This World War Two spy faked his own death for 36 years

Juan Pujol Garcia, also known as Agent Garbo, circa 1940. (Credit: The National Archives, UK)

From Becky Little for "After World War II, a critical MI5 spy named Juan Pujol Garcia faked his own death, and kept it secret for almost four decades. And that’s not even the most interesting thing about him. Pujol was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, and when Britain went to war with Germany in 1939, he was determined to join the British war effort as a spy against Germany; so determined that he wasn’t deterred when British officers turned him down because he didn’t have any connections or credentials. Posing as a Spanish official who was flying to London, Pujol made contact with Nazi officials in Madrid and told them that he was interested in spying on Britain for the Third Reich. After that, he began sending the Nazis fabricated information that they thought was from London, but which was actually fed from Lisbon and Madrid. Essentially, Pujol became a rogue double-agent whom Britain didn’t even know it had."

On the trail of the guerrilla programmer who is archiving the Internet

From Jani Patokallio at Gyrovague: "Do you like reading articles in publications like Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal or the Economist, but can’t afford to pay what can be hundreds of dollars a year in subscriptions? If so, you may have already stumbled on, which provides easy access to these and much more: just paste in the article link, and you’ll get back a snapshot of the page, full content included. For a long time, I assumed that this was some kind of third-party skin on top of the venerable Internet Archive, whose Wayback Machine provides a very similar service, at the very similar address But the Internet Archive is a legitimate non-profit with a budget of $37 million and 169 full-time employees in 2019., by contrast, is an opaque mystery. So who runs this and where did they come from?"

How a southern Italian crime family’s reign ended in tragedy

Meet the 'Ndrangheta: It's time to bust some myths about the Calabrian  mafia - The Local

From Miles Johnson at the Financial Times: "Salvatore Pititto and his cousin Pasquale were born one month apart in 1968 in Mileto, southern Italy. Their poor town of about 8,000 people was organised around a long central street with a cathedral and surrounded by olive groves and cheaply constructed block houses. In the late 1980s, the two cousins began hijacking trucks and extorting local businesses under the protection of more powerful crime bosses. The teenage Pasquale proved highly adept at shaking down the businessmen of Mileto. The Pitittos came to rule over Mileto through robbery, murder and terror. When people disappeared overnight, everyone knew their fate. And yet, Pasquale and Salvatore saw themselves as men of honour, noble criminals bound by a secret code. Salvatore called associates from other villages “clean people”. But, in Mileto, the stain that clung to the family was well known."

Surviving in the abandoned Brazilian jungle town that Henry Ford built

From Terrence McCoy for the Washington Post: "When he was a young man, Luiz Magno Ribeiro felt nothing but pride in his city. It was, he believed, the most miraculous town in Brazil, a place of many firsts. The first settlement deep in the Amazon rainforest to have running water and electricity. The first to treat patients in a modern hospital. The first to build a swimming pool, a cinema, street lamps — an oasis of civilization in a remote jungle: Fordlândia. Where Henry Ford tried to defeat the Amazon and was instead defeated. But one recent morning, as he set out to inspect the community, it wasn’t awe that the 49-year-old felt. It was frustration and grievance. Despite all of Magno’s efforts, the remarkable history of Ford’s conquest to harvest Amazon rubber was being lost, and the roughly 2,000 people still here were being forgotten — again."

A transcript of a surreptitiously taped discussion by German physicists after Hiroshima

Will Putin Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine? | Energy Intelligence

"At the beginning of the war, Germany’s leading nuclear physicists were called to the army weapons department. There, as part of the “uranium project” under the direction of Werner Heisenberg, they were charged with determining the extent to which nuclear fission could aid in the war effort. Unlike their American colleagues in the Manhattan Project, German physicists did not succeed in building their own nuclear weapon. After the end of the war, both the Western Allies and the Soviet Union tried to recruit the German scientists. From July of 1945 to January of 1946, the Allies incarcerated ten German nuclear physicists at an English country estate. The following transcript includes the scientists’ reactions to reports that America had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima."

How raiders on the frontier in Britain gave birth to the terms "blackmail" and "bereaved"

The History of the Border Reivers

From Ed West at The Wrong Side of History: "Among the notorious Borderer clans were the Scotts, Burns and Irvines north of the border, and Fenwicks, Millburns, Charltons and Musgraves on the English side, while some could be found on both, among them the Halls, Nixons and Grahams. Many of these clans were outlaws and some were lawmen; others were both or either, depending on circumstances. Violence was so common on the border that there sprung a tradition whereby truces were arranged in return for ‘blackmail’, a tribute to border chiefs, from the Middle English male, tribute; only in the nineteenth century did this come to mean any sort of extortion. Another of the Borderers’ contributions to our language is ‘bereaved’, which is how you felt after the reivers had raided your land (it usually meant property rather than a loved one)."

A video of what "ball lightning" looks like

From Massimo on Twitter