The US Federal Emergency Management Agency along with the Centre for Disease Control, used a zombie outbreak scenario in 2012 to teach citizens to prepare for emergency.
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in The Walking Dead. Rick and his ragged band of survivors would – in event of a “real” zombie apocalypse – have an unbeatable hoard of allies in the form of nature’s birds, beasts and bugs, according to a US naturalist. Source: Supplied
FLESH is food and the fresher the better. It’s something the zombies know. Probably the only thing, actually.
But what about their own dead – or rather, undead – flesh?
And that’s good news for the hipster tribes who spend weekends dressing up as zombies while worrying just what they would/will do if/when Day of The Dead actually arrives. If they survive that initial frenzy, they can sit back and watch Mother Nature do the rest.
US National Wildlife Federation naturalist David Mizejewski has put the matter into perspective, stating this planet’s fauna would deal with such animated evil “brutally, and without quarter”.
Enlarge NARTH founder Joseph Nicolosi (Credit: YouTube)
English actor, comedian and activist Stephen Fry interviewed the founder of ex-gay organization the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) for an episode of his BBC2 program “Out There,” which explores, per the website, “what it means to be gay in different corners of the world.” Fry handles his subject with bemused though respectful patience (and, at times, humor), but his conversation with Joseph Nicolosi is pretty painful to watch. Nicolosi describes being gay as based on “trauma” and as something that can be “resolved” through the therapy he offers — for $140 a session. But perhaps the most devastating revelation in the segment is when Nicolosi tells Fry that more than 60 percent of his clients are teenagers. A growing number of states – including California, where Nicolosi practices — have banned “ex-gay” therapy for minors, citing its harmful impact and well-documented abuses among practitioners. Fry also speaks with one of Nicolosi’s former “patients,” who, surprise, is still gay and now campaigns against the dangers of “ex-gay” therapy.
Six really stupid 9/11 conspiracies debunked in about six seconds
by: ANTHONY SHARWOOD
Nah, that’s just a missile. And Santa Claus is the pilot. (AP Photo/Carmen Taylor, File) Source: AP
PSYCHOLOGISTS will tell you that even perfectly sane people have the ability to accept wild conspiracy theories. The more powerless or alone we feel, the more likely we are to develop such theories.
It’s all linked to self-esteem. If you’re the sort of person who feels isolated or disenfranchised, you’re much more likely to develop wild theories as a way of making you seem more knowledgeable, more powerful, more special.
That might help explain why many Americans are into conspiracies. The irony of our technologically over-connected age is that there are scores of socially disconnected people sitting in dark rooms extrapolating all sorts of crap from factoids they find online. Here are six of the worst:
STUPID THEORY 1: The US government did it
SIMPLE REBUTTAL: People who say it was an inside job are split into two camps. There are those who say the US government cooked up and enacted the whole crazy plot, and those who say they let it happen without intervention. In both cases, conspiracists generally claim that the aim was to give the Bush government an excuse to wage war on the Islamic world.
So here’s your simple rebuttal. US governments have shown for decades that they will intervene when and where it suits them. The last thing they need to do to justify any foreign policy is kill 3000 of their own citizens.
STUPID THEORY 2: The twin towers did not collapse. They were demolished.
SIMPLE REBUTTAL: 9/11 “truthers”, who would perhaps be more accurately described as 9/11 “liars”, like to rope in an expert to tell you that no office fire ever made a building topple. Well, that’d be because no office fire was ever as big as these two, with as much jet fuel to help it along.
But the real reason the twin towers collapsed was structural. Most buildings have their core structural supports at the centre. The towers had some major central steel columns, but that elegant exterior steel shell was also crucial in providing perimeter support. Also, the perimeter columns supported massive steel trusses which supported each floor.
So basically, when the exterior of the building was penetrated so devastatingly by the planes, the structure’s ability to hold itself up was threatened. So when one floor went, the combined weight meant they all went.
Pretend the towers were a conspiracy theory. Then pretend they were subjected to the force of logic. Here’s your result. 11/09/2001. Source: AFP
STUPID THEORY 3: World Trade Center 7 did not collapse. It was demolished.
SIMPLE REBUTTAL: Riiiight, so the world’s tallest tower collapses on its neighbour less than 200m across the road. You’ve got 110 storeys of rubble pummelling a 47-storey building, setting it on fire, covering it in untold extra weight and inflicted untold stresses. And later that day, when the smaller building collapses, it’s obvious the CIA did it with explosives. And Elvis left the building right before it happened.
Oh, and if you want a secondary explanation of why the building really wasn’t toppled by mysterious people with explosives, try googling any of the so-called architects or engineers in the wacky YouTube vids. Almost none of them appear to be either a) currently employed or b) affiliated with any group other than 9/11 conspiracy groups.
STUPID THEORY 4: FLIGHT 93 was shot down in Pennsylvania and the people who were supposedly on it were murdered or relocated.
SIMPLE REBUTTAL: The small jet flying low in the area, which some believe shot down Flight 93, was in fact a business jet which had been instructed to fly low to inspect the wreckage. Also, the log of calls made from Flight 93 is pretty compelling evidence that those were real people aboard a hijacked jet. If these people are actors who are actually still alive somewhere, the real mystery is why they haven’t made squillions in Hollywood. Because they were seriously convincing.
And they’re fake trees and that’s a fake wall and Gilligan is still stuck on Gilligan’s Island. Picture: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP Source: AFP
STUPID THEORY 5: There was no “stand down” order, which proves the US government dunnit.
SIMPLE REBUTTAL: A stand down order is an order from the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) to scramble fighter jets. This didn’t happen until too late on September 11, prompting conspiracists to say the government deliberately held off to let the carnage unfold.
But NORAD didn’t actually track flights within America prior to 9/11. Also, the hijackers turned off the transponders on their planes, which meant Air Traffic Control couldn’t track them. And NORAD needed an alert from Air Traffic Control to act. So basically, you had a system which ensured bureaucratic bungles, but that’s a far cry from complicit officials.
STUPID THEORY 6: They weren’t planes, they were missiles.
SIMPLE REBUTTAL: Some of the worst nutters claim that the original planes which struck the twin towers weren’t planes but missiles. This was fuelled by an early eyewitness account broadcast on live TV from a journalist who said he thought the first plane had no windows. But the journalist saw the plane in a blink of his eye – a fact ignored by conspiracists who have seized on this statement.
The obvious plane-sized holes in the buildings are a bit of a giveaway too. But you know, maybe they were just caused by Batman or something.
THIS IS THEBLAZE’S POINT-BY-POINT SANDY HOOK CONSPIRACY THEORY DEBUNK
By Billy Hallowell
Was Adam Lanza really the only shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Why are there supposed inconsistencies surrounding the weapons that were used during the attack? And are some of the parents really “crisis actors” brought in to make the situation that much more believable?
Those are only a few of the questions that have been posed by conspiracy theorists who have used the Internet to virally spread their doubt about the horrific massacre that unfolded in Connecticut on Dec. 14.
The main crux of the arguments presented in documentary-style videos is that the Sandy Hook massacre is either a government-planned hoax intended to lead the nation to overwhelmingly embrace increased gun control measures. Or, at the least, those who have put the videos out believe that essential information is being withheld from the American public surrounding multiple shooters and other game-changing elements. The motivations of those who have created these theories are difficult to pin down, as most are spouting their views anonymously.
A video documenting purported inconsistencies surrounding the tragedy that killed 20 children and six adults inside the school has gone viral, gaining more than 11 million views in just two weeks. And a follow-up “documentary” has also been released, adding further “evidence” to the claim that the event either didn’t unfold at all or that it happened contrary to the media narrative that has been advanced.
To most people, the idea that any of it is true is repulsive. So we decided to visit the most popular of the theories and break them down in a point-by-point debunk.
In addition to questioning the official account of weapons used and whether or not crisis actors were employed by the government, theorists have taken aim at parental reaction to the shootings and have claimed that memorial pages for the victims were published before the shooting took place. And these notions only scratch the surface that is the bizarre world of Sandy Hook Trutherism.
The shadowy individual behind the first video, entitled, “The Sandy Hook Shooting – Fully Exposed” (30 minutes in length), weaves together sparse details and attempts to poke holes in the overall story. As for the first video, Snopes.com, a web site known for debunking untruthful information, dismissed it as “a mixture of misinformation, innuendo, and subjective interpretation.” You can see the clip here:
The second part of the Truther initiative, titled, “Sandy Hook Fully Exposed” (19 minutes in length) tackles similar themes, builds upon the first video and attempts to defend those individuals who are questioning the details associated with the event. In addition to asking a variety of questions about family members who lost children, the videos even devote time to questioning whether “crisis actors” were brought in to speak with media in the wake of the attack. See Part II, below:
“Isn’t something like Sandy Hook just what the government needs to start disarming the public so they don’t have to worry about people being a threat to them anymore?,’ text embedded in the video reads.
TheBlaze has decided to go through both videos to provide you with a recap of the major points that Truthers are raising. In addition to presenting the arguments that those perpetuating an alleged hoax are positing, you’ll see reasonable explanations that essentially debunk their claims and questions. In any crime scene – especially one as traumatic and dramatic as what unfolded at Sandy Hook – information flows quickly and it isn’t uncommon for incorrect details to make their way into media. This, as you will see, is the case when it comes to numerous elements surrounding this tragic shooting.
THE MAN IN THE WOODS & ADDITIONAL SHOOTERS
Sandy Hook Truthers have spent a great deal of time and energy reporting about a man who was allegedly chased in the woods nearby the school; the individual was subsequently apprehended and the entire spectacle is captured on video — footage that is now being used to advance the idea that there was another shooter. The first “expose” shows media interviews with witnesses who claim to have seen this individual in handcuffs following the incident. If it is true that there was more than one shooter, this would obviously turn on its head everything that has been said about a lone murderer (i.e. Lanza).
The man in the woods, though, isn’t the only theory about additional shooters floating around. Additionally, others claim that there were two men who fled the scene in a van. Initial media reports did say that there may have been more than one shooter involved, but as the details came in and the events were clarified, Lanza was the only gunman named and the evidence cleared every other initial suspect.
While conspiracy theorists continue to question where these additional suspects are and why the media has allegedly failed to report about them, there are some pretty convincing counter arguments and debunks surrounding this matter.
The Newtown Bee, a local outlet, reported that a law enforcement official told them that the man seen in the woods had a gun and was nearby the school. He was apparently an off-duty tactical squad police officer from a nearby area. Also, Chris Manfredonia, the father of a 6-year-old student at the school, was handcuffed briefly by police after he ran around the school in an effort to find his daughter. And another unidentified man was briefly detained, but later released when he was found to be an innocent bystander, Snopes.com claims.
Those being interviewed by media likely saw one of these individuals, leading Truthers to suspect something sinister. Lt. Paul Vance, a media relations representative with the State of Connecticut, dismissed the notion that there were other shooters, while also highlighting and confirming the fact that authorities did end up detaining and quickly releasing other individuals.
“Were there other people detained?,” Vance rhetorically asked. “The answer is yes. In the height of the battle, until you’ve determined who, what, when, where and why of everyone in existence…that’s not unusual.”
THE WEAPONS USED INSIDE THE SCHOOL & THE VICTIMS’ BODIES
Another point of contention that Truthers seem to be focusing upon is the weapons that Lanza used in committing his crime. In the first video, the narrator claims that, according to media, three guns were found at the scene (two handguns and one assault rifle). Four handguns were also allegedly found inside the school. The inconsistency here comes from the Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, the chief medical examiner, who said following the incident that the assault rifle appeared to be responsible for the children’s deaths.
Here’s why Truthers are jumping all over the claims surrounding the assault rifle. The first video alleging a hoax claims that this particular weapon was later recovered from the trunk of the car that Lanza was driving. If this is the case, then critics are questioning how Carver’s claims could be possible. The shooter clearly couldn’t have used the assault rifle to commit his crimes if the weapon was in the trunk of the car the entire time.
But there’s an understandable answer here as well. A few days after the attack, clarity surrounding the guns finally emerged. Lanza left a shotgun in the car, but he had three other weapons that were brought into the school – a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm (the latter two are handguns). The fourth weapon – the shotgun – was left in the vehicle’s trunk. Carver was correct in making his claim that it was the AR-15 that was responsible for the children’s deaths – a firearm that was not in the trunk as the first video indicates (CNN actually has a great primer on the weapons that expounds upon this in detail).
While we’re on the subject of Carver, it’s important to dispel another rumor – that the parents never saw their children’s bodies. While they did not identify the bodies in their entirety, pictures of the kids’ faces were provided to the families. This wasn’t done to be sinister or to hide details; quite the contrary, the doctor was trying to spare the families the pain of seeing the horrific injuries the children sustained, so photos of their faces were used instead.
SCHOOL NURSE’S ALLEGED CLAIMS ABOUT THE KILLER’S MOTHER
Andrea McCarren, a reporter for WUSA, reported in the wake of the killings about a conversation she had with Sally Cox, the Sandy Hook school nurse. Cox, who McCarren described as “fairly traumatized,” apparently told the reporter that she knew the killer’s mother, a kindergarten teacher at the school. Initially, media reported that Lanza may have been the son of a teacher, but this was soon dispelled.
Truthers are questioning this story, though, obviously wondering how McCarren was given information about the killer and his mother that ended up being entirely untrue (they argue that the school nurse should have had the information correct and that her mention of a teacher at Sandy Hook is curious, especially considering the details we now know).
During McCarren’s report, the journalist also said that the nurse expounded, claiming that Cox said that the kindergarten teacher was kind and exactly the person one would want his or her children to spend time with. Snopes notes that the USA Today also “mistakenly reported…that Nancy Lanza” was a teacher at the school. Perhaps this report and McCarren’s were based on the same misinformation.
Some have also claimed that Cox is also not a registered nurse, but her real name is Sarah and a search of that name does, indeed, yield results that show that the woman is a registered nurse in the state’s registration system. Since “Sally” isn’t her birth name, it’s obvious that a license attacked to that name isn’t available in the Connecticut database (see above).
ROBBIE/EMILIE PARKER & LYNN/GRACE MCDONNELL
Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook, is a central character in Truthers’ questioning, as they throw a number of theories about her very person and her family’s reaction to her death into the mix. In addition to claiming that the young girl was Photoshopped into at least one family image, those questioning official accounts claim that her father, Robbie Parker, can be seen getting “into character” before a press conference — something they dismiss as proof that he may, indeed, be acting or playing the role of a grieving father.
This latter accusation relies upon footage of Robbie purportedly laughing before a press conference. In the clip, he can be seen smiling, taking a moment to compose himself and then allowing emotion to overtake him. “How many parents are laughing and joking a day after their first child has been shot,” a text message reads across the screen in the first hoax video. Later, the words, “I smell B.S.,” are added to describe the father’s reaction.
The video also claims that Parker wasn’t in her class photos and that she appears in images with President Barack Obama following the shooting (something that obviously wouldn’t be possible had she been killed during the incident). But the below video explains that the little girl shown in the image is one of Emilie’s sisters, not the young girl who perished just days before:
At least one other parent was targeted for the same reason – for appearing too chipper in the wake of losing a daughter in the horrific incident. Footage of Lynn McDonnell, mother of a child named Grace, came under scrutiny after the parent spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper about her immense loss. While remembering her young child, she expressed facial expressions of joy. However, considering the content of her commentary (she was remembering her young child) it seemed entirely appropriate (in fact, TheBlaze covered the inspirational interview when it aired in December).
CHILD SECURITY EVENT PLANNED FOR DEC. 14
Those embracing the notion that Sandy Hook was a hoax also question an event that was put on by the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (this department falls under the state’s Division of Emergency Services and Public Protection). This particular event was purportedly planned before the shooting and aimed at helping explore strategies for protecting kids in the result of emergency situations like what happened that same day at Sandy Hook.
This event did occur, but it isn’t as surprising as some might assume. On the surface, it may seem odd that the FEMA class, called “Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters,” was offered on the same day that Sandy Hook unfolded. But this course was also offered six additional times in the state of Connecticut during November and December. It wasn’t a rare occurrence only planned on the day of the shooting; it was an event that had been repeatedly held within the state’s boundaries during recent days and weeks.
MEMORIAL PAGES & ASSOCIATED INTERNET TIMESTAMPS
The Truthers are particularly fired up about various memorial pages and social media initiatives that they claim were created days before Lanza’s crimes at the elementary school. In addition to teacher Victoria Soto’s Facebook memorial page, which they claim was created on Dec. 10, four days before the shooting, the individuals behind the video and movement also point to a GoFundMe initiative, among others, as also having timestamps that precede the event.
Inquisitr explained how the Internet, despite being quite advanced, still has its hiccups. Here’s a brief recap that explains some of the reasons behind date stamps seeming incorrect on various posts and web sites:
To understand the Sandy Hook websites that seem to have been published early, you must first understand the way the internet reconciles dates as well as how Google crawls them. If a page is repurposed to host other information than it originally displayed, it may show up as having been “published” earlier.
Further, servers and sites often have incorrect dates. Having used a number of WordPress panels in my career, it is a job to keep track of where dates and times are set in order to avoid publishing in the past when scheduling a post, something that could be at play and an easily explainable factor not often acknowledged by Sandy Hook truthers.
And given the fact material can run afoul on an individual computer, a site’s panel and then a search engine, sites like the United Way’s Sandy Hook page could easily register as a prior date on Google.
When it comes to Google results – another target the Truthers point to – the Internet giant isn’t always correct. Sometimes, search results have the incorrect dates associated with them, clearly a factor that is overlooked in the conspiracy theory videos. As for the web sites that seem to have an earlier date stamp, another theory is that certain donation and Facebook pages that were created for other reasons were edited and amended to assist with Sandy Hook efforts following the shooting. While they retained their earlier creation date, their intended purposes changed.
TheBlaze spoke with Justin Basch, CEO of Basch Solutions, a web site production company. The tech expert dismissed conspiracy theorists’ claims, calling them “nonsense.” He explained the many ways that dates can be manipulated in WordPress (the platform running at least one of the web sites at the center of the debate).
“It’s very, very easy to manipulate a date that content was published — whether it’s through text, whether it’s through date manipulation, etc.,” Basch explained.
THE SYMPATHETIC AND HELPFUL NEIGHBOR: GENE ROSEN
Then there’s Gene Rosen, the neighbor who lives nearby Sandy Hook. He began appearing in media immediately following the shooting, telling of his involvement in housing six children who had escaped the school that fateful morning. Rosen has been interviewed numerous times by the mainstream media and he has explained how he entertained the children inside of his home after they fled the school in terror.
The Truthers, though, claim that Rosen’s story has some troubling inconsistencies. Among them, they charge that he is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG), a professional union of acting professionals (thus, advancing the theory that he might be a crisis actor). They also claim that Rosen’s story about discovering the children in his driveway changed and evolved during various appearances. While in some interviews he described the six kids sitting with a female bus driver, in at least one other account, he described a male adult talking harshly to the children, the video proclaims.
Additionally, Rosen, a retired psychologist, told reporters that the children told him their teacher, Ms. Soto, was dead. Initially, some media reported that only one child escaped the classroom where the majority of the kids perished, but this ended up not being the case (others seemingly escaped as well). Rosen also said in one interview that he saw the list of victims not long after the shooting, but conspiracy theorists claim this isn’t possible, as it wasn’t released until after the time he claims to have seen it.
A list of casualties, though, was released the day after the shooting and, as Snopes documents, the Gene Rosen who is a member of SAG is a different individual – one who has never lived in Connecticut. The retired psychologist at the center of this particular case has always lived in the state (while both are in their 60s, the actor is 62 and the Newtown resident is 69).
LANZA’S VEHICLE ON THE DAY OF THE SHOOTING
In the second video, which spent some time defending Truthers against attacks, an bizarre claim is made about the vehicle that Lanza drove to Sandy Hook on Dec. 14. While it has been widely reported that the car belonged to his mother, whom he also shot dead before heading to the school that morning, hoax theorists believe that the car is registered to a man named Chris Rodia.
While it may be tempting for those looking for holes in the story to wonder if Rodia was complicit in helping Lanza with the attack, Snopes.com debunks this, claiming that Rodia was pulled over at a traffic stop and, thus, ended up being named on a police scanner. Salon recaps how this particular element of the story was debunked:
This one was debunked by the theorists themselves just a few days after the shooting. Blogger Joe Quinn obtained the police audio, which definitively debunking the myth. (Rodia appeared on the scanner because he was getting pulled over in a traffic stop miles away, but his license plate doesn’t match Lanza’s car). “This was a huge blow, because lots of people were making big leaps on this … but we now have to look elsewhere,” another amateur investigator said on YouTube.
To clarify: Rodia is not a suspect and he did not own the car that Lanza drove to the school, as the video seems to allege. Rodia was also not at the school at the time of the shooting. Snopes claimsthat “he was driving a different vehicle in another town at the time.”
CRISIS ACTORS DEPICTED IN MEDIA
Truthers’ have gone out of their way (there’s even a disclaimer at the start of the first video) to claim that they are not trying to dismiss the event as though it never happened. Instead, they say that they are merely asking pertinent questions and, in a sense, exercising their civic duty as caring and in-tune Americans (a tactic likely being used to separate themselves from the criticism being thrown their way). Among those curiosities, a consistent theme emerges: The idea that crisis actors were used.
We already covered Rosen and the theory that he is one of these individuals. But there are others who are being dubbed potential crisis actors. One couple in particularly has come under scrutiny. CNN interviewed Nick and Laura Phelps, parents of two children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the exchange, Nick becomes emotional while describing the principal at the school as “a very special person.” It’s clear that the family was impacted by what unfolded.
But Truthers question the motivations, sincerity and identity of Nick and Laura, claiming that they may actually be Richard and Jennifer Sexton, two actors from Florida. This bizarre claim — that the couple was brought in to merely depict parents who have children at Sandy Hook Elementary, is one of the more curious ones being floated. The evidence being posited?
The hoax video shows images from an alleged Picasa account belonging to Richard and Jennifer (the actors). Those who believe that something isn’t quite right about Sandy Hook claim that the photo album was deleted after it gained attention. In addition, Truthers are using a clip showing Laura (or Jennifer) giving what appears to be an audition or performance.
But Snopes claims that the husband and wife duos merely resemble one another and that they are not, in fact, the same individuals. While the videos seem to indicate that there may be a connection between the Crisis Actors company – a group that provides actors to simulate traumatic and disastrous events, there is no connection between the actors provided by the group and the individuals shown in media interviews. Plus, a simple web search shows that the family does, indeed, live near the school.
Crisis Actors (the company) also makes it clear that its performers do not engage in real-life events. While the video alleges connections between the Sandy Hook families and these individuals, no such connections exist. In fact, the company has gone out of its way to dispel such rumors.
See Anderson Cooper address some of these controversies:
UNDERSTANDING THE VIDEOS AND THEIR CREATOR
While the conspiracy-laden clips have intrigued some, others find themselves completely horrified, sickened and offended by their contents — especially considering the pain that the families of Sandy Hook victims have already endured. Following the publication of the first video, reaction and media coverage was swift. As noted, the creator of the videos made it a point to vehemently defend himself against critics.
“This video was made to clear up confusion and shed light on new information. Apologies to anyone offended by the past videos,” a caveat at the beginning of the second clip reads. “[W]e hope this one is easier to digest. Would you rather be hurt temporarily by the truth, or comforted forever by lies?”
Later, the anonymous individual behind the clips claims that it is unfair for critics to label him and others supporting his ideas as “Truthers” – or even “conspiracy theorists.” Such labels, text embedded in the video reads, implies that those questioning the event are “over the top, crazy, and against everyone else.”
“These are millions of everyday people that deserve answers to their questions,” the text continues. “And it seems by labeling them like that, it’s easier to dismiss them and not have to look at the facts.”
However, those looking to debunk the Sandy Hook debunkers would dismiss these views as fringe. Even the person who created, “The Sandy Hook Shooting – Fully Exposed” and its companion video was surprised by its viral nature. In an interview with Gawker before the video released, he seemed surprised by its viral nature, telling the outlet that he would have “spent more time on it” if he knew it would be so popular. TheBlaze reached out to him to get further comment, but we did not receive a response.
“[I]t all started when me and my friends used to research 9/11 in high school,” said the source, who refused to identify himself to Gawker. “That’s what really got me started when it came to researching government cover ups…Once I learned about all the false flag attacks in history that have been proven to be true, I knew it was only a matter of time before another came a long.”
Apparently, in the mind of the individual behind the videos (which were published on a YouTube channel under the account ThinkOutsideTheTV), Sandy Hook was next in this purported line of government cover-ups. The individual went on to tell the outlet that he felt as though the event was “too perfect” and that the people and the town involved had an “artificial vibe about them.”
Since Sandy Hook unfolded, other conspiracy theories have emerged, although the aforementioned YouTube clips have become the most pervasive and widespread. TheBlaze already told you about James Tracy, a communications professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and his controversial comments about the Sandy Hook massacre.
Tracy, too, appeared on radio interviews, where he advanced the crisis actor angle, claiming that the Obama administration might have deployed these individuals to stage the attack in an effort to further crack down on guns. On his personal blog, he cited InfoWars.com as well. Later, he clarified his comments, claiming that while “one is left with the impression that a real tragedy took place,” images and information have been withheld from the public.
The entire ordeal, which captured national attention and was covered by TheBlaze earlier this month, led FAU to separate itself from Tracy’s comments. Lisa Metcalf, director of media relations, said, “James Tracy does not speak for the university.”
In the same Blaze report, Jason Howerton covered Dr. James H. Fetzer, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). In an op-ed published in an Iranian (state-owned, of course) outlet, he charged that, perhaps, the Mossad (Israeli security forces) were responsible for the attack.
“The killing of children is a signature of terror ops conducted by agents of Israel,” he wrote. “[W]ho better to slaughter American children than Israelis, who deliberately murder Palestinian children?”
These, of course, of just two of the numerous alternative conspiracy theories being floated. There are plenty of other ideas that have circulated since Dec. 14. However, the growth in popularity of the latest videos creates some serious questions that deserve to be answered in order to properly educate readership.
At least one father of a first-grader at Sandy Hook took the issue to heart, showcasing his frustration in an on-air phone call that was placed to radio host Glenn Beck. The father, named “Pete,” expressed his dismay at the conspiracy theories, calling Trutherism an “unimaginable way to even look at a tragedy or horrific event.”
“I was there. I’ve been to the funerals,” he told Beck. “I know the families very closely. I know a lot of those children. It happened. It really happened.”
But if thats not convincing enough, consider BuzzFeed’s logic: ”The evidence on which these budding theories are based is, even by the standards of fringe conspiracy theory, remarkably thin, and demand massive collusion between hundreds of private citizens, the federal government, local authorities, and the news media.”
While the viral nature of the videos has begun to simmer, the mainstream media has not provided a level of coverage that would disseminate the truth fervently enough to dispel the rumors. Setting the record straight and showcasing the truth, though, is essential.
Field Guide to the Conspiracy Theorist: Dark Minds
When does incredulity become paranoia? Radio personality and filmmaker Alex Jones believes an evil cabal of bankers rules the world.
by John Gartner, Ph.D.
Alex Jones is trying to warn us about an evil syndicate of bankers who control most of the world’s governments and stand poised to unite the planet under their totalitarian reign, a “New World Order.” While we might be tempted to dismiss Jones as a nut, the “king of conspiracy” is a popular radio show host. The part-time filmmaker’s latest movie, The Obama Deception, in which he argues that Obama is a puppet of the criminal bankers, has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
When we spoke, Jones ranted for two hours about FEMA concentration camps, Halliburton child kidnappers, government eugenics programs—and more. When I stopped him to ask for evidence the government is practicing eugenics, he pointed to a national security memorandum. But I found the document to be a bland policy report.
Jones “cherry picks not just facts but phrases, which, once interpreted his way, become facts in his mind,” says Louis Black, editor of the Austin Chronicle, who knows Jones, a fellow Austin resident. When I confronted Jones with my reading of the report, he became pugnacious, launching into a diatribe against psychologists as agents of social control.
Conspiracy thinking is embraced by a surprisingly large proportion of the population. Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe President John F. Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy, and 42 percent believe the government is covering up evidence of flying saucers, finds Ted Goertzel, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University at Camden. Thirty-six percent of respondents to a 2006 Scripps News/Ohio University poll at least suspected that the U.S. government played a role in 9/11.
We’re all conspiracy theorists to some degree. We’re all hardwired to find patterns in our environment, particularly those that might represent a threat to us. And when things go wrong, we find ourselves searching for what, or who, is behind it.
In his 1954 classic, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, historian Richard Hofstadter hypothesized that conspiracy thinking is fueled by underlying feelings of alienation and helplessness. Research supports his theory. New Mexico State University psychologist Marina Abalakina-Paap has found that people who endorse conspiracy theories are especially likely to feel angry, mistrustful, alienated from society, and helpless over larger forces controlling their lives.
Jones insists he had a “Leave It to Beaverchildhood.” I couldn’t confirm such an idyllic past. When I asked if I could interview his family or childhood friends, he insisted his family was very “private” and he had not kept in touch with a single friend. When I asked if I might look them up, he became irritated. He doubted he could “still spell their names,” and besides, I’d already taken up enough of his time. “I turned down 50 or 60 requests for interviews this week,” he wanted me to know.
The number sounded wildly inflated. Conspiracy theorists have a grandiose view of themselves as heroes “manning the barricades of civilization” at an urgent “turning point” in history, Hofstadter held. Jones has a “messiah complex,” Black contends. Grandiosity is often a defense against underlying feelings of powerlessness.
Even well-grounded skeptics are prone to connect disparate dots when they feel disempowered. In a series of studies, Jennifer Whitson of the University of Texas and Adam Galinsky of Northwestern demonstrated that people primed to feel out of control are particularly likely to see patterns in random stimuli.
Might people be especially responsive to Jones’ message in today’s America, marked by economic uncertainty and concerns about terrorism and government scandals? “There is a war on for your mind,” Jones insists on his Web site, infowars.com. He calls his listeners “infowarriors.”
Information is the conspiracy theorists’ weapon of choice because if there’s one thing they all agree on, it’s that all the rest of us have been brainwashed. The “facts” will plainly reveal the existence of the conspiracy, they believe. And while all of us tend to bend information to fit our pre-existing cognitive schema, conspiracy theorists are more extreme. They are “immune to evidence,” discounting contradictory information or seeing it as “proof of how clever the enemy is at covering things up,” Goertzel says.
Conspiracy theories exist on a spectrum from mild suspicion to full-on paranoia, and brain chemistry may play a role. Dopamine rewards us for noting patterns and finding meaning in sometimes-insignificant events. It’s long been known that schizophrenics overproduce dopamine. “The earliest stages of delusion are characterized by an overabundance of meaningful coincidences,” explain Paul D. Morrison and R.M. Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. “Jumping to conclusions” is a common reasoning style among the paranoid, find Daniel Freeman and his colleagues, also at the Institute of Psychiatry.
Indeed, there are no coincidences in Jones’ world. In a scene from The Obama Deception, Jones dives “into the belly of the beast,” the hotel where purported conspirators will be meeting. As he begins a telephone interview, the fire alarm goes off. “The bastards have set us up,” he says.
Jones says that he has been visited by the FBI and the Secret Service but can’t discuss the interviews. It may be that federal agents, in fact, wanted to evaluate whether he is a threat to the president. There’s no reason to believe he is—but the same can’t be said of his listeners. In 2002, Richard McCaslin, carrying an arsenal of weapons, entered the Bohemian Grove, a campground in California that annually hosts a meeting of the political and business elite. He told authorities he had been planning his commando raid for a year, after (he says) hearing Jones claim that ritual infant sacrifice was taking place there.
The “war”continues. In a video promoting The Obama Deception, Jones urges, “We know who they are. We know what they are. We know what has to be done.”
“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”
“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” he said. So much so that a friend shields him from most of it by doing daily sweeps of the Web so Rosen doesn’t have to. His wife is worried for their safety. He’s logged every email and every call, and consulted with a retired state police officer, who took the complaint seriously but said police probably can’t do anything at the moment; he plans to do the same with the FBI.
What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Conn. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.
In the hours and days that followed, Rosen did a lot of media interviews. “I wanted to speak about the bravery of the children, and it kind of helped me work through this,” he told Salon in an interview. “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this.”
The “this” in question is becoming a prime target of the burgeoning Sandy Hook truther movement, which — like its precursor that denied the veracity of the 9/11 terror attacks — alleges that the entire shooting was a hoax of some kind. There were conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting from Day One, but the movement has exploded into public view the past two weeks, and a Google Trends search suggests it’s just now picking up steam. It’s also beginning to earn the backing of presumably credible sources like a professor and a reporter.
Rosen, a 69-year-old retired psychologist who now runs a pet-sitting business and volunteers to read books to kids in schools, initially called me to ask if I thought he should reach out to the FBI about the harassment. I said it probably couldn’t hurt. When I asked if I could tell his story, he was reluctant at first. “Here’s my fear: If I start talking like this, will one of these truthers read this and will it embolden them? Will they say, screw that guy, how dare he impugn our credibility or question our intellect, I’m going to go one step farther? Am I being stupid?” he asked.
After thinking about it, Rosen decided that he had to speak out: “I talk to you about this because I feel that there has to be some moral push-back on this.” Rosen said he’s a staunch believer in free speech, and realizes there is little legal recourse possible unless he gets direct threats, so he had a different idea.
“There must be some way to morally shame these people, because there were 20 dead children lying an eighth of a mile from my window all night long,” he said, choking back tears. “And I sat there with my wife, because they couldn’t take the bodies out that night so the medical examiner could come. And I thought of an expression, that this ‘adds insult to injury,’ but that’s a stupid expression, because this is not an injury, this is an abomination.”
The harassment has turned Rosen’s life upside down, and made him feel things once foreign to him, like searing rage. “I was sitting in a restaurant the other night and these guys who were part of a car club came up to me and shook my hand and said, ‘You know, you’re a hero to me.’ He had seen me on TV. So I said thank you. Then I’m sitting there and I hear this other guy, ‘Oh yeah, it was a conspiracy.’ He was a big guy,” he said.
“I tell you what, I had evil thoughts. I wanted to go over to the first guy, and he had about 15 big guys with him, and say, ‘I’m going to go talk to this other guy — just watch my back.’ And then I wanted to go over to the other guy and get up in his face and say, ‘See those guys over there, just know they’re keeping an eye out for me.’ And then I wanted to say, ‘I want to see what you look like. I want to see what a person who generates this kind of evil shit looks like. I want to look at your face and tell you you’re an asshole,’” he said.
He didn’t do it, of course. “But it tells me how rageful I am. And I am rageful about it, both for the children and for the mother of the child who came to my house looking for her son, and I wanted to look at this guy and I wanted to just fucking decimate him. That’s my rage.”
But when he starts to feel that way, Rosen can think of the first man. And the countless others out there who see Rosen as a hero, and not a tool of some shadowy conspiracy. Because for every angry call or email, there any many, many more praising ones: “I get the most beautifully written cards, wonderful calls.” Let’s hope they continue to be the majority.
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon’s political reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.
Conspiracy Theorists think they’ve found “absolute proof” that Newtown was a hoax. Have they no shame?
BY ALEX SEITZ-WALD
(Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer)
Yes, there really are Newtown truthers.
But in the crazy world of Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, this one may be the worst yet. (Maybe you’ve already heard some of the others, like the one about fantasy ties between the gunman’s family and the LIBOR banking scandal and a related theory about the Aurora shooting and the “Dark Knight Rises.”) Most of the theories are really pieces of a larger meta-theory: that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, perhaps by the Obama administration, designed to stir demand for gun control.
In the latest angle, theorists think they have found “absolute proof” of a conspiracy to defraud the American people. “You reported in December that this little girl had been killed,” a reader emailed Salon in response to a story. “She has been found, and photographed with President Obama.”
The girl in question is Emilie Parker, a 6-year-old who was shot multiple times and killed at Sandy Hook. But for conspiracy theorists, the tears her family shed at her funeral, the moving eulogy from Utah’s governor, and the entire shooting spree are fake. Welcome to the world where Sandy Hook didn’t really happen.
There are dozens of websites, blog posts and YouTube videos extolling the Emilie Parker hoax theory. If you Google her name, the very first result is a post mocking her father for crying at a press conference after the shooting. One popular video, which already has 134,000 views, was made by the producers of a popular 9/11 Truther film. “Just as the movie ‘Operation Terror’ shows the 9/11 attacks were a made-for-TV event, so too were the mass shootings … There can be no doubt that Sandy Hook was a staged event,” the narrator intones. He goes on to say that the adults who participated in the media coverage of the shootings “should be prosecuted as accessories after the fact in a mass murder” — i.e., the parents whose children were murdered in the massacre should be thrown in prison.
The crux of the theory is a photograph of Parker’s sister sitting on President Obama’s lap when he visited with the victims’ families. The girl is wearing the same dress Emilie wore in a pre-shooting photograph of the family shared with media, so she must be Emilie, alive and well. “BAM! I cannot believe how idiot these people are [sic]… That’s her,” one YouTuber exclaims as he watches the two images superimposed on each other. (Apparently missed by these crack investigators is the possibility that the sister wore Emilie’s dress and that they look alike because they are sisters, after all.)
The supporting details to the hoax theory explanation are reminiscent of the arcana of any well-developed conspiracy theory. What about the car? What about the rifle? Why does someone off camera allegedly tell Parker’s father to “read the Card” (as in a cue card) before he goes on CNN? Why is he laughing? Who is the guy running into the woods? Why is there police audio referring to multiple shooters? Why does one boy who survived the shooting tell Dr. Oz it was like “a drill”? Why was the principal quoted by a local paper after she died? Why do some of the parents look like some of the victims of the Aurora shooting — are they “all actors”? All of these questions have simple explanations, but in each case, the theorists have sided more with less likely, but more nefarious possibilities.
One man has taken it upon himself to catalog all of the theories at SandyHookHoax.com. By way of credentials, creator Jay Johnson explains: “I am the only person in the world to solve LOST,” he writes (yes, the TV show).
In an email exchange with Salon, Johnson said he initially “wanted to help the kids express their feelings and memorialize the victims … But then I saw how the local paper interviewed the principal after she was dead, and I realized it was 99% odds another psychological operation that was going on,” he explained.
Noting that he started the website on “12/21/12” he explained, “since I am the New Age Messiah, with my Look Your Heart in the Mirror™ as the new revelation from the Goddess Tefnut, aka Ma’at, of Egypt, I thought the date was significant.”
But the hoax theory has even earned the backing for some presumably more credible sources. James Tracy, a tenured professor of communications at Florida Atlantic University, sparked controversy this week after he wrote a blog post suggesting the parents were “crisis actors.” “While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place — at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation’s news media have described,” he wrote.
Websites owned by Alex Jones, the conspiracy theory pundit who helped start the 9/11 Truther movement and has millions of readers, are a virtual one-stop shop for Sandy Hook “false flag” miscellanea. So far, mainstream conservative figures haven’t hopped on board, though Gun Owners of American head Larry Pratt told Jones this summer that he thought there was a good chance the Aurora massacre was perpetrated by government agents.
Birther Queen Orly Taitz Explains to Judge: She Is Pretty Much Thurgood Marshall, Yo
Help! We are having trouble keeping track of all the crazy shit that weird melted plastic creature lawyer Orly Taitz has done. We need some sort of Orly Taitz tracker, or day planner, or iPhone app. Just last month, she lawsplained to us all that if a judge won’t force a private college to reveal The One’s transcripts, we are all living in Nazi Germany. Six months before that, she ran for Senate in California and released an amazing clip art YouTube horrorshow of a campaign video. She has filed lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit (oh, for fuck’s sake, use the Google. We’re not going to embed that many hotlinks back to Wonkette) with levels of insane ranging from epic to batshit. And the hits just keep on coming:
The 52-year-old lawyer-dentist-real estate agent from Laguna Niguel brought her years-long battle to oust Barack Obama from the presidency to a federal courtroom Thursday in Sacramento.
Her appearance was part of a last-minute bid to stop the counting of electoral college votes in Washington, D.C., that will pave the way for the president’s second inauguration Jan. 21.
She failed. Again.
We know, we know, gentle readers, that there’s nothing particularly crazy about this yet. Well, it would be crazy for yr Wonkette or a (hopefully) decent-sized chunk of our commentariat to decide to stop electoral vote counting, but it is pretty low-level nonsense for the best-looking birther. Confession time: we are totally burying the lede here because sometimes you have to build up to the very bestest parts.
First, there was the utterly delightful part of the hearing where the judge argued with her for an hour and told her “Your argument, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.” Judge whoever you are, we love you so hard right now. THEN there was the beautiful moment where the judge asked her (in our Orly Taitz fanfic, this judge part is spoken in a sort of breathless, pleading exasperation) “Why do you keep filing these lawsuits when they keep getting rejected?” In response, there was, perhaps, the best statement by a dentistlawyer in Law and Order: Special Birther Division history:
Taitz responded by comparing herself to Thurgood Marshall and his persistence in filing suits to fight segregation. She explained that one of the plaintiffs is a Republican elector for Mitt Romney, who came in second to Obama in November.
You know what? We got nothing. Reality has exceeded parody by SO FUCKING FAR now that the Editrix can likely get rid of us all, as Orly Taitz’ mere existence will provide enough material forever and ever.
Have you heard the one about the latest Batman movie foretelling the shooting at the Sandy Hook school? The story has been floating around for at least two weeks now and i’ve been addressing the issue on a number of forums, so i thought i would bring the issue here to iLLumiNuTTi.com.
Bizarre evidence that the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut may have been staged has surfaced in the form of YouTube videos which point out the words “Sandy Hook” were written on a map that appeared in the most recent Dark Knight movie, a startling revelation given the deluge of mysterious coincidences already plaguing the movie.
According to numerous YouTube videos, a scene appears in which Commissioner Gordon points at a Gotham City map and confusingly, directly to the words “Sandy Hook.”
Here is a still shot from the movie The Dark Knight with an explanation below:
Click image for much larger view.
The top photo is a still shot from the movie showing the map of Gotham City. Allegedly (i’m not motivated enough to personally verify this ridiculousness) at 1:58:41 into the movie Commissioner Gordon sets his hand down on the map of Gotham City (lower left) on a location called Sandy Hook (lower right) and says, “To mark the truck. Get a GPS on it so we can start to figure out how to bring it down.” Also notice the words “strike zone” are written on the map (lower right). Shiver me timbers.
According to conspiracists, this can only mean one thing: It’s obvious the Sandy Hook shootings were foreseen by the filmmakers behind “The Dark Knight Rises“!!!!
“As more of these ‘strange coincidences’ continue to pop up, it would take a fool not to question the motive behind it all: Is this all part of an evil pre-conditioning program?”
“This definitely begins to tread into Satanic and occult territory, the purpose of which is known to only a select few in tight-knit circles at the very top branches of various secret societies.”
Yes, “evil pre-conditioning programming,” “Satanic and occult territories” and “the very top branches of various secret societies.” Are you scared yet? You shouldn’t be.
According to Batman co-creator Bill Finger, Gotham City is based on New York City:
«Writer Bill Finger, uncredited co-creator, with Bob Kane, of the DC Comics character Batman, on the naming of (Gotham) city and the reason for changing Batman’s locale from New York City to a fictional city said, “Originally I was going to call Gotham City ‘Civic City.’ Then I tried ‘Capital City,’ then ‘Coast City.’ Then I flipped through the New York City phone book and spotted the name ‘Gotham Jewelers’ and said, ‘That’s it,’ Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it.”
“Gotham” had long been a well-known nickname for New York City even prior to Batman’s 1939 introduction, which explains why “Gotham Jewelers” and many other businesses in New York City have the word “Gotham” in them. The nickname was popularized in the nineteenth century, having been first attached to New York by Washington Irving in the November 11, 1807 edition of his Salmagundi.»
Look at a map of New York, there are A LOT of places in and around NY called Sandy Hook – most notably Sandy Hook Bay (only a stones throw away in NJ) and the 10-plus locations surrounding Sandy Hook Bay with “Sandy Hook” in the name.
Click image for much larger view.
Gotham City is based on the city of New York. New York is surrounded by many locales with the name Sandy Hook. Why do conspiracists ignore this obvious connection between the map of Gotham and the name Sandy Hook?
Donald Trump Non-Bombshell | Trump Announces He’s A Mutant Orangutan!
Donald Trump and this orangutan go to the same hair stylist. Hence, his new nickname is Donald “Orange-utan” Trump
Five Things Donald Trump’s “Big” Announcement Could Be UPDATED
By Chris Joseph
Donald Trump will be making a “very, very big” announcement today that might change the course of the presidential election but probably won’t because Donald Trump is an attention-whoring dipshit.
But that isn’t keeping us from talking about it because everyone loves to stare at a train wreck. Particularly a circus train with a terrible combover.
So, what could the big announcement be??
Some are saying that Trump will reveal that the Obamas once almost got divorced.
But Trump himself took to Twitter and said that all predictions up to this point are wrong.
So, what will the announcement be? Here are five guesses:
Update [12:40 p.m.] Trump announces on YouTube that he will donate $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choice if the president hands over his college records (see Trump’s video below)
5. Trump will be combing his hair to the other side of his head
In a daring attempt to change things up, Trump has decided to stop combing over his hair towards the front of his head, and will instead comb it towards the back. This will reveal tattoos of his ex-wive’s names next to a drawing of a topless Daisy Duck on his forehead that he’s been hiding for decades.
4. Trump will fire Mitt Romney
“Mittington, my net worth is about 2.9 billion. Yoahs is $250 million. Theafoah because youah not rich enough to represent the Republicans and piss all ovah the middle class, yeh fiahd.”
3. Trump will do the next space jump
Jealous of all the attention Felix Baumgartner has gotten from his freefall spacejump from the edge of the stratosphere, Trump will announce that he too will make a spacejump. From Mars.
“The Donald doesn’t jump from the edge of space like some pansy,” he will say. “And since not even zero gravity can hold me down, I will theafoah, will jump from Mahs.”
When scientists warn him that Mars is roughly 40 million miles from earth, and that he will surely die in the vacuum of space, he will accuse them of not being born in America. And then he will fire them.
2. Trump will announce that he will no longer tweet like a pre-teen girl
– “Robert Pattinson should not take Kristen Stewart back, She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again — just watch”
– “I don’t like John Mayer — he dates and tells — be careful Katy”
– “The more Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, etc. you drink, the more you gain weight?”
– “Brooklyn Nets have the worst uniforms ever — Boring”
1. Trump will announce….. nothing
The announcement will either be something Barack Obama did twenty years ago that no one will give a shit about, or will be something having to do with how Obama once visited Kenya so he was OBVIOUSLY born there. Basically, it’ll be nothing with little to no impact on the race whatsoever.
Until his next bombshell announcement!
The very big huge world changing announcement will be made at noon today.
UPDATE: Trump has come out and made his big giant world shattering announcement.
It’s not so much an announcement as it’s a ridiculously idiotic request.
Trump released the challenge in a YouTube video.
“If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications … and if he gives his passport applications and records I will give to a charity of his choice — Inner City Children of Chicago, American Cancer Society, AIDS Research … a check immediately for 5 million dollars.”
Trump was right! This will definitely sway voters and rock the election! Those people who already hate Obama and believe he’s a secret Kenyan Muslim are totally going to vote EVEN HARDER for Mitt Romney now!
NORTH CAROLINA: Man says church confined him because he was gay
Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, led by Sam and Jane Whaley,
has been accused of enforcing extensive control over members.
Written by Michael Gordon
A 22-year-old man has accused his former Rutherford County church of holding him for four months against his will while he was physically and emotionally abused because he is gay.
Michael Lowry filed a complaint in February against Word of Faith Fellowship Church, a nondenominational Christian congregation in Spindale that has made national headlines with some of its practices.
In a statement given to a sheriff’s department investigator last week, Lowry said he was kept in a church building from Aug. 1 to Nov. 19, 2011. He said he was knocked unconscious during his first day of confinement.
Lowry’s former pastor, Jane Whaley, said Sunday that all of his allegations are “lies.”
Whaley said Lowry was not held or beaten. She said the church only learned that he was gay when his family did – after watching a news report by an Asheville television station Thursday.
Lowry said he first told his family and church leaders of his sexual orientation when he was 15 or 16. That set off years of harassment and abuse, he said, as church members tried to expel the demon that they believed caused his homosexuality.
A Hickory advocacy group has called for a federal investigation.
Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America, said in a statement that Lowry’s case is “the most disturbing I’ve encountered” in the six years he’s worked with the group. The nonprofit addresses what it describes as “the harm” caused gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by “misguided religious teaching.”
If Lowry’s account is accurate, Childers said, “there’s no question that these actions constitute a hate crime.”
Last week, a friend of Lowry who is also a former church member filed charges against four Word of Faith members after a confrontation near the church, court records indicate. The four, all listed under the church’s address, are part of the Word of Faith security team and were charged with false imprisonment and misdemeanor stalking.
Rutherford County District Attorney Brad Greenway said the case is being investigated and it’s too early to say if it will reach a grand jury.
“We’ll continue to investigate, talk to some other people, and then make a decision,” he said Sunday.
Sam and Jane Whaley started Word of Faith in 1979, and the couple have been running it continuously since 1985. Jane Whaley says the church now has 750 members. It operates from a 35-acre complex, 65 miles west of Charlotte.
Church leaders also run several businesses and the church is politically active. A decade ago, Sam Whaley gave the opening prayer in the U.S. House at the request of then U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, an Asheville Republican.
Word of Faith has also been accused of enforcing extensive control over its congregation.
Former members interviewed by the Observer in 2000 say they were told where to live, where to work, what to read, how to dress or even when it was OK to have sex with their spouses.
Lowry says many of those controls continue today.
Word of Faith also practices “blasting,” a form of hands-on, high-pitched, screaming prayer, a ritual that has landed it on “Inside Edition” and YouTube. The church, according to its website, also doesn’t celebrate “pagan holidays” ranging from birthdays to Christmas.
Word of Faith was investigated twice in the late 1990s for its treatment of children, and later sued the local Department of Social Services in connection with what is now referred to on its website as “the persecution.”
Whaley said the church has been exonerated of all allegations.
Lowry was born into Word of Faith, and his parents and two brothers remain members.
He said he hoped to be trained by the church to become a minister. But there was a problem: Lowry said he has known since puberty that he was gay.
He had always been active in the church, but said he became increasingly uncomfortable living under constant scrutiny and watching how children were disciplined.
About six years ago, when he said he told his family and Jane Whaley he was gay, Lowry said he became a target of those same methods.
Lowry: ‘It was jail’
His dissatisfaction with the church had deepened by summer 2011. On Aug. 1, 2011, he said he was taken by church members to the Word of Faith complex and placed in a building with other men and boys having trouble at home.
“The doors were locked, it was jail,” he said. “You weren’t allowed to speak to your family. Many of the men had wives and children but they weren’t able to communicate with them.” Blastings were common, he said.
Also on Aug. 1, according to court records, Lowry took a shower at the church, during which his handlers accused him of masturbating. He told investigators that he was roughed up and eventually knocked unconscious.
Lowry said he was allowed to leave in November when he made it clear to the church “that God is telling me it’s time to go. I don’t want to be told what to do anymore.”
Jane Whaley says Lowry stayed in what amounts to a dormitory, not because he was confined but because he’d been thrown out of his house by his parents.
Church: Lowry was free to leave
Those who stayed there were free to come and go, she said. Because of his behavior, Whaley said, Lowry was eventually asked to leave.
Asked why Lowry would lie, Whaley said he had been talked into filing his complaint by former church members who held grudges and had even threatened her life.
She said the church believes in “strong prayer,” of laying on hands. That prayer is useless, she said, unless the subject takes part.
“We want to serve Jesus,” she said. “We don’t want to be hypocrites. If this church is not for you, people leave.”
When Lowry left, he moved in with relatives in Michigan. He is now staying at an undisclosed location with a friend, he said, to avoid church harassment.
Lowry said he came back to Spindale last week to follow up with his complaint and to visit the church and other sites from his past “so I could realize there was nothing to fear.”
Nancy Burnette of Boiling Springs, who met Lowry in January and has since become his friend, said Lowry has often expressed frustration at the pace of the investigation. She said she called the department herself, urging investigators along.
Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis could not be reached for comment.
Thursday night, the Asheville television station ran its report on the case.
Friday night, Greenway and sheriff’s investigators talked with Lowry for about three hours.
The investigation has been slowed, the district attorney said, because Lowry had been hard to reach after moving out of state.
“I Will Be a Second Mohammed” – Mormon Founder, Joseph Smith
From left to right: Joseph Smith, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed
Hitchens on Mormons Part 1 of 2
Truth is my god. The only path to truth is evidence (convincing and sufficient evidence). Faith is not a path to truth as people have demonstrated by having had faith in many fraudulent persons and schemes throughout history. Divine revelation is not a path to truth as is proven by the incompatible revelations found in today’s competing human religions – they simply cannot all be true. Indeed the only real path to truth ever known to humanity is sufficient and convincing evidence.
Hitchens on Mormons Part 2 of 2
From the chapter entitled ‘Lowly Stamp of Their Origin — Religion’s Corrupt Beginnings’ of his book God is Not Great, Hitchens explains the origins of the Smith Cult.
“I Will Be a Second Mohammed” – Mormon Founder, Joseph Smith
In the heat of the Missouri “Mormon War” of 1838, Joseph Smith made the following claim, “I will be to this generation a second Mohammed” “So shall it eventually be with us—‘Joseph Smith or the Sword!’ ”
 Joseph Smith made this statement at the conclusion of a speech in the public square at Far West, Missouri on October 14, 1838. This particular quote is documented in Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, second edition, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971), p. 230–231. Fawn Brodie’s footnote regarding this speech contains valuable information, and follows. “Except where noted, all the details of this chapter  are taken from the History of the [Mormon] Church. This speech, however, was not recorded there, and the report given here is based upon the accounts of seven men. See the affidavits of T.B. Marsh, Orson Hyde, George M. Hinkle, John Corrill, W.W. Phelps, Samson Avard, and Reed Peck in Correspondence, Orders, etc., pp. 57–9, 97–129. The Marsh and Hyde account, which was made on October 24, is particularly important. Part of it was reproduced in History of the [Mormon] Church, Vol. III, p. 167. See also the Peck manuscript, p. 80. Joseph himself barely mentioned the speech in his history; see Vol. III, p. 162.”
Similarities between Muslims and Mormons
Thomas S. Monson, the current “Prophet” of the LDS Church
Other similarities between Islam and Mormonism include, but are not limited to:
A founding prophet who received visits from an angel, leading to revelation of a book of scripture;
An emphasis upon family, and the family unit as the foundation for religious life and the transmission of values;
Insistence that their religion is a complete way of life, meant to directly influence every facet of existence;
A belief that theirs constitutes the one and only completely true religion on the earth today;
Belief that good deeds are required for salvation just as much as faith;
Assertions that modern Christianity does not conform to the original religion taught by Jesus Christ;
Belief that the text of the Bible, as presently constituted, has been adulterated from its original form;
Rejection of the Christian doctrines of Original Sin and the Trinity;
Strong emphasis upon education, both in the secular and religious arenas;
Belief in fasting during specified periods of time;
Incorporation of a sacred ritual of ablution, though each religion’s rite differs in form, frequency and purpose;
Belief that their faith represents the genuine, original religion of Adam, and of all true prophets thereafter;
Prohibition of alcoholic beverages, gambling, and homosexual and bisexual practices;
Belief that one’s marriage can potentially continue into the next life, if one is faithful to the religion;
Belief in varying degrees of reward and punishment in the hereafter, depending upon one’s performance in this life;
Special reverence for, though not worship of, their founding prophet;
Emphasis upon charitable giving, and helping the downtrodden;
An active interest in proselytizing nonbelievers;
Strong emphasis upon chastity, including modesty in dress; and
A clergy drawn from the laity, without necessarily requiring collegiate or seminary training.
A division of the religion into a minimum of two parties after the death of the founding prophet, with one party claiming that leadership should continue through the prophet’s descendents, and the other party rejecting this idea
World War III: That’s exactly what Right Wing Extremists Joseph Nassralla, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Morris Sadek intended to do when they produced and promoted the stupid ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film.
Right Wing Extremists Joseph Nassralla, Nakoula B. Nakoula and Morris Sadek, who are Coptic Christians from Egypt, have been on the Islamophobia ”money train” for the past 3 years. Nakoula has federal convictions for manufacturing and distribution of Meth and ID fraud, he is an ex-convict whose probation conditions exclude him from ever using the internet or a computer without the written approval of his probation officer.
Gas station operator Nakoula B. Nakoula’s ”production company” is “Pharaoh Voice, Inc.” The registered address was 11804 Carson St. Hawaiian Gardens, Ca 90716. This is a converted gas station, now a “smog test” depot under a new owner not linked to Nakoula B. Nakoula.
Joseph Nassralla and Media for Christ (M4C) applied for the filming permit for Desert Warrior aka ‘Innocence of Muslims’ (per San Gabriel Valley Newspaper) and provided a certificate of insurance. M4C has IRS non-profit status and files 990 returns. The 2011 return shows abudget of over $1 million dollars, and assets that were used to produce the film, ie the studio and the equipment such as sound editing for overdubs. The Media for Christ ( www.ATVSat.com ) website is a video blog production.
Bill Nye may still be The Science Guy, but he’s no longer Mr. Nice Guy.
During a live interview this morning with the Smithsonian Channel, the mild mannered science educator unloaded on U.S. Congressman Todd Akin, calling him “a fucking idiot” for accusing Nye of personally provoking Hurricane Issac.
Last week Nye uploaded a video to Youtube urging parents not to teach their children creationism. At a town hall campaign event yesterday, Akin used the video as an example of immoral behavior driving god to punish America through extreme weather.
Although reporters reached out to Nye for a statement yesterday, his first discussion of the matter came this morning at Smithsonian’s Washington D.C. headquarters.
Nye Got a Feeling…
The 56 year old star of the long-running “Bill Nye The Science Guy” was in the studio to promote his new documentary series focusing on the neuroscience of childhood development.
After briefly discussing his show, the Smithsonian anchors asked Nye about Akin’s recent accusation. The normally genial Nye wasted no time venting his rage about the comments:
“Look, these people they’re fucking retarded. Rape can’t cause pregnancy? Breastmilk cures homosexuality? I caused a hurricane by challenging creationism? Who can possibly take these people seriously anymore?”
The slightly uncomfortable anchors then tried to change the subject, but Nye persisted:
“It used to be these Republicans didn’t believe in global warming or evolution. That was bad enough. Now they don’t even believe in egg + sperm = baby. Where does Todd Akin think babies come from? Does he think there are separate storks for people who were raped and people who weren’t? ”
“Hey look over there! It’s the rape stork. It drops its babies directly at the orphanage.”
“He’s a fucking idiot. Just a plain fucking idiot. I’m sorry – I don’t say that word very often – but it happens to fit in this case. He’s just a fucking idiot.”
A Decent Proposal
As the stunned anchors hurriedly tried to wind the conversation down and cut to commercial, Nye stared directly into the camera and issued a challenge to his new-found rival:
“So Todd I got an offer for you. You and me. Any time. Any place. Debating science mano- a-mano. I’ll bring the facts, and you bring the Vaseline. Because your ass is gonna fucking need it when I’m done whipping.”
Nye apologized once more for his language before ripping off his microphone and walking off the set.
Fox News Host Wants Federal Investigation into ‘South Park‘ for Blasphemy
Fox News’s Todd Starnes is sick and tired of ‘South Park’ and Hollywood getting a free pass. The Fox News commentator participated in the Values Voter Summit panel on “Religious Hostility in America” over the weekend.
The panel featured the familiar argument that Christians in America are somehow a beleaguered minority that is under constant assault. Starnes claims to have a pile of stories stacked up on his desk about “instances of people who have been facing attack because of their faith in Jesus Christ.”
Speaking of the controversy surrounding the laughably bad “Innocence of Muslims,” Starnes asked why the federal government isn’t investigating “shows like ‘South Park,’ which has denigrated all faiths.” He also demanded to know why President Obama hasn’t denounced Hollywood.
We have the seen the administration come out and say, “we condemn anyone who denigrates religious faith.” And they come out in regards to this anti-Muslim film.
Well, that’s well and good, but my question is, when has the administration condemned the anti-Christian films that are coming out of Hollywood? Where are the federal investigations into shows like ‘South Park,’ which has denigrated all faiths?
Where is the outrage when people of the Christian faith are subjected to this humiliation that is coming out of Hollywood?
Religious Right activists have been the most vocal supporters of the filmmakers, if you can call them that, and have rightfully pointed out that the First Amendment protects their activities. Starnes, however, seems to have a double-standard when it comes to speech that he deems offensive to his religious views.
As it turns out, the only investigation going on around the “Innocence of Muslims” concerns whether one of the purported “filmmakers” violated the terms of his probation. Otherwise the government has no place policing speech, regardless of who is offended, and the president is not the film critic in chief. President Obama can be excused, however, for speaking out when Americans are being killed over an amateurish YouTube video.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia sues over Innocence of Muslims
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has gone into hiding since his name was linked with the film
Anti-Islam film protests
A US actress who appeared in an amateur anti-Islam video that sparked protests across the Muslim world is suing the film’s suspected director.
Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into a “hateful” film that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie.
She is also asking a judge to order YouTube to remove the film.
A clip dubbed into Arabic provoked widespread anger for its mocking portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
The film, Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the United States, has sparked protests across the Middle East, North Africa and as far away as Sri Lanka, with some demonstrations turning into destructive and violent riots.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, were killed during an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
According to Ms Garcia, the script she received had made no mention of the Prophet Muhammad or made references to religion.
She claims she has received death threats since the video was posted to YouTube, and says her association with the film has harmed her reputation.
In a court filing lodged with Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Ms Garcia alleged fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Lawyers for Ms Garcia contend that changes in dialogue during post-production casts her in a false light.
Protests are continuing in the Muslim world, including in Pakistan
“[Garcia] had a legally protected interest in her privacy and the right to be free from having hateful words put in her mouth or being depicted as a bigot,” the lawsuit says.
“There was no mention of ‘Mohammed’ during filming or on set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any sexual content of which Ms Garcia was aware,” it adds.
Mr Nakoula denies being “Sam Bacile”, a pseudonym used by the person who posted the video online.
He has gone into hiding after telling US media he was the manager of a company that helped produce the film, but US officials believe him to be the director.
Mr Nakoula was convicted of fraud in 2010 and ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was released in June 2011 with the provision that he did not access the internet or use any aliases without permission.
Authorities questioned him last week over whether he had violated any of those conditions.
YouTube has so far refused Ms Garcia’s requests to remove the film, according to the lawsuit, although it has blocked it in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.
“This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right of Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” the complaint states.
Google, which owns YouTube, has blocked the film in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.
A spokesman for YouTube said they were reviewing the complaint and would be in court on Thursday.
Inside the strange Hollywood scam that spread chaos across the Middle East
A group of rightwing extremists aimed to destabilize post-Mubarak Egypt and roil US politicians. They got their wish
Via:- Max Blumenthal
Palestinians protest against The Innocence of Muslims. Officials confirmed ‘Sam Bacile’ was an alias used by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Photograph: EPA
Did an inflammatory anti-Muslim film trailer that appeared spontaneously on YouTube prompt the attack that left four US diplomats dead, including US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens? American officials have suggested that the assault was pre-planned, allegedly by of one of the Jihadist groups that emerged since the Nato-led overthrow of Libya’s Gaddafi regime. So even though the deadly scene in Benghazi may not have resulted directly from the angry reaction to the Islamophobic video, the violence has helped realize the apocalyptic visions of the film’s backers.
Produced and promoted by a strange collection of rightwing Christian evangelicals and exiled Egyptian Copts, the trailer was created with the intention of both destabilizing post-Mubarak Egypt and roiling the US presidential election. As a consultant for the film named Steve Klein said: “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.”
The Associated Press’s initial report on the trailer – an amateurish, practically unwatchable production called The Innocence of Muslims – identified a mysterious character, “Sam Bacile”, as its producer. Bacile told the Associated Press that he was a Jewish Israeli real estate developer living in California. He said that he raised $5m for the production of the film from “100 Jewish donors”, an unusual claim echoing Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style fantasies. Unfortunately, the extensive history of Israeli and ultra-Zionist funding and promotion of Islamophobic propaganda in the United States provided Bacile’s remarkable statement with the ring of truth.
Who was Bacile? The Israeli government could not confirm his citizenship, and for a full day, no journalist was able to determine whether he existed or not. After being duped by Bacile, AP traced his address to the home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a militant Coptic separatist and felon convicted of check fraud. On September 13, US law enforcement officials confirmed that “Sam Bacile” was an alias Nakoula used to advance his various scams, which apparently included the production of The Innocence of Muslims.
According to an actor in the film, the all-volunteer cast was deceived into believing they were acting in a benign biblical epic about “how things were 2,000 years ago”. The script was titled Desert Warrior, and its contents made no mention of Muhammad – his name was dubbed into the film during post-production. On the set, a gray-haired Egyptian man who identified himself only as “Sam” (Nakoula) chatted aimlessly in Arabic with a group of friends while posing as the director. A casting notice for Desert Warrior listed the film’s real director as “Alan Roberts”. This could likewise be a pseudonym, although there is a veteran Hollywood hand responsible for such masterpieces as The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood and The Sexpert who goes by the same name.
Before Nakoula was unmasked, the only person to publicly claim any role in the film was Klein, an insurance salesman and Vietnam veteran from Hemet, California, who emerged from the same Islamophobic movement that produced the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. Styling themselves as “counter-Jihadists”, anti-Muslim crusaders like Klein took their cues from top propagandists like Pamela Geller, the blogger who once suggested that Barack Obama was the lovechild of Malcolm X, and Robert Spencer, a pseudo-academic expert on Muslim radicalization who claimed that Islam was no more than “a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers”. Both Geller and Spencer were labeled hate group leaders by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Klein is an enthusiastic commenter on Geller’s website, Atlas Shrugged, where he recently complained about Mitt Romney’s “support for a Muslim state in Israel’s heartland”. In July 2011, Spencer’s website, Jihad Watch, promoted a rally Klein organized to demand the firing of Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca, whom he painted as a dupe for the Muslim Brotherhood.
On his personal Facebook page, Altar or Abolish, Klein obsesses over the Muslim Brotherhood, describing the organization as “a global network of Muslims attacking to convert the world’s 6 billion people to Islam or kill them”. Klein urges a violent response to the perceived threat of Islam in the United States, posting an image to his website depicting a middle-American family with a mock tank turret strapped to the roof of their car. “Can you direct us to the nearest mosque?” read a caption Klein added to the photo.
In 2011, during his campaign to oust Sheriff Baca, Klein forged an alliance with Joseph Nasrallah, an extremist Coptic broadcaster who shared his fear and resentment of the Muslim Brotherhood. Nasrallah appeared from out of nowhere at a boisterous rally against the construction of an Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2010, warning a few hundred riled-up Tea Party types that Muslims “came and conquered our country the same way they want to conquer America”.
Organized by Geller and Spencer, the rally was carefully timed to coincide with the peak of the midterm congressional election campaign, in which many rightwing Republicans hoped to leverage rising anti-Muslim sentiment into resentment against the presidency of Obama.
Through his friendship with Nasrallah, Klein encountered another radical Coptic separatist named Morris Sadek. Sadek has been banned from returning to his Egypt, where he is widely hated for his outrageous anti-Muslim displays. On the day of the Ground Zero rally, for instance, Sadek was seen parading around the streets of Washington, DC, on September 11, 2010, with a crucifix in one hand and a Bible implanted with the American flag in the other. “Islam is evil!” he shouted. “Islam is a cult religion!”
With another US election approaching, and the Egyptian government suddenly under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood, Klein and Sadek joined Nakoula in preparing what would be their greatest propaganda stunt to date: the Innocence of Muslims. As soon as the film appeared on YouTube, Sadek promoted it on his website, transforming the obscure clip into a viral source of outrage in the Middle East. And like clockwork, on September 11, crowds of Muslim protesters stormed the walls of the US embassy in Cairo, demanding retribution for the insult to the prophet Muhammad. The demonstrations ricocheted into Libya, where the deadly attack that may have been only peripherally related to the film occurred.
For Sadek, the chaos was an encouraging development. He and his allies had been steadfastly opposed to the Egyptian revolution, fearing that it would usher in the Muslim Brotherhood as the country’s new leaders. Now that their worst fears were realized, Coptic extremists and other pro-Mubarak dead-enders were resorting to subterfuge to undermine the ruling party, while pointing to the destabilizing impact of their efforts as proof of the government’s bankruptcy. As Sadek said, “the violence that [the film] caused in Egypt is further evidence of how violent the religion and people”.
For far-right Christian right activists like Klein, the attacks on American interests abroad seemed likely to advance their ambitions back in the US. With Americans confronted with shocking images of violent Muslims in Egypt and Libya on the evening news, their already negative attitudes toward their Muslim neighbors were likely to harden. In turn, the presidential candidates, Obama and Romney, would be forced to compete for who could take the hardest line against Islamic “terror”.
A patrician moderate constantly on the defensive against his own right flank, Romney fell for the bait, baselessly accusing Obama of “sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks” and of issuing “an apology for America’s values”. The clumsy broadside backfired in dramatic fashion, opening Romney to strident criticism from across the spectrum, including from embarrassed Republican members of Congress. Obama wasted no time in authorizing a round of drone strikes on targets across Libya, which are likely to deepen regional hostility to the US.
A group of fringe extremists had proven that with a little bit of money and an unbelievably cynical scam, they could shape history to fit their apocalyptic vision. But in the end, they were not immune to the violence they incited.
According to Copts Today, an Arabic news outlet focusing on Coptic affairs, Sadek was seen taking a leisurely stroll down Washington’s M Street on September 11, soaking in the sun on a perfect autumn day. All of a sudden, he found himself surrounded by four angry Coptic women. Berating Sadek for fueling the flames of sectarian violence, the women took off their heels and began beating him over the head.
“If anything happens to a Christian in Egypt,” one of them shouted at him, “you’ll be the reason!”
…Raheem said he had taken on the case for free because he was convinced that Masih should be punished. “This girl is guilty. If the state overrides the court, then God will get a person to do the job,” he said.
I’ve written about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and their baleful consequences, previously. The current case, however, is particularly egregious; the accused girl, Rimsha Masih, reportedly has a learning disability. Raheem, however, is unconcerned about this: her medical assessement, he claims, was “illegal” and should not be taken into consideration.
In December 2010, Raheem created a self-described “lawyers’ forum”, called the Movement to Protect the Dignity of the Prophet; according to the New York Times, the group produced a petition in support of Qadri which was signed by a 1,000 lawyers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Members of the group also reportedly ”greeted Mr. Qadri’s… court appearances by throwing rose petals”. The NY Times noted:
…The lawyers’ stance is perhaps just the most glaring expression of what has become a deep generational divide tearing at the fabric of Pakistani society, and of the broad influence of religious conservatism — and even militancy — that now exists among the educated middle class.
They are often described as the Zia generation: Pakistanis who have come of age since the 1980s, when the military dictator, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, began to promote Islam in public education and to use it as a political tool to unify this young and insecure nation.
Raheem has also turned his attention to the internet and the US embassy; the Express Tribunereported in May that:
Margalla police station registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Facebook and three other websites under sections 295-A and 298-A of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) on the directions of Additional Sessions Judge Kamran Basharat Mufti. The application had been submitted by the Namoos-e-Risalat Lawyers Forum (NRLF).
One of the complainants, Advocate Rao Abdur Rahim, told The Express Tribune that they had been informed in July 2011 that Facebook and a few other websites had been posting ‘blasphemous’ posts on their websites and the material was being uploaded from inside Pakistan.
…”We gave three applications: one against Payam TV for telecasting a movie ‘Yousaf’, one against Facebook and three other websites and one against the US embassy in Islamabad for organising a gathering of gays and lesbians,” the petitioner said.
Yousaf is actually an Urdu television serial, telling the Koranic version of the story of the Biblical Joseph. Episodes can be found on YouTube.
Raheem has a Facebook page, consisting for the most part of jpegs of urdu documents. His group also has a Facebook page, under the spelling “Namos E Risalat Lawyers“, where a booklet in support of Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been posted. Hypocritically, both pages carry material condemning the violence of militant Buddhist monks in Burma (a subject I looked at here).
There’s also a YouTube channel related to the group, under the name “nrlfp50″ (The booklet on the group’s Facebook page includes a reference to a website, “nrlfp.com”, which is currently defunct). One of the videos posted is footage of a rally in support of the murderer Qadri:
UPDATE (2 September): Rimsha had been handed over to the police by a local imam; the AFP reported on 24 August:
Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam of the mosque in the Islamabad suburb of Mehrabad, insisted he had saved the girl, Rimsha, from mob violence by handing her to police but said the incident arose because Muslims had not stopped local Christians’ “anti-Islam activities” earlier.
Yesterday, it was reported that Chishti “has called for the law to be followed to its conclusion, even if that means the girl is executed”. However, his enthusiasm for having alleged blasphemers executed may perhaps now have cooled somewhat:
Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti appeared in court on Sunday after witnesses claimed to have seen him adding pages of the Qur’an to a bag of ashes Rimsha Masih had been carrying away for disposal last month in order to strengthen the case against her.
…Tahir Naveed Chaudhry from the All Pakistan Minority Committee said it had always maintained that evidence was planted on her.
“And now it is proved that the whole story was only designed to dislocate the Christian people,” he said. “He must be prosecuted under the blasphemy law as it will set a precedent against anyone else who tries to misuse that law.”
Rao’s bloodlust, though, remains undiminished:
“Our case is totally separate from the case against Chishti,” he said. “The man who accused him of adding pages from the Qur’an also confirmed that Rimsha burned a book containing verses from the Qur’an.”
The Fear of the Rabbis | Jewish Ultra-Orthodox Oppression | Jewish Sexual Abuse Amongst Ultra-Orthodox
Post by Jay Michaelson
40,000 people at Citi Field? Can’t be for a Mets game—no, must be an ultra-Orthodox rally/teach-in/info session on the dangers of what you’re doing right now: browsing the Internet. And so it is: tonight, with overflow seating at the Arthur Ashe tennis center (yes, the event is sold out) and simulcast to schools in Borough Park.
I suspect most readers are, by now, chuckling to themselves—as, admittedly, I did myself. After all, the New York Timescoverage of the event notes the sale of “kosher” smartphones that limit Internet use. This is funny stuff.
But on second thought, aren’t the ultra-Orthodox right? This is an insular community that has built real and virtual walls to shield itself from secular influences. Aren’t they correct to worry that if their adherents surf the Internet, the community will suffer?
I think they are. One reason I write for publications like this one is to make a difference, to share information that people may not ordinarily hear about, and offer some perspective on issues like this one. (Okay, maybe this is getting too meta-.) I hope that I’m not only preaching to the choir; I hope that there are people who read my work, feel challenged by it, and then think and rethink their positions.
And of course, no amount of ink-spilling can make as much difference as a Lady Gaga video or an episode of Glee. (In somewhat related news, Hong Kong evangelicals plastered the city-state with posters warning Christians to stay away from a planned Lady Gaga concert that would include “pornographic, homosexual and satanic elements.” Well, two out of three ain’t bad.) Or the YouTube videos of Hasidim who are glad to have left the fold. Or websites devoted to egalitarian, LGBT-inclusive, and open-minded Judaism. The rabbis are right to worry, are they not?
Maybe what’s ridiculous here is the irony: tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox men using technology, cramming into Citi Field, and learning why they should fear technology. Then again, no ultra-Orthodox authorities can really ban the Internet, and the Hasidim are not like the Amish, willing Luddites rejecting “modernity.” They’re rejecting certain aspects of modernity—cultural and moral ones, in particular.
Or maybe it’s just the futility of it all. Surely, as the proposed reality TV show “The Unchosen Ones” and Hella Winston’s similarly-titled book, Unchosen, show, ghetto walls are highly permeable these days. There’s something almost quaint about 40,000 middle-aged men thinking they can stop their teenagers from tweeting. Even if they can.
I think, though, the reason these stories strike a chord is that they remind New Yorkers like me that only a few miles from where I sit, people are living in a different century—and I don’t even mean the 20th. Here in Park Slope, there are more lesbians than coffee shops, and more coffee shops than trees. Yet a few blocks down in Crown Heights, or across the park in Flatbush, thousands of people have lifestyles and morals that wouldn’t pass the laugh test over here. They think we’re sinners, we think they’re throwbacks, and yet we ride the same subways, crowd the same streets.
Unfortunately, as secular and moderate Israelis have long known, the ultra-Orthodox minority is not content to keep its morality to itself. These people aren’t Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof: as soon as they gain enough political power, they use that power to change laws, segregate the sexes, fund their religious schools, and foist their vision onto the rest of us.
Moreover, as a handful of protesters have recognized, this anti-Internet rally is taking place in the shadow of an unprecedented probe into sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community, which appears to be rampant. When ultra-Orthodox rabbis aren’t busy railing against the Internet, some of them are busy covering up hideous instances of abuse among their flock or intimidating witnesses. That’s certainly not Tevye either.
Maybe, then, we’re laughing because otherwise we might be terrified.
Andrew Breitbart speaks at a ‘Cut Spending Now’ rally at the conservative Americans for Prosperity ‘Defending the American Dream Summit.’
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
So Andrew Breitbart is dead. Here’s what I have to say to that, and I’m sure Breitbart himself would have respected this reaction: Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.
I say this in the nicest possible way. I actually kind of liked Andrew Breitbart. Not in the sense that I would ever have wanted to hang out with him, or even be caught within a hundred yards of him without a Haz-Mat suit on, but I respected the shamelessness. Breitbart didn’t do anything by halves, and even his most ardent detractors had to admit that he had a highly developed, if not always funny, sense of humor.
For that one, brief, shining moment– still one of the most painful-to-watch YouTube spectacles of all time, right there with Mitt Romney’s priceless attempt at singing “Who Let the Dogs Out?” with a group of black voters in Florida in 2008 – Breitbart could legitimately claim to have the biggest, hairiest balls on earth.
Watching Weiner apologize to Breitbart later in that same event was certainly chilling for a number of reasons (if I were Weiner, I wouldn’t have apologized to that fucker even under torture) but it was hard not to appreciate the deliciousness of the scene from Breitbart’s point of view. Watching Weiner pause, swallow hard, and make the extraordinary decision to plant his lips squarely on the loathsome Breitbart’s ass on national television, that was like the ultimate Mona Lisa masterpiece of right-wing media provocations. That the outrageous Breitbart was standing right there, looking gorgeously gassy in his unbuttoned shirt, bloated Joey Buttafuoco cheeks and splendiforous silver half-mullet, made the humiliation of the trim and neatly-groomed Weiner even more abject.
Furthermore, the ACORN videos made by Breitbart and his two young acolytes, Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe – it’s hard not to see the inspired humor behind their elaborate stunt. And anyone who’s heard their proposals before ACORN staffers to bring underage girls over the border as part of a white-(or nonwhite-) slaving startup firm, and doesn’t think the ACORN responses (or non-responses, as it were) were shocking, they’re deluding themselves. In the Baltimore office, they ran the whole underage hooker-den spiel past an ACORN staffer, and got the following response: “You are gonna use three of them – they are gonna be under 16, so you is eligible to get child tax credit and additional child tax credit.”
That is seriously messed up material. Did they edit the videos heavily? Hell yes. Did they make ACORN’s behavior out to be a lot worse than it was? Absolutely. But there’s no way to watch the raw footage and not grasp how totally nuts some of this ACORN “counseling” was. We have to give Breitbart that.
Breitbart has written some nasty things about me personally, once contrived to publish my private emails online, and even teamed up with Rush Limbaugh to humorously mis-identify me as a behind-the-scenes marionettist of the “media-Democrat industrial complex” (Breitbart thought I was improperly advising Occupy leaders), but all that’s okay. I think today, it’s safe to stand back and simply recognize that while many people go through their lives without leaving distinguishing marks, Andrew Breitbart definitely had his moments.
But he also had enough of a sense of humor to appreciate why someone like me shouldn’t bother to pretend I’m sad he’s dead. He wouldn’t, in my place. So to use one of his favorite words: Good riddance, cocksucker.* Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
UPDATE: Well done, Breitbart fans, well done! In less than 24 hours you’ve hacked into my Wiki page, published my telephone number on Twitter, called the Rolling Stoneoffices pretending to be outraged “advertisers” (anonymous ones, who hung up before we could figure out which “ads” to pull), and then spent all night calling and texting my phone with various threats and insults, many of them directed at my family. “Better grow eyes in the back of your head,” was one; “I’m going to take a shit on your mother’s grave,” was another; a third called my wife a “piece of shit like you,” and many others called me a “pile of human excrement.”
Those last ones to me were the most interesting because that quote is lifted directly from Breitbart’s own obit of Ted Kennedy, which like me Breitbart ran just hours after his subject died. So that means the writers of these letters knew that what I did was exactly the same as what Breitbart had done, and yet they still found a way to be unironically outraged on Breitbart’s behalf. I thought: “These people don’t even get their own jokes.”
The really crazy thing is that I was sort of trying to be nice to Breitbart – the obit was at least half an homage. Not that I liked the guy, but he did have a few attractive qualities, one of which being the fact that he got a kick out of the nasty things people said about him. He even once had a plan to set up a website encouraging anti-Breitbart abuse, and was going to let it ride for a while, even spending six figures to hire an Obama p.r. flack to make anti-Breitbart posters, until finally revealing that he’d sponsored the whole thing. Would a person like that really expect someone like me to send flowers when he croaked? No way: he’d be insulted if I didn’t give him one last kick in the balls on the way out the door.
But I guess no homage is complete without a celebration of the whole man, and the whole man in this case was not just a guy who once said, “It’s all about a good laugh,” but also someone who liked to publish peoples’ personal information on the internet, hack into private web sites, tell lies in an attempt to get his enemies fired, and incite readers to threats against his targets and their families, including death threats. I left all of that stuff out of my obit, but now, thanks to you readers, that’s all in there as well, leaving, for posterity, a much more complete picture of the man.
Note: in the comments for the video at YouTube, I noticed that Ron Paul followers were urging that the video be deleted before it could damage Paul’s reputation any further — so I downloaded a copy just in case.
In 1981, a lawyer tried to subpoena Ron Paul to testify in the trial of Don Black, a Grand Wizard for the Ku Klux Klan who would later go on to found the white supremacist, neo-Nazi website, Stormfront. Black was charged along with two other Klansmen with planning to violently overthrow the small Caribbean country of Dominica in what they called “Operation Red Dog.” While a judge refused to subpoena Paul, Don Black would come back to haunt him many years later.
In 1981 a group of American and Canadian white supremacists lead by Klansman and mercenary, Michael (Mike) Perdue planned on taking over a small West Indian country called Dominica by overthrowing the government and Prime Minister Eugenia Charles and restoring its previous prime minister, Patrick Johns into power. The group planned to create an Aryan paradise in Dominica and make money through casinos, cocaine and brothels.
On the day the group of white supremacists were supposed to travel to Dominica, they were arrested by ATF agents and were found with over thirty automatic weapons, shotguns, rifles, handguns, dynamite, ammunition, a confederate flag and a Nazi flag. The plan would be dubbed “The Bayou Of Pigs” after the failed invasion of Cuba.
The leader of the group, Michael Perdue, would plead guilty to planning the coup and turned state’s evidence. Perdue would testify that several other people helped organize and fund the coup and that two Texas politicians were aware of the plan. Among those Perdue implicated were infamous white supremacist, David Duke, former Texas Governor, John Connally and Congressman, Ron Paul whom he claimed knew about the plot. Connally was credited with helping Paul win his first congressional election.
A judge refused to subpoena Paul and Connally despite the fact that Perdue had claimed that both of them were aware of the plot.
Tim Minchin’s new Christmas song about Jesus cut from The Jonathan Ross Show
By Paul Sims
Comedy superstar (and rationalist) Tim Minchin was supposed to be on The Jonathan Ross Show this week. He’d even written a brand new song for it, as he explains on his blog:
“Being Christmas, I thought it would be fun to do a song about Jesus, but being TV, I knew it would have to be gentle. The idea was to compare him to Woody Allen (short, Jewish, philosophical, a bit hesitant), and expand into redefining his other alleged attributes using modern, popular-culture terminology.”
The recording went ahead as planned last Tuesday, everyone involved enjoyed it, and Tim even managed to finish in time to shoot off to the Hammersmith Apollo to join Brian Cox on stage at Robin Ince‘s Uncaged Monkeys show.
But when the show airs tomorrow night, Tim will be nowhere to be seen:
“Subsequently, Suzi [the show’s producer] and her team edited the show and everybody was happy. Suzi felt it had a nice balance of big-ticket celeb action, local talent, and a nice bit of that cheeky, iconoclastic spirit for which Jonathan is known and widely loved.
And then someone got nervous and sent the tape to ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham.
And Peter Fincham demanded that I be cut from the show.
He did this because he’s scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way.”
Fortunately, Tim already had the footage, and he’s uploaded it to YouTube for people to judge for themselves. If you ask us, it’s hard to imagine how the edifice of Christianity could have remained standing had the sensitive ears of Christian ITV viewers not been spared this gently blasphemous comedy number.