspected terrorist plots. The agencies often worked at cross purposes, sometimes unwittingly. At one point in early 2002, both agencies were tracking what American analysts said were growing preparations for a major “wedding” somewhere in the Midwest. (In terrorist vernacular, the word “wedding” is often code for a major attack.) Dribs and drabs on this “wedding” planning made their way to President Bush from both agencies, independent of each other, of course. Finally, over the Easter holiday, during a video-teleconference with top aides in Washington from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush stopped the briefing, exasperated by the discrepancies in the rival agencies’ reporting about the suspected threat.

“George, Bob, get together and sort this out,” Bush told his CIA director, George J. Tenet, and FBI director, Robert S. Mueller III.

Bush’s instincts were correct. When the analysts finally untangled their clues, it turned out that the ominous “wedding” really was just that: the matrimony of a young man and a young woman from two prominent Pakistani-American families. There was no threat. There was no plot.

3. The Threat to Bomb Mecca

As fears of a second attack mounted following the 9/11 strikes, U.S. government planners frantically cast about for strategies to protect the country. Even the most far-fetched ideas had a hearing, however briefly. In one case, some government planners proposed that if al Qaeda appeared ready to attack America again, the United States should publicly threaten to bomb the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in all of Islam, in retaliation. “Just nuts!” one Pentagon aide wrote to himself when he heard the proposal. The idea was quickly and permanently shelved.

MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images

4. The SEAL Raid in Iran That Didn’t Happen

When U.S. forces routed the Taliban government in Afghanistan and forced bin Laden and his top lieutenants to flee, many senior al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, escaped to neighboring Pakistan. But a separate group, including the al Qaeda leader’s son, Saad bin Laden, fled to northern Iran, where American troops would not pursue them and the Iranians would likely not detain them. But the Shiite clerics running Iran placed the al Qaeda operatives and their family members under virtual house arrest, and they became a shield against possible attacks from the Sunni-based terrorist organization.

One plan in particular illustrated the bold thinking and wildly unrealistic aims of the military’s initial approach after 9/11 to kill or capture terrorist leaders. The plan called for hunting the eight to 10 senior al Qaeda leaders and operatives who had sought refuge in Chalus, an Iranian resort town on the Caspian Sea, where they had been detained.

At the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., military planners drew up options for Navy SEALs to sneak ashore at night using state-of-the-art mini-submarines. Once they landed, the SEALs would slip past Iranian guards to snatch the al Qaeda leaders. Another option called for Special Operations helicopters to spirit American commandos into the town and whisk them out again with their quarry. The Americans went as far as conducting two or three rehearsals at an undisclosed location along the U.S. Gulf Coast in early 2002. They conducted small-boat insertion exercises involving about 30 Special Operations personnel, most SEALs, and eventually concluded the mission was feasible if they were provided with more detailed intelligence on the locations of the al Qaeda members and the security around them.

The logistics of the mission were daunting. Chalus sits at the edge of the Elburz coastal mountain range about 70 miles north of Tehran, and the failed rescue of the American hostages in Iran in April 1980 loomed large in commanders’ memories. Eventually, Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rejected the mission as too risky and too politically volatile. Many of the al Qaeda operatives are reportedly still there.

5. Intelligence Hauls of Unusual Size

U.S. intelligence and military commandos have carried out tens of thousands of raids in the decade since 9/11. The amount of material seized from terrorist and insurgent targets has grown to a massive size. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) operates exploitation triage centers and giant warehouses for storing intelligence products — in war zones, rear headquarters in countries like Qatar, and back in the United States. One intelligence analyst said that walking into one of the warehouses for documents and media exploitation reminded him of the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the captured Ark of the Covenant is crated up and rolled into a cavernous storage area that contains all the government’s other dangerous secrets.

All told, more than two million individual documents and electronic files have been catalogued by media type: hard copy, phone number, thumb drive. Each is inspected by a linguist working with a communications analyst or computer expert. The DIA analysts are joined by specialists from other agencies, including the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Yet given the overwhelming volume, no more than about 10 percent of the captured intelligence has ever been analyzed. Intelligence officers say they simply are overwhelmed, and untold quality leads may still be buried in the piles of computers, digital files, travel documents, and pocket litter.

6. The Digital Counterjihad

Cyberspace is the terrorists’ ultimate safe haven. It’s where they recruit, raise money, and even plot attacks, using coded language while playing online video war games. The U.S. government fights back. One technique is called false band replacement, whereby the intelligence agencies infiltrate militants’ networks and post their own material to counter extremist efforts on those same jihadist websites. The trick is to forge the onscreen trademarks — “web watermarks” — of al Qaeda media sites. This makes messages posted on these sites official, and sows dissent and confusion among the militants.

This Internet spoofing can be used in support of more traditional combat missions. There is at least one case confirmed by American officials in which a jihadist website was hacked by American cyberwarriors to lure a high-value al Qaeda to a surreptitious meeting with extremist counterparts — only to find a U.S. military team in waiting.

HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. counterterrorism officials have learned fighting terrorists effectively means targeting specific nodes of that network that support and enable militants who strap on suicide vests. This strategy focuses on neutralizing enablers such as the financiers, gun-runners, and logisticians. Among these terror linchpins are religious leaders who bless attacks. Heavenly reward will not await a suicide bomber unless his death and those of his victims is deemed halal, in keeping with Islam’s sacred sharia law. Each militant network has a sharia emir, usually at the level of a sheikh or mullah. In Iraq, American commanders specifically killed emirs to throw a wrench in a suicide bombing networks. “Take him out, and suicide bombings from that network are frozen until he is replaced,” said one military officer with command experience in Iraq.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Our new book, Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, is in many ways a summary of the past decade of our reporting on the military, intelligence community, and domestic law enforcement as it entered a new era of Darwinian evolution to counter violent extremism.

It also is our deep dive into a decade of American counterterrorism efforts — from the work of commando trigger-pullers and spies on the ground up to senior political leaders who wanted to defend the nation (and get re-elected). Our efforts to report and write this book allowed us to uncover many new missions never discussed before — and gave us an understanding of how the “war on terror” had changed over the last decade.

Our book assesses the 10 years since 9/11 as the military divides the fight: into tactical missions on the battlefields of modern terrorism then the operational advancements that provided the means to success while not securing final victory and at the top, the strategic level of policy debates about how the nation should combat this threat to its security.

Here are seven vignettes from Counterstrike that offer glimpses into the thinking of policymakers and commanders in early days after the Sept. 11 attacks and how that thinking evolved over the following decade into a more whole-of-government approach to combating terrorists:

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

1. Bush Tried to Negotiate with al Qaeda

The George W. Bush administration, like all of its predecessors, swore never to negotiate with terrorists. But it did undertake an extraordinary, and extraordinarily secret, outreach effort to open a line of communication with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s senior leadership. It was an attempt to replicate how the United States tried to sustain a dialogue with the Soviet Union, even during the darkest days of the Cold War, when White House and Kremlin leaders described in private and in public a set of acceptable behaviors — and described with equal clarity the swift, vicious, even nuclear punishment for gross violations.

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush’s national security staff, working through the intelligence agencies, made several attempts to get a private message to bin Laden and his inner circle. The messages were sent through business associates of the bin Laden family’s vast financial empire as well as through some of the al Qaeda leader’s closest relatives, a number of whom were receptive to opening a secret dialogue to restrain and contain their terrorist kinsman, whom they viewed as a blot on their name. (To be sure, other relatives were openly hostile to the American entreaties.)

According to a senior American intelligence officer with first-hand knowledge of the effort, the response from Osama bin Laden was silence. And the effort was suspended.

2. Sometimes a Wedding Is Just a Wedding

In the early days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA and FBI vied to produce the most compelling intelligence reports that tracked suspected terrorist plots. The agencies often worked at cross purposes, sometimes unwittingly. At one point in early 2002, both agencies were tracking what American analysts said were growing preparations for a major “wedding” somewhere in the Midwest. (In terrorist vernacular, the word “wedding” is often code for a major attack.) Dribs and drabs on this “wedding” planning made their way to President Bush from both agencies, independent of each other, of course. Finally, over the Easter holiday, during a video-teleconference with top aides in Washington from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush stopped the briefing, exasperated by the discrepancies in the rival agencies’ reporting about the suspected threat.

“George, Bob, get together and sort this out,” Bush told his CIA director, George J. Tenet, and FBI director, Robert S. Mueller III.

Bush’s instincts were correct. When the analysts finally untangled their clues, it turned out that the ominous “wedding” really was just that: the matrimony of a young man and a young woman from two prominent Pakistani-American families. There was no threat. There was no plot.

3. The Threat to Bomb Mecca

As fears of a second attack mounted following the 9/11 strikes, U.S. government planners frantically cast about for strategies to protect the country. Even the most far-fetched ideas had a hearing, however briefly. In one case, some government planners proposed that if al Qaeda appeared ready to attack America again, the United States should publicly threaten to bomb the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in all of Islam, in retaliation. “Just nuts!” one Pentagon aide wrote to himself when he heard the proposal. The idea was quickly and permanently shelved.

MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images

4. The SEAL Raid in Iran That Didn’t Happen

When U.S. forces routed the Taliban government in Afghanistan and forced bin Laden and his top lieutenants to flee, many senior al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, escaped to neighboring Pakistan. But a separate group, including the al Qaeda leader’s son, Saad bin Laden, fled to northern Iran, where American troops would not pursue them and the Iranians would likely not detain them. But the Shiite clerics running Iran placed the al Qaeda operatives and their family members under virtual house arrest, and they became a shield against possible attacks from the Sunni-based terrorist organization.

One plan in particular illustrated the bold thinking and wildly unrealistic aims of the military’s initial approach after 9/11 to kill or capture terrorist leaders. The plan called for hunting the eight to 10 senior al Qaeda leaders and operatives who had sought refuge in Chalus, an Iranian resort town on the Caspian Sea, where they had been detained.

At the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., military planners drew up options for Navy SEALs to sneak ashore at night using state-of-the-art mini-submarines. Once they landed, the SEALs would slip past Iranian guards to snatch the al Qaeda leaders. Another option called for Special Operations helicopters to spirit American commandos into the town and whisk them out again with their quarry. The Americans went as far as conducting two or three rehearsals at an undisclosed location along the U.S. Gulf Coast in early 2002. They conducted small-boat insertion exercises involving about 30 Special Operations personnel, most SEALs, and eventually concluded the mission was feasible if they were provided with more detailed intelligence on the locations of the al Qaeda members and the security around them.

The logistics of the mission were daunting. Chalus sits at the edge of the Elburz coastal mountain range about 70 miles north of Tehran, and the failed rescue of the American hostages in Iran in April 1980 loomed large in commanders’ memories. Eventually, Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rejected the mission as too risky and too politically volatile. Many of the al Qaeda operatives are reportedly still there.

5. Intelligence Hauls of Unusual Size

U.S. intelligence and military commandos have carried out tens of thousands of raids in the decade since 9/11. The amount of material seized from terrorist and insurgent targets has grown to a massive size. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) operates exploitation triage centers and giant warehouses for storing intelligence products — in war zones, rear headquarters in countries like Qatar, and back in the United States. One intelligence analyst said that walking into one of the warehouses for documents and media exploitation reminded him of the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the captured Ark of the Covenant is crated up and rolled into a cavernous storage area that contains all the government’s other dangerous secrets.

All told, more than two million individual documents and electronic files have been catalogued by media type: hard copy, phone number, thumb drive. Each is inspected by a linguist working with a communications analyst or computer expert. The DIA analysts are joined by specialists from other agencies, including the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Yet given the overwhelming volume, no more than about 10 percent of the captured intelligence has ever been analyzed. Intelligence officers say they simply are overwhelmed, and untold quality leads may still be buried in the piles of computers, digital files, travel documents, and pocket litter.

6. The Digital Counterjihad

Cyberspace is the terrorists’ ultimate safe haven. It’s where they recruit, raise money, and even plot attacks, using coded language while playing online video war games. The U.S. government fights back. One technique is called false band replacement, whereby the intelligence agencies infiltrate militants’ networks and post their own material to counter extremist efforts on those same jihadist websites. The trick is to forge the onscreen trademarks — “web watermarks” — of al Qaeda media sites. This makes messages posted on these sites official, and sows dissent and confusion among the militants.

This Internet spoofing can be used in support of more traditional combat missions. There is at least one case confirmed by American officials in which a jihadist website was hacked by American cyberwarriors to lure a high-value al Qaeda to a surreptitious meeting with extremist counterparts — only to find a U.S. military team in waiting.

HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. counterterrorism officials have learned fighting terrorists effectively means targeting specific nodes of that network that support and enable militants who strap on suicide vests. This strategy focuses on neutralizing enablers such as the financiers, gun-runners, and logisticians. Among these terror linchpins are religious leaders who bless attacks. Heavenly reward will not await a suicide bomber unless his death and those of his victims is deemed halal, in keeping with Islam’s sacred sharia law. Each militant network has a sharia emir, usually at the level of a sheikh or mullah. In Iraq, American commanders specifically killed emirs to throw a wrench in a suicide bombing networks. “Take him out, and suicide bombings from that network are frozen until he is replaced,” said one military officer with command experience in Iraq.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

NEW FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Want to read more on this topic or region? Click + to receive email alerts when new stories are published on Economics, Middle East and North Africa


Pearl Harbor Facts: 7 Things You Never Knew About the Attack

The attack of December 7, 1941 is one of the best-studied events of the 20th century. Yet there are many Pearl Harbor facts that remain largely unknown. Below is listed seven Pearl Harbor facts that you likely didn’t know.

The White House decoded a Japanese war declaration the day before Pearl Harbor

Japan sent a message to its embassy on December 6 th to inform diplomats to prepare for a declaration of war. The White House intercepted the message and decoded it, but FDR did not warn his command at Pearl Harbor.

Since 1897, America had a plan to impede Japanese power

First conceived as early as 1897, America’s contingency plan for the rise of Japan as a modern military power was named War Plan Orange. The plan was updated on a regular basis to reflect the size of US and Japanese fleets.

The Pacific Fleet moved to Pearl Harbor for protection

Admiral Richardson moved his Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor because he believed that the shallow water would protect ships from aerial torpedo attacks.

FDR’s Chief of Naval operations told him not to believe rumors of a Japanese attack

Rumors about a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor circulated for months. FDR was warned on several occasions, even by the British Navy, about the vulnerability of Pearl Harbor. He chose, instead, to listen to his chief of Naval operations and ignore the threat.

An American Newspaper helped provoke the Japanese

On October 31 st , United States News (the predecessor of U.S. News and World Report), printed a spread that showed how easy it would be for United States B-17 bombers to blow Japan off the map.

FDR made Admiral Kimmel the scapegoat

Admiral Kimmel, who had taken charge of Pearl Harbor, repeatedly warned FDR of a possible attack. FDR did not share the decoded Japanese threat with Kimmel, but instead eventually demoted him.

Japan Almost Seized Hawaii

Admiral Chuichi Nagumo failed to launch a third wave to destroy oil tanks and dry docks if Japan launched the third wave, they would have captured the islands. The US began to issue currency stamped “HAWAII” to servicemen in Oahu so the Japanese could not spend it elsewhere in case they did capture the islands.

This article on Pearl Harbor facts is part of our larger selection of posts about the Pearl Harbor attack. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to Pearl Harbor.

This article is from the book Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor © 2012 by John Koster. To uncover more of the secrets, spies, and shockers that surrounded the events of Pearl Harbor, buy a copy of Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left.


7 Things You Didn't Know About Coffee's History in New York City

It's no understatement to say that coffee, for New Yorkers, is the gravitational force that keeps the city intact. Just try and imagine undertaking your morning commute without it.

This weekend, the inaugural New York Coffee Festival celebrates the city's most vital beverage at the 69th Regiment Armory on the Upper East Side, offering coffee lovers, baristas, shop owners and buyers samples, tastings, talks, and workshops. The festival is the first by Allegra Events in the U.S., taking after their London and Amsterdam Coffee Festivals.

"The simple fact is that coffee has been the center of life in New York for a very long time, and New York has been the center of coffee's life in the United States for a very long time," said Donald Schoenholt, 70, a co-founder of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and president of one of the city's oldest coffee roasters, Gillies Coffee Company.

Perhaps the world's most ardent and knowledgeable champion of New York as the gravitational center of America's coffee-sipping lifestyle, Schoenholt had a lot to teach us about the ways in which java has molded New York's history and vice versa.

Here are the top lessons we learned:

1. While all the other American colonies were drinking tea in the mid-1600s, New York preferred a cup of joe &mdash but not for breakfast.

Schoenholt: "Coffee was introduced to the American table in New York. All the other colonies were English we were Dutch. The English East India Company controlled tea in the world, the Dutch West India company controlled coffee. We were drinking coffee as a beverage that we enjoyed even while . the other colonies [preferred tea]. The breakfast beverage in all the colonies was beer, and that was because beer was safe. Coffee was very expensive, beer was cheap. Beer could be made domestically, coffee couldn't. Coffee was really a luxury."

2. New York City, particularly Manhattan, became one of the biggest centers of coffee roasting in America after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825.

"The opening of the Erie Canal . permitted New York merchants to bring in green [or un-roasted] coffee, produce it in an commercial kind of way, and send it to Buffalo," Schoenholt says.

In 1900, 86 percent of all coffee that entered the U.S. entered through the port of New York.

"From there, it made its way to Chicago and then south to St. Louis and then onto the wagon trains, and farther west it went. So New York became the great roasting center," he added.

Manhattan, in particular, was home to the city's coffee roasting industry "below Canal Street, with the first great coffee centers being along Washington Street." New York's very first coffee roaster, selling wholesale beans to taverns and hotels, opened on Pearl Street in 1793, according to William Uker's historical account, "All About Coffee."

3. When Mr. Coffee, one of the first electric drip coffee makers designed for home use, made its debut in the 1970s, Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio was the star of its television ads.

Schoenholt: "Mr. Coffee machine . that's the first of the modern coffee makers. Who was the spokesman for the Mr. Coffee Machine? Joe DiMaggio, the New York Yankee."

According to the Columbia Dispatch, "millions of kids grew up thinking Joe DiMaggio was a famous appliance salesman."

Donald Schoenholt, 70, a co-founder of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and president of one of the city's oldest coffee roasters, Gillies Coffee Company View Full Caption

4. Starbucks C.E.O. Howard Schultz, the man who came up with the concept of selling Italian-style coffee drinks at a roaster retail outlet, is a born and raised Brooklynite.

Schoenholt: Schultz "was a New York fellow born in Brooklyn, who had gone out to Seattle and presented himself." (He grew up in the housing projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn.) "He had been a coffee hardware salesman in New York. He worked for a [Swedish] company called Hammerplast. He went out to Seattle, presented himself to [Starbucks co-founder Jerry] Baldwin and said, 'I want a job. I think you've got a great company.' Baldwin hired him, and when he realized after he'd been there a year or two that Schultz had a background of selling coffee hardware, he sent him to Italy on a buying trip [in 1983] . And when [Schultz] came back, all he could talk about was espresso bars in Italy. He wanted to try selling cups of coffee in the Starbucks store, and finally, Baldwin gave in."

5. When the first Starbucks opened in New York City on the Upper West Side in 1994, it wasn't the only shop in town to sell espresso.

Schoenholt: "There was a place called Philip's. They were on 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, right next door to the back entrance of the Russian Tea Room. There was a small chain called Cooper's [on the Upper West Side.] There was an outfit out of Canada called Timothy's Coffees of the World, which started opening stores."

In 1989, Oren's Daily Roast, still in business in Manhattan, opened its first store, roasting on premises and selling beverages.

"There were a bunch that were here before Starbucks, but when Starbucks came in, they came in with such tremendous force that they just almost wiped everyone else out, except for Oren's Daily Roast."

6. Today, there are roughly 40 coffee roasters in the city.

Schoenholt: "This is a city that has a greatly diminished industrial base, yet there are 40 different companies roasting coffee in New York . They're [new ones] turning up ever week . I try to keep track of them all, because it fascinates me."

Schoenholt: "New Yorkers consume more coffee per capita that just about any place else in the country, with the possible exception of the United States Navy and Coast Guard, and fire stations, of which New York has more than any other city in the country."

New Yorkers haven't always ordered their coffee from the same joints &mdash over the last two centuries, they've migrated from taverns to small cafés &mdash but their city remains the main source of and inspiration for America's caffeine fix, Schoenholt said: "Everybody else can steal our thunder for 15 minutes at a time in any given decade, but it always comes back to New York."

Buy a ticket to the New York Coffee Festival, starting at $25, here.


7 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Rum

Back in the day, long-haul pirates and the sailors of the British Royal Navy didn’t just use rum for recreation. To keep the crew hydrated, ships typically stored three types of liquid sustenance: water, beer, and rum. First, they’d drink the water. But because the clear stuff was the most rapid to go rancid, they could only rely on it for so long before turning to the beer—which has a longer shelf life. When the brews were all tapped out, they’d move on to the rum, which could sit in the ship’s bowels for the longest period of time without going bad. One obvious drawback: Rum tends to cause intoxication.

THE BRITISH NAVY ISSUED IT TO SAILORS

In fact, until 1970 (1970!), the British Navy gave sailors a daily ration of rum, called a “tot”. The last tots were delivered on July 31, 1970 on a day known as Black Tot Day. To mourn the end of the ration, some sailors wore black arm bands.

THE ORIGINAL RUM COCKTAILS

Of course, sailors and pirates didn’t just drink rum straight. To make it more palatable, they would mix it with a bit of water to make grog or water, sugar, and nutmeg (to make bumbo). Today, consumers tend to prefer mojitos and Mai Tais.

RUM HAS SOME DARK ROOTS

Historically, the rum business was intrinsically tied to the Caribbean sugar trade. which, centuries ago, was part of a triangular trade route that also involved the exchange of molasses and slaves.

RUM HAD SOME AWESOME NICKNAMES

A great historical nickname to get you started: “Kill-Devil”. Oh, and if you were issued a second rum ration by the British Navy, the order was called “splicing the mainbrace”.

ABOUT THAT TERM “PROOF”

Here’s the deal with “proof”. These days, it pretty much just means double the alcohol-by-volume percentage (as every college kid knows: 40 percent alcohol equals 80 proof). But the term’s origins are much more interesting than simple arithmetic. You see, there was nothing worse for a sailor than to be issued watered-down rum. To test to make sure it was the real stuff, they’d mix it with gunpowder. The concoction would only light if it was higher than about 57 percent alcohol—a ratio that earned the distinction of “overproof.” Rum won’t explode? It’s underproof (and you’ve been ripped off).

TRY POURING A BIT OF IT ON ICE CREAM

It’s a delicious way to give your dessert some kick.

Seth Porges is a writer and co-creator of Cloth for iOS. For more fun, follow Seth on Twitter at @sethporges, or subscribe to him on Facebook or Google+.