You’ve Got Mail

I recall my father saying as a kid, “Walls have ears.” This was not in reference to secret police spying on everyone and each citizen; rather, it was in reference to your own neighbour spying on you.

Later, when I applied to military school (high school), my grandfather took me for a long stroll, and he was a scary guy for many; after all, he was the No. 2 boss of the Secret Police in ex-Yugoslavia, as I discovered when war broke out 5 years later.

He informed me that I should stop mailing mail, sending postcards, and doing anything else with mail right now.

I questioned him, “Why is that?” As you may recall, there was no email, Tinder, LinkedIn, or Facebook in 1986. We used mail.

He simply stated that “they see all” and “they read all,” and that anyone who believes they are foolish for writing codes or foreign phrases is mistaken.

In 1987, I was told the same thing in military school: cease writing; we’re checking all letters.

STASI, the East German secret police, took this to new heights, and this piece serves as a reminder of how it was done in East Germany, how much intelligence was collected, and how counterintelligence was distributed.

STASI at Postal Facilities

In post offices, the Ministry of the Interior had its own divisions where mail was opened methodically.

The Stasi mail inspection began in 1950, the year the ministry was created, and ended in the fall of 1989, due to the Peaceful Revolution.

Full-time In the GDR letter distribution offices known as “Stelle 12,” Stasi employees sorted the letters based on specific criteria.

Sorted goods were couriered to Stasi office buildings and opened with steam.

The data that was sent via letters has most likely been “removed,” and any questionable content has been copied or even maintained in the original.

Foreign currency was also earned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which garnered 32.8 million marks between January 1984 and November 1989. However, during this period, money was stolen and letters were destroyed.

Original letters from seized mail are still available today as part of national security files on the sender or receiver in question.

When mail was opened discreetly and used against the sender or recipient in court, a type of pseudo-legality emerged. In a forged letter, Deutsche Post told the affected parties that their letters had been held up due to an alleged violation of postal regulations.

Parcels were also searched and some items seized, including radio cassettes and recorded music, which were unlocked and occasionally used to record intercepted phone conversations, with the help of customs and Stasi agents stationed there.

In general, postal inspection delays were limited to twelve hours. Deutsche Post might then begin delivering letters on a regular basis. In the case that shipments were considerably delayed, the postmark date was hidden.

Department M

Department M employees replaced the envelopes, franking them as necessary, and carefully sealed the unsealed letters.

As a result, a worldwide stamp collection was specifically constructed.

The XIX’s main department, which oversees intelligence and communications, granted special search warrants. Large warrants with names, addresses, and writing examples, where needed, were included. Employees of Department M compared this data to the letters that were sent.

The so-called M-file was created concurrently with this operation.

Links uncovered during the check between the sender and the receiver are documented alphabetically and reinforced with the assistance of the police registration registry.

“Detect any hostile activity”

By the end, the Stasi had 10 departments managing this problem, up from three at the start.

The evolution indicates the increasing importance of postal control during the GDR’s 40-year existence. The political structure, as well as the Stasi’s aim to “know everything” and retain total control, had an impact on this.

Department M was tasked with regulating postal correspondence in this specific situation to “detect any hostile activity and prevent dangerous consequences.”

Their output was significantly limited during the popular uprising of 1953, the construction of the East Berlin Wall in 1961, and the détente policy in the late 1960s.

During the 1950s, Department M’s postal inspection activities were initially focused on three goals:

  • Seeking documents critical of the GDR in West Berlin and the Federal Republic.
  • Documenting the overall mood of the GDR population.
  • Detecting an attempted escape from the GDR.

In the 1960s, technical tool development, intelligence analysis, and operational activity all became more essential.

During the 1970s, Department M’s work was shaped by greater East-West exchanges.

Postal surveillance was geared toward discovering “negative” or “hostile” influences from the West, notably escape and emigration movements.

The management system’s effectiveness was improved further by utilizing new technology solutions. Due to improvements and the transfer of duty for postal and customs investigations in the 1980s, Department M was tasked with managing complex postal inspections.

The fact that the department has been overseen by the district since 1982 demonstrates its growing importance. Minister Erich Mielke was responsible for his own management.

From the beginning of 1989 to the end, four officers who began their careers in the MfS in 1950 and 1951 managed Department M. Major General Rudy Strobel founded Department M and oversaw it for nearly 25 years, from 1965 to 1989.

Postal Inspectors

From a few dozen in 1950, the number of Stasi workers performing postal inspections climbed to almost 2,200 in the GDR by 1989.

Department M and its ancillary services employed 639 people as of 1953. The workforce grew to over 900 individuals by the start of the 1970s, and to over 1,200 nearly 10 years later.

The most significant increase occurred between 1983 and 1984, when mail customs investigations were placed under Department M.

Department M has an extremely high percentage of women. In 1989, the percentage of women in the Stasi as a whole was around 16%, but in Department M, it was more than 20%.

Deutsche Post Operational School

Improving the control and search system required constant personnel training and specialization. Department M employees were also educated to operate a postal vehicle, provide telex services, and act as postal workers at the Deutsche Post operational school, which is located in the Berlin district headquarters.

Some employees became KV electronics technicians or completed the professional test to work with postal and newspaper traffic.

Staff members attended several technical schools to upgrade and maintain Department M’s technological facilities.

Air and refrigeration engineers were trained in Glauhau, while paper technology engineers were educated in Altenburg.

Deutsche Post ran a technical school in Leipzig where Stasi employees were trained as postal and newspaper engineers.

Additional courses were taken at other colleges and universities, such as the Engineering College for Device Technology in Dresden, the Humboldt University of Berlin for Criminology, the Karl Marx University of Leipzig for Physics, the Economic University of Berlin-Karlshorst, and the GDR Institute of Customs Administration “Heinrich Rau” in Berlin.

It was planned that mail from other countries would be available in Russian, English, French, and, starting in 1980, Polish. Intercepted correspondence contained information from GDR sympathizers to Poland and from Poland about the Solidarity trade union movement.

The effort aimed to uncover and disrupt postal connections with foreign secret services, with a particular emphasis on battling Western secret agencies.

The director’s March 1989 report, headlined “Current knowledge of the functioning of the imperialist secret services in the postal communication system,” laid the groundwork for the larger search for secret service letters, particularly from NATO members.

To avoid potential attacks on the Stasi by Western secret agencies, a thorough search for records relevant to the internal security of the Stasi and other armed institutions of the GDR was conducted.

In addition to the MFA, top-level state leaders should be “protected,” particularly against explosive and dangerous mail.

Staff of Department M were expected to maintain strict confidentiality, especially when working with Deutsche Post staff. As a result, they sat together in a private group in the cafeteria, attempting to minimize their encounter with “normal” postal personnel.

The Ostbahnhof in East Berlin, which the MfS designated as the “Caesar” plot facility, served as the site of formal relations with railway mail departments and shift managers. Officers on Special Assignments (OibE) were a further tool in the conspiratorial postal control system.

An Additional Dimension

Department M’s activities in 1989 were governed by special political framework conditions that were visible in 1988 but took on increased significance in 1989.

Department M’s 1989 work plan reflects this growth. Its primary objective was to repress and intercept “political-ideological diversion” (PID) propaganda.

This was justified, among other things, by the manner in which current “events in the Soviet Union and some other socialist countries” and the political underground (PUT) and their primary “exponents”—that is, the opposition scene and its spokespersons—as well as the emigration and escape movement—met.

Department M paid special consideration to the so-called “hostile legal grounds” in this case.

The press offices of Western correspondents accredited in the GDR, particularly those from NATO countries, as well as Western embassies and consulates, are so designated.

The postal inspection of these establishments aimed to uncover evidence of “hostile activities” directed at the GDR.

During this time, the Stasi’s primary responsibilities included gathering information about the GDR’s political and economic realities, encouraging people to leave and relocate, and putting an end to high-profile events that the Stasi deemed unfriendly to the GDR.

Goal: 90% of all domestic mail should be opened.

Finally, the job required further enhancement of the subsequent control’s technical examination techniques. The goal of automating the hot steam opening is to achieve a 90 percent opening rate for the “home” and “outgoing” mail programs, as well as 50 to 60 percent for all “incoming” mail.

This was a chronic violation of fundamental rights.

Departments from “fraternal bodies” were routinely switched with relevant departments for later takeovers, whether in the Soviet Union, Poland, or Czechoslovakia.

During these discussions, in addition to discussing new technological approaches for covertly reading and analyzings letters, addresses were shared and mail was collected.

This was the condition during the Cold War.

So, to what extent do you believe email is controlled and monitored these days?

Every type of mail? Or ?!

History is Life’s Greatest Teacher

This was the statement they kept reciting to us in school, and I’ll never forget it.

I guarantee you that I didn’t give it much thought at the time—who thinks about history in school? —and I didn’t take the comment seriously.

Based on my life experiences, I’ve concluded that many things repeat themselves without our knowledge.

Don’t get me wrong: they don’t repeat themselves, but have we learned anything from the past?

Unfortunately, it appears we are not.

History is a fantastic teacher, providing everlasting lessons about politics, pride, and power.


Few historical events and stories are more captivating than the rise and fall of tyrants.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini—all of whom appeared unbeatable in their heyday—achieved extraordinary heights of power before plunging into disgraceful ruin.

What motivated these leaders to pursue military glory?

How could these ‘all-powerful’ leaders lose the faith of their own people? Above all, what were the critical elements that led to their downfall?

Autocrats and Authority

Napoleon’s climb to power

In the latter stages of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military and political figure, rose to prominence.

With strong military vigor, he conducted successful campaigns in Europe and Africa, earning the esteem of the French people.

Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France in 1804, capitalizing on his popularity and the country’s volatile political situation.

During his reign, significant administrative and legal reforms were implemented, many of which are now the foundations of modern legal systems.

However, Napoleon’s never-ending military campaigns, particularly his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, depleted French resources and lives.

His reign ended in 1815, when he lost the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon, who was forced into exile and eventually imprisoned by the British, left a mixed legacy of dictatorship, revolutionary administrative change, and horrible combat.

Mussolini’s Rise to Power

Benito Mussolini, the father of fascism, ruled Italy as a dictator for more than two decades.

Mussolini, who took power in 1922 as a result of the March on Rome, gradually undermined democratic institutions and imposed one-party rule.

His ambitions were to restore the Roman Empire through widespread censorship, persecution of dissent, and emphasis on Italian nationalism.

During World War II, Mussolini chose to support Hitler, a decision that led to his demise as well as military defeats and public disgrace.

Mussolini was held when the Allied invasion of Italy began, but German soldiers eventually released him. He tried to flee when the conflict changed against the Axis powers, but Italian partisans caught him and executed him in 1945.

Mussolini’s era was marked by harsh militarism, authoritarian leadership, and catastrophic wars, leaving Italy in ruins and dishonoring his legacy.

The oppositional rise of Hitler

Following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany experienced a catastrophic social and economic catastrophe, during which time the legendary tyrant Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany ascended to power.

Many Germans were captivated by his compelling speeches and promises of racial purity and national renewal, which led to his appointment as chancellor in 1933.

Hitler swiftly emerged as the dominating power, transforming the democratic Weimar Republic into the totalitarian Third Reich.

His expansionist mindset and aggressive foreign policy precipitated World War II, while his severe anti-Semitic sentiments precipitated the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of six million Jews.

Hitler’s decision to strike the Soviet Union marked a sea change, resulting in an expensive, long-lasting war that Germany was unable to win.

Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker in 1945, as the Allies closed in. Everyone agrees that his legacy is one of extreme prejudice, cruelty, and genocide.

How it went wrong for them

The above summaries show that their stories have a common topic.

We are left with timeless lessons about power, politics, and the dangers of hubris from the regimes of Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Napoleon in France, and others.

This story’s key themes include their ambition for military glory, their decrease in popular favor, and, eventually, the reasons that contributed to their collapse.

An fixation with military triumph

Military conquests were commonly used to demonstrate authority and control throughout periods of autocratic rule.

For example, during the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte rose to prominence due to his military abilities.

His victories earned him credit, cemented his prestige, and laid the groundwork for his eventual coronation as emperor.

However, Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign marked the beginning of the end because of his insatiable desire for conquest.

One can draw parallels between Adolf Hitler and this.

Many saw his early successes in World War II and the development of the German Reich as signs of a coming renaissance.

Mussolini, on the other hand, envisioned a new Roman Empire as a means of attaining military might.

However, their excessively ambitious military achievements backfired, causing widespread hardship and eventually leading to their downfall.

A significant fall in public trust

Despite their early popularity, these leaders eventually lost the faith of their own people.

The French people could no longer tolerate Napoleon’s never-ending military campaigns, which cost countless lives and priceless resources.

Mussolini’s grandiose ambitions were dashed when Italy lost the Second World War, enraging a disillusioned people.

Hitler’s strong militarism, homicidal crimes, and the horrors of total war caused by his ambitions eroded public support for him.

Maintaining popular support during a dictatorship is often a tough balancing act.

Propaganda, fear, and psychological warfare can keep them running for a while, but as conditions worsen, public support dwindles.

This underscores a basic paradox: autocrats can rise to power by riding the wave of public feeling, but they inevitably fall out of favor when they lose touch with the needs and wishes of the people.

Mussolini, Hitler, and Napoleon were all removed from office, albeit in very different ways.

Napoleon’s disastrous campaign against Russia and military overstretch accelerated his demise.

Similarly, Hitler made a terrible error of judgment by attacking Russia, violating the conditions of the non-aggression treaty.

This resulted in a war that was ultimately lost on multiple fronts.

It was an unusual situation for Mussolini.

His own Grand Council ousted him, and Italian partisans later executed him.

His reliance on Nazi Germany and military losses revealed his lack of control over Italy’s future, which played a significant role in this predicament.

The collapse of these monarchs can be traced back to their vanity.

They overestimated their opponents, inflated their military superiority, and, most importantly, neglected their people’s will.

Their lofty goals and separation from reality played a significant role in their demise.

What lessons can we learn from history?

Have today’s presidents learned anything from history or the past regarding contemporary events?

Perhaps I see things differently because of my upbringing, because of all the circumstances I’ve encountered in the fifty years since attending military school, because of war, because of economic possibilities, or because it just appears that way to me?

Lessons for the current world – Leadership lessons

Mussolini, Hitler, and Napoleon all achieved power by appealing to public emotions and capitalising on socioeconomic issues.

However, they lost popular support when they began to disrespect their citizens’ needs and wellbeing, ultimately leading to their destruction.

Overzealous ambition played a role in the downfall of these great leaders.

Hitler’s ambition for racial purity and worldwide control, Napoleon’s never-ending military conflicts, and Mussolini’s vision of a new Roman Empire all had disastrous consequences.

Most notably, these dictators shared a common propensity known as hubris, which caused them to overestimate their own powers while underestimating their opponents.

Dictators usually exploit social differences, create fear, and use these characteristics to maintain power.

However, by instilling resentment and opposition, these techniques may sow the seeds of their destruction.

Politicians that promote harmony, tolerance, and social cohesion, on the other hand, are more likely to maintain a consistent level of support.

Ultimately, the fall of Mussolini, Hitler, and Napoleon is a sobering reminder of the hazards associated with unchecked authority, military boldness, and disrespect for popular opinion.

Their experiences show that a foundation of fear, ignorance, and violence is unsuitable for long-term leadership.

Rather, leaders who are sensitive to the needs and aspirations of others can persevere.

Though history does not repeat itself, it does rhyme, and these historical lessons remain applicable in our day and age.

Leadership Lessons

  • Those in positions of responsibility should avoid lofty aspirations that can overwhelm and bring them down.
  • Practical strategies that blend aspiration and reality often yield superior long-term results.
  • To sustain support and trust, leaders must behave in the best interests of their constituents.
  • Today’s leaders should prioritize fostering social justice, riches, and peace over conquering new areas to achieve true honor.
  • We must maintain self-awareness and humility, own our limitations, learn from mistakes, and be adaptable.

Defying Limits: A Warrior’s Return to Glory in the Boxing Ring

In a few weeks, an amazing event will unfold, testing the limits of age, resilience, and the human spirit. At 51, I plan to return to the boxing ring, not just as a fighter, but as a symbol of steadfast dedication and proof that the unthinkable can be made possible.

This is more than simply a struggle; it represents a lifetime of overcoming hardship, learning from experience, and the unwavering pursuit of personal perfection.

My experience as a warrior and intelligence operator has been anything but routine.

Each punch thrown in the ring carries the weight of lessons I learnt in the most difficult situations imaginable.

I am a man who values the expertise of mentors and teachers in achieving goals over the frequently meaningless advice on what those goals should be.

My comeback to boxing in the master’s amateur category was a deliberate decision, a message that age is only a number when it comes to achieving one’s goals.

For me, boxing is more than just a sport; it is a discipline that requires controlling one’s ego, fighting inner demons, and tackling phobias square on.

It is about demonstrating, not telling, how to win against the odds.

This fight is my canvas, and every action in the ring will be a stroke that conveys my message: that with drive, guidance, and courage, the impossible may become a reality, but not necessarily in the way one expects.

This event is more than just a personal milestone; it is a beacon for everybody who has ever doubted their abilities because of cultural restraints such as age.

It is a call to action for anyone who has put their aspirations on hold for practical reasons or the passage of time.

As we prepare for this remarkable exhibition of daring and ability, let us remember the substance of his message: it is never too late to achieve your ambitions, and the ultimate measure of victory is the fortitude to pursue them.

This fight is more than a match; it’s a story about life, resilience, and the unbreakable human spirit.

The only true boundaries are those we impose on ourselves.

He who betrays his wife, betrays the state.

True Cold War story: Because the British did not trust his wife, the most efficient Russian spy was able to depart.

Because British intelligence misinterpreted the intriguing features of his ex-wife’s comments as jealously, they ignored a message that may have revealed one of the most experienced Soviet operatives, Harry Houghton.

Money was wasted

Harry Houghton, who worked in the Royal Navy’s scientific research lab for undersea warfare on the island of Portland, is the focus of this story. Ethel Gee, Hutton’s sweetheart, was also employed at the base as a secretary.

According to Russian Foreign Intelligence Service data, Hutton and Ji delivered over 17,000 sheets of secret documents to Moscow.

There were higher-level orders, outlines of the center’s most important research, specifications of English port defensive systems, and detailed battleship weapon reports.

There were more details about the “Dreadnought” nuclear submarine, sonar stations, and submarine defence systems.

In 1956, Alice Hutton began to have reservations about her marriage. She thought something was wrong in 1952, when Harry dropped a wad of money in front of her and scattered them around the room.

As she gathered the fluttering notes, Alice realised she had £150 in her hands, which is equivalent to almost £6,000 today.

Alice also noticed some brown-wrapped document bundles on her husband’s desk. When she opened one of the documents, she saw a “top secret” stamp.

“You know too much!”

Then Alice noticed a small camera beneath the steps of the house. According to his wife, when Hutton learned about it, he stayed mute and did not respond to her scathing words.

According to the evidence shown thus far, Harry repeatedly beat her and attempted to murder her.

She also claimed that her husband drove her to the Portland Bill rocks and attempted to push her off the cliff on one occasion.

“I have to get rid of you,”

he proclaimed while he was heavily intoxicated.

 “You know far too much.”

Alice attempted to notify Harry’s management about his strange behaviour.

She informed a personnel officer at a military base in 1956 that her husband was distributing critical information to people who should not have it.

Her statement was conveyed to MI5. They covered up the incident in accordance with military installation management’s advice.

They claimed that Hutton had an affair and split from his wife in 1955, before divorcing a year later. The police eventually concluded that Ellis “made the statements under the influence of emotions and out of pure malice.”

“It is not excluded that all these accusations could be nothing more than the reaction of a jealous and embittered woman.”

He was arrested

Harry Hutton was eventually captured. Michal Goljenjewski, a Polish secret service agent who began secret work for the CIA before fleeing to the United States, revealed it.

In April 1960, Goljenjewski stated that communist Poland was seeking a candidate to work in the office of the British naval attaché in Warsaw. When the agent returned to Britain, the Soviet foreign intelligence service established contact with him.

A background check determined that the man was most likely Harry Houghton. He worked at the British embassy in Warsaw, but was recalled before the end of his term due to excessive alcohol consumption.

The MI5 investigation determined that Houghton began working with the Poles in 1951, most likely at his own initiative.

The British Naval Service decided that the sensitive papers provided by Hutton allowed the USSR to build a new generation of submarines. They were significantly less visible on NATO countries’ radars.

For nearly ten years, Hutton collaborated with the Polish and Soviet secret agencies.

The documents also show that the MI5 service acknowledged that “there is a high probability that they could have discovered Hatton four years earlier,” and that they solely listened to his wife’s comments.

MI5 arranged for Hatton to be traced after discovering he was an enemy secret service agent. As a result, the counterintelligence service saw extraordinary success.

Lovers and James Bond

MI5 was successful in exposing not only Hatton and his mistress, Ethel Gee, who was also a spy, but also other members of the “Portland Spy Network,” including an undercover Soviet foreign service agent named Conan Molodog, who lived in England under the alias Gordon Lonsdale.

A wiretap of Lonsdale’s home revealed that he lived the life of James Bond. In England, a Soviet spy became a successful businessman, constantly switching ladies and expensive automobiles.

Lonsdale was caught while carrying a rucksack containing confidential documents from Ethel G. Leontina Cohen, a British surnamer known as Kroger, and Morris, two other members of the “Portland Spy Network,” were also arrested that day.

They enabled Moscow to receive previously gathered classified intelligence.

It turned out that their small home in a remote part of London was full of spy equipment.

A radio transmitter, a microfilm printer and reader, a lighter with a secret compartment, encryption codes, and seven passports were discovered buried in the floor during the search.

The Cohens each earned 20 years in prison, Hatton and Ethel Gee received 15 years, and Maladog-Lonsdale received a 25-year sentence.

The “Portland Spy Network” revelation drastically affected MI5 activities.

The British Secret Service found for the first time that its adversaries were not only KGB officers acting under diplomatic cover, but also people impersonating Western nations.

Covert intelligence personnel assumed false identities, but their genuine documents and histories were seamlessly integrated into American and British culture.

It was very hard to count such agents.

Negotiations with MI-5

Hutton was 56 years old, and Ji was 47 when they were arrested.

Ji’s letters suggest that she still had feelings for Hatton. “My dear Harry” was the first line of every letter she sent him. “The short time I spent with you was the happiest period of my life,” she said in one of the letters.

The duo was under pressure as they served their sentences.

Mail between agents in prison reveals that Houghton even suggested Ji negotiate with the counterintelligence agency in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Ji, on the other hand, responded by labelling the MI5 officials who read their letters as scoundrels and claiming she would not “scrutinise” it.

Hutton even made the decision to meet Ji once. She then gave another admonition to be quiet: “Don’t discuss anything with them.”  Ji reprimanded Harry for being cowardly and inconsistent, stating, “If not, I’ll have to do another sentence.”

This couple’s story has a happy conclusion. Following their release from prison in 1970, they married shortly thereafter.

Following their exchange for British secret agents, Maladoi and the Cohen couple, both Soviet secret service officers, moved to the USSR.

In the end, will love triumph?

The Night the World Almost Ended Able Archer 83: The Vicious Circle

It was a vicious circle. The Soviets refused to believe that the Americans were bluffing; in turn, the Americans suspected that the Soviets were bluffing, even if they did not believe the Americans were doing so.

How did a regular military rehearsal come dangerously close to causing a nuclear exchange?

These days, it’s hard to escape seeing at least one piece about war or military drills in the news. And that nothing here is entirely fresh or unknown—we’ll be back around fifty years earlier.

The world was unintentionally on the point of nuclear Armageddon in the fall of 1983.

There was a sudden possibility that the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, which had been more of a tense standoff than actual conflict, may erupt into full-fledged combat.

This imagined disaster was based on a routine NATO military exercise known as Able Archer 83.

However, what was Able Archer 83?

Cold War Tensions

Much of the second half of the twentieth century was determined by the Cold War, a long period of geopolitical warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union. This conflict was marked by political squabbles, economic competition, military alliances, and a dangerous arms race.

The defeat of Nazi Germany enabled the winners to focus their attention on one another as competitors. The United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, and the Soviet Union tested nuclear weapons in 1949, initiating the arms race.

By the early 1980s, the Cold War had become increasingly unstable. The 1970s détente, which included some diplomatic cooperation and a reduction in tensions, was followed by a severe downturn in USSR-US relations.

In response to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the United States resolved to increase pressure on its Cold War adversary.

Following his inauguration in 1981, US President Ronald Reagan took a harsh stance towards the Soviet Union.

During his president, the military budget was significantly increased, the Strategic Defence Initiative missile defence system was created, and new nuclear intermediate-range missiles (Pershing II and land-based cruise missiles) were deployed in Europe.

Tensions rose in significant part due to the introduction of these new armament systems.

The Soviets were especially concerned about the Pershing II missiles, which could strike sites within the USSR in minutes, perhaps destroying the USSR’s ability to fight in the event of an unexpected invasion.

NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union-led military alliance in Eastern Europe, conducted regular military drills in this volatile environment to prepare for a possible fight.

Able Archer 83: A Military Drill

Between November 7 and 11, 1983, NATO conducted a command exercise known as Able Archer 83.

It was one of several NATO exercises known as Autumn Forge 83, which took place in the autumn of 1983.

The exercise’s purpose was to simulate a period of increasing hostility between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, culminating in a planned nuclear strike.

The exercise, led by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at Casteau, Belgium, included all of Western Europe as well as some NATO member states.

The primary players included the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, West Germany, and other NATO countries.

Able Archer 83 is designed to look highly lifelike. It included participation from heads of state, radio silence, and a new, unique architecture for coded communication.

It simulated a nuclear-armed DEFCON 1 scenario, which is the maximum level of preparedness for a potential attack.

The planned exercise involves five stages:

  1. Alert
  2. Deployment
  3. Combat
  4. Nuclear war
  5. Aftermath

During the drill, NATO soldiers simulated switching from conventional to nuclear battle.

Panic in the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union’s response to Able Archer 83 was based on a deep concern that NATO, led by the United States, would launch a surprise nuclear strike.

Increased hostility in the early 1980s, prompted by Reagan’s belligerent words, and the recent stationing of Pershing II missiles in Europe, capable of reaching Soviet territory in minutes, intensified this concern.

Operation RIaN (Raketno-Jadernoe Napadenie, or “nuclear missile attack”) was a massive intelligence-gathering operation aimed at identifying preparations for a nuclear first strike.

The Soviet leadership was so afraid about a surprise strike that they launched it. Agents stationed worldwide were tasked with keeping an eye on the individuals who would decide to launch a nuclear strike, the military and technical personnel who would carry out the attack, and the areas from which the attack would originate.

Initially, the Soviets believed Able Archer 83 to be a normal drill. However, as the exercise progressed and featured genuine elements such as additional coded messages, radio silence, and a simulated DEFCON 1 crisis, fear among the Soviet intelligence agency grew.

Soviet nuclear forces in East Germany and Poland were prepared for a counterattack, including nuclear-armed planes ready for immediate departure. Soviet military and intelligence organisations were placed on high alert.

It’s disputed to what extent the Soviet Union was on military alert, but the anxiety was palpable.

Nonetheless, despite the concerns, the Soviet leadership remained cautious. They did not want to start a nuclear war due to a misunderstanding.

They were keeping a close eye on things, looking for any new signs of escalation. The Soviet leadership withdrew its soldiers, and the current situation ended when Able Archer 83 was completed on time.


The Able Archer 83 incident had a considerable impact on Cold War dynamics, impacting both long-term approaches to arms control and war avoidance, as well as immediate military and diplomatic efforts.

Both parties acted quickly to diffuse the situation. The risks of misunderstanding and misinterpretation have risen to the forefront, particularly in the United States.

When it became evident that the Soviet Union feared a NATO first strike, military actions were altered, including the de-escalation of war games.

The episode influenced President Reagan’s language and outlook on the Soviet Union. Reagan also began to emphasise the importance of communicating and negotiating with the Soviet Union.

Able Archer 83’s near miss served as a reminder of the importance of arms control in preventing conflicts from escalating into full-fledged wars.

This paved the way for further negotiations on arms control treaties, culminating in the 1987 signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibited the two countries from using ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers with a 500-ballistic-missile range on land.

The experience served as a harsh reminder of the inherent dangers of the nuclear arms race. This raised the prospect that, even if neither side intended it, misinterpretations and computations could accidently result in nuclear war.

Until the end of the Cold War, this information spurred the superpowers to be more vigilant and communicative.

Declassified Documents

The whole story of Able Archer 83 has slowly emerged, thanks in part to the gradual release of previously classified NATO and Warsaw Pact documents.

According to a British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) report from 1990, the Soviet Union saw the practice as a cover for a real strike. The US government declassified a detailed study on Able Archer in 2015, revealing that the incident was more deadly than previously assumed.

The severity of the Soviet retaliation to Able Archer 83 is a major point of debate.

According to some accounts, nuclear warheads were being loaded aboard aircraft in East Germany and Poland, indicating that the Soviet Union was indeed preparing for nuclear war.

Some argue that, despite their fears, the Soviets responded in a careful and cautious manner rather than panicking.

Instead of a Conclusion

The episode influenced both sides’ policy towards de-escalation and diplomacy, making it a watershed moment in the Cold War.

The experience served as a wake-up call for both countries, emphasising the dangers of misinterpretation and the potential for escalation in a nuclear-armed world.

Have we woken up?

The Italian Kardashians or the Christmas cake-induced avalanche

While your eyes are hooked to the TV screen, mobile device, or tablet, and you are enjoying watching content generated by “average Joe turned celebrity from America (list is too long),” individuals you respect are robbing you of your money, dreams, and desires.

You are probably wondering how.

This article is for those of you who are living other people’s dreams by paying their extravagant lifestyles through fraud, lies, and scam.

Let me question you directly: is it preferable to remain anonymous nowadays or well-known, such as influencers?

We were all compelled to live in isolation at some point throughout the pandemic. And, once again, now that we have made everything possible for ourselves and have opened our lives to everyone, both professionally and emotionally, I feel that privacy will become the new luxury.

Are you familiar with Chiara Ferragni? For the past few days, an Italian influencer has dominated the news, and not in a good manner.

But let us proceed in chronological sequence.

Chiara Ferragni: Who exactly is she?

Chiara Ferragni is an Italian blogger, entrepreneur, fashion designer, and model whose website The Blonde Salad has worked with fashion and cosmetics companies.

She methodically crafted her immaculate character as a millennial favourite and fashion and cosmetics symbol over the course of fifteen years. She even had a global modelling contract with the cosmetics company Lancome.

Her personal fortune is estimated to be 19 million euros, she owns three businesses, and she has tens of millions of social media followers.

Chiara Ferragni is a well-known social media specialist in the globe today. Many firms today use it for more than just access to the outside world.

While still living in Milan, she established The Blonde Salad, a personal lifestyle blog that immediately became a “hit place” for all things fashion-related. More than 11 million followers worldwide follow the travels and exploits of the most well-known European influencer with a global following who is enthusiastic about fashion, nine years after she changed her life into a blog with style advice.

Turning a passion into a job

This Cremona law student turned her hobby into a job. As one of Instagram’s most popular users, she epitomises a generation of women who feel that nothing is impossible and use social media to communicate who they are and what they want.

She also launched the Chiara Ferragni Collection e-shop, an online store where she sells her own clothing. Her brand is now a significant component of over 300 retail outlets from Paris to New York.

She celebrated the opening of the first three flagship stores in Milan, Shanghai, and Chengdu in September 2017.

Today, she has over 30 million Instagram followers and has acquired millions of dollars by avoiding privacy at all costs.

She is a board member of the leather goods company Tod’s SpA, in addition to owning her own clothes brand and digital marketing firm.

According to her PR firm, “Chiara Ferragni is one of the most influential figures in the Italian fashion, media, and business world and uses her influence every day to make the world a better place.”

Hubris retaliated

All of that, however, may come crashing down with a single blunder, which Chiara Ferragni is hoping to mitigate with a $1 million donation to protect her dignity.

Ferragni was fined 1 million euros ($1.1 million) last month for falsely claiming on social media that the proceeds from a Pandora Christmas cake bearing her name would benefit a Turin hospital for sick children.

Because the present was paid for in advance prior to the promotion, the sale had no influence on the cost of the gift. Balocco, the company that organised the Christmas cake marketing, was also fined for deceptive business practices.

Ferragni, on the other hand, was allegedly paid a million euros for the effort.

Chiara Ferragni, an Italian, collaborated with the company Balocco to develop a Christmas cake featuring her surname. Even though the cake was just about 3.5 euros, it was sold for nine euros.

The proceeds from the sale were donated to the Regina Margherita Paediatric Hospital in Turin in order to help children with bone cancer.

The cake was scheduled to be auctioned off in November 2022, but according to worldwide media, Chiara won a million euros in a charity initiative, and the cake’s manufacturer donated 50,000 euros to the hospital prior to the auction.

“Chara Ferragni’s management companies, TBS Crew and Fenice, earned over a million euros from that company without having to pay anything to the hospital.”

Fenice was fined 400,000 euros, while TBS Crew was fined 675,000 euros.

According to the Italian Competition Authority, Balocco, which has its headquarters in north-west Italy near Turin, was fined 420,000 euros.

The government said that the three companies were guilty “of applying an unfair commercial practice by advertising Pandora Pink Christmas, designed by Chiara Ferragni, suggesting to consumers that their purchase would contribute to the donation” .

The prosecution initiates the procedure

At the request of the National Agency for the Protection of Market Competition, the Italian State Attorney’s Office filed a complaint against her for preklan fraud and consumer deception.

This was owing to the combined introduction of the popular Christmas delicacy Pandoro into the market by the Italian maker Balocco and Chiara Ferragni, who misled shoppers into believing that a portion of the sales earnings would be donated to charitable causes.

Especially to the research team at the Regina Margherita Special Hospital in Turin, which treats malignant bone diseases.

The market price for comparable products was only 3.7 euros, but the Christmas cake was marketed for a far higher price per slice, 9 euros.

During the investigation, the prosecutor’s office was able to show that the hospital got a one-time donation of 50,000 euros from the firm prior to the product launch, and that no money from the cake’s sales was transferred to the hospital’s account.

As a result, she misled consumers with her marketing plan, in which Chiara Ferragni also participated, for which the influencer and the company were penalised. Balocco was fined 420,000 euros, and Chiara Ferragni and the companies she works with must refund any illegally generated earnings (a total of 1.075 million euros) to the public budget.

Numerous consumer organisations filed lawsuits against her, Coca-Cola cancelled a planned advertising campaign, and Safilo, the world’s second-largest eyewear brand, abandoned her.

Ferragni responded to the start of the fraud investigation by saying she fully believed the judicial system and would help them with their investigations. “I am calm because I have always acted in good faith,” she said.

Ferragni hasn’t posted anything on her Instagram account since making a defensive apology and criticising the sentence on December 18.

This is the longest she has been silent online since she began.

Reaction of Italy’s Prime Minister

Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, also covered everything.

“Influencers who flaunt their expensive cakes, skimpy outfits, flaunt their handbags, or even promise people that they will do good things for a small fee are not true role models.”

The Prime Minister, according to La Repubblica, added, “Those who create, design, and manufacture that Italian excellence are the true role models.”

Ferragni didn’t respond to the insults.

Although Ferragni’s demise can be seen as a single setback for the estimated $250 billion influencer economy, it may also serve as a broader warning of shifting tendencies.

Furthermore, Italy is regarded for being a forerunner in predicting changing zeitgeists in fashion and technology. Apple Inc. and Inc. 2021 received record penalties from the Italian regulator AGCM, which also fined Ferrani, for potential competition violations.

Although the judgement was later overturned by a higher court, it marked the beginning of a movement in public and regulatory opinion challenging digital businesses’ dominance.

An attempt to provide clarification

Ferragni’s carefully cultivated reputation, however, has been tainted by the Pandora controversy and her response that the punishment was harsh considering that she was merely wanting to help others.

When the mask fell off, she assembled a team of spin doctors from scandal-plagued Italian blue chips and a famous Milanese law firm to assist her in dealing with a classic corporate image issue.

According to media for one of Italy’s largest luxury companies, the tendency is also shifting in other areas.

Traditional media is restoring fashion companies’ interest. This means that less money will go to influencers and developing media brands.

Artificial intelligence is also a future concern. LVMH’s Louis Vuitton and Hennes & Mauritz AB are among the companies that have already used virtual and AI influencers such as Noonoouri, Ayayi, and Kuki.

Perhaps Ferragni is starting to see the value in having a little more privacy for herself.

The Suez Canal Crisis

I remember standing in front of the local grocery store from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., then my mother from 2 p.m. to midnight, and then my father from midnight to 7 a.m. the next day in order for my parents to buy one kilo of salt, sugar, and coffee, then waiting again the next day for cooking oil, baking powder, some fruit and vegetables.

It was 1982, during the glory days of communism, and we were taught at school to be self-sufficient since the wicked powers of capitalism would smash us.

Have you noticed an increase in the cost of goods?

There are times when I feel like the costs are changing daily.

Is it influenced by the situation of the global economy?

Naturally, it does.

And where is this economic uncertainty coming from?

From an economic and security sense, the world is more concerned with shipping than with the Gaza War.

The Gaza War poses no real threat to international security or world peace.

This assertion is true, even if it appears cynical, aloof, or even ignorant.

Please do not misunderstand me.

Despite its severity, cruelty, and large number of civilian casualties, the battle in Gaza remains, at most, a confined regional issue, with only two major parties battling mostly inside the Gaza Strip.

Other distant powers with clout in the region, from Iran and the United powers to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and a reunified Europe, are also treading carefully.

From an economic sense, the Gaza War has had no effect on the world economy.

Yemen’s Houthis, who represent a threat to shipping through the strategically crucial Bab el-Mandeb strait between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean—the world’s third-largest choke point for oil supplies after the Strait of Hormuz and Malacca—could upend the delicate informal balance of interests.

Every day, around six million barrels pass through it, the majority of which are destined for Europe.

However, there are indirect costs as well: increased insurance premiums, crew hazard fees, and other expenses because of shipping attacks.

As a result, while the Houthis’ actions in the Red Sea may raise costs for practically everything, beginning with oil, residents of neutral nations stand to gain nothing from the conflict in Gaza.

But first, let us go back to the Cold War era and look at the Suez Crisis.

The 1956 Suez Crisis, which exposed the shifting power dynamics of the twentieth century, was a watershed moment in post-World War II geopolitics.

The Suez Canal, which connects Europe and Asia by joining the Mediterranean and Red Seas, was at the centre of this conflict.

As a result of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalisation of the canal, Britain, France, and Israel initiated a military intervention.

Their goal was to limit Nasser’s growing dominance in the region while also restoring control of the canal.

Global tensions stemming from the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal grew to prominence as one of the world’s most major waterways once it was completed in 1869, opening up faster economic routes between Europe and Asia.

Because of the canal’s strategic importance, the British were able to gain a majority interest in it in the late 1800s.

With the canal at its heart, the Middle East became a geopolitical hotspot by the middle of the twentieth century, as decolonization winds blew over Asia and Africa.

Things began to change dramatically in the 1950s. Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in Egypt in 1952 after King Farouk was deposed in a coup led by the Free Officers Movement.

What causes contributed to the Suez crisis?

In the years preceding the Suez crisis, events heightened Middle East tensions and laid the framework for the impending conflict.

Along with his rise to power in Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser advocated Arab nationalism and a desire to reduce Western influence in the area.

Israel, a key ally in the region, as well as former colonial powers France and Britain, are growing increasingly dissatisfied with his policies and choices.

Although the Baghdad Pact was founded in 1955 by the United Kingdom, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and the United States to oppose Soviet hegemony in the Middle East, Nasser saw it as a direct danger to his vision of Arab unification.

In retaliation, Nasser later that year secured an arms arrangement with Czechoslovakia, a Soviet satellite nation.

The West’s belief that Egypt was drawing closer to the Soviet bloc strained relations even further.

Concerns about Egypt’s developing ties with communist countries, as well as Nasser’s Cold War neutrality, led to the withdrawal of financial support from both France and the United Kingdom in July 1956.

This decision significantly harmed Nasser’s reputation as well as Egypt’s feeling of pride. Captured and looking for alternative methods to pay for the dam, Nasser took a gamble.

On July 26, 1956, he declared the Suez Canal nationalised. This decision meant that the Egyptian government would receive 100% of the proceeds from the canal’s operations.

Despite widespread support for the canal, the country’s biggest supporters, Britain and France, were outraged by this conduct.

A crisis has begun

The three countries involved in the sophisticated military operation during the Suez Crisis were Britain, France, and Israel, each with its own goals.

Because the proposal was being developed behind closed doors, the parties met in Sèvres, France, at the end of October 1956 to complete it. On October 29, 1956, Israel launched its invasion of the Sinai Peninsula, pushing fast towards the Suez Canal.

Their official rationale was that they needed to combat fedayeen attacks and address the threat posed by Egyptian soldiers in Sinai.

However, the move was part of a bigger plan agreed upon with France and Britain.

Following the Israeli advance, Britain and France issued an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel on October 30, asking a truce and the evacuation of any forces within 10 miles of the Suez Canal.

The ultimatum was designed to serve as a pretext for their participation because the British and French expected Egyptian rejection.

Egypt, as expected, disregarded the ultimatum, and Britain and France launched an aircraft attack of Egyptian soldiers on October 31st.

Over the next few days, a series of airstrikes targeted critical Egyptian infrastructure, including airports, communication lines, and military bases.

On November 5, French and British paratroopers descended from the sky at crucial places along the canal, including Port Said.

The next day, naval forces joined the attack, and together they began to conquer the northern portion of the canal.

The three powers had hoped for swift and decisive military intervention, but they did not receive it.

Egypt faced stiff military and popular opposition. The Egyptians used a scorched earth technique to disrupt the canal by sinking ships and destroying buildings and bridges.

Outrage all over the world

The international community reacted fast to the Suez crisis, primarily condemning Israel, Britain, and France for intervening. Many individuals argued that the military intervention was a clear attempt by colonial powers to reclaim control of the post-colonial world.

The fact that the preparation was done behind closed doors and the intervention was carried out under false pretences only added to this image.

Despite its reservations about Nasser and his policies, the US was very concerned about the crisis’s broader implications.

The United States was concerned that involvement might heighten Cold War tensions by bringing Arab countries closer to the Soviet Union.

Furthermore, Britain and France’s actions contradicted the narrative that the US intended to present regarding its support for decolonization and self-determination. To secure a resolution, the US exercised tremendous diplomatic and economic pressure, including threats to withhold financial assistance from the United Kingdom.

The Soviet Union criticised the action as well. The Soviets were legitimately concerned about a possible escalation that may lead to direct conflict with the West, even if they also meant to use the situation to strengthen their influence in the Middle East.

The Soviet Union’s prime minister, Nikita Khrushchev, sent stern warnings to the United Kingdom, France, and Israel, and even hinted at acting on Egypt’s behalf.

The United Nations

The United Nations was a key factor in crisis management. During the General Assembly’s emergency session, there was widespread condemnation of the invasion.

As a result, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was founded as the first peacekeeping organisation of its kind, with the task of maintaining the truce and ensuring the withdrawal of foreign soldiers from Egypt.

Many countries, both in the West and in newly founded republics in Asia and Africa, condemned the invasion.

Protests erupted in a few cities throughout the world, including London and New York, highlighting global fury at Israel, Britain, and France’s actions.

The end of the Suez Crisis

Britain and France agreed to a cease-fire at the end of November 1956 in response to diplomatic and economic pressure.

The United Nations played an important role in ensuring the conclusion of hostilities and the following departure of foreign forces.

The United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was despatched to Egypt to supervise the cessation of hostilities and allow the evacuation of Israeli, British, and French forces.

UNEF remained in the Sinai Peninsula until 1967, acting as a barrier between Israeli and Egyptian forces, and it was critical to the region’s continuing stability throughout that time.

The early aftermath of the Suez Crisis had a tremendous influence on the parties immediately involved.

The crisis saw a significant decline in Britain’s and France’s global power.

The widespread condemnation they faced, as well as their failure to achieve their objectives without American assistance, signalling the end of an era in which European nations could alone dictate the laws of international affairs.

Even though Israel enjoyed some military wins, it was diplomatically isolated.

Nonetheless, the episode highlighted Israel’s security concerns from its neighbours, setting the door for additional clashes in the region.

The aftermath of the crisis was both a cause of struggle and a source of victory for Egypt and Nasser.

Nasser became a hero in the Arab world as he opposed colonial powers and maintained control of the Suez Canal.

However, due to the damage and blockages caused by the battle, the canal was closed until April 1957.

Its reopening symbolised Egypt’s tenacity and the country’s independence.

While I would prefer not to say that history repeats itself, we must, without a doubt, learn from it.

What causes disagreements, conflicts, and economic crises affects everyone on the earth.

Ferdinand Waldo Demara was “The Greatest Con Artist”

He expertly severed a soldier’s leg while playing a surgeon, but no one realised who he was until his image emerged in a newspaper article praising his abilities.

In primary school, we were always taught that “history is the teacher of life.” In retrospect, I see how much I missed the point and how little interest I had in history at the time, but that was a long time ago.

Long before social media platforms existed, there were con artists and scammers.

I’ve talked about influencer fraud before, but around the turn of the twentieth century, one of the biggest con artists piqued the public’s curiosity.

Who was Ferdinand Waldo Demara?

In comparison to other superstars that graced magazine covers at the time, Ferdinand Waldo Demara was not well-known as an actor, astronaut, hero, or politician.

His professional background has been somewhat varied.

Among other things, he was a doctor, professor, jail warden, and monk.

Demara was not a genius. In fact, he dropped out of school without a diploma.

He was “The Great Con Artist,” a beguiling bandit who duped others into thinking he was famous.

I grew quite intrigued in Demara as a man while reading and researching for my podcast. In contrast to other con artists and scammers, he did not steal and lie for financial gain.

Demara desired to advance in rank and infamy

Ferdinand Waldo Demara was born in the little town of Lawrence in the American state of Massachusetts in 1921. Early in his life, he pulled off his first con: he didn’t have enough money to buy chocolate at the neighbourhood candy store, so he deceived the clerks into giving the class free chocolates.

Once he’d felt the adrenaline of a successful scam, there was no turning back.

When Monk Demar dropped out of school in 1935, he lacked the required skills to be successful in the groups that attracted him in. He lacked the patience required to get the necessary certifications, but he craved the status of being a priest, professor, or military officer.

And thus, his life of deception began.

Demara ran away from his home in Lawrence, Massachusetts, at the age of 16, claiming to be of the proper age to enter the Trappist monastic order.

When his parents discovered him, they let him stay since they expected him to eventually give up. Demara stayed with the monks long enough to acquire a hood and a habit, but when he was 18, he was forced to leave because his fellow monks thought he had the proper temperament.

Demara then attempted to join the other orders, but again violated the rules. It was also a ruse he employed several times during his career. He even helped to build a religious university on one occasion.

Life in the military and the navy

He joined the army at the age of 19 in 1941. But, as it turned out, the army was not for him either. He was so dissatisfied with military life that he stole a friend’s name and deserted, eventually joining the Navy.

He worked as a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania under a bogus name and without a degree. He also studied law under a false identity.

Demara was granted permission to pursue medical training while serving in the Navy. Despite passing the prerequisite course, his lack of education stopped him from progressing.

Demara then provided his first set of bogus credentials, claiming to have earned the necessary college credits to get admitted to medical school. He was so pleased with his creations that he decided to seek for an officer’s commission rather than medical school.

After his fraudulent documents were discovered, Demara feigned to be dead and escaped once more.

Demara pretended to be dead and left when his fraudulent papers were discovered.

In 1942, Demara assumed the persona of Dr. Robert Linton French, a former navy officer and psychologist. When he worked at the institution, he uncovered French’s information in an old campus brochure that featured French.

Demara was arrested and convicted for desertion while working as a college lecturer under a French name until the end of the war in 1945.

Due to his exceptional behaviour, he only served 18 months of his six-year term, but he returned to his old ways upon release.

Demara changed his name to Cecil Hamann and enrolled at Northeastern University this time. Tired of the effort and time required to complete his legal degree, Demara earned a doctorate and accepted another teaching position at Christian College in Maine as “Dr” Cecil Hamman in the summer of 1950.

A surgeon who does not have a medical degree

His most famous scam, however, took place on a Canadian ship during the Korean War.

He worked as a surgeon on the battleship HMS Cayuga as Dr. Joseph Cyr.

He only knew about medicine from the text of the ship’s other doctor, whom he had forced to write the norms of practice in case he found himself alone on the ship with no other doctor.

He operated on 19 Korean troops who had been struck by gunfire and shrapnel on one occasion.

‘Dr. Joseph Cyr’ became well-known as a result of his exceptional profession, even reaching the genuine dr. Joseph Cyr.

Even after the fraud was exposed, the Canadian Navy refused to charge Demara.

In order to avoid more scandal and public scrutiny, the Canadian government chose to simply deport Demara back to the United States in November 1951.

After returning to America, word of his exploits spread, and Demara sold the tale to Life magazine in 1952. After returning to the United States, he attempts to spend time living under his own name and reforming his habits of behaviour.

Though he enjoyed the celebrity that came with his “The Great con artist” character, he gradually began to dislike living as Demara, “The Great con artist.”

The prison guard

Demara took on a new identity in 1955 when he began working as a guard at the Texas jail in Huntsville. He was eventually granted command of the highest security wing, which housed the most dangerous inmates.

But after a year of labor, one of the prisoners discovered a Life magazine article and handed the jail authorities Demara’s cover image.

After being apprehended in North Haven, Maine in 1957, he was sentenced to six months in jail.

A con artist’s career is coming to an end

He worked as a chaplain at a hospital in Anaheim, California, for his last employer.

He was exposed there too, but because he became close friends with the management and one of the hospital’s owners, he was let to stay.

He worked there until 1980, when he gave the final anointing to well-known actor Steven McQueen.

Ferdinand Waldo Demara had both of his legs amputated after suffering from diabetes-related heart failure two years prior to his death.

Even though Demara had a really interesting life and never really cared about money, which didn’t inspire him to succeed in anything he did, in the end, a con artist is just a con artist.

Sarma Melngailis, Bad Vegan Queen: Celebrity, deception, and fugitives

Most of you have probably heard of and watched the Netflix documentary about vegetarianism, con artists, fraud, romance, and perpetual pets.

To those who haven’t experienced it, I believe this all sounds a little, um, strange.

So let us go sequentially.

Scams, swindles, and frauds

She was prosperous, her employees admired her, and celebrities dined at her restaurant. Until she met a man online, and her life was permanently transformed. She went from a rich businesswoman to a con artist and fugitive.

Sarma Melngailis, who is she?

Sarma Melngailis was born on September 10, 1972, in the United States, and grew up in Newton, Massachusetts.

Melngailisa’s father, who was born in Riga, Latvia, was a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her mother, a professional chef, sparked her early interest in cooking.

She graduated from Newton North High School, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton School with a BA in Economics.

Melngailis moved to New York to study at the French Culinary Institute.

Entering the restaurant business

She founded a restaurant after graduating from the French Culinary Institute with her then-boyfriend and acclaimed chef Matthew Kenny, which immediately flopped, so she sought help from a reputable management, and thus her career began.

Pure Food and Wine, New York’s first premium raw food restaurant, was co-founded by her and manager Jeffrey Chodorov. Its location in a well-known Manhattan neighbourhood quickly gained attention, and it soon found itself on the list of the 100 top restaurants in New York magazine The Platt 101 twice.

Sarma Melngailis’ restaurant has been named on Forbes’ list of “All Star New York Eateries” for the past five years.

A beautiful young woman who attended a prestigious business school and culinary academy, as well as the founder of the raw food movement, became the proprietor of one of Manhattan’s greatest restaurants. She soared to prominence and popularity. Her entire vegan restaurant team adores her and looks up to her as the genuine and inventive leader of their dream venture.  Sarma has a close friendship with Alec Baldwin and knows many celebrities and influential people who frequent her restaurant.

“Mrs Fox be in love with Mr Fox”

On Twitter, Sarma met a wonderful guy who went by numerous humorous identities, like Mr. Fox and Mr. LongBottoms. Mr. Fox appears to know exactly what to tweet in order to win the heart of @Sarma. They discussed Leon, the name she gave her dog, and he desired to be closer to Sarmi. “Mrs Fox be in love with Mr Fox,” he wrote on Twitter. It’s impossible to escape.”

That is where the narrative begins.

Problems with marriage and business

Sarma began dating Anthony Strengis in 2011, and she soon appointed him as the manager of her restaurant.

Many people were taken aback by their relationship; even his mother publicly expressed her confusion as to why Sarma was with her son, an ugly gambling addict.

She later opened One Lucky Duck Juice and Takeaway, a retail food “takeaway” business next to the aforementioned restaurant, which did well, and then opened another, this time outside of New York.

Everything then goes wrong

Employees at Sarma’s restaurants began to leave in droves in January 2015, claiming she owed them money and had failed to pay their monthly salaries.

She later removed the post from her blog and apologised to all of her readers. She stated in an interview that low profit margins from loans and expensive components caused her salaries to be delayed. As a result, she was unable to pay her rent.

She eventually presented a different story, blaming the bank entirely.

A few months later, some staff returned, and business picked up for three months before everyone left again due to unpaid salaries, and both restaurants were permanently closed.

The unusual marriage’s arrest and exposure

Sarma’s marriage and life were far from idyllic. She, on the other hand, became embroiled in such an emotional game, becoming a victim of gaslighting, emotional blackmail, and Stockholm syndrome. Sarma gradually severed all social ties and, at the end of this harrowing tale, sat in cars and planes, often alone, with no idea where she was going or why.

Antoni convinced Sarma that someone had hacked her computer and gained access to all of her accounts and e-mail through a fictitious IT professional, allowing him to dominate her. Friends who were concerned noticed her behavioural changes, depression, and panic attacks.

Based on her level of anxiety, the cut-off she agreed to, and her surrender to a man who is a true gambling addict and a lunatic with delusional beliefs about supernatural abilities, Sarma is certainly a victim of a cult.

Sincerely, I’m not siding with either of them, but based on what we learned from their interviews, their marriage and relationship were far from normal and healthy.

Sarma tried to emphasise that she needed “someone of her own” and that she was sorry of the decisions she had made, but that she couldn’t turn back because doing so would have involved admitting her significant sins. Furthermore, glib was breathing mud because she wrecked her own reputation and company.

They took sanctuary in several hotel rooms in Tennessee after fleeing, but they were spotted ordering pizza, because Anthony was also involved in her activities and felt threatened by an investigation into the firm. Strengis and Sarma were wanted at the time for “grand larceny, conspiracy to defraud, and labour law violations.”

The media’s favourite topic when Sarma was arrested was this pizza, which generated quite a commotion. Netflix takes use of the inverse association between the terms “vegan” and “bad,” making it appear as if Sarma’s professed purity (the place was called Pure Food and Wine) was a deception.

In reality, Sarma is a vegan who built a large business from the ground up and does not eat pizza. Naturally, it is possible for someone who follows a healthy diet and exercise routine to be both a victim and a cheater.

But what exactly is Sarma in all of this?

Sarma later pleaded guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy to commit fraud, and stole more than $2 million from investors. He had already agreed to take a guilty plea and serve one to three years in prison. They were both fined, but Strengis’ was far higher.

During the course of this tale, she filed for divorce in 2018 and blamed her husband for everything. Anthony, she claims, deceived and fooled her into letting him manage the restaurant, promising to enhance it and making an odd commitment to make her pet dog Leon immortal.

“Sarma appears to have gone insane,” her friend says, “she truly believed her dog would live forever.”

She continued to discuss her strange marriage with Anthony, claiming that he kept putting her through tests to prove her loyalty to him, one of which asked her to choose between giving him money or oral sex while blindfolded.

The challenge was for her to accept that he gained weight to show her love for him, and he said that her dog Leon was his in a previous life and that the three of them had lived together for a thousand years.

It’s the most terrifying nightmare you’ve ever had! She once commented, “I’d rather have terminal cancer than this because at least I wouldn’t be the reason.”

Sarma currently enjoys her life away from the spotlight, enjoying her dog Leon and frequently posting photos of her daily activities on Instagram.

Instead of concluding, I’d want to pose a question to myself and you:

Why are so many women and men willing to believe fairy stories and pay for them, in this case with their own credibility, millions of money, and incarceration?

Belle Gibson, the World-Deceived by a Cancer Con Artist

In my professional job, I investigated traitors, spies, and high-level organised crime, and I have seen scammers of all kinds over the years in both my personal and professional life.

The worst type of fraudster, however, is one who takes advantage of people by falsely about having “Cancer” in order to get cash and recognition.

Regrettably, in this day and age of social media, there are an increasing number of them. Although social media allows knowledge to spread quickly, not everyone utilises it for the best purposes.

Madison Russo, a TikToker, and her scam have already been covered by me. To deceive thousands of GoFundMe donors, she purported to have cancer. And it appears that this type of scam is still going on. I have the authority to proclaim that it continues.

Most of you have likely heard about Belle Gibson’s story.

The real reality was exposed after she fabricated her claim of having cancer, getting cured, and making millions.

Belle Gibson, a blogger and marketer, was formerly regarded as a “guru of a healthy life” and, quite plainly, a natural wonder.

The media lapped up Belle’s claim that she beat cancer by eating a healthy diet, allowing her to make a nice profit.

Belle Gibson’s story reads like a script for a film.

A young, attractive woman is given four months to live after being diagnosed with deadly brain cancer. After two months of chemotherapy and radiation, she chooses to forego traditional care and take matters into her own hands.

Instead, she concentrates on good nutrition and natural therapies. Against all odds, she begins to heal. Her unusual approaches appear to be effective. She miraculously falls pregnant with her first child.

Let us begin from the beginning.

What is the identity of Belle Gibson?

Gibson was born in Tasmania’s capital city of Launceston. Gibson’s early life, like much of her story, is shrouded in mystery. She grew up on Brisbane’s outskirts and claims she never met her father and has had to care for her mother, who has MS, and her autistic brother since she was a youngster.

She sold her story of recovery through healthy eating by establishing a healthy food app and writing a book about “her experience” and “advice” as hundreds of thousands of people followed her on social media.

A surprising diagnosis

Her “survival” story began in 2009. When she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty, she was told by doctors that she only had four months to live, according to her own story. Not satisfied with this (already absurd) claim, she added two months of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other arduous and painful procedures to the story.

Out of desperation, she previously used alternative therapy practices, which she claims saved her life. Holistic medicine, a balanced diet, vitamins, and oxygen therapy were used in her instance to deliver “saving” therapy.

From cancer patient to health professional

Her commercial empire began to expand at that moment, and one of its components was the well-known app “Whole Pantry,” which she promoted to the public as “the world’s first application dedicated to health and wellness.” The app was a great success and made its owner a lot of money immediately away. People were moved by her narrative at a time when wellness and the efficacy of “superfoods” were becoming popular beliefs. She finally accumulated over 200,000 followers.

Making the most of her celebrity, Gibson created The Whole Pantry, a health and wellness app that reportedly received 200,000 downloads in its first month. Gibson’s career took off after the app’s introduction, and Apple named The Whole Pantry the Best Food and Drink App in 2013. She then agreed to a book deal with Lantern Books, a part of Penguin Books. Her cookbook, The Whole Pantry, was released in October 2014 and includes recipes to help readers live “a well-nourished life” free of dairy, processed sugar, and gluten.

Rich book deals followed, and she was later featured by worldwide media sites, where she explained her “catastrophic case” and received thousands of new Instagram followers every day. She also wrote her own cookbook, which was submitted for publishing in the United Kingdom and for which she received a $70,000 advance.

She made so much money that she purchased a million-dollar coastal home, a BMW X3, and pricey cosmetic operations for herself.

Nonetheless, she has kept her fans up to date on “what the doctors told her” on a daily basis.

Fall from grace

There were thousands of enthusiastic comments on social media, but there was also a lot of scepticism.

Given that she only had four months to live, how did she manage to save herself with food in such a short period of time?

How is it possible that she has no symptoms of such a deadly disease?

All of these mysteries remained unanswered until 2015. Then the truth began to emerge.

Bela mentioned that she works with 20 humanitarian organisations and that 95% of the proceeds from the application are dedicated to philanthropic causes. When journalists Bo Donnelly and Nick Toscano contacted her, they requested more precise information about her health as well as a list of the organisations she had worked with.

Reporters offered her a 24-hour window to reply or provide an explanation after it became clear that she had not donated a single dime to any of the organisations she claimed to support. She literally acted as soon as she received the email.

On the same day, she made small contributions to organisations to whom she had pledged support fifteen months before, and in subsequent conversations with reporters, she made an effort to attract attention to the “flow of money” and other connected matters. Reporters persisted in seeking dubious facts, including new health information, which she refused to provide.

With each response, Bella became further entrenched in her own lies, and a day later, the front page of the newspaper where Toscano and Donelli worked featured a large item titled “Mega blogger Bella Gibson doubts her own cancer claims.” One of her exam responses, in which she stated, “Perhaps cancer was a wrong diagnosis by German doctors,” was also included in the book by the journalists.

That day, she deleted multiple posts from social media, and the wellness business began to disintegrate. The previous year, the corporation “Apple” that she worked for brought a case against her, and the judge ordered a $410,000 fine.

She’s been sued several times for fraud

Gibson was fined $410,000 by the Australian government in September 2017 for making a false commitment to make a charitable donation. She was found guilty on five counts of breaking consumer legislation. She did not appear in civil court for the sessions.

The following chapter

You’d think that after being discovered and punished, the story would end there.

However, nearly two years after being directed to do so, Gibson claimed in June 2019 that she was unable to pay the penalties. According to a Consumer Affairs Victoria financial investigation, Gibson spent more than $91,000 between 2017 and 2019.

Her home has since been raided twice in an attempt to retrieve the money she owes, in January 2020 and May 2021.

Following the original attack, Gibson merged with the Ethiopian population in Victoria, Melbourne, in an unusual turn of events. In a video, Gibson discussed Ethiopian politics, even referring to Ethiopia as “home.”

Gibson’s social media pages are no longer visible on the internet, and no new information concerning her whereabouts has emerged.

Everyone has a seriously ill family member or acquaintance, rather than a conclusion.

Let me begin by expressing that I have and understand the difficulties we face.

However, I must question you directly: What type of individual jeopardises people’s lives by offering advise on how to heal the most serious illnesses?

Will the disgraced wellness influencer resurface someplace else, or has she vanished entirely?

Only time will tell.