Monday, May 23, 2011

How a Few Norwegians Kept Hitler from Getting the A-Bomb in WWII

Hilter’s Atomic Bomb That Would Have Won the War

But for a Few Norwegians

Hitler came perilously close to beating the U.S. in developing an atomic bomb during World War II. Had he gotten it, the allies would have lost that war despite our superior number of forces, aircraft and ships. The story has a message for us even today. What prevented this disaster?

The free world was saved by less than a dozen Norwegian resistance fighters profiled in the Richard Harris/Kirk Douglas movie “The Heroes of Telemark.” Had it not been for them, we’d all be speaking Nazi German today. I became aware of this overlooked saga during a trip to Norway which included a stop at the hydro plant which was where this drama unfolded.

During WWII, Germany occupied Norway where it discovered a hydroelectric plant that powered a fertilizer factory which produced “heavy water” as a byproduct of the process (and discarded). This heavy water (D2O) was needed to control the fission process for making the first A-Bomb. The Germans converted the plant to focus solely on the production of heavy water. The hydro plant provided the vast power needed to make the required 10,000 pounds of heavy water, a drop at a time.

A bombing attack was first considered but because the plant was next to Norwegian homes the Norwegian resistance insisted on a small team penetrating the plant to destroy the machines used in the process. The only access to the plant was a small, heavily guarded bridge. A mountain stood behind it and a deep gorge protected it from the front. Less than a dozen of them managed to climb down the gorge and up the other side, went inside and blew up the production equipment. But the Germans had a trick up their sleeve.

They had more of the machines and within two weeks they had installed replacement machines and were in full production -- and on target to have the heavy water they needed for a bomb by April, 1943. So the allies ordered the site bombed from the air. The bombs destroyed the top of the building and surrounding homes but failed to damage the heavy water machines which were in the basement. It was then that the Germans decided to move the tons of heavy water to Germany for completion.

The heavy water was escorted under heavy guard on a train to a ferry that would take its special cargo on a two-hour journey across a Norwegian lake. From there it would be shipped on another train to Germany. The allies were running out of options, and time.

The “Hydro” ferry carried Norwegian civilians and freight on a regular run. The Norwegian resistance fighters timed the trip to see when it would reach the middle – the deepest part. Two of them snuck onto the ferry, which the Germans had failed to guard. They opened a hatch which led below decks to the area where the diesel fuel was stored and attached a timer and a bomb.

The next day, a Sunday, the ferry left port exactly on time at 10 a.m. Exactly 45 minutes later the bomb went off and the ferry broke in two pieces. The barrels of “heavy” water, which indeed is heavier than normal water, sank to the bottom. A couple were recovered a few years ago and this is a photo of one at the museum in the Telemark area of Norway.

That ended Germany’s shot at beating the U.S. in producing an Atomic bomb – all because of less than a dozen Norwegian resistance fighters.

And what happened to the Norwegian civilians on board? No one could warn them beforehand – an empty ferry would have tipped the Nazi’s that something was wrong. But unlike the movie, there was no one on board to organize survivors. When the explosion occurred, rescue boats from the surrounding farms were spontaneously launched and many people were saved.

This little known story shows what a difference a few people can make. Without these few Norwegians, Hitler could have wiped out London with one bomb and won the war. Hitler’s scientists had developed the V2 which entered space before striking its targets in London. Nothing could stop it once launched. The Nazi’s were working on an advanced design they called the “New York” which could have made New York the first Hiroshima.

I recommend you watch “Heroes of Telemark” to see how close we came to losing WWII but for a few Norwegian fighters. Our future still depends on American technology leadership and investment to keep from losing the global technology race we face in the 21st century – at a time when Congress continues to cut investment in the infrastructure, education and technology needed to regain our No. 1 position. Where are today’s heroes of America?

Michael Fjetland

Global American Series

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lillehammer was used by the Nazis in WWII.

Our software has gone mad.

Get this. I speak no Norwegian. However, Firefox, Explorer and Blogger are now insisting on giving me log in information IN NORWEGIAN --bust because I'm in Norway! I made no such request yet Firefox and google keep showing up in Norwegian when I open the software on my laptop. Google keeps offering my Norwegian Google into "translate" to English! Crazy. I changed my location, not my language! lol.

Blogger would not change the headings into English no matter what I did - so I finally had to guess Norwegian for "log in" -- and finally got on.

It's a good thing it is not going to make me write in Norwegian because other than "Takk" (Thanks) that's all the language I know. LOL.

We went from green valley to snowy mountain roads today in less than 2 hours. Thee snow grew to line the roads almost as high as the tour bus. Another highway above us was still closed due to snow. The driver stopped at one point --no one else was around for miles -- and some of the tourists couldn't resist the cold snow next to the road and had impromptu snow ball fights amongst themselves.

Then we wound down a twisting road to a ferry at the head of a Fjord. Its front opened up like "jaws" and out the cars. It was big enough to handle for more than four buses like ours. It took an hour for us to travel down the Fjord, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and amazing waterfalls like the "Seven sisters." We saw ancient farms on the side of the Fjord - all abandoned now. On one they tethered the children to keep them from falling off the cliff. On another, they moved out because a large rock hovered over the farm. One hundred years later the same still has not fallen.

We passed a section where a huge rock had broken off the side of a Fjord mountain and crashed in the water. It created a Tsunami that killed dozens of people some years ago.

Clean, tidy, RELAXED, beautiful are all words that fail to describe Norway. It is a special place. It has none of the junk on the side of the road that we see. They use a special red paint that is so tough that they don't have to paint as often. Hay is wrapped in white plastic to protect it. Some Fjords are as deep as the mountains above them. And I have yet to see a fat Norwegian. I saw a lot of them riding bicycles or walking, often with baby strollers.

It turns out the hotel we stayed at last night in Lillehammer was used by the Nazis as their Norway HQ in WWII. It did look like one of those movie places. I posted a photo of it on the right.

The Norwegian resistance played a key role in WWII by destroying a "heavy water" shipment by the Nazis to their nuclear program. It keep them from getting the atomic bomb before the United States.

This is an opportune time to be here. Tomorrow is "Constitution Day" Norway's National Day. I didn't expect that. But Norwegians are pretty low key about it - they usually don't fly flags except for national day. And stores will be closed. Another 2 hour ferry ride tomorrow - we are looking for a national day parade...

Did you know that Norway is one of the most generous donors to international causes that need $$$? It's also home of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Today some in the group went to a nearby church that has a cross that dates back 1,000 years - right about the time the Vikings converted to Christianity...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Land of the 24 Hour Sun

Sun doesn't set until 9:45 pm in Norway tonight. It is truly the land of the midnight sun, not to mention one of the few places on earth we can see the northern lights as the sky changes colors from the magnetic action at the north pole.

The Vikings were once dreaded and feared in Europe because of their raids. But they also thought nothing of sailing in open boats across the sea to eventually reach North American 500 years before Columbus. Here they say Columbus used a Viking map!

But Norway is also called "The Saudi Arabia of Europe" because it has have of Western Europe's oil resources from the North Sea.

They say that there is still snow in the mountains so our travel north from Oslo tomorrow may be changed if we can't get through the mountains.

Norwegians are quite friendly, the land is green and clean and English is a universal language, along with the many others. But a pay phone call costs $4 and a glass of wine at a restaurant is $20. All liquor is sold through state stores -which closed at 3 today (Saturday) and won't be open Sunday.

The toilet flush gizmo in the hotel is the size of an encyclopedia! I guess they don't want anyone missing

In the city center of Oslo today, which is small and intimate, I saw lots of blond people and some pretty amazing sights -- everything from short shorts (including short shorts with a garter belt holding up black stockings) to modestly covered Muslim ladies with their kids -- and no one batted an eye about any of it. lol.

The atmosphere is very relaxed - everyone was sitting at outdoor cafes eating or having a drink. A couple little girls climbed up on a statue not a block from the Parliament building, as you can see.

I will miss Stavanger this trip - not enough time. That's where they have a "Norwegian Emigration Center" that has the records of all immigrations to the U.S. from 1825 - including my relatives about 1880, something I still need to check on.

I'll have to wait until next Saturday to see that 1,000 year old Viking ship that beat Columbus to America. It and two others are in the museum here in Oslo.

Right now getting through the mountain snow in the north is still a question...stay tuned.

The Global Gas Wars

Global American Series

13 May 2011

One major change is happening in the mother-of-all-oilfields, Saudi Arabia. Currently it is exporting 8 million barrels of oil/day, much of it to the U.S. However, by 2028 that oil will no longer be available for export. Why?

There are startling changes going on across the world that are impacting gasoline prices not only today but possibly for decades to come. This week on Global American™ radio we cover the “Global Gas Wars” and what it means for Americans as gas prices hit record highs. Is this temporary -- or is this the “new normal”?

Our guest is Loren Steffy, business columnist for the Houston Chronicle who recently traveled to Dubai and Saudi Arabia and saw firsthand the changes going on in the Middle East and the challenges for America in maintaining our oil supplies. We are 5% of the world’s population and we consume 25% of the world’s energy.

And why is it that Saudi may not be able to increase production to offset higher prices as it has done in the past?

Another factor contributing to oil prices is the rise of China and India – China alone will put another 170 million cars on the road in coming years. Streets once filled with bicycles when I first traveled there in 1982 are now jammed with cars in gridlock.

Even the “Arab Spring” will have an impact on available oil – because of the economic changes that it will bring to the Middle East (and we are NOT talking an embargo like we had in the 70’s).

What does gasoline cost in other countries? Where is it the cheapest? Most expensive? U.S. gas prices are neither the cheapest nor the most expensive by far. One country sells it for 22 cents/gallon! How can they manage that? Is it a place you would want to live?

Mr. Steffy also points out some worrisome trends when it comes to “deepwater wells” like Thunder Horse in the Gulf of Mexico. For some reason the production has “collapsed” after a short time, putting at risk the the $1 billion it costs to drill these monsters (like the “Deepwater Horizon”). He addresses whether “Drill Baby Drill” would solve our energy shortages even if we go ‘full throttle.’

Tune in Saturday at 9 am Central time on Business 1110 AM, streamed on and --if you miss it -- podcast 24/7 at (click on ‘favorite program’ and look for the above title).

Is this the “new normal” or not?

Michael Fjetland

Global American Series

Comments welcome.

Sponsored by Armor Glass International, Inc.

An Energy Star company which saves energy and “armors your glass” from hurricanes, tornadoes, burglars and solar heat

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's a Small World

I still find it so strange in an Alice in Wonderland kind of way, that as a young attorney for Dresser Industries, I was taken to or near Abbottabad, bin laden's last hideout, when I was on a trip to Islamabad.

It was around 1980. I had been to Karachi, the port city that is a Pakistan version of Houston - hot and HUMID. Then I had to go to Islamabad, the capital. Frankly, I can't remember who I saw but I remember they taking me into the mountains that lead to the tourist city of Abbottabad - if you look at a map on Google Earth you can see that it is like Austin is to Houston.

I realized that I had not included either Pakistan experience in my book so I'm adding them - along with the episode where I ended up having to vacate a room at the Nile Hilton in Cairo (Egypt, not Illinois) to make room for a Presidential peace treaty mission, one that actually worked.

A look at Norway is next.

Tomorrow I tape a program on "The New Global Gas War" with the Houston Chronicle columnist Loren Steffy on what he found on a recent trip to Saudi that will scare you more than Al Qaida. Hint: What if Saudi stopped exporting 8 million barrels of day to the U.S. because the SAUDIS were using it for their own economy...!?

What if that day was sooner than you think? Standby...and tune into Global AMerican radio at

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bigger Threat than Al Qaida: China's Repression

A Chinese artist was picked up by the Chinese police and has disappeared, but his art exhibit is open. A bigger threat than Al Qaida is Chinese anti-democratic actions like this. It's bigger than the Israeli-Palestinian issue (which frankly has gotten totally boring and predictable).

Why is an ARTIST a threat to their society...?

America's failure to invest and manage our money in the past decade has given China the advantage. China has passed Japan as the world's No. 2 economy. They run surpluses and invest in their high tech future. We haven't.

The Chinese are building 21st Century infrastructure-- levitating trains that travel over 300 mph, vast roadways and modern infrastructure -- while we let 20th Century bridges fall into the Mississippi for lack of maintenance and think getting up to 150 mph would be exciting. Amtrak's average speed is claimed to be "87 mph" but my personal experience it was less than 60. I took it from Houston to New Orleans.

Chinese students get Ph.D's in math and science while Americans do not have the high tech skills to fill over 1 million posted jobs open today.

Meanwhile, Texas, which ranks 34th of 50 states in education spending, is cutting its education budget. How does this help us compete in a global, high tech 21st century?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Why Did My Friend Shoot Himself?

On the way home from San Antonio today, someone I had not heard from in years called me - to tell me that a friend of ours had shot himself to death yesterday, Sunday.

I had known Randy for over 20 years - he and I had "Run the Blockade" when a nationwide French strike shut down transport into France when we were traveling for a meeting in Paris. I was trying to get us--him-- into see buyer executives for Euro Disney, right after they opened in 1992 in France.

We were trying to sell Euro Disney Randy's Texas videotapes --everything from dancing to a deer story. Their executives said they took them home and listened to them, but they never placed any orders. I got there just as Europe had plunged into a recession and even singer Phil Collins had trouble selling 30,000 records, according to the London music companies we met with.

But I had lost touch with him. So I was really shocked to hear that Rany had ended his own life on Sunday. Why? Why would anyone do that?

Our mutual friend said that his business had been slow. I thought of how I could have used him in my growing business - how it could have given him something to do and look forward to.

But I had put off getting together with him, thinking we had forever to get it together. I didn't know he would feel life had nothing left for him and would leave us before his prime time was up.

They say he had just seen a doctor, and may have gotten news he didn't like. And things weren't the same after his father passed away last year, they said. He left prescriptions on the counter --they were not filled. His sweetmate had just talked to him that morning. She had been with friends in Galveston and would be coming back that day. He sounded OK.

She was the one who found him less than 3 hours later, with a self inflicted bullet. I can't imagine what that must have been like. All those years together, then this. Why?

Once many years ago, I saw him step across my rail on the 11th floor of a high rise. We had had a couple drinks. One false move and it was game over. I was very concerned but he didn't listen to me. But that time he stepped back from the brink, after our mutual friend "BJ" said "Get back over here." He did. This time no one was there, and he did not.

We have to be sure we don't wait too long to help our friends. There is nothing now that even good intentions can do to help him, whether they are mine or anyone else's. Once your friend is gone, they are gone.

I will miss Randy M. He was a good person and had the potential for great things. To all the other Randy's out there, I say don't give up. Life still has value and meaning. I have been on the bottom and know what it is like. Do not give up. The light does come after the dark.

The amazing thing about life is how it can change for the better even in the darkest hour.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

50th Anniversay America's First Spaceman

It was exactly 50 years ago today that America launched its first spaceman, Alan Shepherd. The Russian had beat us by launching Yuri Gagarin four months earlier. Shepherd is the one who had to wait for launch so long that he had to ask permission to pee in his suit - or risk having to scrub the flight.

Permission was granted and Alan became our first American to go beyond our atmosphere, beginning the race to the moon which we won.

I once rented an apartment and found out afterwards that the neighbor next door was Adm. Alan Shepherd, the same! I was in the River Oaks High Rise on Westheimer, next to the steeple of St. Luke's church in #1110. His door was directly across the hall, about three feet away. Wow.

I could never get myself to bother him though. If you respect someone you leave them alone - they get enough people bothering them. But part of me wishes I had knocked on his door with a six pack or bottle of wine -- and had a moment of his time. Being too modest can be as bad as being too aggressive.

Alan, to my shock, died within 4 years later, making me realize how impermanent our opportunities are, including those chances to talk to special people. I do admit when I heard knocking at his door, I could not help but look to see who it was...

Don't let those opportunities pass you by...Godspeed, Alan Shepherd.

My Trip to Abbottabad & the Future of Terrorism

Global American Series

5 May 2011

The discovery that Osama bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in Abbottabad, Pakistan came as a surprise to me for a different reason – I’ve been there. Actually, I was taken there on a trip to Islamabad, Pakistan when I was working for an oil service company in 1980. It’s a wild drive through mountains with thousand foot drop offs (and no guard rails) to get to that sleepy tourist town. That was the time bin Laden was beginning his career fighting Russians who had invaded Afghanistan.

That was before I went on TV as a Mideast expert during the first Gulf War in 1991 and before I spent all day at a local TV station as a terrorism expert on 9/11 (and after). It was before I did a TV program on the potential of a terrorist attack on the U.S. in 1994. (Copies of some of these are still available on YouTube if you search for “Fjet2020” – one video has over 680,000 views, but be warned, a lot of the conspiracy comments will make you wonder about our educational system.)

This week on Global American radio we talk about the beginning and the end of Osama, what made him hate the U.S. after we helped him and the Mujahedeen beat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and what his killing does to the future of terrorism.

We talk about what is happening in Pakistan, a nuclear power with a weak government, which could allow the world’s No. 1 wanted terrorist to live a hundred yards from Pakistan’s West Point! Pakistan poses a greater risk than Iran (only a wannabe nuke power), Afghanistan and Iraq ever did.

We talk about the “Arab Spring” and why it is nothing like the Iran Khomeini revolution of 1979. We discuss Libya’s Gadhafi, the other terrorist who killed 270 with the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988 – and why no one in America seems to remember that, although people can recite sports scores going back to Babe Ruth and the details of Charlie Sheen’s movie career or Snooki’s love life.

Can America lead a world if our people don’t remember history? What will terrorism look like in the future without Osama bin Laden? Who will take his place?

We also want your opinion of whether or not the death photos of Osama bin laden should be released. Your comments are welcome on our blog/mirror site at:

My producer Ron says our program is unlike anything else he has heard on talk radio. It’s not ideology. It’s based on personal experience and facts. That makes a difference.

Check it out for our special edition of Global American radio this Saturday, May 7 at 9 am Central time, streamed at and podcast 24/7 at

Michael Fjetland

Global American Series

Sponsored by Armor Glass International, Inc.

Armoring Your Glass from Terrorists, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Burglars & Solar Heat

Monday, May 2, 2011

It Took an Obama to Take Out Osama

Almost 10 years ago, Osama bin laden's terrorists attacked America on 9/11. Bush declared war and we went into Afghanistan. But because the American troops were pulled out and sent to Iraq, Osama bin laden escaped in the mountains of Tora Bora - and disappeared.

Until yesterday.

We should give credit to President Obama and his team for finally bringing a mass murderer to justice. I am sure the doubters including the 'birthers' and the hyper-partisans will deny even OBL's death, but that would be a slap at the American special forces who conducted this incredible mission. It was smart that they took OBL's body with them to do DNA and photo testing. In the raid, bin laden's people tried to use a woman as a shield, cowards that they are.

Many Americans don't realize that bin laden's terrorists were killing Muslims as well as Americans. His suicide bombers struck Mosques in Iraq (after the U.S. invasion the borders opened up and Al Qaida flooded in. Saddam, who was not religious, never liked OBL and refused to work with him, so there was no Al Qaida in Iraq prior to U.S. intervention).

Bin laden was a Sunni Muslim; so his forces attacked Shiite Muslim Mosques and their people with car bombs and suicide bombers. He won't be missed by us, or most Muslims either. During the 2011"Arab Spring" there were no anti-American flag burnings. There were no Israeli flag burnings. The revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya was by ordinary Muslims wanting freedom from dictators. Osama bin laden was not their hero - OBL didn't believe in democracy and these people knew it. They weren't interested in throwing off one dictator to be replaced by a religious one.

Ironically, OBL's secret hideaway was not a dark cave, but a luxury compound a hundred yards from a Pakistani military base and only thirty miles north of Pakistan's capitol, Islamabad. That confirms the President's wisdom in not alerting the Pakistan authorities prior to the raid.

Ironically, when I was in Pakistan many years ago, I was in Islamabad and took a trip into the mountains near where bin laden ended up building his hideaway. It is very rugged territory, with thousand foot sheer dropoffs and no guard rails.

In the end it took an Obama to take out Osama. The President should be given credit for making a tough call and taking action to bring to justice America's most wanted terrorist...